Thursday, November 6, 2014
Starrcade Was Turning Japanese
It was a star-studded card headlined by Flair defending the championship against Tatsumi Fujinami. It was this match that led to the main event of the first WCW SuperBrawl event a few months later. At the time, WCW seemed to be trying to position SuperBrawl against WrestleMania and replace Starrcade as its biggest yearly event. I've always felt that, despite respect from a wrestling standpoint, the Flair-Fujinami rematch wasn't the main event to use to build a new supershow, but that's another argument for another time.
Although WCW was gone from the practice of event-specific programs, NJPW produced an amazing looking publication that was sold at the Tokyo Dome. It is an oversized glossy program in the style that the WWF would not adopt for a few years. Perhaps as a reflection in the advancement in photography by the Japanese, wrestling publications from their country almost always have a modern look and feel that holds up today.
To say that the card was star-studded is almost an understatement. The top WCW and NJPW talent of the day is featured as well as men like Big Van Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow who competed regularly on both continents. Sting battled his longtime rival The Great Muta in a match that would make any classics list, while El Gigante took on "Big Cat" Hughes probably to appease Japanese wrestling fans longtime fascination with "big man" wrestlers.
Interestingly, the ads are not limited to wrestling related goods. Full page ads appear several times throughout the program for liquor, food, and other items. Japanese ads often appeared quirky to Americans back in those days, as was often lampooned by shows like The Simpsons. If you haven't sought out commercials featuring Hulk Hogan singing or Abdullah the Butcher frolicking on a beach with a young Japanese girl, you truly need to. Nonetheless, in this program we see a rather creepy ad featuring a robot holding a baby in a wooded area, and girls dressed as Geisha advertising what is probably a ramen-style soup.