Starrcade's Magic Moments

by Dick Bourne



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Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Time with family, great weather, great football, great food. I saw my first live wrestling event as a kid on Thanksgiving weekend in 1976. But then in 1983, Jim Crockett and Mid-Atlantic Wrestling brought us Starrcade, and Thanksgivings became just about perfect.


But by 1987, Vince McMahon had forced Jim Crockett to move Starrcade from it's traditional Thanksgiving night spot, and Starrcade, the NWA, and seemingly everything I loved about wrestling was never quite the same again.


I never got to see one of the early Starrcade events live, but I was fortunate enough to see two later Starrcade events in person; the 1989 event in Atlanta, and the 1993 event in Charlotte. Even though Starrcade lost some of it's luster when it moved away from Thanksgiving, it still had it's share of magic moments.


I went to Starrcade '89 with mixed emotions because it was the second Starrcade that was not held on Thanksgiving (the 1989 event was in the middle of December), and that was taking some getting used to. It was also the first Starrcade that didn't feature a NWA world title main event or a billed Ric Flair main event, although Flair wound up in the final match of the "Iron Man" tournament against Sting. But there was a magic moment that night when Sting pinned Flair in the finals (both "good guys" at the time) and Ole and Arn Anderson came rushing to the ring and you thought they would turn on Sting. Instead, Arn came eye to eye with Sting and then, the crowd holding it's breath, raised four fingers and made Sting the fourth Horsemen. The OMNI crowd went literally nuts. One of the loudest pops I've ever heard.


But nothing will top the emotion of seeing Flair beat Big Van Vader at Starrcade '93 in Charlotte at the old Charlotte Coliseum. Flair had been written off by the promotion yet again, and it was actually Sid Vicious who was supposed to be in the main event against Vader. But after Sid stabbed Arn Anderson with scissors in the infamous altercation in Europe, Sid was fired, and the promotion turned yet again to the man who could always pull them out of a jam. The result was a truly magic night as Flair won his 10th world title (following 8 NWA reigns and 2 WWF reigns) and openly wept in the ring. I can only imagine that ovation was similar to the one he received from Greensboro ten years earlier at the inaugural Starrcade event.


To this day, when Thanksgiving rolls around and I head over the river and through the woods, I think of wrestling's special place in my life. It was Thanksgiving weekend in 1976 that I saw my first ever live wrestling event in Spartanburg, SC. And, for a few years at least, it was Thanksgiving weekend that we celebrated wrestling's grand event, Starrcade.

2003 Mid-Atlantic Gateway