WWE’s Starrcade Should Be a Model for Special Event Theming

Last weekend, WWE went back to North Carolina – and back in time – to resurrect WCW’s flagship event for a non-televised night of old school wrasslin’. Goldust shed his paint and became “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes again, recalling his father, who was synonymous with the Starrcade name. Ricky Steamboat shook Shinsuke Nakamura’s hand. Arn Anderson even hit a spinebuster.

While I understand the arguments that this was a petty jab to devalue WCW’s biggest program or what it’s stupid not to air a show like this on the Network, I like that it was something different and special in an age where everything is content online. I’m generally heavily pro-tech, but for Starrcade there’s something true-to-concept about having to just look at pictures and hear people talk about it.

I can’t help but think about Old School Raw.

While WWE’s reliance on old stars hurts their wrestling more often than not, the one night a year that rolled out Attitude Era sets, changed the graphic overlays, and had Jake the Snake and Roddy Piper face to face with The Shield was a fun gimmick to celebrate the past. It could even operate as a way to blow off nostalgia all at once instead of sprinkling it throughout the year in generally-irresponsible ways. The talent seemed to be fans; Dean Ambrose had a good time being laid out by Jake and having Damian placed on him. (Apparently, his smile was because the snake was using him as a toilet, but that’s another matter.)

Special edition programs that change the content of a show are one thing. Special edition programs that change the presentation are another. The foundational idea of the communications field is that the medium is the message. Recalling the days of tape trading to put on Starrcade, forcing fans to find bootlegs or tales of a bygone era, uses the medium (stage show vs. TV) to sell the theme.

My request: more of this, please. Wrestling doesn’t need a reason to make things special.

Always remember Moxley’s First Rule of Pro Wrestling: wrestling is supposed to be fun.

Written by Bobby Murphy (@RobertJMurph)

Image courtesy of WWE.com

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