WCW Starrcade 1997 marked the payoff of a year-long feud between Sting and Hollywood Hulk Hogan. It was WCW’s highest-grossing pay-per-view ever, but the finish to their main event bout left some fans confused.
The match was supposedly booked to finish with a worked screwjob in Hogan’s favor, featuring referee Nick Patrick counting a pin fall too quickly. Patrick ended up counting the pin at a normal pace, resulting in the appearance that Hogan had beaten Sting cleanly and a deviation from the plan. Bret Hart then ran down and claimed the finish was a screwjob, and restarted the match with Sting winning after the restart.
20 years later, Nick Patrick has broken his silence on the confusion. On Dave Penzer’s Sitting Ringside podcast, Patrick blamed the confusion on backstage miscommunications and tensions.
“What happened was two people, Sting and Hulk, they were the two franchise guys and the two franchise guys were butting heads at that point in time,” Patrick said. “One guy came up to me and told me to fast-count it to get some heat and give him an out, and the other guy said ‘Don’t fast count it. Keep it nice and slow.’
“So the person that was in charge evidently didn’t want to make a call, didn’t want to pick a side, and made themselves scarce all night long to where I couldn’t find them to ask them ‘Hey, what do you want me to do?’”
Patrick went on to work for WWE after their purchase of WCW in 2001. He remained on the WWE referee crew until his release in August of 2008 after more than six months of inactivity due to a chronic back injury.