The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXXI (August 1995) You’re killing me, 1995 WCW. There was a reason I was actively avoiding the product at this point. Live from Daytona Beach, FL Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan Meng & Kurosawa v. Hawk & Sting And what an opener! Kurosawa is a young Manabu Nakanishi with a stupid name. Kurosawa slugs it out with the babyfaces and Sting gets a suplex for two. Over to Hawk, and at this point the fucks given by him are ZERO and he’s not selling shit. Meng, beginning his repackage into deadly martial arts fighter at this point, comes in and throws chops at Hawk. Here’s another weird thing: The guys are positioned on the wrong corners for TV, as the heels take a corner closest to the hard camera on the left and it’s surprisingly disorienting as a viewer. Just looks wrong, ya know? So Hawk kind of gets the heat on him but even the announcers are like “Man, it’s hard to keep Hawk down” because he won’t sell anything, and he gets a sloppy powerbomb on Kurosawa for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Hawk looks like he should be another cable channel or something because he clearly has no clue what’s going on with this match. Poor Sting tries to salvage something on his own while Hawk randomly stumbles around the ring, and sets up for a Doomsday Device with Hawk, who can barely get to the top before falling off with a half-assed clothesline onto Kurosawa for the pin at 7:30. What a fucking disaster this was. -* Kurosawa puts Hawk into the Fujiwara armbar to injure him, but I’m pretty sure Hawk was medicated enough to take care of any pain resulting. Meanwhile, on WCW Saturday Night, the Dungeon of Doom attacks Hogan. I should note it’s only been six months since the last Clash, and they’ve already repackaged both Butcher and Avalanche into Zodiac Man and Shark, respectively. Meanwhile, Robert Parker and the Stud Stable of Buck and Slater (who were apparently tag champions at this point, which I vaguely recall as one of those wacky “non-title match on a TV taping repurposed into a title change” deals. Basically there was no actual title change booked.) are ready for their six-man against Harlem Heat later. Diamond Dallas Page v. Alex Wright DDP going from manager to wrestler in his 30s was one of the most unlikely success stories in wrestling. Of course he was still beyond terrible at this point, but he was trying and getting much better with the weight loss and new finisher. Wright gets a pair of rollups and dumps Page, then follows with a dive. Back in, Page with the dreaded full armdrag and twist, but Wright reverses and works the arm for a bit until Page puts him down to take over. Backbreaker and neckbreaker gets two. Wright with a backslide as everyone in the crowd fights off the instinct to doze into their popcorn. High knee gets two and Wright goes up with the missile dropkick for two. Page drops him on the top turnbuckle and gets two, but Wright gets the german suplex for two. Wright tries another dive and misses by a mile, and Page pins him at 8:17. Weak finish, OK, match. ** Meanwhile, Flair and Anderson have words for Vader, although Flair has more words than Arn does. World TV title: The Renegade v. Paul Orndorff Renegade sends Orndorff out, but Paul lays him out and pounds away as the muscle atrophy on the right arm is getting SCARY at this point. Orndorff with a clothesline to put Renegade on the floor and he takes some ridiculously bad bumps before randomly making the Warrior-inspired comeback with a slingshot bodyblock for the pin at 4:00 to retain. The crack WCW crew managed to somehow miss the finish and had to show it on replay. I would rather not relive any parts of Renegade matches unless absolutely necessary. DUD Meanwhile, Vader has no fear of any man. Except Paul Orndorff in shower shoes. Robert Parker, Bunkhouse Buck & Dick Slater v. Harlem Heat & Sister Sherri This was the start of the stupid “Robert Parker getting wooed by brain-damaged Sherri” angle that paid off with a wedding gone horribly wrong and Madusa involved somehow. Buck gets worked over by the Heat, and Slater comes in and tries a headbutt on Booker. So that’s a bad idea, because he’s black and all. Slater’s selling is such a Dean Ambrose ripoff. We take a break and learn how to win a motorcycle. Apparently the winner will be announced on some new show they’re debuting in September. Monday something. So with that established, we return with Booker T getting the heat, which finally draws Robert Parker in. And then he quickly gets destroyed by Sherri until she misses a flying splash and appears to be out cold. Parker, as a southern gentleman, is unable to capitalize, so Sherri tackles him with a kiss and pins him at 8:45. Absolutely nothing to the match. 1/2* Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan isn’t worried about the Dungeon of Doom. The McMahons of the world are worried about Hulkamania running wild! That would actually prove prophetic. And now, Hulk Hogan enters the Dungeon! So yeah, Kevin Sullivan and King Curtis are hanging out and shooting the shit in the Dungeon, and Hogan just barges and cuts a promo on them like he’s a badly-dubbed anime character, until ANDRE THE GIANT’S SON attacks him and rips off the necklace. SYMBOLISM! FLASHBACKS! The Dungeon does a beatdown and Vader makes the save, because he was apparently hanging out near the Dungeon of Doom for unrelated reasons. Like he was grabbing breakfast at the Dungeon of Donuts next door and happened to see some shit going down or something. Vader v. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson Oh man were people mad about this one back in the day. This whole feud was weird because Arn was off doing his Stud Stable thing for most of the year and then suddenly he was just hanging out with un-retired Flair again and they’re bickering. Thankfully, unlike 90% of WCW’s bullshit, this WAS going somewhere. Arn gets to try with Vader to start as Flair cheerleads for him, and that doesn’t go well for AA. Finally he gets a spinebuster and Flair decides to tag himself in, at which point Vader destroys Flair with a press slam in a funny bit. So Arn keeps carrying things, taking out Vader’s knee so Flair can gain control, and Arn adds a DDT. Flair comes in for the figure-four, but Vader easily escapes and splashes Flair for two, as Arn has to keep bailing Flair out. Vader puts them both down with clotheslines and powerbombs AA for the pin at 8:05. More angle than match. ** Flair blames Arn for this development and we get the feud that no one wanted to see but still ended up pretty awesome. Arn was tremendous here. And then Hulk Hogan comes out to point out that RIPPING OFF HIS CRUCIFIX WAS A THING THAT ALSO HAPPENED TO HIM BEFORE, BROTHER. Thanks for the reminder, Hulk. The Pulse Consider that THIS was the product they were putting out and Nitro still turned out awesome and changed the business forever. STRONG recommendation to avoid.