Clash Countdown: #32

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The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXXII (January 1996) So big news for me on the professional front, as I will shortly begin writing for The Sporting News’s website, basically about whatever I want. Thankfully there’s an entire network dedicated to showing wrestling stuff 24 hours a day so I’ll always have lots of stuff to talk about. Thanks to Seth Mates for hooking me up and being awesome in general. So into the Nitro era now, leading into Superbrawl VI, which is one of my favorite shows of the 90s and one that doesn’t get enough love, actually. Go watch it on the Network! The night before on Nitro, Randy Savage won the World title and Luger & Sting won the tag titles, setting up some cool stuff. This another Clash where I’ve never seen it, as I was living on my own for the first time in my shitty one-bedroom apartment in Edmonton in 1996 and couldn’t afford to subscribe to TBS. Those were the hot dog and ramen noodle days. Of course, they still are, but now I get the really GOOD hot dogs! OK, that’s a lie, I’m cheap, I just buy the same ones I did then. But I could buy the good ones. Honest. Live from Las Vegas, NV Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan. The Nasty Boys v. The Public Enemy As usual, a big brawl between them right away and Sags goes to grab a table as Tony gets a “Oh man, here we go again” tone to his voice. Sags is unable to run Rocco into the table, and Rock goes up with a moonsault for two before getting dumped by Knobbs again. He takes a really scary bump off the apron and hits the back of his neck somehow. They’re so shitty that they can’t even obey the laws of physics properly. Sags gives Grunge an ugly piledriver and the ref finally calls for the bell at 4:00 for no reason in particular. To say these matches didn’t age well is being generous. DUD Meanwhile, Ric Flair and The Giant have words for the Megapowers, although to be accurate it’s Flair with the words and Giant with the ridiculous facials in the background. Note to Giant: You have Ric Flair with you, don’t talk. Dean Malenko v. Alex Wright Interesting that Wright got severely demoted following Dusty’s firing as booker in 95, but he’s still hanging around in a feature position. I guess people still saw something in him. Malenko takes him down to control him, but Wright evades him with flips and Dean bails. Back in, Malenko goes to work on the leg as we learn that Compuserve “e-chatting” is live RIGHT NOW. It’s like the WWE’s second screen app done by the stone-chipping pterodactyls in the Flintstones. Malenko pounds the knee in the corner, but Wright gets a flying bodypress for two. They fight over a backslide and Wright gets a dropkick, but Malenko gets a backdrop suplex and goes up. Wright dropkicks him down and follows with a superplex, and the german suplex gets two. Malenko puts him down with a forearm, dropkicks the knee again, and pins him at 5:31. Even in victory Dean looks pissed off all the time. A little short, but Wright was hanging in there OK. **1/2 Kevin Sullivan v. Disco Inferno So we get a singing telegram from an Elvis impersonator for some reason, who I’m guessing was some job guy, and Sullivan doesn’t take it very well and beats him up. Apparently Disco is at the wedding and unable to attend his match. WTF? Meanwhile, at the chapel, Buck and Slater arrive dressed about as nicely as they ever dress. They’re unsure about Parker’s chances of actually showing up for his own wedding. Meanwhile, Lex Luger and Sting give their victory interview after winning the tag titles. This was actually a fascinating dynamic, with Luger clearly a heel and Sting clearly a babyface, but since they were longtime friends Sting was willing to team with him and overlook his issues. That’s pretty cool and never got explored to the logical finish because of the nWo changing all the plans. The Road Warriors interrupt, looking for a title shot, and Sting is all for it, but Luger feels like the American Males and State Patrol might be more worthy first. Meanwhile, Paul Orndorff talks about his career-ending neck surgery, right when motivational speaker Gary Spivey was going to turn things around for him. Paul claims that he was offered a spot in the Four Horsemen and turned them down, which is why they attacked him and broke his neck. This was obviously supposed to lead to him making a big comeback against them later, but it never happened. Too bad, he would have been a natural for the nWo as an ex-WWF guy. Meanwhile, as I start to wonder if we’re ever going to get another match, Robert Parker shows up at the wedding chapel, trying to borrow $50 from Mean Gene for cab fare. Yeah, like that’ll work. Sherri is still running late, but apparently calls Robert on his cell phone to smooth things over. Brian Pillman v. Eddie Guerrero So this is the true start of the Loose Cannon character and a pretty famous match to boot. Bobby relates how everyone in the airports is talking to him about Eddie Guerrero. Somehow I doubt that. Pillman, convincingly playing batshit crazy at this point, runs away from Eddie’s lockup attempt and wanders at ringside until Eddie hauls him in for a headlock. Dropkick puts Pillman on the floor again an Eddie tries a dive, but Pillman hides behind Heenan (“What the fuck are you doing?!”, uncensored on the Network!) and Bobby is REALLY pissed and actually walks away from ringside for a bit to cool down. So as noted before, Heenan is very protective of his neck and didn’t know Pillman was going to touch him, and that was the result. It’s a shoot, brutha. Back in, they trade chops and Eddie is just UNLOADING on him, but Pillman chokes him down and goes to a chinlock as even Eddie seems unsure of what to do here. He fights back with a dropkick and Pillman runs away again, but Eddie gets a tornado DDT for two. Blind charge misses and Pillman gets two in the corner, but Eddie rolls him up for two. They collide on a crossbody and Pillman grabs the tights for the pin at 5:55, then makes sure to get in Bobby’s space again before leaving. This was one of the more bizarre matches you’ll see, only topped by the Pillman-Sullivan match at Superbrawl. Match was no good, but that’s not what Pillman was about at this point. *1/2 Meanwhile, the Megapowers and Kevin Greene are ready for that NASTY, STINKY, WART-INFESTED GIANT tonight. Obviously Greene was having a ball doing this. Sting & Lex Luger v. The Blue Bloods Regal exchanges formal bows with Sting, and Regal’s expression of disgust is tremendous. I’m wondering if Sting made some non-PC gesture there, though, because the camera zoomed in tight on Regal’s face. Sting traps Regal in their corner and dishes out some abuse. Over to Earl Robert Eaton (who, rather than sounding regal, now sounds like a serial killer or presidential assassin) and he also gets beat on. Lex flexes his pecs at Regal and this is literally the worst thing to happen to Regal all day, which he expresses merely by the look of abject horror on his face. Regal fires back with some forearms in the corner, and Eaton gets a neckbreaker to take over. Regal drops an elbow for two, and anytime Regal has something he can sink his teeth into it’s automatically 100% more fun. Eaton with the flying kneedrop to set up the Regal Stretch, but Sting breaks it up. Luger and Eaton bump heads, and it’s hot tag Sting. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA, but Eaton collides with Regal and Sting finishes the Earl with the Scorpion at 7:48. Fun Nitro match. **1/2 Meanwhile, Robert Parker tries to make sure Harlem Heat doesn’t eat too much at the catering table, as Sherri finally arrives. Unfortunately, Parker neglected to mention his crippling gambling habit, which has left him flat broke. Kind of makes the Vegas wedding seem like a particularly bad decision on his part. So they’re going to have to do a drive-through wedding instead. Meanwhile, Brian F’n Pillman might just say all 7 of the forbidden words on live TV, and there’s NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. Also, he might hack someone’s thumb off. So…OK then. Mexican Heavyweight title: Konnan v. Psychosis The graphics note that this is “Konan” v. “Psichosis”, in case you’re striving for accuracy. They trade armdrags to start and Konnan rolls him up into a submission hold, but gets nothing from it. More dull holds on the mat and Konnan gets a DDT, but Psy dumps him and follows with a dive. Back in, Konnan suddenly hits a superplex, and he finishes with a figure-four at 5:26. Apparently they were running long and got cut short on the fly. ** Meanwhile, Mean Gene finally talks Sherri into going through with the wedding, but then accidentally reveals that Parker was getting a phone call from another woman earlier. So they go through with the vows, but when it’s time for the objections, Madusa charges in and breaks it up because she’s actually been banging the Colonel on the sly. CATFIGHT! Disco steals all the champagne in the chaos. Meltzer HATED this whole thing in the WON at the time, but years of Vince Russo goofiness and wrestling weddings as a TV trope leave this one looking pretty good in retrospect, actually. It’s not like they were selling this as a main event angle or anything, it was just something for the midcarders to do that was very aware of its own stupidity. Ric Flair & The Giant v. Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage Speaking of ridiculous, Michael Buffer’s introduction of the Giant ranks up there. He puts the FEAR OF DEATH into his opponents! Elizabeth makes her return to the sport here, looking like someone’s mom at this point. Thankfully she would get much hotter as her relationship with Savage deteriorated again. Savage starts with Flair and quickly gets caught in the heel corner, but backslides Flair for two. Over to Hogan and the Giant, as the NASTY, STINKY, WART-INFESTED Giant pounds on Hogan and for whatever reason Hulk decides he’s finally going to start selling for someone in the promotion and it’s THIS guy. Giant with a backbreaker, but he misses an elbow and Hogan slams him. Flair comes in with a suplex, but of course Hogan no-sells that and makes the comeback. Big rookie stiff, sell your ass off. Greatest wrestler in history, fuck that, brother. Hogan brawls to the floor with Giant, and heads back in to continue not selling for Flair, like AT ALL. He slams Flair off the top and makes the hot tag to Savage, who quickly hits the double axehandle and drops the big elbow on Flair, but Jimmy Hart distracts him and Flair finishes with an international object at 9:50. The awesome tandem of Zodiac and Brian Pillman try to storm the ring, but Kevin Greene cleans house, grinning like a total mark the whole time. Giant was way out of his depth here, and Hogan was pretty infuriating. As usual. *1/2 The Pulse This was basically an episode of Nitro from the time. Viewed as such, it was a pretty good episode of Nitro. But the difference between what this was (short, decent matches padded out with bad comedy and endless talking) and what the shows were even the year before is kind of jarring. It also shows how redundant and needless that the Clash had become as a concept, much like what RAW is doing to PPV now, and thankfully there was only 3 of them left. Recommendation to do whatever you want with this one, because I can go either way with it.