Clash Countdown: #35

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Clash of the Champions XXXV – This is one where I thought I had a perfectly good rant done already, but the original is pretty crappy in a lot of ways (no match times combined with being in a bad WCW place at the time) so here’s a proper version given that it’s on 24/7 right now. This is notable for being the last Clash, as really it’s not like the match quality or star power was any better than what we were getting on a weekly basis anyway. What I don’t get is why they show this now, when there’s not a huge tie-in to the Latino Legends theme, when they could just hold off until Nitro catches up with it in a couple of months. Then you could have the Nitros hyping it, and actually watch the show! What an idea! – Originally broadcast August 21 1997. – Live from Nashville, TN. – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Dusty.   US title: Jeff Jarrett v. Steve McMichael Jarrett evades Mongo and slams him to start, and then outsmarts him into a takedown and clips the knee to follow. JJ stops to do some strutting and runs away, once again outsmarting Mongo by jumping him from behind. OK, not exactly a career defining achievement or anything, admittedly. Mongo slugs him down and Jarrett bails yet again, so we take a break in hopes of a commercial making the match not suck. We return with Jarrett sending him into the stairs, and back in for the choking. Debra adds some of her own, and Jarrett gets the sleeper. And Mongo reverses, as Eddie Guerrero runs in and accidentally hits Jarrett with the US title. And Mongo promptly pins him to win the belt at 5:55. This was a major travesty at the time, but really the storyline was building to it and he was just a transitional champion to Curt Hennig anyway, so it’s not such a big fat deal in retrospect. Horrible match, though, as Mongo was his usual embarrassment to the sport. 1/2* Alex Wright joins us to speak German, the language of EVIL. Not exactly a great heel promo. Cross promotion alert! The Dinner and a Movie guys make jerk chicken. Raven v. Stevie Richards This was a weird deal, as it was the debut for both guys in WCW and Richards had gotten out of his ECW deal by faking a career-ending neck injury…only to get fired almost immediately afterwards and go crawling back to Paul Heyman again. (He actually stuck around for a while.  I had condensed the time into “almost immediately” in my mind years after the fact.)  Another weird deal is that Raven’s eventual music is dubbed in over the lack of entrance music that originally was here. (Haven’t watched the WWE Network version so I can’t say if that’s still true.  I mean, I could, but I don’t care.)  Their music division is so strange. Raven tosses him immediately and follows with a pescado. Back in, he gets a series of snapmares, but Stevie backslides for two. Raven stomps him down again and tosses him, then follows with a Cactus elbow off the apron. He throws a chair into the ring and delivers the DROP TOEHOLD OF AGONY as the crowd has no clue what to make of either guy. He follows with a bulldog on the chair, but Stevie whips him into the chair in the other corner. Raven basically no-sells it, so Stevie gets a flying forearm and sideslam for two. Steviekick is blocked, but he gets a rollup for two. Raven clotheslines for two. Raven goes low and finishes with the Evenflow DDT at 4:55. The announcers put Raven over huge, and Richards was dead in the water after one match and was gone a few weeks later. (Months.)  Not enough time to mean anything for the first serious meeting between them, especially for a crowd that didn’t know who they were and what it meant. Plus it was a total squash for Raven, to boot. *1/2 World TV title: Ultimo Dragon v. Alex Wright Hey, it’s the most boring title feud of 1997, started up here for our pleasure. Wright gets a pair of snapmares to start and they do a stalemate sequence, which leads to Dragon holding a wristlock. Wright stomps him down , but gets put down with a shoulder tackle. Dragon throws chops in the corner and leads into the kick combo to put Wright down. He hits the chinlock and Wright quickly escapes, then reverses a rana into a powerbomb. Backbreaker gets two. He whips Dragon into the corner, into another backbreaker for two. Gut wrench suplex gets two and we take a break. We return with Wright holding a chinlock and referee Mark Curtis pretty clearly passing the time signal to him, as things suddenly pick up again with Wright getting a slam and going up for a flying stomp. And we get the requisite dancing before another chinlock, but Dragon reverses to a sleeper. He switches to a backdrop suplex and dumps Wright, but misses the dive and splats on the floor. Wright stomps him down out there, but Dragon whips him into the railing and follows with the quebrada. Back in, they battle on the top rope and Dragon brings him down with a front suplex into the rollup for two. Handspring is blocked by an elbow from Wright, for two, as things finally pick up. They fight for the suplex and Wright cradles for two, reversed for two, and the german suplex gives Wright the TV title at 10:54. Alex Wright was always one of those guys they wanted to develop into something, but just couldn’t figure out how to do it before injuries and a brain tumor and their own incompetence made it impossible. **3/4 World Cruiserweight title: Chris Jericho v. Eddie Guerrero Guerrero takes him down and trashtalks right away, but Jericho comes back with an armdrag and dropkick, sending Eddie running to hide behind the ref. Jericho presses him off a criss-cross and starts chopping, into a faceplant that has Eddie hiding again. Eddie sneaks in from behind and clubs him down, then follows with a back elbow and slingshot splash. Eddie puts him on top and brings him down with a rana for two, but Jericho reverses the ropewalk into a powerbomb. Jericho follows with a Giant Swing and he’s visibly sucking wind. Leg lariat puts Eddie on the apron and Jericho follows with an embarrassing trip on the top rope during his springboard cross body. Then he botches a suplex off the apron, so Eddie takes over again with a superplex for two. Not a good match for Jericho. Jericho tries a powerbomb, but Eddie slips out, so Jericho goes with a german suplex instead for two. They criss-cross into an Eddie sunset flip, and it turns into a pinfall reversal sequence where Eddie is obviously wrestling himself and taking Jericho along with him, ending with Jericho on top for the pin to retain at 6:40. This was pretty awful by Jericho’s usual standards. ** Super Calo, Juventud Guerrera, Lizmark Jr. & Hector Garza v. Silver King, Psicosis, Villano IV & Villano V Calo starts with IV and they trade wristlocks before going into an acrobatics sequence. Calo takes him down with a headscissors, but IV overpowers him. Calo comes back with a backbreaker for two, and it’s over to Garza, who misses a blind charge. But then so does Silver King, so they’re even. They do another one of those overly choreographed sequences and Garza clotheslines King to the floor, and over to Juvy and Psi. Psicosis kicks him down and elbows him to the floor, and we get King and IV monkey-flipping Lizmark and Garza, but they end up on the floor and the faces start diving at them. And then the heels add their dives for the big trainwreck spot, leaving Calo and Psicosis alone in the ring. Calo tries a top rope rana, but Sonny Onoo holds the leg and Psicosis finishes with a flying legdrop at 4:52. The usual good, meaningless lucha action. *** Meanwhile, the Dinner and a Movie dorks go nWo. Paul Gilmartin looks like Egon from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon here, I should note. We take a break after Macho Man cuts a promo, and return with the new nWo members left alone to face DDP. This results in Gilmartin taking a Diamond Cutter. Silly but this kind of stuff was a necessary evil. Ric Flair & Curt Hennig v. Syxx & Konnan Hennig was crazy over and a perfect fit for the Horsemen, so of course they fucked it up. This was actually the start of the whole thing that led to the Horsemen parody and Hennig’s turn and pretty much killed the Horsemen dead once and for all, which I say because the 99 version was barely even a team. Hennig trades wristlocks with Konnan and brings Syxx in, which has Flair all fired up. Syxx slugs him down and chops on him in the corner, but that’s not a good idea. He backdrops Flair out of the corner, but gets chopped down and kneedropped for two. Over to the Horsemen corner, where Hennig throws a kneelift and it’s back to Konnan again, as Hennig works the arm and they collide. Hennig gets caught in the heel corner, but everyone slugs it out until Hennig “accidentally” tosses Syxx into Flair’s knee, giving Konnan two. Perfectplex finishes Konnan at 5:04. Whole lot of nothing here. *1/2 Scott Hall & Randy Savage v. DDP & Lex Luger Oh god, we have to listen to the Michael Buffer imitation announcer so they can save a couple of bucks. The editing now also carefully avoids showing Buffer so we don’t think that he might be announcing, either. (I presume he’s back for the Network version.)  Big Kev announces that Savage will be defending the tag titles tonight as his surrogate, giving Tony another chance to use his new catchphrase: “Verbally binding contract”. I haven’t seen this match in 11 years and I’m already betting on a DQ finish. Luger and Hall fight over a lockup to start, as Hall gropes him like he’s a senior citizen. Ha, there’s a reference I haven’t done in a while. Luger gets tossed and Nash clotheslines him from behind, and back in the nWo beats on Luger and Savage gets the double axehandle. Over to DDP and he slugs Hall to the floor, but gets tripped up as a result, allowing Savage to put him down from behind. Back to Hall for the blockbuster slam for two. Savage slugs away in the corner, as does Hall, and Savage elbows DDP down for two. Page gets tossed and Savage brings him back in, allowing Hall to get the corner clothesline. Back to Savage and then Hall as they do some good quick tagging, but Page comes back with the discus clothesline on Hall and it’s hot tag Luger. Luger whips them into each other and then clotheslines them, leading to the torture rack on Hall before Savage saves. DDP and Luger collide, however, and Luger eats a Diamond Cutter by accident, as Hall falls on top for the pin at 9:53. Well at least it had a clean finish. Pretty solid tag match as well. **1/2 The nWo returns after the commercial to celebrate their 1st birthday party, but they get interrupted by the lights going out and the sound going out. And there’s Sting in the rafters with a vulture as we get a voiceover from a kid explaining that it’s a battle of good and evil upcoming. And then the lights go back up and the bird is on the top rope while the nWo has to act all freaked out. Frankly I’m surprised they didn’t have the bird turn heel and reveal it was an avian swerve all along. And that’s the show! This was, shall we say, ridiculously pretentious and overwrought, and we’ll leave it there. Look it up on YouTube if you care, I guess. (Or watch it on the Network!)  Kind of funny in terms of symbolism, as the show ends with the Clash logo over the image of the vulture, which proved fitting since the show was cancelled after that. Well, the final angle was stupid, but sometimes when you push the envelope you get a paper cut, so points for effort at least. The rest was pretty mediocre outside of a bad night for Jericho and the usual night for Mongo McMichael, so I wouldn’t break any important plans like washing your hair or organizing your receipts in order to catch it. Watch it, don’t, whatever, it’s all good.