Chrono Chronicles: Clash of the Champions II

The Chrononaut Chronicles
NWA Clash of the Champions II: Miami Mayhem – June 8, 1988

– LIVE from the James L. Knight Center in Miami, Florida! Jim Ross is
stationed outside as limousines arrive to the building eight years
before the nWo made it their gimmick. JR claims that a host of
celebrities and dignitaries will be in attendance, and the
disappointment is immediate as the first limo contains Lyle Alzado,
Frances Crockett, and some dude who has some affiliation with the
ownership of the Chicago Blackhawks. The next limo opens up and it’s NWA
promoters Gary Juster and Elliot Murnick. Man, they’re really pulling
out the big guns tonight!

Photobucket 

– Tony Schiavone and Bob Caudle are on commentary. No offense to Bob or Tony,
but is there some reason one of them can’t be standing around the parking garage
while JR handles the play-by-play?

– NWA United States Heavyweight Championship: Brad Armstrong vs. Barry Windham (w/James J. Dillon) ©

As noted previously, Barry Windham is now a heel and the newest member
of the Four Horsemen after turning on Lex Luger during a World Tag Team
Title defense against Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, who regained
the belts in the process. Bolstering his new heel image, Barry started
wearing a fingerless black leather glove and using the clawhold, a
favorite maneuver of his father Blackjack Mulligan. Returning to singles
action, Windham captured the vacant US Title by defeating Nikita Koloff
in the tournament final. I’m not sure how Brad Armstrong earned this
title shot, although Tony notes that Armstrong has held tag team titles
as a member of the Lightning Express with Tim Horner. Brad holds his own
early on, frustrating the US Champion and causing him to regroup with
JJ Dillon. Armstrong works a headlock and shows some impressive strength
by catching Windham in mid-leapfrog and bodyslamming him, but Windham
breaks out of a chinlock via back suplex and powerslams Armstrong for a
two-count. Windham locks on a figure-four and it’s VINTAGE Horsemen, as
Dillon literally lends a hand from ringside for added leverage and Barry
also uses the ropes, but referee Teddy Long finally sees it and makes
him break the hold. Windham dumps Brad to the floor and drops his throat
across the guardrail, but back in the ring, Brad moves when Barry
attempts a flying elbowdrop off the top. The crowd is hot as Armstrong
is on fire and unloads on Windham, earning a near-fall with a flying
bodypress. Unfortunately, Brad goes to the well once too often and pays
for it, as Windham rolls through another bodypress and grips Armstrong’s
forehead with the clawhold in one fluid motion, holding him down for
the three-count at 13:55 to retain the NWA United States Championship.
*** Not a bad match, but it took a while to get going and Armstrong
didn’t sell the leg after being in the figure-four for a few minutes.
Windham was a natural heel and a perfect fit for the Horsemen.

– Tony and Bob interview former football star Lyle Alzado at ringside to push the pro wrestling sitcom, Learning The Ropes,
premiering in October. The show is about an underpaid high school
vice-principal who moonlights as a hooded jobber named The Masked
Maniac, featuring guest appearances from NWA stars such as Ric Flair,
The Road Warriors, Ron Garvin, and Dick Murdoch. Fun Fact™: in the
actual match footage of the Maniac, it’s Steve “Dr. Death” Williams
under the mask. This was your typical ’80s sitcom chock-full of wacky
hijinks and important life lessons, with the added hook that Lyle and
his kids had to keep his profession a secret.

– Making their return to the NWA, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express come down to
ringside for an interview and Robert Gibson & Ricky Morton both say
pretty much the same thing, warning that no tag team titles are safe
now that Rock ‘n’ Roll is back home. That might be more intimidating if
Robert hadn’t tripped over his own two feet on the way out, pre-dating
Shockmaster’s infamous entrance on Clash of the Champions XXIV by five
years.

Photobucket
Kids, this is what happens when you rock ‘n’ roll all night and party every day.

– Earlier Today aboard a fancy yacht previously used by the likes of
President Lyndon B. Johnson and Frank Sinatra, Lex Luger and champion
Ric Flair sign the contract for their “Match of the Century” for the NWA
World Title in Baltimore, MD, at the 1988 Great American Bash in July.
Despite the presence of the Four Horsemen, this is one of the handful of
contract signings in the history of professional wrestling that doesn’t
result in a beatdown or confrontation of some sort, although the Nature
Boy makes an off-handed remark about the Total Package having to make
it to Baltimore for his title shot. Would it have been too obvious to
attack Luger and throw him overboard?

Photobucket
Everything’s classier on a boat.

– Jim Ross is still standing outside as Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and
Tully Blanchard emerge from a limousine and greet JJ Dillon and Barry
Windham. The NWA World Heavyweight Champion cuts a promo hyping Tully
& Arn’s Tag Team Title defense tonight and reiterates his prophetic
comment that Lex Luger still has to make it to the Great American Bash.

– And wouldn’t you know it, after the introductions for the next match,
we cut back outside as Lex Luger’s limo arrives and he is immediately
besieged by the Four Horsemen. How dense is Luger for not picking up on
those subtle hints that Flair and his boys were going to f--- his s---
up? The Total Package receives a royal asskicking and ends up laid out
and busted open. Parking lot beatdowns in pro wrestling never get old,
and the Horsemen were the masters.

Photobucket
God, you’re an idiot, Lex.

– NWA United States Tag Team Championship: The Sheepherders (Luke
Williams & Butch Miller w/Rip Morgan) vs. The Fantastics (Bobby
Fulton & Tommy Rogers) ©

Since the last Clash in which the Fantastics lost to the Midnight
Express by disqualification, Fulton & Rogers gained revenge when
they won the US Tag Team Title from the Express the following month.
Only months away from beginning their WWF run as The Bushwhackers, the
Sheepherders were ruthless and rugged heels who hated Americans and had
Yankee turncoat Rip Morgan waving the flag of New Zealand in their
corner. Schiavone delves into the history between these two teams as the
Sheepherders start strong and isolate Fulton, but the match spills out
to the floor and Morgan accidentally clotheslines Luke Williams. The
Fantastics eventually clear the ring after some back-and-forth, but the
Sheepherders take control again and work over Rogers until a double-team
goes awry and Tommy makes the hot tag. Bobby punches away on Butch
Miller, but he’s too close to the Sheepherder corner and Luke gouges his
eyes. The wild and woolly New Zealanders dish out some more punishment
until Fulton takes them both down with a crossbody for a two-count. As
soon as Luke & Butch kick out, Rogers jumps on top of them and
referee Teddy Long registers another two-count. What the hell? Fulton is
back on top for another two, and then Rogers gets his turn to cover
both Sheepherders for two. Schiavone declares that we’ve never seen
anything like that before (mostly because it defies all self-contained
logic) as Miller finally rolls out and Fulton covers Williams for a more
conventional two-count.

Rogers maintains control of Williams until he goes to run off the ropes
and Miller pulls down the top rope. After taking a nasty spill to the
floor, Rogers is tossed against the guardrail and whacked across the
back with one of the title belts and a chair. Luke scores a near-fall
and the Sheepherders continue to batter Tommy as he gets in a couple of
hope spots, but they keep cutting him off before he can tag out.
Williams baits Fulton into stepping into the ring in order to distract
the ref, but their plan backfires when Rogers reverses an Irish-whip and
Luke bumps into a chair being held by Butch on the apron. Miller
crashes to the floor and Rogers makes the hot tag, allowing Fulton to
roll up Luke for the 1-2-3 at 19:29 to retain the NWA US Tag Team
Championship. The Sheepherders attack the Fantastics after the bell and
drive them out of the ring. ****½ Dare I say, the Fantastics worked a
better Rock ‘n’ Roll Express style than Ricky & Robert themselves,
taking a beating like nobody’s business and building to the hot tags.
This match shows what the Sheepherders were capable of before they were
completely sanitized by the WWF. It’s odd that Vince McMahon looked at
these two crazy brawlers and decided that they should be loveable
babyfaces who just liked to eat sardines and lick each other’s faces,
but obviously he knew what he was doing because I loved the Bushwhackers
as a kid and they are still remembered fondly today.

– Looking dapper in a white tuxedo complete with formal gloves, Steve
Williams joins Schiavone on commentary and almost immediately stumbles
over his words as he cuts a rambling promo in support of Lex Luger.
Didn’t anybody pay attention to his promo on the last Clash? Is this a
rib?

Photobucket
Who dressed this man?

– Still confined to the parking lot, Jim Ross has an update: Lex Luger
has been taken to the hospital, the Horsemen were heard bragging that
their plan worked, and Jim plans on being in contact with the Total
Package. That’s really not much of an update, JR.

– The Varsity Club (Mike Rotunda & Rick Steiner w/”Gamesmaster”
Kevin Sullivan) vs. Ronnie Garvin & “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin
(w/Precious)

In storyline terms, the Garvins were on-screen brothers, but Ron was
actually Jim’s stepfather. I hope they never did any promos talking
about “Mom” and growing up together. Wrestling is a strange business.
Rick Steiner is the Florida Heavyweight Champion, a title bequeathed to
him by Mike Rotunda when Rotunda won the NWA World Television Title.
Kevin Sullivan is locked in a small cage at ringside but unlike JJ
Dillon at the last Clash, he is not suspended in the air; adding to the
intrigue, Precious has been entrusted with the key. It’s a wild four-way
to start as the Garvins grab the Varsity Club in a pair of sleepers and
they control the early portion of the match. The real story is Sullivan
trying to lure Precious over by waving around some mysterious papers,
while the Club isolate Ronnie and work him over in their corner. Jimmy
finally gets the tag and grounds Steiner with a front-facelock as I am
in awe of how bad Dr. Death is on commentary, shouting nonsense like
Hacksaw Duggan. Ronnie tags back in and sunset-flips Rotunda for a
near-fall, but the Varsity Club resume their dominance as they punish
Ron in and out of the ring. Ronnie headbutts Steiner and tags Jimmy, who
rolls up the Dog-Faced Gremlin for the pin at 13:11. Meanwhile,
Precious has decided to release Sullivan from the cage and he starts
choking her. Thankfully, this provokes Steve Williams to abandon his
commentary post and make the save, but for some reason Precious is not
very appreciative and she shoves Gorgeous Jimmy as well before walking
out alone. Must be that time of the month, or maybe she’s sick of her
husband being such a huge pussy. ** Not much of a match, since it was
designed as a backdrop for the ambiguous Sullivan/Precious angle to
build to the “Tower of Doom” match at the Great American Bash.

– Tony and Bob discuss the Road Warriors/Powers of Pain feud and
announce a Skywalker scaffold match scheduled for the Bash, which was
such a stupid idea that Barbarian & Warlord left the NWA before it
could happen. Using a helpful diagram, they also explain the stacked
triple-cage concept for the Tower of Doom, which was a match originally
held in World Class Championship Wrestling. But just in case you thought
the NWA stole the idea, Tony and Bob display an ancient parchment,
allegedly provided by Kevin Sullivan, with a depiction of the “original”
Tower of Doom.

Photobucket

That’s all the proof I needed.

– “Latin Sensation” Al Perez (w/”Playboy” Gary Hart) vs. “Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff

This is billed as a Special International Challenge Match, although Al
Perez is from Miami so I’m not sure how it’s much different from any
other match Nikita Koloff has with an American. The commentators do a
good job of noting the bad blood between the two participants and
putting over Perez as a wrestling machine. The bout goes back-and-forth
with Nikita displaying his superior size and strength, but Perez dumps
him to the floor and Gary Hart slams Koloff’s face on a table. Perez
rams Koloff’s back against the apron and adds to the punishment with a
double-axhandle off the apron and a bodyslam on the concrete floor.
Perez tries to suplex Koloff back into the ring, but the Russian
Nightmare lands on top for a near-fall. The Latin Sensation targets the
lower back with knees and a poor-man’s camel clutch, but Nikita powers
out by lifting Al up on his shoulders in an electric chair slam. Using
sound wrestling psychology, Perez goes to the back again, but Koloff
takes the advantage and knocks Perez out of the ring. Gary Hart hops up
on the apron to distract Koloff as Larry Zbyszko runs in and blindsides
him for the disqualification at 11:51. Nikita manages to clothesline
Larry, but the 3-on-1 odds are overwhelming and Hart, Zbyszko, and Perez
lay Koloff out with a chain. **½ The work here was solid, but Perez was
too bland to be a heel and Koloff had become stale as a babyface. If
the roles were reversed, this might have been something cool.

– NWA World Tag Team Championship: “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson &
Tully Blanchard (w/James J. Dillon) © vs. Sting & “American Dream”
Dusty Rhodes

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your main event! Schiavone admits that
Sting & Dusty Rhodes don’t team up often but says they are two of
the NWA’s premier athletes, explaining why they would receive a title
shot. Early on, Arn Anderson accidentally clotheslines the ringpost
during a scuffle at ringside and Sting works the arm, but Arn makes the
tag and Sting & Dusty unload on Tully Blanchard. Rhodes applies the
figure-four on Blanchard, but Anderson does something dastardly to free
his partner while JJ Dillon distracts referee Teddy Long. The Horsemen
dominate the American Dream, but Dusty hits a flying lariat off the
ropes and even pulls out a dropkick (he must be feeling motivated)
before making the hot tag. Sting squashes Tully with the Stinger Splash
and goes for the Scorpion Deathlock, but he turns his attention to Arn
and Tully knocks Sting out of the ring. The Enforcer drops Sting’s ribs
on the guardrail and scores a two-count after a sharp elbow across the
back of the head, but Sting blocks a pump splash (Vader Bomb) with a
pair of knees to the gut. Both men crawl toward their respective
corners, but Arn makes it first and Tully stops Sting from tagging out.
As usual, the Horsemen are tag team precision personified as they
execute a spot that sees Sting block a suplex from Anderson, so
Blanchard dives over his own partner for a sunset flip on Sting.
However, Sting won’t go down so Arn clotheslines him and Tully gets a
near-fall.

Tully dumps Sting out of the ring and Arn drills him with a DDT on the
floor, but Sting kicks out at one when Arn tries to pin him. Was that
the NWA’s way of proving that their wrestlers are tougher? In the WWF, a
whole feud was based around Jake Roberts DDTing Ricky Steamboat on the
floor, but here it’s basically a transition move. Sting hotshots Tully
to escape the Horsemen’s wrath and makes the hot tag to a fresh Dusty,
who unleashes elbows on Anderson, Blanchard, and Dillon. The big
elbowdrop on Arn only gets a one-count as Tully breaks the pin and all
four men are in the ring. Sting tosses the ref aside and brawls with
Blanchard at ringside while Rhodes and Anderson slug it out in the
squared circle. Dusty shoves the ref away and grabs Arn, but Barry
Windham runs down in a suit and tie and leaps off the top turnbuckle
onto the American Dream. Teddy Long has finally seen enough and calls
for the bell at 10:58, although no result is announced. Ric Flair also
runs in to stomp Sting while Windham locks in the clawhold on Rhodes,
busting the Dream’s forehead wide open with the sheer strength of his
gloved hand. ****¼ A hot main event furthering the Four Horsemen’s issues
with both Dusty and Sting, putting Windham and his clawhold over strong
at the end.

Photobucket
Now THAT’S a clawhold.

– Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross, and Bob Caudle wrap things up after a final
commercial break. Jim still plans on going to the hospital and promises
an update on Lex Luger this Saturday night at 6:05 on the Superstation,
while Tony urges us to stay tuned for the Atlanta Braves. Ahh, good ol’
TBS.

The Rundown: Although it wasn’t as strong a show as the first Clash of the Champions,
Miami Mayhem was a good effort and succeeded at pushing the storyline
between Ric Flair and Lex Luger toward their “Match of the Century” at
the Great American Bash. The beginning of the show was slow with only
one match and a lot of talking, but it picked up with the excellent
Fantastics/Sheepherders collision and the World Tag Team Title showdown
was a fun match-up. From the limousines arriving to the end-of-show
beatdown, the second Clash felt like a precursor to the nWo-dominated
editions of Nitro in the mid ’90s: a live two-hour show in primetime,
built mainly around the exploits of the top heel faction, both in and
out of the ring. Clash II drew another impressive TV rating, this time
on a Wednesday night and without the hook that Sting/Flair provided in
March, ensuring that we would see many more Clashes to come.