Clash Countdown: #19

The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XIX – Welcome to the first ever Smarks.com EXCLUSIVE Retro Rant, as it was just one of those “hang out and watch wrestling” nights. Wrestleline gets King of the Ring 93 this weekend. This would be Bill Watts’ first Clash, as WCW for some stupid reason wanted to re-establish their relationship with the NWA and decided to host the NWA World tag team title tournament. So this is the first round of matches, with weird arbitrary “seeding” that Ross & Jesse question all night long.  (TOURNAMENTS ARE AWESOME!)  – Live from Charleston, SC – Your hosts are JR & Jesse Ventura, with various hangers-on contributing backstage. – Round One: Dean & Joe Malenko v. Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat. The Malenkos are representing “Europe” here. No particular country, just Europe. Dean wasn’t “known” at this point. Joe & Steamboat start and do a mat thing. Test of strength, into a pinfall try for Steamboat, into an armdrag. Hiptoss and Joe begs off. Dean in, and he gets armdragged. Koloff comes in with a bearhug, but Joe dropkicks them over on a bodyslam attempt and Dean gets two. Koloff cleans house. Dean gets a dropkick and suplex, which is no-sold by Koloff. Nikita drops Dean on his face and Steamboat works the arm again. Joe in, same story. Joe gets some European uppercuts, however, and the Malenkos double-team to take over. Dean uses an arm & leg submission move, and Joe gets a short-arm clothesline for two. Steamboat facejams Joe despite some serious miscommunication, and hot tags Koloff. Sickle finishes Dean at 9:38. Match never really went anywhere, but it was solid enough an opener. **1/2 – Tom Zenk & Marcus Bagwell v. Ravishing Rick Rude & Stunning Steve Austin. The world just didn’t get enough Rude & Austin tag matches before the Alliance broke up. Steve is using a Six-Man title instead of the TV title for some reason here. (Because WCW?) Rude kills Bagwell with a clothesline and Austin hammers away on him. Zenk comes in and hold Austin to an impasse. Rude pounds the shit out of him, and gets a dropkick. High suplex gets two. Zenk cradles Austin for two. Bagwell comes in and tries hitting Rude in the abs, but that’s a futile goal, because he’s got ABS OF STEEL, BABY. You’d think people would learn after all those years not to hit Rude in the abs. (That is a spot that is WOEFULLY lacking in today’s product.)  Bagwell hits boot on a blind charge, and the Alliance kicks his ass some more. Rude gets a backdrop suplex, but Bagwell manages to tag Zenk. HE gets killed, too. You get the feeling the heels are just toying with them at this point? Piledriver gets two for Rude, and Austin drops him on the top rope for two. Hot tag Bagwell. Bodypress gets two, but Austin gets a backbreaker for two and the Rude Awakening puts the pretty boys out of their misery at 7:50. Just an absolute slaughter from the opening bell. You’d think Bill Watts was booking or something. * – Gordy & Williams cut a promo, griping about having to go through the formality of beating their first-round opponents and then having to wait for the Steiners to beat theirs. – Larry & Jeff O’Day v. The Miracle Violence Connection. The O’Days are an Australian team, and Larry’s physique makes Verne Gagne look like HHH. Gordy outwrestles Larry and uses a half-crab, then Doc just kicks the hell out of him. Jeff comes in and Doc, looking bored with the rookie kid, unleashes a half-assed version of the backdrop driver. Ye gods. Gordy comes in and Jeff gets a sunset flip for two. Larry tries again and Gordy doesn’t go so easy on the father, hitting a backdrop driver full on and nearly killing the poor guy, in a good way. Oklahoma Stampede, and Larry is O’Dead at 2:35. DUD That’s what they call a “squash” in that there “insider lingo”. – Sting (in a tuxedo with matching facepaint) is out to basically remind us that he’s wrestling Vader at the Bash 92 PPV. – Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v. Bobby Eaton & Arn Anderson. Windham and Arn start and work off a headlock for a bit. Windham hits knee on a blind charge, but he dropkicks Arn out. The heels regroup and Eaton comes in, as does Dustin. Eaton goes low off a leapfrog, but takes three bionic elbows and a big boot that puts him on the floor. Paul has a fit. Arn comes in and gets pinballed by the faces, so he begs off and confers with Paul E. Paul tells them to go to Plan #2, so Eaton kicks Windham in the head coming off the ropes and we’re in business. Jesse makes sure to praise Paul’s plan. The Alliance cheats like nuts, but Barry manages to tag Dustin. Well-timed cheating ends that rally pretty quickly. Dustin misses a bodypress and splats on the floor, and of course gets a phone to the back while he’s out there. Eaton gets a top rope kneedrop for two. Top rope is allowed because this is NWA rules and not Bill Watts Dumbshit Rules. Arn hits the chinlock, then Eaton bulldogs Rhodes for two. Another one is blocked, false tag to Windham. Arn gets the spinebuster with the ref distracted, and Eaton gets two. Alabama Jam misses, and Dustin comes back with the bulldog for the pin at 10:21. No hot tag? Solid match, as usual with these guys. ***  (Wait, what happened to the Enforcers?  Weird that they’d just switch back to Eaton like that.)  – Meanwhile, the “Puerto Rican Situation” begins, as the Steiners’ supposed first-round opponents (Miguel Perez & “El Boricua”) have been mysteriously injured in a car wreck in the parking lot, and oddly enough Gordy & Williams are the only witnesses. Gordy re-enacts the injuries suffered. This was pretty funny. – The Silver Kings v. The Freebirds. Silver King #1 would be the guy you know as Silver King, and #2 is presumably Dr. Wagner Jr. without his mask, before he moved to Japan and became a big star there. That’s just a guess, though. Big brawl and King #1 dropkicks Hayes, but collides with his own partner. The Birds double-team #1, but #2 comes in and controls Garvin. Senton misses and Garvin gets two. The Kings get a double-team senton and a top rope elbow on Hayes for two. Double leg lariat, but Hayes backdrops #1 and stalls. Birds double-team #1 again, but he tags #2. He dropkicks Hayes as the match totally goes to hell. Even JR starts making excuses, noting that “it’s an unorthodox type of match because of the diversity of styles”. That’d be JR-speak for “It sucks”. Brawl outside and the King hit highspots, but collide on one of them and Hayes cradles #1 for the pin at 6:29. I think someone just told them to go home and get it over with, because this match was dying a quick death before our eyes. ½*  (I’m shocked and appalled that a Freebirds match would go so horribly wrong.)  – Brian Pillman & Justin Thunder Liger v. Chris Benoit & Beef Wellington. STAMPEDE REUNION! Benoit & Liger start and Benoit takes him down. Test of strength, Liger takes Benoit down. Liger gets a pair of armdrags, and Benoit misses a dropkick, as does Liger. Pillman & Beef go next, as Beef overpowers him, but Pillman dropkicks him out, dropkicks him off the apron and charges him. Beef counters by slingshotting in with a clothesline. Snap suplex and Beef tosses Pillman, but when he tries to suplex him in, Brian reverses and suplexes Wellington to the floor, where Watts has of course removed the “pretty blue mats”. Back in, Liger comes in and Beef goes to the leg. Benoit lays in the chops and clotheslines him, then gets an enzuigiri. Wellington comes in, but misses a plancha. Back in, Pillman & Liger double-team Beef for a bit, but Pillman gets caught in the Canadian corner. Pillman sidesteps a Benoit charge and sends hm out, however. Back in, they go up top and Pillman gets an INSANE backdrop superplex and follows with a missile dropkick, and Benoit rightly takes a breather. Pillman follows with a tope, and they go all-out with CANADIAN VIOLENCE until the crowd on the floor is going nuts. See, Americans shoot each other, Canadians chop each other. (Sadly, various chop control laws have been enacted as of late, restricting it to chopping ranges and/or life-threatening home defense situations.  Bunch of commies.)  Back in, Beef comes in and goes with Liger. He misses a charge, bails, and Liger follows with a plancha. Back in, Beef blocks a crucifix with a fallaway slam for two. Benoit gets a backdrop suplex, which Liger counters for two. Liger hits a leg lariat, which sends Benoit out, and Liger introduces the world to the Asai Moonsault, and the crowd goes NUTS. Pillman comes in, but gets kicked in the face by Wellington on a rollup attempt. Beef goes up and misses a dropkick. Liger suplexes Beef for two, pier six erupts. Pillman & Benoit just KILL each other with chops on the outside, as you know that they’re loving the chance to work together on national TV. Even JR is in shock at the brutality they’re unleashing on each other. Back in, they try a double noggin knocker, but Beef & Benoit collide, and Liger snaps off a moonsault for the pin at 11:31 to a huge pop and match of the night honors. ****1/4 Of course, EVERYONE IN THE MATCH was completely buried immediately afterwards, but Bill Watts was never a big fan of the little guys. I thought that, at very least, Benoit & Wellington would have earned a job from that performance, but I guess that would have made sense or something.  (I’d think Benoit at least was making way better money in Japan anyway.  Wellington, though, definitely.)  – The Head Hunters v. Hiroshi Hase & Akira Nogami. The Hunters are not the big fat black guys, but rather two generic masked guys, who I checked into and discovered to be Arn Anderson & Bob Cook. JR decides to randomly designate the first guy as #2. He avalanches Nogami, but gets hit with an enzuigiri out of nowhere. #1 comes in and hotshots Nogami, but takes a leg lariat. Hase beats on #1 and gets a big kick, and Nogami splashes him off the top, but Hase misses a kneedrop. #2 gets a sideslam for two. Double suplex gets two for the Hunters. Elbowdrop gets two and I’m lost. Hase & Nogami solve my program by finishing them with stereo suplexes at 5:09. Just a squash. ¾* – Jesse Ventura brings out Ron Simmons for an interview. He wants to be the first black champion, doncha know. Harley Race interrupts and brings Super Invader with him. Race comments that Simmons doesn’t deserve to be in the same ring with a 7-time champion because, and I’m quoting here, “a negro like you used to carry my bags”. Ah, WCW, champion of political correctness. Ron Simmons beats the stuffing out of both the heels. (Wow, that’s…uh…something.)  – Tony Schiavone brings out Bill Watts, looking for a solution to the Puerto Rican Situation. Seriously, they called it that all night, like it was some sort of diplomatic crisis. Apparently the NWA wants the Steiners v. MVC for the PPV, but Watts thinks that’s bullshit and DEMANDS that the second round starts RIGHT NOW. – The Steiner Brothers v. The Miracle Violence Connection. Rick & Gordy start and do some mat wrestling. Gordy works the knee, Rick makes the ropes. Scott comes in, but can’t belly to belly Gordy because he doesn’t appear to be cooperating, either inside or outside the storyline. They end up going to the mat and fighting over a bridge, and again Gordy acts like a dick and keeps shifting his weight down to prevent Scott from finishing the move. Weird. Doc in, and they work on the mat. Everyone trades some words, and then backs off. Rick comes in a release belly to belly and Doc bails. Back in, more words are exchanged and Doc takes him down. They work on the mat again, boring the crowd. Rick finally gets frustrated and goes ground & pound on him, and THAT wakes the crowd up. Doc rips his head off with a clothesline, however, and Gordy adds his own for two. Running clothesline, but Rick suplexes him and Scott comes in. Backdrop for Gordy leads to a butterfly powerbomb, but he airballs on the Frankensteiner and Gordy hooks an STF. Gordy drops Scott on Doc’s knee, and Williams gets a backbreaker for two. Gordy follows with a powerslam and kneebar. Double-shoulderblock gets two. Scott mulekicks Doc, hot tag Rick. He and Gordy slug it out, but the MVC double-team him. Powerslam on Doc, but the ref reveals that he didn’t see that tag after all. Doc clips Scott outside, and back in hits a gorilla slam for two. Big brawl, Scott gets clipped, and Doc falls on top for the pin at 15:00. Really weird, stiff, shootish type of match that turned into a standard power match by the end. *** Williams & Gordy advanced into the semi-finals with that win, beat Steamboat & Koloff there, and beat Windham & Rhodes in the finals on the PPV to win the NWA World tag titles.  (Hey, SPOILER ALERT, jerk!)  The Bottom Line: Well, for completeness sake you should really follow this show immediately with the Great American Bash 92 PPV to get the entire tournament and the Sting-Vader match they spent the whole show hyping. This show stands up very well on it’s own, however, with a great Stampede tag match and some good stuff from the usual suspects in WCW. In retrospect, hiring Bill Watts and destroying the Dangerous Alliance storyline in exchange for pushing Doc & Gordy proved to be a HUGE mistake, as the dwindling attendance and ratings proved shortly after. Mildly recommended.