Rock Star Gary reflects on NWA Clash of the Champions

Live from Greensboro, NC

Airdate: March 27, 1988

Attendance:  6,000

Hosted by Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross, and Bob Caudle

In previous reflections, we learned that Vince McMahon and the WWF initially opposed Starrcade ’87 with Survivor Series then subsequently Bunkhouse Stampede with Royal Rumble on USA. With the help of TBS, Jim Crockett Promotions counter-attacked by opposing WrestleMania IV with this show. Back in 1988, despite my admiration for Savage, I tuned in to watch this show instead. Let’s see what transpired.

Match 1 for the NWA World TV title: Mike Rotunda (w/ Kevin Sullivan) versus “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious)

Highlights:

First round:

  • This match was contested under amateur rules (one count versus three count) with three five-minute rounds.
  • Rotunda was a member of Sullivan’s Varsity Club as an alumnus of Syracuse University.
  • Early on, Garvin countered an arm drag with one of his own followed by a hip toss.
  • Next, he slammed him but couldn’t make the lateral press as Rotunda exited the ring to regroup.
  • Upon Rotunda’s return, Garvin reversed an Irish whip and gave him a back elbow.
  • After Rotunda guillotined Garvin using the top rope, he gave Garvin a cross-corner whip followed by a clothesline.

Second round:

  • During the 30-second rest period, Rotunda nailed Garvin.
  • After a cross-corner whip, Rotunda slammed Garvin then mounted the top turnbuckle.
  • Garvin subsequently caught and slammed him down to the mat.
  • Following that, he gave Rotunda a back drop and attempted a brainbuster.
  • However, Sullivan got up on the apron only to be stopped by Precious. You go, girl!
  • While Sullivan had Precious in his clutches, Garvin nailed him.
  • Seeing the distraction, Rotunda rolled Garvin up for the pin.
  • Rotunda retained.

Rating: *

Summary:  Garvin wasn’t the right opponent for this type of stipulation. Rotunda will need an opponent better known for his amateur background for this stipulation to work. So why was Garvin here?

After the match, Garvin gives Rotunda a brainbuster, but Sullivan attacks him from behind. While Garvin retaliates against Sullivan, University of Michigan alumnus Rick Steiner comes in to aid his “coach.” Immediately, Precious, carrying a 2×4, comes in and wallops Steiner with it. She then grabs the coat hanger and chokes Sullivan with it. Fortunately for her, Garvin pulls her to safety before the Varsity Club can pummel her. I smell an upcoming feud here.

After a commercial break, Caudle interviews “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. At the beginning of the show, Tony and Caudle mentioned the incident that occurred on World Championship Wrestling involving Rhodes, Magnum T.A., and promoter Jim Crockett (aired 3/26, taped 3/23). Speaking of which, Williams still supports Rhodes despite the violent attack. Perhaps Williams still has jet lag from his return flight from Japan. Regardless, he wants to challenge the winner of the Flair-Sting match and equates himself to a bullet while the other NWA wrestlers aren’t “Superman.” Never mind the jet lag, bartender, I’ll have what he’s having.

Match 2 for the US tag team titles: The Midnight Express (champions w/ Jim Cornette) versus the Fantastics

Highlights:

  • With Cornette in the ring introducing his team, a group of fans held up letters spelling his name.
  • At the onset, all four men brawled in the ring then spilled outside.
  • Rogers blocked Lane’s attempt to ram him into the ring post then rammed Lane.
  • Back in the ring, Rogers mounted the top turnbuckle and nailed Lane.
  • Eaton then tried to decapitate Fulton with a steel chair but hit the ring post with it instead.
  • Subsequently, Fulton grabbed the chair and hammered Eaton with it.
  • After a Rogers’ hip toss, the Fantastics gave Lane a double back drop.
  • Outside the ring, a table got involved as Lane rammed Rogers into a chair held by Cornette.
  • After order was restored, following a leap frog by Rogers, he dropkicked Eaton into a slam by Fulton.
  • The Fantastics then gave the Midnight Express cross-corner whips from adjacent corners resulting in flips by both Lane and Eaton.
  • Fulton then gave Eaton the ten-punch count-along.
  • Although Rogers reversed an Irish whip from Eaton, he fell victim to a spectacular schoolboy-clothesline double-team.
  • After a savate kick by Lane, Eaton tagged in and force-fed Rogers a knuckle sandwich.
  • While Ross listed the possible stand-by matches (Zbyszko versus Douglas for Zbyszko’s title and Rick Steiner versus Ricky Santana), Eaton rammed Rogers into a table held by Cornette while Fulton distracted referee Randy Anderson.
  • Lane tagged back in and delivered a leg drop followed by an elbow drop.
  • Eaton tagged back in, prevented Rogers from tagging out, and gave him a powerslam.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle and hit the big elbow.
  • Lane came in and gave Rogers a gutwrench suplex.
  • While Lane held Rogers across his knee, Eaton leaped from the top turnbuckle and delivered an elbow.
  • He then gave Rogers the ten-punch count-along but only gave him five.
  • Afterward, Rogers came back with a sunset flip to Lane, but once again, Fulton occupied Anderson’s attention.
  • After a reverse enziguri, Lane tossed Rogers out to the concrete floor.
  • With Anderson again occupied with Fulton, Eaton slammed Rogers on the table. OUCH!
  • Following that, Eaton delivered a bulldog to Rogers on the table. Wow!
  • Back in the ring, after Lane gave Rogers a drop toehold, Eaton delivered an elbow drop.
  • False tag occurred as Anderson was occupied with Lane.
  • While Fulton tossed Anderson over the top rope after losing his argument, Cornette entered the ring and hammered Rogers in the midsection with the tennis racquet.
  • As Eaton held Fulton, Cornette reared back with the racquet but nailed Eaton instead.
  • Fulton then nailed Cornette.
  • When Rogers mounted the top turnbuckle, the Fantastics used the Midnight Express’ own move on Eaton—the Rocket Launcher.
  • Tommy Young entered the ring.
  • 1-2-3.
  • WE HAVE NEW CHAMPIONS!

Rating: ****1/2

Summary: Excellent double-team moves and nefariousness from the Midnight Express made this a match not-to-be-missed. Wow!

After the match, Lane dropkicks Rogers out of the ring as Anderson reverses Young’s decision and disqualifies the Fantastics. BOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Thanks, Dusty. Anyway, Lane rams Rogers shoulder-first into the ring post as Cornette wallops Fulton in the back with the racquet. Subsequently, he demolishes both Anderson and Young with it. After the Midnight Express deliver a flapjack to Fulton, Lane whips Fulton with Cornette’s belt. As the Express held Fulton across the top rope, Cornette whips Fulton relentlessly. Ultimately, Rogers chases the heels away with a steel chair. Great match!

After a commercial break, Ken Osmond shills his new show The New Leave It to Beaver and interviews Cornette. If you’re not familiar with Osmond, he played Eddie Haskell in the original show.

Caudle then interviews Al Perez with Gary Hart. They challenge Rhodes for the US title. Caudle then shills the Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup on 4/22-23.

We then see a pre-recorded video of Frances Crockett who names the top 10 seeds for the tournament:

  1. Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard
  2. Nikita Koloff and Dusty Rhodes
  3. The Road Warriors
  4. The Midnight Express
  5. The Powers of Pain
  6. Barry Windham and Lex Luger
  7. The Fantastics
  8. The Varsity Club
  9. Sting and Ron Garvin
  10. Ivan Koloff and Dick Murdoch

Match 3 (Chicago street fight barbed-wire six-man): The Road Warriors & the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes (w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering) versus the Powers of Pain & Ivan Koloff (w/ Paul Jones)

Highlights:

  • While Rhodes wore face paint in a show of solidarity, Animal wore a hockey mask due to these shenanigans perpetrated by the Powers of Pain.
  • To begin the match, Hawk gave Warlord a standing dropkick.
  • In the meantime, Animal raked Barbarian’s forehead against the barbed wire.
  • Also, Rhodes did the same to Koloff.
  • After Animal exited the ring to chase Jones, he dragged Barbarian outside and rammed him face-first into the ring post.
  • While Hawk delivered another dropkick to Barbarian, Warlord ripped at Animal’s injured eye.
  • Koloff was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Hawk then gave him a military press slam.
  • Shortly after, Koloff raked Rhodes’s forehead against the barbed wire.
  • Smartly, Animal delivered head butts to the Powers of Pain using his hockey mask.
  • A BUSTED OPEN Rhodes then gave Warlord the flip, flop, and fly.
  • He then gave Barbarian the DDT followed by one to Koloff.
  • Hawk then mounted the top turnbuckle and nailed Warlord.
  • After Animal received a slam from Warlord, he no-sold it and gave Warlord a powerslam.
  • Barbarian then mounted the top turnbuckle but hit Warlord instead of Animal with a diving head butt.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The Road Warriors and Rhodes won.

Rating: ***

Summary:  Exciting blow-off to the angle here.

After the match, Barbarian gives Animal the Mafia kick knocking the hockey mask off. Warlord then wraps his fist with the chain and pummels Animal’s injured eye. While Koloff whips Hawk with the chain, Barbarian gives Animal the business. Finally, Rhodes and Hawk clear the ring.

After the commercial break, Tony shills NWA Main Event beginning next Sunday. Caudle then interviews Nikita Koloff who’s wearing a light-colored suit and a flat-top. Koloff shills his campaign against drugs with the slogan: “Get high on sports.” Subtly, he mentions his wife, Mandy, who subsequently died from Hodgkin’s disease. He then vows to win the World title and defend the SuperPowers’ Cup victory.

Match 4 for the NWA World tag team titles: The “Enforcer” Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (champions w/ JJ Dillon) versus the “Total Package” Lex Luger & Barry Windham

Highlights:

  • After Blanchard and Anderson gave Luger a cross-corner whip, Luger bolted out of the corner and clotheslined Blanchard. Immediately following, he clotheslined Anderson.
  • Next, Luger gave Blanchard a powerslam to Blanchard.
  • He then hooked Blanchard in the Torture Rack until Anderson clipped his knee.
  • Anderson then tried a spinning toe hold, but Luger kicked him directly into Blanchard knocking him to the concrete floor.
  • Windham tagged in and gave the Horsemen a double noggin knocker.
  • He then followed with a lariat to Blanchard.
  • A subsequent powerslam by Windham almost got 3.
  • Next, Windham hooked the sleeper, but Blanchard and Windham spilled through the ropes to the concrete floor.
  • Fortunately for Windham, he maintained the hold.
  • Upon his return to the ring, Blanchard guillotined Windham using the top rope.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle, but Windham caught and slammed him down to the mat.
  • After nailing Anderson, Windham hooked the abdominal stretch on Blanchard.
  • Dillon got up on the apron to distract referee Tommy Young. Meanwhile, Anderson came in and nailed Windham to break the hold.
  • He then gave Windham the DDT for 2.
  • Following that, Anderson delivered a SPINEBUSTER but only got 2.
  • When attempting to pin Windham’s shoulders down, Anderson landed on Windham’s knees crotching himself. OUCH!
  • Shortly after, Windham hit a cross body block on Blanchard for 2.
  • After a mid-ring collision, both wrestlers were down.
  • They then tried a pinfall reversal sequence, and Windham got the advantage with a gutwrench suplex.
  • Later on, Blanchard hit his finisher—the slingshot suplex—but only got 2.
  • Hot tag Luger.
  • After giving Arn a pair of clotheslines, he gave the Horsemen another double noggin knocker.
  • Luger then hit the powerslam on Arn.
  • All four men were in the ring.
  • Dillon got up on the apron holding a chair.
  • Unfortunately for the Horsemen, Luger rammed Arn right into it.
  • 1-2-3.
  • WE HAVE NEW CHAMPIONS!
  • The crowd went CRAZY!

Rating: ****

Summary:  Excellent fast-paced tag match that showcased all four wrestlers well.

Match 5 for the NWA World title: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (champion w/ JJ Dillon) versus Sting

Highlights:

  • According to ring announcer Tom Miller, THERE MUST BE A WINNER with a 45-minute time limit.
  • The judges at ringside included Gary Juster (who booked the arena), Sandy Scott (front office worker within JCP and future co-founder of SMW), Patty Mullen, Kenny Osmond, and Jason Hervey (Wonder Years).
  • During the match, Dillon was suspended in a cage high above the ring.
  • A chop by Flair echoed throughout the Greensboro Coliseum, but Sting no-sold it.
  • He then gave Flair a hip toss and a dropkick causing Flair to exit the ring to regroup.
  • After a pair of leap frogs by Sting, he gave Flair a military press slam followed by a flying headscissors.
  • Sting then no-sold another chop, threatened the ten-punch count-along, but backed off.
  • Upon delivering another hip toss and dropkick, a Flair flop
  • Flair then tried to toss Sting outside the ring, but Sting rebounded into the ring quickly.
  • He then gave Flair the ten-punch count-along in a great visual.
  • Shortly after, he gave Flair a gorilla press slam then hooked a bear hug.
  • Sting then took Flair down while still maintaining the hold and got 2.
  • Fifteen minutes in, Sting released the hold but missed an elbow drop.
  • He then gave Flair a cross-corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through.
  • Again, Sting attempted the ten-punch count-along, but Flair countered with an inverted atomic drop.
  • Flair then took Sting outside the ring and whipped him back-first into the steel railing twice.
  • Back in the ring, Flair delivered a pair of chops then gave Sting a HARD cross-corner whip.
  • Yet another HARD cross-corner whip by Flair followed.
  • Shortly after, Flair tossed Sting outside the ring again.
  • Flair followed him, but referee Tommy Young got a steel chair away from Flair.
  • He then whipped Sting back-first into the steel railing for a third time.
  • Back in the ring, Flair unleashed some chops until Sting came ALIVE!
  • An energized Sting then nailed Flair sending him over the top rope to the concrete floor.
  • He followed Flair, leaned him against the ring post, but nailed it instead of Flair with his arm.
  • Back in the ring, Sting gave Flair a hip toss and clothesline for 2.
  • With Flair on the apron, Sting delivered a vertical suplex.
  • He then attempted the Scorpion death lock, but Flair made the ropes.
  • Twenty-five minutes in, Sting no-sold another chop and nailed Flair. That resulted in Flair flop #2.
  • After yet another hip toss, Sting tried to clothesline Flair but flew over the top rope down to the concrete floor instead.
  • Flair then guillotined Sting using the top rope.
  • Sting came back, mounted the top turnbuckle, and hit a flying body press for only 2.
  • Flair then gave Sting a knee crusher.
  • After another knee crusher, Sting rolled out of the ring to regroup.
  • Back in the ring, Flair gave Sting a belly-to-back suplex.
  • Thirty minutes in, Flair hooked a rope-assisted figure-four leg lock.
  • After a couple of minutes, Sting dragged Flair to the middle of the ring then reversed the hold.
  • Will Flair submit?
  • No, he made the ropes to break the hold.
  • Flair then went to the apron, tried to suplex Sting outside the ring, but Sting countered by suplexing Flair back into the ring.
  • He then tried to splash Flair but ate knees.
  • They fought over an abdominal stretch, and Sting got the advantage.
  • Thirty-five minutes in, Flair missed an elbow drop.
  • After a chop, Flair mounted the top turnbuckle, got caught and slammed down to the mat.
  • Sting then got 2.
  • Next, Sting pulled Flair by the leg and crotched him using the ring post. OUCH!
  • Sting then hooked the figure-four leg lock, but Flair made the ropes.
  • Another ten-punch count-along was followed by yet another hip toss. They must have been on clearance.
  • Nonetheless, out of frustration, Flair pushed Young, but Young pushed back sending the champion down to the mat.
  • A subsequent cross-corner whip by Sting resulted in a Flair flip to the concrete floor.
  • Sting followed Flair and made him taste the steel railing. It must have tasted like the cornmeal-crusted Carolina catfish at Lucky 32.
  • He then rammed Flair face-first into the judges’ table.
  • Afterward, Sting rammed Flair face-first into the ring post.
  • Forty minutes in, Flair used a sunset flip to re-enter the ring but ate a knuckle sandwich instead.
  • Yet another ten-punch count-along by Sting who followed with a clothesline for 2 only because Flair’s foot was on the bottom rope.
  • After a cross-corner whip, Sting attempted the Stinger splash but came up empty.
  • With three minutes remaining, Flair hooked a sleeper, but Sting used momentum to send Flair face-first into the top turnbuckle.
  • Flair flop #3 was the end result.
  • Flair then tossed Sting outside the ring, but Sting used a sunset flip to re-enter.
  • With two minutes remaining, Flair hooked the ropes, but Young caught him.
  • Sting then took Flair down and got 2.
  • Another cross-corner whip by Sting resulted in Flair flip #2, but Flair caught his balance, mounted the adjacent top turnbuckle, and hit a flying body press.
  • Again, Sting used momentum to land on top…but only got 2. Wow! That was close!
  • One minute remained, and Sting delivered yet another ten-punch count-along.
  • Knowing he only had so much time, he stopped and gave Flair another cross-corner whip.
  • He then hit the Stinger splash and hooked the Scorpion death lock with only 30 seconds left.
  • Bell rang to end the match. Who will the judges choose as the winner?

Rating: ****1/2

Summary:  How to Make a Midcarder into a Main Eventer 101 by Ric Flair. I truly believe Sting was Flair’s best student during their careers, and this match was the opening chapter. Sting’s moveset needed a lot of additions as he repeated moves quite a bit here. Nevertheless, this match was phenomenal and a must-see for all wrestling fans.

After the match, we go to the scorecards:

Patty Mullen: Flair

Gary Juster: Sting

Sandy Scott: draw

Miller announces the decision as a draw which allows Flair to retain the title.

Conclusion:  Hands-down, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. If you’ve never seen this show, you owe it to yourself as a fan to watch it from beginning to end. You will not be disappointed. Even if you have seen it, watch it again because it was THAT exciting.

With that being said, if I were to compare WrestleMania IV to this show, Clash wins hands-down. Sorry, Vinnie Mac.

See you for NWA Crockett Cup ‘88!

Rating: 5.80

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