Wrestling Observer Flashback – 09.05.94 (Part 1)
Oh man, this is IT.
Summerslam! Clash of Champions! The NWA title tournament!
STRAP YOURSELF IN, KEMOSABE! It’s so big we have to split over two days!
– In the top story, the Clash of Champions set all kinds of ratings records for WCW thanks to the Flair/Hogan main event. The show drew a 4.5 rating overall, making the second biggest wrestling show in the history of TBS. In particular, the Flair-Hogan main event set a record as the highest rated match ever on cable TV, with a 6.7 rating.
– That being said, Dave gave the show a thumbs up because the wrestling was good and he thought the Nancy Kerrigan angle was different and effective. In fact, the ending was put together with the original intent of building as much sympathy on the babyface as possible to soften the blow of a title change, and in fact the title change was the original plan, but…
– Also, and this is the only time you’re gonna hear this from him, Dave feels the need to defend Michael Buffer screwing up the finish. Because he comes from legit boxing background, where someone losing the match by any means results in a title change, so how the hell was he supposed to know about wrestling’s wacky rules where promoters came up with multiple ways to screw fans out of a title change?
– Also, Hogan selling a career ending injury for approximately 10 minutes and then forgetting about it by the end of the night MIGHT have left a sour taste in people’s mouths.
– Also also, yeah, the booking wasn’t original, and in fact the entire Hogan angle was stolen verbatim from the Sting-Rude angle in 1991, but when you’re losing $6 million a year you might as well steal what worked in the past, because obviously what you’re doing now isn’t working.
– Also also also, in all fairness, WCW was so terrible in the past 7 years that they’ve driven away most of the fans who remember those original angles anyway, so it’s mostly new to the current fanbase.
– Regardless, Dave notes that giving Hogan $2 million a year and then not only building the entire company around him, but building the company AS him, will be discussed endlessly for years to come. For now, it’s justified.
– And now, Dave presents The Facts.
– FACT: WCW was dying, and in fact was just about dead, before he got there. The company was on life support, with only Ted Turner’s devotion to wrestling keeping TBS from pulling the plug.
– FACT: Because they are spending millions of dollars on Hogan, they literally cannot afford NOT to build the company around him.
– FACT: In order to get Hogan, they had to present him as an unbeatable superman. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, well, everyone knew the situation going in, so tough shit.
– ALTERNATIVE FACT: The WCW title “doesn’t mean dog crap” anyway. To re-establish prestige, it was probably best to refrain from switching it around too much, even though it makes Hogan look like an out-of-control egomaniac. Plus there’s a lot of years of Hogan left, so it’s best to save him getting screwed out of the title for someone who isn’t as good on the promo side or in the ring as Flair. Note that Dave doesn’t AGREE with this viewpoint, but he’s presenting it in the interest of fairness.
– FACT: Hogan wants a four-year contract when the current deal expires in December, and “Thunder in Paradise” miraculously got renewed for 22 episodes, so you can rest assured that he’s not doing anything to make himself look weak until he gets paid.
– To the show!
– The Clash drew a pathetic 3400 paid to Cedar Rapids, by the way, so it’s not all good news.
1. The Nasty Boys beat Pretty Wonderful in a non-title match in 9:34. They kept it moving, but it was sloppy because the Nasties can only do the crazy brawls that are now banned. *1/2
Hogan came out for an interview at this point and they did the Kerrigan angle with the knee. The person under the mask was Arn Anderson, but it’s “actually” Curt Hennig. He’s under contract to the WWF until November, at which point the next Clash will be main-evented by Hogan & Sting v. Flair & Hennig. (Or…something much, much worse.)
2. Ricky Steamboat beat Steve Austin to win the US title in 16:05. Started slow, but Steamboat started hitting near-fall after near-fall as a part of his comeback and they were moving at a record pace before he got the pin with an inside cradle. And of course, the announcers ignored the match and talked about Hogan. (Yeah, well, get used to that for roughly the next 6 years.) ***3/4 On the bright side, at least they finally learned to sell an angle properly. (Ironically, the ACTUAL career-ending angle took place during this match.)
Honky Tonk Man debuted his “original” new song, as Dave wonders if you can get in trouble for plagiarizing yourself? (Come on, Dave, the Fogerty thing JUST HAPPENED at that point! Read the news!)
(Short answer: Yes, you can get in trouble for stealing from yourself, but then you crush the accusers in court.)
3. Dusty & Dustin beat Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck in 7:27 by DQ. Dusty “blows up jogging his memory”, so the match was somewhat limited by what he can do in the ring. Continuing his positive outlook on the show, Dave notes that Dusty wore jeans, a t-shirt and jean jacket so at least we were spared the sight of him shirtless. In non-backhanded positivity, Dave does admit that Dusty’s comeback has been excellent for ratings so far, and Funk was the perfect guy to make him look good. The match ended with the Parker crew getting DQ’d, and Meng coming in and getting a chair broken on his head in a copy of the Bubba angle from the 80s. **1/2
4. Antonio Inoki beat Steven Regal with the choke sleeper in 8:42. The match was nothing but a backdrop for Hogan’s arrival. Inoki looks great but has nothing left in the ring. DUD
5. Flair beat Hogan by countout in 14:27. After suffering the crippling leg injury two hours earlier, Hogan destroyed Flair and sold nothing, with Flair finally kicking him in the nuts to get heat on him. After Hogan escaped the figure-four once and came back with the legdrop, Flair got a second figure-four, and then Sherri hit him in the knee with her shoe (Women’s shoes…his ACHILLES HEEL!) and Hulk was counted out. The masked man attacked Hulk again and it was so obviously Arn that people were chanting his name at ringside.
– Minor note: They did a dark match with Stars & Stripes beating Bad Attitude by DQ, and shot an injury angle with Bagwell so they could carry him out and test the camera angles for the Hogan deal later in the show.
– Quick newsbite: Jim Ross was fired by the WWF earlier in the week, but we’ll get to that later.
– Meanwhile, SUMMERSLAM, which was a well-produced show capped off by the worst main event in the history of PPV.
– Dave thinks that had they put the Undertaker disaster in the middle of the show and closed with the cage match, things would have been OK, especially with a few great angles and one excellent match, and would have saved the show.
– The show drew a sellout crowd of 23,000 to the United Center, although there were free tickets all over Chicago the day of the show.
1. Bam Bam Bigelow & IRS beat the Headshrinkers by DQ in 7:20. Dave missed most of the match due to cable problems, so no rating.
2. Alundra Blayze beat Bull Nakano with a german suplex in 8:18 to retain her title, which Dave deems an upset. They worked fast and did some good moves, but seemed kind of rushed. They traded near-falls and Bull missed the legdrop and got pinned. ***1/4
3. Razor Ramon beat Diesel to regain the IC title in 15:02 in a match where Walter Payton was in his corner. Both men needed to be carried and neither one was the one to do so. Still, it was a good performance and well scripted. (Yeah, a great performance from Shawn scripted to make Shawn look great!) They once again teased a Shawn-Diesel breakup after the match. **3/4
4. Tatanka pinned Lex Luger in 6:02 in a nothing match with a great storyline. The fans still booed Luger, even though he worked babyface. “No matter how hard they shove him down people’s throat, people just don’t care about him.”
Luger and Dibiase argued after the match, and then Tatanka turned on Luger. Dave thought it was great start-to-finish, with intrigue and a strong finish. (Yeah, except it killed Luger off as a top guy for good and then Tatanka completely dropped the ball.) **
5. Jeff Jarrett pinned Mabel in 5:55 after a missed butt drop from Mabel. ¾*
6. Bret Hart beat Owen Hart in a cage match to retain the WWF title in 32:22. Given all the limitations put on them, you couldn’t have asked for a better match. Bret worked with strep throat, by the way. Dave does think that they did the “Escape the cage and then get pulled back in” spot one time too many. Owen got hung upside down outside the cage, allowing Bret to drop down and win. Neidhart stormed the ring for the attack, with the only negative being it took him forever to lock the cage. Probably won’t win match of the year, but it was better than Wrestlemania. *****
7. Undertaker pinned Underfaker in 9:10. Undertaker’s casket was wheeled out by “hooded men that looked like they took a wrong turn from an El Satanico ring entrance on a AAA show”. Special effects were good, but the match died as soon as it began. Lee seemed lost out there and there was no heat at all. Taker pinned him with three tombstones and then rolled him into the casket to kill the gimmick once and for all. Brian Lee will return as a biker with no acknowledgement of his past. (Well, he was right, but just three years early.) -*
NEXT TIME: One of the most famous double-crosses in wrestling history! Be there tomorrow!