The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions V – St. Valentine’s Massacre (02.15.89)
I figured I might as well go back and finish the last 89 Clash that I hadn’t done in a while. My original version of this one was somewhat haphazard because it’s the infamous rant where my apartment burned down in the middle of writing it and I had to pick it up again weeks later. I’ll skip the story this time around, but suffice it to say, Frankenstein had it right: FIRE BAD. Also I lost a whole lot of CDs that took me years to replace, which was a real pain in the ass. Of course now I’m like “LOL WHAT’S A CD?” and just stream everything off Spotify while my collection gathers dust in the basement.
Anyway, this show is a legendary stinker but I never liked the original rant so let’s give it another look. It’s shortly before the first Flair-Steamboat match in Chicago.
Live from Cleveland, OH, drawing 5000 and a 4.6 rating.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Magnum TA
The Russian Assassins v. The Midnight Express
The Midnights are now fully turned babyfaces after the whole Original Midnight Express deal, and very popular ones at that. It’s kind of funny that years of the Russians terrorizing the NWA have been watered down to Jack Victory and Angel of Death under masks as a jobber team. #1 overpowers Lane, but Stan fights back with kicks and brings in Bobby. #2 drops an elbow and misses, and the Midnights double-team him in their corner as Lane gets a clothesline and Bobby drops an elbow on him. Lane works a headlock on #2 while they FINALLY turn up the damn house lights for TV and Paul E. does an inset promo about Chi-Town Rumble. But then no, the house lights go down again and we’re back in the dark. Have you idiots heard about doing TESTING and sound checks and shit like that? Paul Jones has words for Cornette, so Bobby heads out and beats on him and everyone regroups. Meanwhile the lights keep going off and on. Do they have them hooked up to a fucking Clapper or something? Like every time the crowd applauds it triggers them? EITHER LIGHT THE DAMN ARENA OR DON’T. Also the tape keeps breaking up, which fits in well with the general theme thus far. This was clearly not the master tape from TBS because it includes commercials before the show. The Russians switch off and double-team Lane as the announcers are stumped as to how to keep track of them. It’s easy, just watch for #2’s big ass. #2 beats on Lane and #1 follows with the bearhug, but Lane escapes from that. #2 with a suplex for two. And we go back to the bearhug before Stan escapes that with a hiptoss, but gets caught in the Russian corner and #1 gets two. And back to the bearhug as it feels like they’re deliberately booking the worst match possible for the Express. That’s crazy talk, I know. Lane fights out again, but misses a blind charge and cannonballs himself into the corner. #2 comes in with a chop for two as we cut to some kid with his face painted. JR: “That young man might be a fan of Sting, maybe even the Road Warriors.” WHO COULD IT BE? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FIND OUT! And now they go to a half crab, but #1 charges and misses and it’s hot tag Bobby. Eaton runs wild with a double bulldog, but the Assasins collide and knock each other out, and Bobby finishes #1 with the Rocket Launcher at 13:21. This was pretty pedestrian stuff. *
Ricky Steamboat and his Little Dragon chat with Bob Caudle about his upcoming title match. He’s there to fight for families and stand against drugs! Yeah, this guy was dead meat from the start with that kind of storyline. Flair is bringing 18 women at a time and practically snorting coke right off the announce desk in his $1000 suits and Steamboat is supposed to be the cool new babyface?
Butch Reed v. Steve Casey
Reed takes Casey down with an armdrag, but Casey fires back with his own and it’s a real barnburner already. Lemme tell ya, Casey’s mullet is the most 1989 thing ever, probably accompanied by Zubaz pants and a fanny pack when he’s relaxing at the airport after the show. Reed tries to slam out of his predicament, but Casey rolls through and holds on. Reed stalls and yells at the fans as they SLOOOOOOOOW it down, and now Reed works on a wristlock. Next up, they do a test of strength as the crowd is insanely bored already. At one point they cut to a couple making out in the front row, which is more heated action than anything we’ve had thus far. Reed stomps him down while JR has already run out of shit to talk about and keeps going back to “Reed is from Missouri and Casey is from Texas” as talking points. Reed tosses him and the pace somehow gets even slower. Wait, did someone say slower pace? BECAUSE IT’S TIME FOR A MOTHERFUCKING CHINLOCK. Casey finally fights out of that and Reed tosses him out again. Back in with a suplex for two. Yeah that’s the big highspot for the match. A suplex. Casey tries a comeback but misses a dropkick and Reed goes back to work on him with another chinlock. It certainly wasn’t the heat from this match that burned my place down, I’ll tell you that much. Casey makes a comeback and slugs away in the corner, but he tries a bodypress and Reed catches him with a press slam and then thank fuck, puts us out of our misery with the flying shoulder at 17:22. WHO THE FUCK BOOKED THIS TO GO SEVENTEEN MINUTES?!? -**
Ric Flair and his harem of women join us for an interview in the ring, with Hiro Matsuda standing there like a sore thumb. Flair does his usual interview about how great it is to be World champion and banging “a different broad every night”, and he offers Steamboat a chance to walk away before the PPV and avoid humiliation. Steamboat despises everything Flair stands for, including his mink coat apparently, and goes off on all the “evil materialistic things in the world today that are destroying the family unit.” That’s rich coming from him, the guy who owns multiple gyms and destroyed his marriage. So Flair tells him to get stepping, and Steamboat attacks and tears off the expensive suit in a repeat of their angle from years prior. So Steamboat gets the flying bodypress and a visual pinfall on Flair, but Matsuda saves and the heels beat him down until Ricky makes his own comeback and chases Flair into the crowd for a crazy brawl to the back. See now that’s what we needed, not Steamboat going on about “the family unit” and that shit.
Of course, this really needed a crazed Flair going off on Bob Caudle immediately afterwards to follow up, but we sadly did not get it.
Lex Luger v. THE BLACKMAILER
One guess who’s working double-duty as the masked Blackmailer tonight. Or double BOOTY in this case. Hiro Matsuda is managing the Blackmailer here, which TA notes is a “double jeopardy situation”. Not what that means, but I’ll cut him some slack. I’m not sure if Luger was supposed to be facing someone else here, although Kendall Windham would have made sense. Luger works a headlock for a while and Blackmailer escapes with a suplex, but Lex no-sells it and pops up. Really, calling yourself “The Blackmailer” is a pretty passive form of scare tactic. I mean, if you don’t have any skeletons in your closet, it’s not like you’d have much to fear from him. Like, if you’re “The Axe Murderer” or “The Prison Rapist” then there’s a clear and present danger there. Although…did we ever find out WHO sent in that 911 call to WWE Confidential after Liz died? Perhaps the Blackmailer had something on Lex after all and it just happened to take a decade to find it. I mean, otherwise what dirty laundry would you ever be able to find on a wrestler? NONE. Anyway, after 7 minutes of Luger working a headlock (no, REALLY), the Blackmailer dodges a charge and Luger bumps to the floor. Luger comes back in with a sunset flip for two, as JR speculates that Blackmailer isn’t here to win, he’s here to hurt Luger. Jesus, he’s clearly there to BLACKMAIL Luger! IT’S RIGHT THERE IN HIS NAME! Also, Jim “doesn’t want to sound prejudiced against Oriental people, but he doesn’t trust Hiro Matsuda”. That sounds pretty prejudicial to me. Good thing Twitter wasn’t around then. Blackmailer goes to a chinlock, but Luger fights out of it and comes back with a suplex. Man, and the Blackmailer didn’t even get a chance to hit his devastating finisher: THE EXTORTIONATOR. Luger finishes him off with a superplex at 12:55. *
Meanwhile, Rick Steiner and Michael Hayes chat with Bob Caudle.
US tag team titles: Mike Rotunda & Steve Williams v. The Fantastics
The Varsity Club are using the Freebird rule to defend the titles here, which should at least be a better match. Rogers works a headlock on Rotunda and puts him down with a clothesline for two. Williams comes in and they clothesline each other, but Doc no-sells it, so the Fantastics take him back to their corner and double-team him. Williams goes for a headlock, but Fulton wants to go in another direction with it and they do an awkward takedown as Williams gets the move and they converse about it. So the Varsity Club gets Fulton in their corner and double-teams him and that goes for a bit. Over to Rogers, and Rotunda puts him down with a back elbow, but Fulton gets a kneelift for two and slugs away in the corner. Williams cuts that comeback off by clotheslining him in the corner, and then drops him on the railing to put MORE heat on the Fantastics. And gosh darn, JR is ASHAMED of Williams’ behavior as an Oklahoman! Back in for a dropkick from Rotunda as the crowd tries to get a “Retardo” chant going. Shouldn’t that be “Retarda”? It’s not the WWF after all. Rotunda drops an elbow while JR explains how this “tag team” thing works for any newer fans watching the show. I’m pretty sure my nine year old daughter even understood the basic concept of a tag team match before ever watching wrestling. Maybe he was explaining it to Jim Herd? Williams gets the three point stance tackle on Fulton and tries for the Stampede, but Fulton grabs the ropes to block and makes the hot tag to Rogers. He’s SHUCKIN AND JIVIN AND JITTERBUGGIN, according to JR. 23-Skidoo! GET ON THE TROLLEY, JACKSON! It’s BONZO GONZO and Rogers goes up with an ugly crossbody on Williams, but Rotunda gets the cheapshot and puts Doc on top for the pin at 13:30 to retain. Major disappointment and a complete waste of the Fantastics, who were gone right after. **
Ricky Steamboat v. Bob Bradley
Real top tier contender for Steamboat to beat here right before the PPV. They couldn’t even throw Iron Sheik or Kevin Sullivan out there to at least pretend that it’s a real threat? Steamboat hits him with chops and chases him out of the ring while the crowd chants “We want Flair”. Tremendous. JR notes that they’re happy to cram more people into the arena in Chicago, because their motto is “There’s always room for one more”. Or in WCW’s case, several thousand more after freebies have been given out. Steamboat slams him a few times and Bradley runs away, but catches Steamboat with a shot to the railing to take over. Back in, Bradley gets a back elbow and clothesline, but he misses a charge and Steamboat is working the arm. And the crowd still wants Flair. See, if you had GIVEN them Flair after that brawl, they’d have it out of their systems. Bradley chops him down and follows with a sideslam before going to the top, but he misses a diving headbutt and Steamboat finishes him off with the flying chop and flying bodypress at 6:22. This was a match that happened, all right. * Bradley went on to a tiny amount of a push in the WWF as Battle Kat (Mark II) in 1990.
Rick Steiner v. Rip Morgan
Hopefully these guys don’t get 20 minutes as well. Rip does the Uso dance before the match and beats on Rick, but a clothesline puts him on the floor. Rip stalls for a bit out there and then back in for some knees in the corner, but Rick powerslams him for two. Rick charges and hits boot as JR pulls out the “since 1905” nonsense again, and Rip goes to a chinlock. JR notes that Rip “spent a lot of time in the sheering shed” in New Zealand. Is he insinuating that Morgan has sex with sheep? Did the Blackmailer tip him off or something? Rick hits the belly to belly for the pin at 4:40 and we move on with our lives. ½*
World Six-Man titles: The Road Warriors & Tenryu v. Sting, Junkyard Dog & Michael Hayes
But first, we get an interview with the babyfaces in the locker room that’s exactly the car wreck you’d imagine, but then Kevin Sullivan sneaks in and locks them into the dressing room. Although this is supposed to be for the Six-Man titles, the Warriors only bring the World tag team titles with them. And then the Varsity Club hits the ring and apparently takes over the match.
The Road Warriors & Tenryu v. Steve Williams & Mike Rotunda & Kevin Sullivan
Frankly I’m surprised they didn’t have Jack Victory work here a third time under a mask. So the reasoning for changing the advertised main event at the last minute was that the Warriors were in the midst of turning themselves babyface again, and WCW didn’t want Sting getting booed on national TV. Somehow I don’t think that would have been a problem. Tenryu gets the shine on the Club while the idiotic road agents struggle to undo a chain from the door in the back. BOLT CUTTERS ARE A THING. Tenryu with an enzuigiri on Williams and they finally find cutters to release the babyfaces and there’s nothing happening in the ring anyway. Animal gets double-teamed as they work on his arm and we get a false tag to Hawk, and finally after like 5:00 the babyfaces make it to the ring and it’s a no contest at 5:33. The NWA: We Wrestle. But We Don’t Necessarily Deliver Our Advertised Main Events.
So yeah, this was clearly one of the worst Clash shows of all time. But on the bright side, my house didn’t burn down this time! So there’s that.