The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions X: Texas Shootout! (02.06.90)
Well, we have made it through the complete redo of 1989 NWA, and now we might as well start on 1990. And hey, it’s been 20 years since I watched this one.
Live from Corpus Christi, TX, drawing 3000 and a 4.5 rating.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jim Cornette. I would be remiss in not mentioning the wacky opening, which is inspired by light gun games of the time like “Wild Gunman” from Back to the Future, except wrestlers are getting shot by an off-screen murderous sniper in the old West. I feel like that kind of thing would just not fly today, no matter how light-hearted it was trying to be.
So after Sting won the tournament at Starrcade 89, he decided to ask Ric Flair for a title match at WrestleWar in a totally reasonable request.
Terry Funk joins us at ringside ready for interviewing people, and he encourages the people watching at home to go find their guns and point them at the TV screen because the action is gonna be pretty hot tonight. He wasn’t even being metaphorical, he literally said we should pull out our guns and have them ready to fire at the TV. Maybe he was confusing this show with Captain Power?
Steve Williams v. The Samoan Savage
So now we sadly arrive at the final form of the Samoan Swat Team, with Samu and then Fatu both exiting the promotion, leaving only third banana Sam Fatu to represent the group with Oliver Humperdink managing him. Meanwhile, WCW’s idea to make Dr. Death into a big star was to portray him as a LITERAL doctor, using a pre-match vignette where he throws some jabrone into an ambulance and takes him to the hospital. Although he was doing chest compressions where there are no vital organs located as far as I’m aware, so hopefully he didn’t quit his day job. Doc hits the Savage with a bunch of clotheslines and chases him out of the ring for some advice from Humperdink. That advice? “You can make some good money pretending to be one of your relatives if you gain a bunch of weight!” He certainly did heed that advice later on. Back in, Doc hits him with tackles, but charges one time too many and walks into a clothesline. This allows Humperdink to get some shots on the floor while Woman joins us for some scouting at ringside. Maybe she was just in the market for a new family doctor? They can certainly be hard to find up here, for example. Back in, the Savage slugs away in the corner while the announcer speculate what happened to Nitron. The correct answer is “No one gives a shit.” Cornette wants to clarify that not all the fans in attendance are rednecks, and in fact some of them are Mexican, but the border patrol is out this week so attendance is down a bit. The Savage goes to the dreaded nerve hold, but Doc fights out of it, so Savage slugs him down again and goes back to it. Back to the floor and Humperdink gets more shots, and Savage brings him back in for a side slam. To the top, but the flying splash misses and Doc makes the comeback with an incredible walking press slam and then a backslide to finish at 7:55. This was fine, although both guys were gone right after and it ended up meaning nothing. **1/4
Meanwhile, we get a RAPPING PROMO for WrestleWar 90, and it just makes me want to run out and buy the show right now. Bless the Network for leaving this intact on here.
Terry Funk brings out the Four Horsemen (Flair, The Andersons & Sting) for an interview about the main event tonight, and Sting just sticks out from this group like a sore thumb. Ole immediately tells Funk to fuck off and let them talk. Ole immediately kicks him out of the group, despite his fancy shirt, telling him that Flair called them back to WCW to get rid of Sting, but then had a change of heart and decided to let him live. But then Sting went and asked for a title shot and signed his own DEATH WARRANT. So because Sting helped Flair out one time, they’ll give him one chance to escape unscathed, and all he has to do is go to the board and retract his title shot before the end of the show. Flair generously points out that he bought Sting some time so maybe he should take advantage of it. Sting refuses, so Flair jumps him and kicks him in the nuts, then slaps him around while he’s down. So THAT’S a stone cold heel turn right there. At this point, you had to feel a little bad for Sting, but really what did he expect? He was around years earlier when the Horsemen kicked out Ole for, you know, attending his son’s high school wrestling event and then kicked out Luger for refusing to throw a battle royale. Did he think that Flair was going to put up with someone in the group actually wanting a title match? Anyway, obviously Sting the Stupid Moron became a meme later on, but for this first time it was pretty damn effective.
Tom Zenk & Brian Pillman v. The Mod Squad
It was always kind of weird that WCW gravitated towards not one, but two, totally separate teams of “Corrupt police officer” gimmicks in the form of the Mod Squad and then the State Patrol soon after. Pillman drops a knee on Spike for two while Cornette and JR succinctly sum up the Sting angle for anyone who missed it before the commercial. That’s a lost art these days, where now WWE shows a million replays and then has the announce team repeat the same information on top of it. Less is more sometimes. Zenk comes in and works the arm, then it’s over to Basher while JR tries to pimp out the babyfaces on commentary. Well that’s one way to build the female demographic. Pillman pounds on Basher with a pump kick, into an enzuigiri from Zenk for two. The Squad double-teams Zenk, but Pillman comes in with Air Pillman on both of them to save and they clear the ring. Back in, Spike works on Pillman for a bit, but gets backdropped and then Pillman tries a spinkick that literally misses by a foot but Spike sells it anyway. Pillman gets caught in the corner and double-teamed for two. Basher chokes him out from the apron and JR is so worked up about this Flair thing that Cornette quips “You gotta calm down, Jim, you’re gonna have a stroke!” Yeah, about that. Pillman fights back on Spike and gets beaten down for two, and Basher comes in with a chinlock. And then Spike gets his own while Cornette releases the Mod Squad backstory of them getting kicked off the New Orleans police force for excessive brutality. They probably beat up a white guy by mistake. Pillman gets a crucifix for two, but Spike puts him down again and goes up for a flying elbow, which misses. Hot tag Z-Man and he finishes Basher with a high cross at 9:55. The white meat babyface stuff was piled on a bit thick here, but they were a great team cut off before their time. **
Cactus Jack Manson v. Mil Mascaras
Mick wrote about this one in his first book and suffice it to say he wasn’t a fan. I believe Capetta actually introduced him as “Captain Jack Manson” as well just to add extra salt to the wound. Mil quickly wraps up Jack with a bow and arrow and then takes him down with a headscissors. Dropkick puts Jack on the floor, and he steals Capetta’s chair and then takes a comedy bump on it while JR stresses what an idiot Jack is. Cornette points out he’s not as dumb as the Steiners are. Why, the Steiners are SO DUMB…
…they once stayed up all night studying for a urine test! Now that’s STUPID.
Back in the ring, Mil takes Jack down with a crab while we focus on Jack’s book at ringside: “I Am In Urgent Need of Advice.” OK, here’s some advice: Don’t ask Terry Funk what to do in a Cell match. Speaking of bad advice, Jack sets up the flying elbow off the apron, but Mil gets up roughly a week before Jack tries the move, and dropkicks Jack off the apron with the Nestea Plunge to the concrete. Jesus, Mick. Back in, Mil finishes this off with a flying bodypress after selling literally nothing. And no one in the crowd cared about the supposed huge star. ½*
Also, I checked and yeah, it’s a real book that he was carrying around: https://www.amazon.ca/I-Am-Urgent-Need-Advice/dp/B0007E2Q2Y/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=i+am+in+urgent+need+of+advice&qid=1600034721&sr=8-1
I have no earthly idea what the point here was supposed to be, especially when Jack was the guy sticking around and slowly (OK, very slowly) getting a bigger push as the year progressed.
We take a break and return with Jack threatening the house band, including the guitar player (JT Southern) who conveniently dresses in wrestling gear. He was apparently going to be pushed as a guitar player called Wolf Wild but thank god we were spared that idea.
Falls Count Anywhere: Kevin Sullivan v. Norman the Lunatic
In our pre-match vignette, Norman visits the Children’s Zoo, because some creepy guy in a hospital gown, with a teddy bear around his neck, hanging out with kids, isn’t creepy AT ALL. And then Jim Cornette actually echoes my thoughts and outright says he looked like a child molester! They of course don’t actually explain the REASON behind the match with that time or ever mention it during the match itself. They immediately fight to the floor and Norman sends Sullivan into the “Roos Post”. Back in for a butt splash and he goes up, but misses a splash. Sullivan dropkicks him to the floor and slams him out there for two. Sullivan tears up the gown and hits Norman with a back suplex on the floor for two. They continue slug it out and Sullivan rakes the face and batters him on the apron. Back in, Kevin slugs away, but Norman puts him down with a headbutt and chokes him out with his torn shirt. Back to the floor and Norman drops him on the railing for two before they head into the backstage area. Kevin hides in the women’s bathroom and Norman is hesitant to follow, but then a lady runs out shrieking and Norman follows him in there and pins him behind closed doors at 7:17 before emerging with a toilet seat triumphantly held up. I know I have high standards sometimes but I do think that SHOWING THE DAMN FINISH is a minimum. Match was pretty fun leading up to that idiotic choice. ***
Terry Funk is back again, suddenly turning heel on the fans, this time interviewing Lex Luger and putting him over as a real man and a great American. Lex complains that he should be getting the title match and not Sting. Well, wait for another hour. Lex puts over his “allocades” but notes that he’s never won the World title and that will soon change. This was TERRIBLE, with Luger stumbling all over himself and Funk desperately trying to get him wrap it up several times.
The Road Warriors v. The New Skyscrapers
Meanwhile, the Warriors are smashing up a car in their vignette. I should note that Hawk used “Aw, what a rush!” in two different promos on this show, which is interesting timing considering their imminent jump. Spivey quickly tosses Hawk, but he pops right back into the ring and puts him down with a shoulderblock. The Skyscrapers regroup and it’s over to this Mean Mark guy, and he backs off from Animal’s wrath. They criss-cross and Mark misses a crossbody, and Animal hits him with a clothesline and they tag out again. Hawk misses a charge and hits the post, THE ROOS POST, allowing the Scrapers to take over back in the ring. Spivey works the arm and Mark comes in for the ropewalk. It’s a good thing he’s retired now because these days instead of old school he’d have to do the home school ropewalk and I don’t know how that would even work. Callous works the arm and tries the ropewalk again, but Hawk slams him off the top and it’s hot tag Animal. Powerslam for Spivey and he drops an elbow for two and fights off both Skyscrapers with a double clothesline. Mark bumps to the floor to set up the Doomsday Device on Spivey, but Callous hits Animal with a chair for the DQ at 7:00 or so. And then they hit Hawk with a spike piledriver on a chair, but miss the chair so completely that even the announcers point it out, and Spivey just hits Hawk with the chair a bunch of times instead. *1/2
World tag team titles v Masks: The Steiner Brothers v. Doom
Even JR is making fun of this concept, noting that Doom’s ID is already the worst kept secret in wrestling. Doom #1, who I’m sure played football somewhere and it’s gotta be killing JR not to discuss it, takes Scott down to start, but Scott hits him with a german suplex out of the corner. Over to Doom #2, equally mysterious, and he beats on Scott with some soupbone rights until Scott dropkicks him out of the ring. Doom regroups on the ring and possibly gets into an argument about who is Doom #1 and who is Doom #2, and it’s over to Rick. Doom #2 beats on him in the corner, but Rick gets a backdrop and slugs away, going for the mask to chase him to the floor. #1 and misses a blind charge, and Rick hits him with a suplex and brings Scott back in. Finally Doom #2 gets a clothesline from the apron to turn the tide and Doom takes over. #2 gets a clothesline and drops a fist for two, and they toss Scott over the top rope behind the ref’s back. Back in the ring, #1 hits a spinebuster for two and chokes him out. Doom with the double backdrop, but Scott gets a backslide on #2 for two. Piledriver gets two. Back to the floor as #1 beats on him out there, but Scott gets a sunset flip for two back in the ring. Scott immediately goes for the tag, but #2 blocks him and gets a neckbreaker for two. Scott suddenly hits the Frankensteiner out of nowhere and it’s HOT TAG Rick as he hits #2 with a Steinerline and powerslam. He goes for the mask again, revealing the face of (wait for it…) Butch Reed, and Rick rolls him up for the pin at 13:08 to retain. And so with the loss, Doom #1 also has to unmask, and I know you’re shocked to read that it’s actually been Ron Simmons under there all this time. And yet, amazingly, after this loss and unmasking, they somehow became a way better team and ended up with the titles after all. This was pretty damn good, too. ***1/2
Meanwhile, the Horsemen lay it out for Sting: Give up the title match now or get retired.
Cage match: The Great Muta, Buzz Sawyer & The Dragon Master v. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson & Ole Anderson
Man, you’d think Sting would also learn that teaming with the Andersons in a cage match is a recipe for disaster. So this was another wacky one, as the Horsemen had so much heat from the turn earlier that fans actually cheered the J-Tex crew as babyfaces. Arn backdrops Sawyer into the cage, but misses a charge and he eats a boot, which the crowd cheers loudly. Buzz and Muta double-team Arn, but AA runs Buzz into the cage and brings him into the Horsemen corner. Flair hauls in the Dragon Master and chops him in the corner, and Ole chokes away until Dragon Master makes an unlikely babyface comeback. Over to Muta, and now the crowd EXPLODES because they’ve been waiting months to cheer the guy, and he hits AA with the handspring elbow and Muta is totally into it. So this brings Sting out to climb the cage as officials try to pull him off, and finally Brian Pillman gets him down while Flair spits on them. Back in the ring, Ole backdrops Buzz into the cage for a crazy bump that no one is paying attention to, while Sting charges the cage again and gets hauled down again. However, this time he takes a completely innocuous bad step on the way down and blows out his knee, costing the company their next six months of storylines. And Arn hits Dragon Master with a DDT and pins him at 6:10, at which point Flair goes charging out of the cage and attacks Sting, setting up the WrestleWar main event that didn’t happen. **
Who would have guessed that this nothing show would have such huge implications for the company? I really enjoyed the Steiners-Doom match and the Sting angle was great, though, so for me it’s a slight thumbs up.