WCW Clash of the Champions 22: January 13, 1993

On Sunday Night, Cactus Jack left about 800 wrestlers for dead. Everyone, from jobbers all the way up to the World Champion were no match for Jack and his shovel. Are there going to be repercussions for the madman from New Mexico? Will Dustin Rhodes win the big one? Just what DID Erik Watts do to get arrested? And what the hell is a Thunder Cage? We hope to address this tonight, but being WCW, I’ll be happy if just one of these points is touched on.
Since this is 1993, Vader’s team is dubbed “THE EVIL TEAM” by the Unknown Voice Over. Shades of grey weren’t wrestling’s strongest suit in those days.
LIVE from Milwaukee, WI, TONY SCHIAVONE is joined by … BILL WATTS? This can’t possibly be our announce team. Watts gloats about teaming with The Crusher against Larry Hennig and Larry Zbyszko in Milwaukee shortly after founding father Soloman Juneau settled in the region in the early parts of the 19th century. Watts takes us through the state of the union; Van Hammer tore a guitar string and won’t be able to arm wrestle tonight. He’s being replaced by Vinnie Vegas for reasons. Meanwhile, his son Erik, who he says is “like a son” to him, told him he was arrested for no good reason at all. And because of this relationship, Bill believes him; but it needs to be investigated. As a result, he won’t be wrestling Cactus Jack. Wouldn’t an appropriate punishment be to have him wrestle Cactus Jack?

In the back, LARRY ZBYSZKO is with the aforementioned ERIK WATTS, and it becomes increasingly obvious that he’s been charged with stealing the wardrobe from the host of Nick Arcade.
 
Bill Watts is frustrated that his son can’t compete, but has a fair replacement: Johnny B Badd. Man, that’s a shockingly low opinion he has of the man who’s “like a son” to him.
JIM ROSS and JESSE VENTURA are the real announcers, though I don’t know if this is an improvement.
CACTUS JACK vs. JOHNNY B BADD
These guys actually have a little history, partnering together in the Lethal Lottery at Starrcade – but like all other Cactus Jack partners, Badd ate it like a champ. Ventura correctly points out that the audience has a shocking number of Cactus Jack signs, fallout from Sunday’s anti-hero face turn. Cactus misses an avalanche, and gets rolled up for 2. Badd works an armbar, but that doesn’t go very far, and Johnny gets punched in the head. Badd slams Jack’s face into the buckle, and cradles Cactus for 2. Up top, Badd misses a sunset flip, and Jack drops an elbow for the quick pin at 2:53. This should have been a completely one-sided squash; that was WAYYYYY too much offense for (at this point) useless Johnny. 1/2*
During the break, the greatest music video in the history of wrestling debuts. I’ve posted it before; but let’s go through it one more time. A group of naughty (black) kids refuse to go to school, despite the pleas of the (good) white kid, because they just want to play basketball. They continue to play, when a limo pulls up, and a large woman begin shrieking “EVERYBODY HERE COMES TOO COLD SCORPIO!” The basketball is whiffed with one of the worst looking air-balls I’ve ever seen, which is both necessary to take us to the next part of the video – but also subliminally highlight that these kids should probably focus on their studies since an NBA career is not in the cards. The ball takes a perfect bounce into the limo, and Scorpio bursts through the doors bouncing the ball – basically playing the Wesley Snipes version of the Kool Aid Man. He dunks, drawing high praise from the drop-outs. Scorpio asks why they’re not in school, and one of the delinquents tells him they’re off to the Arcade. Scorpio tells them Mortal Kombat is going to have to wait, they need an education, and he’s going to take them there. The kids perk up, thinking they’re about to hop in the limo, bathe in Dom, and toss around Benjamin’s like Floyd Mayweather. However, Scorpio immediately blue balls them and informs the group “we gonna step”. Then he dances with a bunch of sluts for some reason. This entire segment is Faces of Fear levels of amazing, and completely defines a generation. What that is, is really hard to say – but we’re going to assume it involves stepping.
2 COLD SCORPIO vs. SCOTTY FLAMINGO
It breaks my heart in knowing Flamingo has no shot in hell following that video, because any man willing to strap on those tiny pink bicycle shorts and thrust violently at whatever’s he hallucinating about deserves a rocket strapped to his back. Flamingo actually has the crowd support which pleases me greatly. Scorpio hits Flamingo with a springboard back elbow before whiffing on a kick that Flamingo sells by literally jumping backwards and out of the ring. Champ. Scorpio decks him with a big right hand off the apron, but Flamingo’s back in first and hits a dropkick to send Scorpio back to the outside. A plancha (!) connects, and Flamingo throws Scorpio back in for 1. Scorpio sneaks in a small package for 2, and that enrages Flamingo and his protruding penis. Scorpio keeps on, hitting a pair of dropkicks and Flamingo begs for a time out. Instead, he’s given a rotating splash off the top, but Flamingo kicks out at 2. A Stinger splash misses, and Scorpio eats buckle, allowing Flamingo to roll him up for 2. A dropkick from Scorpio sets up a legdrop, and the Diss That Don’t Miss finishes us off at 4:12. **
CHRIS BENOIT vs. BRAD ARMSTRONG
This is Benoit’s WCW debut, and he’s introduced as a 7-year veteran by Ross to give him some credibility. Man did he age fast, he looks like a kid here, even though he’s in his mid 20’s. Benoit goes for an early powerbomb, but Armstrong rolls off the back and hiptossees Chris. A dropkick leads to an armbar to slow Benoit, who is an absolute ball of energy here. Benoit bridges loose and takes Armstrong down, winning a test of strength. Armstrong backdrops out, and goes back to the armbar. Chris finally has enough and counters into a hammerlock, but Armstrong dumps him through the middle rope, leading to another debut … the feathered mullet.
Back in, Armstrong plants Chris with a dropkick, and goes back to the armbar. I’m not sure keeping Benoit moving at a snail’s pace is the best way to show him off. Benoit shakes loose and goes for a Liontamer, but Armstrong won’t turn, so Benoit gives him a hot shot instead. Armstrong staggers on the apron, so Chris gives him a violent headbutt, and then nails him with a double jump clothesline drawing a massive pop! Armstrong crawls back in, and takes a clothesline so hard I’m surprised his head’s still attached. A backbreaker is followed with a scoop slam so hard that Armstrong bounces off the canvas like a basketball. Chris heads up, but Armstrong goes to cut him off. Benoit ain’t having that, headbutting Armstrong like a boss, and as soon as Brad falls, Benoit’s right behind him with the swandive. Still, Armstrong rolls away, and Brad hits a swinging neckbreaker for 2. Benoit immediately stands up and hits the Dragon Suplex for the win at 9:15! This was the tale of two matches, but as soon as Benoit got going, this was outstanding. It’s incredible they didn’t offer this guy a huge contract and immediately insert him into the US title picture, because he was ready, even at this point. ***
Meanwhile, TONY SCHIAVONE introduces a video package to highlight the reunion of the Rock n Roll Express. They’ve been tearing up Smokey Mountain Wrestling, but WCW’s arranged a one-time appearance for the new SMW tag-team champions to appear at Superbrawl. That’s a fantastic working partnership. I actually have the bulk of the SMW library on one of my hard drives … do I dare extend myself even thinner?
JESSE VENTURA excitedly hosts the latest in the Strongest Arm competition. The reigning champion is hurt, and the runner up, Ron Simmons, is in the main event – but we’re given Tony Atlas challenging … Vinnie Vegas. Apparently Vegas is being given this opportunity because he was eliminated unfairly from the tournament, since he is left handed. This is actually happening, isn’t it? Vegas, for the record, is sporting an incredible pair of pink hospital scrubs tonight. Jesse provides some scintillating play-by-play that I could not possibly top (“HERE COMES VINNIE VEGAS BACK! HE’S ROLLING THE DICE!”), and after roughly two and a half decades, Vegas wins. You know, even with the hindsight that Over the Top drew absolutely no money, WCW continues to run with this. Though, really, I’m secretly ok with that.
And speaking of things I’m totally ok with, VADER is screaming about Sting from inside a blizzard. He has a special challenge to present him with, but he wants to do it from inside his White Castle of Fear! Sting is promised a good time if he’s willing to live on the edge. I think this was Chapter 14 in 50 Shades of Vader.
LARRY ZBYSZKO covers the #1 contender tournament for the US title that’s been going on. Rhodes and Steamboat face off on Saturday Night, and will face Rick Rude on the 23rd … unless he’s too hurt to fight. If that’s the case, this weekend’s bout is for the strap. Fun!
THE WRECKING CREW vs. THE Z-MAN and JOHNNY GUNN
Rage and Fury make up the Wrecking Crew, but while Fury is probably not known to you, he has a couple of very famous brothers in Animal, and John Laurenitis. Rage is just the latest incarnation of The Reverend Al Green, who has not begun his beastial transition from 70’s Soul Singer to Dog. Ventura sums up his predictions: “I’ll take the two ugly guys!” That’s not very kind to Tom Zenk. Rage tries a press slam, but Zenk escapes and hits a cross body for 2. Team Powder Blue clear the ring, and while the Crew reground, Z-Man hits a tope on both! Gunn comes in and is held hostage by Rage, but he sidesteps the attack and Fury nails his own partner. Fury regroups and blasts Gunn with a forearm, but Gunn hits a quick faceplant and tags out. Zenk takes a gutwrench powerbomb to set up a spinning sidewalk slam, and Z-Man is reeling. Rage comes in and ties up a bit with the referee giving Z-Man a chance to hit a crossbody, but Rage hangs on and just drops him down into a slam. A second rope axehandle is blocked with the superkick, and Zenk makes the hot tag. Gunn cleans house, but Rage hits a cheap shot to set up the Wrecking Ball and the pin at 6:08. I always like a couple of lumbering, clumsy heels, and these guys will be exactly what the doctor ordered on the J-shows. *
LARRY ZBYSZKO has tracked down BRIAN PILLMAN and STEVE AUSTIN. Pillman promises that the champs are about to pay a hefty fine for carrying the gold, and guarantees a dynasty is about to kick off. I’m all in on the Hollywood Blondes era.
STING is welcomed to the arena by TONY SCHIAVONE to respond to Vader. He’s never walked away from an invitation in his life, and he certainly won’t walk away from the White Castle of Fear. DUSTIN RHODES and RON SIMMONS join Sting, and even though Van Hammer is too useless injured to join them tonight, they don’t feel any more short-handed than they did before he was hurt. Only Van Hammer could be double booked and STILL not let anyone down when he fails to appear.
Back in the locker room, LARRY ZBYSZKO is joined by VADERPAUL ORNDORFFBARRY WINDHAMHARLEY RACE, and the man who doesn’t need any partners to single-handedly win this match, THE BARBARIAN. Race doesn’t want to talk about the Thunder Cage because he’s so angry at Cactus Jack. Someday, he’s going to pay for “coming at me with a SCOOP … SHOVEL!” In fact, he doesn’t like anyone associated with Cactus Jack, and fires the Barbarian. The Barbarian lifts Race in a double armed chokehold because he’s the coolest man on the planet, but Vader cheap shots him from behind and Orndorff piledrives him. Race: “ONE MORE TIME!!!!” No one dares do it one more time, because there’s no reason to make the Barbarian any angrier than they already have. Just this stunt is going to cost everyone living in a small village their lives.
WCW airs a package on the history of Superbrawl because whatever The Barbarian is doing is definitely too graphic for your average viewer, and once they’ve managed to clean up the locker room, Larry’s retaken his post with RICKY STEAMBOAT and SHANE DOUGLAS. Steamboat promises that the dynasty is going to end before it begins. Douglas just wants to get to the ring and get it on. So does Chyna, quite frankly.
SHANE DOUGLAS and RICKY STEAMBOAT vs. STEVE AUSTIN and BRIAN PILLMAN (for the WCW world tag-team titles)
We’re on a 30-minute time limit given the TV limitations, but that seems asinine since there’s like 30 minutes left in the show and we have a Thunder Cage to see, assuming anyone survived the wrath of The Barbarian. I’m kinda amped to see this incredible collection of talent, and Shane Douglas, in one ring at the same time. Steamboat tries to end things early with a crossbody, but that just draws everyone in for a massive brawl. The faces clear the ring, and Austin’s not impressed at all. Back in, Steve offers the hand of friendship, but Steamboat slaps it away. Disrespect Austin and pay, and he beats the shit out of Steamboat. Pillman comes in, but Steamboat has his way with him, hiptossing and dropkicking him at will. Douglas and Steamboat tag in and out quickly, hitting one move at a time to Pillman’s arm, wearing him down. Pillman twists his knee and it looks like we may be throwing in the towel on this one early. Douglas cautiously checks it out … and takes a headbutt to the gut while Pillman laughs like a hyena. Pillman goes for a rana, but Douglas turns it into a slam for 2. Austin comes in but Douglas wrestles him right down to the mat. Steamboat helps keep Austin in the corner with a hammerlock slam, and a sunset flip from Douglas gets 2. Austin comes back with a handful of tights for 2, and gets into a test of strength. Neither wins, but Douglas rushes to the corner and bounces back with a second rope rear elbow for 2. Steamboat slams Douglas on Austin for 2, and when Pillman rushes to save his buddy, Steamboat slams Brian on Austin as well! Things calm down a little, and Austin inches his way back to his corner. Pillman decks Steamboat allowing Austin to hit a backdrop suplex, and Pillman tags himself in. A cheap shot draws in Douglas, and while the referee restrains him, Steamboat is thrown over the top rope where Austin happily slams him on the concrete floor! Dirty and delicious. Steamboat fights his way back to the apron and nearly suplexes Pillman to the floor, but Austin kicks Steamboat in the small of the back, and Pillman reverses to bring Steamboat back in for 2. The boys beat Steamboat like a pinada, and the longer he takes to spew forth candy, the harder they hit. A faceplant from Pillman is held on, and Steamer’s face is ground into the mat. Steamboat gets a surprise sunset flip, but Austin was busy chatting to the referee to get a count. Austin tags in as Steamboat desperately tries to karate chop his way loose, and JUST as it looks like he’s going to get out, Austin hits the backdrop suplex for 2! The crowd collectively gasped when Ricky was denied the tag, great spot. Austin works a reverse backbreaker, and Pillman makes the blind tag to attack … but Steamboat ducks and Pillman nails Austin! A springboard double karate chop knocks down both challengers, and Steamboat makes it oh so close before Pillman stops him. Steamboat hits him with a spinning suplex, and both guys are down. Pillman desperately tries to stop the tag, but Ricky makes it this time as the arena explodes, and Douglas destroys both guys. Pillman takes a belly to belly, but the referee is trying to keep the desperate Steamboat in his corner … and Austin drops a knee off the top rope! Pillman is rolled on top, but Douglas kicks out and the place is rocking now! Austin and Steamboat trade punches on the outside while the referee desperately tries to maintain order, but JUST as the referee starts dragging Steamboat back to his corner, Austin grabs a belt and sneaks in to blast Douglas upside the head with the sharp side of the gold! The referee was still paying attention though, and immediately disqualifies both guys at 13:43! The fans are positively rabid now, THRILLED the miserable bastards got caught. They don’t care though, as Pillman hits a DDT on Steamboat, while Douglas spurts blood from his forehead. Next, the belts are used to whip Steamboat, but BRAD ARMSTRONG leads a BRIGADE OF LOSERS to the ring to save the day. Austin and Pillman take the gold and parade around the ring, holding the belts as high in the air as they can. This is everything I could ever hope for from my favorite scumbags. ****
VADER and HARLEY RACE head to the ring to talk with JESSE VENTURA. Race gloats that Vader’s the greatest champion in history, but that draws out an irate RON SIMMONS. Simmons says the first time Vader lets his guard down, he’ll put him on his back. Race tries a sucker punch, so Simmons kicks his ass and then goes for Vader. A spinebuster takes out the champion, and Simmons turns back to the ramp to slaughter Race. Vader rushes in to save his manager, and jumps on the back of Simmons which HAS to smart! He splashes Simmons on the concrete, and attacks the injured shoulder with a pair of shoulderbreakers. STING and DUSTIN RHODES rush in to save their friend, but they’re way late. Simmons is out of the main event.
BARRY WINDHAM, PAUL ORNDORFF, and VADER (with Harley Race) vs. STING and DUSTIN RHODES (in a Come Dressed as You Are, handicap Thunder Cage match)
As it turns out, street clothes for Vader are exactly the same thing he wears all the time. I admire his dedication to the look. So, to answer what exactly a Thunder Cage is, it’s essentially a Hell in a Cell, but constructed like an upside-down deep fryer basket. Rhodes goes after Windham as you’d expect, but a blind tag surprises Windham, and he eats a face plant from Sting. Vader wants a piece of Sting, and tags in to go right after him. Sting is immediately overpowered, and Vader flexes to remind him he’s the man. Sting throws some desperate punches, but Vader starts throwing his giant clubs. Sting battles back and Vader starts rocking, so he quickly hits an atomic drop, followed by a DDT. The Stinger Splash has Vader wobbly, and Sting doesn’t relent, hammering with everything he’s got! The fans are loving Sting’s fight, but you know it this isn’t it, because here comes the heels. Sting fights them off, but Vader is able to recover and he hits the bear clap. Off the top, a clothesline drops Sting. Ross: “That defies logic! A 400 pound man should not be able to come off the top rope like that!” So, he opts to defy logic again, but his splash misses and Sting clotheslines him to the floor! The fans are rockin’, and Sting howls to them … completely missing that Orndorff has rushes him from behind, and Sting’s dropped with a German suplex! Vader officially tags Orndorff in, and he stomps Sting into a puddle. An elbow to the little Stinger (which Jesse reminds us is a legal blow in this match) brings in Windham, and he’s ready to dish a little violence. A vertical suplex is followed by a cheap shot to Rhodes. Dustin rushes in, and gets avalanched by Vader in the corner. Good job Dustin! Vader tags in, and crushes Sting with the avalanche as well before hocking a loogie at Rhodes. My man! A press slam, complete with Vader tossing Sting in the air as he benches him, keeps Sting down, and Windham comes in to hit his Superplex. Sting fights off the Superplex, which would have undoubtedly ended this, and gets the hot tag to Rhodes. Dustin fights with all 3 guys who have come into the ring now, and manages to beat them down briefly. Windham eats a corner clothesline, as CACTUS JACK rushes in with a pair of bolt cutters! He hacks his way through the lock, and welcomes himself to the fray – officially declaring himself on the side of the faces! Windham tries to stop him as Orndorff works over Rhodes, but he rips off his boot and starts clobbering all 3 guys! Vader avalanches Rhodes again, while Orndorff tosses Jack through the ropes, where he flies into the side of the cage and splats on the floor full force, as always. Sting is dumped, leaving Rhodes one on one with Orndorff. However, Cactus wills himself back in, and he comes off the top with the boot to the back of Orndorff’s head and scores the pin at 11:25! Sadly, this was rushed because TV time was at a premium and WCW didn’t think to cut out some of the unnecessary fat. **1/2
JIM ROSS wants a word with Jack, and the audience is fully behind this. Jack says for the last 9 years he’s been called a psycho, and a warped loser. He’s got a neck that hurts him every morning when he wakes up thanks to Orndorff, and he’s probably in over his head. His ribs hurt because Vader splashed him, and he knows he’s in over his head. However … you can beat him, you can hurt him, but you can’t stop him. “SO PAUL ORNDORFF, BRING IT ON! BRING EVERY OUNCE OF ENERGY CUZ YOU’RE GONNA NEED IT!” The face turn is complete, and it looks like we have the first break-out main eventer of 1993.

I wasn’t expecting a ton out of this show given the clog of names like Van Hammer and Erik Watts being heavily advertised – but not only was the dead weight shoved aside for the most part, all of the young guys were given plenty of opportunity to shine, and shine they did. Austin is looking like a polished vet, Chris Benoit is a phenomenal new intense entry to the federation, and Mick Foley’s the second hottest commodity they’re riding (behind Sting). We’re off to an incredibly promising start to 1993, and it’s all up to WCW to take advantage.

Repost: The SmarK Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XXXIII (08.15.96)

(Not a new post, as I did this one while going through the entire run of Clash shows last year after they got added to the Network.  But since we’re at that point, might as well post it again.)  The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXXIII (August 1996) Dedicated to the memory of Mark “OfficerFarva” Haas.  (I will also just add that I was going through my inbox tonight to continue my quest of cleaning out stuff that no longer applies or is too dated to answer, and I was saddened to have to archive a bunch of stuff from Mark, because he always had really good discussion material to add but I just couldn’t get to all of it.)  Live from Denver, CO Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan Into the nWo era now, shortly after Hogan won the title at Hog Wild, and it’s an entirely different promotion from the last Clash we saw. Hall and Nash are here, Hogan is a heel, Luger is 100% babyface and so are the Four Horsemen. Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Dean Malenko Ever notice that Rey and Dean’s music are basically the same thing? Malenko attacks before the bell with a suplex and dumps Rey, but he slides back in and hits Dean with the rana off the apron. Back in, they trade acrobatics and Rey gets a moonsault for two and kicks Dean to the floor. Back in, Dean drops him on the top rope via a powerbomb to take over, and goes to a chinlock. We take a break to shill the official Hog Wild denim jacket (only $89.95!) and return with Dean flinging Rey around the ring until Rey flips into a rollup for two. Rey used to be so fun before all the steroids. Dean goes to the legbar and then launches him into a faceplant for two. Rey tosses Dean and follows with a somersault dive, then moonsaults off the railing in a spot that could have went horribly for him. Back in, springboard dropkick gets two. Rey reverses a tilt-a-whirl for two. West Coast Pop gets two. They fight on top and Dean gets the SUPER EXPLODING GUTBUSTER for the pin, but Rey’s foot is on the ropes. The ref rings the bell, but then takes it back and Rey rolls him up for the pin at 14:20 to retain. This is the time when the cruiserweight division launched into the stratosphere. ***3/4 GLACIER is coming, muthafucka! Keeping in mind this is August 1996 and he didn’t even show up on TV until, what, mid-97? VK Wallstreet v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan The VK Wallstreet gimmick was of course another oh-so-subtle dig at Vince McMahon and his mainstream aspirations. We all know who got the last laugh on that one. Wallstreet immediately makes the mistake of pointing to his head to indicate intelligence, resulting in Duggan beating on him in the corner. Wallstreet bails and gets a cheapshot to take over, and goes to the chinlock. Duggan fights out with a slam and tapes up the fist, but VKM rolls him up and grabs the tights at 3:46. ½* Meanwhile, the Nasty Boys are upset at getting passed over for title shots and people talking shit about them. Well, they can rest easy knowing Sags would soon get forced into early retirement anyway. Konnan v. Ultimo Dragon This could be ugly. Konnan slugs him down and wraps him up in a cloverleaf, but Dragon dropkicks him to the floor and Sonny Onoo gets some kicks in. Back in, Dragon with a moonsault into a cradle for two. German suplex gets two, but Konnan rolls him over and pulls the tights at 3:00 to finish. What agent let them do the same finish two matches in a row? * Meanwhile, Scott Norton attacks Ice Train to break up a Compuserve chat. He’s the ultimate internet troll! Meng v. Randy Savage Macho appears to be a no-show due to nWo beatdown, so Meng wins by forfeit. They show replays to emphasize the point, and Hogan’s chairshots didn’t improve any after WWF mercilessly mocked him on the Billionaire Ted skits. So with that out of the way, Mean Gene interviews the new improved Dungeon of Doom (Sullivan, the Faces of Fear, Hugh Morrus) and Kevin points out that he was trying to destroy Hogan all long and thus should be thanked by everyone. Oh, and then the Leprechaun runs around ringside (not to be confused with Hornswoggle) because WCW. Madusa v. Bull Nakano At least Bull had little worry about getting fired for doing coke in WCW. They practically gave it out at the door. Madusa misses a dropkick and gets tossed around the ring by the hair, but then gets greedy and beats on her with nunchuks. Somehow the ref misses this and the match continues. Madusa comes back with a bad bodypress, but Nakano sits on her for two. Bull goes up and Madusa dropkicks her to the floor and follows with a dive on Onoo. Onoo tries a kick to retaliate, but hits Nakano and Madusa rolls her up for the pin at 2:30. Really, three rollup finishes in a row? *1/2 Meanwhile, Ric Flair and his harem are ready for Hogan’s nonsense. Flair gets a great play off Hogan’s previous promo about how Hogan beat up his best friend by noting that he can’t beat up his own best friend, and neither can Hogan. Diamond Dallas Page v. Eddie Guerrero Last run for heel DDP before the nWo started courting him to lead to his face turn. Eddie gets a headscissors into a dropkick, but charges and hits the post to allow DDP to take over. Gutbuster and tilt-a-whirl slam gets two. Eddie fights back and hits the springboard senton for two, but Page powerbombs him for two. They fight to the top and Eddie shoves him off and finishes with a frog splash at 4:20 to win DDP’s Battlebowl ring. DDP offers a handshake, but then turns on him with a pair of Diamond Cutters to spoil Eddie’s glorious moment. ** Meanwhile, Hogan notes that Flair will be known in the ratings as the stupid little man who couldn’t get the job done. That would be some pretty specific quarter hour information. GLACIER is still kicking stuff! ROADHOUSE! Chris Benoit v. The Giant Very morbid on the Horsemen side, as Benoit and both his valets are gone. Giant was rapidly improving at this point, but this was a quick dropkick and chokeslam at 0:25. It is insinuated that Woman accidentally cost him the match, but I don’t think that went anywhere. This whole period is a blur for me, so I forget if she ended up turning on the Horsemen. WCW Tag titles: Harlem Heat v. The Steiner Brothers v. Sting & Lex Luger Luger gets beat up in the Heat corner but returns fire on Stevie Ray, then Rick Steiner lays both guys out with clotheslines and bulldogs Stevie for two. The Heat takes over on Rick and we take a break. Back with Rick powerslamming booker, but Sting tags himself in and hits a flying chop on Booker for two. Sting with a press slam for two. We get a shockingly boring heat segment with Luger pounding on Rick and nothing of note going on, until Scott comes in with a belly to belly on Lex and it’s a six-way donnybrook. In this commotion, Hall and Nash join us while Scott hits the frankensteiner on Booker, and Nick Patrick calls for the DQ in the middle of his count to screw the Steiners over at 13:00. So I guess it’s a no-contest? Who do you disqualify in a three-way match? *1/2 Nick Patrick gives an interview with Mean Gene afterwards, explaining his actions and sounding like Kenny Powers. WCW World title: Hulk Hogan v. Ric Flair So in the bizarre after-effect of Hogan’s heel turn, people are now cheering him again since the act was so incredibly hot and thus fresh again. Flair works a headlock and they trade taunts, but Hulk goes to work on the arm and Flair fights back with chops. More stalling from Hulk and they do a test of strength before Flair gets tossed out now. Geez, they’ve wrestled each other a zillion times, you’d think they could get something going here. Hogan slugs away in the ring, but Flair suplexes him and Hogan hulks up. The crowd goes nuts for this, so thankfully Hogan phased it out pretty quickly. Legdrop misses and Flair gets the figure-four, so Hogan throws the ref down and the Outsiders run in for the DQ at 8:04. Pretty brutal. * The Pulse Bunch of short, bad matches and TERRIBLE finishes here. Strong recommendation to avoid.

WCW Clash of the Champions 34: January 21, 1997

There was a time when the Clash of Champions was an event. The pinnacle of non-PPV happenings, it was a bridge between extended PPV lulls, and a means to kick off hot new feuds.

Of course, that was then, and this is now. The Clash of Champions is more of a hindrance than a necessity, with WCW simply filling out their obligations to the TBS timeslot. This one, in particular, was amongst the least promoted affairs I can ever remember, with Scott Hall vs Lex Luger vaguely mentioned on last night’s Nitro, and apparently Benoit and Sullivan will brawl as well, though it’s unlikely to top what we saw last night. Oh, speaking of, AWArulz was able to locate a solid copy of the wonderfully violent and uncomfortable match that I believed had no Internet presence at all. Enjoy!

We are LIVE from Milwaukee, Wisconsin – home of the CRUSHER! He is not mentioned by TONY SCHIAVONEDUSTY RHODES, or “SOBER” BOBBY HEENAN. They ARE talking in depth about the “Domestic Dispute” that is Benoit and Sullivan. Oh boy.

DEAN MALENKO vs. THE ULTIMATE DRAGON (with Sonny Onoo) (for the WCW world cruiserweight title)

This is a return from last night, but if you don’t remember it, I don’t blame you since they were given about 6 seconds and no ring entrances. MIKE TENAY’s Cruiserweight Sniffing Dogs begin barking uncontrollably, causing Iron Mike to come tripping over himself and face planting into the announce table to call this one. Mike, I love the passion, but Dusty’s fine on his own, I promise. Sure, he might call the occasional plancha a “jumparoo”, and a spinning heel kick might be confused with a “didja see that Toneh?” But the man’s a veteran, he is not to be trifled with by these young (old) Internet lucha-nerds. In fact, he immediately shows why I offer my undying support, by talking about Dragon’s manager “Sonny Bono”. Dusty, I got you babe. Dragon works a leg-lock as we take our first commercial break.

Malenko’s showing a little fire when we get back, accentuated with a standing brainbuster for 2. Dragon responds by kicking him around like a European football. After a quick powder, Malenko leaps back into this with a backdrop suplex, and grapevines the leg. Dusty speculates this might be a setup to the Cloverleaf. He might be on to something, because Malenko moves to a half crab. Dragon kicks Malenko in the face repeatedly, but that doesn’t work so he uses the road more travelled by simply grabbing the rope. Malenko thinks that’s cool, and drops him with a single leg atomic drop. Dragon throws a couple of shots, so Deano dumps him to the floor and stomps the leg which is draped over the top of the guardrail. Back in, he goes for a Figure Four, but he can’t fully hook it. Upon release, Dragon hits a spinning heel kick and heads upstairs, but Malenko’s barely rattled and cuts him off. A superplex draws a HUGE pop, and a victory roll gets 2! Dragon tries one of his powerful kicks, but Malenko blocks and goes for a powerbomb – except Dragon rolls through and gets 2!! A dropkick sends Malenko to the floor, and he’s right behind with a … well, Malenko sidesteps but Dragon lands on his feet and whips Dean to the guardrail. Asai moonsault is right behind, and Sonny, sensing victory, portrays a desperate stereotype. Back in, a suplex sets up a moonsault, but Malenko kicks out at 2. I think everyone thought that was it. Dean is placed on the top, and a super Frankensteiner is on point. Dragon Suplex is attempted, but Malenko escapes and goes for the Cloverleaf. Dragon escapes quickly, but he takes a tigerbomb! Sonny gets involved, so Malenko decks him, turns back, and applies the Cloverleaf in the centre of the ring! With nowhere to go, Dragon taps and we have a NEW Cruiserweight champion at 13:06! He’s your first ever 3-time champion, which makes sense since he’s also the only 2-time champion. Good match, but Dragon’s lack of selling the body-parts is starting to get to me. When he missed the dive and landed on his feet on the floor, his legs should have buckled and put Malenko back in charge, but like Starrcade, he simply ignored all the work involved with getting them to that point. ***

MIKE ENOS vs. SCOTTY RIGGS

I’m sorry, say what? I didn’t agree to this on my Clash of Champions. The Clash should be used for only the biggest stars. Take for example my personal favorite event, Clash 7, where we were treated to the likes of Ranger Ross, Norman the Lunatic, AND the Ding Dongs. Riggs wins with a forearm smash at 2:27. Riggs promises to bring Marcus Bagwell his “heart and soul” at this weekend’s PPV. Scotty, as a man who endured many a heart break in my late teens and early 20’s, listen to me: the biggest favor you can do yourself is to let it go. Bringing Bagwell your heart is only going to lead to further pain. It’s time you went out and mingled, tried out some new friends, see what works. You might be surprised. This is why Tinder was created. And tequila. DUD

“MEAN” GENE OKERLUND takes us to a break in the action, introducing ARN ANDERSONCHRIS BENOITWOMANMONGO MCMICHAEL, and DEBRA MCMICHAEL. Gene says he spied them in a high end Chicago restaurant conducting business, and wants the scoop. The fans, on the other hand, make it clear that they want Flair. Benoit calls himself a wolverine, who takes what he wants when he wants. He’s already taken Kevin Sullivan’s wife, and now he wants his career. Mongo, to no surprise, draws the most heat since they’re in Wisconsin. He calls them a bunch of Limburger Losers. Ease up, Steven. Debra takes over, which gets Benoit, Woman, and Arn to take off in irritation. As soon as they leave, she starts talking smack about Woman.

KONAN, MR. JL, and LA PARKA vs. CHRIS JERICHO, SUPER CALO, and CHAVO GUERRERO JR.

What kind of acid trip did the bookers take before putting THIS combo together? Mike Tenay starts screaming about Lucha-Libre, but only 3 of these guys are from Mexico; assuming we are still on the story that Konan is to Mexico what Hulk Hogan is to America, and NOT that he lives in a cave with Kevin Sullivan, Jimmy Hart, Maxx, Hugh Morrus, and the Faces of Fear. Have JL and Parka taken the abandoned rooms of Bubba and Giant? I’m going to assume that Konan moved in to the Giant’s room, because there’s little doubt in my mind he had the penthouse. Leprechaun slept on a rock, so unless they’re prepared to offer a spot to Mascarita Sagrada (who was last seen crooning with Todd Pettengill on Another Channel), he’s very unlikely to be replaced. And, let’s face it, a wrestling skeleton WOULD make a fine addition to the Dungeon. On the other team, somehow Chris Jericho has been paired with a couple of guys I don’t remember ever having him maintain any kind of previous relationship with. I would at LEAST appreciate some sort of backstage segment where they cross paths, and Jericho compliments Calo on his immovable hat. Unless, of course Calo isn’t in fact a Mexican, but a Canadian Store Mannequin named Jeff who reverts to his plastic state of matter when the hat is removed from his head. Let’s not be quick to rule it out; I’ve never seen Calo without some sort of headgear. And THAT would make sense, because Jericho is also Canadian, and possibly met him during a shopping trip. Calo IS wearing a toque tonight, lending further credence to my Canadian theory. Anyway, everyone here dove on each other before Jericho eventually pinned JL with a Super Frankensteiner at 5:29. **

HARLEM HEAT (with Sista Sherri) vs. JOE GOMEZ and THE RENEGADE

WCW cuts the entrances out of this one, which is both the first match to lack entrances tonight, but ALSO the first with black wrestlers (DNA tests on Scotty Riggs pending). Sonny, take notes. I’d be hard pressed to find another Clash with so many pointless jobber matches. Honestly, I could paste this lineup as a Worldwide card, and you’d have no reason to doubt me. Booker hits an axekick, howls at the moon, but misses a guillotine on Gomez. Renegade gets the hot tag, and is immediately dropped with a clothesline. Heat Seeker finishes for the former champs at 3:44. I’m thinking the only way Renegade has a shot of ever winning again is if he decides to start shooting, but he’d probably only wind up hurting himself. 1/2*

MASAHIRO CHONO vs. ALEX WRIGHT

They booked this show 48 minutes ago, didn’t they? Did only 30 wrestlers show up tonight, leaving them with virtually no options? Can we expect to see Gambler make his Clash debut? Please? NICK PATRICK takes his spot as the designated referee, complete with the nWo shirt because any hopes at subtlety are long out the window at this point. A spinning heel kick gets about a 14 count in real time, but only 1 and a half from Patrick. A small package yields the same. The fans are ready to revolt, not because they give a damn about Wright or anything, but because it’s been 6 months of this now with absolutely no comeuppance from WCW. They have no recourse, and the results are never in doubt, which is getting aggravating from a viewer standpoint. Wright finally has enough and kicks Patrick in the knee, but he refuses to call a DQ since Chono hits a superkick and scores the pin at 4:29. ENOUGH. -***

EDDIE GUERRERO vs. SCOTT NORTON

Nick Patrick stays in the ring, just in case you had any hope of watching anything entertaining tonight. This is Bischoff’s problem on the whole; once he sees something that he thinks is BRILLIANT, he’ll beat it into the ground. And, despite the fact that this Patrick nonsense is already getting under my skin, it’s only going to get worse. Expect large mood fluctuations. Eddie doesn’t manage to make a whole lot happen, because Norton no-sells virtually everything. Tony applauds the nWo’s acquisition of Norton, because he might have been one of the WCW guys to stand tall against them. A standing vertical suplex sees Eddie just get dropped with no effort, and a powerslam has Norton screaming about “NWO STYLE!” No, nWo style would have featured 40 run ins, and 3 minutes of Bischoff vigorously masturbating. Eddie plays possum while Norton decides to go up top for like the first time ever, and Eddie cuts him off with uppercuts. A super rana takes the man down, but Norton dodges a senton bomb. Norton throws a shoulerblock spear that accidentally takes out both Guerrero and Patrick, and DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE sneaks in from the crowd to drop Norton with a Diamond Cutter and a HUGE pop! Frog Splash forces Patrick’s hand, because Norton is simply NOT kicking out, and Eddie scores the pin at 6:39. All my previous complaints still stand; one anomaly does not make up for the other 100 matches we need to endure to get there. *

THE GIANT calls Hogan a “four legged feline”. … oh.

10 Exciting Winners have been Randomly Selected to attend Superbrawl! And, because you’re not paying for this show (not that this would stop them), Tony takes the time to slowly read them off one at a time as opposed to have an intern call them at home. I don’t want to suggest that this is in fact rigged, but I find it unlikely that 10 different states had winning entrants. Arkansas has like a quarter of an electoral vote, but somehow they’ve got enough firepower to have someone on their way to Superbrawl? This is the most suspicious I’ve felt about a lottery since the Pittsburgh Penguins, on the verge of bankruptcy, miraculously landed Sidney Crosby.

KEVIN SULLIVAN (with Jimmy Hart) vs. CHRIS BENOIT (with Woman) (in a Falls Count Anywhere match)

The intensity is turned down a little tonight, as both guys are able to get through complete entrances without a single punch being thrown. Sullivan calls for Benoit to start on the floor, and Chris obliges. Right through the crowd they go immediately, throwing stiff potato shots at each other as they wade through the ocean of bodies. Through the concession area and into the bathroom, and Benoit is thrown face first through the paper towel dispenser. He lies in front of the row of urinals, and Sullivan smashes Benoit’s head with the dispenser. Jesus!!! Benoit feeds it right back with a trashcan that flies errantly into Jimmy Hart! The referee makes his counts with one foot in the urinal; there simply isn’t enough Purell for this! Chris is thrown head first into the vent, and these guys are taking all shots full tilt. Back into the arena, both guys drenched in urinal from the filthy ass gents who can’t control their stream, Benoit is thrown down about 30 rows of stairs!! He usually does them about 5 at a time, but tonight … good LORD. In the ring, Sullivan’s in control and looks to win his second in a row. Chris is tied to the tree of woe, and the running knee connects with Benoit’s kidneys. The double stomp is on point, but Benoit kicks out! I think he might be the first guy to escape that move. Hart loses his shit, and starts screaming bloody murder at the referee, allowing Woman to enter and wallop Sullivan in the head with a wooden chair! Benoit, breathless, rolls over and gets the pin at 5:12! As if enough damage hasn’t been done to the old man, Benoit grabs the chair again and SHATTERS it over Sullivan’s head! These guys are stupid ridiculous; and while the template remains the same every single time, you can’t deny their drive to kill each other, be it with violence, or a bad case of CMV. ****


THE AMAZING FRENCH CANADIANS (with Colonel Robert Parker) vs. THE STEINER BROTHERS

Parker’s donned his Colonel Klink gear tonight, and vows to show the world what Canadians are made of. Please, a real French Canadian would have already chain-smoked their way through a half-pack of MacDonalds. The boys try to sing the anthem, but Steinerized cuts them off because there’s no respect for la Belle Province in ‘Murica. Won’t WCW be sorry when they try and seek sponsorship from Jean Coutu. The voices of THE OUTSIDERS take over the arena and taunt the Steiners; vowing to finish them if the “Molson Canadians” in the ring don’t do it tonight. This is Scott’s return to the ring after an extended injury, and he’s developed a leather fetish during his off-time. Tony applauds the new look … hmmmmmmm. Tony has about 3 months to decide if he wants to become the face of celebrity homosexuality; or Ellen’s gonna beat him to it. Choices abound. While Tony mulls it over, we take a commercial break.

In our time away, the Canadians took over the offense while Tony took a vow of personal silence. The Quebec Crash looks to finish, but Rick rolls away and Ouellette sells hard. Rougeau punches Scotty in the face to prevent a tag, but that gives Rick the time he needs to get to his feet and hit a running clothesline. Scott gets the tag, and he’s got the beats for anything French. Noggin knocker sends Rougeau out, and Ouellette gets launched with an overhead belly to belly. Rougeau grabs the hybrid flag but misses his swing and Scott punches him in the face. A cradle DDT delivered from off the shoulders of Rick is enough to get the pin (and probably kill the big man!), and the Steiners win at 4:12. **

SCOTT HALL (with Kevin Nash and Syxx) vs. LEX LUGER

Dusty hilariously freaks out during Luger’s fireworks, because he thinks he’s caught on fire from errant sparks. Dusty is of course mistaken, as Tony’s the only flaming in the announce booth. Luger takes a toothpick to the eyes, but before Hall can even chuckle, Luger’s locked up with him and has him shoved to his ass. HEAR HIM ROAR! Hall hits a backdrop suplex to turn it around, and he happily wipes his hands of this mess, missing the fact that Luger’s already back on his feet and screaming again. Hall hits a top rope bulldog for 2, but it’s enough to stop Lex’s adrenaline rush. Hall throws a series of shoulderblocks, but Luger stops that with a short-armed clothesline. Hall comes right back with a chokeslam, but misses the follow up elbowdrop. Luger pounds away, so Hall pulls him by the tights to launch Lex to the outside. Nash is there, and runs Luger over like a Diesel tanker. Back in, Hall maintains control, and Nash gives an assist by distracting the referee, which allows Syxx to clothesline Luger. Hall tries a pin with his feet on the ropes, but only gets 2. Hall chokes Lex in the ropes, so when the referee reads him the riot act, Nash rushes in and punches Luger in the face. A fallaway slam gets 2, so Nash tries to intimidate the referee to make him count faster. Hall locks on the abdominal stretch, and uses the ropes to increase the leverage. He’s eventually caught, and Luger hiptosses him off. Lex tries to follow up with an elbowdrop, but Hall rolls away and drops Luger with a discus punch. Luger slides outside the ring, and that catches Hall off guard – giving Lex the chance to sweep out his legs and crotch him against the ring post! Luger re-enters with a slingshot dropkick (!), and hits a quartet of atomic drops! Running clothesline has the fans amped, but a poke to the eyes from Hall stops their momentum. Luger wins them right back with a powerslam, and he decides it’s time for the Rack! He disposes of Nash and Syxx who try to interfere, puts it on … but Nash comes back in! Luger drops the hold, and hits a running clothesline on Kevin. Nash takes a pounding, but now Hall’s back on top. Syxx jumps off the top with an early version of the Curb Stomp, and the referee finally calls for the DQ at 10:34. **

Nash nails a big boot, but THE STEINERS rush the ring and go right after the tag-team champs. All 6 guys brawl back and forth, and it leads to Team WCW standing tall as the nWo retreat. Luger REALLY should be fighting for the World title, I have no idea why he’s continued to be ignored in the war against Hogan. Will the nWo finally lose a battle at their own PPV this Saturday? Don’t bank on it – but join me for it anyway.

WCW Clash Questions

Howdy,
​Hi!​

Having missed a lot of early 90s WCW programming, I am going back and watching on the network (I wish they would include WCW Saturday Night to help provide some background for the PPVs and Clash but I digress.) 


Some quick questions:

1- I know pushes would start and stop in WCW due to management changes but Steve Austin in 1992 got to work a lot with established stars like Sting, Rude, Steamboat etc…. Were they actively trying to get him over as "the next guy" or was he just lucky to be in all those tag matches on top? 

​He was absolutely the next guy.  They were pushing the shit out of him but I guess Eric Bischoff just wasn't a fan.  To say the least.  Flair and Dusty have both stated many times that they saw Austin as a huge star, however.  ​Dusty breaking up the Hollywood Blonds in 1993 was his own bass-ackwards way of trying to get Austin over to the next level, in fact.  

2-The Steiners were really stiff. Did anyone ever complain about getting nearly decapitated by those clotheslines or having to work with them in general? Is it fair to say they toned down their style once they went to WWF? 

​Yeah, that's an understatement.  And yes, people definitely complained, although not much could really be done about it.  ​

3- With Flair gone, was there ever any talk of giving Arn Anderson a legit singles push? Was his talent wasted in all those random tag team pairings until the Horsemen reunited? 

​During the 91 era?  No, Anderson was a TV title guy and both he and the company were fine with that.  ​

4- If you could only watch every SNME or every CLASH for the rest of your life…Which show do you choose? 
​​
Gee, do I watch endless Hulk Hogan 3 minute matches for the rest of my life, or Flair-Sting and Flair-Steamboat?  Gonna have to go with the Clash.  ​

Early Clash Questions

Hi Scott Hi Gareth! I’ve recently got the Network, and started watching some old NWA stuff starting with Clash 1 (I’m up to the end of the Flair-Steamboat stuff). A few questions / topics I thought you might enjoy shedding some light on, as I understand you’re somewhat a fan of this period… they’re a bit rambling so apologies for that. 1. Was the NWA still an overarching umbrella for multiple territories? It seems that Crockett / Turner basically IS the NWA at this point. Was Flair still the visiting champ to World Class etc as he had been in previous years? Nope.  By the time the Clashes had begun, Jim Crockett had bought up all the competition and gone solo as a promoter under the Turner family umbrella.  By the end of the year, Turner had bought Crockett out completely.  For as much shit as everyone gives Vince for predatory practices (which is valid), Crockett squashed all the people he was supposed to be working with just as viciously.  The NWA might have existed in name, but you had to book the champion through Crockett exclusively.  2. Luger’s push didn’t go very well. If not for the Turner takeover was the plan for him to become a permanent Hogan-like face on top, replacing the territory-touring heel model of Flair? By the end of WrestleWar 89 the announcers are treating Flair like a face, and without the need to make the top guys in each territory look a million bucks not quite winning the belt from Flair, that model seems odd when Hogan is doing such big business for the competition. The plan was definitely for either Sting or Luger to succeed Flair as the top drawing card, and they of course tried many times to make that happen with little success.  3. Speaking of the Turner situation, I know they had problems with Flair soon after this for him to jump to WWE. But here they aborted Luger’s title win for Flair to retain. Was this a pro-Flair attitude or more just a negative Luger one? Do you mean at Starrcade 88?  It was pro-Flair in the sense that they wanted to build to the Steamboat match.  There was no issue with Luger aside from them feeling it wasn’t the right time.  4. Was Steamboat always coming back at this point or was this a Turner related decision and/or a panic reaction to Luger’s collapsed push? They’re some of the all-time greatest matches, but it does seem like a bit  of a stop-gap feud – have a few months of awesome bouts with a proven partner for Flair while they figure out what to do, then get the belt back on him. He was always coming back.  Once he was fired from the WWF they wanted to bring him in and make him champion as soon as humanly possible.  Original plans called for him to get it at Starrcade 88, in fact, but they couldn’t work out the timing.  Sorry if this is all common knowledge – this era of NWA / WCW is more or less all new to me. Praise be to the WWE Network (and to the PS3 for being so easily convinced it’s in America and not the UK). Glad to help.  It’s one of my favorite times to talk about. 

Rock Star Gary reflects on…WCW Clash of the Champions XXVI!

Live from Baton Rouge, LA

Airdate: January 27, 1994
Attendance: 3,200 (1,600 paid)

“Mean” Gene Okerlund welcomes us to “Cajun country.” After
receiving word through his earpiece

Okerlund introduces…Bobby “The Brain”
Heenan! Holy legendary hirings, Batman! Heenan was last seen getting thrown out
of an arena on WWF Monday Night RAW on 12/6/93. What a great grab by WCW!
Anyways, Okerlund compares Heenan to Tonya Harding with a “thin ice” joke. Heenan
joins Tony Schiavone at ringside to call the action.

Match 1: Pretty
Wonderful (w/ the Assassin) versus Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Too Cold
Scorpio (w/ Teddy Long)

Highlights:

·        
Tony mentioned that this is a #1 contender’s
match as the victors will face the Nasty Boys on the next episode of WCW Saturday
Night.
·        
Stun gun by Roma on Bagwell. I wonder how “Stunning”
Steve Austin felt about that.
·        
During the commercial break Roma received a
double shoulder block.
·        
Scorpio attempted a superplex on Roma, but
Orndorff interfered.
·        
A pair of top-rope forearms to the back by Roma.
·        
Tony mentioned that Heenan used to manage Orndorff.
·        
The new commissioner of WCW will be named later in the show.
·        
Second-rope elbow drop by Roma.
·        
Orndorff leaped from the top rope only to eat
boot.
·        
Hot tag to Bagwell.
·        
Missile dropkick by Bagwell.
·        
After the Assassin loaded Orndorff’s knee pad Roma
attempted to ram Bagwell’s head into it only to get rammed instead.
·        
Bagwell made the cover and pinned Roma.

 

Rating: **

Summary: Not a
bad opener. Bagwell and Scorpio will face the Nasty Boys for the tag titles on Saturday.

Match 2: Ice Train
versus Ron Simmons

Highlights:

·        
This match was billed as the teacher (Simmons)
versus the student (Ice Train). Check out Simmons’ match (taped 12/13/93, aired
1/15/94)
against Scotty Riggs and the post-match interview.
·        
Excellent powerslam by Ice Train.
·        
After a second powerslam by Ice Train he missed
a shoulder block in the corner.
·        
Simmons rolled him up, hooked the tights, and
stole the victory.

 

Rating: ½*

Summary: While it
was a nice display of power wrestling by Ice Train his inexperience exposed him
here.

Call the hotline after the show to speak directly to “The
Brain!”

In a funny bit US champion “Stunning” Steve Austin is
dressed like Colonel Robert Parker while Parker wears a Hollywood Blonds
t-shirt and trunks. Additionally, in an effort to mock the no longer employed by
WCW Sid, the back of Parker’s t-shirt reads “Col. Parker rules the world.” Austin
uses a thick Southern accent to reveal that he has a manager’s license for
tonight.

Okerlund then introduces the new commissioner of WCW—Nick Bockwinkel.
WCW has now added a touch of class to its leadership.

Match 3 for the WCW
World TV title: Lord Steven Regal (champion w/ Sir William) versus “The
Natural” Dustin Rhodes

Highlights:

·        
Speaking of class, Gordon Solie was the
play-by-play announcer for this match. It reminds me of my days of watching
Championship Wrestling from Florida back in the ‘80s.
·        
Superb European uppercut by Regal.
·        
Gut-wrench suplex by Regal.
·        
Lariat by Rhodes.
·        
As Regal stalls outside the ring three minutes
remain in the time limit according to ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta.
·        
Some brawling by Rhodes woke up the crowd.
·        
Flying lariat by Rhodes.
·        
Flying dropkick by Rhodes got a 2 count.
·        
Plancha from the ramp into the ring by Rhodes
got another 2 count.
·        
As Rhodes hit the bulldog time ran out on him.
·        
Time-limit draw. Regal remained the champion.

 

Rating: *1/2

Summary: Lots of
mat wrestling here, so your mileage may vary. Regal’s stalling made the draw
all the more obvious. Dustin Rhodes continues to underwhelm me since his feud
with Rick Rude ended.

Okerlund interviews Aaron Neville. His interview is as
exciting as watching paint dry.

Don’t miss SuperBrawl IV on February 20. Its subtitle is “Double
Thundercage Live.”

Match 4 (non-title): The
Nasty Boys (w/ Missy Hyatt) versus Cactus jack and Maxx Payne

Highlights:

·        
Making sure she doesn’t have another wardrobe
malfunction Missy wore a halter top and jeans.
·        
Cappetta introduced Cactus Jack and Maxx Payne,
but they didn’t come through the curtain.
·        
After the commercial break Jack and Payne ran
through the crowd and ambushed the Nasty Boys from behind.
·        
The bell rung and Cactus Jack gave Knobbs a
Cactus clothesline.
·        
After slamming Saggs on the concrete floor
Cactus Jack delivered a Cactus elbow to him.
·        
Awkward cross-body block from Sags to Payne from
the top rope.
·        
Payne applied the Payne-killer to Knobbs, but
Saggs saved.
·        
Outside the ring Saggs demolished Payne with a
plastic chair shot.
·        
With all four men in the ring Cactus Jack gave
both Nasty Boys a Cactus clothesline.
·        
Double-arm DDT on Knobbs by Cactus Jack.
·        
Referee Randy Anderson was distracted by Payne
so Saggs delivered an elbow and placed Knobbs atop Jack.
·        
However, Saggs was unable to leave the ring in a
timely fashion so Payne delivered his own elbow to Knobbs, draped Jack atop
him, and secured the pin!

 

Rating: **1/2

Summary: A
tremendous upset by a unique team. This was a bar room brawl type of match
minus weapons. More matches between these teams should they up the ante could
be quite intriguing.

After the match Missy entered the ring but got kissed by
both Payne and Jack.

Okerlund plugs the hotline. 
Next highlights of the match from WCW Saturday Night (taped 12/13/93,
aired 1/15/94) where
Pillman beat Austin in a non-title match are shown. Before Parker can place the
chicken head on Pillman with Austin’s assistance Dustin Rhodes rescues Pillman.

Match 5 (Loser wears
a chicken suit on WCW Saturday Night): “Flyin’” Brian Pillman versus Colonel
Robert Parker

Highlights:

·        
Pillman came to the ring with chicken from KFC. Schiavone
informed us that Parker’s picture was on the box.
·        
Fantastic dropkick from Pillman.
·        
Pillman nailed Austin on the floor.
·        
After Parker and Austin tried to take a walk
Pillman came after them. Austin charged but received a back drop on the ramp.
·        
The Boss emerged from backstage to even the
odds.
·        
As the Boss attempted to corral Parker from exiting
over the steel railing Austin attacked Pillman in the ring.
·        
Austin gave Pillman the Stun Gun. Take that,
Roma!
·        
Parker attempted a double axe-handle from the
second rope but ate a right hand to the mid-section instead.
·        
After Pillman climbed to the top rope Austin
knocked him down since referee Nick Patrick was detained by the Boss.
·        
The Boss chased Austin back through the curtain.
As Parker begged Austin to return Pillman rolled him up and pinned him.
·        
Parker will wear the chicken suit on WCW Saturday
Night. How clucky for
him!

 

Rating: *

Summary:  This wasn’t a bad comedy match, but it
wasn’t the blow-off match that the Hollywood Blonds deserved either.

Tony shills SuperBrawl IV on PPV. Two cage matches are
scheduled: WCW World Champion Ric Flair will defend his title against former
champion Vader as well as a six-man match.

Match 6 (Elimination
tag team match): WCW World Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Sting versus WCW
International World Champion “Ravishing” Rick Rude and Vader (w/ Harley Race)

Highlights:

·        
Bockwinkel joined Tony and Bobby on commentary.
The former AWA World champion reunited with his former manager! I’m certain the
commentary will be much more classy and distinguished from this point forward.
·        
Buffer rumbled.
·        
Vader military-pressed Sting then dropped him
throat-first on the top rope.
·        
Vader attempted a second-rope sunset flip but
Sting dropped on top of him instead of going down.
·        
Sting gave Vader a release German suplex. Amazing!
·        
After a commercial break Rude applied the bear
hug to Sting.
·        
After Flair tagged in he hit a double axe-handle
from the top rope to Rude followed by an inverted atomic drop.
·        
Vader tagged in and gave Flair an avalanche.
·        
Vader bomb.
·        
Superplex by Vader.
·        
In an effort to injure the World Champion Vader gave
Flair a top-rope superplex causing Flair to scream in agony.
·        
Vader mounted the top rope again, but Sting
pulled Flair out of harm’s way.
·        
DDT by Rude to Sting.
·        
Outside the ring Vader attempted to use a chair,
but Bockwinkel exercised his power by putting a stop to it.
·        
As Cappetta announced that Flair and Vader have
been eliminated Vader yelled “SHIT!” right in front of the camera. So much for
family-friendly. Oops.
·        
Flair received assistance returning to the dressing
room.
·        
Top rope clothesline by Sting.
·        
After perching on the top rope Rude landed a
forearm to the back.
·        
Rude then bored the crowd with an extended
reverse chinlock.
·        
After copious amounts of time putting the crowd
(and me) to sleep Sting gave Rude the electric chair.
·        
Sting hit knees attempting a splash off the
ropes.
·        
Sting blocked a Rude Awakening then gave one to
Rude.
·        
He then reversed a tombstone and hit one of his
own.
·        
After hitting an incredible top rope splash
Sting pinned Rude.

 

Rating: ***

Summary:  While quite entertaining the match lacked
a certain something. The elimination rule appeared to be
botched/rushed/whatever in an effort to reduce the participant count to two. I
realize this match was set up as a prelude to the cage matches at SuperBrawl,
but it left something to be desired. Another factor in the match was the
absence of Rude’s workrate. It appears that he was just satisfied becoming a
World Champion because he didn’t put forth a ton of effort while being
champion. On the other hand, at least WCW sent the fans home happy.

Conclusion:  Bobby Heenan’s introduction to WCW was the
only historically significant portion of the show. While Clash XXVI attempted
to promote SuperBrawl it only accomplished so much. Conversely the promotion of
the January 29th edition of WCW Saturday Night was tremendously
strong with the offerings of seeing Colonel Parker in a chicken suit,
Bagwell/Scorpio getting another title shot, and a bout between Johnny B. Badd
and Shanghai Pierce where Pierce lost his mask. Unless you’re a die-hard
WCW fan like me take a pass on this show and fast-forward to SuperBrawl IV. See
you soon with its review!

TV Rating: 3.50

For more information on me please visit http://rockstargary.com.

Rock Star Gary reflects on…WCW Clash of the Champions XXV

Live from St. Petersburg, FL

Airdate: November 10, 1993

Attendance: 6,000 (1,700 paid)

WCW newcomer “Mean” Gene Okerlund welcomes us to the show.
Call the hotline to vote for the manager of year:

1.       Sir
William (Lord Steven Regal)
2.       Missy
Hyatt (Nasty Boys)
3.       Harley
Race (Vader)
4.       Teddy
Long (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & Too Cold Scorpio)

Gene throws it over to our hosts Tony Schiavone and Jesse
“The Body” Ventura.

Match 1 for the WCW
International World title: “Ravishing” Rick Rude (champion) versus Road Warrior
Hawk

Highlights:

·        
Early in the match Hawk no-sold a head shot to
the turnbuckle then gave Rude some of his own medicine. Deca, perhaps?
·        
Vertical suplex from Hawk got a 2 count.
·        
Backbreaker from Rude allowed him to head to the
top rope, but when he leaped he ate a pair of boots to the face.
·        
Clothesline from Hawk sent Rude over the top
rope to the floor.
·        
They kept fighting on the outside until referee
Randy Anderson counted them both out.

 

Rating: *

Summary: Obviously
Rude retains his title. What was the point of that match? Since Hawk had no
credibility as a singles wrestler it was obvious he wasn’t going to take this
one, but the DCOR finish is just obnoxiously terrible. Let’s hope the next
match has a better outcome.

Match 2: The
Equalizer versus the Shockmaster

Highlights:

·        
Oh no! Can I watch the last match again instead
of this dreck?
·        
Heel shenanigans from the Equalizer dominated
the early portion of the match.
·        
Belly-to-back suplex from Equalizer got a 2
count.
·        
Shockmaster no-sold a clothesline.
·        
Bearhug slam from Shockmaster secured the pin.
·        
Thank God it was short.

 

Rating: DUD

Summary: Friends
of Dusty, or in the case family, get a slot on the big shows. In spite of
Jesse’s making fun of him on commentary the Shockmaster continues to win. Thus
far this show isn’t looking good.

Okerlund interviews Colonel Rob Parker. Parker states that
he dropped Sid Vicious as a client and obtained the services of…”Stunning”
Steve Austin. Meanwhile he claims that he also has a restraining order against
Sid so he won’t be here tonight. Considering Sid may have still been recovering
from the stab wounds and under suspension from WCW he wouldn’t be able to make
even a token appearance. More later on this situation.

Match 3 for the World
Television title: Lord Steven Regal (champion w/ Sir William) versus Johnny B.
Badd

Highlights:

·        
Back on July 9 during the infamous Disney
tapings (broadcast 11/6/93) Regal defeated Badd by nefarious means. Therefore,
Tony referred to this match as a “return bout.”
·        
Badd brought the workrate and matched Regal hold
for hold early in the match.
·        
Jesse took Badd’s attire to task. Make-up and
garter belts, seriously Marc?
·        
Badd missed a flying body press and clotheslined
himself on the top rope.
·        
Ya gotta love those European uppercuts from
Regal!
·        
According to Tony “The British Bulldog” Davey
Boy Smith issued a challenge to “Ravishing” Rick Rude for the WCW International
World title.
·        
Badd knocked Regal cold with a left hand
prompting Sir William to get on the apron to complain.
·        
As Badd attempted the pin Sir William placed
Regal’s boot on the bottom rope.
·        
As Badd was distracted Regal snapped out of it,
rolled Badd up, and got the pin with a handful of tights.

 

Rating: ***

Summary: Since
this match went at Badd’s pace rather than Regal’s I enjoyed this match much
more than I expected. I can only hope that this match is the only one with a
distraction finish.

Match 4: “Flyin’”
Brian Pillman versus “Stunning” Steve Austin (w/ Colonel Rob Parker)

Highlights:

·        
Ahem. May I have your attention please? Let us
all please observe a moment of silence and mourn the loss of one of the best
tag teams ever in WCW—the Hollywood Blonds.
·        
·        
Thank you.
·        
On the October 30 episode of WCW Saturday Night
Colonel Parker informed Pillman that Austin was his new client. After Parker
insulted Pillman for being injured Brian attacked Parker. Subsequently Austin
ambushed Pillman. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6yBuyOYbnM)
·        
Pillman, already in the ring and wearing his
Blond jacket, attacked Austin as he entered the ring.
·        
After Parker jumped on the apron Pillman chased
him around the ring. Austin, lying in wait, clotheslined Pillman as he made his
way toward the near side of the ring.
·        
Upon the reversal of an Irish whip Pillman made
Austin taste the steel. Needs horseradish.
·        
Flying headscissors from Pillman.
·        
Austin attempted a piledriver on the ramp, but
Pillman countered with a back drop.
·        
After climbing to the top rope Pillman leaped
but ate boot on the way down.
·        
Austin then tossed Pillman into the steel
railing. More horseradish please!
·        
Slingshot body press from Pillman from the apron
onto Austin got a 2 count.
·        
Austin then pressed Pillman into a modified
stungun.
·        
Ventura badmouthed Sid on commentary.
·        
Single leg crab by Austin with some assistance
from the ropes.
·        
Flying back elbow to the head from the second
rope by Pillman.
·        
Slowly Austin made his way to the top rope, but
Pillman caught him thus crotching Austin.
·        
Superplex by Pillman countered by Austin into a
gourdbuster.
·        
As Austin leaped from the top rope Pillman
dropkicked him.
·        
Austin tried another piledriver, but Pillman
countered into a huracanrana.
·        
Slingshot by Pillman countered into a powerslam
by Austin.
·        
DDT by Pillman.
·        
Crucifix by Pillman countered into a Samoan drop
by Austin.
·        
Austin missed a splash from the top rope.
·        
Oklahoma roll by Pillman got a 2 count.
·        
Austin missed the stungun leaving Pillman on the
apron.
·        
Pillman tried another slingshot maneuver, but
Parker caught his ankle.
·        
Austin rolled him up for the pin.

 

Rating: ****1/2

Summary: Wow! I
could watch these guys wrestle each other all night. Had the match been longer (7:44)
it could have reached five stars. These two should have had a rematch at
Starrcade.

After the match Pillman knocks Austin to the floor and
corners Parker. Much to his chagrin Parker escaped without a scratch.

Okerlund is in the WCW Battlebowl Control Center. Forty
names of the top WCW competitors are thrown into a “hopper.” Thirty-two names
are selected at random for eight tag team matches. Afterwards each winning team
competes singularly in an over-the-top-rope battle royal to determine the
winner. To entice our desire to buy the PPV Paul Orndorff cuts a promo followed
by 1991 Battlebowl winner Sting.

Match 5 for the US
title: “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes (champion w/ “The American Dream” Dusty
Rhodes) versus “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff (w/ the Assassin)

Highlights:

·        
Dusty’s not even wrestling and he’s already
“funky like a monkey.”
·        
The crowd chanted “Dusty!”
·        
Each competitor initially worked on his
opponent’s arm.
·        
Belly-to-back suplex from Orndorff set up the
shaky elbow drop.
·        
Backslide from Rhodes got a 2 count.
·        
Cross-corner whip from Orndorff followed by a
clothesline.
·        
Cross-corner whip from Rhodes set up the
bulldog, but Orndorff ducked.
·        
Rhodes countered an Orndorff piledriver attempt.
·        
Orndorff missed the knee drop from the top rope.
·        
Rhodes then hooked the inside cradle for the
pin.

 

Rating: **

Summary:  Very pedestrian match between these two
wrestlers. The “seconds” didn’t even get involved in the match.

After the match Orndorff clotheslines Rhodes to the floor.
Then the Assassin rams Dustin into the ring post. To retaliate, Dusty gives the
Assassin a bionic elbow much to the crowd’s delight. He then tosses the
Assassin into the ring, hits two more bionic elbows, and threatens to unmask
him. Unfortunately for Dusty, Orndorff nails him preventing said unmasking. As
Orndorff held Dusty the Assassin wallops Rhodes with the US title belt. Orndorff
attempts to piledrive Dusty, but Dustin comes off the ropes with a clothesline
scattering the ruthless duo to the floor. The post-match stuff was 10x better
than the match!

Okerlund promises us an update on the “British Bulldog’s”
challenge for Rude’s title. Call the hotline! Starrcade is scheduled for
Monday, December 27.

Match 6 for the World
tag team titles: The Nasty Boys (champions w/ Missy Hyatt) versus Sting and
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith

Highlights:

·        
Ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta referred to
Missy Hyatt as the “nastiest lady in WCW.” Did he know this firsthand?
·        
Just like Missy liked it the action was hot and
heavy at the outset with Sting dominating Knobbs in the ring and DBS
manhandling Sags on the ramp.
·        
In the meantime Rick Rude crawled on the floor adjacent
to the ramp in order to sneak attack DBS. He then gave DBS a Rude Awakening . Immediately
Road Warrior Hawk chased him back to the dressing room.
·        
Sting checked on DBS and carried him back to the
ring?
·        
The bell rung and Sting took on the Nasty Boys
by himself.
·        
Tony mentioned Rude’s use of a “foreign” object.
Jesse questioned how Rude imported it. Funny stuff.
·        
While Knobbs occupied Patrick’s attention Sags
tossed Sting over the top rope. Since Patrick didn’t see it a disqualification
could not be rendered.
·        
As Knobbs held Sting in a bear hug DBS sprung to
life and egged him on in the corner.
·        
Sting countered the bear hug into an overhead
belly-to-belly suplex.
·        
He then countered a rear chinlock into an
electric chair.
·        
Hot tag to DBS.
·        
A pair of powerslams on the Nasty Boys followed
by a pair of dropkicks.
·        
600lbs of clotheslines and DDTs from DBS.
·        
DBS pressed Sting overhead then tossed him onto
both Nasty Boys.
·        
Powerslam from DBS received no count due to
referee Nick Patrick’s directing traffic.
·        
Sags mounted the top turnbuckle and clobbered DBS.
Knobbs made the cover and the Nasty Boys retained their titles.

 

Rating: **1/2

Summary:  Typical Nasty Boys match with a pair of quality
opponents. Almost all of the excitement in the match happened after the hot
tag. Although a match between DBS and Rude was filmed on 11/30 for WCW Saturday
Night for the 12/18/93 airing the match would not be shown. In turn DBS was also
scheduled to face Rude at Starrcade but he was fired beforehand.

Match 7 for the WCW
World title: Vader (champion w/ Harley Race) versus “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (w/
Fifi)

Highlights:

·        
Back in the dressing room Colonel Parker spoke
with Flair. Parker stated that Austin will challenge the winner of this match.
He’s quite confident that Austin could defeat Flair. Flair’s rebuttal was a
right cross to the jaw.
·        
Buffer rumbled.
·        
Joined in progress after commercial Flair had
Race set up for the figure four leg lock in the center of the ring.
·        
As Flair applied the hold to Race Vader splashed
Flair.
·        
Short-arm clothesline from Vader.
·        
Gorilla press slam from Vader.
·        
Vader bomb hit but no cover.
·        
Flair chopped Vader down like a cherry tree.
·        
Flair Flip to the floor.
·        
Race made Flair taste the steel. Dammit! Where’s
that horseradish?
·        
Vader jumped from the apron towards Flair but
ate the steel railing.
·        
Flair drops the forearm from the top turnbuckle
to the floor.
·        
Second rope elbow drop from Vader missed.
·        
Flair slapped on the figure four.
·        
As Vader reached the ropes Race raked Flair’s
eyes.
·        
Vertical suplex and a splash earned Vader a 2
count.
·        
Vader mounted the second turnbuckle again but
got powerslammed for 2.
·        
Flair sprinted to the top rope and nailed Vader
with another forearm.
·        
Flair flip over the buckle landed him on his
feet. Thereafter he mounted the turnbuckle and hit another forearm shot.
·        
Ref bump.
·        
Flair jumped from the top turnbuckle again but
got caught by Vader.
·        
He then gave Flair a superplex.
·        
Vader positioned Flair for the moonsault but missed
it.
·        
Referee Randy Anderson counted three! We have a
new champion!
·        
Cappetta announced that Anderson disqualified
Vader. WTF?
·        
Jesse explained that Anderson DQ’d him because
he ran into him. LAME!

 

Rating: ****

Summary: Incredible
match with a horrible ending. Flair got robbed! Thanks Dusty for that god-awful
finish. Hopefully a rematch will be signed. The good news is the crowd was
eager or better yet thirsty for a title change.

After the match Colonel Parker and “Stunning” Steve Austin
hit the ring to ambush Flair. Vader and Austin try to double-team Flair, but
Dustin Rhodes and the Shockmaster come to Flair’s rescue. As the crowd chants
“Whoomp, there it is” Okerlund enters the ring. Flair interrupts and challenges
Vader and Austin to a tag match with him and Sid on WCW Saturday Night (taped
10/11/93
). This match marked the last Sid appearance in WCW until the Great
American Bash in 1999.

Conclusion: The
Blonds’ match and the main event make this show a must-see. WCW may have been
drawing flies at this point in wrestling history, but their product wasn’t the
reason behind it. If there was only one thing I would have changed I’d have
gotten rid of these finishes. See you at Battlebowl!

For more information on me please visit http://rockstargary.com.

Clash Countdown: Now On Kindle!

As requested by a few people during the course of the Clash of the Champions countdown in May, I have collected all the Clash rants from 1-35 into a Kindle book, complete with 2014 Scott Sez versions!  
Also, tomorrow I'll start doing a "random thoughts" column weekly on sportingnews.com, giving my thoughts on the week that was and anything else that comes to mind, so keep an eye out for that.  I probably won't be moving any reviews over there because I want to retain the publishing rights to them, but I can always do some exclusive stuff like reviewing the Countdown shows or whatever else pops up.  It's a pretty cool opportunity.  

Clash Countdown: #35

The SmarK 24/7 Rant for Clash of the Champions XXXV – This is one where I thought I had a perfectly good rant done already, but the original is pretty crappy in a lot of ways (no match times combined with being in a bad WCW place at the time) so here’s a proper version given that it’s on 24/7 right now. This is notable for being the last Clash, as really it’s not like the match quality or star power was any better than what we were getting on a weekly basis anyway. What I don’t get is why they show this now, when there’s not a huge tie-in to the Latino Legends theme, when they could just hold off until Nitro catches up with it in a couple of months. Then you could have the Nitros hyping it, and actually watch the show! What an idea! – Originally broadcast August 21 1997. – Live from Nashville, TN. – Your hosts are Tony, Bobby and Dusty.   US title: Jeff Jarrett v. Steve McMichael Jarrett evades Mongo and slams him to start, and then outsmarts him into a takedown and clips the knee to follow. JJ stops to do some strutting and runs away, once again outsmarting Mongo by jumping him from behind. OK, not exactly a career defining achievement or anything, admittedly. Mongo slugs him down and Jarrett bails yet again, so we take a break in hopes of a commercial making the match not suck. We return with Jarrett sending him into the stairs, and back in for the choking. Debra adds some of her own, and Jarrett gets the sleeper. And Mongo reverses, as Eddie Guerrero runs in and accidentally hits Jarrett with the US title. And Mongo promptly pins him to win the belt at 5:55. This was a major travesty at the time, but really the storyline was building to it and he was just a transitional champion to Curt Hennig anyway, so it’s not such a big fat deal in retrospect. Horrible match, though, as Mongo was his usual embarrassment to the sport. 1/2* Alex Wright joins us to speak German, the language of EVIL. Not exactly a great heel promo. Cross promotion alert! The Dinner and a Movie guys make jerk chicken. Raven v. Stevie Richards This was a weird deal, as it was the debut for both guys in WCW and Richards had gotten out of his ECW deal by faking a career-ending neck injury…only to get fired almost immediately afterwards and go crawling back to Paul Heyman again. (He actually stuck around for a while.  I had condensed the time into “almost immediately” in my mind years after the fact.)  Another weird deal is that Raven’s eventual music is dubbed in over the lack of entrance music that originally was here. (Haven’t watched the WWE Network version so I can’t say if that’s still true.  I mean, I could, but I don’t care.)  Their music division is so strange. Raven tosses him immediately and follows with a pescado. Back in, he gets a series of snapmares, but Stevie backslides for two. Raven stomps him down again and tosses him, then follows with a Cactus elbow off the apron. He throws a chair into the ring and delivers the DROP TOEHOLD OF AGONY as the crowd has no clue what to make of either guy. He follows with a bulldog on the chair, but Stevie whips him into the chair in the other corner. Raven basically no-sells it, so Stevie gets a flying forearm and sideslam for two. Steviekick is blocked, but he gets a rollup for two. Raven clotheslines for two. Raven goes low and finishes with the Evenflow DDT at 4:55. The announcers put Raven over huge, and Richards was dead in the water after one match and was gone a few weeks later. (Months.)  Not enough time to mean anything for the first serious meeting between them, especially for a crowd that didn’t know who they were and what it meant. Plus it was a total squash for Raven, to boot. *1/2 World TV title: Ultimo Dragon v. Alex Wright Hey, it’s the most boring title feud of 1997, started up here for our pleasure. Wright gets a pair of snapmares to start and they do a stalemate sequence, which leads to Dragon holding a wristlock. Wright stomps him down , but gets put down with a shoulder tackle. Dragon throws chops in the corner and leads into the kick combo to put Wright down. He hits the chinlock and Wright quickly escapes, then reverses a rana into a powerbomb. Backbreaker gets two. He whips Dragon into the corner, into another backbreaker for two. Gut wrench suplex gets two and we take a break. We return with Wright holding a chinlock and referee Mark Curtis pretty clearly passing the time signal to him, as things suddenly pick up again with Wright getting a slam and going up for a flying stomp. And we get the requisite dancing before another chinlock, but Dragon reverses to a sleeper. He switches to a backdrop suplex and dumps Wright, but misses the dive and splats on the floor. Wright stomps him down out there, but Dragon whips him into the railing and follows with the quebrada. Back in, they battle on the top rope and Dragon brings him down with a front suplex into the rollup for two. Handspring is blocked by an elbow from Wright, for two, as things finally pick up. They fight for the suplex and Wright cradles for two, reversed for two, and the german suplex gives Wright the TV title at 10:54. Alex Wright was always one of those guys they wanted to develop into something, but just couldn’t figure out how to do it before injuries and a brain tumor and their own incompetence made it impossible. **3/4 World Cruiserweight title: Chris Jericho v. Eddie Guerrero Guerrero takes him down and trashtalks right away, but Jericho comes back with an armdrag and dropkick, sending Eddie running to hide behind the ref. Jericho presses him off a criss-cross and starts chopping, into a faceplant that has Eddie hiding again. Eddie sneaks in from behind and clubs him down, then follows with a back elbow and slingshot splash. Eddie puts him on top and brings him down with a rana for two, but Jericho reverses the ropewalk into a powerbomb. Jericho follows with a Giant Swing and he’s visibly sucking wind. Leg lariat puts Eddie on the apron and Jericho follows with an embarrassing trip on the top rope during his springboard cross body. Then he botches a suplex off the apron, so Eddie takes over again with a superplex for two. Not a good match for Jericho. Jericho tries a powerbomb, but Eddie slips out, so Jericho goes with a german suplex instead for two. They criss-cross into an Eddie sunset flip, and it turns into a pinfall reversal sequence where Eddie is obviously wrestling himself and taking Jericho along with him, ending with Jericho on top for the pin to retain at 6:40. This was pretty awful by Jericho’s usual standards. ** Super Calo, Juventud Guerrera, Lizmark Jr. & Hector Garza v. Silver King, Psicosis, Villano IV & Villano V Calo starts with IV and they trade wristlocks before going into an acrobatics sequence. Calo takes him down with a headscissors, but IV overpowers him. Calo comes back with a backbreaker for two, and it’s over to Garza, who misses a blind charge. But then so does Silver King, so they’re even. They do another one of those overly choreographed sequences and Garza clotheslines King to the floor, and over to Juvy and Psi. Psicosis kicks him down and elbows him to the floor, and we get King and IV monkey-flipping Lizmark and Garza, but they end up on the floor and the faces start diving at them. And then the heels add their dives for the big trainwreck spot, leaving Calo and Psicosis alone in the ring. Calo tries a top rope rana, but Sonny Onoo holds the leg and Psicosis finishes with a flying legdrop at 4:52. The usual good, meaningless lucha action. *** Meanwhile, the Dinner and a Movie dorks go nWo. Paul Gilmartin looks like Egon from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon here, I should note. We take a break after Macho Man cuts a promo, and return with the new nWo members left alone to face DDP. This results in Gilmartin taking a Diamond Cutter. Silly but this kind of stuff was a necessary evil. Ric Flair & Curt Hennig v. Syxx & Konnan Hennig was crazy over and a perfect fit for the Horsemen, so of course they fucked it up. This was actually the start of the whole thing that led to the Horsemen parody and Hennig’s turn and pretty much killed the Horsemen dead once and for all, which I say because the 99 version was barely even a team. Hennig trades wristlocks with Konnan and brings Syxx in, which has Flair all fired up. Syxx slugs him down and chops on him in the corner, but that’s not a good idea. He backdrops Flair out of the corner, but gets chopped down and kneedropped for two. Over to the Horsemen corner, where Hennig throws a kneelift and it’s back to Konnan again, as Hennig works the arm and they collide. Hennig gets caught in the heel corner, but everyone slugs it out until Hennig “accidentally” tosses Syxx into Flair’s knee, giving Konnan two. Perfectplex finishes Konnan at 5:04. Whole lot of nothing here. *1/2 Scott Hall & Randy Savage v. DDP & Lex Luger Oh god, we have to listen to the Michael Buffer imitation announcer so they can save a couple of bucks. The editing now also carefully avoids showing Buffer so we don’t think that he might be announcing, either. (I presume he’s back for the Network version.)  Big Kev announces that Savage will be defending the tag titles tonight as his surrogate, giving Tony another chance to use his new catchphrase: “Verbally binding contract”. I haven’t seen this match in 11 years and I’m already betting on a DQ finish. Luger and Hall fight over a lockup to start, as Hall gropes him like he’s a senior citizen. Ha, there’s a reference I haven’t done in a while. Luger gets tossed and Nash clotheslines him from behind, and back in the nWo beats on Luger and Savage gets the double axehandle. Over to DDP and he slugs Hall to the floor, but gets tripped up as a result, allowing Savage to put him down from behind. Back to Hall for the blockbuster slam for two. Savage slugs away in the corner, as does Hall, and Savage elbows DDP down for two. Page gets tossed and Savage brings him back in, allowing Hall to get the corner clothesline. Back to Savage and then Hall as they do some good quick tagging, but Page comes back with the discus clothesline on Hall and it’s hot tag Luger. Luger whips them into each other and then clotheslines them, leading to the torture rack on Hall before Savage saves. DDP and Luger collide, however, and Luger eats a Diamond Cutter by accident, as Hall falls on top for the pin at 9:53. Well at least it had a clean finish. Pretty solid tag match as well. **1/2 The nWo returns after the commercial to celebrate their 1st birthday party, but they get interrupted by the lights going out and the sound going out. And there’s Sting in the rafters with a vulture as we get a voiceover from a kid explaining that it’s a battle of good and evil upcoming. And then the lights go back up and the bird is on the top rope while the nWo has to act all freaked out. Frankly I’m surprised they didn’t have the bird turn heel and reveal it was an avian swerve all along. And that’s the show! This was, shall we say, ridiculously pretentious and overwrought, and we’ll leave it there. Look it up on YouTube if you care, I guess. (Or watch it on the Network!)  Kind of funny in terms of symbolism, as the show ends with the Clash logo over the image of the vulture, which proved fitting since the show was cancelled after that. Well, the final angle was stupid, but sometimes when you push the envelope you get a paper cut, so points for effort at least. The rest was pretty mediocre outside of a bad night for Jericho and the usual night for Mongo McMichael, so I wouldn’t break any important plans like washing your hair or organizing your receipts in order to catch it. Watch it, don’t, whatever, it’s all good.

Clash Countdown: #34

The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXXIV (January 1997) Live from Milwaukee, WI Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes & Bobby Heenan. This is the second-to-last Clash, and clearly by this point these shows were just extra editions of Nitro and little effort was put into promoting or booking them. Plus this was leading into nWo Souled Out, so…you know…not the best PPV to be leading towards. Cruiserweight title: Ultimo Dragon v. Dean Malenko They trade hammerlocks on the mat and take a break. Back with Malenko’s suplex attempt getting foiled, but he fires away in the corner instead and hits the delayed suplex for two. Dragon fires back with kicks to chase Dean out of the ring. Dean recovers and comes back in with a backdrop suplex and into an anklelock on the mat. Half-crab and STUMP PULLER as Dean works on the leg in mechanical fashion. They head to the floor and Dean runs the leg into the post, and back in for a figure-four. Dean releases and hits a corner clothesline, but a second try runs into a spinkick. Dragon goes up and Malenko follows with a superplex and a rollup for two. Heenan: “What do you call 40 millionaires watching the Super Bowl? The Dallas Cowboys.” And as if inspired by that joke, Dean and Dragon start firing off highspots and trade near-falls, fighting to the floor for Dragon’s Asai moonsault. Back in, Dragon goes up and snaps off a moonsault for two. They head back up and Dragon gets a rana to bring him down, and a small package gets two. Malenko tries a powerbomb, but Dragon flips out and escapes, so Malenko does it again and gets the Cloverleaf for the submission and the title at 11:58. **** Dean was crazy over here, and Mark Curtis calling for the bell like a maniac is a thing of beauty. Mike Enos v. Scotty Riggs This is the very definition of “main event anywhere in the country”. Riggs tosses Enos and follows with a dive, but Enos runs him into the apron and follows with a clothesline to the floor. Back in, Enos with an overhead suplex, but Riggs comes back with a flying forearm for the pin at 2:20. * Meanwhile, The Four Horsemen join us, and Benoit has some comments that hit a bit too close to home now. (“When I don’t get want I want, I cripple you. I’ve got a very fragile mind.” YIKES.) Mongo going off on the Green Bay fanbase is pretty hilarious, as they start booing him and he makes no effort to win them over. It’s too bad he had nothing to back it up with in the ring. Konnan, Mr. JL & La Parka v. Chris Jericho, Chavo Guerrero & Super Calo Quite the interesting mix. JL gets a back elbow on Chavo, and Konnan slugs away on Calo and works the arm. Konnan has now fully transitioned into the K-Dogg look, by the way. Parka goes a little nuts on Jericho, but Jericho sends him out with a dropkick. Back in, the rudo side double-teams Chavo and Parka does a crazy moonsault onto Chavo while Konnan has Chavo up on his shoulders. Jericho comes in and we get the series of trainwreck spots and dives, and JL gets a rana on Jericho for two. They head up and Jericho finishes him with a rana off the top rope at 5:30. Just a crazy collection of spots, hinting at what the division would become later. *** Harlem Heat v. Joe Gomez & The Renegade Gomez gets pounded unmercifully in the Heat corner, but Booker misses a flying legdrop and Renegade gets the “hot tag”, at which point the Heat beat the shit out of him as well and finish him with missile dropkick at 3:30. Total squash. ½* Masahiro Chono v. Alex Wright Nick Patrick is reffing while wearing an nWo shirt, just to eschew all subtlety. Wright pounds away in the corner and takes him down with a headscissors and dropkick, and a side kick gets two. Thankfully, Patrick actually knows how to make a slow count in this case. Chono comes back with an atomic drop, but Wright gets a sunset flip and Patrick won’t even count now. Wright kicks him in frustration, but misses a flying bodypress as a result of his anger and gets Yakuza’d at 4:30. * Scott Norton v. Eddie Guerrero More Nick Patrick here, goody. Eddie was US champion but Syxx had possession of the belt. Norton whips him around and puts him down with a press slam, but Eddie dropkicks the knee and goes to work on the leg. Norton overpowers him again and adds a powerslam, then just destroys him with a powerbomb. No one took a powerbomb like Eddie. Norton actually tries to go up and Eddie comes back and brings him down, but misses the senton. This brings DDP out, and the ref gets bumped, giving us a Diamond Cutter on Norton and a frog splash from Eddie at 5:25. Patrick’s slow count wasn’t enough to allow Norton to kick out, sadly. *1/2 Meanwhile, The Giant (who has joined and left the nWo in the time since the last Clash) has words for Hulk Hogan leading into Souled Out. Falls Count Anywhere: Kevin Sullivan v. Chris Benoit They immediately brawl into the crowd and into the traditional bathroom. Poor Randy Anderson gets dumped into a urinal while they tear up the bathroom and Dusty is just in his glory. They fight back down the stairs again, with Bobby Eaton acting as security for some reason, and into the ring for the Tree of Woe and some abuse therein. Double stomp gets two for Sullivan. Jimmy Hart distracts the ref, but Woman sneaks in and breaks a balsa wood chair on Sullivan to give Benoit the pin at 5:01. Too short to be worth much, and all this stuff was done better in the years following. ** This feud was just too long and ended up destroying the personal lives of everyone involved. The Steiner Brothers v. The Amazing French Canadians Truly one of the laziest repackagings done by WCW, and that’s saying something. The Canadians manage to clear the ring, but the Steiners come off the top rope as we have to take a very ill-timed commercial break. Back with the Canadians in control, but they miss the finisher Scott gets the hot tag. So yeah, they edited out the entire heat segment via commercial. Top rope DDT finishes Pierre at 8:06. Everyone looked bored out there, but at least the Steiners finally got that job from 1993 back. *1/2 Alleged Main Event: Scott Hall v. Lex Luger Weird bit as Tony throws out birthday wishes to “long time fan and WCW supporter Brian Hildebrand”, aka the guy who’s refereeing the match! Couldn’t he just say happy birthday to referee Mark Curtis? Hall gets a chokeslam and misses an elbow, but manages to dump Luger anyway. Nash lays him out with a clothesline on the floor. Back in, Hall pounds away in the corner and gets a clothesline for two off a Syxx cheapshot. Fallaway slam gets two. Abdominal stretch as the cure for insomnia continues, but I will say that at least Hall was mobile and cogent at this point. Luger, having won and lost his World title already, had clearly given all the fucks he was going to. He makes the comeback with the usual and fights off the Wolfpac, but turns his back and gets clobbered for the DQ at 10:28. Steiners come out for a brawl, but they take it home too soon and get a cue from the director to stretch it out, so they have to start brawling again to fill the rest of the time in the show. Because WCW. * The Pulse Really, all pretense of the Clash shows being unique and special was gone by this time, and it was just an episode of Nitro here. This is only for completionist idiots like me.

Clash Countdown: #33

The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXXIII (August 1996) Dedicated to the memory of Mark “OfficerFarva” Haas. Live from Denver, CO Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan Into the nWo era now, shortly after Hogan won the title at Hog Wild, and it’s an entirely different promotion from the last Clash we saw. Hall and Nash are here, Hogan is a heel, Luger is 100% babyface and so are the Four Horsemen. Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Dean Malenko Ever notice that Rey and Dean’s music are basically the same thing? Malenko attacks before the bell with a suplex and dumps Rey, but he slides back in and hits Dean with the rana off the apron. Back in, they trade acrobatics and Rey gets a moonsault for two and kicks Dean to the floor. Back in, Dean drops him on the top rope via a powerbomb to take over, and goes to a chinlock. We take a break to shill the official Hog Wild denim jacket (only $89.95!) and return with Dean flinging Rey around the ring until Rey flips into a rollup for two. Rey used to be so fun before all the steroids. Dean goes to the legbar and then launches him into a faceplant for two. Rey tosses Dean and follows with a somersault dive, then moonsaults off the railing in a spot that could have went horribly for him. Back in, springboard dropkick gets two. Rey reverses a tilt-a-whirl for two. West Coast Pop gets two. They fight on top and Dean gets the SUPER EXPLODING GUTBUSTER for the pin, but Rey’s foot is on the ropes. The ref rings the bell, but then takes it back and Rey rolls him up for the pin at 14:20 to retain. This is the time when the cruiserweight division launched into the stratosphere. ***3/4 GLACIER is coming, muthafucka! Keeping in mind this is August 1996 and he didn’t even show up on TV until, what, mid-97? VK Wallstreet v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan The VK Wallstreet gimmick was of course another oh-so-subtle dig at Vince McMahon and his mainstream aspirations. We all know who got the last laugh on that one. Wallstreet immediately makes the mistake of pointing to his head to indicate intelligence, resulting in Duggan beating on him in the corner. Wallstreet bails and gets a cheapshot to take over, and goes to the chinlock. Duggan fights out with a slam and tapes up the fist, but VKM rolls him up and grabs the tights at 3:46. ½* Meanwhile, the Nasty Boys are upset at getting passed over for title shots and people talking shit about them. Well, they can rest easy knowing Sags would soon get forced into early retirement anyway. Konnan v. Ultimo Dragon This could be ugly. Konnan slugs him down and wraps him up in a cloverleaf, but Dragon dropkicks him to the floor and Sonny Onoo gets some kicks in. Back in, Dragon with a moonsault into a cradle for two. German suplex gets two, but Konnan rolls him over and pulls the tights at 3:00 to finish. What agent let them do the same finish two matches in a row? * Meanwhile, Scott Norton attacks Ice Train to break up a Compuserve chat. He’s the ultimate internet troll! Meng v. Randy Savage Macho appears to be a no-show due to nWo beatdown, so Meng wins by forfeit. They show replays to emphasize the point, and Hogan’s chairshots didn’t improve any after WWF mercilessly mocked him on the Billionaire Ted skits. So with that out of the way, Mean Gene interviews the new improved Dungeon of Doom (Sullivan, the Faces of Fear, Hugh Morrus) and Kevin points out that he was trying to destroy Hogan all long and thus should be thanked by everyone. Oh, and then the Leprechaun runs around ringside (not to be confused with Hornswoggle) because WCW. Madusa v. Bull Nakano At least Bull had little worry about getting fired for doing coke in WCW. They practically gave it out at the door. Madusa misses a dropkick and gets tossed around the ring by the hair, but then gets greedy and beats on her with nunchuks. Somehow the ref misses this and the match continues. Madusa comes back with a bad bodypress, but Nakano sits on her for two. Bull goes up and Madusa dropkicks her to the floor and follows with a dive on Onoo. Onoo tries a kick to retaliate, but hits Nakano and Madusa rolls her up for the pin at 2:30. Really, three rollup finishes in a row? *1/2 Meanwhile, Ric Flair and his harem are ready for Hogan’s nonsense. Flair gets a great play off Hogan’s previous promo about how Hogan beat up his best friend by noting that he can’t beat up his own best friend, and neither can Hogan. Diamond Dallas Page v. Eddie Guerrero Last run for heel DDP before the nWo started courting him to lead to his face turn. Eddie gets a headscissors into a dropkick, but charges and hits the post to allow DDP to take over. Gutbuster and tilt-a-whirl slam gets two. Eddie fights back and hits the springboard senton for two, but Page powerbombs him for two. They fight to the top and Eddie shoves him off and finishes with a frog splash at 4:20 to win DDP’s Battlebowl ring. DDP offers a handshake, but then turns on him with a pair of Diamond Cutters to spoil Eddie’s glorious moment. ** Meanwhile, Hogan notes that Flair will be known in the ratings as the stupid little man who couldn’t get the job done. That would be some pretty specific quarter hour information. GLACIER is still kicking stuff! ROADHOUSE! Chris Benoit v. The Giant Very morbid on the Horsemen side, as Benoit and both his valets are gone. Giant was rapidly improving at this point, but this was a quick dropkick and chokeslam at 0:25. It is insinuated that Woman accidentally cost him the match, but I don’t think that went anywhere. This whole period is a blur for me, so I forget if she ended up turning on the Horsemen. WCW Tag titles: Harlem Heat v. The Steiner Brothers v. Sting & Lex Luger Luger gets beat up in the Heat corner but returns fire on Stevie Ray, then Rick Steiner lays both guys out with clotheslines and bulldogs Stevie for two. The Heat takes over on Rick and we take a break. Back with Rick powerslamming booker, but Sting tags himself in and hits a flying chop on Booker for two. Sting with a press slam for two. We get a shockingly boring heat segment with Luger pounding on Rick and nothing of note going on, until Scott comes in with a belly to belly on Lex and it’s a six-way donnybrook. In this commotion, Hall and Nash join us while Scott hits the frankensteiner on Booker, and Nick Patrick calls for the DQ in the middle of his count to screw the Steiners over at 13:00. So I guess it’s a no-contest? Who do you disqualify in a three-way match? *1/2 Nick Patrick gives an interview with Mean Gene afterwards, explaining his actions and sounding like Kenny Powers. WCW World title: Hulk Hogan v. Ric Flair So in the bizarre after-effect of Hogan’s heel turn, people are now cheering him again since the act was so incredibly hot and thus fresh again. Flair works a headlock and they trade taunts, but Hulk goes to work on the arm and Flair fights back with chops. More stalling from Hulk and they do a test of strength before Flair gets tossed out now. Geez, they’ve wrestled each other a zillion times, you’d think they could get something going here. Hogan slugs away in the ring, but Flair suplexes him and Hogan hulks up. The crowd goes nuts for this, so thankfully Hogan phased it out pretty quickly. Legdrop misses and Flair gets the figure-four, so Hogan throws the ref down and the Outsiders run in for the DQ at 8:04. Pretty brutal. * The Pulse Bunch of short, bad matches and TERRIBLE finishes here. Strong recommendation to avoid.

Clash Countdown: #32

The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXXII (January 1996) So big news for me on the professional front, as I will shortly begin writing for The Sporting News’s website, basically about whatever I want. Thankfully there’s an entire network dedicated to showing wrestling stuff 24 hours a day so I’ll always have lots of stuff to talk about. Thanks to Seth Mates for hooking me up and being awesome in general. So into the Nitro era now, leading into Superbrawl VI, which is one of my favorite shows of the 90s and one that doesn’t get enough love, actually. Go watch it on the Network! The night before on Nitro, Randy Savage won the World title and Luger & Sting won the tag titles, setting up some cool stuff. This another Clash where I’ve never seen it, as I was living on my own for the first time in my shitty one-bedroom apartment in Edmonton in 1996 and couldn’t afford to subscribe to TBS. Those were the hot dog and ramen noodle days. Of course, they still are, but now I get the really GOOD hot dogs! OK, that’s a lie, I’m cheap, I just buy the same ones I did then. But I could buy the good ones. Honest. Live from Las Vegas, NV Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan. The Nasty Boys v. The Public Enemy As usual, a big brawl between them right away and Sags goes to grab a table as Tony gets a “Oh man, here we go again” tone to his voice. Sags is unable to run Rocco into the table, and Rock goes up with a moonsault for two before getting dumped by Knobbs again. He takes a really scary bump off the apron and hits the back of his neck somehow. They’re so shitty that they can’t even obey the laws of physics properly. Sags gives Grunge an ugly piledriver and the ref finally calls for the bell at 4:00 for no reason in particular. To say these matches didn’t age well is being generous. DUD Meanwhile, Ric Flair and The Giant have words for the Megapowers, although to be accurate it’s Flair with the words and Giant with the ridiculous facials in the background. Note to Giant: You have Ric Flair with you, don’t talk. Dean Malenko v. Alex Wright Interesting that Wright got severely demoted following Dusty’s firing as booker in 95, but he’s still hanging around in a feature position. I guess people still saw something in him. Malenko takes him down to control him, but Wright evades him with flips and Dean bails. Back in, Malenko goes to work on the leg as we learn that Compuserve “e-chatting” is live RIGHT NOW. It’s like the WWE’s second screen app done by the stone-chipping pterodactyls in the Flintstones. Malenko pounds the knee in the corner, but Wright gets a flying bodypress for two. They fight over a backslide and Wright gets a dropkick, but Malenko gets a backdrop suplex and goes up. Wright dropkicks him down and follows with a superplex, and the german suplex gets two. Malenko puts him down with a forearm, dropkicks the knee again, and pins him at 5:31. Even in victory Dean looks pissed off all the time. A little short, but Wright was hanging in there OK. **1/2 Kevin Sullivan v. Disco Inferno So we get a singing telegram from an Elvis impersonator for some reason, who I’m guessing was some job guy, and Sullivan doesn’t take it very well and beats him up. Apparently Disco is at the wedding and unable to attend his match. WTF? Meanwhile, at the chapel, Buck and Slater arrive dressed about as nicely as they ever dress. They’re unsure about Parker’s chances of actually showing up for his own wedding. Meanwhile, Lex Luger and Sting give their victory interview after winning the tag titles. This was actually a fascinating dynamic, with Luger clearly a heel and Sting clearly a babyface, but since they were longtime friends Sting was willing to team with him and overlook his issues. That’s pretty cool and never got explored to the logical finish because of the nWo changing all the plans. The Road Warriors interrupt, looking for a title shot, and Sting is all for it, but Luger feels like the American Males and State Patrol might be more worthy first. Meanwhile, Paul Orndorff talks about his career-ending neck surgery, right when motivational speaker Gary Spivey was going to turn things around for him. Paul claims that he was offered a spot in the Four Horsemen and turned them down, which is why they attacked him and broke his neck. This was obviously supposed to lead to him making a big comeback against them later, but it never happened. Too bad, he would have been a natural for the nWo as an ex-WWF guy. Meanwhile, as I start to wonder if we’re ever going to get another match, Robert Parker shows up at the wedding chapel, trying to borrow $50 from Mean Gene for cab fare. Yeah, like that’ll work. Sherri is still running late, but apparently calls Robert on his cell phone to smooth things over. Brian Pillman v. Eddie Guerrero So this is the true start of the Loose Cannon character and a pretty famous match to boot. Bobby relates how everyone in the airports is talking to him about Eddie Guerrero. Somehow I doubt that. Pillman, convincingly playing batshit crazy at this point, runs away from Eddie’s lockup attempt and wanders at ringside until Eddie hauls him in for a headlock. Dropkick puts Pillman on the floor again an Eddie tries a dive, but Pillman hides behind Heenan (“What the fuck are you doing?!”, uncensored on the Network!) and Bobby is REALLY pissed and actually walks away from ringside for a bit to cool down. So as noted before, Heenan is very protective of his neck and didn’t know Pillman was going to touch him, and that was the result. It’s a shoot, brutha. Back in, they trade chops and Eddie is just UNLOADING on him, but Pillman chokes him down and goes to a chinlock as even Eddie seems unsure of what to do here. He fights back with a dropkick and Pillman runs away again, but Eddie gets a tornado DDT for two. Blind charge misses and Pillman gets two in the corner, but Eddie rolls him up for two. They collide on a crossbody and Pillman grabs the tights for the pin at 5:55, then makes sure to get in Bobby’s space again before leaving. This was one of the more bizarre matches you’ll see, only topped by the Pillman-Sullivan match at Superbrawl. Match was no good, but that’s not what Pillman was about at this point. *1/2 Meanwhile, the Megapowers and Kevin Greene are ready for that NASTY, STINKY, WART-INFESTED GIANT tonight. Obviously Greene was having a ball doing this. Sting & Lex Luger v. The Blue Bloods Regal exchanges formal bows with Sting, and Regal’s expression of disgust is tremendous. I’m wondering if Sting made some non-PC gesture there, though, because the camera zoomed in tight on Regal’s face. Sting traps Regal in their corner and dishes out some abuse. Over to Earl Robert Eaton (who, rather than sounding regal, now sounds like a serial killer or presidential assassin) and he also gets beat on. Lex flexes his pecs at Regal and this is literally the worst thing to happen to Regal all day, which he expresses merely by the look of abject horror on his face. Regal fires back with some forearms in the corner, and Eaton gets a neckbreaker to take over. Regal drops an elbow for two, and anytime Regal has something he can sink his teeth into it’s automatically 100% more fun. Eaton with the flying kneedrop to set up the Regal Stretch, but Sting breaks it up. Luger and Eaton bump heads, and it’s hot tag Sting. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA, but Eaton collides with Regal and Sting finishes the Earl with the Scorpion at 7:48. Fun Nitro match. **1/2 Meanwhile, Robert Parker tries to make sure Harlem Heat doesn’t eat too much at the catering table, as Sherri finally arrives. Unfortunately, Parker neglected to mention his crippling gambling habit, which has left him flat broke. Kind of makes the Vegas wedding seem like a particularly bad decision on his part. So they’re going to have to do a drive-through wedding instead. Meanwhile, Brian F’n Pillman might just say all 7 of the forbidden words on live TV, and there’s NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. Also, he might hack someone’s thumb off. So…OK then. Mexican Heavyweight title: Konnan v. Psychosis The graphics note that this is “Konan” v. “Psichosis”, in case you’re striving for accuracy. They trade armdrags to start and Konnan rolls him up into a submission hold, but gets nothing from it. More dull holds on the mat and Konnan gets a DDT, but Psy dumps him and follows with a dive. Back in, Konnan suddenly hits a superplex, and he finishes with a figure-four at 5:26. Apparently they were running long and got cut short on the fly. ** Meanwhile, Mean Gene finally talks Sherri into going through with the wedding, but then accidentally reveals that Parker was getting a phone call from another woman earlier. So they go through with the vows, but when it’s time for the objections, Madusa charges in and breaks it up because she’s actually been banging the Colonel on the sly. CATFIGHT! Disco steals all the champagne in the chaos. Meltzer HATED this whole thing in the WON at the time, but years of Vince Russo goofiness and wrestling weddings as a TV trope leave this one looking pretty good in retrospect, actually. It’s not like they were selling this as a main event angle or anything, it was just something for the midcarders to do that was very aware of its own stupidity. Ric Flair & The Giant v. Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage Speaking of ridiculous, Michael Buffer’s introduction of the Giant ranks up there. He puts the FEAR OF DEATH into his opponents! Elizabeth makes her return to the sport here, looking like someone’s mom at this point. Thankfully she would get much hotter as her relationship with Savage deteriorated again. Savage starts with Flair and quickly gets caught in the heel corner, but backslides Flair for two. Over to Hogan and the Giant, as the NASTY, STINKY, WART-INFESTED Giant pounds on Hogan and for whatever reason Hulk decides he’s finally going to start selling for someone in the promotion and it’s THIS guy. Giant with a backbreaker, but he misses an elbow and Hogan slams him. Flair comes in with a suplex, but of course Hogan no-sells that and makes the comeback. Big rookie stiff, sell your ass off. Greatest wrestler in history, fuck that, brother. Hogan brawls to the floor with Giant, and heads back in to continue not selling for Flair, like AT ALL. He slams Flair off the top and makes the hot tag to Savage, who quickly hits the double axehandle and drops the big elbow on Flair, but Jimmy Hart distracts him and Flair finishes with an international object at 9:50. The awesome tandem of Zodiac and Brian Pillman try to storm the ring, but Kevin Greene cleans house, grinning like a total mark the whole time. Giant was way out of his depth here, and Hogan was pretty infuriating. As usual. *1/2 The Pulse This was basically an episode of Nitro from the time. Viewed as such, it was a pretty good episode of Nitro. But the difference between what this was (short, decent matches padded out with bad comedy and endless talking) and what the shows were even the year before is kind of jarring. It also shows how redundant and needless that the Clash had become as a concept, much like what RAW is doing to PPV now, and thankfully there was only 3 of them left. Recommendation to do whatever you want with this one, because I can go either way with it.

Clash Countdown: #31

The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXXI (August 1995) You’re killing me, 1995 WCW. There was a reason I was actively avoiding the product at this point. Live from Daytona Beach, FL Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan Meng & Kurosawa v. Hawk & Sting And what an opener! Kurosawa is a young Manabu Nakanishi with a stupid name. Kurosawa slugs it out with the babyfaces and Sting gets a suplex for two. Over to Hawk, and at this point the fucks given by him are ZERO and he’s not selling shit. Meng, beginning his repackage into deadly martial arts fighter at this point, comes in and throws chops at Hawk. Here’s another weird thing: The guys are positioned on the wrong corners for TV, as the heels take a corner closest to the hard camera on the left and it’s surprisingly disorienting as a viewer. Just looks wrong, ya know? So Hawk kind of gets the heat on him but even the announcers are like “Man, it’s hard to keep Hawk down” because he won’t sell anything, and he gets a sloppy powerbomb on Kurosawa for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Hawk looks like he should be another cable channel or something because he clearly has no clue what’s going on with this match. Poor Sting tries to salvage something on his own while Hawk randomly stumbles around the ring, and sets up for a Doomsday Device with Hawk, who can barely get to the top before falling off with a half-assed clothesline onto Kurosawa for the pin at 7:30. What a fucking disaster this was. -* Kurosawa puts Hawk into the Fujiwara armbar to injure him, but I’m pretty sure Hawk was medicated enough to take care of any pain resulting. Meanwhile, on WCW Saturday Night, the Dungeon of Doom attacks Hogan. I should note it’s only been six months since the last Clash, and they’ve already repackaged both Butcher and Avalanche into Zodiac Man and Shark, respectively. Meanwhile, Robert Parker and the Stud Stable of Buck and Slater (who were apparently tag champions at this point, which I vaguely recall as one of those wacky “non-title match on a TV taping repurposed into a title change” deals. Basically there was no actual title change booked.) are ready for their six-man against Harlem Heat later. Diamond Dallas Page v. Alex Wright DDP going from manager to wrestler in his 30s was one of the most unlikely success stories in wrestling. Of course he was still beyond terrible at this point, but he was trying and getting much better with the weight loss and new finisher. Wright gets a pair of rollups and dumps Page, then follows with a dive. Back in, Page with the dreaded full armdrag and twist, but Wright reverses and works the arm for a bit until Page puts him down to take over. Backbreaker and neckbreaker gets two. Wright with a backslide as everyone in the crowd fights off the instinct to doze into their popcorn. High knee gets two and Wright goes up with the missile dropkick for two. Page drops him on the top turnbuckle and gets two, but Wright gets the german suplex for two. Wright tries another dive and misses by a mile, and Page pins him at 8:17. Weak finish, OK, match. ** Meanwhile, Flair and Anderson have words for Vader, although Flair has more words than Arn does. World TV title: The Renegade v. Paul Orndorff Renegade sends Orndorff out, but Paul lays him out and pounds away as the muscle atrophy on the right arm is getting SCARY at this point. Orndorff with a clothesline to put Renegade on the floor and he takes some ridiculously bad bumps before randomly making the Warrior-inspired comeback with a slingshot bodyblock for the pin at 4:00 to retain. The crack WCW crew managed to somehow miss the finish and had to show it on replay. I would rather not relive any parts of Renegade matches unless absolutely necessary. DUD Meanwhile, Vader has no fear of any man. Except Paul Orndorff in shower shoes. Robert Parker, Bunkhouse Buck & Dick Slater v. Harlem Heat & Sister Sherri This was the start of the stupid “Robert Parker getting wooed by brain-damaged Sherri” angle that paid off with a wedding gone horribly wrong and Madusa involved somehow. Buck gets worked over by the Heat, and Slater comes in and tries a headbutt on Booker. So that’s a bad idea, because he’s black and all. Slater’s selling is such a Dean Ambrose ripoff. We take a break and learn how to win a motorcycle. Apparently the winner will be announced on some new show they’re debuting in September. Monday something. So with that established, we return with Booker T getting the heat, which finally draws Robert Parker in. And then he quickly gets destroyed by Sherri until she misses a flying splash and appears to be out cold. Parker, as a southern gentleman, is unable to capitalize, so Sherri tackles him with a kiss and pins him at 8:45. Absolutely nothing to the match. 1/2* Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan isn’t worried about the Dungeon of Doom. The McMahons of the world are worried about Hulkamania running wild! That would actually prove prophetic. And now, Hulk Hogan enters the Dungeon! So yeah, Kevin Sullivan and King Curtis are hanging out and shooting the shit in the Dungeon, and Hogan just barges and cuts a promo on them like he’s a badly-dubbed anime character, until ANDRE THE GIANT’S SON attacks him and rips off the necklace. SYMBOLISM! FLASHBACKS! The Dungeon does a beatdown and Vader makes the save, because he was apparently hanging out near the Dungeon of Doom for unrelated reasons. Like he was grabbing breakfast at the Dungeon of Donuts next door and happened to see some shit going down or something. Vader v. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson Oh man were people mad about this one back in the day. This whole feud was weird because Arn was off doing his Stud Stable thing for most of the year and then suddenly he was just hanging out with un-retired Flair again and they’re bickering. Thankfully, unlike 90% of WCW’s bullshit, this WAS going somewhere. Arn gets to try with Vader to start as Flair cheerleads for him, and that doesn’t go well for AA. Finally he gets a spinebuster and Flair decides to tag himself in, at which point Vader destroys Flair with a press slam in a funny bit. So Arn keeps carrying things, taking out Vader’s knee so Flair can gain control, and Arn adds a DDT. Flair comes in for the figure-four, but Vader easily escapes and splashes Flair for two, as Arn has to keep bailing Flair out. Vader puts them both down with clotheslines and powerbombs AA for the pin at 8:05. More angle than match. ** Flair blames Arn for this development and we get the feud that no one wanted to see but still ended up pretty awesome. Arn was tremendous here. And then Hulk Hogan comes out to point out that RIPPING OFF HIS CRUCIFIX WAS A THING THAT ALSO HAPPENED TO HIM BEFORE, BROTHER. Thanks for the reminder, Hulk. The Pulse Consider that THIS was the product they were putting out and Nitro still turned out awesome and changed the business forever. STRONG recommendation to avoid.

Clash Countdown: #30

The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXX (January 1995) Oh god, THIS show. Live from Las Vegas, NV. Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan World TV title: Arn Anderson v. Johnny B. Badd So as noted, Honky Tonk Man got fired before Starrcade and Arn got the title shot there instead, and then went on to win the belt a couple of weeks later. This is the rematch DEMANDED by those dumb enough to pay $1.49/minute to the WCW hotline to vote for it. So you would think they would have to change the title to justify the gimmick. Badd puts Arn down with a kneelift, but Arn takes out the knee and goes up. Badd dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a dive, and back in controls with armdrags. Enzuigiri gets two. Arn tries his own in a cute spot, and of course misses badly and allows Badd to get a rollup for two. Finally Badd charges and gets clotheslined on the top rope, and Arn chokes him out and allows Parker to get a cheapshot. Arn stomps him down for two and goes to the chinlock. Badd slugs back, but Arn goes up and they set up for the “babyface gets his foot up” spot, but Arn actually evades it and drops an elbow instead. Sadly, he makes the mistake of pointing to his head to indicate his intelligence, and Badd makes the comeback. Well, baby steps. Badd with a rana and he puts Arn on the floor with the knockout punch, but Parker revives Arn with cold water. I’m dubious on the medical science behind that. Maybe he should have dropped a big elbow on him instead? Badd chases Parker and walks into a DDT at 7:37 as Arn retains. Note from WCW to fans voting on the hotline: Fuck you. Solid opener. **1/2 Given I couldn’t remember who beat Arn for the belt, I made the mistake of looking it up, and got all depressed about this year again. Meanwhile, the Faces of Fear have some words for Hogan & Savage. I will say that it really makes me respect Mean Gene’s ability as an interviewer to control things, rather than today’s morons who just start with “How are you feeling after that loss?” or something equally vapid. Alex Wright has a music video and it’s pretty terrible. Maybe if he had more than the one dance move? Beautiful Bobby v. Alex Wright Eaton would soon be repackaged into Earl Robert Eaton as Regal’s tag partner, and unlike guys like Ricky Morton, Eaton COMMITTED to the role. He changed his name, haircut, and manner of dress. Just wanted to bring that up because Eaton is great and underappreciated. Wright controls with an armbar while the announcers talk up his big Starrcade win over some jobber named Jean-Paul Levesque. As if that goof will ever amount to anything. So Wright is just all over that arm, but Eaton slugs him down and goes to the chinlock until Wright escapes with a suplex. He makes the comeback with a back elbow and goes up with a missile dropkick for two. Crossbody gets two. Eaton puts him down with a neckbreaker and goes up to finish with the Alabama Jam, but it only gets two. I would have bet money on that move missing. Eaton gives him an annoyed look and pounds away in the corner, but Wright comes back with one last crossbody to finish at 7:33. Weird finishing sequence, as I think Wright really was supposed to move there and missed his cue. Match was fine. **1/2 Vader joins us at ringside because he bought seats. And they announce his as being there, just in case we didn’t see the run-in coming from far enough away. WCW World tag titles: Harlem Heat v. Stars & Stripes So now Ric Flair also joins us at ringside, also WCW comps him seats four or five rows back so that’s something of a misnomer. To show how far in advance they were taping at this point, this was advertised as the Heat’s first title defense after winning them from Stars & Stripes 10 days before, but in reality that title change was taped at the beginning of DECEMBER, a month before. Saved them money, I guess. The babyfaces clean house and get a double hiptoss on Booker for two and double-team him for a bit, but Bagwell gets caught in the heel corner and you could say it’s a Harlem Heat Segment. Booker with a chinlock as they do a super-basic match for a dead crowd. Booker and Bagwell collide on a bodyblock attempt as we get a funny bit with Heenan (“I’m gonna report on my hotline what I did with Flair after the Clash and it’s gonna be X-rated!” “Brain, you couldn’t even stay awake for the All Nighter last week!”) Pier-six brawl and Sherri gets bumped, allowing Bagwell to roll up Booker, but Stevie sidekicks them over and Booker grabs the tights for the pin at 9:30 to retain. This was fine and totally unremarkable. ** And now the show goes off the metaphorical cliff, as Mean Gene interviews the Megapowers (whoops, sorry, I mean “Monster Maniacs”) about tonight’s main event. Sting v. Avalanche Ray “Big Bubba Bossman the Guardian Angel” Traylor is the special referee for some reason. Avalanche is introduced from “Mt. Everest, Washington.” What the FUCK? Did they mean Mt. Rainier or Mt. Saint Helens even? Sting quickly dropkicks Avalanche to the floor, but Mr. Angel prevents him from chasing. Back in, Sting tries a slam and Avalanche falls on top for two. He pounds away in the corner as we get another great out of context quote from Tony: “Speaking of flopping, Avalanche…” Powerslam gets two. Sting comes back with his “accidental headbutt to the groin” spot, and the Stinger splash times four to set up the bodyslam. Scorpion Deathlock finishes at 5:20 as Nick Patrick randomly runs in and declares that Avalanche had given up. At which point Angel turns heel and beats on Sting for no adequately explored reason. * So with that gimmick another giant flop for Traylor, he gives an interview with Mean Gene afterwards where he declares that he’s going back to being Big Bubba Rogers again. Kevin Sullivan & The Butcher v. Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage This could probably be safely classified as the low point for Hogan’s rampant egomania, as he brings in Savage for a big money run and immediately marginalizes him as his wacky sidekick. Just to name one thing. Like really, how difficult would it have been for them to bring in Savage, keep him strong, and then redo the Megapowers angle? The Egomaniacs double-team Butcher in the corner as Savage is more fringe than man at this point. Tony trying to recap the Dave Sullivan “magic slippers” angle while not sounding retarded is actually kind of amusing. Butcher quickly caches Hogan with the sleeper, which would be more devastating had he ever been allowed to beat anyone with it in WCW, but he chooses to release the hold instead of having the ref check the arm. So, in a historic WCW moment, Savage goes to the top and drops the fucking elbow on Hogan to wake him up. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK? Yes, the REVIVING ELBOW. So he hulks up (because OF COURSE HE DOES) and they just continue with the match as though everything is totally cool and normal again. HE DROPPED THE ELBOW ON HIS OWN PARTNER! And we didn’t even get to the thing that made everyone irate yet! Savage gets caught outside and sent into the post, and sadly there’s no one around to drop an elbow on him to wake him up. So Sullivan beats on him in the corner and Butcher gets another sleeper, but Savage escapes without the need for his own tag partner to perform a finisher on him, and makes the hot tag to Hogan. Big elbow and legdrop finish Butcher at 12:00. What, the elbow didn’t instantly revive him? And speaking of instant revivals, Vader attacks to set up their Superbrawl title match and powerbombs Hogan, who instantly pops up and chases Vader off by himself. And then they had to try to sell that PPV with Hogan already having killed Vader’s finish! After he already wrestled a long match! So this was kind of stupid. AND IT WOULD GET WORSE! The Pulse An OK show that absolutely went into the crapper after the halfway point and pretty much sums up everything people hated about the Hogan character at this point. Strong recommendation to avoid.

Clash Countdown: #29

The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXIX (November 1994) Back on the horse, and WHAT a show to pick things up again with. Yeesh. This is one I’ve never actually seen before, as Hulk Hogan’s title reign had driven me away from the promotion and Flair’s “retirement” sealed the deal. So there’s a chance that Hogan/Sting/Evad v. THE THREE FACES OF FEAR might not be terrible, much like Schroedinger’s Cat might not be dead. So yeah, since the last Clash, Flair has been retired and the mysterious masked man was unmasked as Brutus Beefcake instead of Curt Hennig. Good times all around. Live from Jacksonville, FL Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan Robert Parker joins Mean Gene to start and challenges the winner of the tag title match to a match against Arn Anderson & Bunkhouse Buck on WCW Saturday Night, which pretty much gives away the result. Titles v. Mask: Pretty Wonderful v. Stars & Stripes You have to hand it to Marcus Bagwell in that he could be repackaged into whatever generic tag team wrestler they needed that week. There’s a certain amount of talent involved there. Orndorff quickly beats Bagwell down and Roma comes in with a bodypress for two, but the babyfaces clean house. Patriot controls Orndorff with armdrags and a hammerlock, but Roma comes in and gets a backbreaker for two. He gets cocky and Patriot gets an atomic drop into a Thesz Press for two, which is actually a nice combo. Over to Bagwell, and he immediately gets double-teamed and beat up on the floor to become hick-in-peril. Roma with a powerslam for two, but Bagwell gets a backslide on Orndorff for two. Bagwell with a sunset flip for two and Pretty Wonderful dumps Patriot, and then we get a very WCW ending as the champs try a Powerplex on Bagwell, but Roma gets tripped up and Bagwell lifts his shoulder while Orndorff lays there like a moron. So Bagwell & Patriot win the tag titles at 10:10 on a vertical suplex gone HORRIBLY WRONG. Yeah. **1/2 World TV title: Johnny B. Badd v. Honky Tonk Man Honky in WCW was a Thing That Could Have Worked, but his demands were apparently ridiculous even by WCW’s low self-esteem-related standards. Think about that – someone from the WWF had contract negotiations so outlandish that even ERIC BISCHOFF, the guy who signed every ex-WWF employee from the wrestlers to the guys who ran the trucks for double the money without blinking, had to say “Hold on there, I don’t think you’re worth that much money.” I know, Honky Tonk Man being hard to get along with, mind blown. Honky tries a headlock and Badd takes him down for a hammerlock and follows with an atomic drop to send Honky running away. Back in, Honk gets a classic cheapshot out of the corner and takes over. Fistdrop gets two. Shake Rattle N Roll is countered by Badd (and how could they call it that without getting sued, anyway?) and he makes the comeback. Badd pounds away in the corner and a kneelift gets two, but TRAGICALLY, the ref is bumped. Honky lays him out with the guitar and draws the DQ at 6:11. Man, watching Honky go out there and do all his dated 80s Memphis bullshit was pretty sad. * This was supposed to set up the final showdown at Starrcade, but Honky got fired (gleefully, according to Bischoff) and Badd wrestled Arn Anderson instead. Meanwhile, The Three Faces of Fear have some generic, vaguely threatening words for Hulkamania. Brutus Beefcake as a supposed top-level heel was just…I don’t even have the words. The first problem I suppose was that he looked like someone’s dad out for a run after a day at the natural health food store. Harlem Heat v. The Nasty Boys Holy god these teams wrestled each other a lot from 94-97. The graphic actually identified “Harlem Heat with Sensuous Sherri”, thus giving away the big twist ending, because WCW. Tony clarifies that the Hoffman brothers are in fact true blood relatives, much like other real brother teams. Like the Andersons. Sigh. The Nasties clean house, but Stevie Ray pounds on Sags in the corner before getting caught in the Nasty zone. THEY BE CLUBBERING, TONY! Oh wait, Dusty’s not on commentary. I retract the clubbering. That gets two for Sags. Nasties go to work on the leg and we take a break. Back with Booker superkicking Knobbs out of the ring to take over. Spinkick and Booker goes up and misses an elbow, allowing Sags to get the hot tag. That was quite the heat segment. Stevie bails and tries to call his secret manager on the phone, but the Nasties beat up him up back in the ring as we reveal that Sherri is in fact their secret weapon. The Nasties get distracted and the Heat win somehow at 12:00 as no one on the crew was paying any particular attention. Because WCW. Thankfully Sherri was a much better fit for Harlem Heat and actually got them to the next level. *1/2 Vader v. Dustin Rhodes Vader smacks him around in the corner and clarifies that it ain’t no tea party. Just in case Dustin was confused on that point, I suppose. So Dustin charges and out and beats on Vader in impression fashion, then rips off his mask and slaps the shit out of him. Now we’re talking! Crossbody gets two for Dustin. Clothesline puts Vader on the floor and they brawl out there, as Dustin puts Race on his ass for good measure and FINALLY wakes up the crowd. Back in, Dustin stays on him and if it was UFC the ref would be stopping it at this point. Dustin with a suplex and Vader takes another breather, clearly shocked that he’s in this position. Back in, Dustin takes another run at him and this time it backfires, and now Vader boxes him in the corner, but misses a charge and Dustin gets a rollup for two. Vader pummels him down again, but he charges and Dustin catches him with a powerslam out of the corner. Dustin with a lariat and he pounds away again, but Vader tosses him over the top and right into the railing in a vicious bump that the camera crew totally misses. Back in, Vaderbomb gets two, so he does it again, HARDER, and it also gets two. Vader unloads again in the corner, but Dustin is too stupid to stay down and comes back with another powerslam before winning a slugfest and going up with a lariat for two. A DDT off the middle ropes gets two. Bulldog gets two and he goes after Race again, but Vader hits him from behind and finishes with the inverted powerbomb at 11:54. I recall this being where smart fans accepted Dustin Rhodes once and for all. **** Jim Duggan makes the save to set up their Starrcade US title match, which also ended up pretty good. US Title: Hacksaw Jim Duggan v. Stunning Steve Austin End of the line for Austin. Steve with hair and a goatee is such a weird combo for him. Austin protests hairpulling a few times to start, and Vader runs in for the DQ immediately. I thought this show was running long. Hulk Hogan, Sting & Dave Sullivan v. Kevin Sullivan, The Butcher & Avalanche Mr. T is the special referee, dressed in what appears to be striped pajamas, complete with a nightcap. The Hulkamaniacs dominate Kevin Sullivan to start, but soon everyone is in the ring and the suck is running wild. Avalanche splashes Dave’s shoulder and he’s immediately taken back to the dressing room like a huge pussy, leaving Hogan and Sting alone. Wow, left alone against Brutus Beefcake AND part-time wrestler Kevin Sullivan? How will he ever survive? So Butcher pounds away on Hogan and Avalanche blocks a slam for two. Bearhug time, which allows me to ponder why they didn’t just do Hogan v. Avalanche for Starrcade, since that was at least a thing that popped a buyrate four years previous and thus had slightly more than a snowball’s chance in hell of being something worthwhile. Beefcake had barely even been active as a wrestler since that time and was mostly forgotten. Avalanche misses a splash and Hogan makes the tag to Sting, who hits Avalanche with a pair of Stinger splashes to no avail. Sullivan quickly comes in for the double-team to take over again, and Butcher unleashes a devastating choke. Like seriously, Beefcake couldn’t even be bothered to get into shape. Do some steroids and get a tan! If he had come in looking like the Disciple they might have had something. Sullivan goes up and Sting slams him off, but it’s hot tag Hogan and he quickly kicks Butcher’s ass. And then pins Sullivan at 10:54 because even 3-on-2 Hogan can’t do a job to build up the biggest show of the year. Nothing really to the match as there was no real heat segment and it was just a big mess. * The Pulse Welcome to the Hogan Era. Definitely check out the lost classic that was Vader v. Dustin Rhodes, and skip the rest with prejudice.

Clash XIX bigotry

In your rant of Clash 19, (right before the Bash in 92) you mentioned Harley Race's "negro like you" comment but missed Dr Death's "when I think of Michigan I think of queers" comment when discussing the Steiners.  How come these comments don't live in  infamy like Booker "n-word" drop to hogan or HHH's "people like you don't win World Titles" comment?

​Because WCW?  I dunno, Booker's was more of a hilarious slip of the tongue than anything, and HHH was from the perspective of the guy making those comments then going on to beat the other guy, so I think they're considered worse.  Harley Race is just old and from a different time, plus Vader lost the World title to Simmons shortly after that anyway.  ​

Clash Countdown: #28

The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXVIII (August 1994) There are apparently “technical difficulties”, which forces the deletion of the country singer singing the national anthem. OK then. I also had technical difficulties with the original rant, in that it sucked and had bad formatting, so here’s a fresh version. This was the highest rated Clash ever and one of the highest rated wrestling shows on cable until the Monday Night Wars started blowing all the old records away. I’m pretty sure that Hogan had nothing to do with that. Live from Cedar Rapids, IA Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan Special Tag Team Feature: The Nasty Boys v. Pretty Wonderful Roma and Orndorff are the champions, but this is non-title. Apparently the Nasties have turned babyface since losing the titles, although I remember very little of this. However, Knobs yells out “Nasty!” after his moves like a babyface now instead of a heel, so that’s clearly a turn. Knobs hammers on Orndorff and puts him down with an elbow, and the Nasties do some clobbering on Roma. Just not the same without Dusty to call it. Sags gets double-teamed on the floor, however, while Tony goes on a weird rant about how WCW lets fans decide stuff, unlike those other guys. Which is funny because I don’t recall WCW fans clamoring for Hogan on top. Sags hangs out on the floor taking the occasional shot, and back in for a flying elbow from Roma that’s roughly 100 times better than Sags’. See, there you go, I paid Roma a compliment. He does one move better than one of the worst wrestlers in the company. Hope it doesn’t go to his head. Roma drops knees while Barry Darsow debuts his new gimmick of “Obnoxious heel fan” while Roma goes to the chinlock. Dropkick from Roma gets two. Tony relates a quote from Pretty Wonderful: “Not only is it great to be champions, it’s great to be champions here in this new era of WCW where we are the defining standard of professional wrestling.” Now that’s a money promo! Kids around the schools were always talking about how WCW was the defining standard of pro wrestling. The champs hit a powerplex on Knobs, but Sags drops the Shitty Elbow on Orndorff and pins him at 9:00, despite neither guy being legal. This was a match that opened the show. * HULK HOGAN HOTLINE, brother! I bet Linda got all that hotline money in the divorce. Hulk Hogan comes out for an interview, but OH MY GOD, someone in a Black Scorpion Halloween costume pulls a Tonya Harding on him and hits his knee with a lead pipe. So why doesn’t he just hulk up and no-sell it? Pussy. Like seriously, guys get hit in the face with chairs and barbed wire and shit in the ring and this guy takes one shot to the knee and we get a 10 minute segment dedicated to putting him on a stretcher? Gene notes that this is the WORST NIGHTMARE OF ANY WRESTLING FAN. Don’t oversell it or anything there, Gene. As noted previously, this was intended to be Curt Hennig but was played here by Arn Anderson. US title: Stunning Steve Austin v. Ricky Steamboat They trade headlocks to start and Austin immediately accuses Steamboat of pulling his hair, which would become much less of an issue by the year after. They trade some vicious chops and Steamboat puts him down with dropkicks and gets a powerslam for two. Meanwhile, the ambulance drives Hogan to the hospital. For a boo-boo on his knee? Doesn’t anyone know how to say “put some ice on it”? Pinfall reversal and Steamboat goes to the armdrag, which is the point where the Clash DVD set picks it up so as to omit the Hogan stuff. Steamboat holds an armbar, which turns into a nice little mat segment. Austin tosses him out and they brawl outside, with Austin turning into a footrace before running into a chop. Back in, they trade sleeper attempts, but Austin escapes with KICK WHAM STUNNER…or just a jawbreaker, whatever. Austin throws chops in the corner, but gets hiptossed before missing a charge and hitting the post. Steamboat walks the ropes to hurt the arm, and follows with the flying chop for two. Austin comes back with a kneedrop for two and slugs away on the ropes. He goes to the chinlock and we take a break. Back with Austin getting a suplex for two. They fight on the top and Steamboat goes down, but crotches Austin. He fights for a superplex, but Austin hits it instead. Steamboat keeps coming and nails Austin coming off the top, however. Steamboat back up, but the flying bodypress misses and Austin sends him facefirst into the mat. He doesn’t follow up, though, slapping him around instead of pinning him, which allows Steamboat to fight up again. Steamboat is PISSED and fires away, chopping Austin down for two. Spinebuster gets two. Electric chair gets two and Steamboat’s back is killing him, you can see it. Small package gets two. Rollup gets two. Backslide gets two. Sunset flip gets two. Austin finally ends the rally with a clothesline and dumps him, but Steamboat pulls himself in and gets a rollup for two, then finishes with a small package at 15:30 to win the US title. That finishing sequence, with Steamboat’s babyface comeback and the series of insane near-falls on a desperate Austin, was some of the best American pro wrestling you will ever see. ****1/4 And that was it for Steamboat’s career until the sort-of comeback against Jericho. Meanwhile, at the hospital, Eric Bischoff reports on Hogan’s injury, although WCW has more money than they did when they ran the same angle in 1991, so this time they can at least do a remote shoot from a real hospital. The Honky Tonk Man debuts his new music video, which sounds suspiciously like his old one. The backup singers literally look and sound like a bunch of girls they found on the street and dressed up in matching outfits. Because WCW. Nick Bockwinkel lets us know that if Hogan is unable to fulfil his commitments and defend against Flair tonight, he’ll have to forfeit the title. Well, it’s looking pretty bleak, brother. Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck v. Dustin Rhodes & Dusty Rhodes Dusty’s promo to set up this tag match is everything that Hogan’s angle was lacking, featuring real emotions and passion and actual stakes. Dustin slugs it out with Buck and boots him down, and the heels have some miscommunication, allowing Dustin beat on them and clean house. Big Dust comes in and throws elbows, which gives Funk the opportunity do his crazy selling. I’m sure you didn’t have to ask him twice. Dustin powerslams Buck for two, but turns his back and gets hit in the head with a boot. When will that boy ever learn? So the Stud Stable takes over and cuts off the ring, but Buck hits Funk with the boot by mistake and it’s hot tag Dusty. They’re certainly keeping this one brisk. AA comes out and punks out Dustin and the heel beatdown of Dusty is on, just like old times. This also brings the Clash debut of the MONSTER MENG, back when he was wearing a suit and trying to be Big Bubba Rogers. The match breaks down into a donnybrook and Arn runs in for the DQ at 7:22. Clearly this was all a backdrop for the angle anyway. *1/2 Meng gets all up in Dusty’s area, so Dusty breaks a wooden chair over his head in their attempt to recreate the Dusty-Bubba angle of 1986. This was less effective, of course, but at least they were trying something that had some track record of success previously instead of whatever stupid shit they came up with in 95 while doing blow off hookers in strip clubs. Meanwhile, at the hospital, Hogan’s cronies feel that he should just forfeit the title because doctors are concerned. And his lawyer is also concerned, so you know it’s serious. But Hogan wants to wrestle and defend his title, because if there’s one thing you can say about Hogan, it’s that he always works matches he doesn’t have to and makes sure fans don’t go home disappointed! Ric Flair demands that Hogan walk down and hand him the belt. Sherri’s got some other weird thing going on. Flair and Sherri were just never a good match. Antonio Inoki v. Lord Steven Regal This was a weird one that I never got. They do some shooty-shoot stuff with Regal throwing forearms in the corner and the crowd not really caring. As well, the Network connection is pretty bad tonight, which isn’t helping the match. I actually had to switch from the Roku to the PS3 at this point. So there you go, proof this wasn’t written in 1998. Regal kicks Inoki down and works for a kimura as the connection finally calms the fuck down. Regal with a facelock, but more importantly than this wrestling shit, HULK HOGAN HAS ARRIVED. Apparently he walked, five blocks mind you, from the hospital on a bad knee in the 10 minutes since that last update. Anyway, Inoki keeps working for and finally gets a rear naked choke on Regal at 8:24. This was kind of MMA-ish in a half-hearted stupid way, but didn’t really work and was only there so Hogan could make his dramatic return. DUD WCW World title: Hulk Hogan v. Ric Flair Logic and wrestling history say that Hogan does the job here to make him look sympathetic in defeat and set up the cage match at Halloween Havoc, but you know, Hogan. Flair starts throwing chops right away and Hulk no-sells them and chokes him out in the corner, and we get a Flair Flip. They brawl on the floor and Flair gets the worst of that as Tony notes that Flair had the ULTIMATE surprise for Hogan and it turned out to be the PERFECT plan. Clearly the perpetrator only could have been “Macho Warrior” Ric Hogan given those clues. Clearly HHH and Flair go to the same school of master planning if the big payoff was hitting a dude with a big stick. So Flair finally goes to the knee and follows up with a suplex, but Hogan pops up and drops elbows, and we get another Flair Flip. Back to the floor, but Flair goes to the knee again and this time Hogan doesn’t no-sell it. Flair fights for the figure-four and Hogan fights him off and bails, so Flair attacks the knee on the floor. Back in, figure-four looks to end the legend of Hulkamania, but he fights out of it and Flair goes back to the knee again. Hulk mounts the comeback this time and hits the big boot, but the pressure on the knee makes it give way, and that should have been the finish. He still manages to drop the leg, but can’t stand up on it again, and Flair recovers first with the figure-four. So yeah, logically, there’s your finish. The hero gives it his all, can’t get the pin after hitting his big finisher, loses nobly in the end and comes back to fight another day. But no, instead he makes the ropes and falls out of the ring, giving Flair the lame countout win at 14:22. Michael Buffer fucks up the announcement, declaring Flair the new champion, before sort-of correcting himself. Flair carried Hogan to something really good, but the finish was ridiculously bad because they had every out to allow Hogan a clean job without looking the least bit bad or weak, and they still did the shitty TV screwjob instead. ***1/2 But hey, I’m sure Hogan would return the job to Flair sometime in the 20 years following, right? The mysterious masked man attacks again and this time Sting makes the save, which was setting up Hogan & Sting v. Flair & Hennig, but obviously plans fell through there. The Pulse I was so insulted as a fan that this was where I jumped off WCW for a long time, because it was so apparent that the company was going nowhere that I wanted to watch. Meltzer’s take on it (at least at the time) was that yeah, it was stupid and Hogan was basically going scorched earth on the promotion, but the company was dead in the water at the end of 1993 and was only saved by Turner due to loyalty and the promise of bringing in Hogan in the first place, so shitty is better than gone. I haven’t checked the December issues to see if he was still that positive when Hogan was fighting Beefcake in the main event of Starrcade. Anyway, two good matches on this show, but the Hogan angle is some prime bullshit Hogan stuff. It’s worth a look, I suppose, but only for those two matches.

Clash Countdown: #27

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the
Champions XXVII (June 1994)
– Live from Charleston, South Carolina
– Hosted by Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan
and Jesse Ventura.

(Apologies for any formatting weirdness, but this is from close to 20 years ago, back when we used to chip blog posts into stone slabs.  It’s also one of my first true Retro Rants.)  

Opening match:  WCW World tag team title:  Cactus Jack & Kevin
Sullivan v. The Nasty Boys.  This, like most of the card, is a rematch
from Slamboree.  That match was one of my favorite matches,
ever.  This
is not as good because it’s a straight tag
team match and 3/4 of the
participants are shitty at straight tag
team matches.  Two referees here
for no reason in particular.  (No reason needed!  Referees for everyone!)  Not too painful to watch, because WCW
allows them one last flirtation with
hardcore wrestling before the
arrival of Hulk Hogan puts Cactus Jack on a
permanent leash.  (And then WWF put him in a restraining mask.)  Sags and
the Sullivan brothers brawl outside the
ring and Jack DDTs Knobs for the
pin to retain the titles.  Not bad, and an enjoyable opener.  **1/2
– Guardian Angel promo.
– Guardian Angel v. Tex Slazenger.  The Angel is of course Ray Traylor,
and this is the debut match for the
gimmick.  Speaking of bad gimmicks,
ol’ Tex is currently stinking up the WWF as
everyone’s favorite hog
farmer, Phineas I. Godwinn.  
(Geez, this was written before he even started switching gimmicks around.  So basically I was doing a retrospective on a show that wasn’t even four years old at that point?)  

And this match is a squash.  Angel gives
Tex three “strikes” (ie. shots)
before he flips out and ends it with the
Bossman slam.  One of the better gimmicks for Traylor, to be
sure, but
doomed to failure for legal reasons.
– Extended footage of Hulk Hogan’s
limousine pulling into the building
is shown, as Bobby fires off a couple of OJ
jokes.  Back when they were
still funny.  (Of course now that he’s in prison, they’re back in vogue.)  
– 
WCW World TV title match:  Larry
Zbyszko v. Steven Regal
.  Here’s the
short version of this feud:  Regal was acting like a pompous ass and
generally pissing on Zbyszko’s leg (much
like Scott Hall today) so one
day while interviewing him, Zbyszko decided
to deck him and come out of
retirement. 
They fought at Slamboree in a non-title match to prove
Larry’s worth, and that earned him a title
shot, which he also won,
which was aired on Worldwide (I
think).  This is the rematch.  Steven
Regal is my god at this point, and I wish
he’d remember how good he was
in 1994 and go back there again.  (But keep the hair.)  By this time, these two have wrestled
each other twice and have a really awesome
groove going together.  Both
guys are total professionals and know how
to keep a match from getting
boring, and their styles mesh perfectly
here.  The crowd is very
appreciative throughout, as Regal draws
monster heel heat.  When was the
last time that happened?  (This was of course written before he ever went to the WWF and got awesome.)  End comes as Zbyszko tries a Boston Crab, but
Sir William pulls him over with the
umbrella, putting Regal on top, and
Regal then grabs onto the top rope for
leverage and gets the pin and
his second TV title.  Terrific match.  ***1/2  (I’m dubious but don’t have time to go back and redo it.)  
– Mean Gene interviews Dustin Rhodes.  Rhodes has been feuding with Col.
Parker’s stable for a few months, and now
he’s asking Arn Anderson to be
his partner against Terry Funk and
Bunkhouse Buck, in retaliation for a
beating at Slamboree.  Arn accepts on the condition that Dustin
realizes
it’ll be the old, sneaky, dirty trick
playing Arn that shows up.
Dustin, like an IDIOT, agrees and of course
when they wrestle at Bash at
the Beach, Arn turns on him and beats the
hell out of him.  They just
don’t write great storylines like that one
anymore.  (But they’re TELLING STORIES!  Like about how Damien Sandow dresses like other people for some reason!)  
– US title match:  Stunning Steve Austin v. Johnny B. Badd.  Another
rematch from Slamboree.  Austin had fired Parker the week before and
was
better for it.  It was supposed to be Austin going over Flair
for the
World title in the next few months, but
Hulk showed up and screwed it
up, and screwed up Austin’s career with
it.  (Wait, what?  Like Austin was ever in line for the title.  That’s why he left!)  Ironically, it was the
bitterness caused by this that created
Stone Cold Steve Austin.  A damn
fine match that isn’t as good as Slamboree,
but it’s a lot different and
different is good sometimes.  I just watched some Johnny B. Badd stuff
from 1991-ish this afternoon, and the
difference between then and
1994-ish is ASTOUNDING.  The guy improved 200% in that time span.  Goofy
ending to the match:  Austin pulls out a gimmick (foreign object,
whatever you want to call it) from his
tights and nails Johnny in the
gut, then small packages him for the
pin.  Austin does a lousy job of
hiding it, however, and a second referee
runs down and sees Austin drop
it, then restarts the match.  Badd cradles Austin and gets a quick pin
from the second referee, and is declared
the new US champion!  We go to
break and a decision is promised when he
come back.
– We’re back, with no mention of the
decision.  I grumble to myself and
check the PWI Almanac, which says that it
was Badd by DQ.  Good enough
for me.  (Jesus, back when I had to use PWI to check results stuff instead of the multiple sites dedicated to exactly that.)  
– Hulk Hogan comes out to a decent pop.  Boos can be heard, however.  He
challenges the winner of the Flair-Sting
match later in the show.  Flair
pops up on the video wall, to a pop at
least 3x louder than Hogan got.
Keep in mind that WCW turned Flair heel not
two weeks prior to this in
order to prevent exactly that sort of thing
from happening.  This is why
I hate Hogan so much.  (Among other reasons.)  
– Main event:  “Unification” match:  WCW World champion Ric Flair v.
Bogus World champion Sting.  Flair gets an amazing pop, half face/half
heel. 
Sting gets an even louder face pop. 
Hulk didn’t get half of what
either guy got.  The subplot here is that Sherri Martell has
been
showing up in the front row of WCW shows
for weeks now, and no one knows
who she’s managing.  Once again, before we start, I feel the need
to
reiterate that this match unified NOTHING
and Sting’s “title” was
WORTHLESS. 
Sherri comes down with her face painted like Sting and sits
in his corner.  This is about the closest these two got to
having that
big epic showdown that everyone was waiting
for but never happened.
The first Clash of Champions was too soon
for Sting to win.  He was too
injured at Bash 90 and the match was too
bogged down with storyline.
This had a great reason for existing (The
World title controversy), a
good storyline (They hate each other…what
more do you need?) and GREAT
heat. 
It’s not a great match, but it’s really, really good.  Lots of
stalling from Flair to start, which drags
it down but gives Flair
mega-heat. 
Flair is the king, I swear.  It
amazes me that WCW could
manage to put Flair over as the biggest
babyface champion they’d had in
years, then ask him to turn heel again on
two weeks’ notice and watch as
he puts every other heel in the federation
to shame.  The man could do
it all. 
And WCW pissed it away for Hulk. 
It gets *really* good 15
minutes in as Flair takes over.  Sting makes the comeback and starts
rockin’ and rollin’ on Flair, showing more
moves than in all of his 1998
matches combined.  Flair rolls out and Sting tries a plancha,
but Flair
pulls Sherri in the way and Sting wipes her
out.  Sting is in shock over
it, and is distracted enough trying to help
her up that Flair can simply
roll him up and pin him to unify the
titles.  Holding the tights, of
course. 
****
(Here’s the later version from the Flair DVD and a couple of others:)

And don’t even get me started on the reasons behind this
match.  Sting was the International World
champion and Flair was the actual WCW World champion, and just leave it at
that.  Flair goes for the arm to start,
but Sting keeps kipping up.  They trade
hammerlocks and Sting shoves him down, so Flair bails to the ramp and
regroups.  Back in, Flair grabs a headlock,
but Sting escapes and gets a press-slam. 
And hey, why not another one? 
Flair bails again and stops for a Flair Flop outside, and stalls.  Back in, Flair goes to the eyes and tries a
chop, but Sting is having none of that. 
He hiptosses Flair and follows with a trio of clotheslines, and Flair
bails again.  Way too much stalling thus
far.  Back in, Flair finally takes over
with a cheapshot, but Sting no-sells and comes back with a hiptoss, only to
whiff on a dropkick.  Flair goes for the
leg, but Sting comes back and Flair bails again.  Flair decides to start chopping, but Sting
fires back…and misses the Stinger Splash. 
And NOW Flair takes over, dumping Sting behind the ref’s back and laying
in the chops.  Back in, Flair necksnaps
him on the top rope and drops a knee. 
Another one gets two.  Back to the
chops, and a backdrop suplex, but Sting escapes the figure-four.  Flair gets a back elbow and grabs a sleeper,
but Sting fights out of it and sends Flair into the corner.  Sting knocks him down and gets a sloppy
slingshot into the corner, but Flair bails. 
Sting suplexes him back in for two. 
Flair Flip and Sting clotheslines him off the apron, then brings him in
for another clothesline, which gets two. 
They go up and Sting brings him down with a superplex, but goes for a
flying splash and misses.  Flair gets a
suplex, but Sting no-sells and hiptosses him out of the corner, into a dropkick
and a press-slam.  A clothesline puts
Flair on the floor, so Flair slickly hides behind Sherri Martell, who was supposedly
on Sting’s side that night.  Sting
follows with a pescado and wipes out Sherri as a result.  No one ever said she was afraid to take a
bump.  Back in, Sting gets a backslide
for two.  Clothesline and he checks on
Sherri, but Flair rolls him up for the pin at 17:11 to unify the belts.  I gave this a really good rating back in like
1998, but they didn’t click at all here and Flair seemed really off his
game.  ***  Flair & Sherri reveal their alliance and
team up on Sting afterwards, but Hulk Hogan makes the save, which doesn’t get
half the pop they were probably banking on.  
After the match, Flair and Sherri hug,
since it was all a ruse, of
course, then clobber Sting.  Hogan makes the save.  Oh, the irony.
– Everyone promptly forgets what a good
match we just saw as Hogan poses
and challenges Flair to a match at Bash at
the Beach.  Sting?  Who’s
Sting?
The Bottom Line:
He ruined it all.
From 1989 – 1993, WCW was led by a parade
of idiots, blunderers,
accountants, lawyers, old men and faded
ex-wrestlers, none of whom could
both satisfy the bottom-line craving suits
and put on a watchable
product. 
Bill Watts tried but was fired for daring to have an opinion.
Things were terrible in 1990 under Ole
Anderson, but Dusty Rhodes tried
everything new and original he could think
of in 1991 to rebuild.  It
didn’t work, but many of the stars built in
that era (Austin & Badd to
name two) would stick around to help later
on.  In 1992, Bill Watts gave
the federation a complete makeover before
Eric Bischoff forced him out
in a power play typical of WCW.  In 1993, Ted Turner threw every cent he
could at WCW in a desperate attempt to boost
the federation to the WWF’s
level and the decision was made to put Sid
Vicious on top for the bulk
of 1994.
Then, a few weeks prior to Starrcade 93,
Vicious nearly stabbed Arn
Anderson to death with a pair of scissors
and was promptly fired.  WCW
was left without their biggest draw and,
more importantly, a credible
challenger for the monster Vader at
Starrcade.  So they did what they
always did in their most desperate times of
need:  They went back to Ric
Flair, hoping for a stopgap until they
could start from square one, just
like they always did.  But the unthinkable happened:  WCW finally got it
right.
We’re still not sure how or why it
happened, but they put on a hot
Starrcade, followed it up with a good Clash
of Champions, then blew
everyone away with Superbrawl IV, Spring
Stampede and Slamboree.  The
quality was through the roof.  Flair was drawing like nuts as a babyface
and Sting was more over than ever before in
his feud with Rick Rude.
WCW could do no wrong, and with Steve
Austin and Johnny B. Badd in the
wings, being prepped for major star turns,
they looked to be ready to
mount a major offensive against the WWF
within weeks.  They even flirted
with a more mature, “hardcore”
style by signing Terry Funk and allowing
Cactus Jack to book his own matches.
Then they signed Hulk Hogan.  And it all fell apart.  Flair was turned
heel to set up a hastily signed match
between the two at Bash at the
Beach. 
Sting was put on the backburner for more than a year.  Cactus
Jack was put on a virtual choke-chain and
forced out of the federation
by the fall.  All of Hogan’s friends came in and took away
the spots
earned by WCW’s rising talent.  Austin was jobbed out and humiliated.
Badd was stuck fighting the Honky Tonk Man
in the opening matches.
Vader was relegated to ineffective heel
while Brutus Beefcake fought
Hogan in the main event of Starrcade 1994.
For me, it was like watching a relative
deteriorate due to disease.
After seeing WCW fuck it up for so long,
then get it totally right, I
couldn’t help but have a soft spot for
them.
But Hulk Hogan ruined it all.  I never forgave him for that, and in fact
I stopped watching WCW entirely for 18
months following Bash at the
Beach, as my own personal protest.
This Clash represents the last truly great
show WCW put on in 1994, and
is the turning point for them, as they went
from penthouse to outhouse
in one month flat.  Had they continued with this level of
quality, they
wouldn’t have needed to wait until 1996 to
overtake the WWF because
their product could have stood on it’s own,
with the talent they already
had.
But Hulk Hogan ruined it all.
(Yeah, well, he also drew a shitload of money in his first PPV and justified most of his ridiculous contract, so it’s hard to blame him specifically.  However, the booking stuff revolving around him is another story.)  
As usual.
I highly recommend watching this show, and
thinking hard about whether
or not it was worth ever signing him.
Later.

Clash Countdown: #26

(I finally figured out the problem that was preventing me from adding WWE Network to my Roku box, and now the heavens have opened and I can get that and Hulu and everything else that’s coming to me as a fake US citizen again.  In fact the WWE website claims that they don’t support the Roku HD or streaming stick, but it now works fine on both.  Thank you, Unblock-US!) (Also, before we start, I would like to declare VINDICATION for the people who were giving me shit about saying that Shawn wanted Jose Lothario in his corner in 96 and that Shawn hated it and stuff, because Meltzer got that very question on the radio show last night and specifically said that Shawn asked for him to be there.  Ha!)    The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XXVI – Live from Baton Rouge, LA, January 27 1994. – Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and the debuting Bobby Heenan, fresh from quitting the WWF. Mean Gene’s sell of his appearance as the worst news since the Titanic sinking is pretty funny stuff. – Pretty Wonderful v. Marcus Bagwell & 2 Cold Scorpio. Orndorff starts with Scorpio and grabs a headlock, but it gets reversed to a wristlock. Orndorff slugs away in the corner to break free and blocks a charge with a boot to the head, but Scorp gets him into a criss-cross, and we take a break. We return with Roma catching Bagwell with a hotshot, but Bagwell gets a sunset flip for two. Roma puts him down with a clothesline, but misses an elbow. That allows Scorpio in, as he goes to work on the arm, but an ill-fated superplex attempt backfires, and Roma gets an axehandle off the top. Orndorff comes in with a chinlock to keep up the torrid pace. They work Scorpio over in their corner, and Roma drops an elbow. Orndorff gets a facelock and pounds him down, and they get a double-backdrop. Roma drops an elbow for two. Orndorff comes off the top with the devastating “leap directly onto the boot” move and it’s hot tag Bagwell. Hiptosses and slams for everyone! High knee puts Orndorff on the floor, and a crossbody gets two on Roma. He goes up and a dropkick gets two. Cheapshot puts Bagwell down and it’s BONZO GONZO, but Scorpio misses a crossbody and ends up on the floor. Bagwell sends Roma into Orndorff’s outstretched knee and gets the pin at 12:07. What a weird finish. Replay reveals that it was loaded by the Assassin prior to that, so it was in fact a BIONIC KNEE OF DEATH. This was about as exciting as a match featuring Paul Roma and Marcus Bagwell was gonna be. That is to say, not very. *1/2 – Ron Simmons v. (Ju)ice Train. No intros for this one. Ice Train should not, of course, be confused with A-Train. Although we’re all waiting for that showdown, make no mistake. (Man, there’s a dated reference.)  Train gets a powerslam to start and shoulderblocks Simmons out of the ring, then slams him on the floor. He hits the post by mistake, however, and Simmons pounds on the shoulder as a result. Suplex back in as Tony informs us that Gordon Solie will be calling the next match. I think his talents would have been better served with a technical classic such as this one. Simmons drops a fist and snapmares Train around, and gets a clothesline. Train comes back with a rollup for two and deflects a Simmons flying shoulderblock, and he powerslams him. Blind charge misses badly and Simmons thankfully ends it at 3:35 with a rollup. DUD Simmons suffered an injury around this time that escapes my mind at the moment, and ended up getting cut by WCW before kicking around ECW and winding up in the WWF as Faarooq in 1996.  (Quick question:  Why have they not yet booked a wacky comedy skit where he does his catchphrase and RVD thinks that Ron is talking to him?)  – World TV title: Lord Stephen Regal v. Dustin Rhodes. Dustin takes him to the corner to start, but gives a clean break. Another lockup and Regal takes him to the corner this time, but no clean break. They slug it out and Dustin gets a dropkick that sends Regal to the floor, where he regroups. Rhodes works on the arm and tosses Regal across the ring off a wristlock. They try the test of strength and Regal takes him down with a standing armbar and goes to a headlock, then overpowers Regal, prompting him to bail. Back in, Rhodes grabs a headlock and they work off that, as he releases and slams Regal for two, and then goes back to the headlock. Regal escapes from that, but Dustin takes him down again and goes back to the headlock on the mat. Regal finally brings him to the corner and escapes with forearms, then drops a knee and applies a wristlock on the mat. Dustin fights up, so Regal hits him with a gutwrench suplex for two. Dustin fights out of another headlock and slugs Regal down, but he gets taken down and pounded by Regal again. They fight over a wristlock, but Regal wraps him up with a straightjacket hold until Dustin flips Regal to escape, and a clothesline gets two. Regal bails again and does some stalling while making a big show of checking Sir William’s watch, and he finally comes back in with a sunset flip. Dustin blocks it and pounds him on the mat. Lariat gets two. They do the chase and Dustin wins with a dropkick for two. Regal rolls him up again but it’s in the ropes. Regal bails again and leads Rhodes on a chase up to the ramp, but he charges and gets backdropped in, and Dustin gets two. Regal bails again and Dustin follows to lay in punishment. Back in, an elbow from the top sets up the bulldog, but time expires at 15:00. Nothing wrong with it so much as it didn’t go anywhere. ** – The Nasty Boys v. Cactus Jack & Maxx Payne. Jack and Payne attack out of the crowd and send the Nasties running. Jack brawls out with Knobbs, and then drags Sags out for an elbow off the apron. Payne feeds him another one, and then brawls out with Sags as Jack pounds on Knobbs in the corner. Knobbs finally goes to the eyes to ease up the pressure and Sags comes in, but gets caught coming off the top and powerslammed for two. Knobbs slugs away in the corner, but Maxx likes it. Payne-killer (Fujiwara Armbar) but Sags breaks it up, and then trips him up. Knobbs drops a leg for two. Payne bails, so Sags blasts him with a chair on the floor. Back in, the Nasties get a double-clothelsine and Sags drops a knee. They double-team him but Payne comes back with a double-clothesline and makes the tag to Jack. He fights them off alone and it’s a brawl, and Jack hits both of them with a Cactus clothesline. Double-arm DDT on Knobbs, but Sags drops the elbow to break up the count, and then Payne drops his own elbow to put Jack on top for the pin at 6:53. Well you don’t see THAT finish every day. Amazingly, this would eventually lead to two Match of the Year Candidates and the total reinvention of the tag team style by Cactus Jack in the process. This didn’t really hint at the great matches to come, as it was a dull mess. * – Brian Pillman v. Colonel Rob Parker. The loser of this has to wear a chicken suit. Now there’s a stipulation they need to bring back. Okay, maybe not. Steve Austin is playing the role of Robert Parker at ringside, complete with cigar and handkerchief. Parker runs away to start, and runs right into a slam, which gets two for Pillman. Standing dropkick gets two. Parker bails for some managerial advice from Col. Austin, which prompts Pillman to go out and attack him. Back in the ring, Parker gets the advantage and slugs away in the corner, but Pillman comes back with a shot to the gut and an atomic drop. Clothesline gets two. Parker bails again, and Austin brings him up to the ramp for a constitutional walk. Pillman charges out and gets rid of Austin, however, and now the Boss (Man, he’s Big) joins them and lays out Parker and Austin. Back in, Pillman goes after him again, but now Parker runs away, only to run into the Boss (Man, he’s Big). In the ring, Austin sneaks in with a stungun on Pillman, and Parker gets tossed in, where he takes over and hammers away. Austin adds a cheapshot, but Pillman catches him coming off the middle rope and makes the comeback. Lariat and he slugs away, and a standing dropkick sets up the shots to the turnbuckles. Pillman gets rid of Austin, who is bumping for 18 guys tonight, but goes up and gets shoved off by Austin, and Parker gets two. Boss chases Austin away, which leaves Parker dead in the water, and a rollup finishes for Pillman at 5:43. Tremendous fun, thanks to Austin being game for humiliation. **  (That’s one thing about Steve, he’ll do whatever goofy shit he thinks he can get over.)  – Ric Flair & Sting v. Vader & Rick Rude. This is elimination rules. Just about any combination of these four is a **** match, more or less. Sting starts with Rude, and hip-swivels result. Rude’s were better. Sting powers Rude down with a wristlock and works on the arm, but Rude takes him to the corner and pounds away with knees. Vader comes in and clobbers Sting, then presses him onto the top rope. Slam and he goes up and tries a sunset flip (!) from the middle rope, which Sting blocks with a buttdrop. That’s kind of backwards, isn’t it? Vader starts a war of punches and wins that pretty handily, but Sting comes back with an insane german suplex and brings Flair in. Flair chops Vader down and seems to be on a sugar buzz tonight, as he thumbs the eye and slugs Vader down, then brings Sting back in as we take a break. We return with Sting getting bearhugged by Rude. Flair comes in and gets the atomic drop, however, and they botch a blind charge spot. Vader comes in and splashes Flair in the corner, then slams him and goes up with a pump splash. Race wants MORE pain, though. I can’t advocate sadism. Oh, okay, maybe just this once. Vader brings him to the top and superplexes him, and just casually works him over. Back to the top again as Vader boxes his ears and Race wants another superplex, this one from the top rope, and he delivers it. However, Vader brings Flair to the floor for more punishment, and they both get eliminated via DQ or countout or something, they weren’t really clear on that. So it’s Rude v. Sting, as Sting tosses Rude into the ring and goes up with a flying lariat. Backdrop and a botched atomic drop, as Sting hurts his neck on the way down. Rude goes up and gets a forearm from the top. Rude clotheslines him and drops a fist for two. Rear chinlock is countered with an electric chair drop by Sting, but a splash hits knees. They clothesline each other and Rude recovers first and tries the Rude Awakening, but Sting holds onto the ropes to block, and gets his own. That gets two. Rude comes back with an atomic drop, but misses a blind charge. They do the tombstone reversal, won by Sting, and he goes up with a flying splash to finish at 20:46. Good, but not up to their usual standards, as Flair and Vader’s elimination kind of sucked the fun out of the match. *** The Bottom Line: An entirely forgettable show, which is probably why I forgot about it. Nothing really to recommend here, unless you’re a completist and need the Flair/Sting v. Rude/Vader match for your collection or something. Recommendation to avoid.

Clash Countdown: #25

The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXV (November 1993) I’ve never seen this show before, actually. Although I have seen Austin v. Pillman a few times, so I suspect it was on the All-Nighter because I used to watch the shit out of that. Live from Leningrad, FL Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura. This is also the debut for Mean Gene, which is weird because he became so entrenched as a part of the WCW product from here on, so it’s hard to remember it without him. WCW International Board of Directors’ World Heavyweight Big Gold Belt: Rick Rude v. Hawk Michael Buffer introduces Hawk as having a “lifetime partner” in Animal. Probably not what he was going for. Hawk wants a test of strength after a bunch of stalling, and that turns into more stalling while Jesse and Tony have a discussion about going to Walmart and buying “posing oil”. I guess bodybuilders have to get it from somewhere. Rude attacks, but Hawk runs him into the turnbuckles and slams him. Hawk in a singles match without Flair is just asking for trouble. Suplex gets two. Hawk slowly throws Rude around, but gets caught with a backbreaker. Rude goes up and gets nothing, and they fight to the floor for a double countout at 5:38. Barely even a match. DUD The Equalizer v. The Shockmaster Yes, this is a thing that happened. Equalizer chokes him out to start, and chokes some more, and some more. Suplex gets two. Shockmaster no-sells and then finishes with a bearhug slam at 2:28. I have shit out more appealing matches while suffering from stomach flu. -*** World TV title: Lord Steven Regal v. Johnny B. Badd Badd gets some quick pinfall attempts and controls with a headscissors on the mat before evading Regal’s matwork and getting a headlock. Badd gets cocky and clotheslines himself on the top rope while trying a dive, however, allowing Regal to take over on the mat. He pounds Badd with forearms, but Badd puts him down with the KO punch. That gets two, as Sir William puts the foot on the ropes, and Regal rolls him up with the tights to retain at 6:25. Short but fine. ** Steve Austin v. Brian Pillman Breaks my heart every time. Jesse’s too. Pillman attacks and they brawl outside, where Austin catches him with a clothesline, but Pillman wallops him in the ring and throws chops in the corner. Austin wants a truce and Pillman chases him to the ramp for more brawling. Pillman comes off the top and lands on Austin’s foot, setting up his trademark bump on the railing. Back in, Pillman catches him with a crossbody for two, but Austin drops him on the top rope for two. Pillman keeps fighting with chops, but Austin takes him down and holds a half-crab. Funny bit as Austin cheats while getting nagged by the referee. Pillman fights back again with a back elbow out of the corner and blocks the stungun for two. Austin tries a piledriver, which Pillman turns into a rana for two. Pillman slingshots in but gets caught in a powerslam for two. Austin misses a charge and Pillman gets a DDT for two. Crucifix attempt is blocked with a samoan drop and Austin goes up and misses a splash. Pillman rolls him up for two off that. Stungun misses again and Air Pillman looks to finish, but Col. Parker trips him up and Austin gets the pin at 9:11. Mad energy in this one, but who really wanted to see it? ***1/2 US title: Dustin Rhodes v. Paul Orndorff Dustin gets a series of slams on Orndorff, but Paul takes over with a lengthy armbar. Like, minutes long. Then Dustin gets his own. And then he goes to the chinlock. Orndorff takes over with a backdrop suplex and then goes to his own chinlock. Weird that Dustin would be having such a boring match because he was on a really good roll for most of 93/94. Dustin with a backslide for two, but Orndorff sends him into the corner and goes back to the chinlock. Dustin comes back and tries the bulldog, but Orndorff blocks it, so Dustin gets a sunset flip for two. Orndorff clotheslines him, but Dustin escapes the piledriver. Paul to the top and he misses that, and Dustin finishes with a small package at 12:08. Dusty and the Assassin brawl afterwards and that has better energy and heat than anything in the match! *1/2 WCW World tag title: The Nasty Boys v. Sting & The British Bulldog Since our last Clash, the Nasties won the tag titles from the Horsemen and then lost and regained them around Halloween Havoc via Marcus Bagwell & 2 Cold Scorpio. Missy is just spilling out all over the place. The teams brawl on the ramp right away, and Rick Rude sneaks out and puts Bulldog down with a Rude Awakening, leaving Sting to fight alone. So the match just kind of stops as Sting tends to Bulldog. Back to the ring as the match starts for real and Sting fights off the Nasties and tosses Sags. He’s still tending to Bulldog, who is selling a damn neckbreaker like he was shot in the gut and is bleeding out. This allows the Nasties to take over and double-team him. Knobbs with a suplex for two and he goes to the bearhug and that goes on forever before Sting fights out and makes the hot tag to Bulldog. Double clothesline and double DDT for the Nasties and it’s BONZO GONZO. Powerslam for Knobbs, no ref, and Sags drops the Shitty Elbow on him for the pin at 8:23. Sting was fighting an uphill battle with this one. *1/2 WCW World title: Vader v. Ric Flair We take a break after the introductions and return with Flair beating on poor old Harley Race, but that allows Vader the chance to splash him. Vader beats on him in the corner and adds a press slam, and the Vaderbomb in the corner. Flair fires back with chops in the corner, but runs into Vader’s forearms. Vader continues boxing him and tosses him, but he misses a dive and lands on the railing. LUCHA VADER! Flair hits own dive and now he’s ready for FISTICUFFS. Back in, he throws chops on Vader, but runs into a boot. Flair goes after the knee and gets the figure-four, but Race breaks it up and Vader gets a suplex and big splash for two. Vader goes up, but Flair manages to powerslam him for two. Flair goes up with a flying axehandle , does a Flair Flip, and then hits a second one. Ref is bumped in DRAMATIC fashion and they fight to the top, where Vader gets a superplex, but he blows the Vadersault, and Flair GETS THE PIN at 9:00? No, in fact Vader was DQ’d for bumping the ref and Randy Anderson was merely crawling over and hitting the mat as he went. Oh, Dusty Rhodes. This was supposed to be Flair’s last hurrah before Sid took over as the big main event star, but we all know how that worked out. ***1/4 The Pulse Austin-Pillman is well worth seeking out, but Flair-Vader was totally eclipsed by their Starrcade match and this one is a pale version of it. The rest is total garbage on a stick. Recommendation to avoid.

Clash Countdown: #24

The SmarK Rant for Clash of the Champions XXIV (August 1993) Old rant sucked. Too hot to sleep while I wait for the sweet sweet A/C to kick in. Clown will eat me. Let’s rant. Hopefully there’s nothing legendarily terrible on this show. But what would be the odds of that? I’m also going to have to do Clash 25 because I’ve never actually ranted on it that I can find, but I’m working all weekend so that might take some time. Live from Daytona Beach, FL Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura Brian Pillman announces that he has a broken ankle and thus will be unable to defend the belts against the Horsemen. So WCW brass put Lord Steven Regal in his place to defend the belts, since the title change was already announced at the Disney tapings months earlier (and in fact the Nasty Boys were already taped with the belts after winning them at the next PPV…you know what I mean) and they didn’t have any more wiggle room to deal with cases like this. WCW World tag titles: Steve Austin & Steven Regal v. Paul Roma & Arn Anderson And so this is how the glorious reign of the Hollywood Blonds comes to an end. Whoops, spoiler. In kayfabe terms, what kind of bullshit is this? If some NBA basketball dude broke his ankle slipping on his diamond-soled Nikes, would they just substitute a random guy in his place for the big championship basketball match? I don’t know, I don’t watch basketball because I’m super-white and Canadian and thus it’s fucking terrible to me, but I’ll assume the answer is a definitive PROBABLY NOT. So Austin attacks AA to start and drops elbows on him, but Arn catapults Austin out of the ring. And then a backdrop behind the ref’s back. That’s CHEATING. As if the Blonds would ever stoop to low tactics like that. So it’s over to Regal to hopefully raise the level of intellectual discourse here, but some WWF job guy slugs away with illegal closed fists in the corner. Regal with the FULL ARMDRAG AND TWIST and Roma is such a clumsy idiot that he trips on his own shoelaces, allowing the Stevens to take over. Pillman accidentally touches Roma’s disgusting greasy hair and is unable to extract his fingers, thus inadvertently choking him out on the ropes. Roma comes back with more illegal closed fists because apparently he’s too stupid to read the rulebook, but Austin uses his superior wrestling to take him down again for two. Regal goes to work on him in the corner and Austin goes to explain things to Arn, but gets punched in the face. I’m disgusted with the tactics on display by the babyfaces here. Roma has the balls to use Austin’s own stungun against him because he can’t invent his own finisher due to his crushing awfulness in general, but the ref is distracted at the absurdity of Paul Roma being a Horsemen and doesn’t see the cover. Finally it’s the hot tag to Arn, but Regal clobbers him from behind because he has it coming. Sir William jumps up on the apron to point out the Horsemen cheating to the referee, but Arn shoves Austin into him and rolls him up for the tainted pin, with the tights no less, and the title at 9:45. What a disgrace. Match was fine and as a bonus most of it was Paul Roma getting the shit kicked out of him. *** The Horsemen do a post-match interview, and apparently some people thought Paul Roma didn’t have what it takes to be a Horseman. That’s ludicrous! It was WAY more than “some” people! Bobby Eaton v. 2 Cold Scorpio Bobby catches him with his head down, but Scorpio rolls him up for two, so Bobby clotheslines him down again. Scorp pops up with a flying bodypress for two and goes to the arm, but another bodypress misses and Bobby takes over. So he works a hammerlock on the mat as this seems to be kind of a weird style clash, but they fight to the top and Scorp dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a dive. Back in, Bobby catches him with a botched neckbreaker and then repeats the move to hit it correctly, which sets up the flying elbow for two. Scorp kicks him down to win a slugfest, and the 450 finishes at 5:25 and nearly smashes Bobby’s face in. So this was a bit of disaster. *1/2 Maxx Payne v. Johnny B. Badd Hey, speaking of disasters, it’s guitar v. mask in the blowoff for this feud that was triggered by Badd getting a confetti gun sprayed in his face. Payne quickly gets the advantage and pulls off the mask, but Badd is wearing a second mask underneath the first one. Who is he, Rey Mysterio? Badd with a flying headscissors, but Payne puts him down with a clothesline and drops an elbow for two. I feel like Maxx Payne should be doing all his moves in bullet-time while reminiscing about his dead family. Payne goes up, misses a splash, and Badd pins him at 2:50. Well that was certainly an ending. Badd gets custody of Payne’s prize guitar as a result. ½* A Flair For The Gold with Sting, British Bulldog and a MYSTERY GUEST. So, yeah, this is pretty famous. Sting & Bulldog are ready for the Wargames, but Sid and Harlem Heat interrupt and Sid is ANGRY. So Sting excitedly reveals their partner: THE SHOCKMASTER. And thankfully they leave the announcers “Oh man…” intact on the soundtrack as he bursts through the wall and falls on his ass. Truly this was WCW in a nutshell. It was a memorable debut at least. World TV title: Paul Orndorff v. Ricky Steamboat Jesse is still laughing about the Shockmaster during the entrances here. The arena is really dark for some reason, which is weird because it was super-bright for the first few matches. Astonishingly, Michael Buffer is left alone by the Network censors. Steamboat works a headlock to start and they do a really cool wristlock battle with Steamboat bridging like a mofo, but he misses a dive and lands on the ramp. Orndorff tosses him back in again and goes up with an elbow for two. We hit the chinlock, and Jesse notes that this is a hold where Orndorff can rest. A rest…hold? Paul tosses him to the floor and pounds the back, but Steamboat runs him into the turnbuckle and follows with a flying chop for two. Suplex gets two. Steamboat comes back with chops that send Orndorff flying out of the ring, and he follows with a top con hilo! I’ve never even seen him do that before! Well, I mean, I saw him do it when I originally did this show, but that was 20 years ago and I totally forgot. Back in, Orndorff takes him down and works a cover by using the ropes, but Steamboat rolls him up for two. Piledriver is reversed by Steamboat and they do a pinfall reversal sequence and Steamboat gets two off the backslide. Orndorff clotheslines him down again, but charges and hits boot and Steamer gets the bodypress, reversed by Orndorff for two. Paul slams him and Steamboat cradles him to win the TV title at 8:50. This turned into a HELL of a match. ***1/2 Orndorff piledrives him on the belt afterwards in a show of sportsmanship. Sting & Ric Flair v. Awesome Kong & King Kong Not to be confused with the Kharma version of Awesome Kong. And how the hell did they get away with naming someone “King Kong” without getting their ass sued off by Universal? This reminds me of the hilarious legal battle that Universal had with Nintendo, because they tried to claim the copyright on King Kong when Nintendo first published Donkey Kong and they felt it was too close to their concept. So in court, after sinking millions into the legal battle, Nintendo questions how it’s possible that Universal even owns the whole “giant ape” concept in the first place. So Universal defends their claim by establishing that King Kong was in the public domain when they released their movies and thus they had the right to use him, which inadvertently destroys their own case and gives Nintendo the comeback win! That was some tricky Eddie Guerrero legal awesomeness right there. Of note here: Future US champion David Flair sitting in the front row. Sting slams both Kongs and hits one with the Stinger splash while Flair beats on Harley Race outside, and the flying splash finishes at 2:10. So yeah, two 500 pound dudes just got SQUASHED. Rick Rude & The Equalizer v. Dustin Rhodes & Road Warrior Hawk Animal initially came out as the partner but then Hawk was revealed as the double-secret partner. Hawk tosses Rude into the corner and wins a test of strength, so Rude brings Equalizer (the future Dave Sullivan) in. Equalizer immediately fucks up bumping on a neckbreaker and then goes on offense with a clothesline out of the corner. Rude goes to a chinlock on Hawk, but he escapes when Dustin comes in with a Doomsday Device. Dustin runs wild briefly and then gets caught in the corner and plays face-in-peril. Hot tag Hawk and the break just totally breaks down into a huge mess, but Hawk shoulderblocks Dustin onto Equalizer for the pin at 7:41. This all went nowhere except for a boring match between Hawk and Rude at Starrcade. * WCW World title: Vader v. British Bulldog Vader and Bulldog slug it out on the ramp right away and Vader rips off the mask, so you know shit is ON. Bulldog suplexes him on the ramp, but Vader just beats the cornrows off him in the corner to take over. Bulldog gets tossed and Vader tries a flying splash on the railing, but that misses and Bulldog suplexes him onto the railing. Back in, Bulldog with a samoan drop for two. Vader bulldozes him again and goes to work on the leg. To the top, and a flying Vader splash gets two. Bulldog tries a sunset flip, which Vader counters by sitting down, but Bulldog moves and gets two. This only annoys Vader further, so he tosses Bulldog into the corner and splashes him again. WHY WOULD YOU ANGER THIS MAN?! 1993 Vader was an awesomely terrifying monster. Bulldog gets a crucifix for two, so Vader CLOBBERS him to put him down again. He pounds away in the corner, but Bulldog fires back until Vader headbutts him to cut off the comeback. Vader goes up again and this time Bulldog dropkicks him down and pounds away in the corner. Vader boots him down again and goes up with the Vaderbomb to silence the crowd, and that gets two. So he goes up again, and this time Bulldog slams him off the top and knocks out the ref in the process. Smith tries a delayed suplex, but Race clips him and Vader falls on top to retain at 10:49. HELL of a match! ***1/2 So not only did Vader beat the hell out of Bulldog and look dominant, but they made sure to show that he couldn’t actually beat him without help, thus making Bulldog look strong in defeat. And then Cactus Jack charges out to attack Vader as we’re out of time. The Pulse 1998 Scott HATED this show, but I loved it! The good matches were given time and were exactly the kind of matches I love, and the terrible stuff was kept short and briskly paced. Without commercials it was only 90 minutes and an easy watch. Yeah, it was maddening at the time for WCW fans, but over 20 years removed from the stupidity surrounding the show, it’s a hell of a good wrestling show. Recommended!

Clash Countdown: #23

The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XXIII – See, now this is why my fans rule. I complain about not having a good copy of something to rant on, and it shows up in my mailbox a couple of weeks after. This is courtesy Kurt Killberg, and it’s much appreciated. – Live from Norfolk, VA. Original airdate: June 17 1993, according to the PWI Almanac.  (June 16 according to WWE Network.  I don’t get why they keep messing up dates.)  – Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura. Opening match: Ron Simmons v. Dick Slater. This was supposed to be Paul Orndorff defending the TV title against Simmons, but an injury changed it to this match. Ron’s theme music, “Don’t Step To Ron”, brings up unfortunate memories of WCW’s ill-fated “Slam Jam” album, although really it doesn’t address the question of who would WANT to step to Ron and what stepping to him would involve. They exchange shots in the corner to start and Simmons slams him a few times and a shoulderblock gets two, as Dick bails. Back in, they do the test of strength, and really that’s not terribly smart on Slater’s part. Simmons tries a sunset flip, but Slater slaps him to block it, and then Orndorff hooks the leg to trip up Simmons, allowing Slater a cheapshot to take over. Slater slugs him down and gives him some boot leather, and a neckbreaker gets two. Orndorff celebrates, drawing the attention of Slater, but Simmons comes back with a powerslam for the pin at 3:55. Bit of a mess, as this was obviously booked at the last-minute. ½* – Marcus Bagwell v. Lord Steven Regal. This was early in the WCW career of Regal, shortly after his rather bland start as a generic British wrestler. A quick repackaging and he was good to go. Regal takes Bagwell down to start and goes for the arm, and they reverse off that for a bit. Tony and Jesse are left in the unenviable position of having to hype the “Search for Cactus Jack” segment upcoming on WCW Saturday Night during this segment. Nice takedown from Regal off the mat, but Bagwell reverses to a hammerlock and works the arm. They slug it out and Bagwell flips him with a wristlock and goes back to the arm. Regal uses a forearm to end that and then clips him, then snapmares him onto the ropes, which is a novel way to hurt the leg. I don’t think the crowd got that strategy exactly. (Well, the crowd bought tickets to WCW in 1993, so they’re kind of stupid to start out.)  Regal keeps working the leg and anklelocks Bagwell, and he taps! Okay, it was 1993 and tapping didn’t mean anything back then, and neither did an anklelock. Bagwell escapes with an enzuigiri, but Regal takes him right down again and destroys the knee. Drop toehold into another anklelock, but Bagwell flips out of it. Bagwell makes the comeback on one leg and backdrops him, into a hiptoss-slam for two. Backslide gets two. Clothesline and the leg seems to be healed, and a rollup gets two, reversed by Regal for the pin at 6:13. Weak finish that had nothing to do with all the leg work, surprisingly well-worked match. **1/2 – Maxx Payne shoots the CONFETTI GUN OF DEATH in Johnny B Badd’s face, triggering a brawl with Tom Zenk. Man, talk about your gathering of people who burned all their bridges. I think Payne v. Zenk would be the rare case where a shoot interview with the two guys would be more interesting than the match.  (Yeah, Daryl Peterson burned the bridge and then basically shot the guy who was sent to sweep up the ashes, metaphorically speaking.  I’m surprised Dolph Ziggler hasn’t released a video of guys doing drugs on a tour bus yet, given all the other bonehead moves he’s made.)  NWA World title: Barry Windham v. 2 Cold Scorpio. This is Michael Buffer’s first appearance as ring announcer for WCW’s title matches. Windham was in quite the zone in 1993, making a comeback before injuries felled him again. (I still feel like he could have been huge leading a blond version of the Four Horsemen with Pillman/Austin and someone else.)  Scorpio dodges him to start and gets a dropkick. Windham tries working the arm, but gets slammed. Windham pounds on him in the corner and gets a corner clothesline, but Scorp takes him down for a half-crab attempt, and Windham bails to avoid it. Back in, Barry goes to the eyes and dodge each others’ punches before Windham kicks him down and goes up for a flying lariat. Barry’s supposed to be the heel but the crowd is nuts for him. Kneedrop and delayed floatover suplex get two. Scorpio misses a dropkick and Windham DDTs him for two. Scorp gets a small package for two. Windham returns fire with a gut wrench suplex for two. Scorpio dropkicks him back, but Barry knocks him down again with a clothesline. Awkward sequence. Barry hotshots him and tosses him, then pounds away on the apron. Scorp slingshots back in with a Thesz Press that gets two, but Windham gets a standing dropkick to end the rally. Samoan drop gets two. Windham slaps him around to get him going again, and Scorpio gets a sunset flip for two, but Windham clotheslines him again. Scorpio comes back with a backdrop suplex, but Windham powers him to the top. Superplex is blocked and Scorpio follows him down with a splash for a hot two. Rana and superkick stagger Windham, and a front rollup get two. Slingshot splash gets two. Scorpio goes up with a missile dropkick for two. Windham tries to dump him, but he slingshots back, and Windham simply punches him in mid-air and finishes with the leaping DDT at 12:51. Slow start, but the near-falls at the end were really good and there was lots of cool state-of-the-art stuff from Scorpio. Wouldn’t be very memorable today or anything. ***1/2 – Sting, British Bulldog & Dustin Rhodes v. Vader, Rick Rude & Sid Vicious. This was of course building up to the Beach Blast PPV, although lord knows it didn’t draw as many buys as the awesome “bomb on a boat” mini-movie generated. Sting starts with Rude and they fight over a wristlock, as Sting turns it into a headlock and hangs on tight. Rude powers out and into a hammerlock, and slugs Sting into the corner, but gets backdropped. Sting presses him into the arms of Vader & Sid, so they toss Rude back at him. This gives Sting the chance to go after both of them, and then a small package on Rude gets two. Dustin comes in and fires away on Rude, and dodges Vader, which results in Rude getting splashed. Rough night for Ravishing Rick. Next up, Sid tries with Bulldog and gets pinballed in the face corner and slammed by Bulldog, then crotched by Sting while trying to escape. Great stuff. Sid comes back with a boot on Bulldog, but now Dustin comes in again and gets Vader. He kicks the crap out of him in the corner until the REF has to rescue the World champion, and the crowd eats it up. Rhodes gets a sweet vertical suplex on Vader and drops an elbow series to set up a seated clothesline. To the top, but Rude shakes the ropes and he whiffs on an elbow. Vader clobbers him down and goes up for the pump splash, which gets two. Rude comes in as it appears that Dustin is YOUR face in peril. Rude batters the back , into a gourdbuster for two. Rhodes gets his own, but Sid comes in and cuts off any tag. Sid tosses him into the corner a couple of times and TAKES HIM DOWN WITH A HEADLOCK. Oh my GOD! Clothesline gets two. I’m still reeling from this show of technical expertise by Sid. Vader pounds on Dustin and goes up, but gets caught and slammed. Rude cuts off the tag again and tries a tombstone, but Dustin reverses to his own and makes the false tag to Sting. The heels pound on Dustin while the argument ensues, and it’s BONZO GONZO as a result. Sting misses his splash on the floor and hits the railing, and Vader nails Dustin with the briefcase, giving Rude the pin at 10:58. Lots of fun, although the ending was a letdown. ***1/4 – WCW World tag titles: The Hollywood Blonds v. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson. This is 2/3 falls, and it was basically the Blonds one and only chance at the top of the card. Sadly the buildup for the feud isn’t shown here, because the “Flair for the Old” skit was hilarious. Pillman starts with Arn and mocks Flair as they fight over a lockup. He keeps trying a headlock, and Arn keeps taking him down, so Pillman smacks him around in the corner. Arn fires back and Pillman begs off, then cheats. AA hotshots him, however, and gets his own cheapshots. Oh, this is NASTY. Austin comes in and mocks Anderson, then grabs a headlock, but AA takes him down and Flair comes in. Crowd goes INSANE for that. Flair goes to the eyes and lays in the chops in the corner, backdropping Austin out of there and beating on Pillman for good measure. More chops for Austin and the crowd is loving every second. The Horsemen double-team the Blonds and they’re reeling, as Flair rips at Austin’s face. He finally pokes Flair in the eye to break up the momentum and bails. Back in, Arn works on the arm and gets the hammerlock slam, and Flair drops a knee and hits Pillman on the follow-through. Back to the corner, AA works on the arm again, but Pillman chokes him out with a towel from the apron and Austin chokes him down. More cheating from Pillman behind the ref’s back and the Blonds go to work on Arn, as Pillman comes in and chokes away. They take turns teeing off on Arn and Austin drops knees. The Blonds work him over in the corner and Austin suplexes him, but Arn fights back out of the corner. Austin misses a charge and gets DDT’d while showboating, and it’s hot tag Flair. He comes in from the top onto Pillman and starts chopping, and catches him with an atomic drop. He dumps Austin and slugs away on Pillman in the corner, and finishes Pillman with a flying forearm at 9:38. Buffer screws up and announces Flair & Anderson as the new champions as they fade to the break. Second fall sees Pillman chopping away on Flair in nasty manner, and it’s a Flair Flip, but Ric hits both Blonds on the way by. Austin takes care of him on the floor, however, with a suplex. Pillman adds some chops and rams him into the railing, and Austin adds his own shots, triggering a Flair Flop on the floor. Back in, Austin chops away and Pillman chokes him out behind the ref’s back. Austin brings Flair to the top and gets a superplex for two. He whips Flair around and pounds him into the corner, but Flair plays dirty and chokes back. Austin stomps a mudhole to end that, so Flair chops him away. Pillman comes back in and adds more chops, but Flair returns fire, and they collide for the double KO. Tags on both ends, as Anderson backdrops Austin and boots him down. Spinebuster gets nothing, as Pillman breaks it up and the ref ushers Flair out. They clip Anderson, however, and Austin gets two. Pillman goes to town on the injured knee of Anderson, and the knee gives way on an irish whip. Pillman gets two. Austin keeps on it with a toehold, but Anderson manages to take Austin down and kick away from it. Pillman cuts off the tag and goes to a half-crab, with help from Austin. Pillman keeps stomping the knee, but Anderson gets an enzuigiri. Austin cuts off the ring again, dragging him back to the heel corner, and Pillman rams the knee onto the apron. Pillman comes in and goes up, but lands on Arn’s foot. Hot tag Flair, and he’s a house afire. (House OF Fire!)He tosses Pillman and chops Austin down, into a backdrop suplex and figure-four, but Barry Windham runs in for the DQ at 21:12, which under WWE rules would have changed the titles. Paul Roma makes the save, kicking off the low point in Four Horsemen history. Great match, though, filled with terrific old-school cheating and tag team formula stuff. ****1/4  (Man, that Paul Roma save was SO not what the crowd wanted.)  The Bottom Line: This show kind of caught me off guard and pretty much rocked, with only one bad match, the opener, and even that was really short. The rest is ***ish or better, and the main event is pretty much must-see stuff, which makes this an easy recommendation. The Blonds-Horsemen match is on the new Steve Austin DVD, so there ya go. Highly recommended.

Clash Countdown: #22

The SmarK Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions XXII: THUNDERCAGE! (Jan 13 / 1993) (Into the home stretch as far as shows I’ve already done.  The next few are kind of on the rough side, but not bad enough to warrant redoing.)  – This is another one of those shows that I could swear up and down on a stack of Bibles that I’ve already done, but don’t seem to have anything actually done for it. So here ya go, courtesy of reader David J. Mann. – Live from Milwaukee, WI. – Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura. – Opening match: Cactus Jack v. Johnny B. Badd. Badd is subbing for Erik Watts, who was “arrested” after his brawl with Arn Anderson at a gas station. Oh, shucks. Sadly, no prison rape resulted. (Man, I really disliked this Erik Watts fellow.)  Then, in an amazing turn of events, they actually put together a BACKSTORY for this match, since Badd & Jack were partners in the Lethal Lottery at Starrcade and broke up to end the match. Jack hammers out of a hammerlock to start and gets into a fistfight, which goes badly. He offers Badd a “bang bang” for his troubles. Jack hammers away again, but Badd leapfrogs him and rolls him up for two. Dropkick and Badd grabs an armbar, but Jack slugs out of it. Badd rams him into the turnbuckles, and Jack runs into a foot and gets punched down. Badd cradles for two. Elbow and Badd goes up and whiffs on the sunset flip from the top, which allows Jack to drop an elbow for the pin at 2:48, drawing a scary face pop. Kind of quick, to say the least. *1/2 – We get a video for 2 Cold Scorpio, who dances for some kids in a basketball court. I was hoping he’d advise them against doing drugs so I get a cheapshot in. (Plenty of time for that later.)  2 Cold Scorpio v. Scotty Flamingo. If Scorpio hadn’t debuted in the redneck-centered promotion of the deep south, he might have ended up something special. Flamingo grabs a wristlock to start and Scorpio flips out of it and hiptosses him for one. Flamingo grabs a headlock and they do a lucha-esque sequence that ends with Flamingo bailing off a weak kick, and Scorpio follows with a dive off the apron. Back in, Flamingo kicks him down and dropkicks him out of the ring, and follows with a low-rent tope con hilo. Scott must have been feeling particularly frisky. Back in, it gets two, but Scorpio cradles for two. Flamingo stomps him down and gets a nice snap suplex for one. Choking follows and we hit the chinlock. They slug it out and Scorpio comes back with a hiptoss and a dropkick, and goes up with a twisting splash for two. Corner splash misses and Flamingo rolls him up for two and gets a lariat for two. Blind charge misses and Scorpio superkicks him into a legdrop and finishes with the 450 at 4:11. Good action here that was WAY ahead of its time. *** – Chris Benoit v. Brad Armstrong. This was Benoit’s WCW debut as a part of the roster, long before he meant anything. He made his official debut in the NWA tag tournament in a crazy match against Pillman & Liger, but that was intended as a one-shot deal. At this point, as far as WCW was concerned, he was just a promising junior heavyweight from Japan who survived Stu Hart’s Dungeon. They criss-cross off a headlock to start and Benoit dodges a dropkick and gets a straight foot to the gut to set up a powerbomb, which Armstrong counters and they do an insane stalemate sequence, leading to an armdrag from Brad. Yikes. Armstrong works the arm as Benoit tries to escape by kipping up, but Armstrong keeps him on the mat. Into a knucklelock, as Benoit bridges out of it in a spot he can’t do anymore due to his neck, and then Armstrong does the same thing, and suplexes Benoit into an armbar. He stays on the arm and Benoit reverses, and they work off that for a bit until Brad leverages him out of the ring. Back in, they again trade hammerlocks and Benoit tries the same strategy as Armstrong, but Brad goes back to the arm to counter. Benoit takes him down and goes for a crab, but Brad powers out, only to get pounded by Benoit. He suplexes him onto the top rope, putting him on the apron, and then hits him with a springboard clothesline to the floor ala Jericho’s dropkick. That woke up the crowd. Back in, Benoit gets the now-patented clothesline and snap suplex, for two. He starts chopping and headbutting, earning him the Jesse Ventura Seal of Approval ™. Brad fights back with a kneelife, but Benoit pounds him down again, and a backbreaker turns into a submission move. To the top, but Armstrong blocks him. Benoit casually shoves him down and tries the flying headbutt, but misses. Brad comes back with a neckbreaker and drops an elbow for two. Benoit KILLS HIM DEAD with a dragon suplex (full-nelson suplex) for the pin at 9:13. (Yeah, yeah, yeah…)  The seeds of awesome were there, all right. ***1/4 – We take a look at some SMW footage of the RNR winning the tag titles from the Heavenly Bodies, setting up the SMW guest appearance at Superbrawl III. – Jesse Ventura holds an arm-wrestling match between Vinnie Vegas & Tony Atlas, because Van Hammer is injured and thus unable to defend his “Strongest Arm” title. (Clearly he was CHICKEN.)  Nothing cooler than Kevin Nash in pink jogging pants. (What about an Armstrong in Zubaz?)  As if Nash would last three seconds in a legit arm-wrestling match with Atlas. This goes on forever, left-handed no less, and Vinnie wins a gruelling contest to claim the vacant Strongest Arm title. He’s gassed, too. – And just to really amp up the brutal realism of the show, we get Vader’s “White Castle of Fear” video challenge to Sting for Superbrawl III. No midgets in this one, just Vader. – Video package details the US title tournament, which ended up with Dustin Rhodes going over Ricky Steamboat to win the belt. – The Wrecking Crew v. Tom Zenk & Johnny Gunn. The Crew was one of Animal’s brothers and another guy. (There I go, spreading more misinformation.  Also, add The Wrecking Crew to the list of Top 10 Generic WCW Tag Team Names.)  Zenk grabs a headlock on Rage to start, and escapes a press-slam. He dodges Rage and goes up with a high cross for one, and dropkicks him out. The heels regroup, so Gunn nails them with a tope con hilo. Didn’t see that coming. Back in, Gunn dodges the heels and rolls up Rage for two. He gets caught in the corner, but armdrags Fury. Fury comes back with a clothesline. Backbreaker, but Gunn faceplants him and makes the tag to Zenk. Hiptoss and he pounds away, but Fury gets a gutwrench suplex and stomps him. Truly a technical classic. Sideslam brings in Rage, who gets a bad powerslam and Fury comes back in. Hew whips Zenk around, but comes off the second rope and gets superkicked as a result. Hot tag Gunn, and bodyslams abound. A real bad forearm and some double-noggin-knocker action follow, but Gunn gets cheapshotted and the Crew finish him with a double-team backbreaker at 6:05. Rage & Fury disappeared again after this, perhaps to seek anger management therapy. (Is this thing on?)  1/2* – Unified World tag title: Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas v. Steve Austin & Brian Pillman. Austin knees Steamboat and pounds away to start, but gets cradled for two. Rollover gets two. Criss-cross and Steamboat gets a bodyblock for two and it’s BONZO GONZO right away. The Blonds bail and regroup. Back in, Austin offers a handshake and then turns on Steamboat, allowing Pillman to come in and start chopping. Steamboat dodges him and gets a dropkick, and the faces pinball him into a Dragon armdrag. Douglas keeps on the arm, and they work it incessantly with cool quick tags. Pillman whips out of it and they criss-cross, but he hurts his knee. Well, better stop the match and call a stretcher. But IT’S A MIRACLE! Pillman slingshots in again, but Douglas powerslams him for two. Austin comes in to try, and Douglas immediately goes to the arm and works on it. Austin escapes, but Douglas goes back to it and brings Steamboat in for some more double-teaming. Steamboat gets the hammerlocked slam and tags back out, as Douglas gets a sunset flip for two. Austin reverses to a rollup for two, and they go into a pinfall reversal sequence that leads to Douglas getting a butt-butt off the second rope for two. Good stuff. Douglas & Steamboat double-team with a hiptoss and Steamboat slams Douglas onto Austin, then slams Pillman onto Austin. He goes back to the arm with a wristlock on Austin, but a quick cheapshot from Pillman allows Austin to slam Steamboat and put the heels in control. Pillman comes in and works the back with a whip into the corner and a slam for two. He suckers Shane in and then tosses Dragon out, which is TEXTBOOK NWA heel stuff. Austin adds a slam on the concrete while he’s out there. Pillman necksnaps him on the way in, but Steamboat fights back, so Austin kicks him in the back to allow Pillman to suplex him back in. That gets two. The Blonds work Steamboat over, and Pillman chops him down. I again wonder why Bischoff couldn’t let them become the Midnight Express of the 90s. (To be fair, Dusty was the one holding the grudge for some insane reason.)  Steamboat comes back with a sunset flip, but the ref was busy with Austin. Austin with a gutwrench and again suckers Douglas in, allowing more damage. Ricky fights back, but gets suplexed while crawling for a tag. Austin gets two. Man, you don’t have to ask Steamboat twice to play face-in-peril in a tag match. Austin goes to a body-vice, but Steamboat uses leverage to escape. Austin goes back to it because Steamboat doesn’t have the gas to capitalize, but Pillman tries Air Pillman and hits Austin by mistake. Steamboat gives both of them a flying chop, and finally makes the hot tag to Douglas after one last tease spot to really drive the fans into a frenzy. Douglas keeps it simple, slugging everyone down and dropkicking them, then moving to clotheslines. Belly to belly for Pillman, but Austin nails him off the top behind the ref’s back and then takes out Steamboat. That gets two. Steamboat brawls with Austin outside, and grabs a title belt, which he nails Douglas with for the DQ at 13:34, kicking off an epic feud that ended with the Blonds winning the titles after weeks of great matches. Great match, bad finish. ****1/4  (They put the goddamn Dos Hombres match on a million DVDs and this didn’t even make the “Best of Clash of Champions” release?!?)  – Thundercage: Dustin Rhodes & Sting v. Vader, Paul Orndorff & Barry Windham. Ron Simmons was eliminated by a pre-match attack from Vader in the previous segment. Rhodes backdrops Windham out of the corner to start and they slug it out, but Windham misses an elbow. Rhodes slugs away in the corner and gets a clothesline, bringing Sting in for a bulldog. Press slam and Windham brings Vader in for a go. Sting slugs him on the ropes, but Vader returns fire with mustard on it. Sting keeps punching and gets an atomic drop, and a DDT finally puts Vader down. Stinger splash and he keeps slugging away, and adds some for the other heels, too. Vader actually does a Flair Flip, but catches Sting with a shot to the head on a charge. He goes up with a flying clothesline and then adds a flying splash from the second rope, which misses. Sting kicks away and clotheslines him out, but Orndorff sneaks in with a german suplex to break up the jubilation. Orndorff comes in and stomps away, clotheslining Sting down and dropping an elbow. He drops an elbow on the lower abs, and Windham comes in with a shot off the top and slugs Sting down. Suplex gets two. Dustin gets suckered in and allows some double-teaming by the heels, and they continue working him over in the corner. Vader splash in the corner and a clubbing forearm put Sting down, and a press slam (with a shot on the way down) follows. That’s so cool. Windham sets up for a superplex , but Sting fights out and collapses to the mat. Hot tag to Rhodes is made, and he valiantly tries it 1-on-3, catching Windham with a lariat and slugging the other two down. Corner clothesline and he slugs away, but now Cactus Jack runs in with bolt-cutters to let himself in, and attacks the heels with his boot, laying them all out. I guess he’s your substitute for Simmons. Orndorff finally tosses him, leaving himself one-on-one with Rhodes, but a piledriver attempt is foiled by a boot to the head and Jack gets the pin at 11:22 to officially turn face. Match was going okay until the non-sensical finish. *** The Bottom Line: This was quite the great wrestling show that kind of snuck up on me. Much like the PPV it was hyping, Superbrawl III. The main event was rushed and disappointing due to substitutions and time limitations, but the tag title match is the usual amazing Blonds exhibition and Benoit’s WCW singles debut is already great stuff. Highly recommended.

Clash Countdown: #21

The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XXI – This is one of those tapes that I had totally forgotten that I even had, but found when I was moving from tape collection into my new room. For those who follow my personal life, Zen moved to Calgary to take a new job this weekend, taking his ECW collection with him, so I’m left with the apartment to myself and only a million tapes instead of 2 million. (And he’s still there 14 years later, for some reason.  But then I chose to move to Saskatoon, so who am I to judge?)  But such is life. Anyway, someone (I forget who) sent me this in 1999 and I never actually reviewed it, instead choosing to skip over the actual event and review the IWA BathHouse Brawl match that was tacked onto the end. I pulled the match review from the RSPW archive on Google and it follows the Clash review. – Live from Macon, GA, Nov. 18 / 92. – Your hosts are JR & Jesse. – We start with Paul E. Dangerously cutting a promo to hype his match with Madusa tonight, which he hypes like Hogan v. Savage as though his life was on the line. Funny stuff. – Bounty match: Erik Watts & Kensuke Sasaki v. Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton. The bounty in question here is on Watts’ head, as anyone who cripples or injures him gets $10,000 from Paul E. You can put me down for $10, too. (Oh, Erik Watts, the easiest of cheap humor.)  Michael Hayes was easing into the role of manager at this point, taking over from Dangerously and eventually splitting Anderson & Eaton away from him. Bobby smacks Erik around and gets popped as a result. Eaton grabs an abdominal stretch, but Watts escapes and bails, then comes in again with the worst-looking attempt at a cross-body off the second rope that I’ve ever seen. Sadly, Eaton knows who the boss’s son is and sells it anyway. Eaton takes a breather and Watts’ arch-enemy, AA, comes in. They trade wristlocks and Sasaki comes in, dodging a double-team. You know, if they did a Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Crappiest Tag Teams Tournament one year and seeded the worst teams of all-time from 1-8 for byes in the first round, I’d probably put Watts & Sasaki at around #4, under the Hayes-Garvin Freebirds, Renegade Warriors, and Natural Disasters (in that order). I’ll leave my choices for 5-8 as an exercise to the reader. (Pretty sure Kenzo Suzuki & Rene Dupree would be in there, too.  And of course Tekno Team 2000.)  Sasaki overpowers Eaton and the heels regroup again. Sasaki misses a blind charge and gets dumped. Nefarious dealings on the part of Michael Hayes follow. Watts goes after Hayes, and he flees in fear. Well, of course he would. He was probably afraid Watts might dropkick him and take out his knee. Arn & Bobby pillage and plunder Sasaki while the ref is elsewhere, but Eaton gets powerslammed and Sasaki makes the coldest hot tag, to Watts, that I’ve seen in quite some time. Watts goes all 21st century innovator as he busts out the MONKEYFLIP OF DOOM on Eaton, but sadly is lacking in a partner as talented as Ricky Morton to cover for the fact that that particular move died like disco in 1982. I suppose it’s somewhat BONZO GONZO, but I feel like involving Erik Watts in the term somehow…dirties…it. Eaton goes up to finish with that devastating heel move where you land on your feet a foot short of where the babyface is, and he gets punched in the gut as a result. The idea was for Watts to punch him in mid-air, but it ended up being land, then punch, which is roughly equivalent to someone trying a jump shot in basketball by jumping, landing, and then shooting. Not quite the same, no? Erik slaps on the STF, which is somewhat of a misnomer in his case because it requires the person doing it to know how to do both a) A stepover toehold and b) A facelock, and really poor Erik was lost at anything more complex than doing a hiptoss while thinking of what to have for dinner that night, so the end result was something vaguely resembling a rear chinlock, which is Bobby is nonetheless game to sell anyway because nepotism is life and he’s just that kind of guy. He taps out at 6:08, perhaps because it was Erik’s birthday and that was his present, who knows. Have I mentioned that Erik Watts sucks recently? ½* – From the bad to the Badd, as Johnny B. prepares for his boxing match with Scotty “One Punch Bingo” Flamingo in a bit. – Scotty and his camp of misfits respond to Johnny, as someone who is either Don King or a greying Bull Nakano preps him in the locker room. His corner man Vinnie Vegas offers 75-1 odds from “the boys” against Flamingo actually winning, but then basically promises that they’ll cheat anyway. (Sounds like a Vince McMahon investor’s call.)  DDP provides the motivation in the background, answering Vinnie’s rhetorical questions about Scotty’s standing next to the greats with the appropriate kind words. Big Kev was pretty obviously on some sort of mind-altering chemical here, be it alcoholic or otherwise, and the result was a so-bad-it’s-funny promo. It’s almost too bad they never really let Nash talk more during this period, because his naturally twisted and dry sense of humor worked a lot better when he was so far down the card that he didn’t care about playing political games.  (This stuff falls under the “lost classics” definition for me, especially since as noted these guys clearly did not give a shit at this point and the results were hilarious.)  – Boxing match: Scotty “One Punch Bingo” Flamingo v. Johnny B. Badd. Yes, this is indeed Raven v. Marc Mero in a boxing match. The heels do a Gracie-chain down to ringside, despite the fact that there’s only three of them. I’m dying watching this stuff. It’s kind of perversely entertaining watching some of this stuff, because you’ve basically got a bunch of guys like DDP and Kevin Nash who knew they had no chance at advancement and thus had the freedom to go out there and shoot their own angles because no one in management gave a damn anyway. That kind of gung-ho stupidity is sorely lacking in the neo-fascist WWF lockerroom right now, and hasn’t been seen since Edge & Christian’s offbeat shenanigans were probably stopped because they were getting bigger laughs than the main eventers. (I second this notion for today’s product.  You’re kind of getting it in NXT with Tyler Breeze and Adam Rose and William Regal’s commentary, but the main product is so scripted and buttoned-down that I don’t know if it’ll ever translate.)  Okay, so round 1: Johnny kills Scotty dead and he bails to escape the beating. Vinnie distracts the ref, allowing a clothesline and some stomping. Scotty flails way in hilarious fashion, but gets overwhelmed again and KO’d, overselling the shot with a Curt Hennig Special job. He’s saved by the bell, so the Vega$ Connection drags his limp body back to the corner, where they blatantly soak his right glove in a bucket of water to load it up. Round 2: Scotty gets shoved back into the ring by DDP, completely unaware of his surroundings, and Badd unloads on him until Vegas distracts the ref again and Scotty sneaks in a shot with the wet glove, knocking Johnny literally halfway across the ring for the knockout, thus living up to his nickname. Short and harmless idiocy that’s well worth spending the 10 minutes or so to check out. – Jesse & Missy Hyatt do a drawing for the Lethal Lottery tournament at Starrcade 92, picking out the first match in advance of the show. It’s Cactus Jack & Johnny B. Badd v. Van Hammer & Dan Spivey. Man, and I thought those were just the people who had fucked her that week. – Ghetto Odds match: Cactus Jack, Barbarian & Tony Atlas v. Ron Simmons & 2 Cold Scorpio. This was during Cactus’ managerial phase, when he was injured but still bumping for 10 guys in order to make stiffs like Barbarian look like World title contenders. Funny how that worked. The part of Scorpio was supposed to be played by Robbie Walker, Ron’s then-protégé, but he got fired or injured or something and isn’t there. This would be Scorpio’s debut in WCW and he isn’t actually named, putting JR & Jesse in a very awkward position, announcing-wise. The heels bail and Scorp nails a pescado, popping the crowd right away. Ron & Barbarian slug it out and Ron cleans house again. Scorp comes in and gets pounded by Jack, but he reverses a suplex, then gets too excited and slips on the ropes while trying a moonsault press. Jack sells it anyway, because he’s Mick Foley. Simmons pounds on Jack and facejams him, but misses a dropkick. The heels hammer on Ron for a while, but then Jack tries that same devastating move that Bobby Eaton tried in the first match, and yet again bad things result, as he runs facefirst into Simmons’ boot. Hot tag Scorp, and I can safely say that it’s BONZO GONZO! Scorp gets tossed, but heel miscommunication puts Atlas on his back and Scorpio debuts the 450 splash for the pin at 5:55, nearly blowing the roof off the place and sending JR into a near-case of heart failure. You just don’t see that sense of amazement at new moves these days, do you? The match’s only purpose was make fans cream themselves at the thought of seeing more of Scorpio, and it did that in spades. ¾* – Into every life a little crap must fall, as Tom Zenk and Johnny Gunn (Tom Brandi) visit a men’s clothing store and get manhandled by a group of drooling saleswomen, all to the glorious strains of a “Legs” ripoff song. (Now, I haven’t watched this on the Network yet, but I assume that…you know…)  There was something really creepy and vaguely homoerotic about this skit that I can’t quite put my finger on, as they seemed more interested in checking each other out than the women, which probably explains why WCW’s grand plan to get them over as the big pretty boy team of the 90s never quite panned out. – Update on Jesse’s Strongest Arm Tournament, perhaps the only shoot arm-wrestling tournament in wrestling history. – Battle of Sexes: Paul E. Dangerously v. Madusa. This of course stemmed from Paul’s classically chauvinistic firing of Madusa at Halloween Havoc. “Madusa” is wearing headgear that covers “her” face, and indeed Paul smashes the phone over “her” head as soon as “she” gets into the ring, only to discover that it’s jobber Mike Thor in a disguise so clever that you’d think it was Chicken Boo. (Oh, 2 points for the old school Animaniacs reference!)  Michael Hayes is indignant at this turn of events, but runs away when the real Madusa charges in and kicks Paul’s ass. He tries taking a walk, but she drags him back in, only to get tripped up by Hayes. Paul poses and hits a flying axehandle, but she no-sells it and drives some knees into his neck. She goes up with a missile dropkick, rips his pants off, and the time limit expires at 5:00. This was what it was. DUD – King of Cable semi-final: Sting v. Rick Rude. Ole Anderson, Hiro Matsuda and Larry Zbyszko are the special judges at ringside on the off-chance that it goes to a draw, thus guaranteeing that it goes to a draw. I’m assuming Ole had a specially-made English-to-Dumbshit scorecard to use so that he didn’t have to bug JR every two minutes to help him sound out the big words like “the”. (Ironically I had to correct a spelling mistake in that sentence that I had missed originally.  KARMA.) Rude pounds away to start and swivels. Jesse wants a point for the swivels. Sting comes back with a press-slam and an exploding gutbuster, and stomps away. Jesse makes sure to note that Sting is targeting the ribs, not the abs, because the abs are made of steel and all. Sting works the ribs in the corner and mocks Rude. Jesse feels that Rude’s hip-swivelling was superior and thus Sting shouldn’t get any points for it. Too funny. Front suplex gets two. Again, and Rude is winded. Sting hammers away for two and hits the rear chinlock. Into an abdominal stretch to work the ribs, so Rude goes to the eyes to break. Jesse is, as always, proud of Rude. Rude works the back, but can’t suplex him due to the rib problems, and indeed Sting reverses and dumps Rude on the top. Rude gets crucified on the ropes, hanging over the apron, so Sting unloads with sidekicks on his ribs. Rude bails to the railing and Sting charges, and after 15 years of Sting matches I’m sure you know what happens. Back in, Rude goes up and clubs him for two. Elbow gets two. Rude goes to his own rear chinlock and wears down the back, but he’s too hurt to taunt Sting. Slam gets two. Back to the chinlock and into a suplex, but Rude can’t cover. Another slam and back to the rear chinlock. Sting comes back, but his back buckles on a slam and Rude works a cover for a few two-counts. Rude whips him from pillar to post and hits the bearhug. He rams Sting into the turnbuckle to keep things moving, but Sting fights back. Sleeper is reversed to a jawbreaker, however, and Rude blows some snot Sting’s way. SPORTSMANSHIP RULES~! Rude goes up, but Sting LAUNCHES him off the top and he comes back. Atomic drop front and back, and a bulldog gets two with 1:00 left. Sting goes up with a bodypress for two. Back up, but Rude sidesteps him. Kneelifts and Rude Awakening, but Sting blocks and hits the Stinger Splash as time expires at 20:00. So we go to the esteemed judges, and Ole Anderson: 2 votes Sting, 1 vote Rude. Sting advances. Rude wuz robbed. Real good effort here. ***1/2  (I’m still waiting for the DVD compilation of the King of Cable tournament.  In fact I’m surprised they haven’t tried something like that yet as a way to fill yet another DVD slot.)  – WCW World tag title match: Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v. Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas. Everyone was babyfaces at this point, but Windham’s face was being possessed by the Evil Goatee of Beelzebub, so expect something bad to happen. Douglas quickly cradles Rhodes for two, and Rhodes backslides him for two. Jesse is confidently predicting that someone, at some point, will cheat. That’s why they were paying him the big bucks. Shane works a hammerlock and they exchange armdrags. Shane goes back to it, as does Dustin. Dustin rollup gets two, and both go for a dropkick and miss. Neat sequence. Cool detail that you don’t notice unless you’re paying attention to that sort of thing: As Dustin comes off the ropes, Barry pulls them back a bit and then releases again to give Dustin that extra bit of momentum. Windham & Steamboat go next, and Steamboat quickly frustrates him, putting Barry into the subtle heel role. Windham gets pissed and a full-out brawl is teased. They exchange chops after everyone cools off, and Steamboat keeps on the arm. Shane & Ricky double-team Barry for two. They work the arm, and Shane suplexes him for two. Windham misses a blind charge and they keep on the arm. Steamboat sidekick gets two. Double-backdrop gets two. Douglas misses a bodypress, however, and hotshots himself on the top rope in dramatic fashion. The champs go to town, as Dustin gets a quick two count. Windham gets a dropkick for two. Rhodes elbow gets two. Shane gets a quick sunset flip for two, but the champs keep working on Douglas’ arm with a hammerlock. Rhodes gets two off it. Windham gets a vicious chop for two. Double-team clothesline gets two. Dustin hits the chinlock, but gets cross-bodied for two. Thank god SOMEONE hit that move tonight. The Texans keep on Douglas, as Windham muscles him over with a backdrop suplex for two. Lariat gets two. Rhodes works a headlock for two and keeps on the arm. Shane takes him to the corner and bodypresses him for two. Rhodes misses a dropkick, and Shane is taggin’ the Dragon. He bodypresses Rhodes for two, but gets dropkicked for two. Cradle gets two for Rhodes. Lariat gets two. They do a long criss-cross to establish that they know each other from their time as tag champs in 1991, but Steamboat goes for a leapfrog and Dustin accidentally headbutts him in the Little Dragon. Then, in a brilliant bit of continuity that no one bothers to bring up, Windham goes BALLISTIC on the apron because Rhodes refuses to take advantage, and the exact same thing happened to Barry at Starrcade ’87 against Steve Williams, where he failed to finish him and lost the match in the end. He finally tags himself in and gets two. Atomic drop gets two. That’s just not very nice. Another atomic drop as JR gets all indignant about this blatant abuse of Steamboat’s crotch, but Rhodes comes in and pulls Windham off. Amazingly, the crowd sides with WINDHAM, booing Rhodes. Windham nails him (to a face pop), but turns around and gets hit with Shane’s BELLY TO BELLY OF MOLTEN AGONY for the pin and the titles at 15:54. Now that’s how you tell a story within the context of the match and get a turn that makes sense out of it. **** Windham stands on the apron yelling out “DUUUUUUUUUUSTIN!” like he was Marlon Brando until the disgusted Rhodes returns to talk things over, at which point Windham suckerpunches him and plants him with a DDT. Barry rocked.  (Loved this match.  Steamboat was always awesome, especially when given EVEN MORE agony to sell.  Shane Douglas was also a wrestler who participated in this match.)  – Backstage, Steamboat & Douglas give the humble victory speech with the titles…until Windham blindsides them out of nowhere with a chair and lays a Texas ass-whooping on them. Man, they could have done a million things with Windham and they ended up doing nothing. The Bottom Line: See, now THIS is a good balance of “sports entertainment”, with the stupidity confined to the lower undercard while the two main events get 15-20 minutes and a distinct lack of retarded finishes. The WWF writers should watch some of this stuff and pay attention. Recommended show. BONUS MATCH RANT: After the Clash on this tape, we have the IWA BathHouse Brawl. Man oh man, was THAT hardcore. Hell in the Cell? Pfff. A cakewalk compared to this. Funk-Sabu at Born to be Wired? Child’s play. King of the Death Match Tournament? Bunch of wimps. No, for truly the most shockingly violent display you’ll ever witness had to be… The IWA Bathhouse match. Yes, you read that right. The IWA commandeered an actual bathhouse and set up a sort of mat in the center of it. It was Mr. Gannosuke & Tarzan Goto v. The Headhunters in the first round, and then the winner of that against some IWA team who I didn’t recognize. Here’s the rules: Two members of the team fight on the mat, while their partners have a nice soak in the tubs in the adjoining room. You have to tag your partner in, and you can’t leave the tub when you’re tagged out, or else you get a warning. You win the match by first pinning your opponent, and then…dragging them into the women’s section and holding your opponent underwater for 5 seconds. As if that didn’t provide enough suspense, an old man stands outside, putting more logs on a fire to heat up the tubs as we go along. I can’t make this stuff up. Did I mention the tremendous amounts of gratuitous nudity throughout the video? The Japanese must be pretty tolerant. As if you needed me you tell this, it’s a horrible, horrible match, with Gannosuke and Goto winning the first match by DQ when (I can’t beleive I’m typing this…) Headhunter B passes out and falls out of the tub. The second match sees Tarzan Goto having a splash fight with one of the IWA guys while Gannosuke beats on the other one. In a particularly HARDCORE spot, they fight in the naked-woman-filled-area and Goto dumps a WHOLE BOTTLE OF SHAMPOO on the IWA guy, and then….proceeds to lather him! OH MY GOD! The HORROR! THE BRUTALITY! Luckily the IWA guy finds his way into a naked-woman-filled tub and washes the SHAMPOO OF DOOM off of himself before he gets overly mosturized hair. Goto drowns him for 5 seconds soon after a piledriver in the tub and claims the win, but it doesn’t last, because the Headhunters have somehow fought their way back to the bathhouse and attack the FMW team from behind, and a big three-way brawl ends the show. Did I mention the naked women? There’s quite a lot of them. (I await the debut of this on the WWE Network.)