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.) 

Clash Countdown: #20

The SmarK Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions XX (September 2 / 92) – Well, this was a special show for WCW, because it was the 20th Clash special, and the 20th anniversary of being on TBS. Thus, the whole show has a “legends reunited” thing going, including the final TV appearance of Andre the Giant before his death in 1993. It was also deep into the tenure of Bill Watts, who is a noted traditionalist to begin with. The introduction of this show also marks a rare chance to see beancounters Bob Dhue and Bill Shaw on camera. – Live from Atlanta, GA. – Your hosts are Jim Ross & Governor Ventura. – Opening match, World TV title: Steve Austin v. Ricky Steamboat. This match marked the end of Austin’s second and final reign as TV champion, as he had been champion since June ’91 (his WCW debut) with only a month off for Barry Windham’s quickie run as champ. It was clearly time to move Austin up to bigger things, although HOW big he would become was of course never suspected at that point. Paul Heyman is in a cage at ringside to keep him from interfering, and his chequebook is locked into a tiny cage above that one. Okay, I made the second bit up. Steamboat has bad ribs, so Austin goes right for them, and Steamboat fires back with chops. Hiptoss out of the corner and Steamboat grabs a headlock, and they criss-cross off that, allowing Steamboat to grab another one. Ventura makes jokes about Bruno, which JR no-sells in classy fashion. Austin hiptosses out of the headlock and drops a corkscrew elbow, but stalls and gets kicked down by Ricky. Back to the headlock. Austin turns it into a pair of near-falls, but Steamboat won’t release. Austin suplexes out, but Steamboat keeps grabbing the move. So Austin uses the hair, to Ventura’s delight. Steamboat goes to the second rope, and gets thrown off by Austin, as they do their best version of a superplex without actually going up to the top. Man that top-rope rule was stupid. (Plus the match was no-DQ so they could have done it anyway.)  They slug it out, won by Austin, and a pair of backbreakers get two. They slug it out again in the corner, but Steamboat goes for a slam and it backfires on him due to bad ribs. Austin clotheslines him down and goes to the abdominal stretch. Ventura immediately offers cheating advice. Steamboat makes the ropes and hiptosses out, then makes the comeback with chops. Austin whips him into the corner, and Steamboat comes out with a high cross, reversed by Austin for two. Steamboat dodges a dropkick and catapults Austin into the turnbuckle for two. Austin comes back with a pin attempt in the corner for two. Steamboat tries a tombstone, but Austin counters, and Steamboat counters again and gets two. Austin sends him into the corner and rolls him up with the tights for two. They head up to the top, but Steamboat sends him down and comes off the second rope, only to get caught in the ribs. Austin cradles for two. Steamboat shoulderblocks him for two. Another one gets two. Austin tosses him, but Steamboat skins the cat back in, only to get caught with an elbow back out by a goldbricking Austin. Steamboat is even smarter, sneaking under the ring and over to the other side, where he heads up to the top and finishes at 10:42 with a high cross to win the title. The match, as pointed out by Ventura, is no-DQ, so that’s legal. Good match that used the ribs for the story, but didn’t really hit the levels a more experienced Austin was able to get to with Steamboat in 1994. *** – We take a look back at tag team wrestling over the years. The Brisco Brothers, the Road Warriors (with HAIR), the Freebirds and the Rock N Roll are shown. – Greg Valentine & Dick Slater v. Bobby Eaton & Arn Anderson. This is the debut of Michael Hayes as the manager of Eaton & Anderson, a short-lived idea that actually had tremendous upside. Hammer gets cheapshotted by Eaton from the outside right away, leading to a brawl that sends everyone running. Back in, Slater cheapshots Anderson and another brawl erupts. Things calm down as Eaton starts with Valentine and gets caught in the heel (?) corner and Slater gets a neckbreaker and Russian legsweep for two. His use of the ropes is rather obvious. Now Slater gets caught in the other heel corner and double-teamed, and Arn works the arm. Valentine hammers away in the corner and a suplex gets two, but Arn brings him back to his corner and they work Valentine over. This match is all heel psychology and it’s really weird to watch. Eaton & Anderson work over the arm, but Valentine comes back with chops and now Anderson gets worked over in the corner. Slater goes after the knee, allowing Hammer to get the figure-four, but Eaton drops an elbow to break. Arn gets the spinebuster for two. It’s BONZO GONZO as Arn is left 2-on-1, but the ref interrupts the double-team and Larry Zbyszko hits Valentine with his cast by mistake, allowing the Alabama Jam to finish at 5:42. This was a strange, heatless match with no one for the fans to cheer and both sides cheating like nuts. Not BAD as such, but bizarre. ** – Bill Watts strips Brad Armstrong of the Lightweight title due to injury and promises a tournament to fill the vacancy. The title would be officially retired without ever crowning a new champion. Armstrong gives an interview lamenting the loss, but Brian Pillman interrupts, disappointed over not getting his shot tonight. He calls Armstrong a crybaby and a coward who’s ducking him, and then slaps him and storms off. This would mark the heel turn that changed Pillman’s career forever and set the stage for the Hollywood Blonds. Sadly this particular feud was never paid off. – We take a look at some singles stars over the years. Big Dust, Stan Hansen, Ron Garvin, Tony Atlas, Magnum TA, Buzz Sawyer, Mr. Wrestling II, the Great Kabuki, Ted Dibiase, Bill Watts, Wahoo MacDaniel, Masked Superstar, Jimmy Valiant, King Kong Bundy, The Spoiler (Oh, sorry, did I wreck the suspense for you?), Tully Blanchard, Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Tommy Rich, Roddy Piper. – WCW World title: Ron Simmons v. Cactus Jack. Boy, would THIS match have a different dynamic today. (“Today” meaning somewhere around 99-2000) Ole Anderson was “senior referee” at this point, although I hear he needed cue cards to remember what comes after “two”. (High five!  Anyone?) Simmons chases Jack into the corner and grabs a headlock to start, but Jack reverses for two. Jack headbutts him down and tosses him, but Simmons stares him down to prevents Jack from dropping an elbow off the apron. Back in, Cactus tries biting and slugs away, but Ole pulls him off, allowing Simmons to power him into the corner. Jack slugs away, but Ron fires back, then runs into an elbow. Jack dumps him with a Cactus Clothesline, and a neckbreaker on the concrete, and they slug it out again back in. Jack gets a clothesline out of the corner, and then two more for fun, which gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Simmons slugs back and headbutts him down. Ron goes to the second rope with a bulldog for two. Jack kicks the knee to slow him up, but Simmons forearms him out of a three-point stance for two. A kind of northern-lights suplex gets two. Jack dumps him to buy time and drops the big elbow off the apron, but it has no real effect. Back in, Simmons gets a spinebuster and slugs away, and the POWERSLAM OF DEATH finishes at 8:48. Simmons no-selling Jack’s big elbow was weird, and someone wasn’t feeling it here tonight. *1/2 – We take a look at Masa Chono beating Rick Rude to win the NWA World title in Japan. This was probably Rude’s best match ever, too. – The Barbarian & Butch Reed v. Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham. Reed & Barbarian were part of Cactus Jack’s master plan to get back at Ron Simmons. Rhodes hammers on Barbarian to start, but can’t overpower him. Windham comes in with a lariat to knock him over, and a double-dropkick dumps both heels. Barbarian presses Windham, but he escapes and rolls him up for two. Reed comes in and pounds on Dustin, but he runs into a boot and Rhodes slugs back. Dustin misses a charge and goes flying to the floor. Back in, Dustin is YOUR face in peril, as Reed & Barbarian clothesline him and Reed drops a fist. Barbarian with a backbreaker, and he chokes away on the ropes. They switch off and keep hammering on Dustin’s back, and Reed gets a neckbreaker for two. Clothesline, but Rhodes comes back, only to get pounded down again. Barbarian spears him into the corner and slugs him down, and an elbow gets two. Jack’s color commentary is bizarrely hilarious. (Probably because he didn’t have Vince yelling in his ear.)  Reed goes to the chinlock, but Dustin fights out and reverses a piledriver, and they clothesline each other. Hot tag Windham, and he cleans house. Dropkick for Barbarian and a lariat follows, as they head up to the top. Superplex, but he stops to deal with Reed and gets booted by Barbarian for the pin at 8:04. Good formula stuff. **3/4 The disappointment of the loss would be assuaged when Windham & Rhodes would win the WCW tag titles from Gordy & Williams two weeks after this. – Elimination tag match: Jake Roberts, Big Van Vader, Rick Rude & Super Invader v. Sting, Nikita Koloff & The Steiner Brothers. Super Invader is Hercules with pantyhose on his head, juiced to the gills. Rick Steiner starts with Vader and exchanges punches with him, but runs into a boot. They continue slugging it out, and Vader clotheslines him and hits him with a corner splash and another clothesline. Steiner fires right back with a belly-to-belly suplex, sending Vader flying out of the ring. Back in, Super Invader goes with Koloff and it’s a stalemate. Invader grabs a headlock and they can’t knock each other over, but Koloff takes over with a bodyblock for two. Rude comes in and Koloff immediately goes for the arm, which Scott Steiner carries on. Scott hangs onto the arms to block a tag, but Rude powers out and brings in the Super Invader. Scott hits him with a butterfly bomb and an overhead suplex, but Invader makes a blind tag to Rude, who breaks up the Frankensteiner attempt and drops an elbow for two. Snake comes in and slugs away, and Vader adds his own forearms in the corner. Man he used to be scary. Clothesline and he kicks Steiner while he’s down, bringing in Rude for some swiveling. Scott comes back with a tilt-a-whirl and makes the hot tag to Koloff, who pounds Roberts and elbows him out of the corner. He nails all the heels and shoulderblocks Roberts down, but gets rolled up and pinned at 7:22. Things continue as Sting makes his debut in the match, killing Invader with a slam and the big elbow, and a bulldog for the pin at 7:59. That was pretty decisive. Now Rick comes in and gets a CRAZY german suplex on Vader and goes up, but gets caught and slammed. Chokeslam and splash get two. They work Rick over in the heel corner and Rude grabs a facelock, and the ref misses a tag to Sting, allowing some shenanigans in the corner. Vader goes up and gets slammed off by Rick, which gets two. Rick insanely sets up for a Doomsday Device with Scott, and Vader nearly kills Rick falling on top of him. However, since Scott came off the top, he’s DQ’d at 11:22. Everyone brawls out and Rude gets the Rude Awakening on Rick on the floor and Vader beats the count back in at 12:25, leaving Sting alone. Vader misses a butt splash and Sting goes after Roberts, hitting a quick Stinger Splash and Scorpion Deathlock, but Rude casually clotheslines him from the apron and tags in. Sting makes the comeback with a bulldog for two. Atomic drop and slingshot suplex, but Vader splashes both guys inadvertently from the top and gets DQ’d at 14:26. Jake pulls Rude back into his own corner, tags himself in, and finishes Sting with a DDT at 15:11. Big disappointment with goofy eliminations and sloppy work. **1/4 The Bottom Line: I get a lot of requests for this one, but the show doesn’t really hold up today. Nothing bad here, but the show pretty much peaked with the first match and it was the start of a really bad era for the promotion, as Bill Watts’ days wound down and the promotion fell apart under his watch. It’s worth seeing, but prepare to be disappointed. Mildly recommended

Clash Countdown: #19

The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XIX – Welcome to the first ever Smarks.com EXCLUSIVE Retro Rant, as it was just one of those “hang out and watch wrestling” nights. Wrestleline gets King of the Ring 93 this weekend. This would be Bill Watts’ first Clash, as WCW for some stupid reason wanted to re-establish their relationship with the NWA and decided to host the NWA World tag team title tournament. So this is the first round of matches, with weird arbitrary “seeding” that Ross & Jesse question all night long.  (TOURNAMENTS ARE AWESOME!)  – Live from Charleston, SC – Your hosts are JR & Jesse Ventura, with various hangers-on contributing backstage. – Round One: Dean & Joe Malenko v. Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat. The Malenkos are representing “Europe” here. No particular country, just Europe. Dean wasn’t “known” at this point. Joe & Steamboat start and do a mat thing. Test of strength, into a pinfall try for Steamboat, into an armdrag. Hiptoss and Joe begs off. Dean in, and he gets armdragged. Koloff comes in with a bearhug, but Joe dropkicks them over on a bodyslam attempt and Dean gets two. Koloff cleans house. Dean gets a dropkick and suplex, which is no-sold by Koloff. Nikita drops Dean on his face and Steamboat works the arm again. Joe in, same story. Joe gets some European uppercuts, however, and the Malenkos double-team to take over. Dean uses an arm & leg submission move, and Joe gets a short-arm clothesline for two. Steamboat facejams Joe despite some serious miscommunication, and hot tags Koloff. Sickle finishes Dean at 9:38. Match never really went anywhere, but it was solid enough an opener. **1/2 – Tom Zenk & Marcus Bagwell v. Ravishing Rick Rude & Stunning Steve Austin. The world just didn’t get enough Rude & Austin tag matches before the Alliance broke up. Steve is using a Six-Man title instead of the TV title for some reason here. (Because WCW?) Rude kills Bagwell with a clothesline and Austin hammers away on him. Zenk comes in and hold Austin to an impasse. Rude pounds the shit out of him, and gets a dropkick. High suplex gets two. Zenk cradles Austin for two. Bagwell comes in and tries hitting Rude in the abs, but that’s a futile goal, because he’s got ABS OF STEEL, BABY. You’d think people would learn after all those years not to hit Rude in the abs. (That is a spot that is WOEFULLY lacking in today’s product.)  Bagwell hits boot on a blind charge, and the Alliance kicks his ass some more. Rude gets a backdrop suplex, but Bagwell manages to tag Zenk. HE gets killed, too. You get the feeling the heels are just toying with them at this point? Piledriver gets two for Rude, and Austin drops him on the top rope for two. Hot tag Bagwell. Bodypress gets two, but Austin gets a backbreaker for two and the Rude Awakening puts the pretty boys out of their misery at 7:50. Just an absolute slaughter from the opening bell. You’d think Bill Watts was booking or something. * – Gordy & Williams cut a promo, griping about having to go through the formality of beating their first-round opponents and then having to wait for the Steiners to beat theirs. – Larry & Jeff O’Day v. The Miracle Violence Connection. The O’Days are an Australian team, and Larry’s physique makes Verne Gagne look like HHH. Gordy outwrestles Larry and uses a half-crab, then Doc just kicks the hell out of him. Jeff comes in and Doc, looking bored with the rookie kid, unleashes a half-assed version of the backdrop driver. Ye gods. Gordy comes in and Jeff gets a sunset flip for two. Larry tries again and Gordy doesn’t go so easy on the father, hitting a backdrop driver full on and nearly killing the poor guy, in a good way. Oklahoma Stampede, and Larry is O’Dead at 2:35. DUD That’s what they call a “squash” in that there “insider lingo”. – Sting (in a tuxedo with matching facepaint) is out to basically remind us that he’s wrestling Vader at the Bash 92 PPV. – Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v. Bobby Eaton & Arn Anderson. Windham and Arn start and work off a headlock for a bit. Windham hits knee on a blind charge, but he dropkicks Arn out. The heels regroup and Eaton comes in, as does Dustin. Eaton goes low off a leapfrog, but takes three bionic elbows and a big boot that puts him on the floor. Paul has a fit. Arn comes in and gets pinballed by the faces, so he begs off and confers with Paul E. Paul tells them to go to Plan #2, so Eaton kicks Windham in the head coming off the ropes and we’re in business. Jesse makes sure to praise Paul’s plan. The Alliance cheats like nuts, but Barry manages to tag Dustin. Well-timed cheating ends that rally pretty quickly. Dustin misses a bodypress and splats on the floor, and of course gets a phone to the back while he’s out there. Eaton gets a top rope kneedrop for two. Top rope is allowed because this is NWA rules and not Bill Watts Dumbshit Rules. Arn hits the chinlock, then Eaton bulldogs Rhodes for two. Another one is blocked, false tag to Windham. Arn gets the spinebuster with the ref distracted, and Eaton gets two. Alabama Jam misses, and Dustin comes back with the bulldog for the pin at 10:21. No hot tag? Solid match, as usual with these guys. ***  (Wait, what happened to the Enforcers?  Weird that they’d just switch back to Eaton like that.)  – Meanwhile, the “Puerto Rican Situation” begins, as the Steiners’ supposed first-round opponents (Miguel Perez & “El Boricua”) have been mysteriously injured in a car wreck in the parking lot, and oddly enough Gordy & Williams are the only witnesses. Gordy re-enacts the injuries suffered. This was pretty funny. – The Silver Kings v. The Freebirds. Silver King #1 would be the guy you know as Silver King, and #2 is presumably Dr. Wagner Jr. without his mask, before he moved to Japan and became a big star there. That’s just a guess, though. Big brawl and King #1 dropkicks Hayes, but collides with his own partner. The Birds double-team #1, but #2 comes in and controls Garvin. Senton misses and Garvin gets two. The Kings get a double-team senton and a top rope elbow on Hayes for two. Double leg lariat, but Hayes backdrops #1 and stalls. Birds double-team #1 again, but he tags #2. He dropkicks Hayes as the match totally goes to hell. Even JR starts making excuses, noting that “it’s an unorthodox type of match because of the diversity of styles”. That’d be JR-speak for “It sucks”. Brawl outside and the King hit highspots, but collide on one of them and Hayes cradles #1 for the pin at 6:29. I think someone just told them to go home and get it over with, because this match was dying a quick death before our eyes. ½*  (I’m shocked and appalled that a Freebirds match would go so horribly wrong.)  – Brian Pillman & Justin Thunder Liger v. Chris Benoit & Beef Wellington. STAMPEDE REUNION! Benoit & Liger start and Benoit takes him down. Test of strength, Liger takes Benoit down. Liger gets a pair of armdrags, and Benoit misses a dropkick, as does Liger. Pillman & Beef go next, as Beef overpowers him, but Pillman dropkicks him out, dropkicks him off the apron and charges him. Beef counters by slingshotting in with a clothesline. Snap suplex and Beef tosses Pillman, but when he tries to suplex him in, Brian reverses and suplexes Wellington to the floor, where Watts has of course removed the “pretty blue mats”. Back in, Liger comes in and Beef goes to the leg. Benoit lays in the chops and clotheslines him, then gets an enzuigiri. Wellington comes in, but misses a plancha. Back in, Pillman & Liger double-team Beef for a bit, but Pillman gets caught in the Canadian corner. Pillman sidesteps a Benoit charge and sends hm out, however. Back in, they go up top and Pillman gets an INSANE backdrop superplex and follows with a missile dropkick, and Benoit rightly takes a breather. Pillman follows with a tope, and they go all-out with CANADIAN VIOLENCE until the crowd on the floor is going nuts. See, Americans shoot each other, Canadians chop each other. (Sadly, various chop control laws have been enacted as of late, restricting it to chopping ranges and/or life-threatening home defense situations.  Bunch of commies.)  Back in, Beef comes in and goes with Liger. He misses a charge, bails, and Liger follows with a plancha. Back in, Beef blocks a crucifix with a fallaway slam for two. Benoit gets a backdrop suplex, which Liger counters for two. Liger hits a leg lariat, which sends Benoit out, and Liger introduces the world to the Asai Moonsault, and the crowd goes NUTS. Pillman comes in, but gets kicked in the face by Wellington on a rollup attempt. Beef goes up and misses a dropkick. Liger suplexes Beef for two, pier six erupts. Pillman & Benoit just KILL each other with chops on the outside, as you know that they’re loving the chance to work together on national TV. Even JR is in shock at the brutality they’re unleashing on each other. Back in, they try a double noggin knocker, but Beef & Benoit collide, and Liger snaps off a moonsault for the pin at 11:31 to a huge pop and match of the night honors. ****1/4 Of course, EVERYONE IN THE MATCH was completely buried immediately afterwards, but Bill Watts was never a big fan of the little guys. I thought that, at very least, Benoit & Wellington would have earned a job from that performance, but I guess that would have made sense or something.  (I’d think Benoit at least was making way better money in Japan anyway.  Wellington, though, definitely.)  – The Head Hunters v. Hiroshi Hase & Akira Nogami. The Hunters are not the big fat black guys, but rather two generic masked guys, who I checked into and discovered to be Arn Anderson & Bob Cook. JR decides to randomly designate the first guy as #2. He avalanches Nogami, but gets hit with an enzuigiri out of nowhere. #1 comes in and hotshots Nogami, but takes a leg lariat. Hase beats on #1 and gets a big kick, and Nogami splashes him off the top, but Hase misses a kneedrop. #2 gets a sideslam for two. Double suplex gets two for the Hunters. Elbowdrop gets two and I’m lost. Hase & Nogami solve my program by finishing them with stereo suplexes at 5:09. Just a squash. ¾* – Jesse Ventura brings out Ron Simmons for an interview. He wants to be the first black champion, doncha know. Harley Race interrupts and brings Super Invader with him. Race comments that Simmons doesn’t deserve to be in the same ring with a 7-time champion because, and I’m quoting here, “a negro like you used to carry my bags”. Ah, WCW, champion of political correctness. Ron Simmons beats the stuffing out of both the heels. (Wow, that’s…uh…something.)  – Tony Schiavone brings out Bill Watts, looking for a solution to the Puerto Rican Situation. Seriously, they called it that all night, like it was some sort of diplomatic crisis. Apparently the NWA wants the Steiners v. MVC for the PPV, but Watts thinks that’s bullshit and DEMANDS that the second round starts RIGHT NOW. – The Steiner Brothers v. The Miracle Violence Connection. Rick & Gordy start and do some mat wrestling. Gordy works the knee, Rick makes the ropes. Scott comes in, but can’t belly to belly Gordy because he doesn’t appear to be cooperating, either inside or outside the storyline. They end up going to the mat and fighting over a bridge, and again Gordy acts like a dick and keeps shifting his weight down to prevent Scott from finishing the move. Weird. Doc in, and they work on the mat. Everyone trades some words, and then backs off. Rick comes in a release belly to belly and Doc bails. Back in, more words are exchanged and Doc takes him down. They work on the mat again, boring the crowd. Rick finally gets frustrated and goes ground & pound on him, and THAT wakes the crowd up. Doc rips his head off with a clothesline, however, and Gordy adds his own for two. Running clothesline, but Rick suplexes him and Scott comes in. Backdrop for Gordy leads to a butterfly powerbomb, but he airballs on the Frankensteiner and Gordy hooks an STF. Gordy drops Scott on Doc’s knee, and Williams gets a backbreaker for two. Gordy follows with a powerslam and kneebar. Double-shoulderblock gets two. Scott mulekicks Doc, hot tag Rick. He and Gordy slug it out, but the MVC double-team him. Powerslam on Doc, but the ref reveals that he didn’t see that tag after all. Doc clips Scott outside, and back in hits a gorilla slam for two. Big brawl, Scott gets clipped, and Doc falls on top for the pin at 15:00. Really weird, stiff, shootish type of match that turned into a standard power match by the end. *** Williams & Gordy advanced into the semi-finals with that win, beat Steamboat & Koloff there, and beat Windham & Rhodes in the finals on the PPV to win the NWA World tag titles.  (Hey, SPOILER ALERT, jerk!)  The Bottom Line: Well, for completeness sake you should really follow this show immediately with the Great American Bash 92 PPV to get the entire tournament and the Sting-Vader match they spent the whole show hyping. This show stands up very well on it’s own, however, with a great Stampede tag match and some good stuff from the usual suspects in WCW. In retrospect, hiring Bill Watts and destroying the Dangerous Alliance storyline in exchange for pushing Doc & Gordy proved to be a HUGE mistake, as the dwindling attendance and ratings proved shortly after. Mildly recommended.

Clash Countdown: #18

The Smark Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XVIII – When the current product depresses and bores me as much as tonight’s RAW does, I’m left with little recourse but to seek out Ricky Steamboat battling the Dangerous Alliance in the time before Paul Heyman became a corporate whore.  (Well technically he was one for years before he got to WWE since he was taking Vince’s money under the table…)  – Live from Topeka, KS – Your hosts are Tony & JR, with a surprise guest later on. – Opening match: Big Van Vader & Mr. Hughes v. The Steiner Brothers. Scott starts with Hughes and he takes him down. Fireman’s carry and Hughes backs off. Some cheapshots give Hughes the advantage, but Scott suplexes him like a child and he bails. Scott Steiner scares me here, but in a good way. Scott gets double-teamed and tossed, but the heels showboat and the Steiner clean house. Vader suplexes Rick as we get started again and casually military-presses him. Rick gets a Steinerline, however, suplexes Vader out of the corner, and dumps him. Wild. Vader posts Rick on the floor to regain control, and hits a nasty lariat back in. Vader goes up, but gets superplexed (!) off by Rick, hot tag Scott. Clothesline gets two. Vader blocks a german suplex attempt, but Rick clocks him and Scott finishes the move. Awesome. He goes upstairs, but gets powerslammed and buttdropped. Mr. Hughes gets a powerslam for two. Lariat hits, blind charge misses. Rick comes back in with a hiptoss for Hughes, and a HIGH backdrop, but Vader nails Rick from behind. Heel miscommunication sees Vader nail Hughes, and Rick bulldogs him for the pin at 8:59. Watching those 300-400 pound guys toss each other around like ragdolls is an amazing sight to behold, and if you like this match I’d highly recommend checking out Steiners v. Vader & Bam Bam Bigelow from New Japan around the same time. Wild, wild stuff. ***1/4 – Tracy Smothers & Terry Taylor v. Brian Pillman & Marcus Alexander Bagwell. Taylor & Pillman start, and jaw at each other. They exchange chops and Pillman gets a headscissors and cleans house. Taylor gets a backbreaker for two, but Pillman headscissors him again and bodypresses him for two. Bagwell comes in and dominates the heels with basic stuff, and they bail. The babyfaces follow with stereo pescados, and the crowd goes nuts. Tracy and Bagwell go next, and Tracy gets a dropkick and back elbow to take over. Taylor hits a necksnap for two, but Tracy misses a splash. Pillman in, he’s a house of fire. Spinkick gets two on Smothers. Heels beat him down, however, and Taylor suplexes Pillman to the floor. He seems to enjoy working that bump in. Tracy pounds him down there (down where?) and gets two back in the ring. Pillman gets stuck in the heel corner and Taylor hits a Doctorbomb for two. Taylor lays some smackdown, and Pillman tumbles to the apron and takes his patented railing bump via Tracy’s shoulderblock. He comes back in with a vengeance, hitting Air Pillman on Smothers, hot tag Bagwell. Pier-six, Bagwell sunset-flips Smother for the pin at 7:48. Amazing heat for a midcard match and a thoroughly entertaining affair to boot. *** Pillman was FEELING IT during this period, and Bagwell was used perfectly here. Funny how 10 years later he got all bitchy about laying down for young kids after seeing everyone lower than TV title level bump around like pinballs for him in the early 90s… – Richard Morton v. Johnny B. Badd. Morton dominates on the mat, but hides in the ropes. Badd gets a double axehandle, but Morton cheapshots and dumps him. Badd sneaks in with a rollup for two, but Morton gets an atomic drop and they brawl out. Badd eats post and back in they go. Morton gets a suplex for two. Badd powerslam gets two. They slug it out and Badd rolls through a bodypress for the pin at 3:23. Match started nowhere and went nowhere. ½* – Diamond Dallas Page v. PN News. Life is funny, what more can ya say? The 1991 DDP was a drastically different animal than the one currently waiting out his million-dollar WCW contract these days. (Of course, he wouldn’t be waiting for long, so that pinpoints this somewhere between April – June 2001.)  For instance, he earned far less and jobbed FAR more. Page can’t slam him and they criss-cross, and News dropkicks Page out. Back in, News gets an avalanche and senton. Big fat elbow misses, as does another avalanche. DDP gets three elbows and a russian legsweep, thus exhausting his moveset at the time. He tries a slam but gets squashed for two. Page snaps PN’s neck off the top rope and slingshots back in for two, but walks into a belly-to-belly suplex and BIG FAT RAPMASTER SPLASH OF HORRENDOUS AGONY for the pin at 3:26. ½* – Once again, in order to enrich your meaningless lives and provide you with a sense of direction and fulfillment, I present to you the WCW Top 10 for the week of January 21, 1991. 10. Larry “The Cruncher” Zbyszko 9. El Gigante 8. Big Van Vader 7. Dustin Rhodes 6. Cactus Jack 5. Rick Steiner 4. Ricky Steamboat 3. Steve Austin 2. Sting 1. Rick Rude WCW champion: Lex Luger – Big moment (all sarcasm aside) as Tony Schiavone introduces us to the person who would sadly be the shortest-reigning of all the incompetent bean-counters to run WCW over the years, Kip Allen Frey. Frey actually had some brilliant ideas for improving the work ethic, including a sizable chunk of cash to whoever had the best match on a given show, but after putting on one absolutely awesome PPV in the form of Superbrawl II, he was forced out for actually doing his job properly and replaced with Bill Watts shortly after. Ah, politics. (Man, I miss Kip Frey.  He was a good combination of bean-counter and wrestling guy.)  Kip announces the signing of Lex Luger v. Sting for Superbrawl II here, and then shakes things up further by bringing out WCW’s newest color commentator…Jesse Ventura. Now, WCW was already top-heavy with announcers at that point, but this was one pickup that actually meant something, unlike the signing of Eric Bischoff as a favor to DDP earlier in the year. – Falls Count Anywhere in Kansas: Cactus Jack v. Van Hammer. The fledging internet nearly had a collective orgasm when Jack was actually booked to (gasp) WIN A MATCH at Clash 17 against Van Hammer, and everyone figured the honeymoon would be over here. Little did anyone suspect that this was actually the beginning of a quasi-push for Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy while Hammer would be shunted into obscurity again soon enough. And yes, Clash 17 is coming soon, and in fact is already done and hidden in a notebook somewhere and once I figure out which one I’ll type it up. The problem with doing the rants on paper first is that you end up with about 18 identical-looking notebooks full of stuff and if you should forget to type something in you might never see it again. (Thankfully now that I have a laptop welded to the couch I can just do all the rants live as I watch them, but it used to be a pain in the ass, for sure.)  Hammer comes over the top with a bodypress into the ring for two to start. Flying clothesline and legdrop get two. Cactus pops up and clotheslines him for two. Cactus clothesline gets two. Jack pulls up the mats and rams Hammer to the concrete, then comes off the apron with a sunset flip that hurts him more than Hammer, for two. They fight onto the ramp and Hammer counters a sleeper and powerslams him for two. Jack clotheslines him and they fight up the ramp. Hammer small packages him for two, but Jack clotheslines him again. Hammer biels him off the ramp onto the concrete as Zen and I cringe just watching. I’m so glad Mick at least got over with all those sick bumps. Hammer comes off the rampway with a flying clothesline on Jack for two. Jack gets an atomic drop and they brawl backstage as WCW takes a commercial break so they can switch to the tape. This was well before live hardcore matches had been perfected, so a little cheating was necessary. We return in the stables as Cactus uses one of those horned skulls to choke Hammer out, and Hammer comes back with a lasso to choke Cactus out in turn. Abdullah the Butcher, dressed as a cowboy and looking strangely like Dusty Rhodes, nails Hammer with a shovel and Jack gets the pin at 10:08. ***1/2 Jack & Abdullah continue brawling, oblivious to the finish. – The “New” Freebirds v. Big Josh & Brad Armstrong. Oh, man, where do I start here? Okay, first, the Freebirds are “new” because they have newer, less queer-looking ring attire, and a new entrance music: “I’m a Freebird and What’s Your Excuse?” If ever a song could make me long for “Badstreet USA”, it’s that one. The guys they’re facing are Brad Armstrong, who played the Freebird lackey Badstreet up until about a week before this show and completely outclassed them at every turn, and Big Josh, who was played by Matt Bourne. Bourne went on to the WWF and became Doink the Clown, but he wasn’t the guy who the gimmick was made for. In fact, the guy the WWF had signed to play Doink before the deal fell through was…Jimmy Garvin. (That’s what Jimmy was claiming, although this has been contradicted several times since then.  Most notably by the recently-released preliminary sketches for the character on WWE.com, which clearly show that is was Matt Bourne’s deal.)  And now you know…the rest of the story. Life is just fucking weird, ain’t it? The idea is that the Birds are supposed to be babyfaces with an edge, as opposed to the heels without an edge that they were playing before. Hayes & Brad start, and Hayes gets a rollup for two. Garvin gets a forearm and flying bodypress for two. Josh comes in with a powerslam and logroll, and Hayes gets the same. Hayes gets a sunset flip, but Josh armdrags him. Armstrong cleans house with dropkicks, but the Birds double-DDT him for the pin at 3:48. Same old same old from the new Freebirds. ¼* – Steiners are interviewed by Bischoff, and Scott notes that it’s “No more Mr. Nice Guy”. There’s the understatement of the decade. – Thomas Rich v. Vinnie Vegas. The debut that shook the world! Listening to Jim Ross pimp multi-time loser Kevin Nash as a “newcomer” after just seeing him as Oz a couple of weeks before this show is an exercise in absurdity. Snake Eyes finishes at 0:56. DUD – Eric Bischoff interviews Paul E. Dangerously, and he promises one of the babyfaces goes to the “Magnum TA Memorial Retirement Home”, TONIGHT. Paul used to rule. (And now he mostly rules again.)  – Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton & Larry Zbyszko v. Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes & Ron Simmons. Anderson & Eaton were fresh off winning the tag belts from Rhodes & Steamboat here. Windham starts with Eaton, and gets neckbreakered. Superplex is no-sold, however, because he’s still kinda pissed about the whole car-door thing at Halloween Havoc 91. Windham gets a pair of lariats, and his own superplex for two. The babyfaces do triple figure-fours, drawing a huge pop from the fans. Larry goes with Simmons next, and Simmon overpowers him. Arn comes in and Simmons shoulderblocks both of the ex-Enforcers. He presses AA and works on Larry in the corner. Eaton comes in and goes with Rhodes. Dustin dumps him and hits a flying clothesline over the top, and back for Larry v. Barry. Barry misses a lariat and lands on his face, but Larry can’t get him up for a piledriver. AA comes in and gets brushed off in favor of keeping Zbyszko in the match. Rhodes & Windham go to town on Larry, but Dustin gets dumped and Paul wallops him with the phone to become YOUR redneck-in-peril. Back in, Arn spinebuster gets two. Pump splash hits knee, but Arn still gets a DDT for two. Eaton comes in with a flying elbow for two. Blind charge misses, but Rhodes can’t tag. Arn misses a double-axehandle off the 2nd rope and Dustin makes the hot tag to Windham. Top rope lariat and regular lariat for Eaton, backdrop gets two. Big brawl, Eaton comes off the top, and Windham punches him in the mouth with the cast on the way down for the pin at 9:28. Great old-school action here. ***1/2  (Dustin was improving rapidly at this point after his initial over-push at the beginning of the year, and it’s kind of cool that he was able to hang with top workers like he was.)  – Sting & Ricky Steamboat v. Rick Rude & Steve Austin. Austin & Steamboat start, and the Dragon overpowers him. They slug it out, won by Steamboat, and Austin bails. Back in, Steamboat backslide gets two, and he just goes back to it again for two. Small package gets two and Austin goes nuts and gets dumped. The heels regroup. Back in, Rude wants Sting, then backs off in a great bit of psyching out. Rude slugs away, but gets atomic-dropped. Sting clotheslines him down and rakes the back, driving new commentator Jesse Ventura insane. Sting goes to a rear chinlock, but spices it up as the faces play mindgames with the heels by switching off without a tag a few times, and the crowd absolutely eats it up with a spoon. Sting tries a testicular-drop, but lands on Rude’s knees and Austin comes in. Back elbow gets two, and Sting is YOUR Face-in-peril. Rude clotheslines him for two after a tag tease. Austin gets a backdrop suplex, but Sting tags the Dragon. DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER OF DOOM gets two on Austin. Victory roll, no ref. Rude nails him, and Austin gets a back elbow and the heels work him over. Austin blocks a rollup, but gets cradled for two. Pier-six, Sting and Austin brawl onto the ramp, and back to the ring as Austin tries to slam Steamboat, only to see Sting plow into him with a flying bodypress that results in Steamboat & Sting dogpiling Austin for the pin at 11:21. Just awesome effort out of everyone here. ****  (Man, why didn’t this make the Clash of Champions DVD?  Talk about a dream match.)  The Bottom Line: Ya know, I had no idea this show was so evenly great from top to bottom. It just never registered with me because it was so long ago and I haven’t watched it recently. But then, the Dangerous Alliance angle completely reenergized the entire promotion, so that’s probably not such a huge shock. Or I could just be a huge mark for the guys on top at that point, your call. Strongly recommended.

Clash Countdown: #17

The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XVII: “Subtitle Omitted for Budget Reasons” (Now this of course is one of my favorite shows from 1991.)  – Live from Savannah, Georgia – Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross. I’d like to hear THAT combo these days… Opening lumberjack match: Thomas Rich v. Big Josh. Indeed this match is a microcosm of all the complex social commentary generally found within a wrestling match – friendship lost, money exchanged, betrayal of the highest order. Sure, it might have been worth it in the short term for Rich to move from $2.50 hooch to $4.00 hooch, but WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN? (It’s funny because he’s a drunk!)  Anyway, the story as it were is that Rich “trained” Josh (in reality veteran Matt Bourne) and brought him into WCW, only to turn on him and join the York Foundation, quite possibly the most pathetic group of wannabe-heels this side of the Desperadoes. Headed up by Alexandra York (aka Terri Runnels), they wanted to be Ted Dibiase but WCW didn’t even have the money to get her an actual laptop computer in place of the word processor she had to use. Never mind that “evil” Ricky Morton still wore Rock N Roll Express tights as a heel. Rich hammers away, but Josh no-sells and uses some Oregonian Violence. Belly to belly and logroll give Josh the upper hand. Rich rolls out to the heels for solace, but the faces toss him in. Josh drops an elbow for one. The lumberjacks brawl at ringside as Tony earns his keep by analyzing the number of faces and heels on the outside and extrapolating the winner of the match from that. Way to use the power of math there, big guy. (Hey, maybe he was getting info from York’s computer, too!)  Josh gets caught in the middle of the lumberjack brawl, giving Rich the advantage. Back in, Tommy cheats freely and drops an elbow for two. Suplex gets two. Josh comes back, but misses a charge. Rich goes up and gets slammed off, and Josh suplexes him for two. They do one of the best-looking criss-crosses I’ve ever seen (complete with staggeringly well-choreographed circling from referee Randy Anderson) and Rich’s partner Terry Taylor trips him up on the outside, thus putting Rich in the top 20 or so for having done both the dumbest heel AND face turns within the same calendar year. Josh hits the buttdrop and gets the pin at 6:00. The Rich angle never actually went anywhere as the whole York Foundation went their separate ways shortly after, leaving the breakup completely unresolved. Match was nothing you’d be ashamed to watch. *1/4 – Firebreaker Chip v. Bobby Eaton. Ah, Curtis Thompson, a guy so bad that even though he looks like Ken Shamrock after having a needle filled with a mixture of HGH and Miracle-Gro shoved in his ass, the WWF couldn’t find anything for him to do. Ponder that one and DESPAIR. Eaton was ostensibly still a babyface here, although even the marks were waiting for the heel turn at this point and pretty much everyone figured he’d end up with Paul E. Dangerously. Chip grabs a headlock and hangs on. Chip goes up and blows a bodypress, then confirms his status as mouth-breather by repeating in the spot in the other corner. Back to the headlock, as I stop and think about how bad you have to be in order to be part of a tag team where Todd Champion is considered the talented one. Chip releases his faithful headlock and goes up for a flying clothesline instead, which gets two. Chip now works on a hammerlock, before Bobby has finally had enough and clotheslines him. Crowd pops big for that one. Backbreaker gets two and now the crowd wakes up. Chip rolls through a bodypress attempt and gets two, then somehow manages to screw up a backslide and gets two. Rollup gets two, but Eaton shoves him into the turnbuckle to knock the wind out of him and uses a simple backdrop suplex for the pin at 4:52. Yeesh, whose bright idea was this match? ½* – Sting is out to receive the mysterious final gift box, after months of getting ones filled with various combinations of Cactus Jack & Abdullah The Butcher from a mysterious enemy. A bunch of jobbers carry out a fancy carriage from which Madusa emerges, distracting Sting The Giant Idiot long enough for Lex Luger to pop out and clip Sting in the knee. As payoffs go, this wasn’t exactly one of the best. – The Diamond Studd v. Tom Zenk. This match is somewhat distracted-from by the split feed of Sting being loaded into the ambulance because of Luger’s attack. Must have been a REALLY hard clip. Studd quickly gets his bulldog, but Zenk posts him and sunset flips him. Studd rolls through and clotheslines him, but Zenk gets a superkick and crucifix for the pin at 1:24. Match was just a backdrop for the Sting angle, which even the announcers admitted and apologized for several times. DUD – World TV title match: Stunning Steve Austin v. PN News. Both of these guys were making approximately the same money at this point. Boy, that WCW, they sure could spot star talent, couldn’t they? This would be one of the last (if not THE last) appearance of Jeannie “Lady Blossom” Clark as Austin’s valet, before the switchover to Paul E. Dangerously and a near-total character makeover as part of the Dangerous Alliance. News overpowers Austin and gets an avalanche and clothesline. Elbowdrop and they brawl outside. Back in, Austin tries a slam and News falls back on him for two. That spot worked surprisingly well, and the crowd even popped for some weird reason. News hits version of a dropkick, which rates around 0.9 on the Erik Watts scale. I’d go the full 1.0, but he IS a big fat guy, so really it’s to be expected. Basically it involved him “jumping” in the air at a 45 degree angle from the mat and barely making contact with one foot on Austin’s knee. Thankfully the camera angle was BEHIND News when he did it, because if they had been dumb enough to film it straight on like they would end up doing at the fateful Starrcade 92 (where Erik Watts attempted to dropkick Steve Williams and earned his spot in infamy) I think I’d still be laughing right now. Anyway, News follows this offensive onslaught with a suplex, but Austin is in the ropes. News drags him into the center for two. They brawl out again, and News backdrops Austin from the ramp into the ring. Belly to belly gets two. News chases Blossom, and Austin hits a pescado (!) onto him, sending him crashing into the railing. Back in, a groggy News charges and gets pinned at 4:21. Gotta give him points for effort there. *3/4 That was probably his best match in WCW, come to think of it. Hey, I know *3/4 doesn’t seem like much, but for a guy who I can’t recall breaking DUD with before, that’s a big improvement. – Missy Hyatt introduces us to WCW’s newest rookie sensation (to go along with other rookie sensations like PN News, Johnny B Badd, Van Hammer and Oz), Marcus Alexander Bagwell. And he can actually speak English here instead of his usual Dumbshittian accent. – And now, to bring meaning to your lives and fulfil your secret fantasies once again…the WCW TOP TEN FOR THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 19 1991! Please, as a friendly reminder, while heated discussion on the Top 10 is encouraged, wagering on the outcome is not. I also cannot condone stopping people in public places and asking them if they remember who the #5 guy in this week’s top 10 was, because then you’d be a huge loser and I’d have to eject you from my fanbase and find someone cooler to read my rants instead. Please do not read the top 10 if you’re currently reading other top 10-related columns, unless you have permission from a doctor or someone who looks like a doctor beforehand. Side effects for the WCW top 10 are minimal, and may include dry mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, impotence, bankruptcy, baldness, acne, nosebleeds and raised testicles. Should you experience any of these, please discontinue reading the WCW top 10 and go see a movie. The WCW top 10 is for non-profit use only, and any attempt to make money off the WCW top 10 will result in me demanding a 60% cut and then having my associate “Big Tony” roll you for the remainder in an alley outside your house. The WCW top 10 should not be considered a legally binding document unless you live in Washington, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina or any other state with an “E” in it. Readers of the WCW top 10 who live in Idaho should move immediately, because face it, you live in friggin IDAHO, dude. I mean, come on. The WCW top 10 should not be taken internally unless specifically prescribed by a booker. Anyone attempting to find logic in the WCW top 10 will be shot. The WCW top 10 conforms to all laws and statutes of my pants. The WCW top 10 is good. The WCW top 10 is loving. Worship the WCW top 10. Send money to the WCW top 10. If you are a Christian, please do not actually pray to the WCW top 10, as this may violate one or more of the 10 commandments and confuse everyone needlessly. For those without commandments, feel free. Please make sure to cook the WCW top 10 for at least 20 minutes at 450 degrees to ensure even heating and eliminate the chance for salmonella. DO NOT REFREEZE THE WCW TOP 10. Store the WCW top 10 in a cool, dry place for best results and top with parsley before serving. The WCW top 10, while not necessarily ignorant of the impending alien takeover of the earth, is by no means connected in any meaningful way with it, whatsoever. No matter what you’ve heard. The WCW top 10 is not a Wayne/Enright production, but it wishes it could be. Failure to read and abide by these rules and regulations will result in absolutely nothing. So there. Champion: Lex Luger 1. Sting 2. Rick Steiner 3. Steve Austin 4. Ron Simmons 5. Dustin Rhodes 6. Barry Windham 7. Cactus Jack 8. Bill Kazmaier 9. Bobby Eaton 10. Vader – Cactus Jack v. Van Hammer. Tony spends the time during Hammer’s entrance talking about how Jack is going to jump him when he turns his back on Jack to pose for the fans, and sure enough that’s what happens. See, who says Tony has no credibility? Hammer suplexes him and dropkicks him out, and follows with a pescado. Back in, big boot, bodyslam and legdrop piss off the crowd. Man, that was REALLY SUBTLE, guys, way to go. Bravo to the bookers for that oh-so-inside bit of humor there. I bet they were sitting around in the back calling their friends on the phone going “See, we just had this big blond stiff go out there and do Hulk Hogan’s moves, and Jack kicked out, so the fans will watch and think that Cactus Jack is better than Hulk Hogan! This has never been done before! WE’LL MAKE MILLIONS!” (Probably not far from the truth, actually.)  Jack comes back with a bulldog and Cactus Clothesline, to set up the Big Elbow off the Apron. Back in, Jack loses a slugfest and Hammer clotheslines him from behind. Hammer’s TOP ROPE KNEEDROP OF AGONY only gets two. I swear to god, if that thing had been within six inches of making contact instead of a foot, he’d have gotten the pin. It’s just that impressive a finisher. Their heads collide and IT’S UNDERTAKER! Oh, no, wait, sorry that “BONG” was the sound of Van Hammer’s empty skull, my mistake. Jack bails, grabs Hammer’s very own guitar, and gives him a weak shot with it for the pin at 4:03. See, that’s what the kids call “irony”. Well, at least Jack went over. *  (Holy cow, RSPW was LOSING THEIR SHIT over this because Cactus Jack actually got to beat someone, even a low level idiot like Van Hammer.  Jack was truly the Daniel Bryan of his time.)  – Eric Bischoff updates us from the hospital where Sting is. You know that Bischoff is at the hospital because they’ve taken the time to make a complex-looking graphic representation of the state of Georgia, complete with a little dot marked “Savannah”, and a file photo of Eric in the corner to go along with the graphic that reads “Eric Bischoff live from Savannah”. Apparently they just couldn’t spare any extra mobile cameras. Now, you know me, I’m not the cynical type normally, but you don’t think that maybe they just did the supposed live feed from a closet somewhere in the arena and put the graphic over the screen? Not that’d I’d ever doubt anything Eric Bischoff would tell me, of course. Meanwhile, Eric continues his run of Pulitzer-prize winning journalism by noting that he hasn’t received any word on Sting’s condition yet, but an orderly is “giving him the thumbs up”, so it might be a good sign. This is so good they should make one of those reality-TV shows on TLC out of it. TRAUMA IN THE FAKE EMERGENCY ROOM! Jason Hervey can produce. Then Bischoff can run it against Tough Enough and give away the results on his own show. “Fans, we understand that over on the competition, Tazz is going to teach the guy a suplex. Yeah, that’ll put butts in the seats.” HE’LL MAKE MILLIONS! – Aw, crap, just when I’m in a good mockery groove, they gotta ruin it with an awesome match… – WCW World tag title match: Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko v. Dustin Rhodes & The Mystery Man. Originally scheduled to be Barry Windham challenging here, but he was having problems with his hand (in storyline and real life), so they went with the “mystery partner” route, and for pretty much the first time in their history, actually managed to deliver on a big angle with a big payoff. Dustin brings out a guy in a goofy looking lizard costume, and after some speculation on the announcers’ part, he whips it off to reveal…Ricky Steamboat, fresh from leaving the WWF only weeks before. Anderson just completely freaks out. Too funny. Steamboat & Arn start, and Steamboat just destroys him and fights off both heels in the process. They all brawl outside, and Steamboat & Larry head back in, where Steamboat & Rhodes proceed to clean house and pop the crowd huge. Arn takes a breather and comments to the camera: “He’s just a man”. No way, Arn, he’s RICK F’N STEAMBOAT. Back in, Steamboat works a headlock on Larry, and Dustin works on the arm. Steamboat comes off the top with a melodramatic chop, and Larry sells it like he’s been stabbed in the arm with Excalibur. It’s so awesome to see someone come out and rock the house, and the heels sell like nuts to make sure it gets over. Steamboat posts the arm and Larry screams like Billy Gunn in the crossface. Rhodes comes in, but so does AA and he pounds Dustin in the corner. Arn goes up and gets caught by Dustin on top, but rakes the eyes and continues the beating. Blind charge hits cowboy boot, and the faces clean house for another monster pop. Zbyszko loses it and starts randomly picking fights with officials, announcers and fans, and then engages in a martial arts showdown with Steamboat, which he promptly loses. So he goes to Plan B and cheats instead, as Arn nails Steamboat from behind and Larry suplexes him for two. See, heel psychology: When confronted by someone who can beat him at his own game, the heel naturally resorts to cheating and generally gets the upper hand that way. This is SO textbook, I’m in awe. Arn whips him into the corner, but Steamboat chops his way out and gets a sunset flip. Arn tags to escape the pin, and Larry grabs an abdominal stretch, and do you even need to ASK whether he uses the ropes, Arn, and anything else available for leverage? Remember, kids, if you’re gonna be a heel, grab the ropes at every opportunity, argue with the referee every chance you get, and always go for the eyes. My name is Scott, and cheating is MY anti-drug. Arn comes in with a backdrop suplex for two. Slugfest is won by Arn, but Steamboat facejams him…and Arn cuts off the tag. Larry gets two. This is PRIMO sneaky heel backstabbing shit. Backbreaker gets two. Arn comes in, drop-toeholds Steamboat to cut off another tag attempt, and they double-team him to cut the ring in half. They should teach courses using this match as reference material. Arn bearhugs Ricky, turning it into a pinning attempt for two, but of course he goes for the kneedrop off the knucklelock, and Steamboat counters with a bodyscissors, which Arn then one-ups by countering into a Boston Crab, which they then top off by Larry pushing on Arn’s head for leverage, then (and this is the brilliant part), they distract the ref and SWITCH OFF. So you’ve just seen them do a chain wrestling sequence, sneaky heel assist, and switcheroo, all in one chain of stuff. There is just about every element of the classic tag formula executed to perfection in this match. How I ever forgot about this match for my Best of the 90s rant, I’ll never know and never forgive myself. That sequence was so perfectly done without requiring anything spectacular or violent or whatever, and the cool part is that a wrestling crowd will “get” everything involved without having to be told, and will have the appropriate reaction for everything with no prompting needed. All this match needed was Tommy Young refereeing. False tag to Rhodes (there’s another element) allows more shenanigans from the heels, but Arn & Ricky collide in the corner off an atomic drop for the double KO. Arn goes up and hits foot, hot tag Dustin. ELBOW! ELBOW! BY GAWD ELBOW! Lariat! Bulldog for Arn, and a desperate Larry tosses Steamboat to buy time, but even that backfires on him as Steamboat skins the cat, goes to the top, and comes off with a flying bodypress for the pin and the titles at 14:46. And that, my friends, is a Tag Team Match and the best thing Dustin Rhodes will ever have the honor of having his name attached to. ***** – Musical tribute to the incoming Jushin Liger, as he beats Chris Benoit in clips from Japan. Jesus, they hadn’t even signed the guy at that point and he’s already jobbing on WCW TV. GLASS CEILING!  (Insert your own remarks here.)  – Paul E. Dangerously, patron saint of sneaky heels everywhere, comes out to let us know that if Sting doesn’t make it back from the “hospital” in time for his title match, Rick Rude wins by forfeit. – We make a dramatic return to the “hospital”, complete with cool background graphics, as Sting emerges from the operating room (well, we HEAR him emerging, I guess) to get the news from Eric Bischoff about the forfeit thing. We know that Sting has emerged because the people running the graphics helpfully put a little file photo of Sting beside the file photo of Eric Bischoff already on the screen. Man, they could have saved themselves millions by booking entire PPVs that way – just do a radio play with the guys going “Ooof” and “ugh” to simulate pain while you put little photos superimposed over a helpfully marked computer graphic of whatever state the show is in. God knows that Kevin Nash’s workrate would improve 500% with that setup. Anyway, Sting apparently steals an ambulance in order to make it back to the arena on time for the show. – Lightheavyweight title match: Brian Pillman v. Johnny B. Badd. Johnny has opted to go for the full-on Village People “In the Navy” motif tonight, complete with half-length officer’s jacket. God bless Dusty Rhodes for giving me more material for cheap humor than I can ever possibly use in one lifetime. The day he stops booking will be a dark one for me, indeed, when I don’t have any more lisping, fruity lipstick-clad wrestlers who shoot a phallic symbol full of confetti into the crowd. The weight limit for the belt has taken another one of it’s mysterious trips upwards, this time settling on 236 pounds, which would make Randy Savage and Ric Flair lightheavyweights according to the standard PWI weights for them. Pillman wins a slugfest and dropkicks Badd out, then follows with Air Pillman to the ramp. Badd reverses a piledriver and they spill to the floor. Oh man, there’s seaman all over the arena! Well, don’t act like you didn’t know that joke was due. Badd heads back in, but Pillman bodypresses him for two. Powerslam and he goes up, but a big splash hits nothing but knee. Badd gets two. He goes up in turn, but Pillman dropkicks him on the way down and clotheslines him. Pillman gets a leg lariat for two, but Badd comes back with a clothesline and goes up again. Sunset flip, but Teddy Long is inexplicably talking to the ref. Badd goes to argue, collides with Long, and Pillman gets the cheap win at 4:21. Cliched booking, but the match wasn’t anything you wouldn’t want to take home to meet your mother. *1/2 Badd KO’s Long to end that relationship. – US title match: Sting v. Ravishing Rick Rude. Paul E. falls prey to that same weakness all great villains possess…the inability to shut up for long enough a time for your master plan to take effect.  (BROCK LESNAR CONQUERED THE STREAK!)  In this case, he gets on the mike to run down the crowd and gloat about how Rude was gonna win by forfeit, which allows Sting the time to arrive in his stolen ambulance and beat the count. They brawl on the ramp, where Sting presses Rude, but his knee buckles. Just a note to Test or any other mediocre wrestlers reading: “Selling” means actually having the injury affect your performance — not just clutching your ribs, doing a move like normal, and then clutching your ribs again. They head into the ring and Sting slugs away and backdrops Rude, completely grounded by the injury. He clotheslines him out, but Rude outsmarts him and trips him up, then posts the knee. Back in, Rude nails him off the top, but Sting blocks the Rude Awakening. Sting channels the Three Stooges to win a slugfest by faking Rude out, but Rude makes sure to fall FORWARD, and takes out Sting’s knee in the process. Sting falls back just as Paul jumps up and shatters the phone on his head. That’s so cool. It gets two. Sting comes back with a DDT, but he’s got nothin’, and when he gets desperate and goes after Paul again, Rude just hits the knee from behind and pins him to win the title at 4:15. THAT is how you push a new guy, and is one of the rare instances where WCW managed to use someone far more effectively than the WWF did. He would never be beaten for that title. **  (The whole thing was just an awesome angle and made Rude look like a killer.)  – In a post-match interview with Eric Bischoff (who has somehow managed to arrive back at the arena only 4 minutes after Sting), Paul admits that the whole thing was a setup from the beginning, we’re all stupid, Sting is stupid, Jim Herd is stupid, and all the WCW bigwigs can kindly kiss his ass because the Dangerous Alliance is here and ready to take names and kick ass. (BROCK LESNAR CONQUERED THE STREAK!)  Did I mention what a watered-down corporate patsy Paul Heyman has become? This was actually very much nWo-ish years before the nWo came about. Just saying. (You can’t just say whatever you want and then add “Just saying” to take away any offense!  Just saying.)  – World title match: Lex Luger v. Rick Steiner. This was supposed to be Ron Simmons getting a rematch from Halloween Havoc before the injury bug bit again and they were forced to shoehorn Rick Steiner into the slot, having nothing better to do with him while Scott’s arm healed. Scott of course ended up going on the HHH diet plan while in rehab and somehow managed to come back 50 pounds heavier than when he left. Stalling to start here. Lots of it. Finally Rick overpowers Lex, leading to more stalling. Rick gets a powerslam for two, and Luger of course bails and stalls. Back in, Steiner gets a backdrop and german suplex for two. Slugfest, won by Rick. Luger crotches him on the top, however, to take over. Luger kicks away and a slam & elbow get two. He tosses Rick, and gets two back in the ring. Steiner fights back and gets a powerslam and the Buffkiller for two. Hughes runs in, and runs right into a Frankensteiner from Scott, and Race comes in and gets slammed, allowing Luger to use the belt for the pin at 11:30. Scott Steiner v. Lex Luger might have actually drawn some money at that point, but Rick knew that once Scott’s singles push started he was done as a player, so he managed to keep convincing Scott to turn it down. The result: Classics like this match. ¼* The Bottom Line: Well, tossed off main event aside, it’s the show with Enforcers v. Steamboat & Rhodes, and Cactus Jack gets the biggest win of his career to that point, so really you can’t lose here. Plus Paul E. on his game is always a bonus. Recommended show.

Clash Countdown: #16

The SmarK Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions XVI: Fall Brawl 91 (Historic show for me, as TBS finally became available here in the frozen wastelands of Canadaland and I bugged my dad to get the movie channels so we could watch some motherfuckin’ WCW, son!  And it launched just in time for this show, my first Clash that I could watch LIVE.)  – Not to be confused with the Coliseum Video Rant XVI, which happens to share the same roman numerals, but has a wittier subtitle. – Cool experience of the week: I was browsing through a local Chapters bookstore (the biggest bookstore in Canada, basically) and went over to check out the price on the new Mick Foley book in the wrestling section. And what was sitting on the shelf right next to it? My own humble book, The Buzz on Pro Wrestling (thumbs up, cheap pop). See, Mick and I are book buds!  (Geez, who buys books in paper format anymore?  Go back to the old folks home, gramps!)  – By the way, if one more quasi-talented bubblegum Green Day-sounding punk trio calls themselves something with a number in the name (SR-71, Blink-182, Sum-41…) I will be forced to kidnap and torture Billy Joe and eliminate the source of the entire problem. I think the groups should just merge into one big group and add up all the numbers in their name to prevent confusion, then learn to create their own musical style, along with another chord or two. With that in mind, I think I’ll spare American Hi-Fi, because even they’re derivative, at least their name is somewhat original and number-free.  (This was written before “American Idiot” became one of my favorite albums of all-time, and in fact the number band craze did not get any better.)  – Live from Augusta, GA – Your hosts are JR & Tony, with Matrats.com Vice-President in Charge of Totally Bitchin’ Operations Eric Bischoff and RAW color commentator Paul E. Heyman wandering around the building picking their nose and stuff. For those stuck in the low-end of a dead-end job, have hope: Look at Bischoff and know that you, too, can go from coffee boy and junior announcer to sinking the second-biggest wrestling promotion in the country in less than 10 years! – Opening match, Georgia Brawl Battle Royale: Your participants are Tom Zenk, Tommy Rich, Bobby Eaton, Ranger Ross, Tracy Smothers, The Great and Mighty Oz, PN News, Buddy Lee Parker, Steve Austin, Dustin Rhodes, Terrence Taylor, Big Josh, Barry Windham, One Man Gang and El Gigante. You’d think putting Kevin Nash and El Gigante in the same ring would cause a black hole of suck that might conceivably end the universe, but there they are. And PN News, too. In hindsight, Paul Neu may just have been 10 years before his time, at which point the wacky dancing fat guy became en vogue in the wrestling business and he wouldn’t have looked like a complete and utter tool. (Let’s not go crazy here.)  Of course, if he HAD become the big star in Rikishi’s place, I don’t think I could have lived with the promos: “Austin it was ME who ran you over! YO BABY YO BABY YO!” Trust me, say it out loud and it gets funnier. Sadly, Kevin Nash was nearing the end of his run as the Great and Mighty Oz at this point, and indeed the transition provided the world with one of those Moments in WCW History We’d All Like To Have Been Present For backstage, as someone actually proposed turning him from the living embodiment of a magical land into a snappy dressing Italian stereotype who wrestled in a tux, and someone else actually thought it was a good idea and gave the first person the go-ahead to implement it. It’s not even the original idea that I find so perplexing, it’s the fact that there was little quality control that “Vinnie Vegas” actually was considered a better gimmick than “The Great and Mighty Oz” by someone who was presumably being PAID to keep track of this stuff. These are the same people who couldn’t think of any way to market Steve Austin or Mick Foley, but felt Shockmaster had some good upside potential and El Gigante would be the next Andre the Giant. To be fair, Vince McMahon also gave it the old college try with Jorge Gonzalez, but at least he gave him that muscle suit to wear so that he could make a few bucks on the side as an anatomy teaching aid at local colleges. Anyway, El Gigante eliminates Oz & One Man Gang to win at 9:31, and trust me, you didn’t miss anything. I don’t rate battle royales. – Lightheavyweight title semi-finals: Bradstreet v. Brian Pillman. Brad begs off to start, but Pillman gets a headscissors and victory roll for two. It should be noted that Pillman was doing the Yellow Dog gimmick for god-knows-what reason from June until this show, until (as JR notes) thousands of cards and letters from WCW fans necessitated Pillman’s reinstatement into WCW. I didn’t even know there WERE thousands of fans watching at point, let alone enough who could actually read and/or write. Armbar, but Brad breaks. Pillman’s sunset flip gets two, dropkick follows and Brad bails. Bradstreet suplexes Pillman off the apron to the floor in a typically sick Pillman bump, and when Brian gets back on the apron he takes his patented chinfirst bump to the railing. He gets posted and Bradstreet stalls. Yup, he’s a Freebird. Pillman in with a bodypress for two, but Brad gets a neckbreaker for two. He goes up but gets dropkicked to the floor, and Pillman follows with a tope suicida that nearly gives poor JR a heart attack. To the top, missile dropkick misses. Spinkick gets two, but Brad comes back with a DDT for two. Backslide gets two for Pillman. Crucifix is reversed to a samoan drop by Brad, but Pillman finishes with a flying bodypress at 6:52. This would be classified as a good Smackdown midcard match these days, but for 1991 it was amazing stuff, considering Liger was a few months away yet. *** – And now, as my own alternative to the DVDVR 500, here’s the WCW Top 10 rankings for the week of whenever the hell this Clash was… 10. Beautiful Bobby 9. The Z-Man 8. The Diamond Studd 7. The One Man Gang 6. Dustin Rhodes 5. Stunning Steve Austin 4. El Gigante 3. Barry Windham 2. Ron Simmons 1. Sting Champion: Lex Luger Now I ask you, can the DVDVR guys possibly top a list of talent like that with their nobodies like that Kawada fella or that Yuji Nagata guy. C’mon, how are they supposed to draw money if they’re not 7 feet tall like El Gigante? And can either of them flick a toothpick with the pinpoint accuracy of the Diamond Studd? I rest my case.  (Another wasted opportunity for a top 10 gag.)  – Sting v. Johnny B. Badd. Sting’s US title is not for grabs here. Sting gets a quick pump splash, but it misses. Elbow misses, Badd gets a sunset flip for two. Sting gets a small package for two. Sunset flip gets two for Sting. Sting to the arm, Badd reverses. Blind charge misses and Sting goes back to the arm. Suplex is no-sold by Badd, and they back off as a gift box is delivered. Stinger splash misses and Badd gives some bodyshots. Badd and Sting both get distracted by the box sitting at ringside, and the match just stops cold. Sting rolls Badd up for the pin at 6:29, a lot of which was standing around. ½* Cactus Jack of course pops up and beats the holy hell out of Sting.  (The gift box gag was a good one, but unfortunately the Luger payoff fell pretty flat.)  – Lightheavyweight title semi-finals: Richard Morton v. Mike Graham. Ricky Morton’s heel turn might have worked due to the resentment from the female fans, but they make the fatal error of not actually having him dress or act terribly different in the heel role. I know the Joe Dirt mullet defined the guy, but it WAS the nineties and might have been time to cut it off. The guy you’ve really gotta pity is Mike Graham, who had a cushy road agent job until this show, at which point WCW decided to make some cutbacks and force him to actually WORK for his money again by wrestling. (I’m sure Mike later took credit for that idea.)  Graham grabs a headlock, no luck. Morton trips him up and rolls into a Boston crab, and into a sunset flip for two. Graham escapes, so Morton bails. Back in, he works a headlock. Pinfall reversal sequence and Morton begs off. Morton goes up and gets suplexed off for two. Morton resorts to a show of fisticuffsmanship and choking. Graham pulls a figure-four out of his ass, no go. He works the arm, as does Richard. Graham gets an indian deathlock (thus dropping the match ½* automatically) as Alexandra York distracts the ref, and Morton rolls Graham up for the pin at 7:42 in a match the entire arena didn’t give a crap about. Maybe were it 1972 and 4 minutes shorter, it might have gotten over better, who knows. ** – Eric Bischoff brings Bill Kazmaier out to bend a “steel bar” around his neck for the Guinness Book of World Records, but the Enforcers attack him after the deed and injure his ribs. Now what, may I ask, was the record that he was going after here? I know the whole point of the skit was to establish the injury, but really you’d think someone would stop and consider that bending a “steel bar” around one’s neck might strike the more discerning viewer as a totally pointless exercise, especially with no actual reps of Guinness there to verify whatever record he was supposed to be trying to attain. – The Fabulous Freebirds v. The Patriots. Speaking of dumb ideas, may I present Firebreaker Chip and Todd Champion: The Patriots. The concept? Take a couple of muscle-bound talentless hacks, dress them up in costumes right out of a B-level ladies night and/or a Village People reunion (“Hey, it’s the fireman and the solider!”) and push them to the moon. Plus 10 for developing new talent, minus several million for style. Hayes tosses Chip, but gets powerslammed, as does Garvin. Freebirds bail. Back in, Chip dropkicks Garvin and gets a sleeper. So bush league I almost feel like setting up a booth at a flea market and selling tickets there. Billy Kidman could main event. Chip works the arm, and a sunset flip gets two. Rollup gets two, but Hayes cheapshots Chip. Todd Champion comes in, and he’s a house of fire! I often wonder why Todd didn’t get a shot in the WWF: He’s no less talented than Billy Gunn, and has the advantage of looking like an extra out of a bad porno movie. I mean, c’mon, don’t tell me you don’t look at him and think of Dirk Diggler’s male exotic dancer pal Todd Parker? (That would be Thomas Jane for those of you in this century.)  Big elbow on Hayes gets two. Chip comes off the top with a double-clothesline. Double-team on Garvin, but the ref is distracted with Todd and Hayes nails Chip for the pin at 5:38. Those dastardly Freebirds would get their comeuppance when the Patriots won the US tag titles from them a few days later. Indy level mess here. ¾* – Paul E. interviews Cactus Jack, and he declares Sting’s career OVER after that beating. A box is delivered to ringside, which Cactus assumes is Abdullah the Butcher out to congratulate him, and he decides to go give it a big Cactus Jack Hug without even opening it. Sting of course pops out, returns the beating, and they brawl all over the place. – The Diamond Studd v. Ron Simmons. Hey yo, chico, you’re gonna job. Studd attacks, but Simmons fights back. Studd chokeslam gets two. Bulldog gets two. Simmons slides out and posts Studd. Atomic drop both ways for Ron, spinebuster and shoulderblock finish at 2:26. WCW just had absolutely no clue what they almost had with Scott Hall in those days. ½* – Terrence Taylor v. Van Hammer. This was Hammer’s debut, as WCW decided to see if they could trick fans into thinking it was a repackaged Ultimate Warrior. No, seriously, that’s what I heard they were going for: The Jim Hellwig look. Hammer squashes Taylor in 1:08 with a kneedrop before settling into life as enhancement talent and DDP’s bootlick for the rest of his career. DUD  (Thankfully still alive, unlike the real deal and his other pretender, the Renegade.)  – WCW TV title match: Stunning Steve Austin v. The Z-Man. Hey, Zenk’s #9 on the top 10, Austin had better watch his back! Austin grabs a headlock into a hammerlock, reversed by Zenk. Austin begs off. Austin overpowers him, but Zenk goes to the headlock and Austin begs off again. Another headlock, Austin reverses, and they fight to the ropes. Austin goes to the headlock as the announcers lament Zenk’s lack of a mean streak. Too bad Meltzer didn’t have a radio show back then so Zenk could prove that one wrong. Zenk goes to the arm and gets the superkick and a backdrop for two. He followed up a superkick with a backdrop and wonders why he didn’t get credit for being a better wrestler? I mean, Zenk is a terrific interview these days, but geez that’s bad strategy. Austin bails and stalls. Zenk follows with a tope con hilo to the ramp, and back in for a bodypress … that misses. Austin stomps away, and hits the chinlock. Stuntun, but he doesn’t cover. Zenk cradles for two. Zenk gets the SLEEPER OF DOOM, but Lady Blossom slips Austin an international object, and he bops Zenk for the pin at 9:11. I’ve seen way better matches between them on Worldwide, and probably have about 4 of them on a tape in my collection somewhere. *3/4 – Special feature on Ron Simmons, leading to the Luger-Simmons contract signing, which turns into the usual brawl. – World Tag team title tournament finals: Rick Steiner & Bill Kazmaier v. The Enforcers. Steiner chases Larry Z and powerslams Arn for two. Enforcers double-team him and larry goes for the arm. They pound Rick in the corner, and Zbyszko gets a suplex for one. Rick fights out of the corner, but Larry blocks a superplex on Anderson. Kazmaier tags himself in and cleans house, but gets hit in the ribs and pinned at 3:34. Rushed and sloppy. ½* The Bottom Line: No one ever accused 91 WCW of setting the intellectual bar too high for everyone else, that’s for sure. But if watching a guy bend a steel bar around his neck and El Gigante doing battle with Oz in a battle royale is what makes a show for you, then RUN out and find a copy of this right now. For those WITHOUT mental problems, strong recommendation to avoid.

Clash Countdown: #15A

(AHA!  I found it randomly filed in my WCW folder after all.)  The SmarK Retro Re-Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XV: Knocksville USA! (June 14, 1991) – Your hosts are Tony & JR. – Live from Knoxville, TN, see, because it’s KNOCKSville, USA. Oh, that Dusty. – This show is smack dab in the middle of 1991, in a period for WCW so bad that it makes the current product on Smackdown look like Ring of Honor by comparison. – Opening match: The Fabulous Freebirds & Bradstreet v. Tom Zenk & The Southern Boys. The Birds had recently lost the World tag titles to the Steiners after a grueling negative title reign where they lost the belts before they won them, which kind of tells you the direction of the company at that point right there. Even the laws of time and space were abandoning ship on them. The Freebird entourage at ringside was getting completely out of proportion to their place on the card at this point as well, featuring both Diamond Dallas Page and Oliver Humperdink as managers for a team that cut better promos than either one of them did. Ah, WCW. The Pistols control early with a pair of flying bodypresses, but the Birds regroup outside. Back in, Tracy Smothers uses his redneck kung fu on Hayes, and they bail again. Tony notes that the Freebirds should probably think about going after Tom Zenk’s recently-detached bicep. Wait, wait, let me put this sage wisdom into my PDA in case I’m ever in the ring with him, filed under “Blindingly Obvious” along with DDP’s eternal rib tape. Hayes comes back with his dreaded right hand and Bradstreet dumps Smothers, you’d think making him your hick-in-peril. But instead the faces defy expectations of the way the match should go and they all sunset flip in for the triple pin to end it really quickly. (Southern Boys & Zenk d. Freebirds & Badstreet, triple pin, 4:46, *1/2) Was there an emergency Armstrong family meeting backstage that necessitated them going home RIGHT NOW or something? 4 out of the 6 guys never even tagged in! The Great and Mighty Oz v. Johnny Rich Well, on the bright side, at least now they had more time for Big Kev. Fear his rubber Gandalf mask and generic rock entrance music! Yes, this company seriously did think that devoting a 12-minute entrance and licensing the rights to the “Oz” name would make Nash into the next superstar. Turns out all they needed to do was bring in Shawn Michaels and let Nash ride his coattails to the top instead. It must have pained Kevin, however, to be forced to dye his hair grey for the character, when the rest of his life became devoted to doing the opposite. Sure, there’s a match going on, but why get bogged down with petty details like that? Life’s too short. (Oz d. Johnny Rich, helicopter slam — pin, 1:27, DUD) This gets nothing and likes it, and Nash was repackaged yet again into Vinnie Vegas soon after. So no one is happy. Dangerous Dan Spivey v. Big Josh Josh’s introduction begs the question: Where exactly IS the “North Woods” supposed to be? The forest just outside of Parts Unknown? Is it like Narnia? Slugfest to start and Spivey gets a corner clothesline, but Josh takes him down. The juxtaposition on commenatary is hilarious here, as Ross talks in a serious tone about Spivey’s football career while Tony has to act like a moron and pretend that grizzled veteran Matt Bourne has only been in the sport for “five months”. I never got that about WCW — you had marketable name wrestlers like Matt Bourne and Billy Jack Haynes, who have drawn money for years under those names, and you bring them in and immediately give them silly gimmicks like Big Josh and Black Blood and essentially just give them roles that any idiot jobber could play, thus wasting any value their name has. Josh comes back with a suplex, but gets clotheslined. Josh comes back again with a backdrop suplex, but Kevin Sullivan (in the name of Black Blood, who couldn’t even be bothered to do the run-in himself, apparently) hits Josh with a crutch and allows Spivey to finish. (Spivey d. Josh, german suplex — pin, 2:46, *) You know, this one kind of irks me, because they were having a very watchable and fun little brawl here before the goofy finish after only 3 minutes. The Josh-Blood feud, with it not being Portland in 1984 and all, went nowhere. And now, the WCW Top 10!

  1. Lex Luger
  2. Great Muta
  3. El Gigante
  4. Bobby Eaton
  5. Nikita Koloff
  6. Sting
  7. Arn Anderson
  8. Barry Windham
  9. One Man Gang
  10. Stunning Steve Austin

Please note: THE WCW TOP TEN is a prescription medication approved for use in combination with flutamide (an antiandrogen) plus radiotherapy for locally advanced prostate cancer. Treatment with the combination should start 8 weeks prior to starting and continue during radiation therapy. THE WCW TOP TEN is also approved to use alone for patients with advanced prostate cancer. THE WCW TOP TEN may help reduce the size of your cancer and reduce your symptoms (palliative treatment). THE WCW TOP TEN, like other LHRH-As, may cause an initial rise in testosterone. When used alone, there may be a temporary worsening of prostate cancer symptoms at the start of therapy. Common side effects that occurred during treatment with THE WCW TOP TEN plus flutamide and radiation therapy or THE WCW TOP TEN alone included hot flashes, decrease in sexual desire and/or ability to have erections, diarrhea, pain (general, pelvic, and bone), lower urinary tract symptoms, fatigue, nausea, breast growth, swelling, rash, upper respiratory infection, and sweating. These may also be associated with being Dusty Rhodes. Please see full Prescribing Information for THE WCW TOP TEN. – And now, Paul E Dangerously interviews Jason Hervey in a one-sided fashion, about his relationship with Missy Hyatt. Hervey was a huge wrestling fan and was constantly on TV at this time, milking his Wonder Years quasi-fame before going on to head the failed WCW Home Video division. Sadly, it collapsed in 1999, as they never could really break away from Turner Home Video. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t get a job with them after all. Anyway, Paul badgers the kid until he stands up for himself, at which point Dangerously clobbers him with the phone in a nice bump for Jason. Good segment, actually. Dustin Rhodes v. Terrance Taylor Despite the breakneck pacing of the show thus far, Dustin’s father being the booker makes me fear him getting like 15:00 tonight. Rhodes with a corner clothesline for two to start, as they just chuck the entire opening sequence out the window. Taylor bails, but gets hit with a pair of atomic drops back in the ring. Dustin misses a charge and lands on the floor, and Taylor suplexes him back in for two. Jawjacker and powerbomb get two. Dustin gets a sunset flip for two. Backslide gets two. Slugfest is won by Dustin as he comes back with the atomic drop and bulldog, but Mr. Hughes is distracting the ref by telling him about the great new S&M club he found the night before. This allows Ricky Morton to run in and turn on Dustin, thus joining the York Foundation. (Dustin Rhodes d. Terrance Taylor, DQ, 4:23, *1/2) Never really got going, much like everything else thus far. Sting v. Nikita Koloff. I could be wrong, but I like to imagine this one started backstage when Sting was all “I love Jesus the most for his message of love and compassion!” and Koloff was all “No, I love Jesus the most for his message of understanding and brotherhood!” and then it turned into a big brawl. At any rate, this was a great potential feud that just came at completely the wrong time for a great feud. Sting charges in and gets beaten down for his troubles. Koloff hits him with a shoulderblock and tosses him, and abuses him on the floor. Back in, Sting piledrives him, which Koloff no-sells. Where did THAT come from? Koloff stomps him down and tombstones him for two. Sting comes back with a sunset flip for two. Nikita keeps pounding in the corner and a backbreaker gets two. Slight tangent: Am I the only one now incapable of hearing that Elton John song “Nikita” without thinking of Koloff? Koloff stays on the ribs and chokes away, but Sting fires back. Nikita tosses him to end that, but Sting reverses him into the railing as a payback for an earlier spot. Back in, more irony as Sting reverses the tombstone piledriver and comes back. Stinger splash misses, but so does the Russian Sickle, allowing Sting to roll him up for the pin. (Sting d. Koloff, rollup — pin, 9:33, ***) Hey, this almost got enough time to tell a real story and everything! – PN News joins us, joined by Salt N Pepa a few years before their comeback and subsequent fade into obscurity again. Johnny B Badd interrupts to kick off the gayest feud of 1991. John Cena owes his CAREER to PN News, and we all know it but don’t want to admit it. Anyway, Badd calls News UGLY. OH, SNAP! PN wants to know why Badd is dissing him. No, really. Let’s just move on. Barry Windham & Arn Anderson v. Brian Pillman & El Gigante (Loser Leaves WCW) I don’t even know where that stipulation came from. The Horsemen pound on Pillman to start and Windham DDTs him for two. Arn comes in and knees Brian in the corner, but gets dropkicked to the floor. Pillman follows with a pescado and Gigante chokes Arn out. Back in, Brian gets a high cross on Windham for two. Powerslam for Arn and he goes up, but Windham trips him up and then boots him in the head for the pin. Hell of a way to end a career. (Windham & Anderson d. Pillman & Gigante, Windham kick — pin Pillman, 3:06, *) This was almost a squash by the Horsemen, as Pillman would resurface as “The Yellow Dog” in a part tribute to Barry Windham’s old gimmick and a part tribute to Dusty Rhodes’ old gimmick. I think the funnier visual gag would have been Gigante losing the fall and coming back as El Perro Amarillo, with the announcers struggling to place the mysterious masked man, but I take my amusement where I can get it. – Paul E. hypes the Great American Bash 91, which should be a wicked card as long as the champion doesn’t walk out with the belt a week before the show over a money dispute. But then, when does that ever happen? IWGP tag titles: The Steiner Brothers v. Masa Chono & Hiroshi Hase The Steiners care so much about the IWGP titles that they don’t even bother bringing them to the ring, just using the WCW tag belts instead. Hase starts with Scott and takes him down, then blocks Scott’s return attempt with an enzuigiri. Scott hotshots him for two, however. Hase comes back with a vicious side kick, but Scott takes him down again and brings Rick in. He pounds on Chono, but gets STIFFED with a Yakuza kick that’s so hard it knocks his headgear off. OH, SNAP! Much love to Chono for that one. He continues throwing the kicks as Rick seems uninteresting in selling anything after that, until Rick fires back with a brutal Steinerline. Oh, I can feel the love tonight. Scott comes in for the double-team, and Rick suplexes Hase when Chono tags out. Hase comes back with a fallaway slam and Chono shoulderblocks Rick off the top. Fallaway slam from Chono into a flying kneedrop from Hase follows, and Chono slaps on the STF, thus introducing the move to the US. Scott suplexes the shit out of Hase on the floor and breaks up the STF, however. Double KO and tags on both sides, and Scott just about knocks the moustache off Hase’s face with a lariat. Butterfly bomb and belly to belly superplex get two. Hase gets a dragon suplex for two and sets up the double-team, but Scott has had enough and finishes Hase with the Frankensteiner. (The Steiners d. Hase & Chono, Scott rana — pin Hase, 8:09, ***) Another one that ended just as it got going, with both teams looking grumpy and throwing stiff shots at each other. The Hardliners (Murdoch & Slater) attack everyone afterwards, resulting in Scott tearing a bicep and having to forfeit the titles soon after. He never really recovered fully and turned into the wrestler he is today instead of the one he was back then. The Diamond Studd v. Tommy Rich Someone tell these guys it’s only a 2 hour show. Quick squash for the Studd, as I think a drinking contest would have been more interesting. (Studd d. Rich, Razor’s Edge — pin, 1:56, DUD) – Jim Ross interviews the winner of the Sting lookalike contest, who happens to be a kid from Knoxville. Sadly, the story would turn tragic when the winner of the Ric Flair lookalike contest would ask the kid to join the Four Horsemen lookalikes, before viciously turning on him. Anyway, I can’t pass this by without noting that the real Sting joins the kid and gets attacked by Nikita Koloff, but not before hugging his little friend and talking about how excited it makes him. TMI! TMI! Lex Luger v. The Great Muta Why yes, there are more matches before the main event, why do you ask? This is the #1 contender battle, which is odd because they hadn’t even used Muta since like 1989. Luger no-sells all of Muta’s stuff and suplexes him. Muta gets a backdrop, but Luger no-sells that and presses him instead. Blind charge misses, but Muta misses the handspring elbow and takes a SPECTACULAR bump to the floor, perhaps trying to at least show up Luger before doing the job. Back in, Luger no-sells the mist and powerslams him to finish. Well, screw you too, Lex. (Luger d. Muta, powerslam — pin, 3:46, 1/2*) Nothing match, as Luger gave him nothing and sold nothing. Stunning Steve Austin v. Joey Maggs Sadly, I did this show on October 15 2006, and while I was typing it up the next day I learned that in fact Maggs passed away in the morning. Sorry, it wasn’t my intention to do a show featuring him the night before he died. (Austin d. Maggs, stungun — pin, 0:20, DUD) WCW World title: Ric Flair v. Bobby Eaton Finally the main event, with about 15 minute of airtime left. This is 2/3 falls, just like in the old days. Flair gets a cheapshot to start, so Eaton smacks him down and clotheslines him out. Back in, Flair throws the chops, but Bobby is all BRING IT ON, and fires back with punches before backdropping him for two. Eaton takes him down into a short-arm scissors, and Flair unsuccessfully tries to roll out of it. Flair takes him down, but gets tagged with another right and bails. Eaton chases, walking right into Flair’s trap like an idiot. And now, Flair starts chopping and tosses Eaton into the ringpost. Kneedrop gets two. Butterfly suplex gets two. Back to the chops, and they slug it out, but Flair goes up and gets slammed off. Flair Flip and a backbreaker for Eaton get two. See, here that sequence with Flair getting slammed off and doing the silly flip was meaningful, because it’s leading to something. Just wanted to jump in and note that. Neckbreaker and Alabama Jam finish cleanly to give Eaton the first fall at 9:45. And that was the pinnacle of Eaton’s career. Mark your calendar, because Eaton’s career was all downhill after that. Second fall sees Bobby fighting off another Flair flurry, and a backslide gets two. Neckbreaker and Eaton gets cocky, going up again to finish, but Flair is smarter and dumps him to the floor, blowing out his knee in the process. Double whammy! Eaton is counted out at 12:29. Third fall and Eaton is limping, and you just know what’s going to happen now. That’s a really well-booked match. Eaton is still fighting and he gets a superplex, but his knee is gone. He still gets two, but Flair recovers first and goes for the kill. Figure-four, but Eaton reverses for two. You’d think after 20 years Flair would learn not to yell “NOW WE GO TO SCHOOL!” because it telegraphs the move a bit, but he’s the pro. Figure-four again, and this time there’s no reversing it, as Eaton is done at 15:51. Can’t fault him for effort, but Flair just out-thought him. (Flair d. Eaton 2 falls to 1, figure-four — pin, 15:51, ***1/2) This one hurt, because it could have been SOOOOOO much more but got hacked down due to time constraints from their own retarded management skills. Still, not too shabby as is and well worth checking out. All hell broke loose with Flair a couple of weeks after this. The Pulse: The main event is worth a look, but the rest is like Russo booking while coked up and should be avoided at all costs. 1991 WCW was not so much with the good, and this is a fine example of why everyone involved should have been rounded up and shot long ago. Recommendation to avoid.

Clash Countdown: #15

(Apologies in advance for this one, as it’s an old rant that I’m not particularly fond of, but my plans for redoing it tonight after work went by the wayside when we got to drop the kid off with the grandparents and go see Spider-Man 2.  So you get this and YOU LIKE IT. Although I could have SWORN I redid this one just after Joey Maggs died because I remember feeling bad about making a wisecrack about him, but I can’t find it anywhere.) (Also, Amazing 2 was pretty good, although by this point I’m like “WTF is even the point anymore?”)  The Netcop Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions XV (June 1991) – Live from Knoxville, Tennessee. – Hosted by Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone. – Opening match:  The Freebirds & Bradstreet v. The Young Pistols and
Tom Zenk.
  (Jesus fuck, AGAIN with the Freebirds and Pistols to open a Clash?!)  The Birds have DDP, Big Daddy Dink and Kimberly all in their
corner.  Badstreet is of course Brad Armstrong in failed gimmick #2929B.
Referee for about half the matches tonight is Bill Alphonso.  Hey, the
Freebirds still suck, surprise surprise.  Brad Armstrong, however, rules
the fucking world playing a rudo-type character here.  They should fired
Hayes and Garvin and kept Badstreet.  Pretty silly ending to a blah
match as the faces sunset flip into the ring on all three Birds at the
same time and Fonzie counts all three down for the pin.  Lots of
flipping and flopping, but no real substance.  (Kind of like Spider-Man, AMIRIGHT?) – The Great and Mighty Oz v. Johnny Rich.  I think we’ve made all the
Kevin Nash jokes we can make in one lifetime here on RSPW, so I’ll pass.  (Pretty sure this was written before he even broke the streak.  So there were still plenty more to come.) 
He actually moves *way* faster and smoother here than he has since 1995,
and finishes Rich off after the usual moves with the tornado slam, a
move which I personally miss.  It’s done by putting the guy in a
position for an Outsider Edge, then spinning around a few times and
letting him go.  Brutal. – PN News promo.  Yo baby, yo baby, yo!  This, btw, marks the beginning
of The Bad Period for WCW in 1991. – Dan Spivey v. Big Josh.  I still don’t know what Vince saw in Matt
Bourne that made him want to sign him, but I guess that’s why I’m not
the owner of the WWF.  (Also, I don’t have $350 million to lose.)  Spivey tries to salvage something watchable here,
but Josh sucks hard.  Sullivan comes down (during his poofy hair period)
and whacks Josh with a crutch, allowing Spivey to get the pin, thus
setting up the epic Big Josh-Black Blood match at Bash ’91.  And people
wonder why everyone hates that PPV so much…  (I don’t think anyone wonders.  And what was my problem with Bourne?  He was great!)  – WCW Top 10.  (Wait, where’s the gag?  I promise I’ll redo this show later with better bits, honest.)  – Paul E. interviews Jason Hervey (the big brother on the Wonder Years).
Hervey was dating Missy Hyatt at this point.  Paul verbally berates
Hervey and makes fun of his relationship with Missy, but Jason fights
back and declares the interview over.  I wouldn’t turn around, Jason… *POW!!!!!*  Phone to the head! Well, can’t say I didn’t warn ya.  Missy bounces in and protects her
boyfriend from further yuppie attack.  If only Jason had bled, this
would be perfection.  Paul E was SO cool back then.  Damn phone
shattered in two.  Way cool…I love celebrity punkings.  (I hate this rant.)  –  Dustin Rhodes v. Terrence Taylor.  I guess Dustin was impressed with
Alexandra York’s managerial technique, because he married her a few
months later.  She’s now known as Marlena, of course.  (There you go, written in 96.) I can appreciate
the talent of Terry Taylor so much more today, watching him carry Rhodes
to a watchable match despite Dustin’s almost total (and genetic) lack of
talent at that point.  The flip, flop and fly works here, in case you’re
wondering.  Rhodes goes for the bulldog, but Mr. Hughes and Ricky Morton
and Big Josh all run in and it turns into a big clusterfuck.  Double-DQ. – Johnny B. Badd promo.  He’s so pretty, he should’ve been born a girl!
I don’t how Marc Mero sleeps at night knowing that he used to make a
living doing this shit…I’m so glad he has a more dignified gimmick
now, that of the conceited wife-beating ex-boxer. (Or written in 98 then, I guess) – Sting v. Nikita Koloff.  This is the blowoff after Koloff nailed Sting
by accident at Superbrawl.  Koloff yells a lot and no-sells Sting’s
offense.  And that’s about it.  Koloff slowly pounds on him for 10
minutes, then Sting misses a splash, but Koloff misses a Sickle and
Sting gets the quick pin with a rollup. – PN News brings out two of the skanks from Salt N Pepa (Ho baby, ho
baby, ho!) and does an embarrassingly bad “rap”.  Johnny B. Badd comes
out to confront him, lord knows why.  I can’t even describe how bad this
was.  Of course, Dusty Rhodes was booking so it’s at least
explainable… – Hey, yo. Diamond Studd promo.  Survey says…nobody gives a shit until
1994 when Shawn carries his ass to a ***** match. – Arn Anderson & Barry Windham v. El Gigante & Brian Pillman (loser
leaves WCW).
  Gee, I wonder who jobs here?  This is the result of
WarGames, where the Horsemen legit injured Pillman (or rather, Sid did).
It’s a pretty good match, mainly because Gigante does nothing more
involved than standing on the apron and looking tall.  Surprisingly
quick, as Pillman goes for a bodypress of the top about 5 minutes in,
and Windham pushes him off and kicks him right in the face (ouch!) and
pins him.  Of course, the Yellow Dog showed up to avenge the loss at
Bash 91 against Windham.  Gotta love that Dusty Rhodes… – IWGP tag title match:  Rick & Scott Steiner v. Hiroshi Hase & Masa
Chono.
  Hey, remember when the Steiners v. nWo Japan produced a *good*
match?  Hase and Chono are total bad-ass SWANK heels here, beating the
hell out of Rick with a bunch of cool shit that JR actually knows the
name of!  Yeah!  Finally, Scott gets in and cleans house, hitting Hase
with the Frankensteiner and getting the pin.  Great match.  The
Hardliners (Murdoch and Slater) run in and beat up the Steiners after
the match, and injure Scott’s arm in the process.  Bet WCW was happy to
hear that.  (Wait, are you being SARCASTIC, 1998 Scott?)  The Diamond Studd v. Tommy Rich.  No survey tonight.  It’d be kinda
one-sided, I think.  Much like this match, as Studd pounds the hell out
of Rich and finishes it off with the Outsider Edge/Razor’s Edge/Diamond
Death Drop. – Jim Ross interviews some kind who won a Sting lookalike contest
despite looking nothing like Sting.  I smell an angle.  Sting comes out
to congratulate him personally.  Awwwww.  Then Koloff comes out to nail
Sting with a big chain.  Awwww.  The kid cries.  I go get more iced tea. – The Great Muta v. Lex Luger (Winner gets the title shot at Bash 91).
Muta has another off-night, doing nothing notable except a nice bump
after he misses a handspring elbow.  Luger blocks a mist spray and
powerslams him for a quick win.  The match only lasted like 3 minutes. – Steve Austin v. Joey Maggs.  This is Austin’s major league debut, and
it lasts all of 30 seconds as he stun-guns Maggs almost right after the
bell and gets the pin.  If you think Lady Blossom has some huge
gazongas, give me a HELL YEAH! – Black Blood promo.  Billy Jack Hayes, in case you’re about to ask. – The York Foundation introduces Richard Morton as the newest member,
then they punk Robert Gibson for fun.  Morton looks like a tool with a
business suit and long blond hair… – Main Event:  Ric Flair v. Bobby Eaton (2/3 falls).  This is *such* a
good match.  It harkens back to the days when a contender could get a
win over the champ without the champ jobbing.  Hard fought first fall
has Bobby going over clean with the Alabama Jam to a big pop.  That
lasted about 12 minutes.  Eaton then goes out again to start the second
fall, but Flair pushes him off the top rope to the concrete, for the
countout.  That lasted all of a minute.  Then for the third fall, Eaton
gets back in and Flair works over the knee for a few minutes, Eaton
tries the comeback, and Flair figure-fours him until he blacks out for
the pin.  That only lasted another two minutes. Ergh.  Still, the first
fall was excellent, and the rest was a little disappointing.  This was
Flair’s last major match before going to Titan-land, btw. The Bottom Line:  Transitional show for WCW, as they introduced all the
(lame) new talent they signed and began another wretched era by firing
Ric Flair and gambling on Lex Luger as champion.  As a heel.  (shakes
head).  Dusty Rhodes is an idiot, but at least he isn’t Ole Anderson, I
guess. Still, this card was pretty fun overall and worth watching for the Paul
E punking and the main event at least. Later… (Someone PLEASE tell me I redid this one in a more readable style.  PLEASE.) 

Clash Countdown: #14

The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XIV: Dixie Dynamite! (Since we’re nearing the halfway point with these, we’ll slow it down now so I can catch up and have time to redo the later shows.)  – You know Dusty Rhodes was back with the promotion because suddenly the Clashes had alliterative subtitles again. – Live from Gainesville, GA – Your hosts are Jim Ross & Dusty Rhodes, freshly back in the booking chair again after being humiliated by Vince McMahon for the previous year and a bit. It should be noted that throughout the show, JR managed to develop the preeminent strategy for dealing with Dusty’s color commentating style – he would simply allow Dust to ramble on for as long as he wanted to, wait until he was out of breath, and then continue on with his own commentary as though Dusty hadn’t said anything. Most effective indeed. – Opening match, WCW tag team titles: Doom v. Lex Luger & Sting. This wasn’t announced as a tag title match, but I’m pretty sure it was hyped as one. No real reason for the match to happen. Reed & Sting start, and Sting dominates and grabs an arm. Luger comes in with a neckbreaker, but Reed manages to tag Simmons and a power battle ensues. Sadly, six months later and this matchup is headlining their PPVs. No one gives anything until Ron cheapshots Lex. Luger overpowers him again and gets an atomic drop and suplex for two. He gets hotshotted, however, and we take an AD BREAK OF DOOM. We return with Ron powerslamming Lex for two. Luger fights back, but Ron keeps hammering him. Reed comes in with a dropkick and hits the chinlock. Luger facejams Simmons to come back, but Reed hits the flying shoulderblock, the force of which sends Luger crashing into his own corner for the hot tag. See, now that’s some inventive booking, I’ll give them credit for that. Dan Spivey comes out to heat up the match with Luger at the WrestleWar PPV (which was an awesome, **** match, defying several laws of physics and thermodynamics in the process) and beats the crap out of him, leaving Sting 2-on-1. Ref bumped, but Reed tosses Sting over the top to draw the DQ at 7:44. Well, you know Dusty’s booking, all right. Match was about a zillion notches below what you’d expect for both teams. *  (Doom was pretty much past their shelf life anyway and ready to split.)  – World TV title match: Tom Zenk v. Beautiful Bobby. This is one of those matches that makes you realize how silly wrestling and backstage politics in general really are. Zenk had spent most of 1990 getting buried under the Ole Anderson regime, then won the TV title from a bored Arn Anderson when Jim Ross took over temporary control of the booking committee in early 1991 in order to freshen up the division. Then, two weeks into his reign, Dusty Rhodes returned from Whiff Hell and immediately started putting his cronies over again, starting with Anderson regaining the TV title from Zenk a few days before this match at a TV taping. Of course, the taping wouldn’t air for a week or two AFTER this, so poor Zenk got the honor of going out on live TV and defending a lame duck title. I think he should have went out and “accidentally” jobbed to Bobby, just to play mindgames with Dusty. It probably wouldn’t have mattered much in the long run if Zenk had been given a longer run, because the title was soon going to be welded around Steve Austin’s waist, but putting the title on Arn again served no purpose except to give Bobby an established name to beat when he won the title. Anyway, that’s not even the dumbest thing about this match. See, Zenk had just won a contest held by Missy Hyatt for the “Sexiest Wrestler in WCW” (and I don’t even wanna know what first prize was…), leading to straight-arrow ring announcer Gary Michael Capetta being forced to introduce him as “The WCW Television champion, and SEXIEST MAN IN WRESTLING” and keep a straight face the whole time. Sadly for Tom, I am under no such constaints of professionalism, so BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Shoving match goes nowhere to start. They do a bit of matwork and Tom works a wristlock. Eaton stalls, and works his own armbar. He goes up and gets dropkicked to the floor, but Zenk lets him come back in. They slug it out and do the test of strength bit, and Eaton cheapshots him to take control. He goes up, but gets slammed off and Zenk comes back. Backdrop gets two. Blind charge hits elbow and Eaton goes up with a flying kneedrop that looked like a miscommunicated spot, but Zenk cradles for two. Eaton gets the neckbreaker for two. Zenk rollup gets two, and a backslide gets the pin (!?) at 7:08. That’s only the third time I’ve ever seen that actually work. The replay reveals CONTROVERSY~!, as Eaton looks to have lifted his shoulder at two. Ooo, let me buy the PPV rematch right now. Or not. Very slow start, built okay, ending was out of nowhere and sucked the meat missile with gusto. *1/2  (And then Eaton went on to win the belt from Anderson before dropping it to Austin.  Really weird booking at this point.)  – The Freebirds v. Tommy Rich & Allen Iron Eagle. This was during the glory days of Hayes & Garvin’s run as, to paraphrase Frank Jewett, “mascara-wearing scuzzballs” and just before the infamous negative title reign. Hayes blocks a rollup from Rich and gets powerslammed, and Garvin gets slammed in turn. Allen Iron Jobber comes in to bat cleanup, and those of you who have watched enough wrestling to know what happens when a JTTS tags in a full-blown jobber probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that Hayes bulldogs him to take over. Hayes hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Unintentionally funny spot when he releases the hold: Iron Jobber gets to his feet and Hayes unleashes one of his devastating rights (the kind that JR always goes “Gosh!” or some similar outburst for), complete with slapping of the arm to simulate contact…but poor Allen has hair in his face, and doesn’t realize that Hayes is even throwing a punch, and in fact completely ignores the move. Hayes gets pissed and tosses him, giving a couple of stiff shots on the floor. Back in, Iron Jobber fucks up ANOTHER spot, as Garvin makes a blind charge to the corner…and Allen forgets to move, forcing Garvin to hit a running kneelift. So they repeat the spot, and thankfully this time he remembers his cue. Everyone’s in without the benefit of a tag, and Allen gets a sunset flip on Garvin, but Hayes breaks. False tag to Rich, and the Birds double-DDT Iron Jobber for the pin at 5:53. I don’t think that guy hit ONE spot properly in the whole match. Of course, Kevin Nash built his career on the same habit. Match is great for comedy value, but not much else. -** – Jumpin’ Joey Maggs v. Sid Vicious. Thankfully, Sid was keeping his own team of EMTs on retainer, just in case of matches such as this one. Clothesline, clothesline, powerbomb at 1:08. Yup. DUD Sid beats him up again on the stretcher, just because.  (RIP, Jumpin’ Joey.)  – Ricky Morton v. Terry Taylor. Capetta goes 2-for-2 on sounding stupid for the night, introducing Taylor as “The computerized man of the 1990s”, an introduction which meant nothing, because Taylor doesn’t turn heel until the end of this match! (Because WCW.)  Standard face v. face stuff to start, and Morton gets a series of armdrags to frustrate Taylor. Morton works a headlock, and we take an ad break. We’re back with Taylor working a hammerlock. He clubs Morton and blocks a rollup attempt. Morton goes back to the arm, as Alexandra York (Terri) joins us at ringside. Taylor uses the distraction to attack, and gets a jawbreaker for two. Alexandra gets one of those little video inserts on split-screen to explain that Taylor is the newest member of the York Foundation. The original member was Michael Wallstreet, but he jumped to the WWF to become IRS shortly before this. I didn’t actually get TBS at this point and was depending on Worldwide Wrestling for my NWA fix, so I was somewhat confused when York was managing Rotundo one week and Taylor the next, with no explanation given by the announcers, who I guess assumed everyone in the world got TBS or something. Butterfly suplex and kneedrop get two for Taylor. Morton cradles him for two, so Taylor chokes him down to complete the heel turn. Bulldog gets two. Taylor goes up and misses a pump splash, and they slug it out. Morton gets the Enemy Pummel and a suplex for two. Dropkick, but he misses a second one and Taylor gets the pin at 8:32. The computer told York that Morton would miss a dropkick and fall on his head? I’ve gotta get me one of those. **1/4 Finish actually looked rushed, because Morton fell awkwardly into the ropes and smacked the back of his head hard on the mat, so I think they may have gone home early to compensate. – Bill Apter presents Sting with the Wrestler of the Year award. Look closely and you can see him taking the payoff from WCW. Well, they’re both out of business now, so everyone got what they deserved for the whole scam.  (Bill has of course since e-mailed me to note that everything was in fact completely legit.)  – Ranger Ross v. El Cubano. Cubano is a generic masked jobber in black tights and black mask, and if I were forced to bet my life on his identity, I’d guess that it’s someone like Bob Cook. They were making yet another try for a Ross push under the guise of Gulf War Patriotism, but Ross fucked it up by getting involved in some VERY shady dealings and ended up spending significant time in prison for beating his wife. (There was kind of an awesome secondary story to it, where he got arrested and apparently tried to blow up the police station to hide the evidence.  You have to admire that a little.  For some reason a lot of it didn’t come out until years afterwards.)  Gary Capetta introduces him as “El Coobano”, as though he were JFK or something. I guess they didn’t wanna go into the territory of having Ross beat up Arabs, so decided to go with a non-threatening Communist country for their generic bad guy. You just find all the great cheesy jobber names on these Clashes, like “The Terrorist” or “The Blackmailer”. I mean, sure Fidel Sierra’s run as the Cuban Assassin didn’t exactly send anyone running for their lives, but “Cuban Assassin” at least sounds vaguely threatening and heelish. Naming someone “The Blackmailer” is just silly. You might as well just call them “The Adulterer” and have them wear a big scarlet letter across their chest. “That’s right, Mean Gene, I cheated on my wife, and I’ll DO IT AGAIN!” (Crowd boos here). “And I’ll cheat on ALL YOUR WIVES, TOO!” Why not run through all the misdemeanor crimes for jobber names? “The Drug Possessor” seems like it would have possibilities. “That’s right, Mean Gene, I have a kilo of grass here. Now, I’m not saying I’m gonna use it or traffic it, but it’s here, and THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!” Or what about “The Jaywalker”? Okay, the interview possibilities there might be a little bit limited, granted. However, you can also introduce “The Inattentive Driver”, and one day shoot a skit where The Jaywalker is busy jaywalking, and is almost run down by The Inattentive Driver, and POW, Insta-Feud. Yeah. Anyway, I guess there was some match or something I’m supposed to be reviewing. Ross dumps him with a dropkick, but gets kneedropped back in. Ross works the arm, and that goes on for a while. Cubano suplexes him and goes up, but misses “The Havana Hammer”. Okay, the poor guy didn’t actually get to name his one big offensive move, but geez, he’s gotta go out there and call himself “El Cubano” and wearing a black body stocking with a lightning bolt on the leg, let’s cut him SOME slack. I mean, lightning bolts don’t even have anything to do with Cuba! Wazzupwitdat? So, El Cubano, your missed splash shall be known forever in my mind and heart as “The Havana Hammer”. Here’s to you! Ross dumps him and they brawl, and back in the Ranger rolls him up for the pin at 3:03. Oh, man, he didn’t even get to put over the guy’s finisher. That’s like the biggest insult you give a jobber. DUD  (This is what happens when I get bored.)  – The Renegade Warriors v. Barry Windham & Arn Anderson. Windham & Anderson have their portraits hanging on the wall directly opposite the camera, which pretty much gives away the finish well in advance. Barry is looking noticeably out of shape here. Big brawl to start, and the Horsemen bail. Windham gets double-teamed and lets Arn try against Mark Youngblood. No luck there. Chris rolls up Arn for two. Barry goes again and gets dropkicked. Barry finally cheapshots Mark and the Horsemen take over. The Warriors double-chop Barry, but Chris walks into a spinebuster from Arn and he’s dead. Barry suplexes him for two. DDT gets two. Arn works a facelock and atomic drops Chris. They mess up Arn’s famous missed pump splash spot (I guess Chris has never actually, you know, watched wrestling before), and it’s hot tag to Mark. It seems pretty BONZO GONZO to me. Mark gets dumped, however, and Chris is hung out to dry with a running lariat and superplex from Barry to finish at 7:29. Lethargic squash for Dusty’s boyz. 1/2* – Stan Hansen offers Tony Schiavone his usual haute couture interview on the subject of his match with Vader at WrestleWar. – Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker v. Brian Pillman. Pillman bridges out of a knucklelock and dropkicks Parker, working the arm. Crucifix gets two. Headscissors puts Parker out, and Pillman slingshots him back in and keeps on the arm. Parker tries to slingshot him into the ring in turn, but Pillman lands on his feet and spinkicks him. Parker gets his Token Jobber Offense in, and stalls on the ramp to sell the devastating force of the bodyslam that he managed to unleash. Indeed, I’ve seen many good men beaten by the slamming of their body onto the mat like that, but Pillman is made of sterner stuff and comes back to hit a plancha onto Parker. They head back in, and Parker is so busy arguing with the referee (“Tastes great!” “Less filling!”) that he doesn’t notice Pillman coming off the top rope with a flying bodypress to finish at 3:18. Another squash in a series – collect them all! 1/2* – Arm-wrestling match: Paul E. Dangerously v. Missy Hyatt. Paul is READY and pumped…until Missy takes off her jacket to reveal low-cut spandex, resulting in Paul’s head exploding and an easy win for Missy. With modern perspective, one might wonder why Missy had that effect on Paul, but it was a more innocent time then.  (Hey, he certainly swears that he’s straight.)  – WCW World title: Ric Flair v. Scott Steiner. There’s a story surrounding this match that I’ll get to later. Stalling to start. Scott overpowers him and Flair stalls again. Flair works a wristlock but gets overpowered again. Steiner with a backdrop and sideslam for two. Flair bails. Back in, Flair unleashes the chops, but gets hiptossed. Steiner works the arm, and they do some matwork, which leads to Flair bailing again. Back in, Flair cheapshots the knee but gets Steinerlined. Flair bails again. Yeesh. Steiner suplexes him for two and pummels him in the corner, but gets atomic dropped. I’m not sure he HAS anything to hurt left after all the steroids, but I’ll pretend. Another atomic drop, and Flair tosses him. Steiner sunset flips in, but Flair punches him in the face to block. Pinfall attempt in the corner gets two. Now we’re getting somewhere. Ad break, and and we return with Steiner putting Flair in his own figure-four. Flair makes the ropes, and both guys tumble over the top on a cross body. Flair uses the kneebreaker on the floor, however, and they head back in, where Flair starts unmercifully pounding on the knee. Whoo! Just felt it had to be said. Figure-four, and he grabs the ropes for leverage, but Rick Steiner points out Flair’s indiscretion to the ref. What a fink. Backdrop suplex and now we go to school again, but Steiner reverses. Steiner gets a Rude Awakening, and tosses Flair to the corner for the Flair Flip as he bails. Steiner follows him and just kills him with a Steinerline. Awesome. Back in, Steiner pounds away, but Flair goes low. Figure-four is reversed for two. Steiner’s leg is “numb as a cucumber”, sayeth Dusty. That’s truly the strangest simile I’ve heard all week. Steiner grabs a sleeper, then clotheslines Flair out. Back in, Flair slugs him down and gets the kneedrop for two. Flair works a headlock to burn the rapidly-dying time, but Steiner bridges out and into the tiger driver. Flair bails, but gets Steinerlined on the way in. Another Flair Flip and this time Flair tries to complete the move by coming off the top, but Scott catches him coming down, and TV time expires at 24:39. This was basically the first 25 minutes of a 40-minute ***** match, but it wasn’t that match by any means. ***1/2 The story behind the match, which I’ve told before, is that Steiner was in fact being offered the title on a silver platter by both Flair & Dusty, which is one of the few times in history where both men were unanimous in wanting the title to pass to the same guy. However, Scott didn’t want to break up the team and refused the title, rightly suspecting that they were only keeping his brother around to humor him. Shortly after this, Scott suffered what was almost a career-ending arm injury, and it took him 9 years to make it back to a level where he was a legitimate contender for the World title again. That’s life in the funny pages, kids.  (Honestly, I’m not sure where the Steiner story came from, as it’s clearly not the case and it wouldn’t even make sense to have Scott get the World title at that point.  Probably RSPW lore stemming from something that just got repeated enough to have the ring of truth.  It certainly became much easier to check these things once I had the WON.)  The Bottom Line: Steiner-Flair is quite interesting and well worthwhile, but the rest is, frankly, junk and not worth the trouble of tracking down. Things would of course get much, MUCH worse for WCW in 1991, but thankfully this during Dusty’s initial booking period, where he burned up all his good booking ideas in one shot before the Ric Flair Disaster of July that nearly destroyed the promotion six months into its existance. Recommendation to avoid unless you’re overwhelmed with curiosity to see Ric Flair v. Scott Steiner in their only title match.

Clash Countdown: #13

The SmarK Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XIII: Thanksgiving Thunder! I had of course originally done this one many years back, but it reads like dogshit now, so here’s a fresh version! This show originally aired November 1990. Live from Jacksonville, FL Your hosts are Jim Ross & Paul E. Dangerously. The Fabulous Freebirds v. The Southern Boys This was scheduled as a six-man with Eaton on the heel side and El Gigante on the face side, but apparently the Freebirds intercepted Gigante’s luggage and sent him back to Argentina. Michael Hayes even admits it, so the referee sends Eaton back to the dressing room to make it a tag team match. OK then. The Boys clear the ring with dropkicks and the Freebirds regroup a couple of times. Later: The Black Scorpion does some evil magic! So there’s that to look forward to. Smothers dodges Hayes on the apron, but gets sent into the railing as the Freebirds take over. Garvin goes up and gets slammed off, but the ref doesn’t see the tag and it’s BONZO GONZO with all sorts of anarchy going on. People are fighting without a tag, guys are going over the top rope, and finally Hayes DDTs Smothers for the pin at 4:47. Good, they were cheating anyway. *1/2 The inexplicable Freebirds push continues. Sting is out for a quick promo with Tony, but before they can throw to commercial it’s THE BLACK SCORPION! Or at least his voice on the PA, complete with evil stock music. And that’s pretty evil, because he COULD be paying some composer royalties but chooses not to. Buddy Landell v. Brian Pillman Budro attacks and lays Pillman out with a kneedrop, but Pillman rolls him up for two. Small package gets two. Backslide gets two. Pillman clotheslines him to the ramp and hits him with Air Pillman, but Buddy manages to block a piledriver and send Pillman into the railing for his signature bump. They slug it out on the floor, but Pillman hits the post. He comes back with a rather dangerous springboard crossbody off the apron, and they head back in for an abdominal stretch while Heyman lies about Landell idolizing Flair and Pillman being trained by Flair. Pillman with another crossbody, but Buddy reverses to a backbreaker for two. Pillman comes back with a backdrop and they fight on top, where Pillman finishes with a high cross at 5:50. Man, this was ALL action. Buddy must have been snorting the good shit backstage. ***1/4 The Big Cat v. Brad Armstrong Big Cat was Curtis Hughes before he figured out that a black guy in wrestling could make more money as a bodyguard. Brad Armstrong is currently the Candyman here, the dude who goes around…uh…giving candy to kids at ringside. Now, I’m not saying parents were being irresponsible, but if some sweaty dude in a speedo was trying to give my kid a candy cane, I’d politely decline. Hughes catches Brad with a trio of backbreakers and a slam for two. Poor Brad bumps around for him, but Hughes misses a charge. Brad comes back with a dropkick, but Hughes finishes with a Torture Rack at 4:30. This is apparently supposed to make us want to see Hughes challenge Lex Luger. * Brian Lee v. Tom Zenk Given that Lee looks of normal height here, I have no idea how anyone could buy him as Undertaker. Lee overpowers Zenk and then we get the most fucked-up move I’ve seen in forever, as Zenk tries a crossbody out of the corner and Lee totally forgot to hit his mark, standing in the corner and leaving Zenk hanging out to dry with an awkward splat on the mat. What the fuck, guys? Lee goes to the chinlock and they slug it out and can’t even get their shit together with simple hiptosses, so Zenk goes up and finishes quickly with a missile dropkick at 3:11 to end this disaster. I think they literally blew every spot in the match. DUD Michael Wallstreet no longer wants to be called Mike Rotunda because he inherited a shitload of money and now has an assistant named Alexandra York who programs his matches out on a computer for him. What is he, DDP? Michael Wallstreet v. The Star Blazer Little known fact: Star Blazer is the brother of Blue Blazer. OK, I made that up. Blazer does OK for himself with a hiptoss and dropkick to start, and Wallstreet bails for more advice from York. That advice: Don’t get into a serious relationship with New Jack. Wallstreet catches Star Blazer with a necksnap and gets the abdominal stretch. Mr. Blazer comes back with a rollup for two and some slams, but Wallstreet rolls him into a Boston crab and finishes with the samoan drop at 4:12. Not exactly a smashing debut for the new character. ½* And now, Gordon Solie with the WCW Top Tens! Tag teams: 1. The Steiner Brothers 2. Flair & Anderson 3. The Nasty Boys 4. The Freebirds 5. Morton & Rich 6. The Southern Boys 7. The Master Blasters 8. Tim Horner & Brad Armstrong 9. Big Cat & Motor City Madman 10. The Juicer & El Gigante World champions: Doom Singles: 1. Stan Hansen 2. Sid Vicious 3. Lex Luger 4. Ric Flair 5. Arn Anderson 6. Terry Taylor 7. Brian Pillman 8. Michael Wallstreet 9. Tom Zenk 10. Bobby Eaton Champion: Sting. As a reminder, the information contained in this WCW Top Ten is for general guidance on matters of interest only. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. Given the changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, and the inherent hazards of electronic communication, there may be delays, omissions or inaccuracies in information contained in this WCW Top Ten. Accordingly, the information on this WCW Top Ten is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not herein engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, or other professional advice and services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult your mom. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this WCW Top Ten has been obtained from reliable sources, Your mom is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. All information in this WCW Top Ten is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including, but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will Your mom, its related partnerships or corporations, or the partners, agents or employees thereof be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information in this WCW Top Ten or for any consequential, special or similar damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages. Certain links in this WCW Top Ten connect to other WCW Top Tens maintained by third parties over whom Your mom has no control. Your mom makes no representations as to the accuracy or any other aspect of information contained in other WCW Top Tens. Any further questions can be directed to deez nuts. Pat O’ Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament, African Region Finals: Sgt. Krueger & Col. DeKlerk v. Kalua & The Botswana Beast And who doesn’t enjoy some Kahlua now and then? The black guys are merely introduced from “Africa”, despite Botswana Beast having the country RIGHT IN HIS NAME. So yeah, Krueger is Ray “Apollo” Licachelli, who is best known as the lame babyface Doink the Clown that killed the gimmick, and DeKlerk is Ted “Rocco Rock” Petty. You can LITERALLY see the crowd getting up to go take a shit during this match as the white Africans beat on the black Africans before the Beast overpowers them. DeKlerk does a nice somersault off the top to evade the Beast and goes up again, but gets caught with a powerslam for two. Sgt. Doink comes in for the brawl and as usual, the white guys cheat the black guys and win at 4:49. It’s like a microcosm of apartheid played out before our eyes. On the bright side, Kalua makes a mean Paralyzer, I’ve heard. ½* Lex Luger is out for a promo, but Big Cat has a problem with him. I’m sure Luger cares. Lex Luger v. The Motor City Madman There’s not really much info on the Madman out there, other than his name was Mike Moore and he was fucking terrible and didn’t last in the business much past this. Big Cat comes out for the distraction and STILL gets his ass kicked by Luger because he’s such a fuckup. JUST TAKE ALL MY MONEY NOW! After Luger gets a good warmup by beating on the Cat, Madman attacks and he’s still so useless that Luger is able to destroy him with elbows. Jim Ross gets his patented diplomacy in by noting that Madman is “not a traditionally proficient amateur-based wrestler”. So, like I said, he’s fucking terrible. Luger misses an elbowdrop and Madman makes his big move with a sideslam, which Lex cheerfully no-sells and then finishes with a clothesline at 2:33, looking like he gives zero fucks on this day. This was hilariously awful. But at least I was entertained by how bad it was. -* The Nasty Boys v. The Renegade Warriors Speaking of hilariously terrible, these guys. The Nasties double-team Mark Youngblood, but Chris comes in with a crossbody on Knobbs and the Warriors work the arm. Saggs comes in and tosses Chris over the top to take over while JR hypes the Meadowlands show on January 11 where the Nasties would apparently challenge the Steiners again. That’s random, although that ended up being the show where Flair regained the World title from Sting. The Nasties were of course long gone by then. Saggs with a shoulderbreaker, but the Steiners run in for the DQ at 5:00 out of nowhere. OK then. ½* That would be the swan song for the Nasties in WCW, I think. The Night Stalker v. Sid Vicious This of course is another legendary turd plopped out by WCW during this time. Night Stalker is a very young Bryan Clarke and holy god was he terrible. They mess up running the ropes and Sid jumps into a bearhug from Night Stalker, selling a hug like his lung are collapsing. Sid fights free and they slug it out in the corner, as Clarke has no clue what he’s doing here. They trade TERRIBLE punches and Night Stalker kind of works on the ribs, but now Big Cat joins us again, getting more airtime than Ric Flair and Sting combined. Sid beats him up yet again and Stalker charges with his giant axe, but luckily it misses and Sid is able to hit him with it for the pin at 3:35. If you HAD a giant axe and you WANTED to murder the guy with it, why not just do that? Pretty sure this won Worst Match of the Year in 1990. –*** With WCW typical logic, they fired Bryan Clarke and renewed the contract of the giant axe so that it could be recycled for Black Blood a few months later.  The Freebirds continue celebrating, but the Southern Boys (including Smothers with Zubaz pants and a fanny pack, being the most pro wrestler that a pro wrestler could be) bring out El Gigante, who will apparently be on them like a duck on a junebug. So…is that a bad thing for them? Does the junebug have a problem with the duck? Whom in this scenario is the duck and whom is the junebug? Sorry, I don’t speak southern dumbshit. Magnum Force v. The Steiner Brothers Yup, it’s another random terribly named generic WCW team. I don’t even know who these goofs are, but one has “Rick” on his tights so I’m guessing his name is Rick. But it’s WCW, so one never knows. Mr. Rick gets destroyed by Scott and the Frankensteiner finishes at 2:00 before we can even learn their names. And now the Nasties attack in retaliation, leading to a blowoff that never happened. The Horsemen lay out the stips for tonight: If Butch Reed wins, Doom gets Flair’s yacht, and if Flair wins, they get a title shot and Teddy Long chauffeurs for him for a day. Black servitude is HILARIOUS. The Black Scorpion video package recaps the thrilling saga for us, leading to tonight’s face-to-face meeting. So Sting comes out for an interview with Paul E. Dangerously, and then the Black Scorpion comes out and does EVIL MAGIC. HE FUCKING TURNS A GUY INTO A TIGER! Do you know how much that’s gonna hurt WCW’s insurance premiums? You think Obamacare covers that shit? Would you fuck with this dude? More importantly, why would WCW’s production crew go along with hauling the guy’s magic equipment down to the ring so he can perform his evil sleight of hand? I must be mellowing because now I just find this whole thing hilarious instead of offensively bad. I guess now that WCW is already long dead we can just laugh uproariously at it. Butch Reed v. Ric Flair I’m almost disappointed that we’re closing out this trainwreck with a decent match. Given the cartoonish “plane full of clowns hitting a helicopter driven by a cross-dressing Frankenstein with everyone crashing into a munitions dump that’s actually a front for aliens” nature of the show leading up to it, I was almost hoping for something less mundane as a main event. Like El Gigante in a ladder match or something. Oh well. Flair throws chops in the corner and Reed decides to keep up with him and then slugs Flair down as well. They actually did this match a bunch of times in the 80s and it was always pretty good. Reed with a press slam and he clotheslines Flair to the floor. Back in for a Flair pinfall reversal sequence as Reed gets a backslide for two off that. Reed pounds away in the corner and follows with a dropkick, but Flair pokes him in the eyes. Paul notes that you can’t work out the eyelids in a gym. I bet John Cena could. You could probably rip out Cena’s eyeball and he’d take three weeks off and return with a regenerated one just in time for the PPV. Flair suckers Simmons in to distract the ref and then the Horsemen cheat like crazy and beat on Reed outside. And the fans think that’s just great. Poor Nick Patrick is in way over his head here. So Flair takes over with chops in the corner, really laying them in, but Reed fires back again and we get a Flair Flip. And now Simmons gets HIS shots in on Flair outside. Back in, Flair goes to the knee, but Reed gets his own figure-four. Arn is nice enough to pull him to the ropes for a break. Patrick actually pulls Reed off of Flair, which is a major reffing no-no. Flair bails to the apron and Reed suplexes him in for two. Reed misses a flying elbow, but comes back with a clothesline for two. They slug it out in the corner again and Flair goes down, so Reed hits another press slam. Flair punches him down for two and Long puts Reed’s foot on the ropes to break. Reed again with the press slam for two, but this time Arn pulls out the ref to break. Reed goes up with the flying shoulderblock, but the ref is distracted by all the shenanigans outside. Reed gets tossed into the ref on the floor and Simmons lays out Flair, but Arn hits Reed with a chair and Flair gets the pin at 14:10. I was kind of wishing Reed would just go babyface here, but the “everyone cheating like crazy” aspect was also fun, so I can’t fault him. *** The Pulse Are you Curtis Hughes’ mom? A fan of terrible amateur magic? Curious how many Worst Match of the Year candidates can be squeezed into a live two hour broadcast? Someone in suspense wondering about the finals of the African region of the Pat O’Connor Memorial tag team tournament? Then this show is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for you. Everyone else, take a bigtime pass on it.

Clash Countdown: #12

The SmarK Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions XII: Mountain Madness – Live from Asheville, NC – Your hosts are Jim Ross & Bob Caudle. – Opening match: The Freebirds v. The Southern Boys. Man, these guys fought each other a lot in 1990. This was supposed to be Freebirds & Buddy Roberts v. Southern Boys & Bob Armstrong, but Buddy hurt his drinking elbow and has to sit it out. Tracy hammers on Hayes in the corner to start, so Michael lets Garvin give it a try. He quickly gets superkicked and bails. The Birds go for the double-team, but Armstrong hits them with a bodypress for two. Freebirds bail again and confer with Buddy. Tracy escapes another double-team, and the Birds take a powder again. Back in, Tracy wins a slugfest, but gets popped in the mouth and sent flying out. Garvin adds a cheapshot on the floor for good measure. Tracy dropkicks his way back in, but Garvin keeps him in the heel corner, where Hayes gets a bulldog for two. He blocks a sunset flip and stomps away, and we hit the chinlock. Tracy escapes but another right from Hayes puts him down again. Garvin goes up, never a good idea for a Freebird, and gets slammed off to allow the hot tag. Backdrops and dropkicks everywhere! It’s breaking loose in Tulsa! Roberts clobbers Armstrong, but Bullet Bob returns the favor on Hayes and Armstrong gets two. The match turns into a mess and they start blowing stuff, but a double sunset flip finishes at 8:32 before it can get too badly out of control. The Freebirds of course exact their revenge on Bob Armstrong afterwards. Nothing outside of the usual here. *1/2 – Buddy Landell v. Mike Rotunda. Landell works a headlock, as does Rotunda. Then we get an exciting switch to an armbar. Buddy was, at this point, working a bizarre angle involving his friendship with Skid Row. (I don’t even REMEMBER that.  Like, a friendship with the rock band Skid Row?  Weird.)  Buddy clotheslines out of the armbar to take over and drops an elbow for two. To the top, but Rotunda catches him coming down and comes back with a reverse elbow for two. Landell grabs a facelock to slow it down again, but Mike backslides him for the pin at 5:38. Wow, a backslide, what an electric finisher. *  (Mike of course was about to hit on the money gimmick, waka waka, with Michael Wallstreet.)  – Tim Horner & Brad Armstrong v. The Master Blasters. This is the historic debut match for one of the great talents of our time. Steel hammers on Horner to start and the Blasters double-team him, as Iron works over the arm. Iron & Steel blow simple moves left and right, until Horner gets Brad into the ring. Iron immediately overpowers him, and Steel drops an elbow for two. Steel gets a powerslam for two. A horrible attempt at a simple elbowdrop misses and Steel keeps clubbing away. Iron gets a shoulderblock, but Armstrong makes the hot (?) tag to Horner, who tries a sleeper. Steel cuts it off, and it’s sort of halfway bonzo gonzo, although I’m loath to apply the term to this match. Horner is left in the ring for a double shoulderblock, which gets the pin for Steel at 4:49. DUD Caudle is sure that we’ll hear a lot from them in the future. We will – Iron would, years later, come back into WCW as the mysterious Dog. Oh yeah, that Steel guy is still around, too. Yes, this match was the first ever appearance of hero to drinkers and couch potatoes everywhere, Kevin Nash. Love the Mohawk, Big Kev.  (WCW had some of the DIRT WORST big generic power teams around this time.  Maximum Overdrive, Master Blasters, The Mod Squad, High Voltage later on…just a parade of crap for years on end.)  – Brian Pillman hypes a really cool idea for the weekly B-Shows: Running the gauntlet. You draw three names at random on the Power Hour on Friday, and you have to win matches with them on that show, WCW Saturday Night and The Main Event on Sunday. If you win all three by any means, you get $15,000. If you lose any of them, the three opponents get $5000 each. That’s a great idea and the WWE should do that for their own B-shows.  (Or now on their Network B-shows.  As with anything I wouldn’t trust them to maintain interest in it past one week, but it’s still a neat idea.)  The Nasty Boys v. Jackie Fulton & Terry Taylor. Another tag team debut in WCW, although not quite with the same historic ramifications as Big Poochie brought to the table. Fulton (Bobby’s brother) fights off a double-team to start and brings Taylor in for a spinning neckbreaker that gets two on Knobbs. Taylor fights them off with hiptosses, and brings Fulton back in, and he stays on Sags’ arm. Taylor comes back in and brawls out with Sags, and sends him into the ringpost. Back in, he goes back to the arm. Crossbody gets two. Taylor was of course coming off the most disastrous run any one person could possibly have had in the WWF, as it completely destroyed his marketability forever thanks to the Red Rooster gimmick. (He rebuilt himself a bit with the York Foundation deal, but I’m still astonished that he went BACK a couple of years later!)  Taylor & Fulton keep Knobbs in their corner and trade off hitting him with backdrop suplexes, but Knobbs takes Taylor down by the hair and Sags drops a knee. Taylor tries a sunset flip and gets two. “People were out of their seats on that one!” notes JR. Yeah, they’re off getting nachos. Hot tag Fulton and he bodyslams everything in sight. German suplex gets two. A bodypress is reversed by Knobbs into a powerslam, and the SHITTY ELBOW finishes at 7:09. Taylor then cleans house. The Nasties would jump to the WWF a couple of months later and become the hottest team in wrestling. This match went nowhere, slowly, and the faces controlled too long with their vanilla offense, although Fulton looked good and probably could have been something if he bulked up a bit. *1/4 – Wild Bill Irwin v. Tommy Rich. Rich attacks to start, but Irwin hits him with a high knee. Rich dumps him, and slingshots him back in. Backdrop suplex gets two. He goes to a headlock and they work off that for a bit, as Rich holds on tenaciously. That’ll wake up the formerly-hot crowd. Caudle comments on how wild the match should be, as Rich holds onto a headlock. Irwin escapes with a sideslam and kicks Rich in the face to put him down again, before tossing him. Back in, they slug it out and Rich reverses a sideslam into a sleeper, which was a nice counter. Irwin charges and hits nothing, and the THESZ PRESS, THESZ PRESS, STONE COLD STONE COLD STONE COLD finishes at 3:57. Yup. * – And now, for your eyes only, it’s the much-requested and always controversial WCW TOP TEN. Like all wrestling lists, THE WCW TOP TEN can cause some side effects. These effects are usually mild to moderate and usually don’t last longer than a few hours. Some of these side effects are more likely to occur with higher doses. The most common side effects of THE WCW TOP TEN are headache, flushing of the face, and upset stomach. Less common side effects that may occur are temporary changes in color vision (such as trouble telling the difference between blue and green objects or having a blue color tinge to them), eyes being more sensitive to light, or blurred vision. In rare instances, men have reported an erection that lasts many hours. You should call a doctor immediately if you ever have an erection that lasts more than 4 hours. If not treated right away, permanent damage to your penis could occur Heart attack, stroke, irregular heart beats, and death have been reported rarely in men reading THE WCW TOP TEN. Most, but not all, of these men had heart problems before taking this medicine. It is not possible to determine whether these events were directly related to THE WCW TOP TEN. THE WCW TOP TEN may cause other side effects besides those listed. If you want more information or develop any side effects or symptoms you are concerned about, call your booker. WCW World champion: Sting 1. Lex Luger 2. Ric Flair 3. Arn Anderson 4. Barry Windham 5. Sid Vicious 6. Stan Hansen 7. Brian Pillman 8. Junkyard Dog 9. Tommy Rich 10. Buddy Landell You just know there’s a showdown between Rich & Landell for that #9 spot coming! BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! It’s the WCW TOP TEN TAG TEAMS! Champions: Doom 1. The Steiner Brothers 2. Rock N Roll Express 3. The Horsemen 4. The Midnight Express 5. Southern Boys 6. Freebirds 7. SST 8. Brian Pillman & Tom Zenk 9. Junkyard Dog & El Gigante 10. Mike Rotunda & Tim Horner. Man, the depth chart kinda goes south after #5, doesn’t it? And how do Horner & Rotundo make the top 10, but not Horner & Lightning, who had been teaming since 1987?  (JYD and El Gigante?!?  That sounds like someone trying to punish me.)  – Stan Hansen is somewhat upset about his ranking in the top 10, and he’s going to take it out on the people above him. – Women’s World title: Susan Sexton v. Bambi. These girls were on loan from the short-lived LPWA. Bambi overpowers Sexton, but gets taken down with a drop toehold and they trade wristlocks. Sexton works on the arm, but Bambi reverses to a headscissors. Sexton overpowers her and gets a slam for one. Bambi goes to a headlock and gets a rollup for two. Bambi whips her into the corner, but gets caught with a forearm for two. Sexton backdrops her and gets an elbow for two. Bambi gets an inside cradle for two, but Sexton reverses for three at 4:09. For the guy in the feedbag last night, the ref stopped the count and re-started for Sexton. 1/2* – US tag titles: The Steiner Brothers v. Maximum Overdrive. (Hey, speaking of Maximum Overdrive!)  MO are Hunter (Tom Hunt) and Silencer, who I don’t know. Unless it’s Hunt’s usual partner, Jeff Warner, who changed his name from “Warrior” because of trademark problems with Jim Hellwig. Not that I or anyone else should really care because these bozos were just another couple of roid freaks anyway. They also get my vote for worst team name of the era, as they named themselves after the worst Stephen King movie ever. (Hey now, there’s always Dreamcatcher.)  Scott controls Hunter on the mat, and he bails. Back in, he holds a wristlock and Hunter stalls. Scott hiptosses him, resulting in more stalling. Scott backdrops him and holds off both guys with armdrags, and Rick hits them with a double Steinerline for good measure. More stalling results. Silencer (who, ironically, talks with the crowd the whole time) comes in and immediately gets suplexed by Scott, badly. I think we know who to blame there. Rick comes in and gets blindsided by him, and he gets an elbow for two. Silencer misses his cue on a criss-cross and they extend the move, until Rick can powerslam him. Hunter comes back in and eats a REALLY stiff lariat. Uh oh, they’ve pissed off Rick. The top rope double-team DDT kills him dead at 6:21. That move is just EVIL. The match was also evil, but not in a good way. -* – Stan Hansen v. Tom Zenk. Well, nice knowing you, Tom. Hansen attacks him to start and Zenk is game for a fight, but gets dragged out and beaten to a pulp as a result. Note to aspiring wrestlers: Don’t wear pink tights when fighting Stan Hansen. (Sadly Hansen didn’t stick around long enough to meet Johnny B. Badd.  That would have provided for some interesting dynamics.)  Back in, Stan gets a suplex and drops an elbow for two. He pounds on the throat with elbows, and shrugs off Zenk’s comeback attempt. He keeps walloping on Zenk, who tries another comeback, but puts his head down and gets mugged. Backdrop suplex, but Zenk fights back with dropkicks and gets two. Smart move. Zenk charges, and Hansen just walks right over him and finishes with the lariat at 3:18. Total massacre. 1/2* – US title match: Lex Luger v. Ric Flair. This is the only time I can think of where Flair was CHALLENGING Luger for a title. Luger overpowers Flair to start, and then gets suckered into a test of strength. Flair of course cheapshots him, but Luger no-sells the chops and press slams Flair. Ric takes a breather outside, and returns to lay in a hellacious chop, which Luger no-sells. Another press-slam and Luger dumps Flair, after Flair practically flashed a neon sign saying “clothesline me over the top rope”. They brawl out and back in again and Luger no-sells everything Flair throws at him, and gets a third press-slam. The HORIZONTAL ELBOW OF DEATH misses, of course, and Flair takes over. Luger blasts out of the corner with a lariat, but Flair tricks the ref into checking on an “injury”, thus buying time. Luger walks right into a sucker punch, and Flair tosses him to take over, for real this time. Luger eats railing a few times, and they head back in, where Flair stomps away. He stands up Luger and chops him so hard that he goes flying backwards into the corner. They head out and Flair starts chopping him for the benefit of the front row, drawing the ire of the teenage girls in the audience. Back in, he goes to the knee, as usual, and keeps making frenzied asides to the camera. Must have had some REALLY good shit before the match. In the corner, he goes into an insane sequence where he chops and stomps the knee in succession. Luger fights back with a burst of energy, but Flair pokes him in the eyes on the way down. That is so cool. Luger blocks a hiptoss with a backslide for two, but Flair chops away. And CHOPS. Luger shrugs it off and hammers away in the corner, but Flair brings him out with atomic drop. Luger no-sells and clotheslines him for two. Flair comes back with a snapmare for two. Flair goes up and gets slammed, and Luger Flips him for good measure and clotheslines him coming along the apron. Back in, another press-slam (the fourth for the match) and a powerslam, and it’s rack time. Flair tries to bail, and then grabs a headlock, only to get caught in a bearhug. They head to the top and Luger superplexes him (a beauty one, too) for two. Luger pounds away in the corner and Flair goes low to stop it, and they tumble out to the floor and keep fighting. Stan Hansen hits the ring and decimates Luger for the DQ at 14:27. Really good match, but nothing we haven’t seen a million times before. ***1/2 – WCW World title: Sting v. The Black Scorpion. This is the Sgt. Pepper era for Sting. The Black Scorpion we’ve been over before, and in this case the character was being played by Al Perez. The storyline worked well in the short-term, as this match drove the show to a strong 5.0 cable rating, up from the 4’s that Clashes had been doing that year. The Scorpion attacks to start and pounds away in the corner, but Sting fights back, only to get choked down. Lots of choking. Sting tries to run away, but gets run down by the Scorpion and pounded outside. Sting rams him into the railing, but gets hit with a knee and they head back in. Scorpion keeps pounding, but Sting fights back. He goes for the mask, but Scorpion rams him into the corner and chokes away. They had to keep it VERY generic with his moveset, so that people couldn’t guess his identity. They head out to the ramp and Sting gets slammed out there, but he goes for the mask again. Scorpion runs back into the ring, and Sting follows him in and gets a dropkick. Now Sting returns the choking favor, but no one is better than the BLACK SCORPION, and he demonstrates that. This match is like a Sunday afternoon with nothing on TV and only the Financial section of the paper left to read. (That was a reference to Douglas Adams’ “Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul”, by the way.)  Sting comes back with a slam and goes up for a bodypress that gets two. The evil Scorpion gets a evil kneedrop for an evil near-fall. A mysterious foot to the throat! JR’s line du jour: “There’s only one World champion, and he’s the guy with the pink boots on!” Indeed. (You can tell I was getting bored by that point.)  Stinger splash finishes clean at 8:11. 1/2* Total kick and punch fest. Sting goes for the mask, but there’s a second one on underneath. The REAL Black Scorpion comes down the ramp and glares at Sting, thus rendering the previous match totally pointless. Sadly, the story would continue… The Bottom Line: The lineup didn’t look bad on paper, but unfortunately it didn’t translate to the actual matches, most of which were quite forgettable and/or dreadfully dull. The Luger-Flair match is good, but it’s Luger-Flair so it’s not like you’re getting anything new there. Recommendation to avoid, unless you’re a Nash completist (and who isn’t really?) and want his ELECTRIFYING debut on tape for posterity.

Clash Countdown: #11

The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XI – This is from the thick of the Ole Anderson booking disaster, as he pushed his friends for cheap and fired and/or buried more expensive talent in hopes of getting them to quit. And the result is the main event that’s forthcoming. – Live from Charleston, SC – Your hosts are JR & Bob Caudle. – Opening match: The Southern Boys v. The Freebirds. I always wonder why WCW didn’t get the rights to 38 Special’s “Wild Eyed Southern Boys” for entrance music. (Wouldn’t matter now anyway.)  Southern Boys do a do-see-do and clean house on the ‘birds to start, and they bail. Back in, Garvin pounds on Tracy Smothers in the corner and gets a knee for two. BODYSLAM OF DOOM gets two. And people wonder why I hate these guys so much. Steve Armstrong comes flying in with a bodypress on both Birds, and they bail again. Dig that crazy stalling! Back in, Hayes spends some quality time sharing his feelings with the front row, and having had a therapeutic experience decides to rejoin the match. Pretty hot crowd tonight, too. Hayes grabs a headlock on Armstrong, but gets overpowered. Garvin gets a backbreaker for two. Hayes works on the arm and heads up, but gets slammed off and Tracy gets the hot tag. HICK ON FIRE! Reverse elbows all around and it’s BONZO GONZO as Tracy rolls up Garvin, but Hayes rolls them over with a lariat and Garvin gets a Shining Wizard. Armstrong then comes off the top onto them, reverses the pinfall, and the Southern Boys triumph at 7:15. Short and inoffensive tag match. ** – Tommy Rich v. Bam Bam Bigelow. I seem to recall that this was supposed to be something else originally but got changed at the last minute. Bigelow looks weird without sleeves on his tights. He tosses Rich around, but Tommy keeps slugging back. He starts working on the arm as Caudle predicts Tommy Rich will pull out an upset. Remind me not to have Bob pick my lottery numbers. Rich is just going nuts on that wristlock. Bigelow headbutts him down and charges, but gets rolled up for two. Tommy keeps punching, but gets caught with an inverted atomic drop and press-slammed. A melodramatic choke draws a DQ at 3:42. Wow, Caudle gets it right after all. That’s one of the few times I’ve actually seen the ref DQ someone for not breaking at five. (Well now you can watch RAW and see it every damn week!)  DUD “I’ll kill everybody!” Bam Bam yells at the camera. By choking them out one by one? Well, kudos on the ambition, but the efficiency could use some work. (It is pretty rare to get a heel who just outright decides to murder people.)  – Preview video for some jabronie named “Big Van Vader”. Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but that gimmick was actually designed by Antonio Inoki for Ultimate Warrior. – Gary Capetta interviews El Gigante, in Spanish. This was about as entertaining as you’d imagine. On the other hand, every day brings us closer to the potential return of Giant Gonzalez to feud with Undertaker again.  (Well, no, sadly that is no longer an option.)  – The Samoan Swat Team v. Captain Mike Rotundo & Tom Zenk. I would be remiss in not mentioning Rotundo’s gimmick du jour in this match, which was that of a skipper. I guess we were supposed to be sitting in the audience going “Dang, Jethro, I love boating too!” or something. (Oh, I’ll get it over yet, you just wait.  Also, the sub-genre of boating captain gimmicks is ripe for exploration again, I feel.  It seems like Tugboat had so much more to say as a character, ya know?)  Rotundo fights off an attack from Fatu and hiptosses him to the rampway. Tama (who had taken over for Samu at this point) comes in, but gets slammed and dropkicked by Zenk, and bails. He was called “Samoan Savage”, but fuck WCW, it’s Tama. Rotundo gets a cross-body for nothing, because the ref is distracted, and the samoans use chicanery to reverse the pinfall for two. The pairing here is one of the few cases where the relationship is straightforward – Fatu (Solofa Fatu) and Tama (Sam Fatu) are brothers. Fatu uses the VULCAN NEVER PINCH OF DOOM, and then clotheslines him down again and dumps him. The SST works over Rotundo in the corner as JR alternates between “Samoan Swat Team” and “Wild Samoans”, and Rotundo clotheslines both of them and makes the hot tag to Zenk. Zenk, being pretty rather than intelligent, tries the old double-noggin knocker and gets clobbered for his troubles. Never try to ram samoans’ heads together. Zenk, however, switches off with Rotundo in the most unlikely switcheroo you’ll ever see, and a small package finishes for the faces at 5:22. That was pretty weird. Another decent but shortish match. **1/4 – Brian Pillman v. Mean Mark Callous. Callous is being managed by Paul Heyman, back when he had hair and could see his toes. This was very, very soon after his WCW debut, and he was only about a year into the business at this point. He attacks Pillman to start and pounds him down. Pillman was being punished by Ole Anderson for signing a big-money contract under the previous administration. (I was actually going to relate the story about Pillman and Ole’s contract negotiation here, typed it up, and then realized that I already told the story in the VERY NEXT SENTENCE in the original rant.  Don’t get old, people, it’s just not worth it.)  Anderson had a famous exchange with Pillman, as he warned him to renegotiate, or job in opening matches for the rest of his career. Pillman responded that he’d be the highest-paid curtain jerker in history and love it. Pillman gets bumped into the railing and tries a crucifix, but Callous rams him into the corner to break and drops a big elbow for two. We hit the chinlock, and Pillman escapes and walks into an elbow. That gets two. Pillman keeps fighting back with chops, but gets sideslammed. Really good agility from a young Mark Callaway at this point. Pillman gets whipped into the corner, but a charge misses and Pillman tries another comeback. He tries power instead of speed, and it fails in the form of getting powerslammed, however. Callous misses a legdrop and Pillman keeps chopping and hits him with a dropkick, but gets tossed. He skins the cat back in, heads up, and hits Callous with a missile dropkick. They mess up an irish whip reversal that was supposed to set up the heart punch finish, and recover as Callous hits him with a hotshot for the weak pin at 5:40. Pillman was game for carrying the load until the awkward finish. **1/2  (That’s what she said?)  – US tag title match: The Midnight Express v. The Rock N Roll Express. Eaton starts with Gibson and escapes a hammerlock, and Eaton gets frustrated quickly. Criss-cross and Eaton gets taken down with a headscissors. Lane comes in and nails him with a back kick, but Gibson gets an enzuigiri. Morton tags in and they work Lane over in the corner. Criss- cross ends with Lane getting hiptossed, but he slugs Morton in the mouth. Charge misses, however, and Ricky backdrops him, and armdrags Eaton on the way in. Rana and Eaton bails to the corner. Lane comes in and gets hit with an armdrag as well, and the RNR go for the arm. Gibson atomic drops Lane into the corner off a criss-cross, and it’s back to the face corner for a Morton rollup that gets two. Back to the armbar, and Eaton comes in to turn the tide. They head up top and Morton blocks a superplex, nearly falling on his head in the process. Yikes. It’s a CHINESE FIRE-DRILL and the MX double-backdrop Gibson, but both RNRs rollup both MXs for a collective two-count. Everyone backs off to regroup again. Morton hiptosses Lane, but Lane blocks a rana attempt and turns it into a double-team that puts Ricky down. They work him over with a necksnap and elbowdrop that gets two for Eaton. Eaton misses a charge, hot tag Gibson. He cleans house like a French maid and Eaton tumbles out with Morton as a result. Gibson goes to a leglock on Lane while Eaton bumps Morton into the railing, and Bobby nails Gibson off the top for two. Morton is back in and it’s BONZO GONZO, as the RNR hit Eaton with the double dropkick for two. Lane breaks it up, so the ref DQs the champs at 11:49. Holy CRAP that’s lame. Pretty uninspired stuff here. **3/4  (Ole Anderson was of course not a fan of the Midnight Express, either.)  – Doug Furnas v. Barry Windham. Furnas overpowers Windham, but gets hiptossed. This was WELL before Furnas was any good. Just so you know. He gets a sunset flip for two and tackles Windham out of the ring. Barry goes to the eyes to take over, always a favorite, and Furnas tries to get cute with a backflip out of the corner, and blows it. The perils of live TV and rookies. He gets a press-slam regardless, and destroys Windham with a lariat for two. Windham bails again and gets yanked back in by Furnas, who charges and gets equally destroyed by a lariat. Well, I guess they’re even now. Floatover suplex gets two. Windham’s slam attempt is reversed to a cradle for two. JR of course loves Furnas, who hails from Oklahoma. Furnas comes back with a faceplant and a snap belly to belly for two. Powerslam gets two. A badly botched dropkick ends with Furnas acting like he missed and Windham acting like it hit, and Windham finishes him with a backdrop suplex at 5:41. Windham was still good enough to hold it together in 1990, despite Furnas blowing everything he tried. **  (And yet another depressing young death.)  US title match: Lex Luger v. Sid Vicious. Luger is wearing his hot pink tights, so you know he means business. Sid attacks Luger from behind and uses the BACK RAKE OF DEATH, but Luger gets a clothesline for the pin at 0:23. To this day I have no idea what the fuck that was all about, unless they were running long. If someone who was reading the WON in 1990 can enlighten me, please do so. – NWA World tag title: Doom v. The Steiner Brothers. Doom’s SNME graphic is quite funky – the “OO” in their name is formed by the eyes of a skull, and it’s projected over video of an atomic blast. You see, they’re the heels. Scott starts with Ron Simmons, and they slug it out. Scott gets the full-on Blockbuster slam, as he essentially suplexes him backwards while holding him in a bodyslam position, and he doesn’t let go. That’s a fucking awesome move and you know Scott is FEELING IT when he’s pulling out shit like that. Simmons pounds back, but Scott casually hits him with a clothesline to the back of the head and sends him running to the corner for a tag. Reed tries hammering on Scott, but can’t overpower him. Scott catches a surprise backslide to counter a leapfrog, for two, and slams him a couple of times. Scott used to be amazing. (Geez, get a room.  No, wait, that would probably be horrifying.)  Rick comes in and walks into a cheapshot from Simmons, but comes back with a MONSTER belly to belly. Reed tries it again and pounds away, but can’t hiptoss Rick. Reed takes a timeout, but Rick pulls him out of the corner and rolls him up for two. He fights his way into the wrong corner, however, and gets blindsided by a Simmons clothesline on the outside. Back in, Reed hits him with a spinning neckbreaker for two. He pounds on Rick’s head with the soupbone rights and gets a massive clothesline which Rick sells like death. The Steiners were so awesome when they wanted to play ball. Simmons comes in, but puts his head down and gets punted. Reed decides to come in via the top, cutting off any potential tag. Rick gets tossed over the top behind the ref’s back, and sent into the post for good measure. If you’re gonna cheat, cheat big. Rick tries to come back, but Reed kicks him in the face and gets a butterfly suplex. Elbowdrop gets two. We hit the chinlock, and Rick fights out and dodges a charge, allowing him to hit Reed with a double axehandle off the middle rope. I have to question the strategic value of that move. He finally opts for the hot tag to Scott, who hits both Doom members with better dropkicks than most cruiserweights throw. Powerslam and it’s BONZO GONZO! Scott and Simmons head to the top, but Reed uses the POWER OF THE PUNCH to give Simmons the pin at 11:15 while Rick gets a meaningless fall on Reed. It’s purportedly a double-pin, but Scott and Simmons were the legal men and clearly Rick’s pin of Reed meant nothing. I think they booked it that way to protect the Steiners, but it’s kind of silly. It should be noted that those of you who think I’m just kidding when I say that WCW made announcers call things “international objects” in order to be politically correct, JR indeed uses the term here. Really good power match. ***1/4 – Paul Orndorff v. Arn Anderson. It’s the battle of the second bananas! Man, why didn’t that Dudes With Attitudes v. Horsemen feud win any awards? Orndorff works a headlock on Arn and they do a criss-cross that results in Orndorff gaining the upper hand. Back to the headlock, and Paul gets a backslide for two. Orndorff punches him to the outside, and chases him into a MAIN EVENT SLEEPER. Well, he’s no HHH. Arn reverses. He’s no HHH either. If these guys could just learn to work WWE main event style, they might draw some money. Orndorff takes him down with the Dusty-variation on the figure-four, and gets a near-fall from it. Paul works on the leg, but walks into the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. See, HHH has ruined the move for me so much that I can’t even enjoy it when Arn does it anymore. Arn works on the back and hammers away in the corner, giving Paul the old bootlacing and chokejob. He goes to the abdominal stretch while we play “Is he holding the ropes?” with the ref. General AA rule: If he starts holding the ropes in an abdominal stretch, he’s not trying. The length of the abdominal stretch spot is generally inversely proportional to the number of stars the match gets. We hit the chinlock to emphasize this, and they do the usual collision in the corner spot for the double count. Orndorff slugs away to come back, but gets hit with an atomic drop. He comes back again with a high knee and the BOOGIE WOOGIE ELBOWDROP OF DEATH for two. Kneelift and another elbowdrop get two. Orndorff goes up for a pump splash, but hits the knees and gets rolled up for two, and reverses for the pin at 11:37. Major yawner. *1/2 These guys need to learn to work! They’re too small! They can’t work WWE Main Event Style! Am I missing anything? – NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Junkfood Dog. Flair’s graphical representation shows a somewhat, shall we say, romanticized notion of his muscularity. Picture HHH’s body with Flair’s head on it. This is a rather famous match, although not for any good reason. Dog slugs Flair down to start and overpowers him. The headbutts follow and Flair retreats over the top to consult with Ole. Dog no-sells all of Flair’s chops and hammers away in the corner, and gets a horrible clothesline to send Flair begging again. Flair goes to the eyes, but Dog keeps no-selling Flair’s offense in the corner. More chops, nothing sold. Dog slugs back and Flair Flops, and then gets backdropped out of the corner. You know, usually when Flair bumps like a madman for a guy, he gets SOME offense in. Flair retreats and grabs a chair, which Dog no-sells, and pounds away in the corner again. Flair Flip and he comes off the top and gets caught coming down. Another backdrop for Flair and Flair FINALLY gets a knee to the back to knock Dog down, but he immediately no-sells it and slams Flair off the top. Headbutt and JYD pounds away on the ground, which for some reason brings in Ole and the Horsemen for the DQ at 6:16. Holy CRAP that was an awful Flair match. Flair got absolutely ZERO offense, against a Dog who was just grotesquely out of shape, with flab hanging everywhere, and who was sucking wind about a minute in. This was an absolute hatchet job by Ole Anderson on Flair, in payback for Flair being booker in 1989. Just brutal. DUD, which is probably one of the worst Flair ratings I’ve ever given. And this is the guy who carried El Gigante to a *** match!  (Yeah, well, they’d drive him out of the promotion soon enough.)  The Bottom Line: Actually there’s a couple of decent matches here, in the form of RNR/MX (which is like pizza – even when it’s bad, it’s pretty good) and Doom/Steiners, a totally underrated feud. Very mildly recommended.

Clash Countdown: #10

The SK Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions X: Texas Shootout! – Yee-haw! Live from Corpus Christi, Texas. – Your hosts are Jim Cornette and Jim Ross – As a general note on this show, dollars to donuts says that WCW stole someone from the WWF’s production department in January of 1990, because this sucker is produced to look EXACTLY like a Saturday Night’s Main Event. Including cheesy pre-match bluescreen promos, cartoonish skits, and exaggerated logos to introduce the wrestlers.  (Makes sense, since SNME was in decline by that point, which makes it the perfect target for WCW’s cheap attempts at copying them.)    – Opening match: Steve “Dr. Death” Williams v. The Samoan Savage. Case in point: This match has a vignette (with Steve Williams jumping out of an ambulance to save a victim and then carrying him back to safety) to begin. The Savage is Sam Fatu, (brother of Solofa “Rikishi” Fatu) and the guy who used to be known as The Tonga Kid and/or Tama in the days before he sucked. Oddly, Sam Fatu is currently doing the indy circuit as Fatu, playing the same character who played by Rikishi as a part of the Samoan Swat Team. Don’t even get me started on samoan family relations – it’s the only thing besides time travel stories that can give me an instantaneous headache. (Although I did love Stephen King’s book about the Kennedy assassination)  One of these days someone is gonna make a fourth Back to the Future movie starring the Samoan Gangsta Party and I’m just gonna have one of Russo’s “annerisms” on the spot. Doc ambushes the Savage to start, and Savage frees. Doc totally overpowers him with shoulderblocks, but gets caught with a lariat and we go to that tried-and-tested samoan specialty – the VULCAN NERVE GRIP OF DOOM! That lasts a while, so Cornette gets bored and starts insulting the Mexican contingent in the audience. He notes that attendance would have been greater tonight had the border guards not increased security. He then tops himself by noting that a guy in the concession with a towel stand is raking in the money because all the ticketholders tonight are dripping water all over the floor. You know, it’s REALLY hard to defend Cornette when he keeps making jokes like those. (And people think Zeb Colter is pushing the envelope.)  An eyepoke puts Williams on the floor for a timeout, and back in the Savage goes for the big fat splash and misses. Williams gets a HUGE, delayed press slam, and finishes him with a backslide (!?!) at 7:50. Dr. Death was actually being prepped to go over Lex Luger at WrestleWar for the US title, but stuff happened and Luger got out of that title defense and Williams actually left the promotion. What an exciting way to end your NWA run – by pinning a samoan with a backslide. ½* – Terry Funk interviews in the Horsemen for the only really worthwhile bit in the whole show – Ole Anderson immediately fires Sting and informs him in no uncertain terms that he and Arn were brought back to the NWA specificially to make him Ric’s bitch, but because Sting saved Flair from Funk a few times his life was spared. But once he asked for that title shot, their generosity was used up and it was over for Sting. Ole offers one chance to live: Repent his sins and tell the promoters that he doesn’t want the match anymore. Sting gets in Ole’s face, tells him to where to go, and the Horsemen do a 3-on-1 punking to go MEGA heel and completely destroy Sting. This was an AWESOME segment, perfectly setting up the WrestleWar 90 PPV. (And you’ll note that Sting was standing tall and it took 3 heels to beat him down.  Outside of Supercena, babyfaces don’t get to look good like that anymore.)  – The Mod Squad v. Tom Zenk & Brian Pillman. Pillman and Zenk dominate Spike with armbars to start, and Basher comes in and gets met with a Zenk enzuigiri. The Squad gets some token jobber offense that goes on FOREVER as Jim Ross suddenly goes into hysterics over the Sting situation with tweaking from Jim Cornette. I have suspicions that Basher is current WWF ref Tim White, but I’m not 100% sure. (No.)  A LOOOOOOOOOOONG and boring heat segment on Pillman ends with the hot tag to Zenk, and he finishes Basher with a dull cross body at 9:55. There is no way this match warranted 10 minutes, especially given the weak booking. *1/2 – Cactus Jack Manson v. Mil Mascaras. Yes, kids, this is Mick Foley’s first brush with the bigtime as a slim, trim and shirtless Cactus was running less-than-rampant in the NWA and not exactly impressing people. A goofy gimmick didn’t help either, as Ross emphasizes many times here what a moron Cactus Jack is. Mascaras does a quick bow-and-arrow and headscissor takeover. Jack bails and does a stupid spot where he trips over a chair while threatening Gary Michael Capetta. Back in, Mil gets a Boston Crab, but Jack makes the ropes. Jack tosses him, but he won’t sell. Jack sets up for the big elbow, but Mil sneaks into the ring and pushes Mick off…into the Nestea Plunge, Mick’s signature spot at the time. For those who haven’t read his book, here’s a quick description: Foley falls backwards off the apron and lands flat on his back on the concrete. It’s quite possibly one of the sickest looking things I’ve ever seen to be done on a regular basis by a wrestler. So of course the bookers had him do it every night. Thankfully by 1990 he was over enough to retire it permanently. Mil finishes with a flying bodypress at 4:55. Point? ¼* – The house band (“The Tough Guys”) annoys Cactus Jack (and myself) so he attacks the obnoxious guitar player and gets into a brawl with the drummer. Thank god this angle went nowhere, although the drummer (named “Wolf Wild” here) is actually a fairly decent wrestler from the AWA who was better known as JT Southern, and who in fact had another cup of coffee in WCW years later as Maxx Payne’s evil guitar playing nemesis. Honest to god, I don’t know why he didn’t make it. He had the blond hair, juiced physique and Brutus Beefcake tights. No wrestling ability, but that’s never stopped anyone else before. One can only assume that he pissed off the wrong person at some point and got flushed from the business.  (More or less.  He was apparently so terrible that no one wanted to work with him any more, including a stint in UWFI in Japan where he was renowned for being one of the most cowardly fighters in Japanese history and got basically thrown out of the country.  That’s awesome.)  – Falls Count Anywhere: Norman the Lunatic v. Kevin Sullivan. Mike Shaw’s horrible babyface push continues, as we get a vignette of him visiting a zoo and petting the pigs. Kevin tosses Norman right away, he eats post. Back in, Norman hits a sitdown splash, but runs into Kevin’s foot trying an avalanche. He misses a big fat splash and gets dropkicked out. Sullivan slams on the floor for two. Bad looking suplex gets two. Boring brawl follows, with Sullivan getting all the offense (I know, I’m as shocked as you). They head down the aisle and into the dressing room, then into the women’s washroom. However, since WCW is a family company or something, we only hear various sounds of battle without seeing anything. Sullivan emerges first, flops to the floor, and Norman follows with a toilet seat in hand and is declared the winner at 7:10, presumably getting the pin behind the forbidden door. I’m surprised that such an elegant and yet utterly cheap cop-out non-finish has yet to be lifted by Kevin Nash for use in an important match. DUD  (Still better than most of the shit finishes on RAW these days.)  – Terry Funk brings out Lex Luger for an interview and they play mutual admiration society for a bit as Funk inexplicably goes heel on the fans. Nothing of consequence is said. – The Skyscrapers v. The Road Warriors. This is the Mean Mark era of the Skyscrapers, and is also the last match with them, as Spivey left soon after. Spivey tosses Hawk, who no-sells. Shoulderblock from Hawk and now Spivey bails. Back in, Callous and Animal do a sequence that goes nowhere. Hawk hits the floor on a blind charge and plays face-in-peril. Mark hits the ropewalk, but a second one goes awry. Hot tag Animal, and Doomsday Device for Spivey, but Callous hits him with a chair and it’s a donnybrook, pier-six, and it’s breaking loose in Tulsa for the lame no-contest at 7:00. Whatever. ½* This would set up the street fight for WrestleWar 90 that ended up being Callous and a masked Mike Enos when Spivey left the promotion shortly before the show. – NWA World tag title match: The Steiner Brothers v. Doom. If Doom loses, they had to unmask. Finally, their long-buried and very secret identities would be revealed! Okay, so even JR admits that pretty much everyone already knew who they were, but it’s wrestling so you do what you gotta to sell an extra ticket or two. But I mean, you’ve got exactly two black wrestlers under contract (not named “Ranger Ross”) and one week a mysterious pair of black wrestlers shows up while the two contracted black wrestlers disappear, and people AREN’T supposed to know who they are? Stallfest to start, then Scott outwrestles Ron Simmons (er, I mean, “Doom #1”) to frustrate him. Release german suplex and Butch Reed (oh, excuse me, “Doom #2”) tries. He bails quickly off a dropkick. Doom regroups. Back in, and Scott goes unsuccessfully for the mask. Rick goes next and more stalling follows. Simmons misses a blind charge and takes a release belly to belly. Scott comes in and gets hammered by Reed. Really boring heat segment follows and drags on forever. Reed gets two on a piledriver and they brawl outside. Reed neckbreaker gets two. Scott comes back with a fluke Frankensteiner, and hot tags Rick. Atomic drop for Reed, and a powerslam. Slugfest sees Rick headlock the mask off Reed, revealing…BUTCH REED! No! I’m shocked! Ross acts suitably surprised to see him. Reed is so disoriented that Rick easily rolls him up for the pin at 13:19. Simmons is also forced to unmask and indeed, it’s Ron Simmons. Well, that’s reassuring. If it had ended up being Ranger Ross the whole world might be in trouble. ** – Cage match: Buzz Sawyer, The Great Muta & The Dragon Master v. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson & Ole Anderson. HUGE heel heat for the Horsemen here. I mean, it’s so big that the fans just start cheering the mega-heel J-Tex team to piss them off. Muta of course plays it up for all it’s worth. Arn and Sawyer start and ram each other into a cage a few times, then Muta tags in and hits the handspring elbow to a HUGE pop from the fans. Oh man, WCW blew it SO bad with Muta, because they had a de facto face turn there and could have made big money off that guy. The real story of the match then begins as Sting charges the ring like a madman climbs up the cage, only to get dragged off by security while Ric Flair stands on the top rope and taunts him. He charges again and Ric keeps egging him on, but this time when security gets him down he lands a little funny and limps away. Meanwhile, Arn DDTs Dragon Master for the pin that no one cared about at 6:10. The Sting-Flair show continued as the cage was opened and Flair bolted out, tackling Sting in the aisle and triggering a huge brawl as the credits rolled. Can’t really rate the match because the camera was on Sting most of the time. Seemed about * from what I could see, though.  (Man, they could have switched that WrestleWar match from Sting to Muta after the injury with no problem.)  – Did you know that WCW used to have a guy listed in the credits for “Audio Sweetening”. Is that something you REALLY want to be admitting to? The Bottom Line: Oh, yeah, nearly forgot something: When Sting landed on that leg, he didn’t just get a boo-boo, he tore an entire ligament in his knee and had to be rushed to the hospital for major surgery to repair it. He ended up being on the shelf for months and the Sting-Flair money match for the PPV had to be cancelled and Lex Luger was inserted instead. Ric Flair was fired as booker because of this, and really WCW never recovered as everything he had built crumbled under the half-assed booking of Ole Anderson until finally Flair left for the WWF in 1991 and WCW went into the toilet financially for a good six years. Sting never truly recovered, either, as he failed to live up to the huge potential that he had shown in his early years and might have fulfilled had he been able to do a ****+ match with Flair and win the title. Pretty amazing what one little injury can do to an entire promotion, isn’t it? Anyway, there’s nothing of worth on this show in terms of wrestling and as good as the Sting-Flair angle was it ultimately didn’t lead anywhere due to the injury, so take a pass here. Strong recommendation to avoid.

Clash Countdown: #9

The SK Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions IX: New York Knockout! – Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 is my BITCH! Okay, so I’ve only gotten the bronze in the Bullring level, but there was a few hours there when I didn’t think I’d even clear the Philly level, so I’ll take what I can get.  (Later on I would play the game over and over and generally clear the whole thing in an hour or so.  Tony Hawk really needs to just do a damn reboot of the series on the next gen systems and stop trying to make the shitty peripherals a thing.)  – Quick terminology bit for anyone else besides the person who e-mailed me last night about this: When I say “blind charge”, it’s my little bit of shorthand for one person standing in the corner and the other guy running in like a maniac. I call it “blind” because the guy doing the charging is never really paying attention and misses whatever he was attempting 99.9% of the time. – Live from Troy, NY – Your hosts are Jim Ross & Gordon Solie. – Opening match: The Freebirds v. The Road Warriors. This is non-title and the ‘Birds don’t have the belts with them. At the same time, Ross hypes a title defense against the Steiners on the edition of World Championship Wrestling upcoming that week. You do the math. (I was told there wouldn’t be math!)  Mucho stalling to start from the Freebirds, as the Warriors toy with them off and on. Freebirds cheat and get a quick advantage on Animal, but Hawk flips out and decks the ref for the lame DQ at 5:19. This was nothing. ½* – Bill Apter gives Sting the “Most Popular” award for 1989, and Flair the “Wrestler of the Decade” one. Flair beat Hogan in a rigged vote by the “fans” to win the honor. Shockingly, no one runs out and smashes the trophies. – Doom v. Tommy Rich & Eddie Gilbert. Capetta rips off my gag, introducing them as the “TAG TEAM COMBINATION OF DOOM!” Oh, wait, I guess he’s not being sarcastic. Gilbert and Rich manage to hold off Doom with armbars, but Doom quickly comes back and hits a double-team clothesline on Rich for the pin at 5:12. Pretty much a squash. * – Jim Cornette interviews the Steiner Brothers, and Scott officially names his finisher: The Frankensteiner.  (Still one of the greatest moves and names of all time.  Talk about hitting a home run on all fronts.)  – The Dynamic Dudes v. The Midnight Express. Speaking of Cornette, over the course of 1989 he gradually grew apart from the Midnight Express and began mentoring the Dynamic Dumbasses, thus annoying the Midnights so much that they fell into a losing streak as a result. So they signed a match with the Dudes behind Cornette’s back, and thus Cornette is in a neutral corner.  (Much like Liz at Wrestlemania V, but without the disturbing implied domestic abuse.)  Eaton and Douglas start and Shane makes with the armdrags. Gotta think Shane is upset at having Johnny be his boss now. (What, Johnny Ace works at Target, too?)  Shane fights off a standard Express double-team, but Lane takes him down and works the arm. But Cornette suddenly jumps up and tells the ref about Lane’s hair-pulling tactics. Ace comes in and blocks Lane’s enzuigiri attempt, thanks to Cornette’s coaching, see? He hits a pair of dropkicks, and the same for Eaton. Eaton bails and Shane hits the DORKY SURFER OUTTA CONTROL PLANCHA. Nice. Back in, the Dudes continue working the armdrags. Bobby simply punches Shane in the mouth to counter (drawing a huge face pop) and tries a superplex, but Shane escapes and rolls him up for two. Cross body gets two. Ace comes in and Eaton can’t get the advantage on him, either. Finally, a cheapshot from Lane turns the tide, and the crowd pops HUGE. Russian legsweep sets up the Rocket Launcher, but again the Dudes counter. Shane comes in on fire, as a weird suplex on Eaton gets two, but Eaton finds a chain. Cornette comes in to even things up, grabbing the chain from him and tossing it into the crowd. Shane goes for the kill…and Cornette waffles him with the tennis racket, drawing a monster pop from the crowd. Eaton gets the pin at 8:35, thus killing the Dudes’ WCW push once and for all, as the Express is reunited and rejuvenated. **3/4  (I popped so HUGE when I first saw this.)  – Steve Williams v. The Super Destroyer. Using cost-effective booking, the Destroyer would be used later in the night. He’s just a huge masked jobber, although one you’ve probably seen recently, albeit not in any wrestling promotion. The answer in the next match. Williams crushes him with the Oklahoma Stampede powerslam at 1:40. DUD – The Steiners v. The Skyscrapers. Rick makes a late entrance, after giving away some popcorn in the audience. Rick hits a release german suplex on Spivey to start, and a Steinerline sends him flying. Spivey comes back with a vicious looking tombstone for two. Scott comes in and hits a Frankensteiner on Spivey out of nowhere, then hits Sid with a fallaway slam as he charges. Interesting side-effect of that move: Scott’s head came down too hard on Sid’s chest and punctured his lung, putting him out of action for months and screwing up the NWA’s booking plans for a lot of things. As a result, they needed a replacement, so they brought in a big goof from Memphis called Master of Pain who had been bugging them for a job for weeks. He wrestled under a variation of his real name, and the newest Skyscraper was “Mean” Mark Callous. I’m sure you know what became of him after that. Anyway, back to this match: Sid tags in and misses a blind charge, but the Skyscrapers manage to gain control of Scott anyway. Spivey hits a tilt-a-whirl slam and big boot. Scott comes back with a vertical suplex and Steinerline, and makes the hot tag to Rick. Steiners put Sid out, and Rick hits a belly-to-belly on Spivey as Doom runs in for the DQ at 5:02. Amazingly, Scott catches Simmons with a Frankensteiner in mid-run from an impossible angle. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO HIM? Woman’s new bodyguard, Nitron, debuts and joins in the brawl. Nitron was the guy who was Super Destroyer in the last match. So what, you say? Well, Nitron’s real name is Tyler Mane, and he’s the guy who played Sabretooth in the X-Men movie. So there you go. **  (He’s also from RIGHT HERE in Saskatoon!  I believe him and Kim Coates are the only semi-famous people from this city at the moment.) – US title match: Lex Luger v. Brian Pillman. Long tie-up sequence to start. Crowd chants for Luger, so he tells them to shut up. That’ll learn ‘em. Pillman gets two dropkicks and Luger bails. Back in, Luger punishes him with rights, but Pillman uses his speed to escape. Luger bails again to regroup, and overpowers Pillman. Pillman retaliates with some CANADIAN VIOLENCE, and Luger tosses him. Pillman hangs out and skins-the-cat back in, then nails a spinkick. Luger retreats again, completely negating those face pops he was getting. Pillman goes up and hits a missile dropkick for two, and some more chops. He rams Luger’s arm into the post and they brawl outside. Back in, Pillman works the arm. Luger comes back with a backdrop suplex and a running kick to the head. Two points! Long press slam is followed by a Warrior gorilla press. Two big elbows, but Pillman fights back. Luger dumps him, and slams him on the floor. He suplexes him back in for two. Pillman suddenly gets a cradle for two, but Luger powerslams him to set up the Rack. He takes too long posing, and Pillman cradles him again. A vicious slugfest ends in Pillman’s favor (and not just the usual WWF “I block your punch, you don’t block mine” type one either – this was a pretty even fight) and he comes back. Backdrop sets up a flying bodypress, but the ref is bumped in the process. Rollup, no ref. Luger bails, grabs a chair, and absolutely destroys Pillman with a chairshot for the pin at 12:53. Great match. **** Sting saves Pillman from further punishment. Man, hindsight being 20/20, they should have put the title on Pillman before pushing Luger to the top again. – “I Quit” Match: Ric Flair v. Terry Funk. Loser must retire here. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! A Flair chop sends Funk over the top. Back in, more chops. No one ever said Funk couldn’t take it LIKE A MAN, that’s for sure. Funk bails and Flair follows, continuing the chops. Into the ring, Funk goes to the eyes and kicks him like an egg-sucking dog. Flair comes back with a chop, but Funk sucks it up and tosses Flair. He pounds him on the railing, then nails him with the mike. Flair chops back, and back in we go. Funk pounds away, but gets atomic-dropped. Flair puts his head down and takes a neckbreaker, thus playing off the injury Funk gave him to set up this whole feud. They fight outside. Funk runs back in, but Flair pulls him out and keeps punishing him with those chops. He tries to choke Terry into submission back in the ring, but Gary hart distracts him and Funk comes back. Another neckbreaker sets up a weak-looking piledriver (after Funk offers Flair a chance to say “I Quit” first). Funk always use that lame Memphis piledriver where they overcompensate for injury and just kinda fall back. I hate that one. I was just watching the Best of Dynamite Kid compilation from RF Video tonight, and he absolutely killed Tiger Mask with that inverted cradle piledriver that Jerry Lynn won the title with at the PPV. Now THAT’S how to piledrive someone. Now where was I…oh, yeah, Flair won’t quit, so Funk drops a leg and tries again. Funk tosses him out and piledrives him on the floor, still no quit in Flair. Funk slams him on a table at ringside, but Flair fights back. He rams Funk into the table, then sends Funk sliding over the table and back to the floor. Flair kills Gary Hart for good measure, then crotches Funk on the railing. Back in, Flair goes to the kneedrop and atomic drop, then Jim Ross nearly has an orgasm as Flair starts to work on the leg. He does a wicked awesome sequence where he alternates chopping Funk and kicking him in the leg, leaving the poor guy to run away in pain and confusion. Flair tackles him on the floor and gives him a kneebreaker on the floor. High suplex back into the ring, and it’s figure-four time. Funk fights it off and retreats, but Flair suplexes him over the top and to the apron, then hits some absolutely surgical chops. Funk is done, and Flair slaps on the figure-four and holds on for a good two minutes until Funk says “I quit” at 18:33. Funk and Flair shake hands, then Hart punks out Funk. Muta joins the attack, taking out Flair, and Sting makes the save. Lex Luger then nails everyone with a chair to set up the disastrous Iron Man tournament at Starrcade 89. The match here, though, was an awesomely intense and violent brawl, unmatched by almost any brawl done by Flair. ***** The Bottom Line: Hey, it’s Clash IX. This show has a reputation for a reason, and it’s because of two great matches and a killer Midnight Express heel turn. As an overall show, it’s kinda weak, but that’s picking nits. Strongly recommended.

Clash Countdown: #8

The SK Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions VIII: Fall Brawl 89! – I’M BAAAAACK. Okay, those of you reading on Wrestleline probably don’t realize that I’ve been on a Retro Rant-less vacation since finishing the book last week because I’ve been sending in some already-written ECW stuff to catch you guys up with the rest of the online world, but I was. (Wait, what, ME, send in previously written stuff to avoid doing new work?  PERISH THE THOUGHT.)  After finishing my first book (The Buzz on Professional Wrestling, available to pre-order for Feb. 2001 from Amazon.com right here) I was so completely burned out on wrestling that I hardly even wanted to watch the weekly TV shows, let alone do older stuff too, but after a week and a half to recharge my batteries I’m ready to tackle the wacky world of wrestling again. (Ah, for the days when it only took me a week to not be completely burned out on the product.)  For those who keep asking me, the book itself is an examination of pretty much every major happening from 1984 until about a week ago, covering the careers of the big names like Hogan, Savage and Flair in the 80s up through Austin, Rock and HHH today. I give a pretty long explanation of some basic smart terms, and instructions on blading and giving interviews and how to name moves and all the cool stuff you need to know to be a smart mark in the 21st century. (And then they’ll edit the shit out of it and insert a bunch of stupid fucking pictures like it was written for four-year olds!  It’ll be GREAT!)  The book as written was about 400 pages, and it’s gonna be cut down to 224 for publication, so there’s probably enough material left over for a sequel just from that. There’s also gonna be a continuing series of books by me later on, on a variety of topics about wrestling, to ensure that yours truly is enshrined as the reigning king of the smarks in the literary world.  (Well, I’m no David Shoemaker…)  – Speaking of my contributions to the literary world, my OTHER contribution is in the form of a sort-of technical advisor for “I’m Next”, the Goldberg autobiography. And in fact, by a HUGE coincidence, that book is also available for pre-order (shipping November 7, less than a month from now) right here. Mr. Goldberg apparently shoots all over the place, giving the REAL story on what he thinks of the wonderful people who inhabit the backstage area of WCW, and clears up the rumors of his “attitude problems” backstage once and for all. Buy it now! Buy it often! Hey, I’m involved, so it CAN’T suck, right? – Hey, sometimes you chill, and sometimes you shill. That’s life.  (When do I ever shill anything?)  – Okay, on with this show: This is the followup to the awesome Great American Bash 89 PPV, as Sting & Ric Flair were going to team up to face Terry Funk and Great Muta. However, Flair went nuts on TBS a week or so prior to this and broke Funk’s arm with a branding iron, so he’s probably not gonna make it. – Live from Columbia, South Carolina. – Your hosts are Jim Ross & James E. Cornette. – Opening match: The Road Warriors v. The Samoan Swat Team. Once again for the 13 people left who didn’t catch this the first million times I said it: The SST is Samu and Fatu, with Fatu being better known today as Rikishi. And does Vince Russo know that these Road Warrior guys are using his theme music? (He can rest easy knowing that WWE probably scubbed it out of this show anyway.)  The crowd heat here is INCREDIBLE, as the Road Warriors are just crazy over, even in their last days with the NWA. Animal blitzes Fatu to start, hitting a powerslam and knocking Samu off the apron. SST stalls, so the Warriors simply toss them back in and kick their ass. Good plan. Hawk fistdrop gets two on Fatu. Warrior work a headlock on Fatu and overpower him. Hawk hits the floor and some shenanigans from the heels takes him out, thus impeding his ability to no-sell. And we HIT THE BEARHUG! Ah, nothing like samoan restholds. False tag to Animal, which allows more punishment for Hawk. Fatu goes airborne and does a devastating chindrop on Hawk’s foot. Again, I question WHAT THE HELL that these guys are ever hoping to accomplish by coming off the top rope and landing on their feet in the general vicinity of the babyface’s leg. Even if the babyface doesn’t lift their leg, that move can’t possibly hit anything to begin with. And yet heels have been doing that move for YEARS now with no sign of stopping. Hot tag to Animal, and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA! Thank god I have Tazz around to come up with bad cliches to rip on now that Gordon Solie, bless his soul, isn’t around to come up with new ones. Heel miscommunication (ironically, involving Paul E’s telephone) puts Fatu in a dazed state, and from there the Doomsday Device finishes at 6:43. Nothing match, but the heat was AMAZING. **1/4 The SST fires Dangerously after the match, leaving him in managerial exile until the coming of Mean Mark Callous in 1990.  – The Cuban Assassin (Fidel Sierra) v. The Z-Man. Speaking of Zenk, his guest spot on the Meltzer Eyada.com show was incredible on Friday afternoon, as he burned every bridge left in the business and completely cut the proverbial knees out of everyone in the WCW front office from 1989 until the present. He may never get another job in the business again, but poor Dave was in tears of laughter by the end. Awesome show. Worth listening to if only to find out exactly what Ole Anderson would do for Zenk’s $175,000 a year salary. As a note, the answer will probably surprise and disturb you. (It involves him giving blowjobs to every member of the dressing room.)  This match would be Zenk’s uninspiring NWA debut, as he managed to talk them out of the original gimmick idea (“The Zodiac Man” some six years before Beefcake, from which “Z-Man” was derived) and just be a guy in white tights who got a good reaction. Sierra gets some token jobber offense, but Zenk finishes with a sleeper at 3:35. Wow, a sleeperhold as a finisher…and he DIDN’T get over? Go figure. * – Governor Campbell of SC declares it to be “Ric Flair Day”, so of course Flair loses the title in a retirement match and has his head shaved by his own son. No, wait, sorry, Vince Russo isn’t for another 10 years or so, my mistake. – Ranger Ross v. Sid Vicious. Vicious has the same music as today, it should be noted. (I’m sure not once the Network censors get through with it.)  Can you say “Legalized murder of a jobber?” I knew you could. Helicopter slam and powerbomb finish at 1:07. Sid is just SCARY over. See ya Ranger, enjoy retirement. DUD – Robin Green (Rick Steiner’s innocent girlfriend) and Missy Hyatt go shopping. – NWA World tag title match: The Freebirds v. The Steiner Brothers. This is the Steiners’ first ever shot at the titles. Yes, I know, I too have trouble coming to grips with a time when they had never even gotten a shot before, let alone won it sixteen times. Scott Steiner was to 1989 what Kurt Angle was to 2000, except he had a 100x more potential to be the guy to carry the sport into the next century. Think about THAT and then cry yourself to sleep when you watch him today. It’s so weird when I tell people about how awesome Scott used to be and I get blank stares in return. Here’s a guy who Ric Flair was going to voluntarily lay down for one night – Steiner didn’t even ask, Flair just offered to put the World title on him because he had that much confidence in him – and Steiner refused the title so as not to split up the Steiner Brothers. (I think that’s more Flair’s side of the story than anything.)  It makes me weep to have had to watch him deteriorate day by day following an arm injury in 1991 that sent him on a permanent path down Roid Rage Avenue and become more of a parody of himself every moment, when he used to be able to hit crisp and perfect Frankensteiners from every angle at any time, and invent new suplexes by the day. Ah well. The angle here is that Rick picked up a dorky chick who travelled from town to town to cheer him on, and made her his valet. (So basically she was a ringrat.)  The girl’s name was Robin Green, and soon she was joining Rick’s other valet, Missy Hyatt, for his matches. Missy gave Robin a makeover, however, and as the weeks went by Robin got vampier and vampier, and soon didn’t resemble that dorky girl in the least. Back to her in a little bit. Scott outwrestles Hayes to start, but gets tagged with a right hand. He sends both Freebirds fleeing with clotheslines, however, and the champs stop to regroup. Scott dominates Garvin and hits a breathtaking released german suplex. See, before Scott and Rick came along, no one even thought of doing crazy stuff like letting the guy go when you suplexed them. It’s common to see now, but before then that sort of thing just didn’t happen. Rick comes in and just pounds Garvin with a Steinerline, and the ‘Birds run away again. Rick powerslams both and hits a release belly-to-belly on Hayes. Blind charge misses, and a Freebird double-team whip leads to a DDT on Rick for two. Rick plays moron-in-peril, as the Freebirds HIT THE CHINLOCK. Hot tag Scott, and he just KILLS the champs with a pair of Frankensteiners and a powerslam. He comes off the ropes for a Steinerline, but unseen forces trip him up and Hayes hits a DDT for the pin at 10:00 to retain. *** Some deliberately vague camerawork leaves us unsure if it was Robin or Missy who tripped him up. Here’s a hint: Robin Green is played by Nancy Sullivan, aka Woman. Robin turned heel and debuted Doom at Halloween Havoc. – Norman the Lunatic v. Flyin’ Brian Pillman. Pillman brings an entire cheerleading squad with him, because he’s a REAL MAN. (He probably banged most of them in the dressing room afterwards, for similar reasons.)  Norman is Mike Shaw, aka Makhan Singh, aka Bastion Booger. This is the sum total of WCW’s raid on Stampede in one match. Norman blindsides Pillman, but he comes back with a dropkick, suplex and Air Pillman (springboard clothesline). Norman bails and Pillman follows with a SWEET plancha. Back in, Norman quickly hits an avalanche, then drops Pillman face-first off an irish whip and goes upstairs for a FAT GUY OUTTA CONTROL flying splash for two. LUCHA NORMAN~! Brawl outside, where Norman avalanches Pillman on the post, but misses a second try. Pillman gets some Canadian Violence to stun him, then back into the ring for a missile dropkick, bodyslam (!) and a backdrop. Crossbody is reversed to a powerslam by Norman, for two. Lariat gets two, but Pillman comes back with a crucifix for the pin at 3:34. Holy guacamole, that was an awesome 3 ½ minute match. **3/4  (And to think that back in the 80s I didn’t see Pillman as that big of a deal in Stampede.  Man he got GOOD and fast.)  Mike “I’m over 30 years old and I can’t spell my own last name” Rotunda/o v. Steve “Yeah, well, at least YOU didn’t get knocked out by Bart Gunn” Williams. THE VARSITY CLUB EXPLODES! Steve Williams’ ill-advised heel turn ends here, as he split from the Varsity Club to disintegrate the group for good shortly before this show. Williams’ initial heel turn ranks as one of the all-time worst, as he phoned it in. No, I mean, he LITERALLY phoned it in, sending a video from Japan one week in 1988 where he simply announced that he was joining the Varsity Club with no explanation given and none forthcoming. Doc hits a lariat and press slam to start, and being the Doc, he adds FIVE reps to the press portion before slamming Rotundo. He charges Mike in the corner, and gets caught with a wicked stiff lariat out of nowhere. Rotundo then wrecks the momentum by going to the ABDOMINAL STRETCH OF SEVERE DISCOMFORT to eat some time up. Doc sunset flip gets two, but Rotundo drops an elbow for two. HIT THE CHINLOCK. Mike redeems himself about 200% by putting his feet on the ropes. For those struggling to compile my “Top Ten Rules of Wrestling”, you can slot in #7 as “Heels should put their feet on the ropes at every opportunity”. It’s free heat, it costs you nothing, and it instantly pisses off the fans. Doc misses an elbow and Rotundo covers for two. The ol’ Jesse the Body Special (thumb to the eye) keeps Rotundo on offense. Two slams from Rotundo and he goes upstairs, but Williams slams him off – LITERALLY all the way across the ring. Sweet sassy molassy, that’s the Dr. Death we know and love. Williams ducks a blind charge and Rotundo tumbles out. Williams tries to powerslam him back in, but Rotundo falls on top, and Williams rolls with it and ends up on top for the pin at 6:58. Hella fun match. ***1/4 – US title match: Lex Luger v. Tommy “There’s a Party In My Mouth and Everyone’s Invited” Rich. I’m sure I’m gonna offend SOMEONE with that one, but that’s the risk you run. If you don’t get that joke, believe me, you’ll sleep better not knowing why it’s funny. (Yeah, yeah, he allegedly blew Jim Barnett in exchange for the NWA World title, we know.) Luger, ostensibly the monster heel, gets the babyface pop here. Feeling out sequence goes nowhere. Rich gets a backdrop and an armdrag, and Luger stalls. Headlockery follows. Cross body gets two for Rich, and back to the arm. Schoolboy rollup gets two, and a small package gets two. Luger comes back with his usual dull power stuff. Rich suplexes him into the ring from the apron and drops him right on his head. Ouch. But I guess Rich is the expert on head. Thank you, thank you, I’ll be appearing at the Improv tonight through next week unless Tommy Rich stops by to kick the crap out of me first. Luger side slam gets two, superplex gets two. Flying splash misses and Rich comes back to a HUGE reaction from the crowd. Wow. MEMPHIS FISTDROP OF DEATH gets two. Lou Thesz Press gets two. Brawl outside and Tommy punches the ringpost by accident. Back in, Luger stunguns him and pins him at 10:34. Shockingly good match. *** – Terry Funk cuts a promo from his hospital bed, promising to be there tonight to kick Flair’s ass. – Flair & Sting offer their rebuttal. – Main event: Ric Flair & Sting v. Great Muta & Dick Slater. Slater is of course subbing for Funk. Sting & Muta start and the crowd is JAKKED. Sting cleans house as Ross goes over the various types of mist used by Muta. For the benefit of readers of the Rick, here’s the definitive guide: Green: Temporary weakness Red: Bizarre and unpredictable effects Gold: Permanent loss of drawing powers Blue: Only affects WWF wrestlers White: Kills plant life Jewel: Releases Scott Hall from the Phantom Zone. – Okay, so maybe not. Ross DOES, however, mention the fabled Yellow Mist, which he notes is SO dangerous that Muta has never used it outside of Japan. In other words, it was just made up and a lot of people bought into it actually being real. But I digress. Sting works Muta’s arm as Slater futilely tries to steal a tag and Sting keeps yanking Muta back from the corner again. Too funny. Flair comes in and lays in some INSANE chops to Muta and keeps working on the arm. Those things were like 1.1 on the Canadian Violence scale – we’re talking Benoit & Jericho when they’re both pissed at each other level stuff. Slater finally gets his tag – and he gets chopped, too. Flair takes the Flair Flip, chops Muta on the way by, and finishes with a double-axehandle off the top onto Slater. Flair is SO The Man it’s not even funny. Muta hits a pescado onto Flair as he hits the floor, then Sting hits one on him, then SLATER hits one on Flair! LUCHA-DICK! The heels get pounded, however, and regroup. Any match featuring a highspot from friggin’ Dick Slater is an automatic *** in my book, right there. Back in, the faces work Slater’s injured arm (he’s helpfully wearing a cast to give them a big neon arrow saying “Hit me here!”). Sting suplex gets two. Muta back in, and he gets press-slammed by Sting and suplexed by Flair. Muta goes to the eyes and Flair is Nature-Boy-in-peril. Muta hits the handspring elbow (note to Chyna: Buy this tape. Watch 19 times. Take notes.) (Note to anyone else:  Do not buy Chyna’s tape and watch 19 times.)  and Slater pounds on him in the corner. Slater gives him a spinning neckbreaker and works the neck, which was of course injured by Terry Funk. PSYCHOLOGY! Muta hits a spinkick and Slater works him over on the floor. Back in, Muta loads up his fingers with mist from his mouth and applies the Vulcan nerve grip. Hot tag Sting, and Katie bar the door, it’s a pier six brawl, and Sting’s a house afire! Or house of fire, depending on your interpretation. (HOUSE OF FIRE.)  Press slam Muta and Stinger splash leads to the deathlock, but Gary Hart comes in and creams Sting with a roll of coins. Muta gets two. Muta uses a really ugly looking powerbomb for two. He was going for a piledriver and then changed his mind, I guess. Boy, I’d hate to be the guy taking the move with that kind of indecision. Slater does the Piper slingshot under the bottom rope, and now Sting is Ricky Morton. Brawl erupts on the floor, but it doesn’t help Sting. Slater sleeper is quickly escaped. Piledriver is reversed, hot tag Flair. CHOPS FOR EVERYONE! Heels all free, but Muta sprays Sting. It’s just the green variety, don’t worry – Scott Hall is still safely in the Phantom Zone with Ursa and General Zod. Flair takes Muta out with a suplex and figure-four, but Slater uses the cast to KO Flair. Flair blades and the heels beat him down as Sting wanders around blind. And suddenly Terry Funk runs in with a plastic bag, and tries to suffocate Ric Flair! Now THAT’S a hot angle. (You’d think that would warrant cleansing from the Network.)  Sting takes a branding iron to the knee and the whole thing is a no-contest at 19:23. Man, give that sucker an ending and it’s a MOTYC (Match of the year candidate, for those who keep asking). ****1/4 Flair is given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, end of show. The Bottom Line: Being Canadian in the late 80s sucked ass for wrestling fans, because we didn’t get TBS until 1991 and thus missed great shit like this show, which is a prime example of how Flair was a master of booking AND wrestling. (I…don’t know about that.  I think I’m giving Flair way too much credit there.)  I know Mick Foley doesn’t have nice things to say about him in his book, but then he can barely remember his own matches anymore, so I don’t count him as a good source on the matter. 1989 ruled, Flair is The Man, and that is all the people need to know. Strongly recommended show.