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.