Wednesday, January 13, 2016
From the Grudge Match: Ted Blanchard Reviews Clash of the Champions IV: Season's Beatings
LIVE FROM CHATTANOOGA, TN, DECEMBER 7, 1988
I'd be remiss if I didn't comment on the intro video, which pairs clips of stuff like the Road Warriors trying to dig out Dusty Rhodes' eye with Civil War images.
I remember being really intrigued about this show when it happened, but I didn't get to actually see any of it until years and years later. I believe I had to get by with Inside Wrestling's coverage of it in a four-page (color!) spread along with the other winter supercards.
U.S. tag team championship tournament final: Eddie Gilbert/Ron Simmons vs. The Fantastics- Jason Hervey intro'd the Fantastics for some reason. Simmons overpowers Fulton to begin, but then two dropkicks take down Farooq. Backbreaker and then a military press on Fulton. They show Hervey with some rat that looks like Debbie Gibson. Test of strength, but Fulton armdrags Simmons, tags Rogers, and he dropkicks the "Damn" Man. Side headlock but Gilbert gets the tag. I always liked how I was still reading about Gilbert's attempted vehicular homicide on Jerry Stupid Lawler in PWI when he showed up in WCW as a bouncing babyface. Headlock during an unnecessary overhead shot. Football tackle and Gilbert hits a hiptoss, then misses an elbowdrop. Armdrag by Rogers, who tags Fulton, who gets sunset-flipped. The crowd enjoys Gilbert's strut. Fulton gets a shouldertackle, then struts himself. They shake hands over that one. Counter wrestling, and the pace slows down. I hope this doesn't go another 20, because so far I'm enjoying it. They butt heads after Fulton gets two off of a rollup, but Gilbert shakes his hand. Tag to the future APA member, who works Fulton's arm. Fulton drops down to send Simmons out. Inside cradle gets two back in. Simmons gets two of his own, then another test of strength. Rogers dropkicks Big Ron, but misses a flying elbowsmash. Big tackle by Simmons, but Rogers is in the ropes so no pin. Gilbert works Rogers' arm as JR talks football. Ten minutes announced 10:41. More amateur wrestling on the mat. Rogers flips over Eddie, gets a tag, and Fulton keeps on the arm. Gilbert shoves Fulton when they're against the ropes, and Fulton responds in kind. Simmons gets a quick two, then gets a standing chancery. Simmons hits his shoulder in the corner, and the Fans tag in and out working that shoulder/arm. The announcer says "15 minutes," so they're fudging the numbers a bit. Gilbert back in and gets two off of a neckbreaker. Rogers punches him in the gut and gets a suplex. Hot tag to Fulton, who tags Simmons. Bodyslam on Fulton, but he misses an elbow. Hogan legdrop gets two for Fulton, who hits a reverse chinlock. Rogers gets a kneelift as I wonder how he tagged. Gilbert knees to the small of his back, and gets a belly-to-back suplex. Simmons elbows and headbutts the arm and Rogers tries to tag. I would think Fulton should be the one who takes a beating, and Rogers would get the hot tag. Simmons again misses the shoulder. Twenty-minute mark. Rogers got powerslammed, and Gilbert gets a rollup but is launched to the turnbuckles on his injured arm. Gilbert then is knocked out like it's an N64 Royal Rumble, and hits his elbow on the railing. He then tries working one-armed back in, and Rogers works that arm. What a dick. Fulton then twists on the arm, and Rogers jumps in on it. I liked how Gilbert was playing the wounded animal when he came back in, wildly jabbing with the good arm. Gilbert gets cut off from Simmons, as it feels like now the 'Tastics are the heels in this faces vs. faces bout. Rogers Indian Deathlock's the arm now. Twenty-five minutes have passed, which isn't too far off. Eddie keeps fighting but those damn Fantastics keep working his arm. Rogers tried to ram the arm to the corner, but Eddie reversed it. Fulton tags and knocks him out, as two minutes are announced a minute after he said four. Hotshot on Fulton, as now it's one minute?! Eddie misses a corner charge, and Fulton gets the pin and the titles. 29ish minutes, give or take, and I'm going ****. I fuckin' loved this match, and it put the bad taste of the last two Clashes out of my mouth.
JR interviews Kevin Sullivan and Mike Rotunda about Rotunda's match with former friend Rick Steiner at Starrcade.
Italian Stallion vs. Steve Williams- this won't be as good, I'm sure. Now Williams is finally in the Varsity Club. I thought he was going to turn on Koloff at the last Clash. Fireman's Carry on Stallion, who gets a hiptoss and dropkick on the next exchange. At least they were featuring WIlliams; he did come in as UWF champion, after all. Stallion works the arm, but gets lariated hard. Doc whips him, but Stallion clotheslines him out of the corner. Samoan drop by Williams, and a big bodyslam. Elbowdrop misses, and Stallion gets two after a legdrop. Stallion works over his arm, and gets kind of a gogolaplata (which always makes me think of Gina Carano purposely butchering the name for the sake of cuteness). Can't say I expected to see that on this show. Doc benchpressed Stallion out of the ring. The announcer says five minutes left, then changes it to have expired. Sullivan gets a cheap shot on the outside, as JR puts over how tough Williams is. Doc rolls in to break the count. Suplex on the Stallion back in only gets a one count. Knee to Stallion's gut, and Williams locks on a sleeper. Ten minutes in. Stallion gets a desperation clothesline, but the pool is empty when he tries an elbow. Williams hits a shoulderblock, then gets a dropkick. Doc with an Indian Deathlock. A knee knocks Stallion outside, and Sullivan clocks him. I actually started reviewing this match yesterday and had to stop it, and I'm still sick of watching it. Stallion pounds away in the corner, but gets an inverted atomic drop. Fifteen-minute mark. I just don't enjoy Williams' style in longer matches like these Clashes keep having. Doc misses a whatever off the top, and Stallion dropkicks him. Powerslam on Doc, as I wonder why this one is so competitive. Doc catches Stallion off of a clothesline, then hits the Oklahoma Stampede. 15:34, *1/2. Waaaay too long and competitive if they were pushing Doc.
Tony Shiavone talks to Lex Luger and Jason Hervey, and then Magnum T.A. interviews the Junkyard Dog.
Ivan Koloff vs. Paul Jones- Pleeeease be short. Koloff has one hand tied behind his back. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this lady and her sweater:
Jim Ross interviews Sting, who goes in the ring and flops around like he's Ric Flair. He said the Road Warriors can't paint faces as good as he can. Oh, snap.
Six man tag team championship: Road Warrior Animal vs. Dusty Rhodes- The Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes held the six man title together before the L.O.D. turned on Dusty. Rhodes with Bionic Elbows to start. Dusty with a big clothesline, but misses an elbow. Animal hits one of his own, but misses a charge. Dusty hits Animal's knee on the steel post. Inside Animal goes after Rhodes eye, until Dusty does the same. Hawk runs in and they doubleteam Dusty. Where's the ref? Now Sting is in to even the odds. Dusty hits Animal in the knee with a chair, and the bell rings. Animal won by DQ because of the chair. I believe the Warriors picked Genichiro Tenryu as their partner, as they team with him at the next Clash. 2:45, *** for the excitement of the whole segment. Couldn't they have given this some of Doc-Stallion's time?!
Tony Shiavone and Lex Luger are sitting watching the main event like pals.
Midnight Express vs. Ric Flair/Barry Windham- Flair is world champion, Windham is the U.S. champion. The Midnights turned face with a feud with Horsemen Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson, so this is kind of a continuation of that. Flair struts before locking up with Eaton. He slaps Flair down after getting mocked, then Eaton struts. Flair chops Bobby, but Eaton fights back and gets a baaaaack bodydrop. Flair flip, and Lane decked him on the apron. Savate kick from martian artist Lane, and Windham gets the tag. Lane dropkicks a charging Windham, who faces Bam Bam Bigelow at Starrcade. That probably should've been a title change. Windham gets a bodyslam, but misses an elbow off of the top. A dropkick sends Windham out. Lane whips him back in, then Eaton comes in against Flair. Eaton slams Flair and Windham, double-clotheslines them off the ropes. Flair and Lane hookup, and Lane locks on a figure four. Windham comes in, and Eaton locks him up too. The Midnights work over Flair with quick tags, but Flair finally starts "winning on" Eaton. Lane comes in as we go to a Paul E. Dangerously inset promo. He had recently brought in the Original Midnight Express of Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose from the AWA (you can read about their antics right here) to attack Eaton and Lane. Flair got slammed off of the top, and Eaton gets the tag. Flair flips over the buckles again but at least gets to the turnbuckle, but Eaton hits him coming down. A foot on the ropes is all that saves the Nature Boy. Eaton got a rollup but Windham broke it up. He suplexes Eaton back in, then hits a powerslam. He and Flair start doubleteaming Eaton. Windham drops Eaton on the railing, then Flair chops him hard outside. Windham lariats Eaton and then gutwrenches him. Sleeperhold, then Flair takes over. The two slug it out in the corner, and Flair flops before getting a tag. Then both men tag, and Lane is a house afire. Backdrops for all, and a double noggin-knocker on the Horsemen. Total Elimination on Windham, Lane kicks Flair outside, Eaton hits the Alabama Jam on Windham, Dillion drops his shoe. Flair hits Eaton with the shoe, and puts Windham on Eaton for the pin. That was quite a finishing sequence. 17:41. ***3/4.
Schiavone interviews Jim Cornette, who rants about Flair using the show as he was choking Dillon. Then a low-key Luger cuts a final promo on Flair.
The show needed more Sting (though in a way he did unsuccessfully challenge for the six-man title this time out), but had two very exciting matches. I had no idea the opener was so good, and even Dusty-Animal was good for what it was. A strong recommendation for this one.
Check out more of Ted's reviews at Grudge Match (wrestlingrecaps.blogspot.com)
Follow on Twitter: @grudgematchrcps