FROM CLEVELAND, OH(I WISH I WERE HOME THIS TIME)IO
This was the first Clash I got to see live-ish. I got the Chi-Town Rumble, and pay-per-view back then for us involved renting a cable box. This show was (I believe) the Wednesday before that show.
So it was a new day (no pun intended) for WCW since the last Clash. Flair had defeated Lex Luger at Starrcade, and Ricky Steamboat was in and his new foe. Luger and Sting were somewhat lower in the pecking order, though Sting was still scheduled to challenge for a title once again here. The format for the Clash was alo somewhat different here, as the big stars were featured in more of glorified squashes and thus there were more matches than on previous Clashes.
British Bulldogs were rumored to be coming in in one of the Apter mags, but that didn't materialize. They ended up having a match with the Rock n' Roll Express at a joint Kansas City/New Japan show around this time, though.
Jim Ross and Magnum T.A. are making the call tonight.
The Midnight Express (Jim Cornette version) vs. The Russian Assassins- Eaton works a headlock and pounds his way out of the corner. Cornette then takes off his coat and throws his racket to square off vs. Paul Jones, then Lane comes around and beats up Jones himself. Cornette also got to whack an Assassin with his racket, and the crowd is eating it up. Back in, Assassin Uno stomps on Lane, and they double-clothesline him. Lane tumbles out, but Cornette wards off a Rush'n Attack (been waiting to use that one). Paul E. Dangerously talks about the upcoming Loser Leaves Town match as an Assassin locks on a bearhug. Lane gets doubleteamed in the corner. After he gets out of a bearhug he misses a corner charge. I believe these Assassin are Jack Victory and Rip Morgan, and are both in singles action later. Lateral press by Lane gets two. Lane was in a Walls of Jericho assisted by the ropes when Bobby Eaton decided he couldn't take any more and charged in. Lane keeps fighting the Russians, and then Eaton hits a splash off the top for the win. 13:15, **1/2.
Bob Caudle interviews Steamboat. He's holding Little Ricky (not Lucy and Ricky's son, of course).
Butch Reed vs. Steven Casey- Reed overpowers Casey and showboats to begin. Casey gets an armdrag and holds the arm. They trade arm twists, as they show a couple making out in the crowd! WTF?
Ric Flair comes out for his classic confrontation with Ricky Steamboat. I barely have to watch this to recap it, I've seen it so many times. The two will meet at Chi-Town Rumble the following Monday. The crowd seems more into Flair. I heard a rumor this week he brought in Steamboat so that he could tank the houses while he was on top, increasing Flair's value to Turner. Flair has five women in silky black dresses with him, as well as Hiro Matsuda. He tells Steamer to take his pick of the women, then gives Bob Caudle the same offer. Steamboat comes out. Flair suspects Steamboat's bored to death by having the same woman every night. Steamboat says Flair represents all the evil the world today. Flair tells him to go home and do the dishes with the misses; he's going downtown. That incites Steamboat, who attacks Flair and after getting chopped, rips his expensive suit off. He also hits a flying bodypress that Yamamoto breaks up. Flairs flips over the ropes and they fight on the floor. Steamboat then puts some of the tatters on back in the ring. That was probably enough to sell the ppv, but Steamboat still has a match later.
Lex Luger vs. The Blackmailer- Hiro Matsuda has apparently sent this mystery man after Luger, hoping he'll get the Victory. Luger gets a rebound powerslam into a side headlock. Luger gets sent outside, and the Mailer chokes him on the top rope. Matsuda distracts the ref while Luger gets a sunset flip, so he doesn't get a three-count. Chinlock by Blackmailer. Luger eventually Hulks up and hits clotheslines. He sets the Mailer on the top turnbuckle, and hits a superplex for the win. The significance there was that is Barry Windham's finisher, and Luger faces him the next Monday. 12:53, ***, I liked it fine, and I'm a fan of WCW Luger.
U.S. tag team championship: Mike Rotunda/Steve Williams (c) vs. The Fantastics- Rotunda gets a fireman's carry on Rogers to begin. I thought Williams and Sullivan won the belts at Starrcade; maybe they are using the Freebird rule here. Rogers gets an armdrag, and Rotunda tags Doc. Can't have a Clash without Steve Williams, apparently. Rotunda back in, headlocked by Rogers. Rogers gets a clothesline for two. Williams and Rogers clothesline each other, but Doc gets the better of it. Doc misses and elbow, then gets a double-dropkick by the Tastics. Fulton danced, so now I won't feel sorry for the beating he's about to get. Shouldertackle by Doc, then a headlock. Rick Steiner gets an inset promo about his match with Rotunda. I find the Fantastics to be a highlight of these early Clashes, but the constant dancing and heeling on Gilbert at the last one kind of make we want to see them get beat up. By the time they were nonsensically wrestling each other on Raw in 1997 and then jobbing in WCW after that they weren't anything special. Rogers dropkicks Doc. Corner whip, then Rogers takes an ugly backdrop. Doubleteams on Rotunda soon follow, but Fulton gets dropped to the floor. Doc then of course drops him on the railing. Fulton gets atomic dropped back in, then Rotunda drops him by his hair like he's the Fabulous Moolah. That gets two. A Rotunda splash hits knees, and Rogers this time is the hot-tag receiver, but Teddy Long missed it, playah. Doc Gorilla Presses Fulton, and Doc hits a tackle. Fulton grabs the top rope to block the stampede, and tags Rogers. Long almost got wiped out as Rogers jumped to the second buckle. Things break loose, Doc misses an elbow for two, Rogers hits something on Doc but Rotunda gets a cheapshot for the win. 13:25, ***1/2.
Ricky Steamboat vs. Bob Bradley- this may have been Bradley's debut in WCW. He had previously been in World Class, and was a WWF jobber later I believe. With Casey also on the show, I wonder if WCW had done a little talent raid on WCCW. I think Kerry Von Erich was rumored to be coming in around this time, too. Bradley talks trash and gets shoved by Steamboat. Atomic drop and martial arts chops, and Bradley rolls out. Bradley hiptoss and bodyslam, and it sounds like the crowd is chanting against Steamboat. Steamboat gets slams and armdrags, and Bradley bails. Bradley ends up slamming him on the floor and ramming him into the railing. Bradley gets a slam and back-elbow back in, then a clothesline. He missed a charged into the turnbuckle, then Ricky locked up his arm. More Armdragon. Bradley gets a chop, then a Dino Bravo sideslam. Bradley heads up, but misses a Benoit headbutt. Steamboat rams him into the buckles, chops Bradley, then hits a flying chop. Now Steamer goes up for the flying bodypress to win. I see what they were going for here, kind of the Randy Savage asskicking until hitting his finish thing, but this doesn't seem like a great build to winning the world championship. In 2016 it would be overachieving, but that's because WWE is horrible. 6:23, **1/2.
Rick Steiner vs. Rip Morgan- This is not for Steiner's TV title. How about the Florida title, or had that been retired by then? Morgan had been the flag-waver for the Sheepherders before they went to the WWF. Rotunda gets an inset promo. He guesses, as an educated man, he'll leave Chicago with the belt. Steiner gets a clothesline. Rogers rams his head to the buckles, but Steiner then rams it a few more times. Morgan football tackle, but he then gets powerslammed. Morgan seems to be trying to be Bruiser Brody, who was recently murdered at the time. Irish whip to the corner but Morgan gets a big boot, then a back elbow. Steiner gets a belly-to-belly suplex for the win. 4:40, **. Steiner has a drink from someone's soda in celebration.
Magnum T.A. interviews the L.O.D., as all of a sudden the sound on my copy is shit. Then Sting, JYD and Michael Hayes are interviewed in the locker room about the main event. Sullivan then follows the faces downstairs, and locks the gate to their lockerroom. For those counting, that's the fifth consecutive Clash where Sting has technically challenged for a title and not attained it.
World six-man tag team championship: The Road Warriors and Genichiro Tenryu vs. The Varsity Club- How locking the real challengers in their dressing room gives the Varsity Club the shot (not to mention how no one working in the back could get them free in time) is beyond me. The match is a big brawl. Hawk gets a flying shoulder tackle on Sullivan and tags Tenryu, "Japan's most popular wrestler." Maybe he could face Mike Samples. Rotunda and Doc work Tenryu over, but he gets a savate kick. Hawk gets a flying clothesline on Doc. They get bolt cutters in the back, and the faces are finally freed. The Club works on Animal's arm for awhile. Hawk got a tag but the ref didn't see it, and now Sting, JYD and Hayes show up. It turns into a wild donnybrook, and the ref calls for the bell at 5:53. I'll give it *** for nostalgia, plus the brawl is fun. Sting clocks Sullivan with a chair outside.
At least Sting didn't really lose matches in the ring for his six-man title shots at the past two Clashes. Spoiler alert: he may not have this problem by the time the next Clash comes around. I like this show but it be mostly from nostalgia; I'd say watch if you like this era.
See more of Ted's reviews over at Grudge Match, wrestlingrecaps.blogspot.com
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