Author's note: This was written by Ted "The Jawas" Blanchard and can be found on the wrestling review blog Grudge Match over at wrestlingrecaps.blogspot.com. Follow Grudge Match on Twitter: @grudgematchrcps.
Sept. 7, 1988
Will the third time in a championship match be the charm for Sting, or will he Reigns it?
Television championship, Mike Rotunda (c) vs. Brad Armstrong- Armstrong is wearing a swank David Lee Roth T-shirt. Amateur takedown from Rotunda, and he slaps the Candy Man's head. He whips Rotunda to the corner, the Captain does a twisting bodypress but gets rolled up for two. Rotunda goes out to confer with Kevin Sullivan. Rotunda hits him with European uppercuts, which is interesting. Armstrong gets a pin attempt, and Rotunda goes out again. Knee to Armstrong's solar plexus, and Rotunda drops him throat-first on the top rope. Armstrong thrown out, and Kevin Sullivan works him over. A lot of these matches sure have a formula. I guess it requires a manager to be outside, however. Rotunda suplexes the future Buzz Kill back in, and questions a two-count. Resthold as the competitors and ref are clearly discussing spots. Armstrong gets out, but a football tackle levels him. Elbowdrop, but only a two-count. Now Steve Williams is randomly outside cheering. Rotunda gets an airplane spin on Armstrong like he's Jillian Hall, but it only gets two. Gutwrench suplex for two, as does a small package. Rotunda then keeps trying for pins while his foot is on the ropes. This is like how I play wrestling video games. Doc comes in and holds up Armstrong. I seem to have missed a pin or something. I also thought this would be Doc's heel turn. Wikipedia said it was a 20-minute time-limit draw. Hmmm. **3/4.
We see Kevin Sullivan break Garvin's leg. He also threw Precious and Pee Wee Anderson down, before breaking cinder blocks on the knee.
Nikita Koloff/Steve Williams vs. the Sheepherders- Perhaps Doc turns here? I really have no idea. Doc levels Luke, then works a headlock. Doc hits the future Bushwhackers with 3-point stance clotheslines, and flagbearer Rip Morgan thinks better of challenging him. Where's Johnny Ace? Koloff in, and Butch rakes his eyes and works him over. Koloff slams each Herder, then knocks their noggins. Koloff tags Doc, then holds Luke's arm for Doc to hit. A lariat knocks Luke out, then Williams suplexes him back in. Flying bodypress for Williams, then a tag to the Russian Nightmare. More doubleteaming offense, then Koloff and Butch argue on the apron. Doc holds Luke's arm for Nikita this time, and he continues to work it. Williams misses a tackle into the corner, and the Herders take control. Butch accidentally clotheslines Luke, then Nikita gets the hot tag. He pounds on Butch in he corner, but Morgan hit Koloff with the flagpole. Luke slam Koloff, and hits a headbutt off of the middle ropes. Butch chokes the Russian on the ropes. The crowd is ready for Koloff to get a tag. Luke sleeper on Koloff, who hits Luke's head on the turnbuckle to escape. Nikita punches him out of the ring, but when he goes for a tag Doc is threatening Morgan outside. Luke goes for a flying headbutt but there's no water in the pool. Tag to Williams, who does a noggin knocker. He tries to gorilla press Luke, but Butch clips him. Koloff and Butch get tagged, and Koloff wins with the Russian Sickle. 16:53, **/2, this match was better than I expected, at least. I think Koloff and the Sheepherders left Crockett immediately after, which is also when Turner bought the promotion, I believe.
Grudge match: Dusty Rhodes vs. Kevin Sullivan- After a break they're under way. Sullivan chops Dusty, who then no sells a clothesline and takes him outside. Dusty hits Sullivan on the table a few times, then whips him into Gary Hart. I'm not sure why Hart was there; Sullivan was the de facto manager of the Varsity Club, so why would he have Hart? When Sullivan ends up outside he of course confers with Hart. Sullivan hits Dusty in the throat with a cheap shot, and they brawl outside. Hart slips Sullivan a spike, and he stabs Dusty in the throat. Headlock on Dusty, who gets out with a low blow. The best striker in the NWA gets a bionic elbow, and Hart gives Sullivan the spike again. Dusty hits Sullivan in the head with it, Hart pulls Dusty outside, and Al Perez attacks Dusty with a dog collar. Dusty jumps onto the chain to make Sullivan and Perez collide, and then he pins Hart! WTF?! He then goes and sits in the front row. 6:59, -* for the ridiculous ending.
Russian Chain Match, Ricky Morton vs. Ivan Koloff- I hope they explain the reason for this match taking place, because I'm unaware of one. There is no time limit, and falls do not count. The Rock n' Roll Express had just returned to Crockett at the last Clash after a run in the AWA. Koloff with chain-related offense on Morton. Apparently Paul Jones wants Koloff to prove himself, so there you go. He's apparently the "weak link in the chain," if you will. Koloff gets crotched with the chain. Koloff looks more like the size he was when he beat Bruno Sammartino for the title here, though it may be in comparison to Morton. Koloff got one buckle, but Morton ends up outside. He hits Koloff's throat on the rope as he regains the ring. Morton clips Koloff to break up an attempted win. Morton then whips him with the chain, and gets one turnbuckle. Koloff goes up to the top, but Morton yanks him off. Koloff pulls Morton onto his back in a choke. Koloff whips him, and rounds the bases. He gets three before Morton trips him with the chain. Ricky chokes him with the chain, and the girls shriek as Koloff attempts to return the favor. Koloff does something off the top, and both men fall down. Morton gets one, then two, then three corners. Jones gives Koloff the riding crop for leverage, but Jones eventually lets go and Morton hits the fourth turnbuckle FTW. The Russian Assassin then comes in and throws out Morton as Koloff argues with Jones. Koloff decks his manager, but the Assassin jumps Koloff, and then another Assassin runs in. Good thing he happened to be there, eh? I thought Morton eventually made the save. Hmmm. 9:52, ***.
Tony Shiavone interviews John Ayers, who will be the special enforcer for the Ric Flair-Lex Luger match at Starrcade, and Flair. Ayers isn't the Weather Underground guy the Republican Party hates, is he?! Actually Ayers was an offensive lineman in the NFL. Flair says he's not Lawrence Taylor or Randy White, but he's the National Wrestling Alliance world champion. I'm not sure Ayers actually ended up doing Starrcade.
United States Championship, Barry Windham (c) vs. Sting- Sting with armdrag takedowns. Sting with a football tackle and two dropkicks, which knocks Windham outside. J.J. Dillon confers with his charge outside. More dropkicking inside sends Barry back out. Windham slugs Sting in the corner but gets atomic dropped. Baaaaaack bodydrop, and Sting punches Windham in the corner. Barry does a drunken sell and falls over, but takes back over after Sting misses an elbow. The Stinger gets thrown outside, and Windham pounds on him out there. Windham slams Sting on the concrete floor, and regains the ring. Big standing suplex brings the Stinger back in. Suplex gets two, then Sting gets an inside cradle for his own two-count. Sting slams Windham's head on the announce table, and Barry falls over the guardrail. Back in, Sting locks on a (Johnny) Weaver Lock (sleeper). I believe Weaver taught Dusty Rhodes this obscure hold in the lead-up to his Starrcade '87 match with Lex Luger. Windham eventually gets out by doing the atomic drop to the knee move that Flair would often do, and then kicks Sting's leg out of his leg. Now Windham locks Sting into the figure four. Clearly Flair has been teaching his Padawan well. Windham then gives Sting a back suplex, but Sting does his version of Hulking Up, which involves lots of punches. Sting suplexes Windham, but Windham locks on the claw on Sting's pectoral for some reason. Sting punches him and Windham falls outside, and Stinger bounces him back in. Backdrop, then a hiptoss. Windham collides with referee Tommy Young. Sting hits the Stinger Splash and locks on the Scorpion Deathlock. Dillon comes in with a chair, Sting decks him but Windham waffles Sting with the chair. Young starts counting the pin, but Ayers stops him. Dillon gets in Ayer's face, and gets thrown into the turnbuckles while Sting dropkicks a sneaking Windham out of the ring. I would've liked to have seen Windham clock Ayers with the belt, but that's just me. ***3/4.
These early Clashes have been more of a slog to get through than I expected. The formula for a match that will go close to or hit the 20-minute time limit is often employed, and then you get nonsense like Dusty vs. Sullivan. I liked Sting vs. Windham and the chain match was pretty good, but I'll call this a soft pass.