Thursday, June 16, 2016

From the Grudge Match: Ted Blanchard Reviews Clash of the Champions XXVII





Live from Charleston, SC. For the first time, the title of this series is very appropriate, as the International World and WCW World titles will be unified again. This is of course the WCW debut of Hulk Hogan (aside from the totally-staged ticker-tape parade/contract signing in Orlando). Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and "Mean" Gene Okerlund welcome us.

WCW World tag team championship, Nasty Boys vs. Cactus Jack/Kevin Sullivan (c)- Sags slaps away at Cactus to start, and Foley responds in kind. It quickly turns into a pier six brawl, and the champs double-clothesline Knobbs, then Sags. The Nasties bail out, and Evad Sullivan threatens them with his crutch. I think his injury somehow brought Jack and Sullivan together. Knobbs slaps Sullivan, who punches away. All four men in again, and Sullivan rams Knobbs into the buckles. The Nasties doubleteam Sullivan, and Sags gets tagged. Sullivan double-headbutts them, and rocket-launches Foley on them. Knobbs fires away on Cactus,but eats boot on a charge. Cactus clotheslines him but Sags breaks it up. The champs double-team Knobbs, and when Sags comes in Cactus back-elbows him. Sags hits Foley low, then kneedrops him from the ropes. Foley kicks Knobbs on a backdrop attempt, and Sullivan comes in. Sags breaks up a pin attempt on Knobbs, and Sags slams Sullivan and legdrops him. Sags rams Sullivan into Knobbs' boot, and tosses him outside. Knobbs kicks him from the apron, and drops an axehandle on him. Snapmare, but Sags misses a flying knee. Jack tags and hits a flying elbow on Knobbs. He headbutts KNobbs and bites Sags, and Cactus Clotheslines Knobbs over the top. Sags misses a charge and flies outside, and then Foley misses a Nestea Plunge. Ouch, he may have hit his head on the safety rail. Sags rams Cactus into the ringpost, and back suplexes him. Sags whips Knobbs but he misses Foley and hits the buckles. Sags and Cactus clothesline each other, and Sullivan gets tagged. He pounds on the Boys, and throws Knobbs out. Knobbs attacks Evad but Kevin saves him. Sags and Evad then battle over the crutch, and Cactus DDTs Knobbs inside for the pin. ***1/4. That was a pretty spirited brawl for an opening match. Good thing Hulky wasn't wrestling on this show and thus couldn't get his feelings hurt, though Knobbs is his buddy anyway.

Sting is interviewed by Gene. Sting is a 24-foot great white shark, and he's hungry!

Guardian Angel vs. Tex Slazenger- a special Guardian Angels video is shown before his entrance. I wonder if that was a condition of him being portrayed as being a part of that group? I think not being able to use the Big Boss Man gimmick hurt Ray Traylor's WCW run. After a tieup Slazenger punches Boss, and he holds up one finger, kicks him and Traylor says "two," then elbows him and Traylor hulks up and decks him coming off the ropes. He does his ropes splash, then the slide out of the ring for a punch, followed by the former Bossman slam for the win. *

We see Hogan arriving at the arena via motorcade. Ugh, Jimmy Hart's with him. He's always been the poor man's Bobby Heenan to me.

Hey, Jesse Ventura's with Tony! I think Bash at the Beach might be the last we see of him in WCW.

World television championship, Larry Zbyszko (c) vs. Lord Steven Regal- This angle (and Larry winning the title) worked way better than it had any right too. I think Larry stayed face-ish the rest of his tenure in WCW, or at least when he feuded with Scott Hall later. Regal has a white curly wig and a British coat circa the Revolutionary War. After stalling, Regal unleashes forearms and stomps on Larry. He hits European uppercuts in the corner. Bootrake by Regal, and he headbutts Larry in the solar plexus. They engage in fisticuffs, and Larry throws him over the top onto the ramp. Larry then throws his back in over the top. Butterfly suplex attempt is blocked by Larry, who turns it into a pinning predicament. Larry suplexes Regal for two, then pildrives him. Swinging neckbreaker gets two. Larry punches Regal when he's not looking, and they once again punch away. Regal rakes his forearm on Larry's face. Larry then grabs a scissorshold on Regal. Larry grabs a bearhug then attempts a Boston crab, but Regal reverses that to a pinning predicament and holds the top rope to regain his championship. **3/4. The Larry thing was fun while it lasted, but he was never going to be a long-term champion.

Okerlund brings out Dustin Rhodes and Arn Anderson. The Natural asked the Enforcer to be his partner against Terry Funk and Bunkhouse Buck at Bash at the Beach. Arn says it'll be the old Arn Anderson, and if he can accept that, he'll be glad to be his partner.

U.S. championship, Johnny B. Badd vs. Steve Austin (c)- Austin is no longer with Col. Parker, but I don't remember the circumstances of that. As Ventura points out, he is also growing out his  goatee. Austin slaps Badd before the bell rings. Austin opens up early on Badd, who fires back. Mero charges but hits Austin's elbow. Austin throws him to the floor, but Badd drags him out by his feet and rams his head into the mat. Badd works the arm as Austin tries to chop out of this. Badd dropkicks him and grabs an armdrag. Austin holds on to the top rope to avoid a rollup, but gets knocked to the floor. Back in, Badd hits a clothesline off of the top for two. Drop toehold to a front facelook. Badd blocks a punch and decks Austin, and gets a shoulderblock. Badd catches Austin's leg but misses a punch. He eats boot on a corner charge, though, and Austin takes him down by the hair. Austin really reminds of Stone Cold here. He grabs Badd's arm and waves to the camera as a taunt. Badd rolls him up of the ropes for two. Austin drops a knee and then chokes until the ref catches him. Badd punches his way up, but Austin kicks him coming off of the ropes. Badd gets a dropkick to turn the tide, and atomic drops Austin. Flying headscissors, and Badd punches and DDTs Austin. Backdrop, and Badd hits a corner clothesline. Bodyslam, and Badd heads up. Austin crotches him, and fails on a superplex. Badd misses a sunset flip off of the top, and Austin gets a two-count on him. Austin hits the ropes on an attempted buttsplash. Austin hits him in the gut with a foreign object, and rolls up Badd for the win. ***1/4. Good match, probably better than their King of the Ring one a couple of years later. Another ref comes out and they catch Austin with the weapon, and Badd rolls him up for seemingly a title change. Badd is holding the belt, but I smell a Dusty finish.

Scum Hogan and that little runt come out (can you see how I feel about him here in 2016?) to talk to Gene. I can't tell if the crowd is rejecting him or not, as I think Scott Keith said in his review. It's not Daniel Bryan winning the world title, that's for sure. He's going to set his sights on the winner of the unification match. Flair appears on the video wall screaming at Hogan like he was TNA not giving Flair his draw.

Unification match, Sting (WCW International champion) vs. Ric Flair (WCW World champion)- Sensual (formerly Sensational) Sherri is there painted like Sting, so she seems to be in his corner. The two men who Clashed on the first edition on the show are at it again. Sting shoves Flair down twice to begin, and they wooo and Oww! at each other. They grapple and Flair twice takes Sting down by the hair, and Sting gets all up in his face about it. They trade hammerlocks and takedowns, and Sting pushes Flair down. Flair goes down the ramp to regroup, and strikes a pose. Flair shoves Sting down, gets leapfrogged, then military pressed. Sting gets another press, and Flair rolls out and flops on the floor. Flair brings referee Randy Anderson out to hold him back from fighting some fans. Flair eyepokes to get out of a wristlock, and Sting hiptossess him out of the corner and clotheslines him three times. Flair bails out and hits the guardrail.  Flair knees Sting to the gut inside, and throws punches and chops. Sting no-sells the chops, and hiptosses and dropkicks Flair. Flair grabs the top rope to avoid a dropkick, but Sting rolls him up out of a figure four attempt. Flair shoves Anderson and gets shoved back, and goes back to the ramp. Flair chops him and then avoids a Stinger splash. Flair points something out to Anderson, then throws Sting over the top. Sherri tries to encourage a befuddled Sting, and Flair comes out and chops him. Flair snaps his neck on the top rope, and drops a knee, twice. Flair tries pin attempts with a foot on the ropes. Chops in the corner, and Sting is on rubberlegs street. He goes for the figure four, but Sting launches him off. Flair whiffs on a clothesline but back elbows Sting. Flair locks in a sleeper, but Sting eventually rams his head into the buckle. Sting shoulders him down, and slingshots him into the buckles. Flair walks towards the ref and then flops. Sting suplexes him in from the apron for two. Flair flips and Sting clotheslines him while he runs down the apron. Flair attempts an atomic drop, but gets clotheslined. Sting superplexes Flair and goes up. He misses a top rope splash, and then Flair suplexes him. Sting no-sells that and hiptosses and dropkicks him. Military press slam, and Sting clotheslines him out. Sting tries to jump on him, but Flair pulls Sherri in front of him and she takes the blow. Back in Flair gets backslid but Anderson is late on the count. Sting turns to check on Sherri and Flair rolls him up, pulling the tights for the win. In a way, the NWA World title and the WCW World title are back together. It's best not to think too hard about this.

Post-match, Sherri is starring at Flair. He shakes his head, they walk towards each other, and Flair drops the belts. Sting contemplates hitting her (doesn't of course), punches Flair, she hits him from behind, and Flair clips his knee. Sherri jumps off the top on a prone sting a couple of times, and Flair throws Randy Anderson out. Sherri legdrops him between the goalposts, and finally Hogan comes out. He rips off his shirt as Flair begs for mercy, punches Flair, and he bails before Hogan can big-boot him. Sherri tries to hit Hogan from behind with her purse, and slaps him. Flair yanks her out by the feet before Hogan can do anything.

After a break Hogan tells Mean Gene he now knows what to do- rip Flair limb from limb. Hogan is bringing Ted Turner to Saturday Night with a contract. I don't think that's how title matches were usually signed there, Hulky.

This marked a huge turning point for WCW. Following the critical success of Spring Stampede and Slamboree, WCW changed quickly with the entrance of Hogan and his friends. It's a shame, too, because the company was on a nice roll creatively. Soon guys like Sting, Steve Austin and Cactus Jack would be pushed to the background, and in the case of the latter two, right out of the door. Flair was now also quickly a heel, though that was a necessity with Hogan in the company. WCW was about the deliver on the dream match the WWF dropped the ball on two years earlier, and get attention they had never had before.

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