Thursday, August 4, 2016

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


Live from the MECCA in Milwaukee. The Packers were about to play in the Superbowl, and there a cheesehead hats everywhere.




Those who have read all of my Clash reviews up to this point may recall I attended Clash 22 at the MECCA in Milwaukee. Four years later I was a freshman in college commuting from my parents' house. I had pretty much given up on the WWF by that point, but was checking in on WCW and the interesting nWo angle they were running. I'm not sure how early I knew that Clash 33 was emanating from the same building, but when that night came I certainly was planning on watching it on TBS. HOWEVER, I think during the Harlem Heat match a girl who I was in the friendzone with called me wanting to go bowling. I think you can guess which path I chose. At least I taped the whole show, and still have that copy to use today.

I would be remiss to not mention that since the last Clash, Sting has gone through a metamorphosis. Luger was attacked by what appeared to be Sting before Fall Brawl, and everyone though the Stinger had joined the nWo. It was a fake Sting, and the real one came out during War Games and wrecked shop of the heels, only to walk out. He said on the next night's Nitro that he was now a free agent, and has appeared in the rafters and made surprise attacks on faces and nWo members alike.

WCW cruiserweight championship, Ultimo Dragon (c) vs. Dean Malenko- I refuse to use the butchered Americanized version of his name. Dean works his arm to begin, but Dragon reverses. Dean gets a drop toehold and after a series of reversals, a hammerlock. Dragon works his leg as we already head to break. Dean rams his head to the buckle, but Dragon no-sells. Dean hits a War and Peace suplex for two, then grabs a headlock into  a version with his thighs. Dragon gets out and does his kick sequence he'd do on WCW vs. nWo World Tour. Deano Machino heads to the floor. Dean gets a back suplex back in, and an anklelock. Dean gets a half-crab. Dean reverses to a leglock, but Dragon gets to the ropes. Dean drops Dragon's shin to his knee, and gets a stump puller. Did he ever play Doink? Dean tosses him to the floor, and puts Dragon's leg up on the safety rail and then kicks it. Dean now gets a figure four, but Dragon holds Dean's leg up as a counter. Dean whips him to the corner and lariats him. Jumping spinwheel kick follows, but Dean superplexs Dragon off of the top. Dean gets a flying rollup for two, gets him in powerbomb position but Dragon rolls him up for two. Dragon sends Dean to apron but dropkicks him out. The pool is empty for an attempted bodypress to the floor, but Dragon reverses a whip into the railing to one of his own. Now Dragon gets an Asai moonsault. Useless Sonny Bono cheers for Dragon to get back in, and he and Dean make the count. Dragon suplexes Dean and hits a moonsault for 2.9. Dragon puts him on top and swings around for a hurricanrana. Dean goes for the Cloverleaf but Dragon reverses for two. Dragon flips out of a powerbomb attemt, Dean lariats him, Dean gets a powerbomb but goes after Onoo, then locks on the Texas cloverleaf for the tapout title victory. **** That was one of the best matches I've seen on this series. The crowd gives the three-time champion a great ovation.

Scotty Riggs vs. Mike Enos- this is a change of gears from the last match. Marcus (now Buff) Bagwell had recently turned on Riggs to join the nWo, and they were about to square off at Souled Out. No intros here, either. Enos attacks to begin, but Riggs hits a back elbow. Riggs rams him to the buckle, then arm-whips him to the floor. Riggs hits a bodypress onto Enos as Dusty makes fun of "Buffy." Enos rams Riggs to the apron, and steps on him coming back in. Enos hits a flying clothesline from the apron. Riggs backdrops a charging Enos. Back in, Enos backdrops Riggs. Enos misses a clothesline and gets flying forearmed for Riggs' win. Riggs then talks trash to "Buffy." *3/4. I expected worse.

The Outsiders do a Souled Out T-shirt promotional announcement. "Buy the shirt!"

"Mean" Gene Okerlund brings out the Horsemen (minus Flair). Chris Benoit says they will dominate '97. He tells Kevin Sullivan he can take away anything of Sullivan's he wants at any time. Damn. He also says he has a very fragile mind. I think I need an adult. Former Chicago Bear Steve McMichaels then disses Packer fans. After Benoit and Woman leaves, Debra gets catty and says Woman has been dead for over 2,000 years, and looks it.

Konnan, La Parka and Mr. JL vs. Chavo Guerrero, Super Calo and Chris Jericho- Noted luchadore Jericho is replacing no-show Juventud Guerrera.  Mr. JL (I wish I hadn't used my noted luchadore line aleady) and Chavo battle to begin. JL hits a back elbow and Chavo hits a flying axehandle. Calo and Konnan tag, and armdrag each other. Konnan gets headscissored, and Jericho and La Parka now are in. Parka hits a body press, but Jericho clotheslines him. Parka hits a superkick, but eats boot on a charge and Jericho hits a missile dorpkick. Konnan clotheslines Jericho, and Chavo comes in throwing dropkicks. K-Dawg clotheslines Chavo, and he and Parka double leapfrog, then double clothesline him. Then they sandwich Chavo with double dropkicks. Konnan puts Chavo on his shoulders and then Parka moonsaults onto him! Dios mio! Chavo crossbodies both Parka and JL. Jericho superkicks JL, then hits a spinning wheelkick on him. Future employee Konnan then clotheslines him. Chavo trips Konnan from outside, and Jericho springboard planchas out on him. Chavo then hits a cross bodyblock on JL. Parka then dives onto the two faces, and Super Calo flips onto Parka. Heenan says hold my coat, I'm going to go flip out of the ring, and Dusty says you couldn't go under the bottom rope. Heenan also says he doesn't know what's going on; "there's guys in masks and undershirts," as Calo chases Konnan outside the ring. JL gets a headscissor takeover on Jericho, who then hits a hurricanrana off the top rope for the win. ***1/2. I forgot how good these trios matches could be, before they got overexposed and everybody got banged up.

Harlem Heat vs. Joe Gomez/Renegade- Heat attacks to start. Stevie slams Joe Gomez and tags Booker, who hits an axe kick. Gomez gets a small package for two, but gets clotheslined. Heat suplexes Gomez and Stevie covers for two. He sends Gomez out, and Booker holds him for a Sherri punch. Stevie rakes his eyes back in, and drops a leg. Booker hits his legdrop but misses one off of the top. Renegade in, throwing  forearms and dropkicks Booker. Stevie hits a hard clothesline, and they hit a Heatseeker (missile dropkick) FTW. *1/4. I don't think these guys were doing much around this time, though they were randomly world title contenders at Spring Stampede '97.

Lee Marshall Road Report! He's in Des Moines at a fan party. He tells Dusty John Wayne was born there. He tells Bobby that Hootie and the Blow-weasels will perform the National Anthem there Monday on Nitro. Hilarity!

Masahiro Chono vs. Alex Wright- Chono is an nWo member here. Chono jumps Wright as Nick Patrick turns his hat around. Wright then fires away in the corner, and hits a European uppercut. He rams Chono's head into the buckles, and throws out the nWo shirt. Wright backflips and Wright hits an enzuiguri and headscissors takeover. Wright hits a dropkick and then celebrates. Chono gets a shoulderblock. Wright hits a leapfrog and spinning wheel kick. Patrick makes a slow count on Chono. Chono gets a reverse atomic drop as Wright rolls him up for a one count. Clearly Patrick is capable of making a slow count. Chono throws out Wright, who then attempts to suplex Chono over the top. Wright goes to the top and hits a sunset flip, but Patrick feigns a shoulder injury. Wright then kicks him and back suplexes Chono. Wright misses a bodypress, and gets Mafia kicked for a Chono win. *1/2. That was fun for what it was.

Public Enemy does a Big Boys Shopping Network commercial for a Lex Luger T-shirt, complete with Lex racking a guy.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Scott Norton- I like how they are skipping the intros. This show is like wall-to-wall action. Patrick is the ref again. Eddie was the U.S. champion, but Syxx stole the belt. Eddie flips out of a back suplex. He tries his own but gets shoved down. Norton throws him into the corner and then presses Guerrero and slams him. He tries again but Eddie slides down and dropkicks his leg from under him. Eddie elbows the leg  and flips onto it. Leglock now. War and Peace suplex, with Norton just dropping him. Powerslam on Guerrero. Norton then powerbombs him with force. Norton climbs to the second buckle but Eddie dropkicks him. Eddie hits a hurricanrana off the buckles, then misses a cannonball move. Norton clotheslines him and DDP walks through the crowd. Norton shoulderblocks Eddie into Nick Patrick, and DDP then diamond-cuts Norton. Eddie hits a frog splash and Patrick reluctantly counts the pin. **3/4. That was better than I expected.

A promo from the Giant is next. His hair is especially poofy here; maybe he dipped into Nash's secret product stash. He'll face Hollywood Hogan at Souled Out this Saturday, and unlike on the Robin Hood Nitro (remember that one?!), Hogan won't get away.

The Steiners vs. Amazing French Canadians- The AFCs are the Quebecers, one of my least-favorite teams of all time. At least WCW can try to right a wrong from four years earlier here. Jacques Rougeau has quite a bald spot here. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash appear on the video walls as they enter, talking trash about their Souled Out match. Scott is returning from injury here. It's a Pier-6 brawl to start. Rick Steinerlines the pirate and the AFCs bail to huddle with Col. Parker. Back in the AFCs pound on the Steiners, then dump them out. The Steiners climb up the same buckle and pounce on the heels. After a break, Rick is getting double teamed. Jacques slams Pierre on Rick. Jacques lures Scott in as Pierre chokes Rick. Rick gets slammed and the AFCs flip Pierre over into an empty pool. Rick double clotheslines the heels and gets a tag. Scott backdrops Pierre and presses Jacques onto him. Double noggin-knocker, and a belly-to-belly on Pierre. Jacques tries to hit Scott with his flag, to no avail. Scott DDTs Pierre off of Rick's shoulders and gets the pin. *1/2. At least the right team won here.

Kevin Sullivan vs. Chris Benoit, falls count anywhere- Sullivan immediately points outs of the arena, and they start brawling. Benoit throws him over the railing, and they brawl through the crowd. They fight into the men's room, and Sullivan rams him into a paper towel dispenser. Benoit hits Jimmy Hart with a trash can, and Randy Anderson ends up with his foot in the urinal. Sullivan clotheslines Benoit and gets a two-count. Sullivan rams him into a heater, and they brawl back into the hallway. Sullivan throws him down the steps. Bobby Eaton is working security for some reason. Back in the ring, Sullivan puts him in the Tree of Woe, and he hits the knee. Double stomp to Benoit's belly for two. Jimmy Hart distracts the ref and tries to give Sullivan the megaphone, but Woman clocks Sullivan with a wooden chair and Benoit gets the win. ** Benoit grabs another chair and breaks it on Sullivan's head.

Scott Hall vs. Lex Luger- Nash and Syxx are in Hall's corner. Dusty pretends Luger's pyro started his coat on fire. On Nitro the night before, Sting and Randy Savage left through the crowd together. Hall throws his toothpick, and Luger powers him into the corner. Luger then throws Hall to the mat. Luger grabs a headlock and gets back suplexed, but Luger no-sells and poses. Luger runs into a boot, and Hall bulldogs him off of the top for two. Hall grabs an armbar. Hall shoulders Luger but gets clotheslined. Hall chokeslams Luger but misses an elbow. Hall throws Luger out by his tights. Luger clotheslines Syxx, but Nash clotheslines him down. Hall pounds away in the corner. He clotheslines Luger in the corner, and Syxx gets one from the apron. Hall covers with feet on the ropes for two. Hall kicks Luger in the head and chokes him on the ropes. Nash also gets a cheapshot in. Hall does his fall-away slam on Luger for two. Hall grabs an abdominal stretch, assisted by the ropes. Luger hiptosses out, but misses an elbowdrop. Hall hits a discus punch to drop Luger. Luger crotches Hall on the ringpost, then hits a kinda-dropkick coming back in. Atomic drop and Hall hits the buckle head-first. Atomic drop again times two, and Luger clotheslines him. Hall pokes his eyes, but Luger powerslams him. Luger punches Nash off the apron, then throws Syxx out on him. He gets the rack but Nash comes in. Luger fights them off at first, and finally Syxx comes off the top on Luger for the DQ. Big boot from Nash, and the Steiners come running out. All six men brawl. Scott Steiner rams Nash's head into the railing, and the Wolf Pack leaves. The faces are controlling the ring. It's like Summerslam '93 here. Or something. The show ends with everyone brawling again.

I believe this is the first Clash with no sign of Sting whatsoever. I feel like we haven't seen the last of him. This show was better than I remembered, as that cruiserweight match was excellent, and the lucha tag was also quite good.

***CONTEST, CONTEST, CONTEST!***
So here's the deal- first person to answer my trivia question gets a prize I can't disclose yet. I'm not sure if it will have anything to do with wrestling. The question is- what row did I sit in at Clash XXII at the MECCA? The answer can be found in my review of that show. The prize will be a hodge-podge of little trinkets. I hope you like wrestling, baseball and superheroes! Email me at KurtK26 at gmail.com. Good luck!

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