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Clash of the Champions #35 - August 21, 1997

Standard warming about how old this is applies.

Clash of the Champions 35
Date: August 21, 1997
Location: Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Dusty Rhodes

Reviewed by Tommy Hall

Clash of the Champions more or less was WCW’s Saturday Night’s Main Event. They started it up to go head to head with Wrestlemania 4 and actually put a solid dent in it. The show went on for 9 years but by the end no one cared at all. The show was just worthless as there was already two hours of television a week so in essence we were just getting an extra Nitro two weeks a year, which is why this is the final one.

As for current storylines, this is at the height of the NWO’s power but Sting is looming. I think you know the story there. The main event is Luger and DDP vs. Savage and Hall. See what I mean about how this just isn’t that interesting of a show? Let’s get to it.

The opening video just runs down the card. Other than the stupid tag team main event this sounds pretty decent.

We get a clip of Dillon saying that Sting has until Thursday to make his demands as Sting had ripped up two contracts with match offers in them. Sting came through the crowd and got in the ring and the fans chanted Hogan. Sting pointed to the fans who were chanting it. This angle was freaking sweet as hell. And then Hogan and his ego just had to kill it dead.

US Title: Jeff Jarrett vs. Steve McMichael

Jarrett used to be a Horsemen and stole McMichael’s wife Debra so Mongo wants to get the title to get some revenge or something. This was the epitome of a feud that no one wanted to see but would never die. Mongo is a Horsemen here meaning we get to hear the sweetest theme music of all time. Jarrett was neither interesting nor good at this time whereas Mongo never was either of those things so we’ll give it to…damn who do we give this one to?

Actually let’s just hope this ends fast. We take a break and come back with Jarrett throwing Mongo into the steps (His name was Steve Mongo McMichael in case you were wondering). Debra chokes him and I still couldn’t care less. The WCW midcard just completely sucked and while we were having Owen vs. Austin followed by Rock vs. Austin in WWF at this point for the IC belt, this just doesn’t hold up. Jarrett puts on a sleeper as a great visual representation for this match.

Mongo gets his own and Debra gets up on the apron. For no apparent reason Eddie Guerrero runs out with a belt and goes up top but hits Jarrett by mistake. Mongo covers for the title with ease. Debra tries to get him back and fails at it.

Rating: D+. At least it was short. These two feuded forever and no one cared ever. It just wasn’t interesting at all but they thought they could just slap the Horsemen name on it and get a good reaction from it through the south. There wasn’t much here though so the time was good if nothing else. Mongo held it for less than a month before Hennig turned heel and took it.

Alex Wright comes out and speaks in English and Gene warns him to speak in English which was stupid as hell. It’s as simple of a promo as you could ask for. He has Ultimo Dragon tonight.

Gene is with the guys from a show called Dinner and a Movie. In essence they showed a movie and made food with a play on words of the movie title. It was an ok idea but why are these guys on a wrestling show? There’s your problem with WCW right there: too much corporate interference.

Stevie Richards vs. Raven

Raven “didn’t have a contract” at this point and insisted on wrestling only in No DQ matches. This is a grudge match or something as Richards was tired of Raven pushing him around. Richards had allegedly had a career ending neck injury but miraculously healed and showed up in WCW a few weeks later. They point out Raven’s ankle issue as he has a thing on his shoe to balance out the fact that his right leg is shorter than his left.

The Raven drop toehold hits to the chair as this is just a squash match so far. He throws in a bulldog onto the chair for good measure. Richards comes back with some decent stuff but at the end of the day he remembers he’s Steven Richards and the other guy is Raven and the best DDT other than Jake Roberts (who trained Raven) ends it.

Rating: C+. It was a squash and a quick one at that so we’ll just call it a bit above average for the DDT, which is the coolest move in history. Richards would be gone in like two weeks or so.

We get a cool video about Ultimo Dragon, explaining a bit of his history and his name. WCW hit the ball so far out of the park with this division that it’s insane. The name was called Ultimate Dragon but that was incorrect, as it was supposed to be Ultimo Dragon: Final Dragon, as in the final student of Bruce Lee, who he emulated in the ring. That’s the kind of thing that you just never get in WWE and it’s why the cruiserweights worked so well.

That and they never took them seriously. The shot of the J-Crown (8 titles from around the world which were defended on WCW television and included a WWF light heavyweight title that was active for 20 years but only in Japan, meaning that a WWF Title was defended on WCW television multiple times in 1996 and 1997) titles being piled up is just awesome.

TV Title: Ultimo Dragon vs. Alex Wright

When Dragon won the title a few weeks prior, it was the match where no one talked about the match whatsoever other than the final three count as the whole match was nothing but talking about the NWO. At the end they more or less said hey we have a new champion! Now back to what we were talking about. It was just ridiculous how that was all they talked about.

Wright was a guy that they tried so hard to push but it just never played out like they wanted it to. He was this young hotshot that was somewhat over as a face so of course they turned him heel and no one cared after that. Dragon really was underrated in the ring. In WWE they just threw him into the cruiserweight division and let him die off because that division sucked so hard it was pathetic. These two feuded for the better part of a year and I don’t think anyone ever cared.

There was no focus at all on the title or anything as it was always about the NWO. Dragon gets the Asai moonsault that he invented and does better than anyone else. The commentary is all about them as well which is NICE. We hit a very nice ending sequence as they fight over pins but Wright hits a SWEET German suplex for the pin and the title.

Rating: B-. This was a good match but just boring as hell. The problem was that while these two had good matches, it’s Ultimo Dragon vs. Alex Wright. There’s just no heat at all and it’s not a great matchup while being a good match if that makes sense.

Cruiserweight Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Jericho

Eddie is challenging here and is freshly full heel. Eddie’s cowardly heel stuff of running on his knees always made me chuckle. How much commentary do you really need on a Guerrero vs. Jericho cruiserweight match? The Canadian goes for that running springboard dropkick to the guy on the apron that he uses a lot but slips and botches it badly.

I guess once a year is understandable. In a quick ending, they hit another fast series of pinfalls but Jericho actually keeps Eddie down and gets the pin. Eddie jumps him after the match.

Rating: C-. WAY too short here but we just had to have Mongo and Jarrett earlier instead of on Nitro right? The ending sequence was fun as always and these two just flowed together pretty well. They needed more time though and that’s why the grade is low.

Silver King/Villano 4/Villano 5/Psicosis vs. Super Calo/Juventud Guerrera/Hector Garza/Lismark Jr.

More or less the idea here is go out there and do a bunch of flips like you do every night without ever getting pushed more than a tiny bit against each other. This is Lucha rules, meaning if someone goes to the floor then they don’t have to make a tag for someone else to come in. I used to hate Mike Tenay but he’s worth his weight in gold here.

There’s no real point to saying who is in as they move in and out so fast that it’s hard to keep up with them. We hit the big pile on with everyone hitting their big over the top rope until Psicosis hits the guillotine legdrop off the top onto Super Calo for the pin.

Rating: B-. It was just over the top and ridiculous which is what these guys did best. This was very fun and it worked well as it always did. These guys were well paid to go out there and just get the crowd going and that’s what they always did.

The cooking guys join the NWO. Tonight is their one year anniversary but Hogan isn’t here tonight because he’s in Canada doing a Hollywood movie. That’s WCW for you. We go to a commercial and come back to DDP Diamond Cutting one of the movie guys.

Konnan/Syxx vs. Ric Flair/Curt Hennig

Hennig was kind of an associate Horseman at the time but soon he would join the NWO and injure Flair. If there was ever a guy tailor made to be in the Horsemen, it’s Hennig. Syxx (X-Pac) more or less beats up Flair but we’ll ignore the pop he’s getting for doing it. That doesn’t exist. Flair gets his knee knocked out as Hennig hits the Fisherman’s Suplex on Konnan to get the win. This was a five minute train wreck.

Rating: C-. This was just insane and it felt like it was about two minutes long instead of the five that it actually was. Hennig denies being a Horsemen but also denies not being a Horsemen while only saying one thing. He actually does this which is impressive.

He would go heel soon enough in another dumb move because he was perfect for the Horsemen. He had the look, he could talk, he was over, he had the attitude and he was great in the ring. Naturally he was thrown into the NWO and forgotten about.

WCW Tag Titles: Lex Luger/DDP vs. Randy Savage/Scott Hall

About ten guys come out for the NWO and they have their party for it being their birthday. Apparently Nash is letting Savage defend his half of the tag titles for no apparent reason. Yeah of course we just throw two guys together that have never teamed together before (according to the ring announcer) and give them a tag title shot.

In WWF they would have won the titles. People keep popping the balloons that the NWO dropped so it sounds like people keep shooting guns or something and it’s really annoying. And for no apparent reason everyone other than Nash leaves. It’s exactly what you would expect from a match where the titles simply weren’t going to change hands.

The faces dominate early on but then the heels take over to set up the hot tag. Luger gets Hall in the rack but takes an accidental Diamond Cutter and gets pinned. What else is there to say here?

Rating: C+. It’s ok and that’s about it. What more do you want here? They had an ok match that no one cared about on a show that not a lot of people actually watched. Are you looking for something huge here?

We come back and Bischoff talks forever and then the lights begin to flicker. They go off and we see Sting in the rafters with a vulture. The famous speech in a child’s voice follows and the lights go out again and the bird is on the top rope. The NWO is terrified and Nash pulls the belt back to swing it at him as we go off the air. Think about how stupid this was for the live audience for a minute.

Overall Rating: C-. You could see that this was about the name of the show and nothing more. Yeah there were four title matches but that happened at almost every Nitro. Yes two titles changed hands but who cares? It’s just not an interesting show as Nitro was lighting the world on fire on Mondays on a weekly basis. Ten years earlier this was an awesome idea but here it just didn’t hold up at all. Not bad, but only watch if you like this time in WCW. Otherwise it’s nothing of note at all.

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  1. I don't know how to explain this, but I'll just admit it: I remember kind of marking out when Mongo took the U.S title off Jarrett. My best guess as to why is that Jarrett always felt obnoxiously pushed and Mongo was such an unlikely guy to win any title, that it was a completely unexpected result. I was expecting a Dusty finish of some sort (like when Test won the IC title off Jarrett on an episode of Heat--or Bob Holly or Aldo Montoya had similar brushes for that matter), but then McMichael got to walk away free and clear with the belt around his waist. It momentarily made it seem like Steve McMichael had some legitimacy...until Hennig gave the title a true home a few weeks later. I suppose that's a sign of what titles used to mean versus what they've become ("Hey future comedy-jobber Santino Marella; how about we debut you with an IC title reign?").

  2. Mongo is a guilty pleasure of mine for some reason too -- probably for the same reason in that I just couldn't stand Jarrett.

    Plus nothing will ever top the line, "Don't stand there drinking coffee when a man is talking to you!"

    I have to admit, I was very sad to see COTC (and SNME) go out like this. You could tell the writing was on the wall in 1995 and that there really wasn't room for these big specials anymore, mostly because they just didn't feel special anymore. Even the later ones are a big nostalgia trip for me though, I miss the old themes.

  3. Jake didn't train raven.


    Under the section labeled trained by.

  5. Oh man. Who should I believe? Raven or onlineworldofwrestling? Quite a dilemma.


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