WCW CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS XIX
Last time I reviewed Clash of the Champions XIII, which is widely regarded as the worst Clash ever. Well, this time we hit the other end of the spectrum with the truly great Clash XIX.
This show fell under the Bill Watts reign of WCW. Watts did a lot of good and bad during his run with the company. The good: long matches, clean finishes, lots of solid workers. The bad: pushing the wrong people, banning moves off the top rope, removing the mats from the floor. But with all the bad, there were some pretty kick-ass cards, like this one.
After withdrawing from a NWA a few years earlier, WCW decided to get back in with the organization, and are hosting a tournament for the NWA Tag Team Titles. So this entire show was the opening round in a 16 team tournament that concluded at the Great American Bash. To give it an international flavor, WCW imported all sorts of awesome workers for the show.
Also worth mentioning is the mega-push that was given to the team of Steve Williams and Terry Gordy, who were brought in and immediately feuded with the Steiners. The reason this was so strange was that Williams and Gordy had high profile and high paying jobs in Japan, and wouldn't pass on those to work in WCW. Watts gave them a huge push at the expense of the Steiners, and lo and behold, Williams and Gordy were gone in a few months. I know hindsight's 20/20 and all, but geez...
Anyway, here are some brackets, courtesy of Jason Cambell's page (http://members.aol.com/_ht_a/WSandT/cards/usa/wcw/wcwindex.html).
Ricky Steamboat & Nikita Koloff_____ | Joe & Dean Malenko__________________|
Clash of the Champions XIX
Aired live from the Citadel in Charleston, SC on 6/22/92
Tony Schiavone and Magnum TA are your hosts. Tony praises the fine tradition of the Citadel. This was, of course, before the whole hazing scandal. Author Missy Hyatt is also present, and she apparently has a scoop concerning New Japan and a tournament for a new NWA Champion. Then Bill Watts shows up and reminds us that the tournament is under NWA rules, which means that wrestlers can legally perform top rope moves. Eric Bischoff will be handling interviews, while Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura are your announcers.
Speak of the devils, J.R. and the Governor run down the tournament again. Jesse also has a big interview with World Champ Sting tonight.
Joe and Dean Malenko vs. Ricky Steamboat/Nikita Koloff: Yes, Joe is Dean's brother. Joe and Dean are comically announced as representing Europe, but they show the Hungarian flag on their chyron. Both Malenkos are wearing long tights, which is just weird to see. And now Nikita is announced as hailing from Lithuania. Wassupwithat? I don't know if there was an angle behind Koloff and Steamboat teaming, or if they just got thrown together for the tournament. Joe and Ricky start us off and have a very nice wrestling sequence. Test of strength turns into a monkey flip for Joe, but Steamboat comes right back with the armdrag. Dean manages a blind tag only to get hit with an armdrag. Koloff gets the tag and almost immediately slaps on a bearhug, which makes zero sense, since (a) Steamboat had been working the arm all match, and (b) Koloff can't have blown up after being in the ring for 15 seconds. Koloff relinquishes the hold and Dean tries a bodypress, only to be caught by Koloff. So Joe comes in and dropkicks Dean, who falls on top for a pin attempt. Koloff kicks out, sending Dean flying out of the ring. Koloff no sells all of Dean's offense and tags in Ricky. The Malenkos finally take over when Ricky tries a flying headscissors, but Joe drops him face first on the top turnbuckle. The Malenkos beat on Steamboat for a while, but Ricky hits a facebuster on Joe and makes the hot tag. Koloff comes in, cleans house, Russian Sickle on Dean, see ya (9:50). Match was very good when it was Steamboat vs. a Malenko, less so when Koloff was in. But hey, they gave this nearly 10 minutes, so no complaints there. Joe's only other visible U.S. bout was a tag match in ECW in late '94 where he tagged with Dean against Sabu and Taz(maniac).
"Ravishing" Rick Rude/"Stunning" Steve Austin [w/Medusa] vs. Tom Zenk/Marcus Alexander Bagwell: Bagwell was not yet Buff, and in fact was just a spunky youngster with poofy hair. Rude was the U.S. champ, Austin had hair and was the TV champ, and both were members of the Dangerous Alliance. Bagwell starts and gets pummeled by the heels until he manages a double ax-handle on Austin and tags in Zenk. Austin wants a test of strength with Zenk, but Zenk thinks better of it and nothing comes of it. Weird. Anyway, Zenk gets beaten on for a while, then Bagwell tags in and its the same result. Ross brings up Bagwell being an alumni of Spraybury High School. Good God, how did Bagwell ever get over? Bagwell takes Zenk back in, and the beating continues for a few minutes, including a nice jumping piledriver from Rude. Zenk finally manages a savate kick on Austin and tags in Bagwell. Bagwell cleans house, and a pier six brawl breaks out. Bagwell misses a dropkick, allowing Rude to nail the Rude Awakening and score a one-handed pin. (7:54). They really needed to shave a minute or two off the match, since it was basically a squash.
Eric Bishcoff talks to Steve Williams and Terry Gordy about their tournament match with Larry and Jeff O'Day. Gordy blows off the O'Days, badmouths Australia, and says they want the Steiners. Doc rambles about the Oklahoma-Michigan college sports rivalry and lets a bleeped word fly. Whoops.
"Dr. Death" Steve Williams/Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy vs. Larry and Jeff O'Day: Larry and Jeff are a father-son combo that hail from Australia, as mentioned above. Larry (whose physique is laughable) was apparently the Australian Heavyweight champ for 11 years. Ross hypes that if Gordy and Williams beat the O'Days, and the Steiners win their first round match, then those two teams will get it on in a dream match at the Great American Bash (which is a weird thing to say, since the teams met 2 days earlier at Beach Blast). Gordy and O'Day start us out. Gordy manages a quick drop-toehold and slaps on a single leg crab. Doc gets tagged in, and Larry manages to avoid a Williams charge and tag in Jeff, who quickly gets dumped on his head by Doc. Jeff does manage a sunset flip on Gordy and tags in his dad. Larry tries a headlock, but gets deposited on his cranium by Gordy. Tag to Williams, double shoulderblock, Oklahoma Stampede, and Larry calls it an o'day (2:35). Total squash, and that's not a bad thing.
Jesse talks to WCW Champ Sting about his upcoming title defense against Big Van Vader at the Bash. We see some clips (from an edition of WCW Satuday Night, I think) of Vader clubbing Sting with a chair and hitting a second rope splash. Da Stinga (dapperly dressed in a tux) says this is a David and Goliath story, but with all the Stinger's fans behind him, he feels like he's really Goliath. Sting was still a few months away from visiting the White Castle of Fear (don't ask).
Barry Windam/Dustin Rhodes vs. Arn Anderson/Bobby Eaton [w/Paul E. Dangerously]: Whoever wins this faces Rude and Austin at the PPV, so this one could go either way You could have Dangerous Alliance vs. Dangerous Alliance, or since Rhodes and Windam had been feuding with the DA, that's an equally logical match. Barry and Arn start us out and have a nice wrestling sequence before Barry clocks Arn with a right hand. Arn avoids a corner charge from Barry, and heads up top only to be dropkicked to the floor. The Alliance regroups on the floor and demands a DQ, claiming Arn was thrown over the top rope. When we get back to the ring, Eaton and Rhodes get tagged in, and Dustin quickly nails three bionic elbows and a big foot that sends Bobby to the floor. Finally, Dustin gets tagged in and blocks a DDT from Arn by holding onto the ropes, only to be met with a right hand from Bobby. Dustin falls to the floor after a failed cross body attempt, and eats a cell phone shot to the kidneys from Paul E. The Alliance beats on Dustin for a while an do the classic "distract the ref so he doesn't see the hot tag" bit, but Barry comes in and beats on Eaton anyway. While the ref is distracted with Barry, Arn sneaks in and hits the spinebuster on Dustin. Bobby finally gets away from Barry and goes for a cover, but Dustin kicks out at 2. Hmm, thought that would be the finish. Anyway, Bobby misses the Alabama Jam and Dustin hits his bulldog for the pin (10:23). No hot tag, how odd. Darn fine southern style match, but that's no surprise with Eaton, Anderson, and Windam in there. Hell, Rhodes looked damn good too.
Easy-E tells us that there was some kind of altercation backstage and they'll have details shortly. Missy informs us that New Japan is holding a tournament for the NWA Title, and Dangerous Alliance members Steve Austin, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, and Rick Rude are all participating. The finals of that tourney between Rude and Masa Chono is supposed to be balls awesome. I've gotta check that out someday.
Anyhoo, Gordy and Williams appear and say that there was "a Puerto Rican wreck" concerning the team of Miguelito Perez and El Boriqua backstage, and they were the first ones on the scene. And hey, if Perez and El Boriqua can't compete, the Steiners have to face Gordy and Williams. How about that. Now, it should be readily apparent that Gordy and Williams attacked the Puerto Rican team, but the announcers never once hint at that all night.
The Silver Kings vs. The Fabulous Freebirds: Man oh man, who thought this match up? Silver King 1 was just known as Silver King during his WCW run (you remember him as the luchadore Mike Tenay always described as have a "stocky physique") and Silver King 2 is listed as El Texano on most websites, so we'll just call him that. They both rule, in stark contrast to Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin, who both suck. They even use some crappy theme song instead of "Badstreet USA." The 'Birds were actually U.S. tag champs at this point, but they don't wear the belts to the ring. Big brawl to start as Texano accidentally hits his partner with a top rope dropkick. The Kings eventually go double team crazy on Hayes, including Silver King hitting an awesome looking delayed slingshot somersault senton, then both Kings hitting a Total Elimination. But, of course, Hayes shrugs all of this off within, oh, 5 seconds. Hey, screw you P.S.
There's a really bad looking segment of the match that was supposed to look like this: Hayes whips Silver King into the ropes and drops down. King jumps over Hayes but gets a knee in the back from Garvin. A dazed Silver King then walks into a left from Hayes. But Hayes actually got up too soon, so Silver King tripped over him. King had to get to his feet, and then Garvin kneed him in the back. Hayes then tried a punch but it's so obvious he didn't come close to making contact. Yeesh. Let's zip to the end: both 'Birds are on the outside, and Texano tries a pescado but gets caught. Garvin holds Texano while Hayes tries a punch, but Texano ducks and Garvin eats fist. Now it's Texano's turn to hold Hayes as Silver King tries a dive off the top. But this time Hayes escapes (actually, the replay clearly shows King pushing Hayes away) and King collides with his partner. Hayes then throws Silver King back into the ring and small packages him for the win (6:28). King and Texano tried, but the 'Birds dragged this match waaay down.
Tony and Magnum sum up the Puerto Rican situation. Magnum says he's got some suspicions as to what happened. Wow, great work Sherlock. Ole Anderson shows up and confirms that the Steiners will receive a bye in the tournament. So, for completeness' sake...
Rick and Scott Steiner vs. El Boricua and Miguelito Perez: Steiners win by forfeit (0:00). Now we've got the Steiners vs. Gordy and Williams at the Bash.
Brian Pillman/Jushin "Thunder" Liger vs. Chris Benoit/Beef Wellington: Hmm, you think this could rule? The only name you probably don't know if Wellington. Well, Beef was a mainstay in Stampede wrestling, and they imported him and Benoit for this event. Beef's sporting the astonishing shaved head-ponytail combo tonight. Ross makes me smile by instantly bringing up Benoit and Liger's feud for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title. Benoit and Liger start us off and have a lightning quick wrestling sequence. Pillman and Beef are next, as Pillman hits a monkey flip and knocks Beef off the apron with a dropkick. He tries the move again, but gets met with a slingshot shoulderblock from Beef. Pillman gets dumped outside and tries to Beef tries to suplex him back in the ring, but Pillman reverses and actually suplexes Beef to the floor! Back in the ring, Liger gets the tag, but Beef manages to slap on a leglock and tags in Benoit. The Canadians take over for a few minutes until Beef misses a pescado and Liger manages to tag in Pillman. Benoit manages to boot Pillman in the head and attempt would looks to be a moonsault, but Pillman stops him up top and drops Benoit right on his skull with a backdrop superplex. Pillman then heads up top himself and nails a missile dropkick then sends Benoit outside, followed by a diving bodypress off the apron. Benoit and Pillman proceed to have a chopfest outside the ring. Back in the ring Liger gets the tag, but his attempted crucifix is turned into a samoan drop by Beef. Benoit comes in and tries a backdrop superplex of his own, but Liger shifts his weight in mid-air and lands right on top of Benoit. Beef comes in but gets spin-kicked to the outside, and Liger follows up with an Asai Moonsault. Mah gawd. Pillman gets the tag, but a kick to the back by Benoit allows the Canadians to take over. But Beef misses a missile dropkick and Pillman manages the hot tag to Liger. Liger comes in, cleans, house, and a four way brawl breaks out. Beef and Benoit try to ram Liger and Pillman, but it gets reversed, Pillman dropkicks Benoit out of the ring, moonsault on Beef by Liger, 1-2-3 good night (11:30). Great, great, great match, using a style unheard of in the U.S at the time. Sadly, Benoit didn't return for another three years, where he and Pillman were teammates in the Horsemen.
Hiroshi Hase/Akira Nogami vs. The Headhunters: Ross tells us that WCW and NWA officials are meeting in the back. No, it's not the fat moonsaulting Headhunters, just Bob Cook and Arn Anderson under masks, claiming they were from the Dominican Republic. The 'Hunters get a brief advantage on Nogami with a double-team clothesline until he pastes Cook with a stiff enziguiri. Anderson comes in and gets a 2 count off a Hotshot and a backbreaker. Nogami comes back with a spin kick and tags in Hase. Hase slams Anderson as Nogami comes off the top with a splash. Hase tries a kneedrop, but Anderson moves and tags in Cook. The Headhunters beat on Hase for a minute until he hits a savate kick on Cook. Nogami comes in, Anderson comes in, Katie bar the door. Nogami hits a German Suplex on Anderson, Hase hits a Northern Lights on Cook, and a double pin ends the Headhunters' night (and career) (5:19).
"Don't Step to" Ron Simmons comes out to talk with Jesse. The future Farooq reiterates his goal to be the first African-American World Champion. But here comes Harley Race and Super Invader. Now, what does it take to upgrade from regular Invader to Super Invader? Is it the quality or quantity of what you invade? But I digress. Race wants Simmons to give a message to World Champion Sting; Simmons tells Race to do it himself. Race retorts that he was a 7 time World Champ, "and I had a [beep] like you carrying my bags." Way to be, WCW. Simmons attacks Race, only to be jumped by the Super Invader. The nefarious pair beats on Simmons, but Ron soon turns the tide and clears the ring to end this feel-good segment. Oh yeah, Super Invader is just Hercules Hernandez under a mask.
Well, Ross tells us that the fans wanted to see the Steiners wrestle tonight, so they're moving up the Great American Bash quarterfinal match to tonight. Sooooo...
Rick and Scott Steiner vs. "Dr. Death" Steve Williams and Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy: Geez, first Rude, then Pillman, then Gordy. Watching this show's kinda creepy. These two teams battled to a 30 minute draw only 2 days earlier at Beach Blast. Gordy and Rick start and do some amateur wrestling. Scott gets tagged in and goes for a belly-to-belly, but Gordy blocks it and manages to take Scott over. Scott tries to bridge but doesn't seem able to. Scott finally just T-Bones Gordy over, and Gordy tags in Williams. Williams and Scott do some amateur wrestling themselves. The pace here is really deliberate and slow. Not a complaint on my part, but the crowd seems a little baffled by it. Rick comes in and hits a huge overhead belly-to-belly on Williams to get the crowd into it. Doc takes a breather outside the ring and talks strategy with Gordy. More amateur wrestling follows as J.R. brings up the Varsity Club. Williams finally just slaps Rick, and The Dog-Faced Gremlin snaps and starts laying into Doc. Williams manages to escape and wallops Rick with a clothesline that turns him inside-out. Gordy gets tag and beats on Steiner, until Rick reverses a belly-to-belly and makes the tag to Scott. Scotty comes in and cleans house on both Williams and Gordy, but misses a Frankensteiner attempt when Gordy holds the ropes. "Bam Bam" then slaps an STF on Scotty. Williams and Gordy work over Scott's back and knee for the next few minutes. Double shoulderblock gets a two count. Scott manages a dropkick and Gordy and tags in Rick, but Gordy was distracting the ref. Rick comes in anyway and cleans house, but the ref won't count his pinfall attempt on Doc. All four men end up outside the ring, and Williams gives Scott a nasty clip. The ref finally gets everything settled, and Doc hits a Gorilla Press into a powerslam on Scott for 2. Rick comes in again and goes after Gordy, but as the ref ushers him out, Gordy clips Scott again, and Williams falls on top for the shocking 3 count (15:01). Crowd is NOT pleased. Match was good for what was there, but really needed another 10-15 minutes, like the match they had two nights previous.
JR and Jesse wrap up the show.
For the record, Williams and Gordy went on to beat the Steiners for the WCW tag titles a few weeks later, then won the NWA tag tournament at the Great American Bash. And, of course, they were gone a few months later. Tremendous.
Since this show was on free TV, WCW never released a commercial version. But there are plenty of tape traders on the 'net who should be able to hook you up. It's worth seeing too, since the show had a different format than pretty much another U.S. show and was packed with great workers and matches. Even the matches that weren't technically "good" (Williams/Gordy vs. O'Days, Silver Kings vs. Freebirds) were interesting in their own right. Things got pretty crappy for WCW after this, but this is a show you should certainly check out.
I am gone 'til a yet-to-be-determined time period. Take care.