Hey there everyone. I’m Ken Anderson and I’ve been officially appointed your new Clash of the Champions specialist by Widro. I’ll skip the pleasantries and get right to the series of shows that paved the way for free, quality wrestling to come into our homes live on a weekly basis. Over the next few months I will be bringing “rants” of every single edition of the Clash of the Champions into your home. My goal is to get one up a week, but we’ll see how things work out.Ã‚Â
For the record, I’ll be using this great site … Wrestling Supercards and Tournaments… for all my match times. My girlfriend strictly warned me that the next time she comes into my apartment and I’m sitting on the couch watching a decade old wrestling video with a stopwatch around my neck that she was dumping me for obvious reasons.Ã‚Â
March 27th, 1988
We start with the incredibly cool old school NWA intro showing the various championship belts with lightning striking in the background.
And we are LIVE on TBS from the Greensboro Coliseum in NWA strong hold Charlotte, North Carolina for the Clash of the Champions.
-Our hosts for the evening are Tony Schiavone and the vastly underrated Bob Caudle. Jim Ross is at ringside holding one of the most ridiculous looking microphones I’ve ever seen. I don’t pretend to have been around during Biblical times, but I’d fathom to guess that the staff of Moses looked quite similar to this goofy ass microphone that poor Jim is stuck with. The fans at ringside seem to be leaning waaaaaay back in their chairs, wary of the fact that the mic could turn into a serpent at any time. Tom Miller is our ring announcer.Ã‚Â
-World TV Title Match: “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious) vs. Mike Rotunda (w/ Kevin Sullivan). Alright, let’s get the painful part out of the way now. This is an “Olympic Rules Match,” meaning that instead of the standard three-count pinfall, a mere one-count is all that’s necessary to win the match. The match is also divided into three separate five minute rounds. We start right in with your standard tie-up and then… the production guys decide it would be a good idea to go to the SUPER MEGA wide-angle shot with a camera that literally appears to be in the far back corner of the Greensboro Coliseum. We get back to the action and Rotunda and Garvin tie back up and… now we are treated to random crowd shots. Pretty standard stuff here, with Garvin getting the upper hand a few times and Rotunda bailing. It’s somewhat interesting to see both guys kicking out immediately after the pin attempt, but it’s nothing that I’m gonna be writing my congressman to encourage more of in the future. Nice amateur exchange to end round one. Round two starts with Garvin on the offensive, hitting a quick move or two. As Garvin has Rotunda poised for a brainbuster, Kevin Sullivan jumps up on the apron and begins to choke Precious. Garvin goes for the save, gets rolled up in the process, and my prayers are answered as this match is put to an end at (6:10). Post match antics include: Jim Garvin gaining revenge on Kevin Sullivan by administering a standard everyday suplex on him. Rick Steiner comes in to help Sullivan out, but ends up on the receiving end of a 2×4 courtesy of Precious. She then sets her sights on Sullivan and chokes him out with a clothes hanger, which has me secretly wishing for the SUPER wide-angle shot, or maybe another crowd shot of a group of screaming 40 year old women. I swear to god, if you watch this match you’d swear that the arena was jam packed with nothing but 40 year old women. The match itself was not terrible by any means, but between the limiting stips, the continuous ridiculous wide angles, and the grating crowd shots, it really wasn’t anything worth watching. 1/2*Ã‚Â
– “Dr. Death” Steve Williams is out for an interview. Says nothing of consequence. He’s making his return after being out of the NWA for a few months so he naturally feels that he is the number one contender in the NWA and wants the winner of tonight’s main event in a title match.
-During the commercial break, an ad aired for the “Four Horseman Top Performance System.” The commercial showed vintage Horseman footage with a bottle of “Four Horseman Energy Pills” superimposed over the top of the clips. Next…
-U.S. Tag Team Title Match: The Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette) Ã‚Â vs. The Fantastics .Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Jim Cornette introduces the Midnight Express as “Every mother’s nightmare and every schoolgirl’s dream.” They come out a huge pop despite being the heels in the feud, but that’s the Express for you. The Fantastics hit the ring and a riot ensues between the two teams that would put just about anything ECW has ever done to shame. These guys are just pounding the shit out of each other and the crowd is eating it up BIG TIME. The Midnights and Fantastics are ramming each other into the ring posts, choking each other on the guard rails, bashing each other with chairs; The Midnights are literally picking up tables and throwing them at the Fantastics. This is insane. In the corner of the screen we see Eaton flying off the tope rope and leveling Fulton. Cornette is on the outside picking up folding chairs and throwing them at Tommy Rogers’ head. Cornette and the Midnights are just amazing to watch here as they are just so incredibly on target with everything they do. Eaton whips Rogers into the ropes, Rogers reverses and in mid-reversal Eaton gets the blind tag to Lane. Eaton comes back off the ropes as Lane crouches down behind Rogers, and Eaton hits a flying clothesline at the same instant that Lane clips Roger’s legs, leveling him in the process. Rogers plays Ricky Morton for the ENTIRE match here as he is just obliterated by the Express. Lane distracts the ref while Cornette casually hold up a table outside, which Eaton is kind enough to throw Rogers head first into. As if that wasn’t enough, Rogers is now lucky enough to be on the receiving end of… a flying elbow drop from Eaton, followed by the old Demolition finisher, followed by two savate kicks by Lane, and then capped off by being thrown outside the ring right on his head. The fun is just beginning though. Cornette lays a table out and Eaton slams Rogers right on top of it. Rogers makes the superman comeback and manages to get to his feet outside only to be bulldogged right back on top of the table. MY GOD! Again Rogers stands up. This time Stan Lane comes off the apron twice with two flying kicks right to the side of his head. MY GOD THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME! Back in for even more breathtaking Midnight’s offense as Lane hits the drop toe hold followed immediately by a Eaton elbow drop right to the back of Roger’s head. Finally Roger’s makes the hot tag, but the the ref misses it. Fulton responds like any good babyface would… he grabs referee Randy Anderson by the hair and throws him over the top rope. OFF THE CHART BRAWL again. Eaton holds Fulton while Cornette comes up to bat with the tennis racket only to miss and hit Eaton by mistake. The Fantastics take advantage of the situation and deliver the Rocket Launcher onto the fallen Eaton as a second referee (Tommy Young) comes in to make the three-count at (10:15). The Fantastics are your new U.S. Tag Team Champs!!! But wait… The first referee is back in the ring and calling for a DQ because Fulton roughed him up. Ladies and Gentlemen… Dusty Rhodes has entered the building. The decision seems to be unimportant though as the two teams are still pounding the hell out of each other. Tommy Young is trying to restore some order and gets CRUSHED by Cornette with the racket for his efforts. Randy Anderson is still down in the corner tending to his injuries and minding his own business, but Cornette goes over to the corner and nails him too. This is GREAT. The Express hit Rogers with the Flapjack because they suspect he might still be breathing. Eaton holds Fulton as Lane and Cornette take turns whipping him with a leather belt. And for the icing on the cake, as the Midnights are leaving the ring Cornette goes out of his way to obliterate Tommy Young with the racket AGAIN on the outside of the ring. The match was basically an exhibition for the Express as they were on the offensive for the vast majority of the contest. Why in God’s name ANYBODY thought it would be a good idea to break these guys up a few years later is beyond me. Still one of the best matches that you’re gonna see anywhere. ****3/4
-Bob Caudle is at ring side “We have a huge crowd here in Charlotte. Talking about the big crowd, a number of celebrities are also here. A lot of us remember the old Leave it to Beaver television program. Well the new Leave it to Beaver stars Eddie Haskel. And we’d like right now for all you folks to meet Eddie Haskel.” We then cut to a sixty year old Eddie Haskel *IN CHARACTER* running into Jim Cornette at ringside. This is quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever seen, seriously. “Hey listen, that’s a fine lookin’ tennis racket you have there Mr. Cornette.” Next…
-We cut back to Bob Caudle who audibly sighs in embarrassment due to the last segment. He is joined by Gary Hart and Al Perez. They call out Dusty Rhodes.
-We go to Frances Crocket to announce the top ten seeds for the Jim Crocket Sr. Memorial Cup. The poor woman looks like she’d rather be swimming with killer squid than announcing the top ten seeds. In case anyone cares (which I HIGHLY doubt) here we go:
10. Ivan Koloff and Dick Murdock
9. Sting and Ron Garvin
8. The Varsity Club
6. Barry Windham and Lex Luger
5. Powers of Pain
4. Midnight Express
3. Road Warriors
2. Nikita Koloff and Dusty Rhodes (shocker)
1. Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard
-“Barbed Wire” Match: Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes vs. The Powers of Pain and Ivan Koloff . This match is dubbed a “Chicago Street Fight” and the ring is surrounded by barbed wire. Actually, it’s more like loosely decorated with barbed wire. Animal comes to the ring wearing a medical mask because of a previous injury suffered at the hands of the Powers of Pain. I guess back in the 80’s it was the norm to give your patients poofy white ski masks for medical purposes. The match begins with the announcers inexplicably referring to it as a “Texas barbed wire match.” So let me get this straight, A Chicago Street Fight / Texas Barbed Wire match all taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina. Oh hell, on to the match. A lot of kicking and punching to start. Things never really get organized and never really develop any kind of natural flow, but then again order isn’t exactly a staple of the Chicago Texas Charlotte Barbed Wire Street Fight, now is it ? More clubbing and raking until the Barbarian misses a flying headbutt and hits Warlord by mistake. Animal makes the pin ending the match at (3:39). Animal gets kicked right in the medical helmet and is beaten down after the match. Well, the calculations are in and the Chicago street fight officially got less air time than Eddie Haskel. OUCH! Let’s call it * and say that the Warlord owes us an eighth of a star one day down the road. Ivan would soon disappear, and a little over a year later the rest of the participants would turn into Saturday morning cartoon characters over in the WWF.
-Out comes Nikita Koloff in a white business suite for an interview, and to tell the truth, I can’t make out a SINGLE damn word he’s saying. Keep in mind the tape is fifteen years old, but I literally cannot make out anything. He does hold up a sign that says “Get High on Sports, Not Drugs” so at least it’s a positive message. Bob Caudle is nice enough to give a quick paraphrase at the end: Nikita doesn’t need a belt to be a champion and he wants a piece of Kevin Sullivan.
-World Tag Team Title Match: Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard (w/ JJ Dillon) vs. Lex Luger and Barry Windham . Luger and Windham are just over HUGE here. Luger gets off to a quick start with some power offense, hitting a quick clothesline on Tully and going immediately into the torture rack. Arn clips Luger’s left knee and Arn and Tully immediately play precision surgeon and go right to work on the knee. Ax2 with a couple of hard elbows to the back of the knee which he follows up with five knee-drops. The Horseman have the ring cut into quarters as they keep Lex right around their corner and switch out frequently, all the while working over the left knee. Luger mounts a comeback only to have Tully go downstairs and take out the knee with a quick shoulder tackle. Hot tag to Windham who cleans house and puts the exclamation point on by hitting the *DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER*. Personally, if I were Barry I would have gone for a pin attempt directly following the knocker, but I’m not Windham. Windham with the sleeper on Blanchard, who rolls outside the ring with Barry still on him. Windham holds on to the sleeper, eventually rolling back in to the ring leaving Blanchard outside, presumably asleep. Arn dips outside and tries to revive Blanchard. Back inside as Windham locks the abdominal stretch on Tully. Dillon distracts the ref just long enough for Ax2 to DDT Windham and then spinebust him into the ground. Beautiful wrestling sequence a few moments later as Tully takes down Windham with a headlock, which Barry reverses into a head scissors, which in turn Tully flips over into a pinning combination, which in turn Windham bridges out of, which IN TURN is reversed into a gut-wrench suplex. Tully nails the slingshot suplex on Windham for 2.999999999999999945 but takes a lot out of himself in the process. Windham capitalizes and makes the FLAMING tag to Luger. Luger beats down anything that moves, and gains a measure of revenge with the second *DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER* of the match. All four men are in now, as Dillon sneaks onto the apron with a chair. Arn is reversed into the chair, Luger rolls him up, and we have new World Tag Team Champions (9:35)! The crowd is literally having a collective orgasm, jumping in the air, running around the arena, and just generally blowing the roof off the place. The match itself was extremely good, and could have been a classic if given about five more minutes. We’ll give it ****1/4 and say that the Warlord owes us another eighth of a star in the near future. By the next Clash, Barry would be a hated heel, or as I like to call them, rule breakersÃ¢â€žÂ¢.Ã‚Â
-NWA World Heavyweight Title Match: Ric Flair vs. Sting . This match has gained somewhat of a cult status and was THE match that made Sting a major player in NWA/WCW for nearly a decade. The match has a 45 minute time limit and as ring announcer Tom Miller tells us “For this match, there MUST be a winner.” Umm, ok. There are five judges at ringside, three of whom aren’t even qualified enough to chew gum, let alone judge a match of this caliber. In case any of you are interested, the five judges are…
Gary Juster: from the NWA Board of Directors. Juster is inexplicably almost booed out of the building. If anyone can offer any insight into why this is, please drop me an email as I’m curious to know.
Sandy Scott : former NWA Wrestler.Ã‚Â
Patty Mullen: 1988 “Pet of the Year.” Why ???
Jason Hervey: Teenage heartthrob from The Wonder Years. When he isn’t judging heavyweight fights he is giving Kevin noogies.Ã‚Â
Eddie Haskel *IN CHARACTER*: Why God, WHY ??? Seriously, didn’t people see through this shit back in ’88. The fate of this match lies in the hands of a 60 year old Eddie Haskel *IN CHARACTER* I find myself strangely offended by this.Ã‚Â
We’re never quite told what exactly the judges do, how they come into play, etc. but then again it’s probably better that I not know the exact type of scoring system that Eddie Haskel was employing for this match. JJ Dillon is locked in a cage at ringside and raised above the ring. As the cage is being raised, ringside fans are sticking their middle fingers inside of the cage at JJ and trying to pull the cage out of the air and off the support. Now THAT is heat. It should be noted that this same cage would pop up countless other times in the next few years in various matches… that is until that damned Robocop came along and broke it. And people wonder why he wasn’t asked to come back again. We’re under way and we go through a rather lengthy feeling out process. Test of strength is easily won by Sting. A Flair chop is no-sold by Sting. Dueling hammerlocks and Flair Chops again (2). Sting with the press slam and capitalizes with a headlock. I run up to Taco Bell and come back to find both men in the exact same position. Literally, this has to be a solid 8 minute headlock. Flair says no more and simply stands up and chops the shit out of sting (chop number 3 if you’re counting at home). Chop is no-sold as Sting hits the quick hiptoss, mounts Flair in the corner, and goes for move 44b out of the Babyface manual, which is of course the corner 10 punch which the crowd can markishly count along with. Sting’s up in the corner pointing and screaming at JJ Dillon as the crowd is fired up and ready to count, but Sting inexplicably stops the fun at 4 and goes back to the headlock. Flair, in a spot seldom seen anymore, keeps rolling Sting onto his shoulders from the headlock position. Flair gets a few one-counts out of this as we cut to a close-up of “Pet of the Year” Patty Mullen, who sadly looks like she would rather be at her own children’s funeral than “judging” this match. Flair levels Sting with chops four and five, only to be press slammed again for his efforts. Flair begs off, but Sting will have none of it as he digs deep into his arsenal and pulls out a move from page 36 of The A-Z’s of Killing Any Crowd by Erik Watts…*The marathon bear hug.* Strangely the crowd is loving this bear hug. Sting misses an elbow into the corner and injures his right arm. The action spills outside, but not before Flair can deliver chops six and seven. Sting is whipped twice into the guard rail as JJ SCREAMS instructions at Flair. Flair shows that he’s no literary slouch himself as he pulls out some classic heel moves including *but not limited to* the face stretch and the rope burn. Flair with chop eight! Chop Nine! Ten! Eleven! Twelve! Thirteen! MY GOD! Sting no-sells all of the chops of course and tosses The Man outside, only to miss a clothesline and re-injure his arm on the ring post. Flair goes back to work on the arm for a few minutes. Sting again mounts Flair in the corner as the crowd rises in preparation to count along with Sting. Sting stops at THREE this time and hip tosses Flair, much to the disappointment of the crowd, who have now been cheated out of 13 good counts. Sting goes for the Scorpion Deathlock following a stiff clothesline, but Flair is too damn crafty and easily makes the ropes as we reach the 25:00 mark. Flair with chop fourteen, and I don’t even need to tell you that it was no-sold. Sting’s flying clothesline is ducked, and he goes sailing over the top rope. Sting climbs back up onto the apron and Flair drops him neck first right across the top rope with a move that would kill your average man, yet wasn’t enough to prevent a Sting complete and total no-sell as he immediately springs to the top rope and hits a flying cross body block. Sting goes right back to the headlock, but he is dropped on his knee by Flair. Vintage Flair as he works over Sting’s left knee which Stings sells as if he’s stepped on a land mine. Flair nearly knocks off Sting’s pectoral with chop fifteen and goes right into the figure four… on the wrong knee. My night is made as Flair uses the top rope for MEGA leverage. Sting manages to reverse the hold and regain the offensive, crotching Flair on the ringpost as JJ screams for a DQ. Sting’s figure four is broken up and Sting again mounts Flair in the corner. He motions to the crowd as if to say “I was only teasing you guys earlier, NOW LET’S DO SOME COUNTING!!!” One! Two! Three! Four! Five! Sting jumps down and hip tosses Flair. FUCK! We’re back outside after a Flair Flip with Sting ramming Flair head first into the ring post and then the judges’ table. TAKE HASKEL OUT, PLEASE. Back in the ring, Sting AGAIN has Flair mounted in the corner. Are we gonna get the ten-count ? Of course not, the crowd feverishly counts along, but Flair lifts Sting off at five and atomic drops him. No-Sell into a clothesline for 2.99. Flair chops his way to seventeen before Sting rallies and throws Flair hard into the corner. Flair flips over the top, keeps running, and hits the flying cross body off the top rope onto Sting. Sting rolls over Flair and EVERY PERSON in the building thinks Sting is going to get the three-count.Ã‚Â Even after seeing the match countless times, I still for a split second think that Sting has him pinned. Flair kicks out at the absolute last second and begs off. Sting kicks Flair all over the ring . ONE MINUTE LEFT! Sting yet again mounts Flair in the corner for five. Stinger Splash !!! Crowd is going INSANE! Flair Flop! Sting locks in the Scorpion Death Lock with twenty seconds to go. 10 seconds! 5 seconds! Flair holds on! Final Chop Count: 19. (45:00)
-Tom Miller is in the ring to announce the judges decision. Patty Mullen, “Pet of the Year”, awards the match to… Ric Flair. Gary Juster, NWA Board member, awards the match to… Sting. Sandy Scott, former NWA wrestler, declares the match a draw. Therefore, as Tom Miller informs us, the match is a draw. What in the hell ? The logic here has me pounding my head against the wall. First of all, there were still two judges who’s decisions weren’t even announced. The draw would make sense if their vote was also split, but we weren’t told what in the hell their damned votes even where. For all we know they both could have gone one way or the other, resulting in a winner. This really makes me angry for one simple reason. I’m going to go to bed tonight pissed off because I don’t know how WAYNE ARNOLD and EDDIE FUCKING HASKEL voted in a thirteen year old wrestling match. I’ll end this by repeating ring announcer Tom Miller’s quote from the beginning of the match: “For this match, there MUST be a winner.” Very good match, although not as good as your wrestling savvy friends might make it out to be. Sting was still rather green at this point and it honestly would have been an infinitely better match had there been about ten minutes shaved off. And don’t even get me started on the ending. Honestly, is it too much to ask that someone actually goes over the ending and says “Does this make sense?”, “Won’t they wonder what the other two judges had to say?”Ã‚Â ****
*Epilogue* – On the night of March 27th, 1998, for every one American watching Randy Savage defeat Ted Dibease for the WWF title, FIFTEEN Americans were sitting in front of the TV watching Ric Flair battle Sting to a 45 minute draw. A lot of new NWA fans were born from this show and rightfully so. The historic nature of this event, as well as three matches at or above **** make this an absolute MUST SEE show. The Midnight Express match itself is worth dropping whatever you are doing and locating a copy of this tape.
— Well, I guess that’s it until Clash II: Miami Mayhem! This is my first tape review for the fine folks over at the 411, so any and all feedback would be GREATLY appreciated. Let me know what you liked, what you hated, and any ways that I could improve over the course of the next 34 Clashes. If you’d like to email me for the sole purpose of saying insulting things about my mother, feel free to go ahead and email them directly to her at Mom’s email address .