The SmarK Retro Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XIV: Dixie Dynamite!
– You know Dusty Rhodes was back with the promotion because suddenly the Clashes had alliterative subtitles again.
– Live from Gainesville, GA
– Your hosts are Jim Ross & Dusty Rhodes, freshly back in the booking chair again after being humiliated by Vince McMahon for the previous year and a bit. It should be noted that throughout the show, JR managed to develop the preeminent strategy for dealing with Dusty’s color commentating style Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he would simply allow Dust to ramble on for as long as he wanted to, wait until he was out of breath, and then continue on with his own commentary as though Dusty hadn’t said anything. Most effective indeed.
– Opening match, WCW tag team titles: Doom v. Lex Luger & Sting. This wasn’t announced as a tag title match, but I’m pretty sure it was hyped as one. No real reason for the match to happen. Reed & Sting start, and Sting dominates and grabs an arm. Luger comes in with a neckbreaker, but Reed manages to tag Simmons and a power battle ensues. Sadly, six months later and this matchup is headlining their PPVs. No one gives anything until Ron cheapshots Lex. Luger overpowers him again and gets an atomic drop and suplex for two. He gets hotshotted, however, and we take an AD BREAK OF DOOM. We return with Ron powerslamming Lex for two. Luger fights back, but Ron keeps hammering him. Reed comes in with a dropkick and hits the chinlock. Luger facejams Simmons to come back, but Reed hits the flying shoulderblock, the force of which sends Luger crashing into his own corner for the hot tag. See, now that’s some inventive booking, I’ll give them credit for that. Dan Spivey comes out to heat up the match with Luger at the WrestleWar PPV (which was an awesome, **** match, defying several laws of physics and thermodynamics in the process) and beats the crap out of him, leaving Sting 2-on-1. Ref bumped, but Reed tosses Sting over the top to draw the DQ at 7:44. Well, you know Dusty’s booking, all right. Match was about a zillion notches below what you’d expect for both teams. *
– World TV title match: Tom Zenk v. Beautiful Bobby. This is one of those matches that makes you realize how silly wrestling and backstage politics in general really are. Zenk had spent most of 1990 getting buried under the Ole Anderson regime, then won the TV title from a bored Arn Anderson when Jim Ross took over temporary control of the booking committee in early 1991 in order to freshen up the division. Then, two weeks into his reign, Dusty Rhodes returned from Whiff Hell and immediately started putting his cronies over again, starting with Anderson regaining the TV title from Zenk a few days before this match at a TV taping. Of course, the taping wouldn’t air for a week or two AFTER this, so poor Zenk got the honor of going out on live TV and defending a lame duck title. I think he should have went out and “accidentallyÃ¢â‚¬Â jobbed to Bobby, just to play mindgames with Dusty. It probably wouldn’t have mattered much in the long run if Zenk had been given a longer run, because the title was soon going to be welded around Steve Austin’s waist, but putting the title on Arn again served no purpose except to give Bobby an established name to beat when he won the title. Anyway, that’s not even the dumbest thing about this match. See, Zenk had just won a contest held by Missy Hyatt for the “Sexiest Wrestler in WCWÃ¢â‚¬Â (and I don’t even wanna know what first prize was ), leading to straight-arrow ring announcer Gary Michael Capetta being forced to introduce him as “The WCW Television champion, and SEXIEST MAN IN WRESTLINGÃ¢â‚¬Â and keep a straight face the whole time. Sadly for Tom, I am under no such constaints of professionalism, so BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Shoving match goes nowhere to start. They do a bit of matwork and Tom works a wristlock. Eaton stalls, and works his own armbar. He goes up and gets dropkicked to the floor, but Zenk lets him come back in. They slug it out and do the test of strength bit, and Eaton cheapshots him to take control. He goes up, but gets slammed off and Zenk comes back. Backdrop gets two. Blind charge hits elbow and Eaton goes up with a flying kneedrop that looked like a miscommunicated spot, but Zenk cradles for two. Eaton gets the neckbreaker for two. Zenk rollup gets two, and a backslide gets the pin (!?) at 7:08. That’s only the third time I’ve ever seen that actually work. The replay reveals CONTROVERSY~!, as Eaton looks to have lifted his shoulder at two. Ooo, let me buy the PPV rematch right now. Or not. Very slow start, built okay, ending was out of nowhere and sucked the meat missile with gusto. *1/2
– The Freebirds v. Tommy Rich & Allen Iron Eagle. This was during the glory days of Hayes & Garvin’s run as, to paraphrase Frank Jewett, “mascara-wearing scuzzballsÃ¢â‚¬Â and just before the infamous negative title reign. Hayes blocks a rollup from Rich and gets powerslammed, and Garvin gets slammed in turn. Allen Iron Jobber comes in to bat cleanup, and those of you who have watched enough wrestling to know what happens when a JTTS tags in a full-blown jobber probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that Hayes bulldogs him to take over. Hayes hits the chinlock, and that goes on for a while. Unintentionally funny spot when he releases the hold: Iron Jobber gets to his feet and Hayes unleashes one of his devastating rights (the kind that JR always goes “Gosh!Ã¢â‚¬Â or some similar outburst for), complete with slapping of the arm to simulate contact but poor Allen has hair in his face, and doesn’t realize that Hayes is even throwing a punch, and in fact completely ignores the move. Hayes gets pissed and tosses him, giving a couple of stiff shots on the floor. Back in, Iron Jobber f*cks up ANOTHER spot, as Garvin makes a blind charge to the corner and Allen forgets to move, forcing Garvin to hit a running kneelift. So they repeat the spot, and thankfully this time he remembers his cue. Everyone’s in without the benefit of a tag, and Allen gets a sunset flip on Garvin, but Hayes breaks. False tag to Rich, and the Birds double-DDT Iron Jobber for the pin at 5:53. I don’t think that guy hit ONE spot properly in the whole match. Of course, Kevin Nash built his career on the same habit. Match is great for comedy value, but not much else. -**
– Jumpin’ Joey Maggs v. Sid Vicious. Thankfully, Sid was keeping his own team of EMTs on retainer, just in case of matches such as this one. Clothesline, clothesline, powerbomb at 1:08. Yup. DUD Sid beats him up again on the stretcher, just because.
– Ricky Morton v. Terry Taylor. Capetta goes 2-for-2 on sounding stupid for the night, introducing Taylor as “The computerized man of the 1990sÃ¢â‚¬Â, an introduction which meant nothing, because Taylor doesn’t turn heel until the end of this match! Standard face v. face stuff to start, and Morton gets a series of armdrags to frustrate Taylor. Morton works a headlock, and we take an ad break. We’re back with Taylor working a hammerlock. He clubs Morton and blocks a rollup attempt. Morton goes back to the arm, as Alexandra York (Terri) joins us at ringside. Taylor uses the distraction to attack, and gets a jawbreaker for two. Alexandra gets one of those little video inserts on split-screen to explain that Taylor is the newest member of the York Foundation. The original member was Michael Wallstreet, but he jumped to the WWF to become IRS shortly before this. I didn’t actually get TBS at this point and was depending on Worldwide Wrestling for my NWA fix, so I was somewhat confused when York was managing Rotundo one week and Taylor the next, with no explanation given by the announcers, who I guess assumed everyone in the world got TBS or something. Butterfly suplex and kneedrop get two for Taylor. Morton cradles him for two, so Taylor chokes him down to complete the heel turn. Bulldog gets two. Taylor goes up and misses a pump splash, and they slug it out. Morton gets the Enemy Pummel and a suplex for two. Dropkick, but he misses a second one and Taylor gets the pin at 8:32. The computer told York that Morton would miss a dropkick and fall on his head? I’ve gotta get me one of those. **1/4 Finish actually looked rushed, because Morton fell awkwardly into the ropes and smacked the back of his head hard on the mat, so I think they may have gone home early to compensate.
– Bill Apter presents Sting with the Wrestler of the Year award. Look closely and you can see him taking the payoff from WCW. Well, they’re both out of business now, so everyone got what they deserved for the whole scam.
– Ranger Ross v. El Cubano. Cubano is a generic masked jobber in black tights and black mask, and if I were forced to bet my life on his identity, I’d guess that it’s someone like Bob Cook. They were making yet another try for a Ross push under the guise of Gulf War Patriotism, but Ross f*cked it up by getting involved in some VERY shady dealings and ended up spending significant time in prison for beating his wife. Gary Capetta introduces him as “El CoobanoÃ¢â‚¬Â, as though he were JFK or something. I guess they didn’t wanna go into the territory of having Ross beat up Arabs, so decided to go with a non-threatening Communist country for their generic bad guy. You just find all the great cheesy jobber names on these Clashes, like “The TerroristÃ¢â‚¬Â or “The BlackmailerÃ¢â‚¬Â. I mean, sure Fidel Sierra’s run as the Cuban Assassin didn’t exactly send anyone running for their lives, but “Cuban AssassinÃ¢â‚¬Â at least sounds vaguely threatening and heelish. Naming someone “The BlackmailerÃ¢â‚¬Â is just silly. You might as well just call them “The AdultererÃ¢â‚¬Â and have them wear a big scarlet letter across their chest. “That’s right, Mean Gene, I cheated on my wife, and I’ll DO IT AGAIN!Ã¢â‚¬Â (Crowd boos here). “And I’ll cheat on ALL YOUR WIVES, TOO!Ã¢â‚¬Â Why not run through all the misdemeanor crimes for jobber names? “The Drug PossessorÃ¢â‚¬Â seems like it would have possibilities. “That’s right, Mean Gene, I have a kilo of grass here. Now, I’m not saying I’m gonna use it or traffic it, but it’s here, and THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!Ã¢â‚¬Â Or what about “The JaywalkerÃ¢â‚¬Â? Okay, the interview possibilities there might be a little bit limited, granted. However, you can also introduce “The Inattentive DriverÃ¢â‚¬Â, and one day shoot a skit where The Jaywalker is busy jaywalking, and is almost run down by The Inattentive Driver, and POW, Insta-Feud. Yeah. Anyway, I guess there was some match or something I’m supposed to be reviewing. Ross dumps him with a dropkick, but gets kneedropped back in. Ross works the arm, and that goes on for a while. Cubano suplexes him and goes up, but misses “The Havana HammerÃ¢â‚¬Â. Okay, the poor guy didn’t actually get to name his one big offensive move, but geez, he’s gotta go out there and call himself “El CubanoÃ¢â‚¬Â and wearing a black body stocking with a lightning bolt on the leg, let’s cut him SOME slack. I mean, lightning bolts don’t even have anything to do with Cuba! Wazzupwitdat? So, El Cubano, your missed splash shall be known forever in my mind and heart as “The Havana HammerÃ¢â‚¬Â. Here’s to you! Ross dumps him and they brawl, and back in the Ranger rolls him up for the pin at 3:03. Oh, man, he didn’t even get to put over the guy’s finisher. That’s like the biggest insult you give a jobber. DUD
– The Renegade Warriors v. Barry Windham & Arn Anderson. Windham & Anderson have their portraits hanging on the wall directly opposite the camera, which pretty much gives away the finish well in advance. Barry is looking noticeably out of shape here. Big brawl to start, and the Horsemen bail. Windham gets double-teamed and lets Arn try against Mark Youngblood. No luck there. Chris rolls up Arn for two. Barry goes again and gets dropkicked. Barry finally cheapshots Mark and the Horsemen take over. The Warriors double-chop Barry, but Chris walks into a spinebuster from Arn and he’s dead. Barry suplexes him for two. DDT gets two. Arn works a facelock and atomic drops Chris. They mess up Arn’s famous missed pump splash spot (I guess Chris has never actually, you know, watched wrestling before), and it’s hot tag to Mark. It seems pretty BONZO GONZO to me. Mark gets dumped, however, and Chris is hung out to dry with a running lariat and superplex from Barry to finish at 7:29. Lethargic squash for Dusty’s boyz. Ã‚Â½*
– Stan Hansen offers Tony Schiavone his usual haute couture interview on the subject of his match with Vader at WrestleWar.
– Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker v. Brian Pillman. Pillman bridges out of a knucklelock and dropkicks Parker, working the arm. Crucifix gets two. Headscissors puts Parker out, and Pillman slingshots him back in and keeps on the arm. Parker tries to slingshot him into the ring in turn, but Pillman lands on his feet and spinkicks him. Parker gets his Token Jobber Offense in, and stalls on the ramp to sell the devastating force of the bodyslam that he managed to unleash. Indeed, I’ve seen many good men beaten by the slamming of their body onto the mat like that, but Pillman is made of sterner stuff and comes back to hit a plancha onto Parker. They head back in, and Parker is so busy arguing with the referee (“Tastes great!Ã¢â‚¬Â “Less filling!Ã¢â‚¬Â) that he doesn’t notice Pillman coming off the top rope with a flying bodypress to finish at 3:18. Another squash in a series Ã¢â‚¬â€œ collect them all! Ã‚Â½*
– Arm-wrestling match: Paul E. Dangerously v. Missy Hyatt. Paul is READY and pumped until Missy takes off her jacket to reveal low-cut spandex, resulting in Paul’s head exploding and an easy win for Missy. With modern perspective, one might wonder why Missy had that effect on Paul, but it was a more innocent time then.
– WCW World title: Ric Flair v. Scott Steiner. There’s a story surrounding this match that I’ll get to later. Stalling to start. Scott overpowers him and Flair stalls again. Flair works a wristlock but gets overpowered again. Steiner with a backdrop and sideslam for two. Flair bails. Back in, Flair unleashes the chops, but gets hiptossed. Steiner works the arm, and they do some matwork, which leads to Flair bailing again. Back in, Flair cheapshots the knee but gets Steinerlined. Flair bails again. Yeesh. Steiner suplexes him for two and pummels him in the corner, but gets atomic dropped. I’m not sure he HAS anything to hurt left after all the steroids, but I’ll pretend. Another atomic drop, and Flair tosses him. Steiner sunset flips in, but Flair punches him in the face to block. Pinfall attempt in the corner gets two. Now we’re getting somewhere. Ad break, and and we return with Steiner putting Flair in his own figure-four. Flair makes the ropes, and both guys tumble over the top on a cross body. Flair uses the kneebreaker on the floor, however, and they head back in, where Flair starts unmercifully pounding on the knee. Whoo! Just felt it had to be said. Figure-four, and he grabs the ropes for leverage, but Rick Steiner points out Flair’s indiscretion to the ref. What a fink. Backdrop suplex and now we go to school again, but Steiner reverses. Steiner gets a Rude Awakening, and tosses Flair to the corner for the Flair Flip as he bails. Steiner follows him and just kills him with a Steinerline. Awesome. Back in, Steiner pounds away, but Flair goes low. Figure-four is reversed for two. Steiner’s leg is “numb as a cucumberÃ¢â‚¬Â, sayeth Dusty. That’s truly the strangest simile I’ve heard all week. Steiner grabs a sleeper, then clotheslines Flair out. Back in, Flair slugs him down and gets the kneedrop for two. Flair works a headlock to burn the rapidly-dying time, but Steiner bridges out and into the tiger driver. Flair bails, but gets Steinerlined on the way in. Another Flair Flip and this time Flair tries to complete the move by coming off the top, but Scott catches him coming down, and TV time expires at 24:39. This was basically the first 25 minutes of a 40-minute ***** match, but it wasn’t that match by any means. ***1/2 The story behind the match, which I’ve told before, is that Steiner was in fact being offered the title on a silver platter by both Flair & Dusty, which is one of the few times in history where both men were unanimous in wanting the title to pass to the same guy. However, Scott didn’t want to break up the team and refused the title, rightly suspecting that they were only keeping his brother around to humor him. Shortly after this, Scott suffered what was almost a career-ending arm injury, and it took him 9 years to make it back to a level where he was a legitimate contender for the World title again. That’s life in the funny pages, kids.
The Bottom Line: Steiner-Flair is quite interesting and well worthwhile, but the rest is, frankly, junk and not worth the trouble of tracking down. Things would of course get much, MUCH worse for WCW in 1991, but thankfully this during Dusty’s initial booking period, where he burned up all his good booking ideas in one shot before the Ric Flair Disaster of July that nearly destroyed the promotion six months into its existance.
Recommendation to avoid unless you’re overwhelmed with curiosity to see Ric Flair v. Scott Steiner in their only title match.