The SmarK Retro Repost – Clash Of Champions II


The SmarK Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions II: Miami Mayhem!

– I bet Dusty thought of that name.

– Anyway, just clearing out some of the backlog this week, as I cover a couple of the early Clashes for the sake of getting them done. It’s either this or CZW, so consider yourself lucky.

– Live from Miami, Florida.

– Your hosts are JR, Tony Schiavone & Bob Caudle.

– Opening match, US title: Barry Windham v. Brad Armstrong. Barry was just fresh into his US title run as a mega-heel, beating the returning Nikita Koloff in the finals of a tournament for the belt. Brad works the arm to start, as does Windham. Brad gets a slam and Barry bails. Back in, Armstrong works a headlock and Windham bails again. They work the mat against for a bit, but Windham keeps cheating and the ref forces a break. Man, when do you EVER see that anymore? Brad gives him a clean break in the corner, like a moron, and Barry nails him. Windham gets lazy on offense, though, and Brads sends him scurrying again. Back to the headlock, and a criss-cross leads to another headlock. Sign in the crowd: “Barry used to be a big hunk, now he’s just a big punk”, with “Punk” and “Hunk” done in glitter paint and the sign held up by a 14-year old girl. More on this phenomenon later. Barry suplexes out of it and powerslams him for two. Figure-four, assisted by JJ, gets several two counts as Brad can’t reverse. He finally makes the ropes, but gets tossed. Back in, Barry goes up and misses whatever it is he’s usually going for up there, and Brad comes back. Dropkick and kneelift set up a flying bodypress for two. Another one is blocked with the IRON CLAW OF HIDEOUS DISMEMBERMENT, and that’s enough for the win at 14:00 to retain. Solid, but it seemed like they were going for a 20-25 minute match and got sent home early, which would explain all the headlocks early on. **1/2

– I would like to take this moment to mourn the passing of Why? Because we bring out Lyle Alzado to hype his new sitcom, Learning the Ropes. Those of you who were around at this time will already be groaning in sympathy pains, but for those of you who were lucky enough not to be privy to that one, here’s the gist: Former football player (and admitted steroid abuser) Alzado plays a mild-mannered (but steroid-abusing) high school teacher with two wacky kids who just can’t make ends meet. So he takes a second job, working as a jobber for Jim Crockett Promotions called “The Masked Maniac”. So each show we got wacky clips of The Maniac getting his ass kicked by NWA stars (with the running gag being that some week he might actually get a win) and interacting with other wacky wrestlers in the dressing room, having wacky conversations and interacting with wacky ring announcer/commentator Bertie Baxter, who was about as hip and cool as his name might imply. Plus there was some stuff at the school. Now, you might read a summary like that and think “Aha, ratings GOLD, baby!”, but in fact Lyle Alzado’s acting ability is roughly on par with Stephanie McMahon’s, without the dynamic range of emotions and fashion sense. Not to mention that Lyle is a foot taller than most of the guys in the promotion and would, in any kind of realistic world, be immediately pushed to the moon regardless of any skill he may or may not have possessed. Finally, he didn’t even do his own matches, which is why the character in question was hooded. The in-ring role was done by Steve “Dr. Death” Williams, who is of course a foot shorter than Alzado and looks nothing like him. This is why we, as Canadians, hold no false ego about the quality of our TV productions, historically speaking. Most disturbingly, the visual design of the wrestler in question was recycled two years later by Ole Anderson for the Black Scorpion character. Actually, the most disturbing thing about the show was probably the Family Ties-ripoff theme song, but that’s a minor quibble at this point. Speaking of bad wrestling-TV connections, the A-Team is shown on Movie Central’s action channel up here every night, and on Wednesday it cycled around to the Hulk Hogan episode. It’s the one where Hogan is lifelong friends with B.A., and they team up to stop an evil corporation from taking over an orphanage. Okay, that’s every episode, but Hogan was in this one. Anyway, wrestling was treated as real (with Murdoch of course being a super-mark) and Hogan had two matches on the show: A knockout victory over John Studd via the Axe Bomber (complete with slow motion stills to show just HOW fake wrestling is) and a pinfall win over Greg Valentine via the usual. The most notable thing about this one for me was Hogan being treated by the writers as if all wrestlers can toss around guys at will without their cooperation, specifically through windows and the like. The most surreal moment was when the Hired Goons (because there’s always Hired Goons in the A-Team for them to dispatch and/or interrogate, sort of the equivalent of jobbers in wrestling) chased Hogan and B.A. into a gym, where the likes of the British Bulldogs and Ricky Steamboat were working out. Needless to say, Steamboat used some melodramatic martial arts to dispatch one guy, while Davey Boy Smith headbutted another one into unconsciousness. The whole time I was thinking “Hell, 3 guys against Dynamite Kid is barely a workout for him, why even bother with the other wrestlers?”, but it was 1985, and we didn’t know any better at the time.

– Speaking of bad acting, Flair and Luger sign the contract for their Bash 88 match on Flair’s yacht.

– Backstage, the Horsemen are HERE. I know the WWF’s officially mandated and notorized position on just about everything in the wrestling world is they invented it from whole cloth and Vince’s glorious loins, but Crockett was doing the “Wrestlers arriving an hour late in limos” shtick 10 years before Vince Russo started stealing it for RAW.

– US tag title match: The Fantastics v. The Sheepwhackers. Due to a tearful request from a New Zealander fan, I will refrain from using my usual insulting alternate name for the Sheepherders, because apparently it’s what Australians like to call New Zealanders. As someone of Scottish descent, I can sympathize with that position. Rip Morgan is the flagbearer of note at this point. We cut back to Luger arriving, at which point the Horsemen storm the parking garage and kick his ass all over the place. JJ Dillon is nice enough to blade Luger right on camera, which results in a better blood flow than what we got at Bash 88. Back to the arena: Tommy gets pounded by Luke Williams right away, but gets a bodypress for two. Bobby comes in and cleans house. Butch works him over and gets an elbow for two. They do some double-teaming on Fulton, but he dropkicks Luke out and they brawl. Rip nails his own man by mistake with the flag, but the ‘Herders don’t sell it and keep on offense. Huh. Tommy comes in and drops an elbow for two and gets a rollup for two, but Butch nails him and pounds away. Tommy comes back and it’s a donnybrook. The Herders bail and stall. The mysterious glitter-painted signs at ringside return again, with another woman holding up a sign saying “Hunk Hunk Hunk” in tacky glitter-painted letters and carefully arranged formatting. Now, I’m not saying they’d stoop to planting signs in the crowd, but this is getting a WEE bit suspicious. I’ll keep an eye on the situation. Back in, Butch goes to work on Tommy as he plays face-in-peril. Luke gets the ABDOMINAL STRETCH OF DISCOMFORT, and more double-teaming follows. Tommy Rogers ducks a big boot, gets the theoretical hot tag to Bobby Fulton, and Bobby promptly gets planted and beaten down in the heel corner. Did the Fantastics do something to piss off the Sheepherders backstage or did they always cut off babyface comebacks like this? Double-KO with Luke and Bobby, and Fulton fights off Butch and bodypress on both guys at one for two. They do a comedy spot with Bobby & Tommy taking turns trying for the pin, until the Sheepherders get frustrated and bail. Tommy works on Luke’s arm, but ANOTHER cheapshot puts him on the floor, where he gets absolutely demolished in several ways, the most nasty of which involves a non-folding chair to the back. The timekeeper appears to be legally stupid, as he’s compressing 5 minutes into 4, resulting in “5 minutes” being announced at 4:00 and “10 minutes” at 8:00. I’ve never understand that practice – I can understand lying about attendance figures and buyrates, but whether or not a match was 16:00 or 18:00 can’t possibly have a bearing on the money it draws. Luke drops an elbow on the back for two. Heel miscommunication follows, but they ignore Tommy’s comeback and keep double-teaming. What the hell is going on here? Butch gets a running knee and Luke hits the chinlock. Rogers FINALLY gets a bit of offense, tags Fulton, and he rolls up Luke for the pin at 17:03 out of nowhere. That was long and disjointed and just WEIRD at times. Fantastics bumped their asses off, as usual, but they’re no Rock N Roll Express without the Midnights to carry them. ***

– Ronnie & Jimmy Garvin v. Rick Steiner & Mike Rotundo. Big brawl to start, with the Garvins getting stereo sleepers. Kevin Sullivan is locked in a cage at ringside, by the way, and spends much of the match involved in a bizarre subplot with Precious whereby they make googly eyes at each other and hatch an unspoken plot that was supposed to result in Precious turning on Jimmy but never ended up going anywhere. The line was crossed when Sullivan started making allusions to coat hangers in her past and they pulled the plug on the whole deal. Ron & Rick start proper, and Ron KO’s him for two very quickly. Jimmy works a hammerlock. The Varsity Club regroups and Rotundo goes. They trade amateur stuff, and Ron comes in. Lots of stalling here. The VC switches off in the heel corner, behind the ref’s back, but sadly they’re not doing anything more vile and heelish than an armbar. Now the timekeeper has gotten SLOW, waiting until 6:00 to announce five minutes gone by. The Club keeps on that armbar. Rotundo gets a clothesline for two, and rick keeps on that arm. Jimmy finally gets tagged and elbows Rick for two. He works a facelock to slow it down ever more. Ron rolls up Rick for two, but Rotundo comes in. Ron sunset flips him for two, but Mike gets a backdrop and legdrop to take over. They choke him out with the tag rope and toss him like TNN dumped ECW. Back in, Ron makes the hot tag to Jimmy, and it’s a pier-six. Jimmy pins Rick with a brainbuster out of nowhere at 13:11, but the camera was busy with Sullivan & Precious’s brawl on the outside. Match started slow, built slow, and just didn’t go anywhere. **

– They announce a scaffold match for the Bash PPV between the Powers of Pain and the Road Warriors. I’ve heard various (and occasionally conflicting) stories on this one, but the basic gist of most of them seems to be that the Powers felt that the scaffold would make for an unsafe working environment, and they did an end-run around Jim Crockett one week and showed up on WWF TV the next, necessitating the total rebooking of the midcard in the NWA as a result.

– Al Perez v. Nikita Koloff. Hey, it’s Nikita without steroids. Or a razor for his head. His anti-drug is Jesus. By 1991, those large muscles had mysteriously returned in time for a renewed push, probably because he looks like friggin’ X-PAC without all the chemical enhancement. Ooo, a 200 pound Russian babyface, get me a ticket RIGHT NOW. Tony tries to sell this as a serious rivalry, but then he was trying to sell the Tower of Doom as a serious match stipulation one segment ago, so take his word with a grain of salt. Shoving to start, and Koloff overpowers him. Through the wonder of wrestling, 200 pound Koloff was portrayed as bigger and badder than 240 pound Al Perez at this point. Speaking of Perez, picture Vince Russo with longer hair and an actual physique, and you’ve got it. Koloff grabs an armbar and works on that for a bit. Hunk sighting: Another sign in the crowd, another girl in the front row, more glitter paint. We have a conspiracy. Perez nails him in the corner, and Koloff misses a blind charge, giving Al the advantage. Out they go, where Perez works on the back. Slam on the floor, and back in Koloff steals a near-fall before Perez hits the chinlock. Perez had a good look, which probably explains why Fritz Von Erich gave him the WCCW title for the better part of a year before jobbing him to his kid. But the wrestling skill ugh. Koloff powers out thanks to the power of Christ, and they mess up a rollup spot thanks to the power of Satan. Perez dumps him, but Nikita sunset flips in. Koloff with a suplex to make the comeback. Shoulder tackle and elbow puts Perez on the floor, but Larry Zbyszko runs in for the DQ at 12:04. Twelve minutes for THAT ending? *

– NWA World title: Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard v. Dusty Rhodes & Sting. Not quite Sting-Flair, is it? Anderson tosses Sting early on, but punches the post by mistake and Sting works the arm. Tully comes in and gets dominated, and Dusty adds his usual. Tully gets pinballed and Dusty uses a figure-four, leaving him open to a cheapshot, and indeed that’s what happens. Ah, heel psychology is chicken soup for the cheater’s soul. They pound Dusty on the floor, but he gets a lariat on Tully back in the ring. Dropkick and Sting comes in to clean house. Stinger splash on Tully, but the Horsemen sucker him in and punk him out. Arn gets an elbow for two. Pump splash misses, but Tully holds Sting in enemy territory. Arn DDTs him on the floor, but Sting shakes it off and comes back. Backslide gets two, and he hotshots Tully and tags Dusty. DDT Arn, big elbow gets two, and the whole thing breaks down into a no-contest at 10:45. Barry Windham attacks the Dream while Tully & Arn lay the beats on Sting. **

The Bottom Line: Fairly solid first half, but the goofy finishes dropped the quality dramatically by the end. Nothing to recommend here.