The SmarK DVD Rant for The Best of WCW: Clash Of The Champions

The SmarK DVD Rant for The Best of WCW: Clash Of The Champions (Blu-Ray)

Hosted by Dusty Rhodes.

Disc One

The Clash of the Champions was of course Jim Crockett’s attempt to undermine WrestleMania by putting a free show on cable TV in retaliation for Survivor Series, and damn if it didn’t work. Personally I didn’t have access to TBS until 1991, so I didn’t get to see live Clashes until the supremely crappy Lex Luger era, but given that was still the era of squashing jobbers on WWF Superstars, it was still neat.

This collection is just Dusty reminiscing in between the matches, and otherwise it’s strictly a match collection without any historical stuff or documentary.

(Clash 1) NWA World title: Ric Flair v. Sting

From the first Clash, a show I haven’t actually watched in a good long while and a match that is worth another look. I should note that the Turner home video version I’ve always had before is the clipped TV version, whereas the godlike WWE library version is the full and uncut version. So this is Sting’s first big shot at the title, with a 45-minute TV time limit and a panel of judges to make sure there’s a winner. Including Jason Hervey and Eddie Haskell, so you know they mean business. Sting grabs the headlock to start and powers Flair down off a wristlock. They do the test of strength and Flair opts to chop out of it, but Sting no-sells it and hiptosses him out of the ring. Back in, Sting controls with a hammerlock and they criss-cross into a press-slam from Sting. Sting takes him down with a flying headscissors into the hiptoss, and back to the headlock again. Flair fights up and hiptosses out of it, but Sting counters and goes right back to it again. Flair fights up and Sting hiptosses him and tries another dropkick, but Flair dodges him. Sting gets tossed but pops right back in and fires away in the corner, then right back to the headlock again. Flair chops out of it and they slug it out in the corner, and Sting gets another press slam, into the bearhug.

Flair makes it to the corner to escape and Sting tries to follow with the Stinger splash, but misses and hits his arm on the post. Flair is all over him, tossing him and running him into the railing. Back in, Flair throws the chops and Sting goes down, so Flair hammers on the back. Kneedrop times two and Flair rips at the face just to be a bastard. He rakes the face on the ropes and fires more chops in the corner, and Sting ends up on the floor again. Flair sends him into the railing again and they head back in so Flair can chop him again. Sting gets fired up, though, and slugs Flair right out of the ring, but charges at Flair and hits the post. So the arm is hurt again and Flair goes to town back in the ring, but Sting pops up and slugs away in the corner. Clothesline gets two. Flair tries to make a run for it, but Sting suplexes him back in and into the Scorpion Deathlock. Flair quickly makes the ropes, so Sting takes Flair to the corner again and shrugs off a chop. He slugs Flair down for two, but Ric is in the ropes again. Sting hiptosses him and tries a clothesline, but Flair moves and Sting hits the floor again. Flair takes a breather, but Sting comes in with a high cross for two. Flair catches him with the kneecrusher, however, and starts pounding on the knee. Another kneecrusher and Sting bails to the floor. Back in, Flair pounds on the knee again and adds a backdrop suplex, and now we go to school! Flair uses the ropes to assist as usual, but Sting powers into the reversal. Flair is up first, however, and goes after the knee again, then sets up on the apron for a suplex. Crowd freaks out, but Sting suplexes him back in instead, only to miss a big splash.

They fight for the abdominal stretch and Sting wins that, but Flair hiptosses out. Flair chops him down and goes up, but Sting slams him off for two. He pulls Flair into the corner and posts him, then gets his own figure-four. Flair escapes, so Sting stomps on the knee again and yanks him out of the corner to work on the leg again. Flair Flip and he hits the floor, but Sting follows and beats on him. Flair tries a sunset flip back in, but Sting slugs him down and rakes Flair’s face on the ropes. Sting fires away in the corner, then no-sells Flair’s atomic drop and clotheslines him for two. Stinger splash misses and Sting hits the floor in dramatic fashion. Back in, they slug it out and Flair goes down, but comes back with a sleeper, so Sting rams him into the turnbuckle to break. Flair tosses him in desperation, but Sting comes back in with a sunset flip, which Flair blocks for two. Young kicks him out of the ropes and Sting gets two. Flair begs off and Sting whips him out, but Flair comes in with a high cross, reversed by Sting for two. Sting no-sells all of Flair’s offense now, hammering him in the corner to set up the Stinger splash. Scorpion Deathlock with time running out, but Flair hangs on until the time limit. The decision: Two judges for Flair, two for Sting, one for a draw. Silly booking aside, I definitely gave this one short shrift on the original rant, as the full match flows much better and you can see the storyline of young and hungry Sting fighting for his life but not knowing how to finish. Definitely a modern classic. ****1/2

(Clash 1) NWA World tag team titles: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson v. Barry Windham & Lex Luger

Luger overpowers Tully to start, and clotheslines both champions. Powerslam for Tully and he racks him, but Arn kicks him in the knee and quickly goes to work on it. The Horsemen switch off on the knee, but Barry gets a quick tag and cleans house. Lariat for Tully and he drops the knee, and his own powerslam gets two. Sleeper and Tully rolls out to escape, but Barry just hangs on. Tully tries going up and gets slammed off, and Windham follows with an abdominal stretch, leaving him open for a DDT from AA. That gets two. The crowd is just insane for the faces, popping for everything. Spinebuster gets two and Arn does the knucklelock spot and lands on Windham’s knees, but brings Tully back in as he pounds away for two. Windham comes back with a bodypress for two and they collide, setting up the pinfall reversal spot. Windham reverses the bridge into a gutwrench suplex, but Anderson cuts off the tag and works on the arm. Windham fights out of it, but Arn takes him down again, and they butt heads. Back to Tully for the slingshot suplex, but that only gets two. Arn can’t cut off another tag, and Luger is HERE. Clotheslines for everyone and the crowd is just going crazy as Luger is no-selling everything. Tully trips him up, but Luger comes right back with a powerslam for Arn and it’s BONZO GONZO. JJ grabs a chair, but Luger rams Arn into it and the pop redefines the term “blowing the roof off the joint at 9:34, ****1/4  Not only some of the loudest sustained heat for any match you’ll ever hear, but one of the fasted-paced tag team matches you’ll ever see, as they just packed everything but the kitchen sink into a 10-minute match and threw it all there.

(Clash 2) NWA World tag team 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. **

(Clash 3) Russian chain match: Ricky Morton v. Ivan Koloff.

Ah, the Ivan face turn angle that drew so much money. Dave Sheldon is lurking around ringside in his guise as Russian Assassin #1. Ivan pounds Morton and clotheslines him with the chain as Ross hints at his face turn. Ricky crotches him with the chain, but gets nailed again. Koloff touches two corners, but Ricky breaks it up and bails. Back in, Koloff keeps stomping away and touches two again. Ricky kicks at the knee to take over and whips at the knee with the chain. Koloff hits him with the chain, but gets yanked off the top. Ivan chokes him out, but Ricky comes back. Ivan whips him and touches three, but Morton takes him down and pounds away. Koloff hits him with the chain again and goes up, but they knock each other out. Ricky recovers first and drags him to three corners, but Paul gives Ivan the riding crop to hold onto for leverage, before suddenly letting go and giving Ricky the win at 9:52. Ivan is unceremoniously turfed via a beatdown by the Russian Assassins, and Nikita was SUPPOSED to make the save, but he was already gone. Junkyard Dog was later subbed into the angle to replace him, which of course makes no sense whatsoever and basically killed the whole angle. Match was slow and plodding. *

And then we skip WAAAAAAY ahead to Clash 9…

(Clash 9) I Quit match: Ric Flair v. Terry Funk.

Funk takes a swing at Flair to start and they lock up, but Flair dodges him and chops him right out of the ring. Back in, Flair unloads the chops and whips him from corner to corner, and then chops him out of the ring again. Flair follows with more chops against the railing and Funk backs off. Back in, Flair eschews subtlety and chokes him out, but Funk slugs back and kicks him in the face on the apron. Funk headbutts him down and pounds on the neck, elbowing him down and tossing him. Funk just kills him with shots on the railing, and then pops him one with the mike. Flair slugs back and they head back in, where Funk slugs him down again and fires away in the corner. He calls him an egg-sucking dog while punching him in the face, which is enough for an extra * from me. Flair atomic drops him to escape and comes back with a chop, but Funk catches a neckbreaker and slaps him around. Flair has had enough, however, and gives him the chops, and they head outside again, as Flair crashes onto him and murders him with chops. Funk tries to escape by going into the ring, but Flair pulls him out and rams him into the railing, and adds more chops. Funk retreats into the ring again and Flair badgers him with the mike, trying to choke him into submission. Flair goes after Gary Hart, however, and Funk clobbers him from behind and gets another neckbreaker, keeping on the weak neck. Funk taunts him over the PA before piledriving him, but Flair won’t quit. Funk drops a leg and tosses him, and piledrives him on the floor now. Flair still won’t quit. Back in, Funk pounds on the neck with elbows, and then takes him outside and slams him on the table. Flair comes back with chops as Funk sets up the table against the ring, and then rams Funk into it. Funk takes a walk, so Flair dives on him and sends him into the table, as he slides across it and hits his head on a chair. Ouch. Back to the chops, and Flair drops him crotch-first on the railing and then adds a chop for good measure. If in doubt, go for the family jewels. Back in, Flair drops the knee and Funk crawls back up, so Flair brings him down with an atomic drop and starts to work on the leg. He alternates kicks to the knee and chops, but Funk won’t go down. Finally the shots to the knee are too much and Funk has to run away, so Flair tackles him in the aisle and gets a running kneecrusher on the floor. Suplex back in and Flair goes for it, but Funk fights him off. A good old poke to the eyes works just fine, and Funk tries a suplex from the apron, but Flair reverses and suplexes him onto the apron, and goes back to the knee. He dodges Funk’s crazed punches and finally slaps on the figure-four in the middle of the ring. Funk fights it off a while, but eventually has nowhere to go and says “I Quit” at 18:35. The last 5 minutes were just Flair mechanically destroying Funk’s knee in classic fashion, and the whole match set a standard for I Quit matches that was never quite touched again. *****

 (Clash 10) Cactus Jack Manson v. Mil Mascaras.

Yes, kids, this is Mick Foley’s first brush with the bigtime as a slim, trim and shirtless Cactus was running less-than-rampant in the NWA and not exactly impressing people. A goofy gimmick didn’t help either, as Ross emphasizes many times here what a moron Cactus Jack is. Mascaras does a quick bow-and-arrow and headscissor takeover. Jack bails and does a stupid spot where he trips over a chair while threatening Gary Michael Capetta. Back in, Mil gets a Boston Crab, but Jack makes the ropes. Jack tosses him, but he won’t sell. Jack sets up for the big elbow, but Mil sneaks into the ring and pushes Mick off…into the Nestea Plunge, Mick’s signature spot at the time. For those who haven’t read his book, here’s a quick description: Foley falls backwards off the apron and lands flat on his back on the concrete. It’s quite possibly one of the sickest looking things I’ve ever seen to be done on a regular basis by a wrestler. So of course the bookers had him do it every night.  Thankfully by 1990 he was over enough to retire it permanently. Mil finishes with a flying bodypress at 4:55. Point? ¼*

(Clash 11) US tag title match: The Midnight Express v. The Rock N Roll Express.

Eaton starts with Gibson and escapes a hammerlock, and Eaton gets frustrated quickly. Criss-cross and Eaton gets taken down with a headscissors. Lane comes in and nails him with a back kick, but Gibson gets an enzuigiri. Morton tags in and they work Lane over in the corner. Criss- cross ends with Lane getting hiptossed, but he slugs Morton in the mouth. Charge misses, however, and Ricky backdrops him, and armdrags Eaton on the way in. Rana and Eaton bails to the corner. Lane comes in and gets hit with an armdrag as well, and the RNR go for the arm. Gibson atomic drops Lane into the corner off a criss-cross, and it’s back to the face corner for a Morton rollup that gets two. Back to the armbar, and Eaton comes in to turn the tide. They head up top and Morton blocks a superplex, nearly falling on his head in the process. Yikes. It’s a CHINESE FIRE-DRILL and the MX double-backdrop Gibson, but both RNRs rollup both MXs for a collective two-count. Everyone backs off to regroup again. Morton hiptosses Lane, but Lane blocks a rana attempt and turns it into a double-team that puts Ricky down. They work him over with a necksnap and elbowdrop that gets two for Eaton. Eaton misses a charge, hot tag Gibson. He cleans house like a French maid and Eaton tumbles out with Morton as a result. Gibson goes to a leglock on Lane while Eaton bumps Morton into the railing, and Bobby nails Gibson off the top for two. Morton is back in and it’s BONZO GONZO, as the RNR hit Eaton with the double dropkick for two. Lane breaks it up, so the ref DQs the champs at 11:49. Holy CRAP that’s lame. Pretty uninspired stuff here. **3/4

(Clash 12) US title match: Lex Luger v. Ric Flair.

This is the only time I can think of where Flair was CHALLENGING Luger for a title. Luger overpowers Flair to start, and then gets suckered into a test of strength. Flair of course cheapshots him, but Luger no-sells the chops and press slams Flair. Ric takes a breather outside, and returns to lay in a hellacious chop, which Luger no-sells. Another press-slam and Luger dumps Flair, after Flair practically flashed a neon sign saying “clothesline me over the top rope”. They brawl out and back in again and Luger no-sells everything Flair throws at him, and gets a third press-slam. The HORIZONTAL ELBOW OF DEATH misses, of course, and Flair takes over. Luger blasts out of the corner with a lariat, but Flair tricks the ref into checking on an “injury”, thus buying time. Luger walks right into a sucker punch, and Flair tosses him to take over, for real this time. Luger eats railing a few times, and they head back in, where Flair stomps away. He stands up Luger and chops him so hard that he goes flying backwards into the corner. They head out and Flair starts chopping him for the benefit of the front row, drawing the ire of the teenage girls in the audience. Back in, he goes to the knee, as usual, and keeps making frenzied asides to the camera. Must have had some REALLY good shit before the match. In the corner, he goes into an insane sequence where he chops and stomps the knee in succession. Luger fights back with a burst of energy, but Flair pokes him in the eyes on the way down. That is so cool. Luger blocks a hiptoss with a backslide for two, but Flair chops away. And CHOPS. Luger shrugs it off and hammers away in the corner, but Flair brings him out with atomic drop. Luger no-sells and clotheslines him for two. Flair comes back with a snapmare for two. Flair goes up and gets slammed, and Luger Flips him for good measure and clotheslines him coming along the apron. Back in, another press-slam (the fourth for the match) and a powerslam, and it’s rack time. Flair tries to bail, and then grabs a headlock, only to get caught in a bearhug. They head to the top and Luger superplexes him (a beauty one, too) for two. Luger pounds away in the corner and Flair goes low to stop it, and they tumble out to the floor and keep fighting. Stan Hansen hits the ring and decimates Luger for the DQ at 14:27. Really good match, but nothing we haven’t seen a million times before. ***1/2

(Clash 15) The Fabulous Freebirds & Bradstreet v. Tom Zenk & The Southern Boys.

 

The Birds had recently lost the World tag titles to the Steiners after a grueling negative title reign where they lost the belts before they won them, which kind of tells you the direction of the company at that point right there. Even the laws of time and space were abandoning ship on them. The Freebird entourage at ringside was getting completely out of proportion to their place on the card at this point as well, featuring both Diamond Dallas Page and Oliver Humperdink as managers for a team that cut better promos than either one of them did. Ah, WCW. The Pistols control early with a pair of flying bodypresses, but the Birds regroup outside. Back in, Tracy Smothers uses his redneck kung fu on Hayes, and they bail again. Tony notes that the Freebirds should probably think about going after Tom Zenk’s recently-detached bicep. Wait, wait, let me put this sage wisdom into my PDA in case I’m ever in the ring with him, filed under “Blindingly Obvious” along with DDP’s eternal rib tape. Hayes comes back with his dreaded right hand and Bradstreet dumps Smothers, you’d think making him your hick-in-peril. But instead the faces defy expectations of the way the match should go and they all sunset flip in for the triple pin to end it really quickly at 4:46. *1/2 Was there an emergency Armstrong family meeting backstage that necessitated them going home RIGHT NOW or something? 4 out of the 6 guys never even tagged in!

(Clash 16) Georgia Brawl Battle Royale: Your participants are Tom Zenk, Tommy Rich, Bobby Eaton, Ranger Ross, Tracy Smothers, The Great and Mighty Oz, PN News, Buddy Lee Parker, Steve Austin, Dustin Rhodes, Terrence Taylor, Big Josh, Barry Windham, One Man Gang and El Gigante. You’d think putting Kevin Nash and El Gigante in the same ring would cause a black hole of suck that might conceivably end the universe, but there they are. And PN News, too. In hindsight, Paul Neu may just have been 10 years before his time, at which point the wacky dancing fat guy became en vogue in the wrestling business and he wouldn’t have looked like a complete and utter tool. Of course, if he HAD become the big star in Rikishi’s place, I don’t think I could have lived with the promos: “Austin it was ME who ran you over! YO BABY YO BABY YO!” Trust me, say it out loud and it gets funnier. Sadly, Kevin Nash was nearing the end of his run as the Great and Mighty Oz at this point, and indeed the transition provided the world with one of those Moments in WCW History We’d All Like To Have Been Present For backstage, as someone actually proposed turning him from the living embodiment of a magical land into a snappy dressing Italian stereotype who wrestled in a tux, and someone else actually thought it was a good idea and gave the first person the go-ahead to implement it. It’s not even the original idea that I find so perplexing, it’s the fact that there was so little quality control that “Vinnie Vegas” actually was considered a better gimmick than “The Great and Mighty Oz” by someone who was presumably being PAID to keep track of this stuff. These are the same people who couldn’t think of any way to market Steve Austin or Mick Foley, but felt Shockmaster had some good upside potential and El Gigante would be the next Andre the Giant. To be fair, Vince McMahon also gave it the old college try with Jorge Gonzalez, but at least he gave him that muscle suit to wear so that he could make a few bucks on the side as an anatomy teaching aid at local colleges. Anyway, El Gigante eliminates Oz & One Man Gang to win at 9:31, and trust me, you didn’t miss anything. I don’t rate battle royales.

(Clash 17) US title match: Sting v. Ravishing Rick Rude.

For those playing along at home, Rude’s music is expunged here in favor of Kenny G or something like it. Paul E. falls prey to that same weakness all great villains possess…the inability to shut up for long enough a time for your master plan to take effect. In this case, he gets on the mike to run down the crowd and gloat about how Rude was gonna win by forfeit, which allows Sting the time to arrive in his stolen ambulance and beat the count. They brawl on the ramp, where Sting presses Rude, but his knee buckles. Just a note to Test or any other mediocre wrestlers reading: “Selling” means actually having the injury affect your performance — not just clutching your ribs, doing a move like normal, and then clutching your ribs again. They head into the ring and Sting slugs away and backdrops Rude, completely grounded by the injury. He clotheslines him out, but Rude outsmarts him and trips him up, then posts the knee. Back in, Rude nails him off the top, but Sting blocks the Rude Awakening. Sting channels the Three Stooges to win a slugfest by faking Rude out, but Rude makes sure to fall FORWARD, and takes out Sting’s knee in the process. Sting falls back just as Paul jumps up and shatters the phone on his head. That’s so cool. It gets two. Sting comes back with a DDT, but he’s got nothin’, and when he gets desperate and goes after Paul again, Rude just hits the knee from behind and pins him to win the title at 4:15. THAT is how you push a new guy, and is one of the rare instances where WCW managed to use someone far more effectively than the WWF did. He would never be beaten for that title. ** I’m kind of stunned they put this match on here from Clash 17 and not the Enforcers v. Steamboat/Rhodes tag title match.

And away we go AGAIN, skipping over 5 more shows until we get to…

(Clash 23) WCW World tag titles: The Hollywood Blonds v. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson.

This is 2/3 falls, and it was basically the Blonds one and only chance at the top of the card. Sadly the buildup for the feud isn’t shown here, because the “Flair for the Old” skit was hilarious. Pillman starts with Arn and mocks Flair as they fight over a lockup. He keeps trying a headlock, and Arn keeps taking him down, so Pillman smacks him around in the corner. Arn fires back and Pillman begs off, then cheats. AA hotshots him, however, and gets his own cheapshots. Oh, this is NASTY. Austin comes in and mocks Anderson, then grabs a headlock, but AA takes him down and Flair comes in. Crowd goes INSANE for that. Flair goes to the eyes and lays in the chops in the corner, backdropping Austin out of there and beating on Pillman for good measure. More chops for Austin and the crowd is loving every second. The Horsemen double-team the Blonds and they’re reeling, as Flair rips at Austin’s face. He finally pokes Flair in the eye to break up the momentum and bails. Back in, Arn works on the arm and gets the hammerlock slam, and Flair drops a knee and hits Pillman on the follow-through. Back to the corner, AA works on the arm again, but Pillman chokes him out with a towel from the apron and Austin chokes him down. More cheating from Pillman behind the ref’s back and the Blonds go to work on Arn, as Pillman comes in and chokes away. They take turns teeing off on Arn and Austin drops knees. The Blonds work him over in the corner and Austin suplexes him, but Arn fights back out of the corner. Austin misses a charge and gets DDT’d while showboating, and it’s hot tag Flair. He comes in from the top onto Pillman and starts chopping, and catches him with an atomic drop. He dumps Austin and slugs away on Pillman in the corner, and finishes Pillman with a flying forearm at 9:38. Buffer screws up and announces Flair & Anderson as the new champions as they fade to the break. Second fall sees Pillman chopping away on Flair in nasty manner, and it’s a Flair Flip, but Ric hits both Blonds on the way by. Austin takes care of him on the floor, however, with a suplex. Pillman adds some chops and rams him into the railing, and Austin adds his own shots, triggering a Flair Flop on the floor. Back in, Austin chops away and Pillman chokes him out behind the ref’s back. Austin brings Flair to the top and gets a superplex for two. He whips Flair around and pounds him into the corner, but Flair plays dirty and chokes back. Austin stomps a mudhole to end that, so Flair chops him away. Pillman comes back in and adds more chops, but Flair returns fire, and they collide for the double KO. Tags on both ends, as Anderson backdrops Austin and boots him down. Spinebuster gets nothing, as Pillman breaks it up and the ref ushers Flair out. They clip Anderson, however, and Austin gets two. Pillman goes to town on the injured knee of Anderson, and the knee gives way on an irish whip. Pillman gets two. Austin keeps on it with a toehold, but Anderson manages to take Austin down and kick away from it. Pillman cuts off the tag and goes to a half-crab, with help from Austin. Pillman keeps stomping the knee, but Anderson gets an enzuigiri. Austin cuts off the ring again, dragging him back to the heel corner, and Pillman rams the knee onto the apron. Pillman comes in and goes up, but lands on Arn’s foot. Hot tag Flair, and he’s a house afire. He tosses Pillman and chops Austin down, into a backdrop suplex and figure-four, but Barry Windham runs in for the DQ at 21:12, which under WWE rules would have changed the titles. Paul Roma makes the save, kicking off the low point in Four Horsemen history. Great match, though, filled with terrific old-school cheating and tag team formula stuff. ****1/4

(Clash 25) Brian Pillman v. Steve Austin

Never actually done this show, in fact. THE HOLLYWOOD BLONDES EXPLODE! Welcome to WWE Home Video Editing Hell. Both the entrance themes are edited out, and all of Jesse Ventura’s commentary as well, which gives you Tony Schiavone doing solo commentary and a strangely muted crowd. Pillman attacks to start and chases Robert Parker, which allows Austin to clobber him on the outside, but Pillman comes back with a backdrop and chops away. They brawl to the ramp and Austin tries a piledriver, but Pillman backdrops out of it, only to conveniently fall onto the railing for his trademark bump. Back in, Pillman gets a slingshot bodypress for two, but Austin puts him down with a press slam for two. Austin goes to a half-crab and uses the ropes, but gets caught. Pillman fires back with chops and gets an elbow out of the corner for a double KO, but Parker uses his hanky to fan some oxygen at Austin first. Austin goes up and gets crotched, and Pillman gets a dropkick on Austin on the way down for two. Austin gets a slingshot shoulderblock for two, but misses a charge and Pillman hits a DDT for two. Austin gets a samoan drop and goes up, but misses a flying splash and Pillman rolls him up for two. Austin with a stun gun that puts Pillman on the apron, but Parker trips him up and Austin pulls the tights for the pin at 9:11.  Good match at the end, although it took a while to get there for some reason, but the editing basically butchered it because the audio issues were ridiculous to sit through. ***1/4

(Clash 26) World TV title: Lord Steven Regal v. Dustin Rhodes.

Dustin takes him to the corner to start, but gives a clean break. Another lockup and Regal takes him to the corner this time, but no clean break. They slug it out and Dustin gets a dropkick that sends Regal to the floor, where he regroups. Rhodes works on the arm and tosses Regal across the ring off a wristlock. They try the test of strength and Regal takes him down with a standing armbar and goes to a headlock, then overpowers Regal, prompting him to bail. Back in, Rhodes grabs a headlock and they work off that, as he releases and slams Regal for two, and then goes back to the headlock. Regal escapes from that, but Dustin takes him down again and goes back to the headlock on the mat. Regal finally brings him to the corner and escapes with forearms, then drops a knee and applies a wristlock on the mat. Dustin fights up, so Regal hits him with a gutwrench suplex for two. Dustin fights out of another headlock and slugs Regal down, but he gets taken down and pounded by Regal again. They fight over a wristlock, but Regal wraps him up with a straightjacket hold until Dustin flips Regal to escape, and a clothesline gets two. Regal bails again and does some stalling while making a big show of checking Sir William’s watch, and he finally comes back in with a sunset flip. Dustin blocks it and pounds him on the mat. Lariat gets two. They do the chase and Dustin wins with a dropkick for two. Regal rolls him up again but it’s in the ropes. Regal bails again and leads Rhodes on a chase up to the ramp, but he charges and gets backdropped in, and Dustin gets two. Regal bails again and Dustin follows to lay in punishment. Back in, an elbow from the top sets up the bulldog, but time expires at 15:00. Nothing wrong with it so much as it didn’t go anywhere. **

(Clash 26) Ric Flair & Sting v. Vader & Rick Rude.

This is elimination rules. Just about any combination of these four is a **** match, more or less. Sting starts with Rude, and hip-swivels result. Rude’s were better. Sting powers Rude down with a wristlock and works on the arm, but Rude takes him to the corner and pounds away with knees. Vader comes in and clobbers Sting, then presses him onto the top rope. Slam and he goes up and tries a sunset flip (!) from the middle rope, which Sting blocks with a buttdrop. That’s kind of backwards, isn’t it? Vader starts a war of punches and wins that pretty handily, but Sting comes back with an insane german suplex and brings Flair in. Flair chops Vader down and seems to be on a sugar buzz tonight, as he thumbs the eye and slugs Vader down, then brings Sting back in as we take a break. We return with Sting getting bearhugged by Rude. Flair comes in and gets the atomic drop, however, and they botch a blind charge spot. Vader comes in and splashes Flair in the corner, then slams him and goes up with a pump splash. Race wants MORE pain, though. I can’t advocate sadism. Oh, okay, maybe just this once. Vader brings him to the top and superplexes him, and just casually works him over. Back to the top again as Vader boxes his ears and Race wants another superplex, this one from the top rope, and he delivers it. However, Vader brings Flair to the floor for more punishment, and they both get eliminated via DQ or countout or something, they weren’t really clear on that. So it’s Rude v. Sting, as Sting tosses Rude into the ring and goes up with a flying lariat. Backdrop and a botched atomic drop, as Sting hurts his neck on the way down. Rude goes up and gets a forearm from the top. Rude clotheslines him and drops a fist for two. Rear chinlock is countered with an electric chair drop by Sting, but a splash hits knees. They clothesline each other and Rude recovers first and tries the Rude Awakening, but Sting holds onto the ropes to block, and gets his own. That gets two. Rude comes back with an atomic drop, but misses a blind charge. They do the tombstone reversal, won by Sting, and he goes up with a flying splash to finish at 20:46. Good, but not up to their usual standards, as Flair and Vader’s elimination kind of sucked the fun out of the match. ***

Disc Two

And now, the later, crappier years.

(Clash 27) “Unification” match: Sting v. Ric Flair. 

And don’t even get me started on the reasons behind this match. Sting was the International World champion and Flair was the actual WCW World champion, and just leave it at that. Flair goes for the arm to start, but Sting keeps kipping up. They trade hammerlocks and Sting shoves him down, so Flair bails to the ramp and regroups. Back in, Flair grabs a headlock, but Sting escapes and gets a press-slam. And hey, why not another one? Flair bails again and stops for a Flair Flop outside, and stalls. Back in, Flair goes to the eyes and tries a chop, but Sting is having none of that. He hiptosses Flair and follows with a trio of clotheslines, and Flair bails again. Way too much stalling thus far. Back in, Flair finally takes over with a cheapshot, but Sting no-sells and comes back with a hiptoss, only to whiff on a dropkick. Flair goes for the leg, but Sting comes back and Flair bails again. Flair decides to start chopping, but Sting fires back…and misses the Stinger Splash. And NOW Flair takes over, dumping Sting behind the ref’s back and laying in the chops. Back in, Flair necksnaps him on the top rope and drops a knee. Another one gets two. Back to the chops, and a backdrop suplex, but Sting escapes the figure-four. Flair gets a back elbow and grabs a sleeper, but Sting fights out of it and sends Flair into the corner. Sting knocks him down and gets a sloppy slingshot into the corner, but Flair bails. Sting suplexes him back in for two. Flair Flip and Sting clotheslines him off the apron, then brings him in for another clothesline, which gets two. They go up and Sting brings him down with a superplex, but goes for a flying splash and misses. Flair gets a suplex, but Sting no-sells and hiptosses him out of the corner, into a dropkick and a press-slam. A clothesline puts Flair on the floor, so Flair slickly hides behind Sherri Martell, who was supposedly on Sting’s side that night. Sting follows with a pescado and wipes out Sherri as a result. No one ever said she was afraid to take a bump. Back in, Sting gets a backslide for two. Clothesline and he checks on Sherri, but Flair rolls him up for the pin at 17:11 to unify the belts. I gave this a really good rating back in like 1998, but they didn’t click at all here and Flair seemed really off his game. *** Flair & Sherri reveal their alliance and team up on Sting afterwards, but Hulk Hogan makes the save, which doesn’t get half the pop they were probably banking on.

(Clash 28) US title:  Stunning Steve Austin v. Ricky Steamboat

From August 1994, in what would end up being the match that ended Steamboat’s career.  JIP with Steamboat holding an armbar, which turns into a nice little mat segment.  Austin tosses him out and they brawl outside, with Austin turning into a footrace before running into a chop.  Back in, they trade sleeper attempts, but Austin escapes with KICK WHAM STUNNER…or just a jawbreaker, whatever. Austin throws chops in the corner, but gets hiptossed before missing a charge and hitting the post.  Steamboat walks the ropes to hurt the arm, and follows with the flying chop for two.  Austin comes back with a kneedrop for two and slugs away on the ropes.  He goes to the chinlock and we take a break. Back with Austin getting a suplex for two.  They fight on the top and Steamboat goes down, but crotches Austin.  He fights for a superplex, but Austin hits it instead.  Steamboat keeps coming and nails Austin coming off the top, however.  Steamboat back up, but the flying bodypress misses and Austin sends him facefirst into the mat.  He doesn’t follow up, though, slapping him around instead of pinning him, which allows Steamboat to fight up again.  Steamboat is PISSED and fires away, chopping Austin down for two.  Spinebuster gets two.  Electric chair gets two and Steamboat’s back is killing him, you can see it.  Small package gets two.  Rollup gets two.  Backslide gets two.  Sunset flip gets two.  Austin finally ends the rally with a clothesline and dumps him, but Steamboat pulls himself in and gets a rollup for two, then finishes with a small package at 10:30 to win the US title.  That finishing sequence, with Steamboat’s babyface comeback and the series of insane near-falls on a desperate Austin, was some of the best American pro wrestling you will ever see.  ****1/4

(Clash 32) Ric Flair & The Giant v. Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage

Kevin Greene is hanging out at ringside in all his mullet glory in support of the Megapowers. Flair throws chops on Savage to start, but gets backdropped out of the corner as per usual. Savage sends him into the corner for a Flair Flip, which ends with Hogan clotheslining him off the apron and back into the ring. Flair comes back with the chops, but Savage gets a backslide for two. Flair gets double-teamed in the corner, but backs off and brings The Giant in. It’s kind of hilarious hearing Tony call him “400 pounds” considering how downright skinny he is compared to today. Giant overpowers Hogan and slams him while Tony and Brain talk about WrestleMania III in kind of a surreal conversation. Giant pounds Hogan down while Elizabeth’s boobs show a lot of concern at ringside. Giant with a backbreaker, but an elbow misses and Hogan is once again calling for the slam, this time getting it pretty easily. Giant still tags Flair, however, and it’s a delayed suplex, which Hogan no-sells to make the comeback. Giant mugs him outside the ring, however, and this is all very laughable stuff because Giant barely knows what to do out there and Hogan won’t sell. Back in it’s hot tag Macho for the double axehandle on Flair and he goes up to finish, but Jimmy Hart distracts the ref after the big elbow. Flair gets the INTERNATIONAL OBJECT and puts Savage down for the pin at 9:49. This was all very dull and pedestrian with a Las Vegas crowd who couldn’t give a shit about anyone but Hulk, if that. *1/2

(Clash 33) Madusa v. Bull Nakano

We are now into the real Nitro era, as the set has been totally overhauled to look like Nitro, basically. And again, all the entrance music is totally overdubbed with generic nonsense. Why even bother with the entrances? Nakano gets a hairtoss as Madusa bumps around for her, and Bull uses nunchuks as the ref somehow totally misses it. Splash gets two. Madusa fucks up a springboard bodyblock, perhaps because the weight of her giant boobs threw off her center of gravity, but Nakano gets a sitdown splash for two. Madusa dropkicks her off the top and follows with a dive, hitting Sonny Onoo instead of Bull. Back in, Onoo hits Bull by mistake and Madusa rolls her up for the pin at 2:40. Whatever. ½*

(Clash 33) Diamond Dallas Page v. Eddie Guerrero

At least they still have the rights to both pieces of music. Eddie fires off a headscissors, but misses a charge and RAMS himself into the post. Page goes to work on the injured shoulder and goes to the chinlock, but Eddie fights free and gets a legsweep. They slug it out with Eddie showing good fire for the comeback, and the somersault splash gets two. DDP comes back with a powerbomb for two. They head up and Eddie headbutts him down and finishes with the frog splash at 4:20 to win DDP’s Battlebowl ring. DDP beats the hell out of him afterwards, and amazingly they actually paid this feud off by putting them into the finals of the US title tournament against each other at Starrcade. **1/4

(Clash 33) WCW World tag titles: Harlem Heat v. The Steiner Brothers v. Lex Luger & Sting

THREE matches from this shit show? And again, all the music is intact. Booker hits the sidekick on Scott and they quickly fight to the top, but Scott slams him off and Luger adds a clothesline from the apron. Scott tags in Luger and Stevie pounds on him in the corner, but walks into a clothesline. Rick Steiner comes in and clotheslines both guys, then adds the flying bulldog on Stevie for two. Stevie superkicks Rick and the Heat go to work on him in the corner, but Rick fights back until Sting tags himself in. Sting goes up with a flying chop on Stevie for two, and he dumps Booker. Back in, Sting with the press slam for two. Luger comes in with a delayed suplex for two. Sting tags himself in and trades wristlocks with Scott Steiner, then hits him with a stungun and goes up with a flying clothesline for two. Steiner comes back with an inverted DDT and butterfly bomb for two. Rick and Luger exchange clotheslines off a slugfest and Rick gets a release german suplex, and over to Scott for the belly to belly. Luger catches him in something resembling the torture rack, but the Heat sneak in and break it up. Everyone brawls on the floor, leaving Scott Steiner and Booker. Scott hits the frankensteiner, but the Outsiders are coming down the aisle, so Patrick stops the count at two and calls for the DQ at 10:58. Normally that would be a stupid finish, but of course that’s the gag – Patrick was trying to screw the Steiners over because he was secretly a heel. The last few minutes, with Sting/Luger v. Steiners, are GREAT. The rest is pretty dull and disjointed, but Luger and Rick throwing each other around the ring is tremendous fun. ***1/4 Sadly, Sting’s motivation would be short-lived, as he would ascend to the rafters a month later and stay there for 14 months.

(Clash 34) Cruiserweight title: Ultimo Dragon v. Dean Malenko

They trade hammerlocks on the mat and take a break. Back with Malenko’s suplex attempt getting foiled, but he fires away in the corner instead and hits the delayed suplex for two. Dragon fires back with kicks to chase Dean out of the ring. Dean recovers and comes back in with a backdrop suplex and into an anklelock on the mat. Half-crab and STUMP PULLER as Dean works on the leg in mechanical fashion. They head to the floor and Dean runs the leg into the post, and back in for a figure-four. Dean releases and hits a corner clothesline, but a second try runs into a spinkick. Dragon goes up and Malenko follows with a superplex and a rollup for two. Heenan: “What do you call 40 millionaires watching the Super Bowl? The Dallas Cowboys.” And as if inspired by that joke, Dean and Dragon start firing off highspots and trade near-falls, fighting to the floor for Dragon’s Asai moonsault. Back in, Dragon goes up and snaps off a moonsault for two. They head back up and Dragon gets a rana to bring him down, and a small package gets two. Malenko tries a powerbomb, but Dragon flips out and escapes, so Malenko does it again and gets the Cloverleaf for the submission and the title at 11:58. **** Dean was crazy over here.

(Clash 35) Cruiserweight title: Chris Jericho v. Eddie Guerrero

Guerrero takes him down and trashtalks right away, but Jericho comes back with an armdrag and dropkick, sending Eddie running to hide behind the ref. Jericho presses him off a criss-cross and starts chopping, into a faceplant that has Eddie hiding again. Eddie sneaks in from behind and clubs him down, then follows with a back elbow and slingshot splash. Eddie puts him on top and brings him down with a rana for two, but Jericho reverses the ropewalk into a powerbomb. Jericho follows with a Giant Swing and he’s visibly sucking wind. Leg lariat puts Eddie on the apron and Jericho follows with an embarrassing trip on the top rope during his springboard cross body. Then he botches a suplex off the apron, so Eddie takes over again with a superplex for two. Not a good match for Jericho. Jericho tries a powerbomb, but Eddie slips out, so Jericho goes with a german suplex instead for two. They criss-cross into an Eddie sunset flip, and it turns into a pinfall reversal sequence where Eddie is obviously wrestling himself and taking Jericho along with him, ending with Jericho on top for the pin to retain at 6:40. This was pretty awful by Jericho’s usual standards. **

(Clash 35) Scott Hall & Randy Savage v. DDP & Lex Luger

Last match ever on Clash of the Champions. Oh god, we have to listen to the Michael Buffer imitation announcer so they can save a couple of bucks. The editing now also carefully avoids showing Buffer so we don’t think that he might be announcing, either. Big Kev announces that Savage will be defending the tag titles tonight as his surrogate, giving Tony another chance to use his new catchphrase: “Verbally binding contract”. Luger and Hall fight over a lockup to start, as Hall gropes him like he’s a senior citizen. Ha, there’s a reference I haven’t done in a while. Luger gets tossed and Nash clotheslines him from behind, and back in the nWo beats on Luger and Savage gets the double axehandle. Over to DDP and he slugs Hall to the floor, but gets tripped up as a result, allowing Savage to put him down from behind. Back to Hall for the blockbuster slam for two. Savage slugs away in the corner, as does Hall, and Savage elbows DDP down for two. Page gets tossed and Savage brings him back in, allowing Hall to get the corner clothesline. Back to Savage and then Hall as they do some good quick tagging, but Page comes back with the discus clothesline on Hall and it’s hot tag Luger. Luger whips them into each other and then clotheslines them, leading to the torture rack on Hall before Savage saves. DDP and Luger collide, however, and Luger eats a Diamond Cutter by accident, as Hall falls on top for the pin at 9:53. Well at least it had a clean finish. Pretty solid tag match as well. **1/2

Dusty wraps things up.

Blu-Ray Bonus Matches!

(Clash 4) The Midnight Express v. Ric Flair & Barry Windham

Now this is why I wanted this set. Someone sent me a batch of old Clashes years ago, and I was really bummed when the fourth one wasn’t in watchable condition, because I had never seen this match before. This is basically all four guys in their stone cold primes, with the Lane/Eaton Express just coming off their only World tag titles, and the Horsemen holding both singles titles. Eaton immediately slaps Flair down and does his own strutting. They slug it out in the corner and we get the Flair Flip, ending with Lane slugging him down on the apron. Stan in with a sidekick and an enzuigiri, but Flair makes the tag to Windham. Lane hits him with a dropkick and the Horsemen regroup, allowing Windham to slug Lane down. He goes up and misses an elbow, and Lane puts Windham onto the floor with a kick and slingshots him back in. Here’s Windham, this GIANT dude, bumping all over for the smaller Express because it WORKS and he knows it. I love it. Eaton hits Flair with a series of slams and clotheslines both Horsemen, so they bail and regroup again. Back in, Lane takes Flair down for a figure-four, and Eaton gets his own on Windham as it’s the Rock N Roll Express tribute spot. Flair finally dumps Lane, but Stan comes back in with an elbow for two. Lane and Flair slug it out and Flair goes down again, but finally gets a cheapshot on Eaton to gain some momentum. Eaton slugs him down, however, and Lane adds an elbow, but he falls prey to a cheapshot from Windham while Paul E. Dangerously drops in with a promo. Flair goes up and takes too long, allowing Lane to slam him off, and Eaton comes back in to pound him in the corner. Another Flair flip, but this time it ends with Eaton getting a neckbreaker. Express with the FLAPJACK on Flair, and that gets two. Eaton with a rollup for two, but Windham nails him from behind to break it up and make Eaton YOUR face-in-peril. Windham with a delayed suplex and powerslam, and Flair drops the knee and slaps him around. Eaton gets dumped and Flair adds some nasty chops on the floor, then brings him back in for more. Windham blows in with the lariat for two. Side suplex and he drops the knee and grabs the sleeper, but Flair comes in for the slugfest with Eaton and he loses. Hot tag Lane and the Express gets the DOUBLE GOOZLE on Windham (with a great delayed sell), setting up the Alabama Jam. The managers brawl at ringside, allowing Flair to nail Eaton with JJ’s shoe and Windham to steal the pin at 17:40. I have no idea why they didn’t include this on the regular DVD, it’s tremendous. ****

(Clash 18) Sting & Ricky Steamboat v. Rick Rude & Steve Austin.

Austin & Steamboat start, and the Dragon overpowers him. They slug it out, won by Steamboat, and Austin bails. Back in, Steamboat backslide gets two, and he just goes back to it again for two. Small package gets two and Austin goes nuts and gets dumped. The heels regroup. Back in, Rude wants Sting, then backs off in a great bit of psyching out. Rude slugs away, but gets atomic-dropped. Sting clotheslines him down and rakes the back, driving new commentator Jesse Ventura insane. Sting goes to a rear chinlock, but spices it up as the faces play mindgames with the heels by switching off without a tag a few times, and the crowd absolutely eats it up with a spoon. Sting tries a testicular-drop, but lands on Rude’s knees and Austin comes in. Back elbow gets two, and Sting is YOUR Face-in-peril. Rude clotheslines him for two after a tag tease. Austin gets a backdrop suplex, but Sting tags the Dragon. DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER OF DOOM gets two on Austin. Victory roll, no ref. Rude nails him, and Austin gets a back elbow and the heels work him over. Austin blocks a rollup, but gets cradled for two. Pier-six, Sting and Austin brawl onto the ramp, and back to the ring as Austin tries to slam Steamboat, only to see Sting plow into him with a flying bodypress that results in Steamboat & Sting dogpiling Austin for the pin at 11:21. Just awesome effort out of everyone here. ****

(Clash 22) Thundercage: Dustin Rhodes & Sting v. Vader, Paul Orndorff & Barry Windham. Ron Simmons was supposed to be on the babyface team, but was eliminated by a pre-match attack from Vader in the previous segment. Rhodes backdrops Windham out of the corner to start and they slug it out, but Windham misses an elbow. Rhodes slugs away in the corner and gets a clothesline, bringing Sting in for a bulldog. Press slam and Windham brings Vader in for a go. Sting slugs him on the ropes, but Vader returns fire with mustard on it. Sting keeps punching and gets an atomic drop, and a DDT finally puts Vader down. Stinger splash and he keeps slugging away, and adds some for the other heels, too. Vader actually does a Flair Flip, but catches Sting with a shot to the head on a charge. He goes up with a flying clothesline and then adds a flying splash from the second rope, which misses. Sting kicks away and clotheslines him out, but Orndorff sneaks in with a german suplex to break up the jubilation. Orndorff comes in and stomps away, clotheslining Sting down and dropping an elbow. He drops an elbow on the lower abs, and Windham comes in with a shot off the top and slugs Sting down. Suplex gets two. Dustin gets suckered in and allows some double-teaming by the heels, and they continue working him over in the corner. Vader splash in the corner and a clubbing forearm put Sting down, and a press slam (with a shot on the way down) follows. That’s so cool. Windham sets up for a superplex , but Sting fights out and collapses to the mat. Hot tag to Rhodes is made, and he valiantly tries it 1-on-3, catching Windham with a lariat and slugging the other two down. Corner clothesline and he slugs away, but now Cactus Jack runs in with bolt-cutters to let himself in, and attacks the heels with his boot, laying them all out. I guess he’s your substitute for Simmons. Orndorff finally tosses him, leaving himself one-on-one with Rhodes, but a piledriver attempt is foiled by a boot to the head and Jack gets the pin at 11:22 to officially turn face. Match was going okay until the nonsensical finish. ***

The Pulse

Hopefully volume 2 is coming, because there’s still HOURS of great matches they could have put on here. Blonds v. Steamboat & Douglas, Enforcers v. Steamboat & Rhodes, Windham & Rhodes v. Steamboat & Douglas, Fantastics v. Midnights, Flair v. Steamboat…there’s still tons of material to mine here. This first shot at it is pretty great, with one ***** classic and a bunch of **** classics, and that’s enough for a hearty recommendation from me.

 

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