The SmarK Rant for WCW Clash of the Champions XXVII – 06.23.94
(Originally written 02.01.18)
Live from Charleston, SC, doing a 3.0 rating (fourth lowest in Clash history) and drawing 4000 paid, although they just lied and said the building was sold out with 11,000 people.
Your hosts are Tony & Bobby, alternating with Jesse.
WCW tag titles: Kevin Sullivan & Cactus Jack v. The Nasty Boys
They’re worried about chaos erupting again, so there’s TWO referees tonight. Yeah, that’ll keep ‘em in check. Evad is wearing a “Hulk seluR” shirt, because that’s totally how dyslexia works. It’s a DONNYBROOK to start and the champs double-team Knobs after tossing Sags out, and the Nasties bail to regroup. Back in, Knobs and Sullivan trade some pretty stiff shots, but Sullivan fights his way out of the heel corner by ramming their heads together and then throwing Jack off the top rope onto them. Using Jack’s insanity as a weapon for your own purpose is actually quite a solid plan. The Nasties run away again, as we learn that Hulk Hogan’s plane has landed, and Bobby immediately buries Hulk. Cactus with a clothesline out of the corner on Knobs for two and Sullivan works on the arm, and then Jack puts Sags down with an elbow for two. Finally Sags gets a cheapshot and takes over, but Jack quickly tags out to Sullivan again, and he hits Knobs so hard that he falls on his own ass. Impressive! The Nasties bring him back to their corner and work him over, and it’s kind of hilarious for Sullivan to play face-in-peril because he never sells beyond showing a mild level of discomfort. Even Bobby points out that it’s a waste of time to beat on someone who never feels pain. Jack gets a hot tag of sorts and puts Knobs on the floor with the Cactus Clothesline, but he dives at him and knocks himself out on the railing because he’s a crazy motherfucker. And then Sags runs him into the post and drops him on his head with a backdrop suplex on the floor. I too am astonished as to why he was forced into retirement. Back in, Knobs misses a blind charge and it’s hot tag Sullivan, and he just straight up punches everyone in the face as it’s BONZO GONZO. Knobs goes after Evad and Kevin defends his idiot brother, and meanwhile Jack DDTs Knobs for the pin to retain at 10:38. This wasn’t even in the same universe as the Slamboree match, but there was something charmingly stupid about the four guys punching each other in the face and Jack hurling his body off of various places with little regard for actually putting a coherent tag team match together. ***1/4 Also, the two referees literally never factored into the match.
Sting joins us and he suspects that Ric Flair might be behind the plot to take him out. However, he assures us that he’s a great white shark and will eat and then regurgitate Flair to get his revenge. Let’s face facts, Sting is so dumb he’d probably fall for the Land Shark.
Meanwhile, The Guardian Angel is hanging out, on the streets, same old thing he did last week.
The Guardian Angel v. Tex Slazenger
The Angel’s new motto is “Three strikes and you’re out”, so maybe his gimmick should have been Jose Bautista. And indeed, Slazenger gets three shots, and Angel gets all fired up and finishes him with the Bossman Slam at 1:40. Tony refers to it as the “spike piledriver”, because that’s totally the same thing. DUD This gimmick lasted, like, a day, before WCW managed to screw up the relationship with the Angels and lost the rights to it.
Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan’s limo arrives at the building with a police escort. Maybe they were acting on a tip about what he was snorting on the plane?
WCW TV title: Larry Zbyszko v. Lord Steven Regal
This was a fun mini-feud that mostly overdelivered, I’d say. Larry of course won a non-title match at Slamboree and then won the title on TV, although in reality the title change was taped before the PPV in a uniquely pro wrestling manner. Stalling to start, of course, and Regal hammers Larry in the corner with forearms and beats him down for two. Regal smacks him down while laying on the badmouth and giving him a QUALITY sneer, but Larry gets fired up and fights back, resulting in Regal flying over the top and bumping onto the ramp. Regal takes another huge bump back into the ring, but comes back with a butterfly suplex, which Larry counters into a bridge for two. They slug it out and Larry gets a suplex for two. Swinging neckbreaker gets two. That was of course his finish as AWA champion. Regal pops up and he wants FISTICUFFS AT DAWN, so Larry waits until his back is turned and then jumps him. Ha! Regal takes him down again with a chinlock and puts him down with a forearm for two, but Larry catches him in a bodyscissors and Regal sells it like he’s passing a kidney stone. Regal puts him down with double knees and a headbutt, but Larry hits him with a spinebuster into a crab, which Regal reverses into a rope assisted pinfall to regain the title at 9:30. That was clearly a botched finish, as Sir William was supposed to use the umbrella and somehow missed his cue, but this was a fun match and Regal was really coming into his own. *** Dave Meltzer did not care for this match at all, but he already acknowledged that he was in the minority in his review, plus he was heavily distracted by the whole Vince trial elsewhere in the issue anyway.
Dustin Rhodes and Arn Anderson are out to discuss terms for teaming up at Bash at the Beach. Arn agrees to the team, as long as Dustin understands that he’s getting the old Arn who would turn on his own grandmother. Now if that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is. Dustin is of course completely oblivious to his fate.
US title: Steve Austin v. Johnny B. Badd
Jesse is very impressed by the goatee that Austin is growing. Like some guy with black tights and a goatee is ever gonna get over. How can you market THAT? They slug it out and Badd fires away with chops in the corner, but Austin hits him with a forearm off a blind charge. He tosses Badd and they brawl on the floor, giving us our first “full armdrag and twist” of the evening once they get back in. Badd hits him with a dropkick and goes back to the arm, then puts him on the floor with another dropkick, and back in for a flying clothesline that gets two. Jesse goes on a whole thing about Austin’s title history, and how he was TV champion forever and then basically lost the belt on purpose so he could trade up to the US title. That really doesn’t make the TV title seem very prestigious. Badd goes to a front facelock while the announcers continue to debate who Sherri’s mystery man is tonight, despite the answer being incredibly obvious to everyone watching the show. Badd goes back to the arm, but Austin elbows him down and drops knees on him. Badd comes back with a flying headscissors and DDT, and a corner clothesline, but he goes up and gets crotched. Austin tries a superplex and Badd fights him off, but misses a sunset flip and splats on the mat. Austin gets two off that. Badd knocks him out with the punch for two and slugs away in the corner, where the camera catches the referee telling Austin to pull out the brass knuckles. And indeed, Austin does so and knocks Badd out for the pin at 10:30 to retain. However, a second ref comes out and Badd rolls up Austin and pins him to apparently win the title. And that’s the last we heard of it for the rest of the show. And in fact, I’m pretty sure they literally never mentioned or followed up on this angle again. Match was sloppy and dull. **
Hulk Hogan joins us in his Clash debut and he’s like “Listen to all my Hulkamaniacs!” while the crowd boos him heartily. Whoever wins the title match tonight is next on Hulk’s hitlist, brother. Flair cuts in with a crazed promo on the video wall and the crowd cheers him like a hero. Then Shaq cuts a promo after the break with Hogan, and the crowd boos both of them. Classic WCW.
WCW World title v. International World title: Ric Flair v. Sting
The final mercy-killing of the dual titles. I think it’s kind of funny that they couldn’t even get their shit together enough to pop a buyrate and put this circus on PPV. Like really, trying to trick people into buying Slamboree by pretending Hulk Hogan was working for Robert Parker was their big plan? Sherri joins us at ringside, and she’s got her face painted like Sting, so OBVIOUSLY she’s working with him. And Tony would only get more gullible from there. Flair takes him down using the hair and Sting no-sells it and pops up again, prompting Flair to take a walk. Back in, Sting gives him the press slam and Flair bails again and Flops in front of Sherri. Back in, Flair finally pokes him in the eye, but Sting no-sells the chops and clotheslines Flair all over the ring. And Flair bails again. Man, he’s trying SOOOOOO hard to turn himself heel here, wrestling like a coward and bumping like a clown for Sting to ensure no one could possibly cheer for him. It was just so forced. Flair dodges a dropkick and tries the figure-four, but Sting cradles him for two, so Flair does the ref shove gimmick and storms off again, still trying every trick in the book to get booed. Finally Sting misses the splash and runs into the ringpost, and Flair tosses him to take over. Back in, Flair works a cover and holds the ropes for some two counts, and gets a suplex to set up the figure-four, which Sting fights off. Flair cuts off the comeback and goes to the sleeper, which Sting escapes by running him into the turnbuckle. Tony actually drops an interesting bit of fake wrestling logic here, as he notes that the referee first has to verbally check with Sting, and if Sting is unable to respond, then he begins checking the arm. I’ve never heard that explained before or since, but I actually really like that idea. Sting catapults him into the corner to set up a Flair Flop, and Sting pounds away in the corner and follows with a superplex for the big comeback. Sting goes up with the flying splash, but Flair moves and gets a suplex. Sting no-sells it and dropkicks him into another press slam, then clotheslines him to the floor. He follows with a dive, but misses Flair and hits Sherri by mistake. He claims that Flair moved her into position, but that’s exactly what a WOMAN-BEATER would say. Back in, Sting with a backslide for two. He goes back to check on Sherri again, and Flair rolls him up and grabs the tights to finally unify the titles at 17:16. It was such a fascinating psychological deal in hindsight, because top babyface Flair essentially sacrificed his own character to create a heel for Hogan to beat. But to do so, he had to backdoor into the title win and look like a completely ineffective coward, when you’d think the most effective solution would be to have the strongest champion possible for Hogan to beat. It was also fascinating to see Sting, who was working on an elite level for much of 93 and 94 with the greatest workers in the world, back to doing essentially 1988 Sting for the sake of working with Flair’s 80s formula. And his reward? Getting booted down the card by Hogan faster than Virgil diving for an Olive Garden coupon in the trash. It was a giant trainwreck on so many levels, but just incredibly fascinating to watch. ***1/2
I really like this show and always have. It’s an easy watch with nothing I’d consider terrible, and the main event is about as meaningful as you’re gonna get for the time. Recommended.
Tags: Clash of the Champions, SmarK Rants, Sting v. Ric Flair, WWE Network