Tuesday, December 12, 2017
The rare Clash of the Champions review that I pull out. This is only my fourth or fifth so far if memory serves me right. Hot off of the massive signing of Hulk Hogan, WCW was all set to make a major impact on the business. With him around now, WCW decided to unify their two World Titles and that led to a main event for this show between Sting and Ric Flair, who main evented the first ever Clash of the Champions. Of course, it was kind of a foregone conclusion that Hogan would beat the winner, which he, of course, went on to do.
While I enjoyed the simplicity of the opening video package, they pretty much telegraph the eventual Hulk Hogan/Ric Flair feud. Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan are the commentary team.
Due to the crazy nature of their matches, there was a second referee outside. Dave Sullivan was already playing his role of strange Hulkamaniac. This started as a pier six brawl and the crowd was pretty into it. They mostly brawled throughout. I liked that Sullivan and Cactus didn’t care for their own well-beings, with Sullivan even slamming Jack from the top into the Nasty Boys. The Nasty Boys ended up working some heat on Sullivan. Maybe it’s because I never enjoyed him but I couldn’t buy into sympathy for Sullivan. His tag to Cactus got little to no reaction. He took a rather ugly bump into the guardrail on a missed springboard back elbow. Yes, I said springboard. Back inside, Cactus rallied before Jerry Saggs went after Dave. Dave cracked him with one of his crutches, while Cactus laid out Knobbs with the double arm DDT.
Considering the teams involved, this needed to be a bit of a brawl and it was just that. They did about as good as expected and, for the most part, it was pretty fun.
Mean Gene brings out Sting for an interview. I never got WCW’s thinking on this. Guys always get their biggest pops on their first appearance, so why waste it for an interview that accomplishes nothing? It was just dumb as Sting didn’t really say anything of substance.
The Guardian Angel is what happened when WCW couldn’t use the Big Bossman gimmick. He lived by a three strike rule, so he’d only hit you after you got in three shots. They did a cheesy vignette for him before the bell. I’d never heard of Tax Slazenger but it turned out that he was Dennis Knight, or the future Mideon. They did the three strike gimmick and once Tax got in his three shots, the Guardian Angel dominated. He finished the squash with the Guardian Angel slam.
It was effective at establishing the new gimmick.
Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart get a police escort to the arena. Sheesh.
Jesse Ventura joined the booth at this time. Regal wore a strange wig to the ring that Jesse said belonged to his great-great-great uncle over 200 years ago. I feel like there should have been more “greats” in there for 200 years. Regal laid into Larry early but Larry gave it right back, which brought the crowd to their feet. I saw big strikes, choking and even a damn piledriver within the first few minutes. They continued to just have a manly battle with hard hits and submission attempts. Larry applied a Boston crab but Sir William flipped him over, allowing Regal to sit on his shoulders, hold the ropes and escape with the title.
I feel bad that I didn’t write a ton for that match but it’s mostly because I was really into it. This was just the kind of manly match that I’ve come to enjoy. Two guys roughing each other up in a bit of a battle with a classic heel finish. What’s not to like?
Dustin Rhodes and Arn Anderson are interviewed because Arn accepts his proposal to team with him against Bunkhouse Buck and Terry Funk at Bash at the Beach. And it will be the “old” Arn Anderson.
Col. Robert Parker is Austin’s manager but allows him to wrestle alone. Austin grew out the goatee and wore black trunks, which puts him near Stone Cold territory from a looks standpoint. Badd was good at playing to the crowd, while Austin knew how to draw heat. He did his best to ground Badd and take away a big aspect of his offense. Austin played the smart heel, which worked for him. The crowd popped hard for any Badd hope spots but were mostly quiet for anything else. Badd missed a top rope senton and landed flat on his back, which was probably the biggest high spot of the show. It’s WCW, so we got the old cheap finish when Austin got something from his trunks to lay out Badd and beat him. A second referee showed up, Badd rolled up Austin and won. He celebrated with the belt though he didn’t win the belt since apparently it was a DQ. None of that is actually said on camera though.
Up until that terrible finish, this was a pretty damn good outing. Both guys seemed to work hard, but Badd was the better man here. He did such a good job with his spots and getting the crowd involved.
Hulk Hogan makes his triumphant debut. He cuts a typical Hogan promo on the stage with Mean Gene and challenges the winner of the upcoming unification match. Ric Flair appears on the tron and yells at Hogan that he will win the match tonight. Good job telegraphing the finish to your main event.
They throw to a video of Shaq and Hogan, hyping the debut. Bobby Heenan is great as he says he thought it was Mugsy or “”Bugsy” Bogues.
HE’S THE MAN CALLED STING! Sherri showed up early on as she was trying to choose a WCW talent to manage. She took a seat at ringside. She wore face paint, signaling that she chose Sting. By this point, Sting and Flair had a long history, including Sting’s star making turn in a 45 minute draw on the first Clash of the Champions. They did a lot of the stuff they had become famous for. Sting is too powerful and hyped up for Flair, who has to constantly regroup outside. Flair made a small comeback but when he couldn’t put Sting away and almost got pinned himself, he got frustrated and shoved the ref. I loved Heenan here. He was always so great at being biased for Flair. Commentary in general did a good job of discussing the time limit. That worked due to their past. They continued to have some close calls and the crowd was totally into the idea of Sting winning. Sting no sold some stuff, which was a staple of their past encounters. Flair pulled Sherri in the way of a Sting plancha. The referee checked on her and got in too late on a Sting backslide. Sting made the classic good guy mistake of slightly checking on Sherri, so Flair rolled him up with a handful of tights.
Not quite on the level of some of their past matches, though I still found it to be a good, satisfying main event. I liked the callbacks to their history and that, if Sherri had to be out there, at least she played into the finish.
Sherri enters the ring and embraces Ric Flair. IT WAS A SETUP! Flair and Sherri put the boots to Sting until Hulk Hogan runs out. He rips the shirt and Flair begs for mercy. Hogan does the same thing he’d been doing for ten years and Flair escapes.
Overall: Well that turned out to be way better than I expected. They produced five matches and three were good, one was a squash and one was okay. That equals a mostly enjoyable show. The debut of Hogan was a big deal at the time. While it helped the company grow, it also ended up hurting the product as late 1994 and 1995 were a pretty bad time for WCW. That’s neither here nor there though. If you want to pull out a Clash of the Champions that is pretty good, this is a good call. Up next on will be