The WWE Network recently added the entire library of WCW Clash of the Champions. I just happened to stumble across the live stream when Clash XIX was broadcast. This odd lineup on paper looked like a train wreck yet in the ring this show turned out to be an absolute classic.
The show featured the opening round of a tournament to crown a new pair of NWA world tag team champions with the subsequent rounds scheduled to take place at the Great American Bash. The theme was that teams would be represented from all over the world to compete for these vacant titles. While the teams looked like something straight out of Battle Bowl, the show turned out to be one of the more fun two hours of wrestling I have watched since NXT Takeover.
Nikita Koloff and Ricky Steamboat defeated the Malenkos – This was greatly disappointing. I remember watching this one live and thinking the same thing. I had watched a lot of tape on the Malenkos in Japan and was a huge Dean Malenko fan. For some reason or another these teams just did not mesh well at all. Nikita nails a sickle on Dean for the pin to advance in the tournament.
Steve Austin and Rick Rude defeated Tom Zenk and Marcus Bagwell – This one, like many on this show was more like a glorified squash match. Madusa looked pretty hot here if I do say so myself. Rude hits the Rude Awakening on Bagwell for the pin. The only takeaway was how awesome of a team Rude and Austin were and how money may have been left on the table by not exploiting that more in WCW.
Terry Gordy and Steve Williams are interviewed by Eric Bischoff. These guys stole the show and were featured throughout the night. Gordy and Williams are fired up and while it was hard to hear, I could swear that Williams made a gay slur in regards to the Oklahoma-Michigan rivalry (the Steiners went to Michigan and Doc went to Oklahoma).
Gordy and Williams defeated Larry and Jeff O’Day – Once again this one was another squash, but there was nothing glorified about this. It was a showcase for Williams and Gordy to hit their power moves and for Doc to hit his big suplex. At one point Williams and Doc look upset over a spot with Larry. Doc finishes Larry off with the Oklahoma Stampede. Say what you want about Bill Watts’ WCW booking, but he is not given enough credit for being the first American promoter at that level to book Doc and Gordy as a regular team in this country.
Jesse Ventura interviews Sting about facing #1 contender Vader at the Bash. The crowd loved Sting but you couldn’t get any more generic with the promo. They put the showdown over as David vs. Goliath. The promo was average but their series was epic and often not given enough credit for how great their matches actually were.
Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes defeat Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton – This was the highlight of the show and that says a lot when you have Liger and Benoit on opposing teams later in the night. This match was just tremendous. These guys had a real fast pace and the crowd ate up every second of it. The match was a great back and forth contest and really showcases how good all of these guys were at the time. If you think about how young Rhodes was in his career and how great he was during this match the kid really was a prodigy. Eaton misses the Alabama Jam and Rhodes hits a bulldog for the pin to advance in the tournament.
Eric Bischoff and Missy Hyatt report on a commotion in the locker room. Out comes Doc and Gordy once again. Doc and Gordy sarcastically talk about a horrible tragedy that has befallen the Puerto Rican team (who are scheduled to face the Steiners). The whole idea here is that Doc and Gordy wanted to ensure that the Steiners advanced to the next round to face them. Kind of odd if you think about the heel team giving the babyface team a dirty win but this was the Bill Watts mentality. Doc and Gordy were tough guys and they wanted to face the toughest guys in the tournament, good or bad guy. It was definitely different. Regardless, Doc and Gordy are awesome once again and continue stealing the show with their promos.
The Fabulous Freebirds defeated the Silver Kings – Give me the Freebirds as heels or don’t give me the Freebirds at all. Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes come out to some awful music and just aren’t clicking at all as babyfaces. Their style definitely lends itself more to a heel than it does a face. The match was terrible and incredibly boring. The birds won the match but an interesting backstory here is that the kings were originally booked to win. The result leaked in a WCW Magazine that went to press before the show and thus the bookers changed the finish as a result.
Ole Anderson, called “senior referee” tells Magnum TA and Tony Schiavone that the Steiner Brothers have been given a bye to advance to the quarter-finals against Gordy and Williams at the Bash.
Jushin Liger and Brian Pillman defeated Beef Wellington and Chris Benoit – Holy smokes, I completely forgot that this match ever took place in WCW. It was quite a coup if you think about it that WCW was able to book New Japan star Justin Liger in the same tournament with All Japan’s top stars in Gordy and Williams. Really good match here, with Benoit taking lots of the big bumps. Jim Ross was exceptional here as he seemed really into the match and got more intense as the match played out. Ross did a fantastic job of putting over the rivalry between Liger and Benoit. Liger and Benoit stole the match here. At one point Benoit gave Liger a German suplex off of the top rope. Biff was just terrible, I mean beyond terrible. He botched several moves including the finish. Liger picked him up for a bodyslam and Wellington was dead weight. Liger hit the moonsault for the win.
Hiroshi Hasi and Akira Nogami defeated the Head Hunters – I guess this would have been the main-event had the show played out differently. Yikes! These are not the same Head Hunters that ran wild in IWA Japan and had a brief run in the WWE. These Head Hunters were two WCW Jobbers under masks. This match was a total waste of Hasi as it was a real basic squash match. Again, you have more NJPW talent mixed into a tournament with All Japan stars. Hase and Nogami score a double-pin on the Hunters for the win and an advance in the tournament.
Welcome to WCW 1992 where you not only get homophobic slurs you also get racist slander. Ron Simmons is interviewed and confronted by Harley Race and the Super Invader (former WWE star Hercules in a mask). Race refers to Simmons as a “boy” and says something else which gets bleeped. This all ends with a brawl which sees Simmons clear the ring…Damn!
Gordy and Williams defeated the Steiner Brothers – Jim Ross is pumped! The Steiners are the WCW tag team champions as they enter this tournament although this match is a non-title match. This match was just fantastic. It was much different than anything you’d see in the U.S. at the time. The match featured a ton of amateur/chain wrestling a long with the strong-style that Gordy and Williams were known for. It was a bit of a risk to pull off but it worked as the fans were into it by the end. Ross puts it over as a dream match which it was at the time. The psychology early on was that Rick was trying to make it an amateur match while Gordy was trying to keep it pro-style. The Steiners worked to suplex Doc and Gordy and kept getting blocked. Rick finally nails one on Williams who sells it like he got hit by a freight truck. The teams keep it relatively clean early on with the Steiners getting the better of Doc and Gordy. Ross mentions Williams and Rick’s past as the Varsity Club. Williams slaps Rick and all hell breaks loose. Rick gets a double leg and pounds away on Doc. Doc and Rick do some great wrestling on the ground. Doc finally nails Rick with a hell of a clothesline. Gordy and Williams use a lot of forearms. Gordy tries and is reversed on a suplex attempt by Rick. Scott gets the hot tag. Scott hits a double-underhook powerbomb. Gordy reverses a Frankensteiner attempt and gets an STF. Doc holds Scott up for two consecutive backbreakers. Gordy and Williams keep going for leg submissions on Scott, working over the knee. Gordy and Williams are real fluent with their double-team moves. Rick gets the hot tag and is all over Doc. Rick clotheslines Doc over the top. Gordy jumps in and he and Rick start brawling from one side of the ring to the other. The crowd is going nuts as is Jim Ross. This is great! Jesse Ventura says it’s turned into a total fight. Doc comes in and gets Rick from behind. Rick powerslams Doc but the referee won’t count and says that he didn’t see Rick tag in. Doc hits the Oklahoma shoulder block right into Scott’s knee (think a football chop block). Rick and Gordy are back in the ring brawling. Scott can barely stand up. Ross says his knee has about disintegrated (I can assure you that it hasn’t disappeared). Williams presses Scott over his head and catches him with a powerslam on the way down for two. Scott ducks a clothesline and catches Doc in a belly-to-belly position. Gordy runs in and chops Scott’s knee from behind as the referee is distracted. Doc pins Scott for the win in a major upset as the #4 seed defeated the #1 seed. Ventura puts it over big as an upset.
Overall this was a really fun show. The show featured all kinds of talent you either never or rarely got the chance to see in America. It truly did have an international flavor to it, capped off but a terrific main-event. Go out of your way to see this one on the network as well as the remainder of the tournament at the Bash 1992 which featured some real fun matches from the remaining tournament teams.