CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS XXI
November 18, 1992
The final step of my little project, to show that WCW was fully capable of putting on a fun product at times, despite the curse of being owned by pinheads and accountants. I barely even scratched the surface with what I looked at, but between the Dangerous Alliance, War Games, and some fun southern tags, I managed to get the point across. However, no look at WCW in ‘92 is complete without this show.
Scotty Flamingo . . . shows that Golden Gloves boxing champions are not the brightest guys.
Ron Simmons . . . teams up with a nameless partner who completely tears down the house.
Dustin Rhodes . . . doesn’t listen to his veteran tag team partner and pays the ultimate price.
BRAD ARMSTRONG vs. BRIAN PILLMAN
This almost isn’t worth mentioning, except for the fact that the angle and blowoff seemed to have been run in reverse order. The angle with Pillman feigning injury and attacking Brad with a crutch would seem more suited for a regular WCW TV show, rather than a prime time special. Why not put the angle on a regular TV show and use the Clash special for an actual blowoff grudge match? Instead we get the aforementioned crutch attack followed with Pillman getting the win in about fifteen seconds. Nobody ever accused WCW of being run by geniuses.
ERIK WATTS/KENSUKE SASAKI vs. BOBBY EATON/ARN ANDERSON
Someone should have reminded Bill Watts that one reason he made so much money while running Mid South was Ricky Morton always taking a huge beating and then doing a comeback. Erik Watts, who has all of a few months (if that) experience, never gets in any sort of real trouble. When something happens to potentially turn the tide of the match, like when Watts goes tumbling over the top, it has no real effect and he’s still got the advantage. Eaton and Anderson, who could both get some nice heat going on Watts, are reduced to bumping and selling for him, and because Watts is so green, it’s not like he’s got any good offense at his disposal. Things are better when Sasaki is in there, and the heels are allowed to get some offense in, but it doesn’t last very long. Watt using the STF to get the win isn’t bad in theory since it is a move that has some credibility as a finisher, but I guess any sort of build up to the finish is too much to ask for.
JOHNNY B. BADD vs. SCOTTY FLAMINGO (Three Rounds of Boxing)
Now this is how a boxing match on a wrestling card ought to be booked, at the bottom of the card as comic relief. Flamingo does a great job in selling Badd’s punches, and cheating and taking shortcuts whenever he can. I’m no boxing expert, but I’m relatively sure that boxing doesn’t permit a fighter’s seconds jumping on the apron to distract that ref like DDP and Vinnie Vegas do in order to save Flamingo from being counted down. The water-filled glove that gives Flamingo the knockout is also nicely done, with the actual punch itself having a very audible “smack” sound and Badd dropping like a ton of bricks. I’m not a fan of boxing matches or MMA fights on wrestling cards, but at least this one was both enjoyable and contained something to further along the wrestling storyline of Badd’s feud with Flamingo.
CACTUS JACK/BARBARIAN/TONY ATLAS vs. RON SIMMONS/2 COLD SCORPIO
This is thankfully kept short, it’s got its enjoyable moments, but they’re spread out over the match so it does drag in places, thanks to Simmons, Barbarian, and Atlas all having less than exciting offense. Cactus is fun with his selling as usual, and “Ron Simmons’ partner” as he’s known as until the promo after the match when Simmons introduces him, and his dives and flying moves really get the crowd going. But again, it’s mostly spread out, between long periods of the other three and their generic big man stuff. The old “heel accidentally hits heel” spot, may work as far as evening the odds in the match, but it’s also the least-creative way to do it, especially with Cactus Jack right there, and not afraid to take a good bump to put him out of the mix. At least Barbarian’s misplaced kick allows Scorpio to give the U.S. its first look at a 450 splash.
MADUSA vs. PAUL E. DANGEROUSLY
Pillman vs. Armstrong may have been twenty-five seconds long, but it was at least notable for being an in-ring feud based on matches. This whole “Battle of the Sexes” deal is based entirely on tasteless and redundant interviews from Paul E. The actual “match” is horrible, and not even in a so-bad-it’s-funny kind of way. Paul E. lays out a jobber disguised as Madusa, and then she shows up and Paul takes a few bumps in between running away from her. That’s it.
STING vs. RICK RUDE (King of Cable semi final)
If Sting and Rude (and Ross and Ventura for that matter) hadn’t made it crystal clear that this would be going to a twenty-minute draw, this would have probably been a lot of fun. As it is, it’s very logical from a technical standpoint, but lacks excitement and drama until the last minute or so, when the logic is completely out the window.
Sting does a decent job of working over Rude’s midsection, and it’s as much smart offense as it is a slap in the face to Rude. It adds that much more impact to the Stinger Splash, and makes it harder for Rude to do almost anything. Sting’s offense isn’t anything fancy, but it’s very effective in hurting one’s ribs, and Rude does a really nice job selling. When Sting’s missed Stinger Splash gives Rude the opening for some offense of his own, is when the match starts to drag a bit, because Rude is still selling, he can’t even manage to do his trademark ass-shake because of how much his ribs are hurt. So Rude’s offense consists of mostly rest holds which aren’t very exciting, but Rude does at least do a few modifications on them to show how he’s trying to hurt Sting and avoid hurting his own ribs at the same time. It’s very smart on Rude’s part, but it doesn’t make for the most interesting match, especially when it’s so obviously going to go to the time limit. A few pin attempts or even a submission that the fans might actually buy as a potential match breaker would have helped, even a little bit.
When it’s time to start playing “beat the clock” is when the match gets more exciting with both Sting and Rude trying to win. Rude’s attempt at the Rude Awakening is a nice moment, although Sting evidently gets lost. Because he tries to make it seem like he powered out of the move, while Rude was selling his ribs as the reason he couldn’t do it. Sting also doesn’t put over any of the work did to his lower back at all, when he’s trying to finish off Rude, hitting a Stinger Splash (the same move he missed and allowed Rude to get the advantage in the first place) and time runs out when he’s trying to put on the Scorpion Deathlock. Sting gets the win via judges decision, although watching the actual match it’s plainly obvious who the better man really was.
BARRY WINDHAM/DUSTIN RHODES © vs. RICKY STEAMBOAT/SHANE DOUGLAS (WCW/NWA Tag Team Titles)
This is more about storyline than it is about the match itself, and it realistically comes off as good as it could have, given the limitations of only having one match to play out. The storyline really needed either a few matches, or a 2/3 falls match to really develop. The only real confrontation between Steamboat and Windham is early on, and until the last couple of minutes it’s never really hinted at or brought up again. Being a babyface match also hurts this, due to neither team playing heel and mostly doing the standard babyface stuff that comes in the opening moments of a southern tag match. There’s lots of quick tags, arm wringer, and the occasional double dropkick. Windham is the only one who really uses anything out of the ordinary by using his strength to work over Douglas, along with some decent looking right hands and forearms. Douglas and Rhodes both wind up in decently long control segments, but it’s nothing fairly interesting because there’s no real focus or intensity.
The actual accident when Steamboat gets inadvertently hit below the belt looks really good, and Steamboat does the best low-blow sell job ever, because he doesn’t overdo it. There are guys who get intentionally kicked there and don’t sell it as well. Dustin’s hesitation is understandable due to his history with Steamboat (former partners who’d won the WCW Tag Titles at a Clash of Champions in November ‘91). The veteran in Windham knows firsthand about winning the match first and then being a nice guy afterward, due to the fact that he’d once made the same mistake and wound up with the short end of the stick. The crowd understands as well since they boo Dustin for pulling Windham off of Steamboat, when Barry attempts to finish him off. Douglas sneaking the belly to belly while the champs argue amongst themselves makes for a good finish. But again, had this been three falls, with a clean first fall won by the faces, Barry winning the second by taking advantage of Steamboat’s injury, and then using this finish for the third fall, the match itself, and Barry’s heel turn would have come off much better. What the match and the finish fails to do though, is to put over Steamboat and Douglas as a team. It’s great that they won the titles, but winning them on a fluke doesn’t give them any credibility as a team. It’s basically one of the best wrestlers of all time paired up with a former Dynamic Dude, and they’re the WCW and NWA Tag Team Champions because Barry and Dustin had an argument. ***
Conclusion: There is some enjoyable stuff on the undercard, and a really good story and angle that partially covers up a rather dull main event. I’d have to mildly recommend avoiding this one.