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The Name on the Marquee: Super Clash III (12.13.1988)

November 25, 2018 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
AWA Super Clash III
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The Name on the Marquee: Super Clash III (12.13.1988)  

-Curiosity got to me so even though it’s not in the realm of what I’m recapping, I’ve reached that point in my timeline and thought I’d give it a look-see.

-SuperClash III, much like the first SuperClash in 1985, was Verne Gagne attempting to compete with Vince, only for the event to serve as a microcosm of why Vince won. The 1985 SuperClash was an AWA/NWA joint venture, which saw David Crockett drifting through the locker rooms and slipping contract offers to the AWA’s talent during the show. For SuperClash III, Verne is joining forces with WCCW and CWA. Here’s the state of the three companies going into the show:

-AWA has not had a TV taping in three months; their ESPN has just been reruns of matches spliced together with hype for this event.

– CWA and WCCW are owned by the same company as of a month earlier. Fritz Von Erich had been negotiating for months to try to get a good price for the company, but as it turned out, he was balls-deep in debt and creditors were leaning hard on him, so Jerry Jarrett played the hardest of hardball and got 60% of the company, with the Von Erich kids’ guarantee of employment (which had originally been part of the deal) getting thrown out in the process. For the moment, the two companies are doing an interpromotional feud, with the main event angle being a convoluted series of title switches between Jerry Lawler and Kerry Von Erich, although most of the TV shows just outright ignored Lawler’s title win over Von Erich that started the whole mess to begin with. The main event will decide the “Unified Champion” who will be the champion of all three promotions, and therefore the entire planet, which led to the raging promos on NWA TV the past few weeks about how NWA title belts are the only real belts in wrestling.

-At this point, Vince McMahon REALLY decided to be a dick, and this is a pretty funny story. Vince dusted off an old law on the books in Illinois (where Super Clash III is taking place) that says amputees can’t compete in athletic contests, and made a phone call to the state athletic commission asking for a hearing in light of the fact that Verne Gagne is promoting a main event featuring a guy with an artificial foot. The commission schedules a hearing for December 14, the day AFTER the show, at which point Vince actually goes to court and forces a hearing for December 9, at which the commission rules that wrestling is make-believe, and the law that Vince brought up allows for the commission to grant exceptions as they see fit, so, fuck it, they granted the exception.

-And now, on with the show!

-WWE Network rates this TV-MA and opens it with a viewer discretion warning. BADASS.

-It’s December 13, 1988.

-From UIC Pavilion in Chicago. Attendance: 1,672. The wide shot of the arena at the opening is pretty grim.

-Your hosts are Larry Nelson and Lee Marshall. Oh, and Ray “The Crippler” Stevens, apparently.


-It’s Chavo, Mando, and Hector. On the other side of the ring, I gotta say, if you time traveled to 1988 and told people that Cactus would be the biggest star of his team…honestly, I think most people could look at these three and believe that.

-Hector showboats with some sweet flips and tumbles to show why he earned the Gobbledy Gooker gig. He causes the RPMs to crash into each other on an attempted double team. Cactus and Mando go at it. Mando ends up on the concrete and they brawl on the floor, with Cactus taking a backdrop on the concrete. Back in, the Guerreros switch off and go to work on Cactus’ leg. The Guerreros lay out all three opponents and pile on top of them. I just noticed the referee is Mike Enos.

-All six men end up in the ring, and the referee’s lost control of this one, Brain. Camera completely misses apparently a crazy-ass spot by Mondo, who appears to have jumped off the top rope for a bodypress on Cactus on the concrete, while an RPM eats the pin inside the ring. 1 for 1. It was fine. The referee would be pushed as a bigger star in the AWA than any of these six guys a year later because wrestling can be like that sometimes.

-Larry Nelson talks to POWW champion Nina Ferrari, who is Ivory with her hair achieving peak 80s. She promises clothes will be flying in the lingerie battle royal later tonight and she’s trying to put a very athletic and dignified face on the trashiest gimmick match possible.


-Embry’s nickname is spelled “Flambuoyant” on the chyron, so apparently, his gimmick at this point is that he’s a gay guy and he can float. Verne Gagne is joining us on commentary now. Your referee is the old guy who always shows up on 80s Illinois wrestling cards and wears a different uniform than the rest of the referees.

-Rapid fire reversals as both men try for a hammerlock. Armbar by Jarrett, but Embry armdrags out and clotheslines Jarrett. Jarrett with a clothesline of his own, but he misses a bodypress and crashes. He heads out to the floor to writhe for a moment. Back in, Jarrett raises a boot to deflect a corner charge and connects with a missile dropkick, but he arm is boned and he can’t pin Embry in time. Jarrett does a million pinfall attempts and gets two every time, and then Embry just rolls him for three. Energetic but short, and Jarrett kind of lost the thread with psychology there, as he was selling the arm but kept going for the pin and holding onto Eric (as opposed to releasing the pin because his arm hurt too much) and it just didn’t figure into anything. 1 for 2.

-Larry talks to The Terrorist about tonight’s lingerie battle royal, and it looks like an SNL sketch about 80s pro wrestling.

“The Boogie Woogie Man” JIMMY VALIANT vs. WAYNE BLOOM
-Valiant, after years of The Push That Wouldn’t Die in Jim Crockett Promotions, managed to fall out of favor with Dusty Rhodes. The story, per Jim Cornette, is that Dusty had some idea for an angle and laid out instructions for Valiant to do certain things in a squash match and then say certain things in the promo afterward. Valiant went out and worked the same squash he always did, cut his usual stupid promo, and went off dancing. Dusty tried for a do-over at the next TV taping, but Valiant ignored him again and just did his usual shit, and Dusty just decided “You know what? I don’t need this guy on my roster.” So off Valiant goes to the AWA sporting only a mustache but otherwise clean-shaven, having donated his long luxurious beard to Doctors Without Merkins in a noble gesture.

-Bloom attacks from behind, but Valiant gives him some rights and drps a big elbow for three. So…his usual shit. 1 for 3.

-Human cartoon David McLane introduces Bambi, who touts the lingerie battle royal FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THIS BATTLE ROYAL ISN’T THAT IMPORTANT.


-Apparently we’re pressed for time because the guys actually come to the ring together. Brickhouse represents Tennessee and Iceman is the Texas constituent in this interpromotional battle. Brown shoves Parsons on his ass. Parsons tries for a backdrop, but Brown turns it into an awkward neckbreaker/backslide combo. Parsons just jumps up and heaves his crotch into Brown’s face, dazing him for two. Snap suplex by Parsons gets two. Brown comes back with punches and boots as Parsons begs for a time-out. Brown bodypresses for two. Parsons gets a foot on the ropes, the referee stops counting and tells this to Brown, and Brown gets up and celebrates; meanwhile, Parsons pulls out a weapon, sneaks up and knocks him out. 1 for 4.

-Weird post-match promo where Lee Marshall completely babyfaces Parsons and congratulates him for retaining his title.

-Larry Nelson talks to Pocohantas & Brandy Mae ARE THERE ANY OTHER FUCKING MATCHES ON THIS CARD, LARRY? Brandy Mae says this entire match started with an incident where she got her cut-offs ripped up and she promises to destroy some clothes in retaliation.


-No gender mixing, and if a champion gets pinned, the appropriate title changes hands. All six wrestlers brawl in the ring to start, with the heel contingent getting whipped into each other. Derrick Dukes slingshots himself onto Pat Tanaka, and the Guns launch Tanaka into space for a double backdrop.

-Knee to the back by Paul Diamond on the apron. He tags in and stays on the back. Corner charge misses and Diamond straddles himself in the corner. Hot tag to Wendi Richter, which means that Madusa also automatically is in the match. Richter hits the ropes and knocs Diamond to the floor, then powerbombs Madusa to nearly finish, but we have a donny-sixer in the ring. Madausa holds Wendi Richter in place and Tanaka savate kicks her. He goes for another savate kick, and this time, Wendi ducks and Madusa is knocked cold by the kick, and Wendi pins her…Did Wendi forget to duck the first time? I think she forgot to duck. The match actually wasn’t that bad. 2 for 5. Mike Enos awards the Tag Team Title belts to the Top Guns and Gary Capette announces them as the new champions. Madusa slaps Paul Diamond and storms off, quitting the Diamond Exchange. Diamond Dallas Page demands to know where the belts are, and Lee Marshall says he doesn’t know, even though he just watched the Top Guns leave with the belts. In the background, the Terrorist just wanders around ringside for no reason.

-Larry Nelson talks to Kerry Von Erich, who I hope to hell isn’t competing in the Lingerie Battle Royal. Kerry Von Erich says that there’s only one Eiffel Tower, only one Mona Lisa, how can there be two world champions? Tonight, he’ll be the one true champion of wrestling.


-Garvin was already on WWF TV by this point, and Vince, in very un-Vince-like fashion, encouraged Ron to honor his booking. The belt is “disputed” going into the match. But it gets crazier, Garvin also won the WWC Universal Title right after signing with Vince, and Vince gave him another night off in January to drop that belt.

-They trade turnbuckle shots, but Gagne misses a corner charge hard and Garvin chops him. Gagne accepts the challenge and chops back with some fire fo a two-count. Chinlock by Gagne, and they trade some two-counts and stare each other down. Garvin throws more chops, and it’s funny how Garvin, the heel, is getting louder cheers in this building than he got as the babyface champ a year earlier at Starrcade. Gagne chops back as chops are the only thing the fans are reacting two and both guys want to give the people what they want. Gagne punches Garvin in the corner, and a tight shot by the camera reveals that Garvin’s chest is bleeding, so Greg is BRINGING IT tonight. Painful spot as they attempt to spill over the top rope on a bodypress, but the ropes are two high and both guys just lean there for a while, trying to force themselves over the top rope. They brawl on the floor and Gagne slips back in before the ten count to win the TV Title because Garvin refused to put him over in a pinfall. 3 for 6. Crowd boos Gagne out of the building as he’s handed the belt.

-Larry Nelson talks to Jerry Lawler, who cuts an amazing wink-nudge promo about how his original strategy against Kerry Von Erich was to target the leg that was injured in his motorcycle accident, but some sources have told him that Kerry “has had something done to that leg” and now he thinks that targeting the leg isn’t the way to go.


-Absolutely NONE of the women are wearing lingerie; they’re all wearing either their regular ring gear or they’re wearing t-shirts and jeans. So this lingerie battle royal really is the worst of both worlds, it’s a sleazy gimmick AND a bait-and-switch. David McLane sits in on commentary, and if there’s a commentator in the world that makes me long for the skillful analysis and insights of Alfred Hayes and Superstar Billy Graham, it’s this dude. Luna Vachon has a different look than I’m used to seeing, and looks like a Nasty Boy Knobbs cosplayer. I have the weirdest boner right now. Everybody rips at each other’s clothes without clothing actually coming off, and eventually The Terrorist wins. “You’re seeing things here you’ve never seen before!” gushes Lee Marshall. I’ve seen cocktail dresses, Lee. 3 for 7.

-Hilarious segment in which Bill Apter has the plaque for PWI Inspirational Wrestler of the Year and wants to present it to Jerry Lawler…who doesn’t come out. They were actually still working out the finish to the main event in the locker room, so Bill is just left standing there with his plaque in his hands.

-Sgt. Slaughter is ready for the boot camp match.


-Slaughter storms to the ring and whips DeBeers with the riding crop. DeBeers strangles Slaughter with a belt in return and Slaughter’s combover is knocked askew by the intensity of the fight so far. Lee Marshall explains the bungled ending of the mixed tag match and confirms that Badd Company actually retains their belts since neither man got pinned. Slaughter flings DeBeers over the top rope and sends him into the post. DeBeers fights back with a stanchion to Slaughter’s back and headbutts him a few times while wearing a combat helmet. DDP tries to help but gets knocked off the apron. Slaughter puts on the helmet and just headbutts the crap out of DeBeers with it, and DeBeers passes out in the cobra clutch to end it. The Iron Sheik and Sheik Adnan El-Kaissie attack Slaughter, only relenting after the Guerrero Brothers make the save and Slaughter promises to work out a deal with the heels for all three of them to inexplicably headline a WWF pay-per-view in three years. Felt like a “hardcore” match at a high school gym show. 3 for 8.

-Slaughter cuts an intense promo, undercut by a fan behind him screaming “Shut up, Slaughter!”

-We go backstage, with Bill Apter getting a do-over and actually getting to present his plaque to Jerry Lawler.

WCCW TAG TEAM TITLE: SAMOAN SWAT TEAM (Champions, with Buddy Roberts) vs. MICHAEL P.S. HAYES & STEVE “Do It To It” COX

-Hayes trades punches with Samu and tags in Steve “Do It To It” Cox. Steve “Do It To It” Cox applies a wristlock. Armdrag into an armbar by Steve “Do It To It” Cox. Fatu tries a cheapshot from the apron, but Steve “Do It To It” Cox anticipates and knocks him to the floor. Steve “Do It To It” Cox hits the ropes and the SST engages in some lightning fast chicanery, yanking him over the top rope and ramming him into a ringside table in about five seconds.

-Samu lays out Steve “Do It To It” Cox with a brainbuster and makes the tag. Fatu targets the throat with chops and follows up with a stun gun. Federally mandated Samoan nerve hold, and then Fatu collides with Steve “Do It To It” Cox on a double clothesline. Hot tag Hayes, and he DDTs Fatu as Samu brawls with Steve “Do It To It” Cox on the floor. Referee tries to break up the brawl as Buddy Roberts slips in and knocks out Hayes with his wallet, and the champs retain. 4 for 9 because I dug the SST. Crowd starts a “shoot the referee” chant. Okay, that’s interesting, I just listened to Jim Cornette’s podcast before watching this show and he went on a dissertation about how distractions SHOULD play out and they need to happen so fast that the referee doesn’t get the heat for it. In this case, the referee spent so much time focusing on the brawl on the floor that he was either incompetent or trying to help the SST, so the crowd is pissed at him instead of being pissed at the heels.

-Sheik Adnan El-Kaissie welcomes his “big surprise,” the Iron Sheik to the AWA. He jumped ship real quick.

-Fernandez picks a fight with special guest star IWGP Champion Tiger Fujinami, and Fujinami retaliates by helping McDaniel double-team Fernandez, then taking off. They have a half-assed match as Wahoo’s tank was EMPTY at this point, but Wahoo does the one thing he can really deliver on and bleeds all over the place. Manny bleeds too, either because of a chop from Wahoo or because he sneezed. So both guys are bleeding everywhere and the commentators wonder if referee Mike Enos will stop the match, but I don’t see a guy who joined a team called The Destruction Crew being all that distraught by blood. Match has the same finish that every strap match has and Wahoo takes the win. Manny attacks after the bell, with Fujinami making the save. 4 for 10.

-Larry Nelson talks to Verne Gagne and AWA President Stanley Blackburn, who say they found the previous match alarming and they’re going to instruct the referees not to let anything go that far again. FORESHADOWING!


-The winner will be declared the first Unified World Champion. Kerry was famously tripping balls at this show and managed to blade his arm while putting on his robe, and you can see him checking the cut under his robe as he’s being introduced. Both men cut promos on the house mic before the match starts, with Kerry Von Erich saying there’s only one Mona Lisa, one Leaning Tower of Pisa, and only one world champion. Does Kerry think that famous landmarks are champions? Because his logic falls apart the longer you think about it. Hidden highlight: Watch Jerry Lawler as Kerry takes his robe off. You can spot the exact moment that Jerry realizes his opponent is already bleeding.

-Lawler grabs Kerry’s arm and snaps it over the exposed metal attaching the turnbuckle to the post, and they play THAT up as the moment that Kerry started bleeding. Kerry gives him a right hand and Lawler retreats to the floor. Back in, Von Erich clotheslines Lawler down and tries to finish this early. Lawler bites the injured arm and throws Von Erich over the top rope, which is apparently legal in this bout.

-Back in, Lawler punches and kicks Von Erich and goes for the kill with the piledriver, but Von Erich no-sells it and hits the discus punch for two. Von Erich goes for the iron claw and Lawler blocks it. Referee gets bumped and Von Erich hits his own piledriver, getting a visual three-count on Lawler and freaking out the crowd, but by the time the referee makes it over there, Lawler’s recovered and he kicks out at two. They go to the floor and Lawler goes for a discus punch, but his arm hits the post. Lawler digs into his tights and connects with the phantom foeign object.

-Von Erich is lacerated and Lawler targets it with a fist drop from the second rope. Von Erich fights back with the stomach claw, and I just hate Lawler’s sell of it, as he flails his arms all around Von Erich’s head in agony. Just punch him! Little drops of Von Erich’s blood are trickling all over Lawler in an amazing visual. Von Erich switches to the claw on Lawler’s head and the referee looks concerned about the amount of blood Von Erich is spilling, as WCCW official Frank Dusek begs him now to stop the match. Lawler makes the ropes and Kerry tries a corner charge, but Lawler gets out of the way and Kerry has blood shooting out of his eyes, out of his wherever, and Lawler digs into his tights and connects with the foreign object again. Dusek is freaking out about the foreign object, but the reeree can’t find it when he searches Lawler…because Lawler still has it in his hands, and he lights into Von Erich with rapid fire punches.

-Lawler just tees off on him and showboats with left jabs and an Ali shuffle to rub it in. Von Erich makes the Rocky comeback, with a huge “Kerry” chant going up in the arena. Kerry applies the iron claw and Lawler nearly passes out in the hold, with Kerry getting a two-count at one point when Lawler stops responding, but finally the referee just can’t stand it anymore and calls for the bell, declaring Von Erich unable to continue even though he damn near had the match won. What kind of goddamn logic is THAT? Lawler is declared Unified Champion to an impassioned “bullshit” chant. If it had been the other way around, with Von Erich fighting out of a Lawler submission hold, and the referee being concerned in that situation, you’d have something, but instead the referee looks like a dipshit, and Lawler looks like an unworthy champion. 5 for 11. The match was good but the politics ended up putting a really sour twist on it.

-Kerry Von Erich says matches aren’t stopped for blood in Texas, and this is some bullshit! Stanley Blackburn stands by this and promises there will be a rematch. Von Erich says that there’s one Eiffel Tower, there’s one leaning Tower of Pisa, and there’s one world champion.


-A number of fans didn’t realize there was still another match on the card, and the arena is visibly emptier than it already was. Worth noting that this card was supposed to have the Rock & Roll Express winning one of the tag team titles, but Ricky Morton no-showed an AWA card the previous week and was punished by getting the entire card rearranged.

-Express clears the ring right away. Morton suplexes Golden around and the Stable gets whipped into each other. Robert Gibson gets thrown to the floor and Sylvia attacks him with a kendo stick, showing us who the TRUE innovator of violence really was this whole time. Jimmy Golden sends Gibson over the top rope and Sylvia just unloads on him with the stick some more. All four men end up brawling in the ring and the double dropkick looks to finish, but Fuller breaks up the pin and all four guys brawl until the referee calls for the double-DQ. Weak ending, and very anticlimactic after the main event. 5 for 12.

-The aftermath to all this was that Verne Gagne showed his true colors to a lot of the people who helped him put on the show, as he stiffed a lot of people out of what little money this show made, and then completely sidestepped the whole “unification” concept and advertised Lawler as “AWA Champion” afterward until Lawler began asking simple questions like “Where’s my money?” and “Why are you booking me on cards when you know I’m already working in my own territory on those nights?” This led to Gagne stripping Lawler of the belt and burying him on AWA TV, which led to Lawler conveniently forgetting to send the title belt back to Gagne when they parted ways. The result of all this was that Gagne had no one else willing to help him keep his company afloat, and the AWA died off even faster than it might have otherwise. (Nelson.gif)

The final score: review Poor
The 411
Terrible, but not as terrible as I was expecting, which might be the most glowing review anyone ever gave this show.

article topics :

AWA, Super Clash III, Adam Nedeff