wrestling / Video Reviews

Random Network Reviews: Clash of the Champions I

February 21, 2015 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Random Network Reviews: Clash of the Champions I  

Clash of the Champions I
March 27th, 1988 – Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina – Attendance: 6,000

Here’s the rare event on the WWE Network that I wasn’t alive for. Just shy of two years before I was born, WCW presented the first ever Clash of the Champions. Now, WCW was producing Pay-Per-Views at this time, but they weren’t monthly so in between, they would produce the Clash of the Champions. These shows were much bigger than the weekly TV programs and you would see big matches, like the main event here, which pits Sting against Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Right off the bat, I prefer this opening video to the stuff WCW would do in the late 90’s. It’s simple and gets the point across, showcasing the feuds and the titles. This is Clash of the Champions after all. On commentary is Tony Schiavone, his mustache and Bob Caudle.

NWA World Television Championship College Rules Match
Mike Rotunda (c) w/ Kevin Sullivan vs. Jimmy Garvin w/ Precious

A “College Rules” match means that a one count is enough to win and you have to win two rounds. I like this role for Rotunda much more than IRS or Wall Street. The Syracuse singlet and college wrestler style was interesting but the Sullivan pairing seems odd. Rotunda is a show off, doing jumping jacks even though he got arm dragged. Not much happens early, except for Rotunda stalling and Garvin getting a near fall even though he only needs one. OH MY GOD, TEDDY LONG IS THE REFERE AND HE HAS HAIR. Garvin eats a clothesline but rolls over to avoid getting pinned as round one comes to a close. After the thirty second rest period, Rotunda goes in aggressively. He goes up top, which I’m pretty sure is not done in college. Garvin pulls him down and Sullivan ends up tied up with Precious. Garvin wails away on him, allowing Rotunda to sneak in and retain.

Winner and Still NWA World Television Champion: Mike Rotunda in 6:10
Not much here. They seemed to not have much planned, but knew they had to at least go to round 2 so they stalled. *

After the match, Jimmy Garvin hits the brainbuster on Mike Rotunda. Rick Steiner runs out for something as Precious chokes Kevin Sullivan with a coat hanger. The building erupts.

Dr. Death Steve Williams gets interviewed and stumbles through it. “Another thing…one more thing.”

United States Tag Team Championship
The Midnight Express (c) w/ Jim Cornette vs. The Fantastics

The crowd seems pretty pumped for the Express even though they are the heels. This starts hot with a big brawl before the bell. “Beautiful” Bobby is hit with a chair and this crowd is going BERZERK for this. Seeing tons of chairs and tables being used in 1988 is out of this world. I literally saw a table picked up and thrown. We go inside and the match has calmed. The Express work some double teams, but Cornette says FUCK THIS CALM SHIT, and throws a table at Rogers. He hits a low blow but his momentum is stalled when he eats an elbow from Eaton. Tommy Rogers continues to take a pounding from the Champions, but he is resilient and fighting back hard. The crowd is 100% invested in this, which you just don’t see with tag team matches anymore. They pop HARD for a Rogers sunset flip but the referee was distracted. Back outside, Rogers get body slammed and bulldogged onto a table. Good lord. Back inside, they hit yet another double team on Rogers, who is just working that face in peril role. Hot tag is made but the referee misses it, so Fulton decides to just throw him out of the ring. Cornette tries to attack with the racket but misses and hits Eaton! The Fantastic hit the Rocket Launcher and a second referee counts three! The arena is deafening! BUT WAIT! The original referee comes back in and takes the belts from the Fantastics.

Winners via disqualification: The Midnight Express in 10:15
I did not see that coming. That was fucking awesome. A red hot brawl leads to a molten hot crowd. Four guys, five if you count Cornette, all worked their asses off and this was phenomenal. ****1/2

Seriously? These guys are still going at it. Things are finally broken up, but my goodness. We get a series of promos up next. One is strange and has Jim Cornette and someone from Leave it Beaver, one features Al Perez and Gary Hart calling out Dusty Rhodes and the last one announces the seeding for the Jim Crockett Memorial Cup.

Barbed Wire Match
Dusty Rhodes and the Road Warriors w/ Paul Ellering vs. The Powers of Pain and Ivan Koloff w/ Paul Jones

Unlike an ECW barbed wire match, the ropes are not replaced with it, but they are basically draped over it randomly. Kind of like a decoration. Like the last match, this starts with a brawl, but it’s not as insane. I have yet to see a wrestling move. Just punches, kicks, clubs, headbutts and more strikes. Koloff is bleeding as Dusty, in his Road Warrior facepaint, gets the crowd roaring by striking Warlord. Barbarian misses a headbutt in the commotion and that allows Animal to pin him.

Winners: Dusty Rhodes and the Road Warriors in 3:39
Nothing really happened here. It was just six dudes beating each other up and I saw maybe two wrestling moves. ½*

Things continue after the match and Animal gets hit in the head with a chain of sorts. Dusty cleans house though and we go to move segments. Nikita Koloff is interviewed and I couldn’t understand a word he said.

NWA World Tag Team Championship
Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard w/ JJ Dillon vs. Barry Windham and Lex Luger

Tully and Luger star and the future Total Package overpowers him. Arn comes in but Luger takes both of them down to the crowd’s delight. He puts on the Torture Rack early, but Anderson makes the save. Anderson and Blanchard have control for a short while until Luger makes the tag and Windham comes in hot. DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER! Big Lariat connects but Anderson kicks out. He applies a sleeper hold and Blanchard tries to go outside to break it, but Windham keeps hold and goes out with him. Back inside, Windham slams Blanchard and puts on the good old fashioned abdominal stretch. I feel like that move is old fashioned no matter what year we’re in. Anderson gets the tag after a JJ distraction and connects with the spinebuster for two. Tully is in as Barry gets another near fall with a cross body and they collide shortly after. Beautifully executed wrestling sequence as Windham bridges up and goes right in a gutwrench suplex. The crowd is totally falling for the false hot tags and when it finally comes, they’re going to lose their minds. Slingshot suplex from Tully gets a very close near fall and here is the hot tag! SCREAMING CLOTHESLINES from Luger. DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER! JJ tries to use a chair but it backfires as Arn goes headfirst into it and Luger makes the cover to win.

Winners and New NWA World Tag Team Champions: Barry Windham and Lex Luger in 9:35
Another damn good tag team match. I enjoyed the earlier one a bit more but still was still great in a different way. I’d also like to point out that the crowd nearly blew the roof off of the building at the title change. ****

Before the big main event, we are told that there is a 45 minute time limit, there must be a winner and we have five judges. I’m not sure why they’re here but only two of them make sense. One is a former wrestler and the other is from the NWA Board of Directors. The other three are the 1988 “Pet of the Year”, the guy from Leave it to Beaver again and Kevin’s brother from the Wonder Years. I can’t make this up. JJ Dillon is locked in a cage and suspended above the ring as fans reach in and try to pull it down. Good luck finding someone who has that kind of heat nowadays.

NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship
Ric Flair (c) vs. Sting

We begin with the two guys feeling each other out for a while. They trade wristlocks before Sting wins a test of strength and no sells a chop. He hits a hip toss, so the wily Champion steps outside to stall the challenger’s momentum. Sting doesn’t care as once they’re back in, he hits a gorilla press, flying head scissors and another hip toss. I’d like to point out Sting’s rat tail. That’s all, just want everyone to know it was there. They continue to work mat stuff until Sting hits another hip toss. Sting has worked a headlock at least four times for a total of maybe nine minutes. I don’t think I’m over exaggerating. Another gorilla press and Flair is selling like a champ. Despite the array of rest holds early on, the crowd is hot. Time for another rest hold as Sting works a bearhug and JJ tries to coach from his position but can’t be heard. Flair gets out and connects with an inverted atomic drop. This puts the Champion in control and he drives his trademark knee across Sting’s face twice. We go outside for a short while before Sting rallies and has the crowd in the palm of his hand. He misses a clothesline and nails the turnbuckle by mistake. The Stinger rallies again inside, with another hip toss and clothesline. The Nature Boy tries to escape, but Sting gets him on the apron and suplexes him in. He goes for the Scorpion Death Lock but Flair is close to the ropes and grabs hold. Flair flop comes shortly after but he gets his foot on the bottom rope. He wisely dodges Sting, and his own momentum pulls him over and out. Forget selling because Sting is back up and nails a top rope cross body for two. Flair uses a knee breaker and now goes to work on the left knee. Flair goes for the Figure Four, strangely doing it on the wrong leg though. Being the ultimate heel, Flair uses the TOP ROPE for extra leverage. Sting is not one to give up though as he turns the move over. The champion wants to do a suplex to the outside and why not? I saw a man get bulldogged on a table earlier. Sting reverses with a suplex of his own. He ends up applying his own Figure Four, but the master of it reaches the ropes. Sting connects on what has to be hip toss number 17 or something like that. Signature Flair bump in the corner and he goes over the judges, which Jim Ross shouts at us like its Foley being thrown from the Cell. Five minutes remain as Flair tries a sunset flip but Sting powers up and stops it. He pulls out heel moves like a back rake and no sells an atomic drop, before missing a Stinger Splash that sends him over and out. As he gets back in, Flair locks in a sleeper hold but Sting counters and sends him into the buckle. Sting does the sunset flip this time but Flair sits down and tries to use the top rope but the referee stops him. Because he’s Flair, he’s bleeding. He goes out and actually nails a cross body but Sting rolls through for the closest near fall of the match. ONE MINUTE LEFT! Stinger Splash is hit and Scorpion Death Lock is in! The crowd is going nuts as time expires.

But wait! We have to have a winner so we go to the five esteemed judges. Poor JJ Dillon had to stand in that cage for 45 minutes. We go to the judge’s decision as the Pet of the Year gives the match to Flair. You know she took a ride on Space Mountain. One of the NWA judges gives Sting the match but the other NWA judge declares the match a draw. First of all, what is the point of being a judge if you’re going to rule it a draw? Secondly, Leave it to Beaver guy and Wayne Arnold’s votes weren’t given. I thought we had to have a winner? Stupid.

Match ends in a draw at 45:00
People have told me incredible things about this match but I didn’t find it amazing. Don’t get me wrong, it was very good, but too much no selling and too many hip tosses and rest holds early on. The decision was dumb but it was a fitting main event that helped make Sting. ***3/4

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Five matches and three of them are pretty damn great. The main event is a star making performance and the two tag matches are so damn energetic and fun. I have to commend the crowd because their enthusiasm made everything way better. Take out the dull opener and bad six man tag and you have a show that is nearly perfect.