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The Chrononaut Chronicles: Clash of the Champions XIX

February 7, 2012 | Posted by Joel Thomas
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The Chrononaut Chronicles: Clash of the Champions XIX  

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Thanks to the infinitely talented Kyle Morton for the logo. Check out his Etsy account, where he does custom artwork and commissions… you’ll be glad you did!

The Chrononaut Chronicles
WCW Clash of the Champions XIX – June 22, 1992

– WCW’s front office was seemingly in a perpetual state of flux. In a surprising announcement, the legendary “Cowboy” Bill Watts was named Vice President of Wrestling Operations and his impact was quickly felt as he made some big changes, such as removing the protective mats from ringside, discouraging brawling outside the ring, and banning aerial maneuvers off the top turnbuckle. At a time when high-flying light-heavyweights and crazy out-of-ring brawls were coming into vogue, these directives seemed to be draconian measures designed to drag pro wrestling back to the 1970s. Nevertheless, Watts had established his reputation with the success of Mid-South in the early-to-mid ’80s and Turner Broadcasting was willing to see if he could bring WCW to the promised land. Before his position was changed to Vice President of Business Affairs to make room for Bill Watts, K. Allen Frey re-established WCW’s ties to the NWA with the idea that it would bring international credibility to the company and open up a better working relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling. To that end, it was announced that WCW would host a tournament to crown new NWA World Tag Team Champions featuring a slew of teams from around the world. Since these foreign teams were not given any buildup and would sell approximately zero Pay-Per-Views, the first round of the 16-team tournament was scheduled for the nineteenth edition of Clash of the Champions!

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– NOT LIVE from the McAlister Field House on the campus of The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina! Clash XIX was actually taped on June 16, making it the first Clash that wasn’t a live broadcast. Jim Ross and Jesse “The Body” Ventura handle commentary duties, and we are welcomed to the show by Tony Schiavone, Missy Hyatt, and Magnum TA standing in front of a big board displaying the tournament bracket. Missy announces that New Japan will be hosting a tournament to decide the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion and heads off to dig up some more news about it. Bill Watts also pops in and ties the tradition of the Citadel’s military academy to the tradition of the NWA.

– NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament – First Round: Joe & Dean Malenko vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat & Nikita Koloff

Representing Europe because of their Hungarian ancestry, the Malenko Brothers are seeded #7 in the tournament while Ricky Steamboat & Nikita Koloff are an unseeded American team. The formerly Russian Nightmare had returned to WCW and apologized to Sting for attacking him during his last stint, so he is once again a babyface. Ross and Ventura do a stellar job of explaining the Malenkos’ style and strategy as Joe Malenko and Steamboat engage in some crisp chain-wrestling sequences to open the contest. Not yet the Man of 1,000 Holds, Dean Malenko takes an extended beating from Koloff, but the Malenkos eventually isolate the Dragon and work him over with double-teams and mat wrestling. Steamboat makes the hot tag and Koloff manhandles both Malenkos before finishing Dean with the Lithuanian Sickle at 9:50. **½ The Malenkos weren’t spectacular and looked surprisingly ‘off’ at a few points, but they took a great ass-kicking and operated as a smooth team. Disappointing that Steamboat and Dean didn’t share much ring time together, though.

– NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament – First Round: The Z-Man & Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs. The Dangerous Alliance (“Ravishing” Rick Rude & “Stunning” Steve Austin w/Madusa)

Seeded #6, WCW United States Champion Rick Rude & WCW Television Champion Steve Austin prove their superior tag team experience as they completely dominate both Marcus Bagwell & Tom Zenk for virtually the entire match. Ravishing Rick pulls out a sweet dropkick, and his sculpted abs provide a natural defense when Bagwell punches him in the midsection to no avail. The crowd is dead when the Z-Man receives the theoretically hot tag, but Rude immediately faceplants him and drills him with a piledriver for a close near-fall. The Dangerous Alliance continue to pound Z-Man until he finally tags out and Bagwell briefly fires away on Austin. Stunning Steve & Ravishing Rick regain the advantage and withstand one last comeback attempt, thanks to a timely distraction from the leggy Madusa in her jacket-and-no-pants ensemble, before Rude snaps the Rude Awakening on Bagwell at 7:54. *** Basically an extended squash, but a damn good one.

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Now that’s what I call a fashion statement.

– Eric Bischoff interviews Terry Gordy & Steve Williams in front of the big board. Gordy says nobody cares about the Australian team they’re facing and that everybody wants to see them against the Steiner Brothers, while Williams gets all fired up talking about the rivalry between Oklahoma and Michigan and says something that gets bleeped.

– NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament – First Round: Larry & Jeff O’Day vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy

48-year-old Larry O’Day was the long-time NWA promoter in Australia and Jeff was his son, and just as Terry Gordy predicted, nobody cares about them. Actually, scratch that, there’s a couple in the front row with an Australian flag and a homemade “C’mon Aussie C’mon” sign. I wonder how much Larry paid them. Wearing kimonos and billed from Nagoya, Japan, Steve Williams & Terry Gordy are the #4 seed representing the Land of the Rising Sun. Dr. Death & Bam Bam overpower both O’Days for most of the match, although young Jeff sunset-flips Gordy for a two-count. Larry tags in and grabs a headlock, but Gordy kills him with a sick belly-to-back suplex. There’s a miscommunication as Larry has the audacity to think he’s going to double-clothesline Gordy & Williams and they legit mow him down with a double shoulderblock. You can see the pissed-off look on their faces as they bowl him over with their sheer size and strength. Williams crushes Larry with a thunderous Oklahoma Stampede at 2:35 to advance to the quarter-finals. * Apparently the O’Days were here as a political favor since Larry was on the NWA Board of Directors, but this didn’t look like much of a favor to me.

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Nice try, Larry.

– Jesse Ventura interviews WCW World Heavyweight Champion Sting after footage is shown of Big Van Vader attacking Sting with a chair and flattening him with a Vader Splash off the middle turnbuckle. Resplendent in a tuxedo and black-and-white facepaint, the Stinger claims that he is fine and visualizes himself as Goliath in this particular David vs. Goliath scenario, because all of his fans will make him bigger than Vader when they face off at the 1992 Great American Bash.

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Sting’s formal facepaint is always worthy of recognition.

– NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament – First Round: “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham vs. The Dangerous Alliance (“Beautiful” Bobby Eaton & “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson w/Paul E. Dangerously)

No longer the WCW World Tag Team Champions since losing the belts to the Steiner Brothers in May, Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton are the #3 seed in the NWA tournament while the combination of Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes are somehow unseeded. Ventura and Ross express surprise since Dustin & Barry have been teaming for months, so there must have been some weird political argument that left some of the WCW teams unseeded. Ross recalls that Windham and Anderson used to be a solid tag team as they square off and Arn takes a big bump out to the floor when Barry knocks him off the top turnbuckle with a dropkick. Rhodes unleashes a trio of bionic elbows on Eaton and knocks him over the top rope with a big boot as Jesse points out that it should constitute a disqualification. Arn tries his luck with Dustin and ends up scurrying back to the corner to consult with Paul E. Dangerously, who advises his team to switch to Plan #2. This plan involves Arn whipping Barry into the ropes as Bobby kicks him in the back of the head from the apron, and the Dangerous Alliance works Windham over. Dustin gets the hot tag and blocks the Enforcer’s DDT by grabbing the ropes, but Beautiful Bobby clotheslines him from the apron and the former champs punish the Natural. Rhodes attempts a crossbody off the ropes, but Eaton ducks and Rhodes falls out to the floor. Dangerously cracks Rhodes in the lower back with his phone and Eaton lands a flying kneedrop for a near-fall as Ross notes that top-rope moves are still legal under NWA rules. Bobby scores another near-fall using Dustin’s patented bulldog, but when he tries another one, Dustin shoves him off into the corner and makes the tag. However, Arn distracts the referee so he doesn’t see the tag, and Barry goes after Bobby at ringside. While the ref is busy trying to separate them, Arn sneaks in and plants Dustin with the spinebuster, earning a near-fall for the Beautiful One. Eaton goes to the top turnbuckle, but he misses the Alabama Jam and Rhodes hits the bulldog for the three-count at 10:23. ***¾ A hot tag team match featuring the always entertaining heel antics of Anderson & Eaton, and Paul E. adds so much at ringside.

– Eric Bischoff and Missy Hyatt mention a commotion in the locker room, and on another note, Missy reports that the NWA World Title tournament will be held in Japan in August and all four members of the Dangerous Alliance have been entered into the competition. She runs off as Terry Gordy & Steve Williams show up and explain that a horrible tragedy has befallen the Puerto Rican team, although they were first on the scene and called 911. Gordy even lays down on the ground to re-enact the position they “found” Miguel Perez & El Boricua in. Doc & Bam Bam then glance over at the tournament bracket and notice that since the Puerto Ricans are now unable to wrestle, they will get what they want since the Steiner Brothers will advance to the next round against them.

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Knowing Gordy, he could have been re-enacting his activities from the previous night.

– NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament – First Round: The Silver Kings (Silver King #1 & #2) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “PS” Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin)

Known as Los Cowboys (Silver King & El Texano) in their native Mexico, the Silver Kings hold the UWA Tag Team Championship, while the Fabulous Freebirds are the WCW United States Tag Team Champions after capturing the belts from Taylor Made Man & Greg Valentine. The Silver Kings use their agility and speedy double-team combinations to their advantage, but it all falls apart when the fight spills out to ringside. After Hayes accidentally punches Garvin, Silver King #1 dives off the top turnbuckle and inadvertently nails his own partner. Hayes throws #1 back in the ring and small-packages him for the victory in 6:28. * This was a total style clash and despite some flashy moves by the Silver Kings, it was pretty messy with no real flow to it. Fun Fact: the finish of this match was changed because an advertisement had already run in WCW Magazine indicating that the Silver Kings advanced in the tournament.

– Tony Schiavone and Magnum TA talk about the incident involving the Puerto Rican team, and WCW Senior Referee Ole Anderson joins them to announce that the Steiner Brothers will be receiving a bye into the quarter-finals.

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Bye bye, Boricuas.

– NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament – First Round: Flyin’ Brian Pillman & Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Beef Wellington & Chris Benoit

This is the first time ever that Brian Pillman & Jushin Liger teamed up, as they had traded the WCW World Light Heavyweight Championship back-and-forth before Flyin’ Brian lost the belt to Scotty Flamingo at Beach Blast ’92. Representing Canada, Chris Benoit & Beef Wellington held the International Tag Team Championship in Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling, and this was Benoit’s opportunity to earn a job with WCW. Ross details the background of the Canadians and their history with Pillman in Calgary, as well as Liger’s rivalry with Benoit in Japan, adding an emotional component to this collection of highspots and flashy maneuvers. Pillman knocks Wellington out to the floor with a dropkick and runs off the ropes presumably to dive out himself, but Wellington climbs up to the apron and slingshots in with a clothesline. A Dynamite Kid-like snap suplex follows and Beef dumps him out of the ring, but when he tries to suplex Brian back in, Brian reverses it and suplexes Beef out to the floor. When Beef recovers, the Canadians begin to work on Liger’s leg to ground him, but that is quickly forgotten as Wellington dumps Liger over the top rope and misses a slingshot plancha, crashing to the floor. Ventura and Ross keep stressing that there is no padding on the floor like it’s something to be proud of. There is a thin blue mat covering the area by the entrance aisle, but it doesn’t provide much protection and the sick thud of human bodies landing on concrete is cringe-worthy.

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This seems like the very definition of an unsafe working environment.

Benoit takes a good bump out through the ropes to the floor and climbs back in via the top turnbuckle, but Pillman meets him up there and brings him down with a nasty belly-to-back superplex. After knocking Benoit out to the floor with a missile dropkick, Pillman dives off the apron onto him and they trade some loud chops. They both tag out and Wellington sails over the top rope when Liger avoids a charge in the corner, and Liger follows him out with a diving bodypress off the top. The Canadians regain control, but Liger counters a belly-to-back superplex from Benoit by turning in mid-air and landing on top of him for a two-count. Jushin hits the Asai moonsault out to the floor to pop the crowd and tags out, but once again the superior teamwork of the Canadians comes into play as Benoit gets Pillman close enough to his corner for Wellington to kick him in the head from the apron. Beef misses a high dropkick off the top and Liger gets the hot tag as all four men end up in the ring and the Canadians are whipped into each other. Liger just barely slams Wellington without dropping him and lands the moonsault for the pin at 11:30. ***½ Aside from the history lesson provided by Jim Ross, there wasn’t much of a story to the match as it was just a showcase for some hot moves from some of the greatest athletes in the business. Still, the moves looked crisp for the most part, and the crowd got into the action because it was exciting and different. Benoit & Wellington made a great team and it’s too bad WCW didn’t give them a shot.

– NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament – First Round: The Head Hunters (Head Hunter #1 & #2) vs. Hiroshi Hase & Akira Nogami

These Head Hunters are masked imposters (TV jobbers Bob Cook & Joe Cruze) to replace the original Head Hunters from the Dominican Republic, later known as the Squat Team in the 1996 Royal Rumble. Since they worked for the W*ING promotion in Japan, the real Head Hunters didn’t want to lose to a New Japan team and no-showed the Clash. Hiroshi Hase & Akira Nogami are the second seed in the tournament, and Akira is debuting his new facepainted ninja gimmick, similar to the Great Muta. The crowd is quieter than a mausoleum at night throughout this match as the fake Head Hunters use their strength advantage and the Japanese team fires back with martial arts and agility. Hase drives both knees into the canvas when he misses a flying double-kneedrop and the masked men pound on him, but he comes back with kicks and makes the tag to absolutely no reaction. The match ends with a double-pin at 5:10 as Nogami hits a bridging German suplex and Hase applies a Northern Lights suplex, which Jim Ross calls “a pair of German suplexes”. * A very dull and heatless affair, since the bogus Head Hunters were a joke and nobody cared about the Japanese team. The real Head Hunters were impressive athletes for their size, so it’s unfortunate they didn’t participate.

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Scabs!

– Jesse Ventura interviews Ron Simmons in the ring. The All American plans on becoming the first black Heavyweight Champion of the World, but he is interrupted by Harley Race and Super Invader (Hercules under a full facemask). His gravelly voice sounding more and more like the Head Elf from TV’s beloved Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Race treats Simmons like an errand boy and tells him to give a message to Sting from Vader. Big Ron doesn’t appreciate the disrespect, so Harley says that when he was the seven-time World’s Champion, he had a “boy” (which is bleeped) like Simmons carrying his bags. Pushed over the line, Simmons goes after Race and the Invader attacks Simmons, but the All American clears them both out of the ring. Racism angles aren’t looked upon favorably, but it is a real-world issue and I don’t see the problem if they are booked properly. This was done well and it was all building up Ron’s eventual title win, plus Harley seemed like the kind of old-school Archie Bunker type who would say things like that.

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“I ain’t racist! I’ll be the first to say it ain’t your fault you was born colored!”

– Tony Schiavone interviews Bill Watts and he explains that there have been arguments backstage between officials from the NWA and WCW regarding the ramifications of the Puerto Rican team being taken out. The Cowboy claims that the unnamed NWA President has resigned because their philosophies conflicted and announces that as WCW Executive Vice President, he is making the call to start the second round tonight with the Steiner Brothers against Steve Williams & Terry Gordy. Hook ’em up!

– NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament – Second Round: “Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner)

Ross and Ventura both say they don’t care if the NWA President resigned because this is the match they wanted to see. Apparently this was just some inside humor because the last President of the NWA was Jim Herd. Jesse notes that Scott Steiner usually starts the match, but this time it’s Rick as the leadoff hitter and he tangles on the mat with Steve Williams and then with Terry Gordy. When Scott tags in, he grapples amateur-style with both opponents as the fans are unsure how to react until Rick tosses Williams with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Ross namedrops the Varsity Club as the Dogface Gremlin and Dr. Death continue to jockey for position. The professional competition turns personal when Doc slaps Rick in the face, so Rick double-legs him and throws punches on the mat. A clothesline from Doc turns Rick inside-out and Gordy hammers him with clotheslines as well, but Rick reverses a belly-to-belly and tags out. Scott slams Gordy with a double-underhook powerbomb, but Bam Bam avoids a Frankensteiner attempt and locks in an STF. Gordy drops him gut-first across Doc’s knee and they focus on Scotty’s back with backbreakers and a powerslam from Williams, and a running powerslam from Gordy. They mow Scott down with the double shoulderblock for a near-fall and start to work on his leg again after Gordy cinches in a kneelock, but Scott manages to kick Doc in the face and make the tag. Rick clotheslines Doc over the top rope and slugs it out with Gordy, but Williams returns and attacks Rick from behind. Bam Bam bails out to go after Scotty on the floor while Rick powerslams Doc and covers him. However, referee Randy Anderson didn’t see the tag and refuses to count the pin because Rick isn’t the legal man. While Rick and Gordy go at it, Doc charges at Scott on the floor and clips his knee from behind. Back in the ring, Doc drives Scott down with a military press into a powerslam for a close near-fall and reels him in for a short clothesline. Scotty ducks and hooks up Doc for a belly-to-belly, but Gordy clips the knee and Williams lands on top of Scott for the upset victory over the #1 seed in 15:01. ****½ This was such a different style of match in the first few minutes that the crowd was pretty quiet, as the two teams engaged in some rugged, legitimate-looking amateur and submission wrestling that factored into the finish. The fans were in shock when Williams & Gordy did the unthinkable and defeated the Steiners relatively cleanly with a smart finish, eliminating them from the tournament.

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You can never get enough Dr. Death press slams. Unless you’re on the receiving end.

The 411: Because the concept of the NWA World Tag Team Championship tournament was set in stone prior to the arrival of Bill Watts, it became a lame-duck idea that had no chance of succeeding and turned out to be a flop. Aside from a small handful, most of the matches were of average quality and none of the international teams were promoted beforehand, resulting in the lowest rating ever for a Clash of the Champions broadcast. It was an interesting experiment to feature different wrestling styles from around the world and the Steiners/Williams-Gordy quarterfinal was a tremendous athletic contest with good psychology and believable action. Gordy & Williams went on to win the tournament and capture the NWA World Tag Team Title after defeating Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes in the finals at the 1992 Great American Bash. That same night, Big Van Vader officially moved into his role as the dominant monster heel in WCW by beating Sting for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
 
Final Score:  6.5   [ Average ]  legend

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