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The Chrononaut Chronicles: Clash of the Champions XXII

February 20, 2012 | Posted by Joel Thomas
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The Chrononaut Chronicles: Clash of the Champions XXII  

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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 XXII – January 13, 1993

– Sting will lead Ron Simmons, Dustin Rhodes, & Van Hammer into the No Man’s Land known as THUNDERCAGE to wage war with the evil alliance of WCW World Champion Vader, Barry Windham, The Barbarian, & Paul Orndorff! Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas will defend the coveted Unified World Tag Team Championship against Steve Austin & Brian Pillman! Mayhem will be made in Milwaukee! The TBS voiceover guy will strain his throat growling like that!

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– LIVE from The Mecca in Milwaukee, Wisconsin! Jim Ross and Jesse “The Body” Ventura are on commentary together for the last time on a Clash of the Champions broadcast. The show kicks off with Tony Schiavone holding the microphone while WCW Executive Vice President Bill Watts waxes nostalgic about his memories of wrestling in Milwaukee. The Cowboy announces that Van Hammer has been injured, but not to worry because Vinnie Vegas will replace him in an arm-wrestling match against Tony Atlas. That sound you heard was millions of Americans nearly changing the channel until they found out that, THANK GOD, the arm-wrestling match WILL go on! Bill also announces that his son, Erik Watts, has been suspended due to his arrest after an altercation with Arn Anderson. Backstage, Larry Zbyszko interviews Erik Watts, who stumbles his way through a promo trying to defend himself against the false accusations while the crowd in the arena boos heartily.

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That shirt alone is reason enough to hate him.

– Cactus Jack vs. Johnny B. Badd

Originally, Cactus Jack was supposed to be trying to collect the bounty on Erik Watts, but Johnny B. Badd stepped up to take the fight when Erik was suspended. A clip is shown from Starrcade ’92 where Jack & Johnny were partners via the Lethal Lottery and ended up losing after some miscommunication. Noting that there are a lot of sick people in the world, Ventura teases the imminent Cactus Jack face turn as he mentions that Cactus is developing a cult following, and the crowd reacts quite positively to him. Much like my relations with women, this is a very brief and non-descript encounter that ends in less than three minutes, as Badd misses the flying sunset flip and Cactus drops an elbow for the pin. *½

– Tony Schiavone informs us that The Great Muta has defeated Masahiro Chono in Japan for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship and he plugs the hotline and WCW Saturday Night for more information.

– Too Cold Scorpio vs. Scotty Flamingo

EVERYBODY, HERE COMES TOO COLD SCORPIO! Scorpio’s pre-match music video is unintentionally hilarious in concept and execution. After rolling up on a bunch of kids playing basketball, Scorpio charges at the littlest white kid on the court and dunks on him. Now that he has sufficiently humbled the Little Jimmy, Scorpio scolds the kids in a fascinating display of terrible line-reading, saying they should be in school. But instead of driving them to school, he makes them “step” their asses to school as he teaches them a dance-step with the help of two women who may have also gone on to be his Funkettes in the WWF. At least they were giving him a push. Too Cold unleashes an early handspring elbow in the middle of the ring and knocks Scotty Flamingo through the ropes with a front kick, although Scotty takes an exaggerated bump out to the floor and the crowd actually boos. Scorpio follows out with a rather pedestrian forearm blow off the apron, but Flamingo manages to turn the tables and wipes out Scorpio with a rough-looking dive over the top rope. Scotty slows it down until Scorpio explodes with dropkicks and his awe-inspiring floating splash off the top turnbuckle for a close near-fall, and Flamingo rolls him up and clotheslines him down for a pair of two-counts. The end comes quickly as Scorpio lands a side-kick and a twisting legdrop before finishing Flamingo off with the 450 splash at 4:10. ** Not much of a match, it was more a collection of above-average highspots and a showcase for Scorpio’s crisp aerial artistry.

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Scorpio delights in the abject terror on the face of poor Little Jimmy.

– Rick Rude was originally supposed to be on Vader’s team in the Thundercage tonight, but he suffered a neck injury and had to be replaced, so on the January 10 edition of WCW Main Event, manager Harley Race came up with a plan. Race pitted two of the roughest and meanest guys in WCW, Paul Orndorff and Cactus Jack, against each other and announced that he would be at ringside to select the best candidate. After Harley interfered in the match, Cactus targeted Race and blasted him with a diving clothesline off the apron, but this had an unintended side effect. His ire aroused, Vader charged in to avenge his mentor and clobbered Cactus before Mr. Wonderful laid him out with a particularly nasty piledriver. Later in the show, Race announced that Orndorff had made the Thundercage team (is that nepotism since they were both Heenan Family members at one point?), but Cactus ran in with a snow shovel and waffled Vader, Orndorff, and Race several times. This was a very memorable angle that worked to perfection as it got Cactus over pretty big as a babyface.

– Chris Benoit vs. Brad Armstrong

Since this was run was supposed to be Chris Benoit’s big breakout in WCW as a singles competitor, Ross and Ventura put over his ability and toughness as a graduate of Stu Hart’s Dungeon and how hard he has worked to get to WCW. Benoit attempts a powerbomb, but Armstrong armdrags out in mid-air and works on Benoit’s arm to keep him grounded. Business picks up when Benoit lifts Armstrong in a vertical suplex and drops his gut across the top rope, then launches himself off the middle turnbuckle over the top and clotheslines Brad off the apron to the floor. Back inside, snap suplex gets a two-count and Benoit is in control until he misses the diving headbutt off the top. Armstrong scores two after a swinging neckbreaker and an elbowdrop, but Benoit snares him in a bridging dragon suplex for the three-count in 9:14. *** Although it wasn’t the best match these two could have had, this had good action and Benoit looked so crisp and intense in his offense and his selling.

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Would it be in bad taste to call this a suicidal clothesline?

– As a result of the tentative working agreement that had been struck between WCW and Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Tony Schiavone informs us that The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express has reunited in Smoky Mountain and will defend the SMW Tag Team Title against Jim Cornette’s Heavenly Bodies (the original lineup of Stan Lane & Tom Prichard) at SuperBrawl III, marking the first time that another US promotion’s championship would be contested in WCW. Courtesy of SMW, we see clips of a previous encounter between the two teams without showing the winners. As expected, Cornette’s relationship with WCW didn’t last long after SuperBrawl.

– Arm Wrestling: Vinnie Vegas vs. Tony Atlas

Hosted by Jesse Ventura, this arm-wrestling competition is fallout from the Body’s Strongest Arm Tournament, as he explains that Tony Atlas didn’t get to participate in the tourney and Vinnie Vegas (replacing the injured Van Hammer) was at an unfair disadvantage because he’s left-handed. After an epic struggle, Vegas muscles Atlas down cleanly for the upset victory and cuts a promo on Van Hammer, referring to him as “Buggy-whip Arms” and threatening to send his people to drag him out of his house. Kevin Nash would return a few years later, but this was the final Clash appearance for Vinnie Vegas, as he caught the eye of Shawn Michaels and jumped to the WWF to become his imposing bodyguard, Diesel.

– In the midst of a fake blizzard, Big Van Vader issues a challenge to Sting to meet in the “White Castle of Fear” and play his pain game at SuperBrawl. That actually seemed kinda cool at the time since we don’t have White Castle in Canada, but now I understand all of the hamburger-eating contest jokes and it does sound silly.

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Vader fears no man and feels no frostbite!

– Larry Zbyszko introduces a video feature on the progress of the tournament to decide a number-one contender to Rick Rude’s United States Championship. In the first round, Dustin Rhodes defeated Vinnie Vegas, Tony Atlas beat Van Hammer, Barry Windham spiked Johnny B. Badd, and Ricky Steamboat toppled Dan Spivey, followed by Rhodes besting Atlas and Steamboat overcoming Windham in semi-final action. Friends will become foes when Dustin meets the Dragon this Saturday evening at 6:05 Eastern on the Superstation! The TBS voiceover guy also announces that if Rude’s injuries prevent him from defending the US Title, the tournament final may be for the belt itself.

– The Wrecking Crew (Rage & Fury) vs. The Z-Man & Johnny Gunn

Another attempt at a muscular Road Warrior knock-off team, the Wrecking Crew at least had some pedigree, as Fury was the lesser-known third Laurinaitis brother, younger sibling of Road Warrior Animal and Johnny Ace. His partner, Rage, had formerly been known as Master Blaster Blade and would achieve greater infamy in the dying days of WCW as The Dog. They don’t have facepaint or leather or spikes, and in fact they just look like a couple of big jobbers. Tom Zenk & Johnny Gunn use their speed and agility to counteract the Wrecking Crew’s size and strength, as Z-Man dropkicks Rage out to the floor and Gunn follows with a beautiful running dive over the top rope onto both Crew members. The two mid-level teams trade the advantage back-and-forth before the Crew finishes off Gunn with a double-team called the Wrecking Ball (powerbomb by Fury as Rage dives off the top with a forearm smash) in 6:00. *¼ Johnny Gunn had potential, but he was still too inexperienced, and the Wrecking Crew were a couple of slugs. But hey, they worked cheap!

– Larry Zbyszko interviews Flyin’ Brian & Stunning Steve before they were known as the Hollywood Blonds. Pillman does all the talking and declares that their destiny is to win the World Tag Team Championship and begin the next legendary dynasty in professional sports.

– Tony Schiavone brings out Sting to respond to Vader’s invitation to the White Castle of Fear, and he accepts because he never backs down from a challenge. Dustin Rhodes & Ron Simmons come out to join him and Sting says that even though they will be at a 4-on-3 disadvantage in Thundercage without Van Hammer, they don’t feel shorthanded. Backstage, Larry Zbyszko interviews Team Vader with Harley Race as their spokesman. Harley rants about Cactus Jack and claims that they don’t like anybody associated with him, so he fires Barbarian from the team. The Barbarian reacts hilariously and lifts Race in a choke, but the other heels intervene and Paul Orndorff piledrives Barbarian on the floor. So Harley willingly gave up a man advantage because Barbarian used to be managed by Cactus Jack. Even Ventura thinks that’s stupid. No wonder nobody took Race seriously as a manager.

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The Barbarian does not handle rejection well.

– After a package of video clips looking back at the highlights of the first two SuperBrawls, Larry Zbyszko interviews Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas regarding their title defense tonight. The Unified World Tag Team Champions are ready to see where the path of destiny leads.

– WCW/NWA Unified World Tag Team Championship: Flyin’ Brian Pillman & “Stunning” Steve Austin vs. Shane Douglas & Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat ©

Due to television time constraints, there is a 30-minute time limit on this match and the commentators make a big deal about it affecting the strategy for both teams, even though I don’t think a tag team title bout had approached 60 minutes in ages. The shorter time limit does play into the story of the match as Ricky Steamboat starts off quickly and the champions work over Flyin’ Brian’s arm. Pulling an old trick out of his hat, Pillman feigns a leg injury during a leapfrog sequence with Shane Douglas and retreats out to the apron. Ross retains his credibility as an announcer by recalling that he has seen this before; one of those times was in a match with Steamboat at Halloween Havoc ’92. Sure enough, it was a trick and Pillman slingshots back in, but Douglas catches him in a belly-to-belly/powerslam for a near-fall. Stunning Steve tags in and he gets his arm worked over as the Unified World Tag Team Champions exchange frequent tags and use their classic teamwork. The tide shifts when Austin fires Steamboat into his corner and Pillman stiffs him with a forearm blow. Reveling in his heel attitude, Brian taunts Douglas to draw him in and distract the referee while Pillman tosses the Dragon over the top rope. Austin bodyslams Steamboat on the concrete floor and Pillman suplexes him back in for a series of two-counts, as the challengers cut the ring in half and isolate Steamboat from his partner. They focus on Steamboat’s back as Austin punishes him in a backbreaker body vise, but Steamboat hits a double chop off the top on both opponents after Brian accidentally nails his own partner with the springboard Air Pillman clothesline. A back suplex by Pillman lays them both out, but Steamboat is able to crawl over and make the hot tag. Douglas slams Pillman with the belly-to-belly suplex and covers him, but the referee is busy with Steamboat and Austin breaks the pin with a flying double-axhandle to the back of Shane’s head. That earns Brian a near-fall, and all hell breaks loose as Austin grabs one of the title belts and whacks Douglas in the head in plain view of the referee, drawing a disqualification for the future Blonds in 13:00. Austin waffles Steamboat with the belt and Pillman DDTs him before they attack the bloody Douglas again, as Brian smashes him with the belt once more. In a touching display of friendship and martyrdom, Steamboat drapes himself over Douglas to protect him while Pillman continues whipping the Dragon with the belt until Brad Armstrong, Marcus Alexander Bagwell, and Too Cold Scorpio chase them off. ****¼ This was a great match with textbook tag team work on both sides, but the finish didn’t really make sense in the framework of the match. They made up for it with the post-match beatdown reminiscent of the Dangerous Alliance at Clash XVIII and the first use of blood on a Clash in a long time. The feud raged on for the next couple of months as the Hollywood Blonds would have to wait for their destiny.

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“No problem, son, that’s what I’m here for.”

– On December 30, 1992, in Baltimore, Big Van Vader capitalized on Ron Simmons’ shoulder injury and captured his second WCW World Heavyweight Championship following a shoulderbreaker. Jesse Ventura brings out Vader and Harley Race for an interview, but they are interrupted by Ron Simmons as he takes out Race and spikes Vader with his standing spinebuster. The All American continues to pound on Race at ringside, but Vader blindsides him and drops Simmons with two shoulderbreakers. Big Ron’s status for Thundercage is now doubtful, JR deduces.

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– Thundercage: Big Van Vader (w/Harley Race) & Barry Windham & “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff vs. “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes & Sting

Thundercage is basically Hell in a Cell in a structure made out of iron bars, no disqualification, and everybody except Vader is wearing street clothes; as always, the WCW World Champion is in his ring gear. Harley Race must stay outside the cage and standard tag team rules apply, although it starts out with all five men brawling in the ring. Once order is restored, Sting unloads on Vader with a Stinger Splash and beats him down in a neutral corner, but Vader comes back with a flying clothesline off the top. The Rocky Mountain Monster misses a big splash and Sting clotheslines him over the top rope, but Paul Orndorff drops Sting with a belly-to-back suplex and drags him back to the heel corner. Taking advantage of the power-play opportunity, Team Vader tag in-and-out as they punish Sting and work him over in their half of the ring. In an impressive display of strength and sadism, Vader gorilla-presses Sting over his head and punches him in the gut on the way down. Barry Windham sets Sting up for the superplex, but the Stinger fights out of it and makes the hot tag. Dustin Rhodes holds his own against all three heels, but the numbers game catches up with him and Team Vader takes over again as Cactus Jack shows up with boltcutters and breaks into the cage. Cactus nails Orndorff, Windham, & Vader with his boot, but Mr. Wonderful stops his momentum by tossing Jack over the top rope. As Orndorff is positioning Rhodes for a piledriver, Cactus dives in off the top turnbuckle and clubs Orndorff with his boot before pinning him at 11:22. **** A good old-fashioned brawl that was all action from bell to bell. The ending with Cactus Jack breaking into the cage and scoring the pinfall even though he wasn’t a participant was a tad nonsensical, but I guess ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THUNDERCAGE!

– After a commercial break, Cactus Jack cuts a promo talking about Vader and Paul Orndorff damaging his neck and his ribs recently, and promises to make Mr. Wonderful pay this weekend on WCW Saturday Night. Being the crazy bastard he is, Cactus starts climbing up the side of the Thundercage while Ross and Ventura hype SuperBrawl III and sign off.

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Good thing WCW didn’t have a Spanish announce table.

The 411: Like the rest of 1993, Clash XXII was a mixed bag without any real direction. This was the final Clash of the Champions for the Bill Watts regime, as he resigned from WCW after an interview surfaced that Watts had done prior to being hired in which he supported the right of a business owner not to serve black patrons. Hank Aaron, baseball legend and executive in the Turner organization with the Atlanta Braves, read the interview and pushed for the Cowboy to be released. This set off a chain reaction of events that led to Jim Ross leaving for the WWF when TBS decided they didn't want a "wrestling guy" running WCW and plans were in motion to remove JR as an announcer. Isn't it strange that despite being recognized by a majority of fans and wrestlers as arguably the best commentator in the business, WCW and the WWF were both constantly trying to downplay Jim Ross and phase him out. Ross and Tony Schiavone were considered two of the top contenders to take Watts' position, but Turner reorganized the company again and when the smoke cleared, the largest booking committee ever assembled was put into place and Eric Bischoff had smooth-talked his way into the role of Executive Producer in charge of all WCW television.
 
Final Score:  7.5   [ Good ]  legend

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