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The Chrononaut Chronicles: WCW Clash of the Champions XXIX

May 15, 2012 | Posted by Joel Thomas
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The Chrononaut Chronicles: WCW Clash of the Champions XXIX  

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 XXIX – November 16, 1994

– Apologies for the delay between Clash reviews. I had some technical issues, but everything should run on schedule from now on.

– The twenty-ninth edition of Clash of the Champions opens with a video recapping the formation of the dreaded Three Faces of Fear and their assault on Hulkamania. In case you didn’t pick up on the “perfect” hints that the commentators dropped at the previous Clash, the original concept for the masked man that attacked Hulk Hogan was supposed to be Curt Hennig joining WCW and resuming his association with Ric Flair, although it was actually Arn Anderson playing the role of Hennig under the hood at the Clash. Man, a Four Horsemen unit of Flair, Hennig, Anderson, and Steve Austin would have rocked pretty hard… until they all ended up jobbing to Hogan, first in singles matches and then probably in a four-on-one elimination match. Unfortunately, the “perfect” deal fell through and alternate plans were arranged. Following Hogan’s routine victory over Flair in a retirement match at Halloween Havoc, the masked man struck again and was revealed to be Hulk’s Best Friend Forever, Ed “Brother Bruti” Leslie, in a heel turn for a main event feud that nobody cared about or wanted to see. Changing his name (and presumably, his out-of-ring occupation) to The Butcher, the ex-Barber had fallen under the devious influence of Kevin Sullivan, who was carrying a grudge against Hogan for turning his simple-minded brother, Dave, against him so he returned the favor by turning Brutus against Hulk. You know, this was actually a great storyline and it might have clicked if Beefcake had been a better worker or a more engaging personality. Making his WCW debut, John “Earthquake” Tenta also showed up and assumed the moniker of another natural disaster, Avalanche, as he joined Sullivan and Butcher in laying out the Hulkster. TONIGHT, Sting and Dave Sullivan will have Hulk’s back in the huge six-man main event against the Three Faces of Fear!


– LIVE from the Jacksonville Coliseum in Jacksonville, Florida! Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan are on commentary.

– WCW World Tag Team Championship – Belts vs. Mask: Stars & Stripes (Marcus Alexander Bagwell & The Patriot) vs. Pretty Wonderful (“Pretty” Paul Roma & “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff) ©

In a pre-match interview, Colonel Rob Parker announces that the winners of this bout will defend the World Tag Team Title against his team of Arn Anderson & Bunkhouse Buck on WCW Saturday Night. The stipulations state that if Stars ‘n’ Stripes fail to win the belts, The Patriot must remove his mask, and Heenan does his part to stir up interest in seeing the Patriot’s face as he repeats a rumor he heard that Patriot was in the Gulf War and suffered radiation burns to his face. That’s not a bad backstory for the character, but Tony does not approve. Schiavone notes that these two teams have already traded the belts over the last couple of months, and Heenan mentions another rumor that Patriot is actually Al Gore. Stars & Stripes start off strong and Pretty Wonderful don’t look bad either as they trade the advantage until Marcus Bagwell gets dumped over the top rope behind the referee’s back. The Pauls thrash Marcus in their half of the ring and manage to knock the Patriot to the floor as a pre-emptive measure before setting Bagwell up for their finisher, a lower-impact version of Power & Glory’s Powerplex since Orndorff evidently doesn’t do superplexes. Roma ascends to the top turnbuckle while Orndorff suplexes Bagwell, but Patriot pushes Roma off the turnbuckles so he can’t follow the suplex with his swandive splash. Meanwhile, referee Nick Patrick counts both Bagwell’s and Orndorff’s shoulders down, but Bagwell raises his shoulder at the last second and Stars & Stripes capture the WCW World Tag Team Championship for the second time in 9:20. ** Just an average tag team match with a terrible-looking finish, although the crowd popped huge for the title change. The finish of Pretty Wonderful’s match at the last Clash against the Nasty Boys involved a similar spot; you’d think Orndorff would learn not to lay there, gently caressing the opponent after suplexing him.

– WCW World Television Championship: The Honky Tonk Man vs. Johnny B. Badd ©

Coasting into WCW on his WWF reputation, the Honky Tonk Man returned to action and immediately began feuding with Johnny B. Badd, who had captured the World TV Title from Lord Steven Regal at Fall Brawl ’94. It’s kind of sad that WCW was always so eager to slot WWF rejects into the title picture; don’t get me wrong, I’ve always dug the Honky Tonk Man and he was a natural heat magnet, but he had been off the national scene since January of 1991 and even at that time he had been reduced to a midcard tag team wrestler. And yet, he gets to feud with the TV Champion as soon as he arrives in the company? Honky Tonk has “The Greatest of All Time” written on the back of his tights and he has added a Jerry Lawler-style one-strap singlet to his ring attire in order to cover his gut. While Honky and Johnny trade arm work to begin the match, Heenan relates a disturbing story about running his fingers through Honky’s hair backstage and reports that his hair isn’t greasy, despite appearances. Schiavone acts suitably disgusted by the very idea of Bobby doing such a thing and the crowd comes alive when Badd messes up Honky’s hair, causing him to retreat from the ring. After expressing his anger by pulling his strap down, Honky Tonk steps back inside and cocks his fists as a challenge to the former Golden Gloves champion. Honky sneaks in a cheapshot to take the advantage and sets Johnny up for the Shake Rattle ‘n’ Roll neckbreaker, but Badd back-bodydrops out of it and unloads on the Greatest Intercontinental Champion of All Time, smashing his head on the turnbuckle several times and jarring him with an inverted atomic drop. Kneelift earns Badd a two-count and Honky breaks the momentum by shoving Badd into the referee, whom Heenan identifies as Nick Patrick even though it’s Randy Anderson. Honky Tonk retrieves his guitar and busts it over Badd’s head, but the ref sees it and disqualifies Honky at 6:13. * Nothing here that we didn’t already see done better in the WWF. Years later, I still can’t believe WCW missed out on the natural pairing of Colonel Rob Parker as the Honky Tonk Man’s promoter.

His commitment to the Elvis gimmick, right through to the Fat Elvis era, is admirable.

– The deadly and fearsome Three Faces of Fear (*snicker*) prophesize doom and gloom for Hulk Hogan, Sting, & Brother Dave tonight. Kevin Sullivan says he has been waiting ten years for the opportunity to snuff out Hulkamania and he states that the grave is bought and paid for.

– Harlem Heat (Stevie Ray & Booker T) vs. The Nasty Boys (Knobbs & Saggs)

Although the on-screen graphic lists Sensuous Sherri as appearing with Harlem Heat, they are unaccompanied and Stevie Ray is talking on a cell phone with the surprise manager they haven’t announced yet. The WCW production team blows another one! The commentary ignores this boneheaded blunder and does a good job of getting over the toughness of both teams and notes their shared New York roots, which is funny because none of them are legitimately from New York. The Nasty Boys take control early on, but after a commercial break, Booker T sidekicks Knobbs out of the ring and Harlem Heat show off their tag team expertise as they pound on him in their half of the ring. Knobbs avoids a flying elbowdrop from Booker and makes the hot tag as Saggs nastisizes both members of the Heat. Stevie Ray decides now would be a good time to make a phonecall at ringside, but Knobbs blindsides him and shoves him back in the ring, so Booker comes out to make the call instead and Knobbs rams him into the post. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to do that to the obnoxious jackasses who can’t seem to put down their phones when they’re out in public. Harlem Heat were ahead of their time. While Booker tries to salvage his precious phone, the Nasty Boys double-team Stevie in the ring and Saggs drops the flying elbow off the top turnbuckle. Since the phonecall wasn’t completed, Sensuous Sherri makes her way out and Tony and Bobby act surprised that she was the the Heat’s mystery advisor. Meanwhile, the referee is busy with Knobbs and misses Saggs pinning Stevie, allowing Booker to dive off the top onto Saggs to break the cover. The ref returns to find Stevie on top of Saggs and administers the pinfall in 10:36. **¼ A solid, hard-hitting clash between the old and the new “street tough” tag teams, marred somewhat by the commercial break and the dumbass production error that gave away the surprise of who was on the phone, rendering the finish with the phone redundant and anticlimactic. Why didn’t Sherri just come out with them instead of making them screw around with the phone? Sounds like a terrible managerial choice to me.

Who hasn’t wanted to do this to some jackass who just won’t get off his damn phone?

– Vader (w/Harley Race) vs. “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes

By virtue of winning a triangle match over Sting and the Guardian Angel at Fall Brawl, Vader is now the undisputed Number One Contender to the World Heavyweight Championship and he is being built up again as a monster heel to be fed to Hulk Hogan. Whenever anybody in WCW started to receive a big push and get over, you could be sure that the ultimate beneficiary would be Hogan, whether as his lackey (Sting, Savage, nWo) or as his opponent. There’s no storyline behind this match other than two of the top contenders in WCW duking it out, so it’s up to the wrestlers to create their own issue to draw in the crowd emotionally. After slapping the shit out of Dustin Rhodes, Vader informs him that this “ain’t no tea party” and spits in his face. Enraged, Dustin double-legs Vader to take him down and wails away on him as the crowd erupts and Schiavone notes that we have never seen Vader assaulted like this. Vader’s unique headgear is discarded and Rhodes hits a crossbody off the ropes for a two-count before clotheslining the former WCW World Champion over the top rope. Rhodes continues his onslaught at ringside as he slugs away on Vader and nails Harley Race for good measure, and back in the ring it’s more of the same as Dustin literally beats Vader down in the corner. Vader retreats from the ring to regroup following a vertical suplex from Dustin and his stalling pays off when he steps back inside, as he flattens Rhodes with a Vader Attack and hammers him in the corner with punches. The Natural manages to avoid an avalanche and rolls up Vader for a near-fall, but the Rocky Mountain Monster turns Dustin inside-out with a clothesline and assails him with more stiff shots to the head. When Vader charges across the ring at him, Dustin catches him in mid-air and powerslams him down in an impressive spot. Rhodes unloads on Vader and, in his fury, inadvertently hits referee Randy Anderson when he tries to pull Rhodes off. While the ref is recuperating, Dustin grabs a headlock and attempts the bulldog, but Vader counters by hurling him over the top rope and the Natural takes a tremendous bump to the floor. Back inside, Vader dishes out some of his trademark punishment as he drops a pair of Vader Bombs, but Dustin still gets his shoulder up to escape the pinfall. Dustin survives another round of head and body punches to mount a comeback, catching Vader in a powerslam and unleashing bionic elbows. Flying clothesline off the top earns Rhodes a two-count and he sets Vader up on the turnbuckles for what turns out to be a pretty cool super DDT, followed by his patented bulldog. Rhodes covers Vader for the surefire pinfall, but he gets off of his opponent to go after Harley Race when he steps into the ring. Taking advantage of the distraction, Vader splashes Rhodes from behind and pins him after a wheelbarrow facebomb at 11:43. After the bell, the Mastodon tries to add another Vader Bomb just because he is a sadistic maniac, but he misses when US Champion “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan marches out and pulls Dustin out of harm’s way. Feeling like a tough guy with his 2×4 over his shoulder, Duggan challenges Vader to lock horns, but the 450-pounder elects to leave the ring and live to fight another day. **** While this could have easily been nothing more than a vehicle to put Vader over in preparation for a planned Hulk Hogan feud, both guys worked hard to instill some white-hot emotion into it and they put together a hell of a match that got both of them over.

Was Big Daddy Dusty on the booking committee?

– Mean Gene Okerlund interviews Hulk Hogan and his lackeys in the locker room. Sting & Dave Sullivan manage to squeeze in a couple of soundbites, but it’s mostly the Hulkster ranting about destroying the Three Faces of Fear and vowing revenge on his former life-partner, The Butcher. He also mentions that Sting is “warming up” some warpaint for Hulk, in case Sting’s new role in WCW wasn’t already clear to you.

I haven’t seen this much red-and-yellow since the last time I had blood in my urine. Actually, that was more enjoyable.

– WCW United States Heavyweight Championship: “Stunning” Steve Austin vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan ©

Due to the severe back injury that he suffered at the previous Clash, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat had to forfeit the US Title to Steve Austin at Fall Brawl. However, that wasn’t the end of Stunning Steve’s night, as WCW Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel introduced Jim Duggan as a surprise challenger and he upset Austin in a matter of seconds to win the belt in his WCW debut. Think about that: a midcard castoff from the WWF who hadn’t won an important match in years captured the #2 title in less than a minute on his first night in the company. When Schiavone reports that Austin lost at Fall Brawl, Heenan disagrees and says he was “jobbed” by Bockwinkel and WCW. Pretty crazy to hear that kind of insider term used on the air at the time, although it made sense in the context that Heenan said it. Admittedly, the crowd loves Hacksaw and reacts big-time to his “USA” chants when he comes out. Tony and Bobby mention that Austin had promised a surprise tonight, but apparently it’s just Vader running in and attacking Duggan as soon as they lock up for the first time and the match immediately ends in a disqualification in 54 seconds. WHAT? THE? FUCK? That wasn’t even a match. Even better, Hacksaw basically vetoes the two-on-one assault and quickly chases Vader and Austin off with the 2×4 in hand. This succeeds in turning the crowd against Duggan, whom they had adored only moments earlier. This was a textbook example of booking your babyface to be so strong that fans start to resent him, and the non-match was yet another case of bait-and-switch that WCW would hone to to perfection in the Nitro era.

This just about says it all for WCW in 1994-95.

– The Three Faces of Fear (Avalanche & The Butcher & Kevin Sullivan) vs. Dave Sullivan & Sting & Hulk Hogan (w/Jimmy Hart)

Clinging on to whatever level of fame he could muster long past his expiry date as a pop-culture reference, Mr. T serves as the special guest referee and he is greeted with a half-hearted mixed response that indicates his relevance in 1994. Following the epic ring introductions by Michael Buffer, Hulk Hogan & Sting pound away on Kevin Sullivan to start the match while Dave Sullivan wanders around ringside like a distracted child. Despite the best efforts of Mr. T to maintain order, chaos soon erupts as The Butcher blindsides Hogan to turn the tide and Dave comes in to make the save, but Avalanche ends up splashing his arm and Evad has to go back to the locker room due to the injury. Making the most of their three-on-two advantage, the Three Faces of Fear lay waste to the face-painted Hulkster as they punish him in their half of the ring and continually cut off his comeback attempts. An interesting note on commentary occurs when Tony is talking about Butcher being a lowlife snake-in-the-grass and Bobby responds that Hogan is even worse. Obviously they had no idea that two years later, Hollywood Hogan would be the hottest heel in the business, but the beauty of the nWo angle is that it vindicated everything that Heenan said about Hulk during his babyface run. After avoiding a big splash from Avalanche, Hogan crawls to his corner to make the hot tag and Sting unloads on all Three Faces of Fear as the crowd cheers him on. Sting hits two Stinger Splashes on Avalanche, then presses Sullivan over his head and throws him at the 500-pounder. Unfortunately, this tactic backfires as Avalanche catches Kevin and charges Sting back into a neutral corner, crushing him with their combined weight. Now it’s Sting’s turn to play face-in-peril as he takes a beating from the triangle of terror until he slams Sullivan off the top turnbuckle and makes the hot tag to Hogan, just as Sullivan tags Butcher. The WCW World Heavyweight Champion unfurls his fantastic fists of fury on the Three Faces and Sting even gets to share the spotlight as he kicks and stomps away at Avalanche while Hogan levels Butcher with the big boot. Meanwhile, Sullivan grabs the megaphone from Jimmy Hart and prepares to clobber Hogan from behind, but Mr. T snatches the weapon away and somehow knocks Sullivan down. Hogan quickly covers Sullivan and T administers the three-count to end the match in 10:55. Afterward, Sullivan cracks Mr. T with the megaphone and joins with the Butcher to hammer the Hulkster while Avalanche squashes Sting with the Earthquake splash. Hogan arbitrarily stops selling the beating and starts punching Avalanche, but Sullivan bludgeons him with the megaphone and hits Mr. T again, just in case he had any ideas about being a hero. Schiavone wonders why Jimmy Hart doesn’t try to retrieve his megaphone, possibly foreshadowing the heel turn that would happen one year later, and Heenan responds logically that Jimmy weighs 108 pounds. The Butcher clamps the sleeperhold on Hogan as the Armstrong Brothers and Stars & Stripes come out to help and they all get laid out by Avalanche and Sullivan. Police appear at ringside and a WCW trainer finally gets Butcher to release the sleeper as Hogan sells it like death. The Three Faces of Fear leave the ring and state that they have “destroyed the king” as the show goes off the air. **¾ Putting aside my personal feelings about the names involved, this main event told the story it wanted to tell and the post-match shenanigans were an effective set-up for the Starrcade showdown between Hulk Hogan and the Butcher. The fact that nobody ever wanted to see that match at all, least of all in the main event of Starrcade ’94, is beside the point and goes without saying.

Apparently, Mr. T had just settled down for a long winter’s nap. In the state penitentiary.

The 411: Hulk Hogan's Superstars of the WWF Rockin' Retro Nostalgia Tour was in full swing in WCW and a cursory glance at the twenty-ninth Clash of the Champions made that fact obvious. Tired retreads like Jim Duggan and Honky Tonk Man were involved in title bouts, and the new dastardly heel conglomerate threatening to end Hulkamania consisted of another pair of WWF rejects, including Hogan's best friend who was a mere shell of his former self. The real burn about the Hogan Era is that his storylines were actually booked logically and had a long-term plan in mind, and could have been used effectively to get new talent over by working with the Hulkster. Instead, Hogan brought in an assortment of old friends and former opponents to overshadow the homegrown roster and effectively installed a thick glass ceiling that remained until WCW's demise.
Final Score:  5.0   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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