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The Chrononaut Chronicles: WCW Clash of the Champions XXXIII

July 7, 2012 | Posted by Joel Thomas
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The Chrononaut Chronicles: WCW Clash of the Champions XXXIII  

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 XXXIII – August 15, 1996

– On Memorial Day of 1996, two huge developments in the growth of WCW occurred. Originally conceived as a one-hour broadcast going head-to-head with Monday Night Raw, Monday Nitro expanded to two hours in order to gain a head-start against the WWF. During that initial two-hour program, one of the most shocking and revolutionary storylines in the history of the business began as Scott Hall, who until recently had been portraying the character of Razor Ramon in the WWF, came out of the crowd in the middle of a non-descript preliminary match and implied that he was a WWF representative declaring war on WCW. This was treated as a total shoot and since the unnamed Hall was still using the Razor Ramon accent and mannerisms, many fans believed that it was real and we were finally going to get the cross-promotional war to settle the score between the two companies. Soon after, Kevin Nash–also nameless and appearing in character as Diesel–showed up on Nitro and they claimed they had a third man on the way, as they challenged WCW to a six-man showdown at Bash at the Beach ’96. On that fateful night, Hulk Hogan ran in and made his long-awaited heel turn as he legdropped Randy Savage and cut a scathing promo, unleashing his vitriol on the fans for booing him despite his work with kids and charities. The Hulkster also coined the “New World Order of Wrestling” moniker and started calling himself “Hollywood” Hogan to match his new heel persona, as the nWo became the hottest act in professional wrestling and led to record TV ratings for Nitro. Always one to jump on something when it’s hot and then take all the credit for it, Hogan was given another WCW World Heavyweight Title reign as he beat the Giant at Hog Wild ’96 and then famously spraypainted “NWO” on the belt.

– The opening video recaps Hollywood Hogan’s recent attacks on his former best friends, Ed “Booty Man” Leslie and the Macho Man, and Hogan warns his opponent tonight, Ric Flair, that if he’s willing to beat up his friends like that, imagine what he’ll do to the Nature Boy at the Clash. That’s right, Ric Flair will be challenging a heel Hulk Hogan for the WCW Heavyweight Championship of the World at the thirty-third Clash of the Champions!


– LIVE from the Denver Coliseum in Denver, Colorado! Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan are on commentary and they discuss the New World Order’s attempted takeover of WCW. Footage from Nitro shows WCW banding together as the latest incarnation of the Four Horsemen–Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Chris Benoit, & Steve McMichael–came out to save Sting & Lex Luger from the Outsiders and shady referee Nick Patrick runs off as well. Hmmm…

– WCW World Cruiserweight Championship: Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. ©

For this match, Mike Tenay joins the broadcast booth to lend his expertise on these two internationally-renowned stars. Recently debuting in WCW after wowing crowds in Mexico and ECW, 21-year-old Rey Mysterio Jr. captured the Cruiserweight Title from Dean Malenko on the July 8 edition of Nitro and was winning over fans of all ages with his colorful masks and thrilling aerial artistry. While Schiavone recounts their previous meetings, Malenko falls victim to Mysterio’s high-flying maneuvers and walks out to reassess the situation, but the Man of 1,000 Holds comes back with a wicked brainbuster for a two-count and grounds the young Cruiserweight Champion. The tide turns when Mysterio knocks Malenko out of the ring and follows him out with a running somersault plancha over the top rope, then springboards off the guardrail with a moonsault when Malenko gets up. Back inside, Rey springboards in with a dropkick for two and snares Dean in a huracanrana for a near-fall, but when Rey goes to the top turnbuckle, Dean climbs up and brings him down with an awesome gutbuster across the knee. Malenko covers the champ for an apparent pinfall, but referee Randy Anderson sees Mysterio’s foot over the rope just after he makes the three-count and he waves off the decision. Taking advantage of his challenger’s confusion, Mysterio swiftly wraps Malenko up in a victory roll for the official three-count to retain the WCW World Cruiserweight Title in 12:07. ***½ A good opener to get the crowd fired up with some hot moves and fast-paced action. Implementing the cruiserweight division and making it a valuable part of the show was a stroke of genius for WCW as it usually guaranteed the undercard a couple of exciting matches that were unlike anything ever seen in the WWF.

– VK Wallstreet vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan

Another defector from the WWF in the early days of Nitro, Mike Rotunda returned to WCW and resumed his previous gimmick of the Wall Street tycoon, only now he was known as V.K. Wallstreet in a not-so-subtle shot at Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Apparently, these two had a feud going in which Wallstreet had stolen Jim Duggan’s 2×4, but it is now safely back in Hacksaw’s possession. Early on, Wallstreet thinks he outsmarted Duggan by going to the ropes, but Duggan proves to be smarter and he bangs VK’s head against the turnbuckle ten times. Hacksaw slugs away and sets up in the three-point stance, but Wallstreet bails out to break the momentum and snaps Duggan’s throat over the top rope to take control until the inevitable comeback. Since he came from a long line of Irish taped-fist champions, Duggan produces a roll of tape from his trunks and swings it around wildly in a sloppy attempt to tape his fists, as he was wont to do at the time. Ironically, or maybe not, his stupidity is his downfall as the referee’s arm gets caught in the tape and Wallstreet rolls up Duggan with a handful of trunks to earn the pinfall at 3:48. ¾* The taped-fist gimmick was kinda funny in a dumb way, but the best part of this match was the flashbacks I got. This was the kind of WWF-style bout that would be billed as a “feature match” on Wrestling Challenge or Prime Time Wrestling and Gorilla Monsoon would declare it to be a main event in any arena around the country. Suuuuure it is, Gino, sure it is.

You can’t fix stupid. Not even with duct tape.

– In the locker room, Mean Gene Okerlund interviews the Nasty Boys, as they state their allegiance to WCW and express their disappointment at not being included in tonight’s triangle match for the World Tag Team Championship. After a commercial break, Okerlund announces that the Outsiders are in the building as a plug for the WCW Hotline.

– The Ultimate Dragon (w/Sonny Onoo) vs. Konnan

The Ultimate Dragon is the incorrectly anglicized ringname for the international phenomenon previously known as El Ultimo Dragon, as this is his first appearance on TBS after making his WCW debut at Hog Wild ’96 in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. Since he is Japanese and managed by the devious Sonny Onoo, the Dragon is a heel and that creates a strange dynamic, because Konnan is also displaying a heelish side and receives the majority of the fans’ derision. Schiavone notes how much Konnan has changed and claims that he cites Hulk Hogan’s turn as inspiration for his attitude adjustment, perhaps foreshadowing Konnan’s jump to the nWo a year later. Rejoining the commentary team, Mike Tenay points out that this is the first-ever meeting between Konnan and Dragon and does his usual tremendous job of providing background information on the masked newcomer. The international competitors go back-and-forth to start as Konnan relies on his strength and size advantage, but the Dragon knocks him through the ropes with a spinkick. As he is known to do, Sonny Onoo sneaks in a few kicks at ringside, but Konnan shrugs them off and physically accosts the Japanese emissary. While this threatening gesture pleases the fans, it also gives Dragon enough time to dive down from the top turnbuckle with a flying double-axhandle and save his manager. Being the sneaky bastard he is, Onoo delivers one more quick kick before the Dragon continues the attack in the ring, landing a moonsault across Konnan’s back and wrapping him up in a majistral cradle for a two-count. In a messy-looking and premature finish, German suplex with a bridge only gets a one-count as they keep rolling through and Konnan ends up on top with a handful of tights to pin Dragon in only 2:57. Really? That’s it? *¼ The match started off solidly and the fans were just beginning to get into it when they went to the finish and botched it. This could have been so much better with more time, and what an odd way to introduce Dragon to American fans by having him lose a title shot in his first match and then jobbing him to Konnan in three minutes. It’s a testament to his skill that he went on to be one of the most successful and popular cruiserweights in WCW.

– Backstage, Ice Train has his shoulder taped up as he plugs away on a computer keyboard, chatting with fans on CompuServe, but suddenly Scott “Flash” Norton clotheslines him off of his chair and stomps on his former Fire & Ice tag team partner.


– Meng (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

Due to injuries sustained when Hulk Hogan cracked him with a chairshot across the back and head, Randy Savage no-shows the match and he loses via forfeit as Schiavone declares this a big victory for Meng.

– After footage of the chairshot on Nitro is shown to explain the Macho Man’s absence, Meng and Jimmy Hart are joined by the rest of the Dungeon of Doom–Kevin Sullivan, Barbarian, & Hugh Morrus–as Mean Gene comes in to interview the Taskmaster and they both talk shit about Hulk Hogan now that it’s acceptable in the context of the show. Sullivan points out that he’s been accusing Hogan of being selfish and two-faced for the last two years, but Okerlund speculates that Hogan snapped as he brings up his failed Thunder In Paradise TV series and his acting career, noting that the Hulkster is no Olivier. The best part about Hogan’s heel turn was that now they could say all this stuff about him that a lot of people had been thinking but couldn’t say on TV. Just as Okerlund starts talking about how Hogan wanted to take all the credit for Nitro’s ratings success, the Mouth of the South interrupts the Hogan-bashing and states that the Dungeon is a superior fighting force unafraid of the nWo or the Four Horsemen, and the Taskmaster rants about Chris Benoit. While this is going on, a rabid leprechaun runs down the aisle and scurries around ringside before returning from whence he came, without anybody acknowledging his appearance. I think WCW had a secret plan to turn their viewers insane by making them think they were hallucinating. The leprechaun named Braun, portrayed by Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker, was actually introduced in another campy Dungeon of Doom skit as a foil for Benoit, which had to be a rib on the Rabid Wolverine’s height.

The Jackie Robinson of wrestling leprechauns.

– Bull Nakano (w/Sonny Onoo) vs. Madusa

Following her surprise appearance on Nitro in December of 1995 when she dumped the WWF Women’s Championship belt in the garbage, Madusa had not done much of note aside from interrupting the Sherri/Col. Parker wedding during the previous Clash. At her behest, WCW brought in her long-time rival in Japan and the WWF, Bull Nakano, and paired her with the conniving Sonny Onoo as the two women renewed their feud at Hog Wild ’96, where Madusa won via disqualification and then destroyed Bull’s motorcycle. I’m not sure if there was ever a backstory given for their years-long feud, but I imagine it was the worst break-up ever. Womanhandling her former lover–err, smaller opponent, Nakano tosses Madusa around by the hair and whacks her in the midsection with her nunchucks while Onoo distracts the referee. Clothesline and a splash get a two-count for Nakano and Madusa mounts a comeback, but Bull counters a sunset flip by sitting down for a near-fall. Nakano goes to the middle turnbuckle, but Madusa knocks her over the top rope and then dives off the top out to the floor. However, Nakano moves out of the way and Madusa nails Onoo as Bull quickly blindsides Madusa and throws her back into the ring. Sonny hops up on the apron and fires off a kick, but he accidentally hits Bull in the arm as Madusa dodges it and rolls Nakano up for the three-count at 2:42. * Another match way too short to mean anything, not that women’s wrestling ever meant much to WCW anyway. You know, maybe I’m just weird, but I always thought Bull was kinda hot and I recently saw a picture of her without the crazy makeup and hair, and it turns out I was right. Too bad she was only really used in the US to put Madusa over, rather than in her rightful role as the Vader of a proper women’s division.

Who knew Bull Nakano would turn out to be such a MILF?

– With both Woman and Miss Elizabeth by his side, Ric Flair is interviewed in the locker room by Mean Gene and he cuts a spirited promo to hype the big-show aspect of tonight’s main event against Hulk Hogan and says that even though the Hulkster has changed his clothes, he is still the same guy.

– WCW Battle Bowl Championship: Diamond Dallas Page © vs. Eddie Guerrero

Since this is before his feud with the nWo began, Dallas Page is still a scumbag heel and he is putting his ill-gotten WCW Battle Bowl Championship ring on the line here against Eddie Guerrero, who comes on strong to start the match. DDP avoids a charge in the corner and takes control with a gutwrench stomachbreaker (great name for a death-metal band, by the way) and a tilt-a-whirl sideslam for a two-count, but Guerrero escapes from a chinlock and fires back with a leg lariat and the slingshot somersault senton for two. Page stops Guerrero in his tracks with a jawbreaker and plants him with a sitout powerbomb for a near-fall, but when DDP positions him on the turnbuckles and climbs up, Eddie knocks him down to the mat and follows with the frog splash to win the Battle Bowl ring in 4:20. Schiavone gives the ring legitimacy as he declares this to be the first title for Eddie in WCW, but he has no time to revel in his victory because DDP is a sore loser and lays Eddie out with a pair of Diamond Cutters. Chavo Guerrero Jr. runs out to protect his uncle, but DDP shoves him away and drills Eddie with one more Diamond Cutter off the turnbuckles. On his way out of the ring, DDP steps on the fallen referee he had tossed aside. **¼ Some good action in this one, and DDP was so good in his role as a lowlife sleaze that it still saddens me he turned face.

– While Eddie Guerrero is still being attended to in the ring, an indignant Hulk Hogan drags Mean Gene out on the stage by his collar and demands that he explain the comments he made earlier. Okerlund pleads First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, but Hollywood informs him that nWo rules are in effect and he says that Ric Flair will never be up to his level. The WCW World Champion refers to himself as both “the Babe Ruth of wrestling” and “the Michael Jordan of basketball,” which is interesting because I didn’t even know Hogan played basketball. After he’s done with Flair tonight, Hogan claims the Nature Boy will be known as “The Stupid Little Man Who Couldn’t Get The Job Done.” Gotta say, that’s not a very catchy nickname.

– Chris Benoit (w/Woman & Miss Elizabeth) vs. The Giant (w/Jimmy Hart)

Although Schiavone paints this match-up as a classic Horsemen vs. Dungeon of Doom showdown, it’s over in a matter of 23 seconds as the Giant strikes with a standing dropkick when Chris Benoit is removing his vest and finishes him off with the chokeslam. To add intrigue to the quick finish, Schiavone points out that Woman had trouble pulling Benoit’s vest off and wonders if she was holding him on purpose. As for the match, this was the biggest disappointment of the show because Giant vs. Benoit could have been something pretty cool, even if they only had less than five minutes like most of the matches.

There’s probably a tasteless joke in there somewhere…

– WCW World Tag Team Championship – Triangle Match: The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. Sting & “Total Package” Lex Luger vs. Harlem Heat (Stevie Ray & Booker T w/Sister Sherri & Colonel Rob Parker) ©

At a time when the triangle match was still a relatively new concept, Schiavone actually has to explain the intricacies and how two men will be in the ring and able to tag anybody on the apron. Following the entrances, Col. Rob Parker comes out and stands beside Sherri for moral support as Tony mentions that they have reconciled recently. Just as they would on the final Nitro five years later, Booker T and Scott Steiner square off and go back-and-forth until Scotty crotches Booker on the top rope and Lex Luger clotheslines T from the apron. Although Schiavone notes that it only makes sense to tag your own partner because otherwise you are potentially giving up your opportunity to win the belts, Scott tags Lex and he pounds away on Stevie Ray until Rick Steiner makes the blind tag when Lex gets close to the corner. After decking both Stevie and Luger with Steinerlines, Rick drops Ray with a flying bulldog and covers him, but Luger breaks it up and engages in a shoving match with the Dogface Gremlin. Stevie nails Rick with a superkick and tags Booker as we go to commercial and when we come back, Sting tags himself in and leaps off the top turnbuckle with a tomahawk chop on Booker for a two-count. After a series of blocks and reversals, Sting ends up hiptossing Booker over the top rope and goes out after him, dragging Sherri out of the way by her hair before returning Booker to the ring. Again showing the benefits of long-term planning and foreshadowing, Schiavone suggests that the invasion of the New World Order has effected Sting’s demeanor, although he does uncork a press slam and an “OOOOOWWWWWWWWWW!” for the fans. Luger tags in and suplexes Booker, but Stevie stops the pin and T tags out while Lex does the same with his partner. Stevie pounds on Sting until Scott tags himself in and locks up with his long-time friend, but the action soon gets heated as Sting hotshots Scotty and lands a flying clothesline off the top. The Stinger hooks him up in a vertical suplex, but Steiner turns it into an inverted DDT (guess that’s where Sting learned the Scorpion Death Drop) and then slams Sting with a double-underhook powerbomb for a two-count as Luger makes the save. When Luger tags in against Rick, he pummels him until Rick avoids a charge in the corner and launches Lex with a release German suplex. Tagging in next, Scott slams Lex with a belly-to-belly suplex and dives off the top turnbuckle when he stands up, but Lex catches him in an impressive feat of strength and tries to maneuver him into the Torture Rack. In a flash of intelligence, Rick comes in and kicks Lex in the leg from behind and they both crash to the canvas. Sting comes in to defend his partner and chaos erupts as four of the six participants brawl out on the floor while in the ring, Booker levels Scott with the Harlem Sidekick and slugs away. Scott comes back with the Frankensteiner for the sure pin, but referee Nick Patrick stops his count just before three and calls for the bell at 13:22 when he notices that the Outsiders have appeared in the aisle and attacked Luger & Sting. In a post-match interview, Nick Patrick explains that he ruled the bout a disqualification due to outside(r) interference and denies any wrongdoing on his part as he pledges his allegiance to WCW. However, Mean Gene does mention that he’s seen Patrick in some nice Armani suits lately and Nick walks off. ***½ In the early days of three-way matches, they were fresh and unique as they featured constant action and movement. The tag team division was rockin’ with good depth and heated competition throughout 1995 and ’96 and it was actually a point of pride for WCW at the time.

Of all the times for a referee to notice outside interference.

– WCW World Heavyweight Championship: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (w/Woman & Miss Elizabeth) vs. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan ©

Now escorted by Woman and Miss Elizabeth after both ladies turned on Randy Savage earlier in the year, Ric Flair is in the unusual role of babyface challenger to heel champ Hulk Hogan and that results in a unique dynamic in the early stages, as the Nature Boy’s chops and punches actually have some effect on Hollywood and drive him out of the ring. The Hulkster threatens to punch a woman in the front row and while he is distracted, Slick Ric leaps off the apron with a double-axhandle from behind and chops away. Back inside, they engage in a Greco-Roman knucklelock test-of-strength and Hogan starts to win, so Flair bites his hand because he is the Dirtiest Player in the Game. They screw up a spot and accidentally run into each other before Hogan whips Flair over the turnbuckles to the floor and then rams him against the ringpost. Flair manages to gouge Hogan’s eyes and drop him with a suplex, but Hogan no-sells it and starts to Hulk-up, complete with finger-wagging and head-shaking. After eating the big boot from Hogan, Flair rolls out of the way of the legdrop and locks him in the figure-four until Hogan yanks referee Randy Anderson down and Scott Hall & Kevin Nash run in for the disqualification at 8:23. The nWo trio stomp a mudhole in Flair until Arn Anderson, Steve McMichael, Sting, & Lex Luger make the save and chase them off. Flair and Sting exchange heated words and shove each other, but nothing comes of it as Hogan taunts them from the curtain with his “NWO” belt. * Forget what I said about a different dynamic. This was the same old Hogan/Flair match, except worse because a heel Hulk-up just doesn’t make sense and it was pretty sad when they bumped into each other like confused old men at one point. I was looking forward to seeing how they would switch up the formula due to the role reversal and it started off well, but there was too much stalling from Hogan and the Hulk-up just killed it. Hogan’s babyface matches in WCW were bad, but his matches as a heel are the absolute dirt-worst. Despite the muscles, Hogan was too weak and his offense too soft to be a believable power wrestler, but his body and his ego were too big for him to be an effective chickenshit heel. Fortunately for me, this was his final Clash of the Champions match since he does not wrestle on the last two Clashes.

Looks like it’s ballroom dancing night at the senior citizens center.

The 411: While the New World Order had turned WCW Monday Nitro into must-see TV, Clash of the Champions XXXIII was basically the exact opposite. If you changed the channel after the first match and tuned back in for the triangle tag team bout, it was a pretty good show, but if you watched the whole thing you saw a poor excuse for a live primetime special with nothing else memorable on the card and an especially disappointing main event. Teasing that the Outsiders were in the building early in the show and then having them show up for a 10-second cameo appearance at the end was another typical WCW tactic of advertising something that they didn't intend to deliver in order to trick viewers into watching a dreadfully dull Clash like this one. At this point, it was pretty obvious that the Clash was no longer a priority for WCW as all of their efforts were focused on crushing the WWF and becoming the #1 professional wrestling company, and the Clash was not as important as it once was.
Final Score:  5.5   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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Joel Thomas

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