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The Chrononaut Chronicles: WCW Clash of the Champions XXXIV

July 23, 2012 | Posted by Joel Thomas
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The Chrononaut Chronicles: WCW Clash of the Champions XXXIV  

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 XXXIV – January 21, 1997

– The opening video hypes the two marquee matches for the thirty-fourth Clash of the Champions: Lex Luger will meet the nWo’s Scott Hall one-on-one in the main event, and Chris Benoit will battle Kevin Sullivan in a Falls Count Anywhere showdown! Other wrestlers will also appear!


– LIVE from the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin! For the first time on a Clash, Dusty Rhodes joins the usual commentary team of Tony Schiavone and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.

– WCW World Cruiserweight Championship: Dean Malenko vs. The Ultimate Dragon (w/Sonny Onoo) ©

To really make it a full house on commentary, Mike Tenay joins the announce team for this match. After winning the Cruiserweight Title from Rey Mysterio Jr. at Halloween Havoc ’96, Dean Malenko lost the strap to the Ultimate Dragon at Starrcade and then lost a rematch on Nitro, so this is built up to be the Ice Man’s golden opportunity and the commentators stress how important the belt is to Dean. The early part of the match is all matwork as we go to commercial, and when we come back, Malenko is limping as the commentators inform us that the Dragon has been working on his leg. A delayed suplex gets a two-count for Malenko and he goes back to a ground game, but Dragon fires back with kicks and Deano bails out to break the momentum. This strategy works, as Malenko plants Dragon with a belly-to-back suplex when he steps back in the ring and proceeds to torture the Cruiserweight Champion’s knee with a leglock and a half-crab, then dumps him to the floor and kicks the leg against the guardrail at ringside. Back inside, Malenko locks in the figure-four for several moments and Dragon comes back with kicks, but the Man of 1,000 Holds catches him on the top turnbuckle and brings him crashing down with a superplex that stuns both of them. After kicking out of a modified victory roll, the Dragon counters a powerbomb with a huracanrana for a near-fall and knocks Malenko to the floor with a springboard dropkick. Once they’re both on the floor, Dragon reverses a whip into the railing and lands a picture-perfect Asai moonsault off the apron, and he hits another moonsault for a near-fall when they get back in the ring. The Dragonsteiner off the top follows and Dragon hooks Malenko’s arms for a tiger suplex, which Tenay notes is the move that won Dragon the Cruiserweight Title at Starrcade, but Dean blocks it and attempts to apply the Texas Cloverleaf. Again showing how evenly matched the competitors are, Dragon counters with an inside cradle for a near-fall and slips out of a powerbomb attempt, but Dean clotheslines him and drops him with a butterfly powerbomb. Instead of going for the Cloverleaf, Malenko opts to knock Sonny Onoo off the apron as the Dragon gets up and tries to blindside him with a kick. However, Malenko catches the leg and takes Dragon down in the Cloverleaf for the tap-out victory to win his third WCW Cruiserweight Championship of the World in 15:07. **** A tremendous opening bout to kick off Clash XXXIV with some hot moves, constant action even when they were working on the mat, and solid psychology as Dragon and Malenko worked on each other’s legs at different points, which factored into the finish. The crowd was into the match for the most part and they worked their proverbial asses off.

– Mike Enos vs. Scotty Riggs

Never ones to spoil their audience, WCW always made sure to throw out a few dull, meaningless matches between guys that nobody cared about, including the booking committee. Now embarking on a solo career, Scotty Riggs briefly held the WCW World Tag Team Championship as one-half of the American Males with Marcus Bagwell, but their partnership had recently dissolved when Bagwell turned heel and joined the New World Order. Thus, this match is used mainly to discuss the upcoming match between Bagwell and Riggs at the first nWo-branded PPV, entitled Souled Out. Aside from being one-half of the Beverly Brothers in the WWF, Mike Enos was best-known for wrestling as “The Mauler” when Scott Hall came out of the crowd and made his first appearance on Nitro. After withstanding an ambush from Enos, Riggs whips him over the top rope and follows him out with a slingshot plancha to pop the crowd, but Enos reverses a whip into the apron and steps on Scotty’s back as he re-enters the ring. Enos comes back outside with a flying clothesline off the apron and then gets back-bodydropped on the floor by Riggs, but when they return to the ring Mean Mike asserts himself with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Out of nowhere, Riggs hits his lame rendition of Terry Taylor’s “five-arm” flying forearm and pins Enos at 2:26. *½ You know what, these two guys had nothing to work with and a limited amount of time to do it in, and they did their best to leave an impression. Enos was a really solid power wrestler and I thought something could have been done with him at the TV Title level. He just needed to show more of a personality, which is why he was the perfect straight man for the cocky, sarcastic Wayne Bloom during their run in the AWA as The Destruction Crew.

This is, by far, the coolest thing Mike Enos ever did.

– GUESS WHAT, DADS! Now you, too, can own your very own nWo Souled Out t-shirt! Come on, what are you waiting for? BUY THE SHIRT!

– Mean Gene Okerlund brings out Chris Benoit, Arn Anderson, & Steve McMichael, along with Debra and Woman, for an interview. Contrary to popular belief, Benoit is strong on the stick as he cuts a focused and efficient promo about the human game of chess, bragging about everything he has taken from Kevin Sullivan and promising to take his career next. In a post-2007 world, Benoit’s comments about how he has “a fragile mind” and threatening to snap at any moment are somewhat eerie. Then again, anything he says in the context of a wrestling storyline, with the wife that he murdered before killing himself standing right next to him, is bound to come off a tad creepy. While the Canadian Crippler stares dead-eyed into the camera like a soulless killing machine, Arn and Mongo both boast that Benoit ripped Sullivan’s heart out and he will stomp on it tonight. After the rest of the group heads back to the locker room, Debra calls herself “Queen of the WCW” and makes a crack about Woman’s age. ARGH, calling it “the WCW” is like saying “the MLB” or “the WWE” or “the SummerSlam”–the “the” is unnecessary! Sorry, just a minor pet peeve of mine.

– Konnan & JL & La Parka vs. Chris Jericho & Chavo Guerrero Jr. & Super Calo

Now a member of the Dungeon of Doom and well into the gangsta phase that would last the rest of his career, Konnan is joined by the mysterious JL (Jerry Lynn under a mask) and La Parka, taking the place of the injured Psicosis, while on the tecnico side Chris Jericho is substituting for an absent Juventud Guerrera. Rejoining the commentary team, Mike Tenay notes that this is the first lucha-style trios match in WCW and although it isn’t explained, that means that if one member of a team gets knocked out of the ring, one of his partners can replace him without making a tag. True to the lucha style, the match begins with Chavo Guerrero Jr. squaring off against JL, then they both tag out so that Super Calo can perform some acrobatics with Konnan, and finally they tag out to Jericho and La Parka, respectively. The crowd immediately begins booing, although I’m not sure who they’re booing, and La Parka makes an impression with his screaming and the Spinaroonie he performs. When Jericho strikes with a missile dropkick from the middle turnbuckle, Parka rolls out to the floor so that Konnan can take his place and he surprises Jericho with a clothesline. The Lionheart makes the tag anyway and Chavo fires off dropkicks for all three rudos, but Konnan clotheslines him down to take the advantage for his team. Displaying their advanced teamwork, Konnan and La Parka sandwich Guerrero with dropkicks to the torso and Konnan lifts the third-generation star up on his shoulders while Parka jumps off the top turnbuckle with his twisting body attack. That looked a bit scary. Chavo comes back with a crossbody on both Parka & JL and tags Jericho, at which point I realize that it was Y2J himself whom the crowd was booing earlier as they start jeering the hot young pretty-boy babyface. A sequence of high-flying dives out of the ring, not yet as commonplace as they would become, begins when Jericho knocks Konnan to the floor and follows him outside with a slingshot plancha. Sensing his opportunity, JL soars off the top turnbuckle onto Jericho with a Ricky Steamboat-like bodypress all the way down to the floor and Chavo slingshots out next onto JL. Just as Jericho and Guerrero regain their vertical base, La Parka wipes them out with a crazy head-first suicide dive over the top rope. Completing the sequence, Super Calo dropkicks Parka through the ropes and slingshots out with a senton bomb down to the floor. Back in the ring, JL takes Jericho down in a huracanrana for a near-fall and sideslams him before going to the top turnbuckle. However, Jericho brings JL crashing down in a super huracanrana from a standing position on the turnbuckle and covers him for the winning pinfall at 5:27. *** Like most lucha matches, this was a spotfest without a real coherent story to it, but it was a thrilling diversion with some spectacular dives and ceaseless movement.

Who let these marathon runners in the building?

– Harlem Heat (Stevie Ray & Booker T w/Sister Sherri) vs. The Renegade & “Desperado” Joe Gomez

Since this is basically a competitive squash more suited for WCW Saturday Night or the first hour of Nitro, there are no entrances shown as the match begins as soon as we come back from a commercial break. Using their extensive tag team capabilities, Harlem Heat dominate Joe Gomez inside and outside the ring, where Booker T holds him up so that Sister Sherri can land a shot to the throat. The Desperado is finally able to make the below-room-temperature tag after avoiding Booker’s flying legdrop off the middle turnbuckle, and the Renegade unloads on both Booker & Stevie to a deathly silent non-reaction from the crowd. Unfortunately for the former TV Champion, this comeback is brief as the Heat put Renegade away with the Heat Seeker (missile dropkick in the Doomsday Device position) and Booker scores the pin at 3:44. ½* Actually, this wasn’t even a competitive squash. This was just Harlem Heat cycling through their moveset and completely blowing out their opponents. Fun fact I discovered while writing this recap: Joe Gomez was formerly known as Allen Iron Eagle and previously appeared on Clash XIV as Tommy Rich’s partner in a losing effort against the Fabulous Freebirds. I always figured he was some scrub from the Power Plant.

– A clever ad airs featuring Public Enemy hawking WCW merchandise out of the back of a truck to show how hot the product is. Lex Luger also makes an appearance as he promotes his t-shirt by stretching someone (Stevie Ray?) in the Torture Rack.

Perhaps the Home Shopping Network should give this advertising strategy a try.

– It’s time for the 1-800-COLLECT Road Report with Lee Marshall! “Live” from Des Moines, Iowa, Stagger Lee’s lame punchline this time is the rumor that “Hootie and the Blow-weasel” will be performing the national anthem before the show. Sad thing is, I bet he was paid six figures a year to do these 30-second segments every week.

– Masahiro Chono vs. Alex Wright

Clad in an nWo t-shirt and baseball cap, Nick Patrick is officially a member of the New World Order as their senior referee and he serves in that capacity here. A representative of nWo Japan from New Japan Pro Wrestling, Masahiro Chono looks like a legitimate Yakuza badass as he assaults Alex Wright as soon as the bell rings, but Das Wunderkind shows his aggressive side and fires back on the former NWA World Champion with a variety of strikes and dropkicks. Despite being a babyface, Alex receives the Chris Jericho treatment from the crowd as he is booed mercilessly. The lesson here is that Milwaukee, proud home of ugly barroom brawlers like Crusher and Dick the Bruiser, does not like pretty boys. Spinning heel kick earns Wright a very slow two-count from the biased Nick Patrick, throwing him off of his game just enough for Chono to snatch the advantage. Wright surprises Chono with a small package, but only gets two due to Patrick’s slow count and Chono tosses him over the top rope. Rather than calling for the obvious top-rope disqualification, Patrick allows the match to continue and Wright comes back in with a flying sunset flip that only nets another two-count as the rotten ref feigns a sore shoulder. Dusty questions if Patrick was raised properly by his parents, a comment that works in kayfabe and in reality, because Nick’s dad was the masked Assassin who had a blood feud with the Rhodes family. Fed up with the crooked officiating, Alex kicks Patrick in the knee–the same knee that suffered an injury that kept him from becoming a wrestler himself–and goes to the top turnbuckle while Patrick limps around and threatens to call for the bell. There’s no need for him to disqualify Das Wunderkind though, as Wright misses the flying bodypress and Chono cuts him down with the Yakuza Kick for the three-count in 4:30. *¾ While the match itself wasn’t bad, it was just a backdrop for the antics of Nick Patrick as a preview of the officiating that WCW competitors would have to endure at nWo Souled Out.

– Scott “Flash” Norton vs. Eddie Guerrero

Scheduled to defend his newly-won WCW United States Heavyweight Championship against Syxx in a ladder match at Souled Out, Eddie Guerrero is matched up against the largest member of the nWo in the massive form of Scott Norton. Once again assigned as the referee, Nick Patrick conducts a thorough pre-match search of the US Champion to much consternation, as this is well before Latino Heat’s days of lying, cheating, and stealing. In classic fashion, Guerrero uses his speed and agility to counteract Norton’s size and strength, as he employs a wise strategy of targeting his larger opponent’s leg with a dropkick to the knee. Guerrero zeroes in on the knee with an elbowdrop and his trademark slingshot somersault senton, but he makes the mistake of allowing Norton to regain his vertical base and tries chopping him. In response, the nWo’s resident hoss manhandles the US Champion with a nonchalant standing vertical suplex, a nasty powerslam off the ropes, and a vicious powerbomb. Taking his time to follow up the attack because Eddie appears to be a broken man, Norton ascends to the middle turnbuckle and finds that Eddie was just playing a rousing game of possum, as he quickly pops up and brings Flash off the turnbuckles with a huracanrana. After avoiding a possible frog splash, Norton decks Guerrero with a clothesline and hammers him with a shoulderblock that knocks him through the ropes, but Nick Patrick was standing behind Eddie and he crashes to the floor as well. While they are writhing on the floor, Diamond Dallas Page emerges from the crowd and lays out Norton with the Diamond Cutter, allowing Guerrero to finish him off with the frog splash across the back as Patrick reluctantly administers the three-count at 5:36. **½ Although the match felt rushed and Norton was a bit clunky at times, this was a good big guy/little guy confrontation and both guys played their roles very well.

Three! The next number is three!

– To hype his WCW World Title shot against Hollywood Hogan at Souled Out, The Giant cuts an old-school promo in front of a plain background as he suggests that the Hulkster’s nine lives are just about spent and laments that Hogan only befriended him because he was afraid of him. He then strikes a match and blows it out as a metaphor for what he plans to do to Hogan. This is the kind of creative and focused promo that would be difficult to pull off in front of a live audience or in the context of an interview, yet the Giant did a great job with it.

In my house, there’s only one reason we light a match… eww, Giant, eww.

– Falls Count Anywhere: The Taskmaster (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Chris Benoit (w/Woman)

Involved in yet another Falls Count Anywhere encounter in the midst of their neverending feud, Kevin Sullivan convinces Chris Benoit to eschew the squared circle right off the bat as they exchange shots at ringside and brawl through the crowd. In almost record time, they arrive in the men’s room and slug it out as Dusty introduces the urinals to the female viewing audience. Benoit tosses a garbage can at Sullivan, but he dodges it and Jimmy Hart takes the bullet instead. After bashing Benoit’s head against the paper-towel dispenser, the Taskmaster decks him with a short clothesline and covers him on the bathroom floor for a two-count. They go back-and-forth trading stiff blows as they exit the restroom and work their way back through the crowd. Along the way, Benoit takes a nasty tumble down the stairs courtesy of Sullivan, and Bobby Eaton makes an uncredited cameo appearance as part of Doug Dillinger’s security squad. The Taskmaster throws the Canadian Crippler over the guardrail and continues his assault in the ring by hanging Benoit in the Tree of Woe and crunching him with a running knee. While Woman screams at ringside, Sullivan double-stomps Benoit in the guts for a super-close near-fall and Jimmy Hart hops up on the apron to chastise referee Randy Anderson. The Mouth of the South also tries to pass his megaphone to the Taskmaster, but the ref grabs it as well and engages in a tug-of-war over the foreign object. Meanwhile, Woman capitalizes on the distraction as she sneaks up behind her estranged husband and clobbers him across the back of the head with a wooden chair, giving Benoit the pinfall at 5:04. Since the chair didn’t break when Woman used it, Benoit busts it over Sullivan’s head and leaves him laying unconscious. **½ Due to the fact that real life had begun to imitate their wrestling storyline, the Sullivan/Benoit feud over Woman was easily the most realistic angle in either of the Big Two promotions at the time, as their face-offs were always stiff and brutal and it really felt like they were trying to beat the crap out of each other. Probably because they were.

He just couldn’t spare a square.

– The Amazing French Canadians (Jacques Rougeau & Carl Oulette w/Colonel Robert Parker) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner)

As they were wont to do during their WCW run, the duo formerly known as The Quebecers attempt to sing the Canadian national anthem in French, but the cheesy refrain of “Steinerline” interrupts their efforts to annoy the crowd and brings out the Steiner Brothers in their first match back as a tag team since Scott suffered a back injury. On their way out, the Steiners are stopped in the aisle as Kevin Nash & Scott Hall appear on the video wall (TurnerTron?) and threaten to finish them off at Souled Out if the “Molson Canadians” can’t get the job done. Ignoring the Outsiders, the Steiners clear the Amazing French Canadians from the ring and then get tossed out themselves after they make the mistake of chasing Jacques & Pierre–err, Carl, around ringside. While the Amazing Ones celebrate their accomplishment, Rick & Scott dive back in off the same top turnbuckle and Rick scores a two-count on Oulette as we go to a commercial break. When we come back, the French Canadians are double-teaming Rick and they pound him in their half of the ring until the Dogface Gremlin rolls out of the way of the assisted cannonball off the top and Carl crashes to the canvas. In an attempt to delay the inevitable, Jacques runs across the ring and knocks Scott off the apron, but Rick manages to double-clothesline the Canadians and makes the hot tag as Scott runs roughshod on both Quebecers. Showing presence of mind, Scott ducks a flagpole shot from Rougeau and knocks him to the floor while Rick lifts Carl up on his shoulders. Scott climbs up the turnbuckle and plants Oulette with the Steiner DDT off the top for the 1-2-3 in 6:55. ** Nothing too special here, just a routine victory for the Steiner Brothers over their old WWF nemeses en route to their World Tag Team Title shot against the Outsiders at Souled Out.

A severe case of Legionnaire’s disease.

– Scott Hall (w/Kevin Nash & Syxx) vs. “Total Package” Lex Luger

Co-holder of the WCW World Tag Team Title, Scott Hall is accompanied by his championship partner Kevin Nash and his li’l buddy Syxx, wearing the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship belt he had stolen. When Lex Luger comes out and his pyro goes off, Dusty nearly has a heart attack on commentary and Heenan notes that the American Dream’s jacket is on fire. Putting his superior musculature to good use, the Total Package shoves Scott Hall down and cranks on a headlock before no-selling a back suplex and slugging away. Luger whips Hall into a corner and charges in, but the Outsider gets a boot up and drops Lex with the flying bulldog off the middle turnbuckle for a near-fall. After some back-and-forth action, Hall chokeslams Luger and misses an elbowdrop as Lex takes control, but Hall dumps him out through the ropes and Nash attacks him on the floor while referee Mark Curtis has his back turned. Crawling back into the ring before the ten-count, the Total Package absorbs a beating from Hall as well as a clothesline from Syxx while Nash distracts the ref. Using his feet on the ropes for leverage, Hall covers Luger for a two-count and continues to hammer him as Nash sneaks in a cheap shot while Scott distracts the official. Fallaway slam earns Hall a near-fall and he applies an abdominal stretch, using the ropes and Syxx as an illegal advantage, until Lex hiptosses out of the hold. However, Hall avoids an elbowdrop and decks Luger with his spinning punch to keep the advantage, but Lex mounts a comeback after sliding out to the floor and crotching Hall on the ringpost. Lex slingshots back in with a dropkick (!) and jars Hall’s spine with a series of atomic drops, both regular and inverted, in preparation for the Torture Rack. Before Lex can capitalize, the Outsider gouges him in the eye and whips him into the ropes, but Luger reverses it and unleashes a powerslam. With the crowd on their feet, Luger signals for the Rack and thwarts Syxx’s interference by tossing him out to Nash and lifting Hall in the Rack. Sensing his life partner is in mortal danger, Nash steps into the ring and Luger releases the Rack in order to nail Nash with the bionic forearm. Staying on task against all odds, Luger slugs away on Hall and clotheslines Nash, but the ref finally calls for the bell at 10:29 and disqualifies Scott when Lex is on top of Hall and Syxx stomps him in the back of the head. Nash levels Luger with the big boot, but the nWo trio are prevented from doing further damage when the Steiner Brothers race out and drive off the Outsiders. In a touching display of unity within WCW, Luger and the Steiners stand back-to-back-to-back to defend their turf while Nash, Hall, and Syxx attempt another assault to close the show. *** The crowd was hot for this main event and both guys showed great energy throughout the match, but the finish devolved into the usual clusterfluffle as the war between WCW and the nWo was fought three-on-three despite several other members of both groups presumably standing around backstage. Still, the work was solid and proved what both Hall and Luger were capable of doing when they had the desire.

“You guys couldn’t have shown up five minutes earlier?”

The 411: Although the lack of star power on the show was an ominous indication that Clashes were no longer a priority to the company, Clash of the Champions XXXIV managed to produce an entertaining lineup with one fantastic Cruiserweight Title bout to open the program, a crowd-pleasing and well-worked main event to close it, and some solid midcard stuff in between. As a precursor to the weekly WCW Thunder broadcasts that would premiere one year later, Clash XXXIV was clearly just a placeholder between Monday Nitro and nWo Souled Out and therefore, nothing of importance happened after the Cruiserweight Title change as most of the matches felt like they were rushed and cut short. Nevertheless, this Clash was a vast improvement upon the previous couple of installments and served as an effective vehicle to promote the nWo's first PPV.
Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend

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