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The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Clash of the Champions 33

December 14, 2006 | Posted by Arnold Furious
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The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Clash of the Champions 33  

The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Clash of the Champions 33

Rey & Malenko tear the house down to open the show and Eddie goes over DDP. Oh yeah plus Hogan v Flair again.

Check out the Clash 32 recap for links to various shows during 1996. Still to come are the final three PPV’s of that year; Halloween Havoc, World War III and Starrcade. Before I hit those bad boys up here’s the final Clash of the Champions for 1996. In 1995 WCW reduced the number of Clash shows per year from four to two. The first in January, the second in August. The nWo angle was in full flow by August. Hulk Hogan had turned heel and recaptured the WCW title from the Giant at Hog Wild. The nWo was running wild but hadn’t quite taken over the show. Bischoff’s tinkering had produced an interesting card whereby his talent raids on Mexico and ECW had added the likes of Rey Mysterio Jr, Ultimo Dragon, Eddy Guerrero and Dean Malenko to the undercard. The Steiner Brothers had returned in a popular move and it was clear that WCW was on a roll. Back to the title though as I’m sure it doesn’t seem very clear as to what happened between Hogan being champion and losing to the Giant in screwy fashion and Hogan winning the belt back. Here’s a timeline:

• Oct 1995: Giant originally captured the title thanks to Jimmy Hart putting a clause in the title contract between Hogan & Giant at Halloween Havoc ’95. But WCW decided that the clause was unfair and stripped Giant of the belt awarding it to the winner of the first World War show in 1995. The idea being WCW creating it’s own match to rival the Royal Rumble. 60 man, 3 ring battle royal. Winner gets the title and in future years a title shot.
• Nov 1995: Randy Savage won the title at World War III ’95. He was the last man in the ring although Hulk Hogan was never eliminated from the match
• Dec 1995: But he didn’t hold the belt for a long time before his feud with Ric Flair resulted in Flair taking the title in December.
• Jan 1996: Savage won the title back in January on Nitro.
• Jan 1996: The Clash of the Champions 32 recap occurs the night after that match.
• Feb 1996: Flair would win the belt back in February as the belt seemed to move back and forth to boost ratings on Nitro.
• Apr 1996: The Giant won the belt in April and became the dominant champion he was supposed to be in the first place.
• Aug 1996: Hulk Hogan pinned the Giant after a belt shot in the main event of Hog Wild and thus the Hogan era returned only with Hogan going Hollywood & nWo.

August 15th 1996. We’re in Denver, Colorado. Tonight’s main event is Hogan v Flair. Hosts are Tony Schiavone & Bobby Heenan. They debate the external issues connected to tonight’s match as Heenan points out the Horsemen go everywhere with Flair while Hogan is always joined by the Outsiders. We get some footage of Sting/Luger v Outsiders with the Horsemen helping out the babyfaces. The impartiality of Nick Patrick is called into question. With the Horsemen aiding Luger & Sting it showed that WCW were together in their opposition to the nWo. Which also marked Heenan’s face turn on commentary. You never get that heel edge back Bobby.

Cruiserweight title – Rey Mysterio Jr (c) v Dean Malenko

Mike Tenay joins the commentary team because he understands these guys a lot better than the establishment. Malenko jumps Rey ahead of the bell and suplexes him. Malenko bails as Rey gets up speed but gets dropkicked off the apron. Rey follows with a baseball slide headscissors. They do a near misses with a double nip and a shoulderblock stuns Malenko for long enough for Rey to hit the quebrada for 2. See, THAT is great psychology. Malenko sells a move just enough for Rey to realistically hit the next one without it looking fake. Malenko bails and Rey fakes with the 619. Malenko charges him but gets drop toe held. Malenko reverses and dumps Rey on the ropes with the release powerbomb. Stalling brainbuster gets 2. That looked SLICK. They run a near miss spot on a sunset flip with Malenko missing a punch and while he’s selling he gets rolled up for 2. This is terrific. Malenko has had enough of the cute stuff and he grounds Rey with a chinlock. Rey gets out but Malenko knees him in the guts to stop that comeback. Tony starts talking about the main event, heathen. Rey lands on the ropes of a backdrop and they counter each other like crazy into a bridging pin for 2. Now Tony, briefly shut up, goes back to talking about the main event again. Malenko hooks up a leglock to slow things down again. He’s looking to control the pace of this match. Malenko pulls out the Farewell for 2. Rey runs Malenko through the ropes Bret style although it was all in the Malenko sell. Rey gets a run up with a somersault senton. He then springboards off the rail into a moonsault. He barely wings Malenko with that. Back inside the springboard missile dropkick gets 2. Rey with a whirl and he shifts his weight into a pin for 2. West Coast Pop gets 2 with Malenko using the ropes to save himself. They battle onto the ropes and Malenko hits the GUTBUSTER OFF THE TOP and the ref counts 3 BUT Rey’s foot is on the rope. Malenko already has the belt but Rey jumps onto his shoulders and hits the victory roll for the real pin at 12.23. ***3/4. Great performance from Malenko as he held that match together and yet managed to keep to Rey’s strengths and have the match at pace. His psychology was breathtaking at times. I miss having Malenko around. Vastly underrated performer. The workrate in this thing was through the roof and blows away most of what WCW had been doing for the previous few years.

PROMO VIDEO – Glacier. Did they really think this was a good idea? It doesn’t look too bad here and they were probably gunning for Jushin Liger. Close, no cigar.

VK Wallstreet v Jim Duggan

VK would be IRS repackaged into basically the same character with a different name only with a slight spin to try and lampoon Vince McMahon. Not the last time that Bischoff would try that. Tony brings up the lack of nWo interference tonight and Heenan points out the nWo banner in the crowd suggesting the crowd are starting to back the heels. VK acts like a chickenshit and hides in the ropes. “A little too smart for you Duggan” so Hacksaw bounces his head off the buckles 10 times. They run a few basics until Duggan sets for the Three Point Stance and VK bails. He hangs Duggan up on the ropes coming back in. VK goes to a chinlock. Duggan fights out but runs into a back elbow for 2. Chinlock again. Duggan jawbreakers out. Duggan tries to tape his arm up, which the referee has some sort of objection to and in the confusion VK rolls him up for the pin at 3.46. ¼*. Pretty much what you’d expect. Not sure why they bothered pushing Mike Rotunda again.

BACKSTAGE Okerlund talks to the Nasty Boys. Saggs says they’re just here to fight. No agenda. Knobbs adds that their loyalty is to the Nasty Boys not anyone else but they want the tag titles and they’re disappointed not to be in the tag title match. They’re out to make a statement. Back from the ad break Gene shills the Hotline, which has the Outsiders interview on it. Boo!

Ultimo Dragon w/Sonny Onoo v Konnan

This would have worked well as an invasion angle pitting the whole Japanese contingent against WCW. They ran it at Starrcade though to a lack of interest in 1995 and went in a different direction. In the meantime Onoo has been busted back to a midcard manager. It was a way to give various random foreign wrestlers heel alignment. Ultimo wrestles around Konnan while Tenay reels off the accomplishments of Ultimo Dragon. Konnan wraps him up in a double leglock. He gives up on that to do, er, nothing. Ultimo bounces off him a few times to demonstrate the power of Konnan. Ultimo dropkicks Konnan out of the ring where Onoo lays the karate kicks in. Konnan no sells them and threatens to bash his face in but Ultimo jumps from behind. MOONSAULT TO THE SPINE…and La Mahistral gets 2. Konnan reverses another roll up and pulls the tights for the pin at 2.55. Oh lordy. ½*. Fun to see Ultimo doing his thing. Otherwise bad.

BACKSTAGE Scott Norton attacks Ice Train.

Meng w/Jimmy Hart v Randy Savage

Tony points out that Miss Elizabeth turned heel to join Ric Flair but then Hogan turned heel as well. Seems an age in storylines since Jimmy Hart turned heel. Anyway there’s no Randy Savage so there’s no match. Gene Okerlund comes out here with a mic to get to the bottom of this. He tells impartial referee Nick Patrick that Savage isn’t here. Meng wins by forfeit. Crowd hates this. Savage was still selling Hogan’s chair shot attack on Nitro. So instead of the match we get a Dungeon of Doom promo. It’s Kevin Sullivan, Meng, Barbarian, Hugh Morrus and Jimmy Hart. Sullivan says he berated Hulk Hogan for two years and he was right. Okerlund debates his career and Jimmy Hart calls this group “the strongest force in WCW”. Heh. Yeah. Not the nWo or the Horsemen first then?

Bull Nakano w/Sonny Onoo v Madusa

Since the last Clash Madusa has switched babyface and now wears the red, white & blue of Old Glory. Nakano, being Japanese and cornered by Onoo, is heel. She also has that awesome gravity defying hairstyle. Bull throws Madusa around by her hair and those are vicious. Bull has the nunchucks and uses them. Appalling refereeing here as he somehow misses it despite looking right at them twice. Good distracting there Sonny! Madusa barely connects on a crossbody and goes to Bull’s hair a few times. Madusa goes for the sunset flip but Nakano sits down for 2. Bull gets dropkicked outside. Madusa goes for the plancha and wipes out Sonny. He accidentally kicks Bull as an attempted revenge spot and Madusa gets the roll up for the pin at 2.41. Almost shameful giving them so little time to tell a story. ¾*.

BACKSTAGE Gene talks to Flair who has Miss Elizabeth & Woman with him. Flair says it’s about him, the girls, the Horsemen and the nWo. Flair talks about being world champion being the pinnacle of your career. Flair says Hogan beat up his best friend but Flair can’t do that because Arn is too tough and Hogan can’t do it either.

Diamond Dallas Page v Eddie Guerrero

DDP now has the Nirvana rip off music and is calling himself “DDP”. The character is almost to the point where he’s “classic” Page. DDP spits at Eddie but Eddie won’t be baited into a brawl. DDP wins a power struggle but Eddie nips back up and hits a whirl headscissors. Eddie misses in the corner though and posts his shoulder. Heenan chastises Page for not going after the shoulder. Instead DDP just goes to his usual stuff. Whirl sideslam gets 2. Yeah, this stuff looks cool but it doesn’t make sense. Chinlock from DDP with some rope cheatage. Eddie gets out and catches DDP with a jumping calf kick. Slingshot hilo gets 2. DDP catches him with a jawbreaker and a sit out powerbomb gets 2. DDP dumps Eddie up top but Eddie headbutts him off and hits the FROGSPLASH for the pin at 4.19. *1/2. Abrupt ending. Nice to see Eddie getting pushed over the likes of DDP back in ’96. At least there seemed to be some method over madness to begin with. DDP as a character can always recover from losing.

POST MATCH DDP offers a handshake but counters it into the Diamond Cutter. He throws the referee out of the ring and chokes Eddie. Another Diamond Cutter. See, his character recovered from the loss already. Chavo Guerrero Jr comes out to make the save but can’t prevent a third Diamond Cutter. Damn Chavo looks skinny. Just as we’re on our way to commercial Hogan comes out for an interview. He’s pissed off at Gene Okerlund for what he said about him earlier tonight (taking shots at Thunder in Paradise no doubt). Hogan says that even at his peak Flair couldn’t lace his boots. Hogan calls himself the Babe Ruth of wrestling. Hogan stumbles over his promo a few times, which is kind of weird for someone with his experience. Hogan says he’ll beat Flair tonight by being a dirtier player than him. He shoves Okerlund away telling him to get out of his face.

Chris Benoit w/Miss Elizabeth/Woman v The Giant w/Jimmy Hart

Woman is still taking Benoit’s vest off when Giant boots him. Chokeslam finishes at 21 seconds. DUD. Oh wow, imagine doing that nowadays? The booking team would be dragged out and lynched. Tony speculates that Woman held Benoit on purpose.

Tag titles – Harlem Heat (c) w/Sister Sherri v Sting/Lex Luger v The Steiner Brothers

Colonel Parker is out here too as he’s supposed to be the promoter of the tag champs. He and Sherri are still an item. Scott Steiner starts out with Booker T. Scott starts faster but Booker catches him with the back kick. Booker goes up top but Scott recovers and throws him crotch first onto the ropes. Luger gets up a head of steam and lariats him off to the floor. Luger now gets the tag off Scott but Stevie takes offence at what he just did to Booker and beats the shit out of him in the corner. Luger dodges out and beats Stevie down. Well, I don’t really like that but the crowd does. Rick runs in and takes them both out before bulldogging Stevie for 2. Luger makes the save and now it’s every man for himself. Stevie kicks Rick in the head. That was pretty agile for Stevie Ray. We take a break and on the return Rick hits a powerslam and Sting tags in blind. Sting hip tosses Booker over the ropes. He goes out to bring him back in and hits a press slam. Sting is on fire here so Stevie has to come in and break the pin up. Luger comes in for a suplex but Stevie breaks that pin up too. Stevie wonders too close to the Steiner corner and Scott tags himself in. Harlem Heat are out of the match for the first time. Scott looks to overpower Sting. They run some near misses and Sting is quicker and is able to drop Scott on the ropes. He adds a diving clothesline. Rick and Luger get into a brawl. Sting goes for a suplex but Scott counters into the Scorpion Deathdrop. Announcers miss that. Tiger Driver from Scott gets 2. Luger saves. Rick tags in but Sting gets him into the corner and Luger tags in. He hits a clothesline; Rick ducks a second one and hits a German suplex. Scott in for the belly to belly. Steiners suplexing has made a huge difference. Scott goes off the top though and Luger catches him in the Rack. Rick kicks the knee away and in comes Sting to take umbrage. Booker is in although not legally. Everyone else brawls up the aisle. The Outsiders are here. FRANKENSTEINER and Nick Patrick counts to 2 but then stops as he sees the Outsiders and calls for the bell at 13.22. The decision? A no decision. **1/2. Perfectly good match, perfectly wacky finish.

POST MATCH Scott takes offence at Patrick’s call trying to explain that it makes no sense. A replay shows the Outsiders attacking on the floor although you really can’t DQ anyone. Gene Okerlund gets a word with Nick Patrick. He says the Outsiders interfered in the match so it was a DQ. Okerlund points out they never got in the ring but Patrick says he’s a great referee because he saw all the action. He claims to be impartial and WCW all the way. Okerlund accuses him of taking bribes.

WCW title – Hulk Hogan (c) v Ric Flair w/Miss Elizabeth/Woman

At Clash of the Champions two years ago the main event was Hogan v Flair and Flair won the match but not the title. The announcers debate a 4th member of the nWo and whether it’ll be someone new or someone from within the company. Flair styles and profiles to try and put Hogan off. Flair headlocks Hogan over and sets the pace to his liking. Hogan overpowers and shoulderblocks Flair over. Flair slaps Hogan in the face and he backs down. Hogan breaks out the one bit of chaining he knows and takes Flair down to put the boots in. Flair chops away to keep him off and Hogan sells so much he ends up on the floor. Hogan threatens to slug some woman in the front row. Flair chops him again. Test of strength and Hogan overpowers but Flair bites his fingers and chops him off. Flair does his corner bump on a whip and ends up on the floor. Hogan follows to run Flair into the post. BACK RAKE! Flair does his corner bump again but lands on his feet and punches Hogan in between the eyes. Suplex and Hogan now Hulks up. Flair punches him a few more times and he’s still Hulking up. Flair chops him. No sold. Big boot. Legdrop…MISSES. FIGURE FOUR! Hogan is clearly in pain as the announcers hope for a short title run ending here. Hogan bumps the ref to save himself and the Outsiders run in. Flair gets a kicking but the Horsemen run in to make the save and Sting & Luger are with them. Match time is around 8.36 and Flair wins on DQ although Hogan was close to quitting. Weird seeing Sting and Flair in there again after Flair turned on Sting about 6 months beforehand. *1/2. Odd to see Hogan do his babyface wrestling style in a match where he was a heel. The difference being his usual cheating being directed towards the officials thus costing him the match but not his title.

The whole nWo additional members thing played out over the following weeks. Ted DiBiase was added as a backer before The Giant turned heel and joined the group to be their 4th official in ring member. Then the nWo turned their attentions to trying to turn Sting. It appeared they’d succeeded in that aim when Sting appeared to attack some of his WCW allies. This came to a head at Fall Brawl and War Games when both the nWo and WCW claimed that Sting was on their side. The nWo Sting came out first shortly followed by the real Sting. The nWo Sting was played by Jeff Farmer (if you wanted your nerd points off Ryan Byers). Sting’s involvement in the War Games match was his final wrestling appearance for WCW until they brought him back for the main event of Starrcade ’97. Weird holding one of your main guys out of action when he was fit and healthy for over a year but it was the driving force behind setting up a PPV that everyone wanted to see.

The 411: Hot opener and a solid card for a Clash show. Like most nWo era shows the main event underperformed when compared to the workrate on display elsewhere. The Steiners quest for tag gold was actually the most interesting aspect of the show and to a lesser extent Eddie Guerrero’s development as a midcard babyface. If you look back at ’96 it looks like WCW had all kinds of things planned out and were going forward and heading towards unparalleled success. While the company made a lot of money in the future 1996 was where it got its creative shit together. Which is kinda weird because the same thing happened in the WWF. They got their whole Bret-Austin feud started around the same time as the nWo angle was gathering pace. Both companies success was allowing them to push harder for great things. Good job too as WCW made a real effort to make their undercard too good to miss. Here it was Rey v Malenko but at future shows it was any combination of their stars in the cruiserweight division. Minor thumbs up for this as it does have Rey-Malenko and the show is generally quite entertaining even if the nWo angle is still finding its feet after the initial shocks had all been done.
 
Final Score:  6.5   [ Average ]  legend

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