A look at the events surrounding Clash of the Champions 34:
- The Nasty Boys and the Outsiders real life heat came to a head when Saggs attacked Scott Hall during a match and delivered a series of shoot punches that knocked Hall’s teeth loose. Hall missed several weeks of action after the incident due to having oral surgery performed. The Nasties are Hogan’s buddies, so Saggs wasn’t fired. Some feared Hogan would seek to bury the Outsiders if his comrades lost their jobs.
- After a Nitro on January 13th, a large number of the crew and wrestlers went to a local bar. Late in the night, Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan got into a confrontation over Benoit being with Woman and Sullivan punched him twice before their coworkers broke them apart. Most people seem to think it’s just Sullivan and a few others doing another “worked shoot” in hopes of fooling the locker room and the home audience into thinking there is legit heat with the men.
- Debra McMichael and Woman have been catty with one another during Four Horsemen promos. Backstage they have a similar level of heat behind the scenes as they won’t even dress in the same room due to their dislike for one another.
- Kimona from ECW is rumored to be coming in as Benoit’s new valet.
- Bam Bam Bigelow and Tatanka are being pursued for nWo spots. Bigelow turned WCW down already because he has heat with Kevin Nash.
- The Sting angle was being planned to peak at SuperBrawl but with Luger, Giant and Piper around to headline, they decided to push it back.
- Indy darlings Ace Darling and Devon Storm are being looked at to add to the tag ranks.
- Randy Savage made his return and held a protest mid-ring during a Nitro. Sting silently convinced him to join him in brooding in the rafters.
- Mongo is not doing much training in an effort to improve. He is making between 350-500 thousand dollars a year as part of active roster.
- The WWF debuted “Shotgun Saturday Night” which, at least for it’s first few weeks, presented bawdy adult themed angles from small bars and other such places. The stark difference in appearance from the standard WWF production may have looked lowbrow to some, but the wild happenings created a buzz among a segment of fans who wanted more grit in the product.
- The WWF officials noted that the “ECW” signs were becoming far less prominent at WWF events and that the “nWo” was taking over as preeminent counter culture movement.
- Rey Jr. suffered a legit knee injury and missed a planned match with Lord Steven Regal here.
- This event was suppose to be headlined by a Hulk Hogan and The Giant vs. Lex Luger and Arn Anderson match where the Giant was suppose to turn on Hogan. Plans obviously changed.
- Hogan and Ric Flair were both advertised locally as appearing at the Clash. Neither did and some fans were upset by this bait and switch.
Clash of the Champions 34
Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone and the Brain call the action. The Dream is in Packer colors as this is coming from Milwaukee.
Cruiserweight champion Ultimo Dragon vs. Dean Malenko
Malenko is subbing for Justin Liger, who was having visa issues. They start things on the mat and we go to commercial early on. Not much was happening anyway. When we come back, they are still feeling each other out. They fire up the crowd with an exchange of blows but Deano Machino slows things down again. The challenger delivers a nice crisp back suplex, but then goes back to a leg lock. Dragon just sits down and waits for Dean to walk over and grab his leg in a totally phony looking segment.
Malenko snaps off a knee breaker and locks in the under utilized stump puller. Add a star to the rating for that alone. If I did star ratings… Malenko uses the railing to further injure the Dragon’s leg before locking him on a figure-four. A superplex nearly ends the champion’s reign. The valium finally wears off Malenko as the men suddenly bust out a break-neck pace sequence of near falls and high spots. Dragon nails a moonsault but Malenko kicks out. A Texas Cloverleaf attempt is ruined by Sonny Ono, so Dean wipes him out and locks the Cloverleaf on for real, earning the submission and his third cruiserweight title at 11:58. I normally enjoy Malenko’s methodical torture moves, but his efforts in the early portion of the match seemed to be just killing time in this case. A good final few minutes brought this back from the brink of disappointing. The fans gave Malenko a big ovation for his efforts.
Reading the Wrestling Observer after I finished watching this, it turns out that Ultimo Dragon kicked Malenko with a stiff shot to the spine around five minutes into the match and Dean couldn’t feel his legs for the rest of the match. Oddly, that’s around the time the match started getting better.
Scotty Riggs vs. Mike Enos
Riggs has a PPV match with Buff Bagwell in four days and they have to try and make him a bit credible. Both men get the jobber entrance as the bell rings as we come back from a commercial. Enos is rattled by Riggs’ speed at first, but he settles into control by using his size advantage. Enos hits a nice belly-to-belly overhead suplex. Riggs connects with a crossbody for the pin out of nowhere at 2:20.
The Horsemen come out. Benoit cuts an intense promo on Sullivan. Thankfully this is just trash talking Sullivan and not the infighting drama that had been dominating Horsemen segments for the past few weeks.
Konnan, Mr. JL & La Parka v. Chris Jericho, Chavo Guerrero & Super Calo
Poor Jericho is once again placed in the stench of Jobberville. First was his brief flirtation with having Teddy Long as a manager (who had such luminaries as Sgt. Craig Pittman and Jim Powers in his camp) and now he’s being teamed with the Luchajobberios. Jericho is in for Juventud Guerrera, who missed his booking. Psicosis was to team with Konnan but they announce he was injured by La Parka in Mexico, so La Parka took his spot. Seems he missed this show and Nitro the night before as well. Konnan is in the Dungeon of Doom, so I have no idea why he’s teaming in this random six-man.
Calo and Konnan do a spotty sequence before the match turns into a series of fast tags and highspots. We get the now passe spot where everyone takes turns being tossed to the floor and where they are then hit with a plancha. Jericho hits a top rope hurricanrana on JL to win at 5:30. Spot. Spot. Spot. Spot. Spot. But it wasn’t dull and flew by.
Renegade and Joe Gomez vs. Harlem Heat
WCW Saturday Nig…err the Clash continues with this epic tag match. Harlem Heat club away. They don’t have a PPV match, so this is totally random. Nothing exciting occurs and Booker T uses a missile dropkick to get the pin at 3:3o. Moving right along…
Alex Wright vs. Masa Chono
Wright is the cannon fodder to help establish Chono before his PPV match with Jericho. Chono gets a nice reaction for stomping Wright down and Alex’s babyface fire comeback is booed by the crowd. The nWo is edgy and wearing black, and Wright is just some geek wearing neon spandex. Wright tries to play to the crowd but is booed again. Chono takes some flying attacks to set up Nick Patrick doing slow counts to add on to that plotline. Wright kicks Patrick out of anger and Chono Yakuza kicks him for the win at 4:30. Meh.
Public Enemy plugs Lex Luger T-shirts in a wacky commercial.
Eddy Guerrero vs. Scott Norton
Norton is a tree stump and Eddy tries to move him around to no avail. Guerrero works over his leg before Norton mauls Eddy with his bulk. Schiavone explains that Norton, Buff, VK Wallstreet and a few other nWo members are just jabronis who are paid to take beatings on behalf of the real stars. Norton kills Guerrero with a power bomb but Eddy is all heart and manages to survive. Patrick is bumped and DDP sneaks in for a Diamond Cutter. Eddy splashes Norton and Patrick has no choice but to count the 3 at 5:25. The match stunk but the finish was necessary to show how WCW might have a chance at the nWo PPV this Saturday.
Falls Count Anywhere: Kevin Sullivan v. Chris Benoit
They brawled into the bathroom on Nitro the night before this event, and at the prior year’s Great American Bash, so when they brawl there again here, I have to wonder why they didn’t come up with a different location to wind up? In fact, instead of brawling in the ring and spontaneously ending up in the crowd, Sullivan points to the barricades and indicates he wants the fight to start there. Bobby Eaton is randomly in the audience helping the security crew. They fight to the back. The ref is knocked in a urinal. Sullivan flings Benoit down the cement stairs. Benoit survives the stomach stomp and Woman hits Sullivan with a flimsy looking chair, and that’s enough to win at 5:05. Another gimmicked chair is busted over Sullivan by the Crippler. This was fine, but it’s time for a new gimmick match guys.
Hacksaw Duggan hocks WCW T-shirts in a wacky commercial.
The Steiner Brothers v. The Amazing French Canadians
The rematch I’ve been waiting since 1993 for! Or not? The Steiners attack right away but Rick eventually falls into the face in peril role. The Amazing Quebecers miss their cannonball finish and Scott tags in for a roid rage comeback. Pierre is press slammed, belly-to-belly suplexed and then given a DDT from the top rope to finish him at 8:06. Paint by numbers, not offensive, not amazing, not worth another view.
Lex Luger vs. Scott Hall
Nash and Syxx join Hall. Luger no sells Hall’s assault and flexes. Nash and Syxx both run interference and Hall begins to stomp Lex into the mat. Nash interferes again and no one comes to Luger’s aid. Nick Patrick is not the ref here for some reason. Luger sells and sells and sells before finally low blowing Hall. Hall absorbs a trio of atomic drops and Syxx and Nash are tossed together. Hall is trapped in the Torture Rack and Nash runs in for the DQ at 10:28. Lex fends them off before Syxx comes in to overwhelm Luger. The Steiners run in to make things even. Team WCW repels them as we go off the air.
Final thoughts: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…. This was just a Nitro dolled up as an unnecessary special. They didn’t even try and run a unique angle or a first run match up to give us a bone to chew on. Hell, Sting didn’t even bother to make an appearance. Thankfully for WCW, the nWo angle was hot enough that people watched anyway.