Context around Clash of the Champions 23:
- Slamboree bombed on PPV, drawing well under 100,000 buys and netting WCW less than a million dollars in capital.
- Vinnie Vegas was scheduled to face Jim Neidhart at the Clash, but he signed with the WWF instead. WCW is still showing Nash’s matches on TV even though he’s now Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard on WWF TV.
- WCW spent $80,000 for the worst mini-movie they have produced so far: http://www.wwe.com/videos/the-masters-of-the-powerbomb-crash-sting-the-british-bulldogs-beach-party-beach-26118334
- Ted Dibiase requested a $250,000 contract to jump ship to WCW, they turned him down.
- Due to losing money everywhere, WCW is scaling back their house shows from 300 a year to 200. They will also focus on staying in southeastern U.S. markets.
- The Cactus Jack “Lost in Cleveland” skits are starting to air, playing off of Jack’s “amnesia” from his head hitting the cement after taking a powerbomb from Vader. WCW was allergic to money.
- Vader suffered a pinched nerve in his back at a house show that actually left him partially paralyzed for a few days.
- Brian Pillman will be working the Clash with a broken nose and a bad back.
- Sabu got a tryout. Bongo the Caveman aka jobber Tim Parker has been walking around the audience at TV tapings. Chris Champion has switched races, as he is now Asian and going by the name “Yoshi Kwan”. Bill Dundee is in as Lord Steven Regal’s manager. David Heath (aka Gangrel) has been signed. RVD is gone, as is Chris Walker.
- In a final amusing note, a sitcom is being planned called “The Main Event” which will follow the lives of people who work out in a gym owned by Johnny B. Badd. WHAT?!!?
Clash of the Champions 23
Jesse Ventura and Tony Schiavone call the action.
Ron Simmons vs. Dick Slater
Slater is subbing for Paul Orndorff who was injured. Simmons has now switched from serious contender to dancing black man as he tries to get the fans to do the “wave your hands in the air” bit that Men on the Mission were doing in the WWF at this same time. Crowd is hot! Paul Orndorff is at ringside and the fans are all over him with “Paula” chants.
Simmons dominates the early going as the Confederate Rebel is served up some restitution for the slavery days. Perhaps I’m reading too much into the gimmick. Slater slaps Simmons and that only pisses Simmons off. Orndorff trips up Simmons to set up Slater’s heat segment. Slater gets a near fall and celebrates like a retard. Simmons jumps him and powerslams him for the quick win. Not much to see here.
Eric Bischoff and Larry Zbyszko talk up the line up for the rest of the night. Larry shares some Polish sayings. Bischoff brings in Michael Buffer to talk to him about being the ring announcer later. The company is losing millions and they bring in extra expenses like this?
Marcus Bagwell vs. Lord Steven Regal
They actually explain why Regal went from babyface to snob in his first weeks in WCW. (He wanted to hide his royalty to see how average Americans behaved, and he was disgusted.) Regal guides Bagwell through some basic armwork at the start. Regal drives in some European uppercuts and works over Bagwell’s knee. The announcers get bored and start talking about rugby, Tina Turner and Mick Foley living with the homeless in Cleveland. After several minutes of that, Bagwell starts to fire up and totally ignores his knee injury. They then totally blow the finish as Regal tries to roll Bagwell up and the three count is made before Regal can even get on top of Bagwell and cradle over him. A styles clash and a dull match to boot.
Bischoff is now with Maxx Payne who has stolen Johnny B. Badd’s “Badd Blaster” (confetti gun). Payne promises if Badd will come out he’ll give it back. Badd comes out to take it back and Payne fires it off in his face. Badd sells it like he’s been hit with a fireball.
Payne gloats in the ring about injuring Badd. That draws out Tom Zenk to defend Badd’s honor. Payne has wisely switched his ring gear to a heavy metal T-shirt, which is ten times better than his generic singlet. Zenk is quickly overcome and locked in Payne’s armbar. Since Badd and Payne were scheduled to wrestle, that makes two matches already that WCW promoted and failed to deliver on.
NWA World title: Barry Windham vs. 2 Cold Scorpio
Buffer is doing the announcing. He actually makes this sound big time by talking about Scorpio being an international star with over 400 matches under his belt. Windham’s credentials speak for themselves. Scorpio is half of a tag team, so he really has zero chance of winning this.
Windham uses his size to bully the smaller man around. Windham fakes a punch, makes 2 Cold duck, and kicks him. The crowd appreciated that. Windham scales the ropes and launches a flying clothesline and follows it up with a picture perfect suplex. 2 Cold misses a dropkick and eats a big DDT. A gut wrench suplex allows Windham to mount Scorpio and drive fists into his face. Scorpio tries another comeback but gets cut off right away again. Windham drops him face first on the turnbuckle and launches him to the floor. The announcers bury Scorpio for getting zero offense in a big title match. Windham just toys with him, hitting suplex variations at will.
Windham starts to slap Scorpio around, begging for some kind of challenge. When Scorpio tries to do something, Windham just blasts him with a big clothesline. Scorpio knocks Windham off the ropes on a superplex attempt and lands a big splash that the crowd buys as the finish. A hurricanrana sets up a cradle. 2 Cold connects on a springboard splash for another nearfall and follows up with a flying dropkick. Windham catches Scorpio flying in again and levels him with a KO punch. A DDT ends it. Strangely booked match, as most of it felt like it was setting up a fluke upset win for 2 Cold. As it was, Scorp didn’t get enough in to come across as a plucky underdog. Solid execution on everything they tried though.
Sting, Dustin Rhodes and Davey Boy Smith vs. Vader, Rick Rude and Sid Vicious
Rude and Sting kick things off. Sting tosses Rude around and eventually into Vader and Sid, who catch him. They try and toss Rude back onto Sting but throw him different times, sending Rude awkwardly crashing to the mat. Sting lets Rhodes get him some of Rude. Vader tries to squash Rhodes but splashes Rude instead. Sid tags in and doesn’t fare much better. Vader tags in and Rhodes pummels him to the mat with punches and suplexes him! Rhodes is feelin’ it tonight.
Rhodes misses a flying elbow and Vader batters him with a vicious clothesline and a Vader bomb. Sid and Vader take turns abusing Rhodes. A whole lot of clubberin’ follows. After several minutes, Vader is caught in a powerslam. Rude quickly tags in and tries and Tombstone Rhodes, but has it reversed. A six-way brawl erupts as things break down. Sting flies into the railing. Vader blasts Rhodes with a metal briefcase and Rude steals the win. The heels wipe out Rhodes and Smith further after the match before Sting can make the save. They wisely booked Rhodes to work most of the match to save the uniqueness of the Sting/Bulldog vs. Sid/Vader match that was suppose to draw on PPV a few weeks after this.
Best of 3 Falls: Arn Anderson and Ric Flair vs. World Tag Champs Steve Austin and Brian Pillman
Flair’s trademark music is not used. His pop is also nothing special considering this is his return match. Granted he had been on TV for three months prior to this already. Austin and Pillman exude arrogance as they flaunt their titles during the intros.
Fall 1: Anderson and Pillman start. Pillman messes with Anderson, so Anderson yanks him to the mat by his hair, Pillman slaps The Enforcer, so Anderson spits in his face. Anderson drops Pillman on the top rope throat first, and Pillman scatters to his corner to tag off. Austin is unimpressed with Anderson’s guile and mocks his portly stature. The crowd starts to chant for Flair, so Anderson calls time out and tags in the Nature Boy. Flair offers a handshake, then pokes Austin in the eye and chops the shit out of him. He grabs hold of Austin’s jaw, which had insulted Flair so much in recent weeks and tears away at his mouth. Pillman gets too close and eats some chops too.
Anderson tags in and takes Austin to the woodshed, stomping the piss out of him before a cheap shot opens Arn up to some double teaming and illegal choking behind the ref’s back. Ventura is relentless in calling Anderson and Flair old and washed up as Schiavone tries to defend them. After several minutes of pounding, Austin gets too cocky with Arn and mockingly pantomimes filming him, so Anderson busts out a DDT out of nowhere. Flair makes the hot tag and unloads on both heels with chops. The numbers game catch up with Flair before Anderson trips up Austin from the floor, allowing Flair to catch Pillman with a flying forearm and snag the first fall. Buffer declares Flair and Anderson the new World tag team champions- considering his five-figure payoff screw-ups aren’t acceptable.
Fall 2: Flair mocks the Blonds’ camera taunt and chops the shit out of Pillman again. Flair lets Austin distract him and ends up knocked to the floor, where Austin greets him with a suplex. Pillman chops Flair and drives him into the railing. Austin sneaks over and drops Flair on the railing as well. Since we are corporate wrasslin’ now, Flair doesn’t blade from that, which is a shame. Austin superplexes Flair once they get back in the ring. Flair is physically punished for several minutes before Anderson can tag back in. Anderson goes after both heels, and a spinebuster looks to finish Austin but Pillman saves the titles by breaking up the pin. Flair tries to save Anderson but the ref stops him, allowing the Blonds to clip Anderson’s knee and get a very believable near fall.
Anderson tries to ward off Pillman and Austin while on one leg. He can’t walk, but he can kick out of their near falls. A figure-four and half crab serve to torture Anderson. Anderson fights his way out and hits an ENZIGURI?!?! That’s almost as surprising as the ones that Hogan pulled off against The Great Muta and Tenryu in Japan.
Pillman maintains control even after that but Anderson manages to boot Pillman in the mush and tag in Flair. Flair tosses Pillman over the top rope and takes Austin to mat for a figure-four. Barry Windham sneaks down the ramp and attacks Flair for the lame DQ finish. Paul Roma runs in to save his stable mates. He gets zero reaction. The fans are not impressed with this finish. Being able to kill off a crowd that was this hot is impressive. Flair attacks Windham as Windham tries to cut a promo, and that gets the fans back into it. The match itself was tons of fun, with the Blonds being willing stooges, Anderson being a valiant rugged babyface and Flair outclassing the heels when the fight was fair. I really didn’t dig the ending though.
Final thoughts: WCW showed examples of why they were losing money by the bucketful and drawing hordes of fans dressed as empty seats to their shows with this broadcast. Firstly, the habit of promising matches and not delivering has been a somewhat frequent problem, and here we got two more matches that did not deliver on what was advertised. Secondly, unnecessary expenses like using Michael Buffer added red to the bottom line. Thirdly, the fans were given a number of “Dusty finishes” in the late 80’s that rendered the fans disinterested in the main events as the ending were a steam of screw jobs and finishes that were later overturned.
Next up will be the “Beach Blast ‘93” PPV!