Through the Years: Clash of the Champions 5


This was by some distance the worst Clash of the Champions card to date, but they’ve hyped the six man tag team match quite a bit. Apparently, that was the only thing they promoted. As a fan I would feel pretty ripped off over it. The lack of promotion probably contributed to the lack of attendance. 5,000 people turned up to watch wrestling in a 10,000 seat building, and that’s just not very good at all. Different market couldn’t have helped matters. The NWA is having some business issues because they aren’t booking many hot feuds with their top babyfaces. Sting and Lex Luger have been stashed away, and I just can’t understand why. Let’s get to the action…I guess?


– February 15th, 1989, from the Cleveland Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio


This introduction presents this show as being a ST. VALENTINE’S MASSACRE. Very professional introduction, but very corny as well. The usual Clash of the Champions introduction is much better. Jim Ross will be on commentary with Magnum TA, and they state that the Varsity Club will be defending their titles against the Fantastics. Even though Kevin Sullivan was part of that victory, Dr. Death replaces him in the team. Freebird rule is great! We also have the Road Warriors and Genichiro Tenryu supposedly defending their six man championships against Sting, Michael Hayes, and the Junkyard Dog. That’s a mismatched team if I’ve ever seen one. This is the first time that they’ve loaded a Clash up with more than a few matches, and I don’t think that’s a particularly good sign either.


The Russian Assassins (w/Paul Jones) vs. The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette)

Pre-Match Thoughts: The NWA just screwed me over immediately with this match. It’s borderline impossible to review a tag match with the Russian Assassins in it. Hilariously enough, Jack Reynolds states that the Assassins are from “Kilos, Russia, and have a combined weight of 288 pounds.” What? The crowd loves the Midnight Express, and that’s made clear during their entrance. The ring here is really small, it’s immediately noticeable.

Match Review: Lane and the taller Assassin start the match off, I suppose he is #1. The crowd gets a USA chant going, and Lane gets pushed to the canvas a bunch of times. He comes back with some kicks, and tags in his partner for the first time. Eaton grabs hold of the left arm, but is given a bodyslam, and #2 tags in. He misses an elbow drop, and Lane comes in with a clothesline. The Express gives him their drop toe-hold and elbow drop combination, and Paul Jones teases fighting with Cornette on the outside. Paul E. Dangerously is standing by with some comments, and says that at Chi-Town Rumble, the Midnight Express will be put out of the NWA by the Original Midnight Express. I can’t wait to see that. Eaton has an Assassin in a headlock, and fights his way out of the corner when he gets trapped. Cornette and Jones tease fighting again, and that’s what the fans really want to see anyway. Lane starts beating up Jones, and the fans liked that a lot too. Paul E. is back for more commentary, as the Express gives an Assassin a double back elbow. They throw one into the other, and send both of them to the outside for a racket shot from Cornette! Finally, things settle down and Lane resumes action with Assassin #2. He knocks him to the outside again, but Assassin #1 climbs in and nails Lane with a clothesline. The Assassins give Lane a double clothesline, and #2 has tagged in. After an elbow sends Lane to the floor, #1 tags in and puts Lane in a bear hug. Dangerously is doing a great job promoting the Chi-Town Rumble match, that’s for sure. #2 gives Lane a snap suplex for a 2 count, and goes back to the bear hug. Lane gets out with a hip toss, but was rendered unable to make a tag. #1 has tagged in, back to the bear hug. Damn, so much hugging. Lane fights out of it, but misses a charge. He should have tagged out. #1 gives him a bodyslam, and tags in #2 for an elbow that gets 2. Lane hits him with a cross body for 1, and still can’t make a tag. #1 gives him an elbow drop for 2, and a bodyslam follows that. He puts Lane in a half crab, and cheats by holding the ropes. Eaton rushes in to break it up, and after that #1 misses a big charge to the corner. Lane finally makes the tag out, and Eaton comes in with fists of fury. He gives the Assassins a noggin-knocker, and follows with a double bulldog. Dangerously is tired of this mess, so he leaves the commentary team and we cut to a commercial. WHAT? WHAT?

Fortunately, this was simply an error with the WWE Network version of the show. So, I hunted it down on my own, and watched the rest of the match. I’M NOT GETTING FUCKED LIKE THAT. One Assassin throws Eaton over the top, but doesn’t seem to get caught doing it. The other Assassin accidentally headbutts his partner, and Eaton climbs up top for the ROCKET LAUNCHER. Down he comes, and he hits it for the pinfall win at 13:16!

My Thoughts: Like I said, I wasn’t about to get fucked over like that. I needed to see the finish of the match. It wasn’t a spectacular match, but I believe in finishing what I started. The contest started off well, but that didn’t last. Once the Assassins took control and the Express worked through the spots they were able to do against such a big team, there wasn’t much left in it. 13 minutes is pretty long for a match that isn’t very good, but Dangerously’s commentary kept it interesting. *1/2, mostly for the clean finish. At least there are some legitimate victories being handed out since Dusty was forced out of his booking position.


Before the next match, Ricky Steamboat is interviewed. His toddler is with him, in an attempt to get him cheered even more…but he gets booed. I guess he’s getting the dad push. Nobody is going to cheer for that, sorry. He cuts the most straight laced conservative promo that I’ve ever heard.


Butch Reed vs. Steven Casey

Pre-Match Thoughts: Reed previously made his debut with JJ Dillon as his manager, but Dillon left the promotion, so he no longer has one. Casey looks like a roided up redneck with a mustache. Can’t help but laugh at him.

Match Review: These two lock up, and I don’t know why I even care about this match as I’ve been given no reason to. Teddy Long is the official, and considering he becomes Reed’s future manager, that’s quite funny. Casey gives Reed a dropkick and arm drag, and continues with a wristlock. Sadly, they show some mustached guy sucking face with his girlfriend in the middle of the match. That’s just great. This arm work is just really boring stuff, quite frankly. Reed breaks the hold by reaching the ropes, then puts his own wristlock on Casey. Casey reverses it after a while, using an arm drag to do so. Reed eventually leaves the ring, as JR starts talking about their idiotic new saying, “THIS IS THE NWA. WE WRESTLE.” This is a great crowd too. Reed and Casey do a test of strength, and Reed wins it. Casey reverses to a wristlock, and I’ve just realized that neither guy has taken a decent bump this whole match. We’re over halfway in, which makes matters even worse. Reed dumps Casey to the outside, and continues to keep him out of the ring. Like we need to watch the match be more boring? Casey rams Reed into the buckle, then climbs back in to get clobbered. Reed puts him in a chinlock, and this match is just total bullshit. Casey gets out of it and hits him with a shoulderblock, then gets pulled down to the floor again. Reed gives him a suplex back in for the first decent bump of the match, it gets 2. Casey misses a dropkick after that, and Reed goes back to the chinlock. If this was a match I had planned to watch and put in the assorted articles, I would have deleted this entire review and pretended I never saw it. I’m serious. Casey finally breaks the hold, and rams Reed into the turnbuckle a few times. He gives Reed a hip toss, and goes for a monkey flip as well. After another pair of dropkicks, Casey gets caught and given a press slam by Reed. Reed heads up top for the first time, and comes down with a FLYING SHOULDERBLOCK. Over for the cover, and that gives Reed the victory at 17:43.

My Thoughts: This match was a disgrace. There were no bumps, and nothing happened at all. Almost 18 minutes of absolute crap, is what that was. I can’t believe I sat through that without falling asleep, but it’s hard to do so in my computer chair. Casey and Reed should have been buried for this effort, but only one of them had WWF exposure. Sucks for Casey, but this match had no energy or effort level at all, and it never should have been on television. The nice finisher saved it from being even worse. -*1/2.


Apparently Ric Flair is going to make an appearance. He and Hiro Matsuda make their way to the ring with some lovely ladies leading the way, and Bob Caudle will interview him. This makes him look like such a star. He asks Steamboat to come out and pick a woman. It’s time for Steamboat to shed that family man image, from Flair’s perspective. He tells Caudle to take his pick too, how can you boo this guy? Steamboat finally shows up, and Flair tells him he must be bored with the same woman every night. He tells Steamboat that he should forget about his title shot, but Steamboat isn’t going to do that. He despises everything about Flair, and doesn’t want anything that Flair stands for or has, other than his belt. Flair says that Steamboat needs to go help his wife do the dishes, and Steamboat hauls off and slaps him. Then, they brawl in the corner, destroying each other with chops. Then Steamboat rips Flair’s clothes off! Flair continues to fight even though one of the legs of his pants is ripped, so Steamboat gets the better of the fight and rips the other leg off. Flair continues to fight, and hopefully his briefs don’t come off too. After a press slam, Steamboat backdrops him and heads up top for a flying cross body. The fans count 3, and Hiro Matsuda runs in to attack Steamboat from behind. He holds Steamboat in place, but Steamboat fights back and clears both of them out of the ring. He follows Flair, knocks him over the rail, and they chop each other through the crowd. That was great stuff.

As most everyone knows, this was a repeat of an angle they did between these two in the 70’s. It worked years and years later, such is how wrestling works. A similar angle today could work exactly the same. The only problem with this program is that the narrative is all wrong. Steamboat’s family man shtick is wearing so thin that people are already booing it. People don’t want their wrestlers to be like regular people, they want them to be larger than life characters like Ric Flair. There was a disconnect here between the NWA and their fans and they didn’t really catch onto it until the end of the feud if I’m remembering right.


THE BLACKMAILER (w/Hiro Matsuda) vs. Lex Luger

Pre-Match Thoughts: THE BLACKMAILER, WHAT A NAME! This is Jack Victory doing double duty tonight, as he was in the first match playing the part of “Russian Assassin #2.” You can pretty much see that both wrestlers have the same eyes if you look at them wearing the mask. I don’t understand the point of this, but it’s not like Luger has done a lot to earn a shot at the US Championship at the PPV. This is nothing more than a showcase match.

Match Review: The story here is that Luger doesn’t know anything about his opponent, so how can he be ready to wrestle him? He shoves the BLACKMAILER down a few times, and does the PEC FLEX! That’s real star power. He has the Blackmailer in a headlock, and destroys him with a shoulderblock that knocks the poor sap to the floor. The Blackmailer tries a back suplex, but Luger doesn’t even sell it. That makes the opponent look so illegitimate. Luger gives him a backdrop, and takes him down with a headlock as well. They break, and Luger gives him a powerslam. Back to the headlock we go, then Luger gives the Blackmailer a press slam. That guy is pretty huge to be taking that move, too. Luger then misses a charge and flies over the top to the outside, and the Blackmailer does all he can to keep Luger out of the ring. He tries to fly in with a sunset flip, it gets 2. Blackmailer chokes Luger in response, and puts a chinlock on him. Luger breaks out, and he gives Blackmailer a suplex. Luger stops selling pretty much everything now, and gives the Blackmailer a back elbow. After that, a running clothesline, and a superplex! He covers, and that’s a 3 count for Luger at 12:59.

My Thoughts: This match being so long was just absurd. It didn’t need the time at all, as it was essentially a Luger squash. They could have packed it into 6 minutes, and I don’t know why they didn’t. Some of the stuff with Luger has really stunted his ability to get cheered. He should have squashed this nobody like a bug, 5 minutes was all they needed. I don’t know what the point of this was, but it was nowhere near as bad as the Reed vs. Casey match. 3/4*.


Before the next match starts, we have an interview with Rick Steiner. Michael Hayes crashes it to say one thing, then gets out of Steiner’s way. The way Steiner talks is pretty funny, this is one of the few good mentally challenged gimmicks.


The Fantastics vs. The Varsity Club (w/Kevin Sullivan) for the NWA United States Tag Team Championships

Pre-Match Thoughts: Unlike Starrcade, the Varsity Club members participating in this match are Mike Rotunda and Steve Williams. At least Dr. Death was the constant, instead of Sullivan. This show is desperately in need of a good match, and hopefully this one produces. The Fantastics are on their way out, so effort level could be a concern.

Match Review: Rogers and Rotunda will start the match, with Rotunda giving him a fireman’s carry. The crowd constantly chants “Syracuse sucks,” which is one of the only good things about the match through the first few minutes. Rogers takes Rotunda down with a clothesline for 2, and Rotunda tags out. Dr. Death gives Rogers a clothesline, but misses a big elbow drop. Rogers tags out for the first time, and the Fantastics give Dr. Death a double dropkick, serving to make him angry. Then, they trip over each other on an attempted whip, and tumble to the canvas. Oh dear. Rick Steiner has some comments about Mike Rotunda in an insert promo, as Dr. Death accidentally charges through the ropes to the floor. He lands on his feet, and tags out. Rotunda rams Fulton into the buckle, but Fulton comes back with a sunset flip for 2. Dr. Death tags in again, and is given a cross body for 2. Rogers tags in and hits Doc with a dropkick, then Rogers is given a backdrop that he doesn’t take the proper bump for. Maybe he was supposed to land on his feet, I don’t know. There are some big mistakes in this match. Rotunda tags in, and Fulton tags in as well to hit him with a knee lift for 2. Fulton gives him 8 punches in the corner, utnil Dr. Death walks over and clocks him, knocking him down to the floor. Dr. Death drops Fulton on the rail, and frankly, I think that should have gotten Fulton counted out as the finish. He gets in the ring while foaming from the mouth, then eats a dropkick from Rotunda. Dr. Death tags in and lands a double axehandle from the top, it gets 2. Rotunda tags in to cut Fulton off from a tag, and he gives Fulton an atomic drop and some elbows. After dropping the leg, Rotunda covers for another 2 count. He gives Fulton a bodyslam, but misses a big splash. Is it time for a tag? No, it is not. Fulton remains in the ring, and is trapped in the Varsity Club’s corner. Dr. Death gives him a big press slam, and follows with THE KNEE CLIP. He sets Fulton up for the OKLAHOMA STAMPEDE, but Fulton falls on top of him and finally tags out.

Rogers hits Dr. Death with a springboard punch, but Rotunda trips him. Dr. Death misses an elbow drop, and Rotunda has to pull Rogers to the outside. Fulton is trapped in there again, and Rogers does another sloppy cross body to land on Doc’s back. He has Doc covered for the count, but the referee is distracted. So, Rotunda stomps Fulton from the second rope, and picks up the victory at 13:24.

My Thoughts: This was the best match so far, but I don’t think it was great. It could have been much better and there were a lot of missed moves. This match being unspectacular as it was, it doesn’t require much to be said about it. The crowd has really simmered down after the Flair/Steamboat angle, sadly. It was really hot but they haven’t been given anything else to react to. **.


Bob Bradley vs. Ricky Steamboat

Pre-Match Thoughts: I don’t know why this match is even here. TBS watchers have been given a chance to watch Steamboat already, a squash on a Clash of the Champions is not necessary at all. Ricky is accompanied during his entrance by his wife and son. I don’t see the purpose of this at all, and as stated earlier, they are woefully misjudging their fanbase.

Match Review: Steamboat’s chest is beet red and welted from being chopped by Flair. He starts the match with an atomic drop to Bradley, and the crowd is pretty much dead silent at the moment. Bradley gives him a hip toss, and a bodyslam as well. The crowd chants in favor of Ric Flair, and I’m not entirely surprised by that. Bradley gives Steamboat an arm drag, but Steamboat comes back with some hip tosses and bodyslams. After a few more arm drags, he rams Bradley’s face into the mat. Bradley pulls Steamboat out to the floor, bodyslams him, and rams him into the rail. After another bodyslam, Bradley follows with a back elbow. What the hell is this? Bradley gives Steamboat a third bodyslam, and a clothesline too. Bradley misses a charge to the corner, so Steamboat gives him an arm drag. Steamboat continues with a backdrop, and gives him another arm drag. Steamboat gives Bradley another hip toss while showcasing his athleticism, and gets chopped down by his jabroni opponent. Bradley gives Steamboat a sidewalk slam, and heads up top for the first time. He comes down with a flying headbutt, but it misses. Steamboat heads up top, lands a flying chop, and goes up top again. Down he comes with a flying body press, and that picks up the victory at 6:25.

My Thoughts: No heat, Bradley got way too much offense as well. Frankly, this shouldn’t even have happened. It made Steamboat look bad as nobody cheered him, and he gave up far too much offensively. * for another nothing match. This show sucks.


Rip Morgan vs. Rick Steiner for the NWA Television Championship

Pre-Match Thoughts: Alright, this is just too much. These matches are horrendous. I’m actually surprised that this concept could last through this garbage. They’re running short on time, so the next two matches are going to be packed in. Steiner has received a great reaction, I’m surprised given the reactions other wrestlers have garnered.

Match Review: Morgan does a crappy version of the Haka, if you can even call it that. Steiner bites him, and it’s time for a Rotunda insert promo! Steiner gives Morgan a clothesline, causing him to leave the ring. When Morgan gets back in, he rams Steiner into the turnbuckle, but Steiner does that about 5 times to show him it doesn’t hurt. Steiner then gives Morgan a powerslam, it gets 2. Steiner misses a rush to the corner, and Morgan hits him with a flying back elbow for a 2 count. He bodyslams Steiner, and heads up to the second rope for a fist drop that misses. Steiner clotheslines him, and gives him a bodyslam as well. He misses the elbow drop, but gives his challenger a belly to belly suplex for 3 at 4:41.

My Thoughts: This was decent, better than the last match at least. Hard hitting opponents are good for Steiner, as they can trade with each other and create an interesting match. This was not that interesting, but you know. Baby steps and all that. *1/2.


Sting, Michael Hayes, and the Junkyard Dog vs. The Road Warriors (NWA Tag Team Champions) & Genichiro Tenryu (w/Paul Ellering) for the NWA Six-Man Tag Team Championships

Pre-Match Thoughts: This match makes no sense given that people continue to cheer for the Road Warriors. Sting cuts a promo on behalf of his team, and does a really good job with it. Hayes gets his turn, and he looks like he’s been tearing up those drugs of late. I’m sure he was! JYD says a few things, and I bet he was keeping up the same activities. Kevin Sullivan decides to lock them in the dressing room, and I don’t know what’s going to come of that. The fans just got completely ripped off of seeing the advertised main event, but it makes sense considering that the fans will wind up booing three guys that the company wants to be babyfaces. Still, very bush league indeed. The Road Warriors make their entrance, not carrying belts for their six man championship. You know why? It’s because there aren’t any. Tenryu is a major afterthought. Eventually, the Varsity Club hits the ring and it looks like we have…

The Varsity Club (NWA US Tag Team Champions) vs. The Road Warriors (NWA Tag Team Champions) & Genichiro Tenryu (w/Paul Ellering) for the NWA Six-Man Tag Team Championships

Match Review: The Road Warriors and Tenryu get cleared from the ring, and that means this will become a match. They come back in, as we see Sting and his buddies trying to get the dressing room door unlocked. How many keys do you have to go through to find the right one? The crowd is rabid for the Road Warriors, which means to some extent this was obviously the right thing to do. Sullivan slaps Animal a few times, and gets clotheslined hard in return. After that, he clotheslines the other guys and gives Dr. Death a big boot. Hawk beats up all the Club members, and takes out Sullivan with a shoulderblock. Tenryu tags in, as does Rotunda. Let’s see some chops. He gives Rotunda one, dropkicks him, and we pan back to the back again. It’s terrible production to not even be able to watch the match. Tenryu gives Dr. Death an enziguri, and tags in Hawk. Hawk destroys Dr. Death with a clothesline, and Animal switches in. He gets thrown into the corner, and finally the door in the back is broken! Rotunda tosses Animal out of the ring, and throws him into the post after that. Sullivan draws Hawk into the ring, and uses that opportunity to throw Animal over the top rope again. Animal gets back in, and he collides with Sullivan leading them both to fall down. The referee doesn’t spot Animal’s tag, so the Varsity club sets Animal up for the double spike piledriver. They give it to him, but here comes STING AND HIS CREW! That causes a double DQ at 5:47, but Sting is here to do crazy stuff. He flies over the top onto Sullivan, and hits him with a chair too. The Varsity Club takes the shit kicking from everyone else, and we go to commercial as 9 guys are fighting each other.

Thankfully, that’s the end of the show!

My Thoughts: Why not just have a battle royal with all 9 of them? Does that make too much sense? Perhaps it does, considering the way this show was booked. That match turned out in the stupidest way you could imagine, really. It was supposed to make for compelling TV, but this just didn’t make any sense. 1/2*.


That was a torturous experience. Fortunately, they dropped the six man championships forever after the show. They were unnecessary and they were stupid. They didn’t even have belts for them! The angle was great, and if not for that it would have been the worst wrestling “special event” or PPV that I’ve ever seen. This was really and truly one of the worst shows I’ve watched, and I have a hard time believing any Clash of the Champions could be worse. Who knows, there are still plenty of them to prove me wrong. I can’t really point out anything good regarding the matches that were on here. The best match was 2 stars, you know how hard that is to sit through? Anyway, this was not the way to build towards Chi-Town Rumble at all. I strongly recommend that people do not watch this out of their own curiosity here as there was very little to derive enjoyment out of. The Blackmailer gimmick was funny, although Jack Victory participating in 25 minutes worth of match was not. Jim Cornette and Paul Jones did a good bit. The Flair/Steamboat angle was great. That’s it. Next up is a review of Chi-Town Rumble, which I know will be better. It can’t possibly be worse.

Wrestling Time: 1:25:15. None of this was good. 7-10 minutes of great angle, and 20 more minutes of filler like interviews and entrances made up the rest of the show.

Best: Flair/Steamboat angle, this was legitimately amazing.

Worst: Butch Reed vs. Steve Casey. Almost 18 minutes of straight out shit.

Card Rating: 2/10. I’m completely serious. I don’t think there can be a worse wrestling card put on by WCW or the WWF/WWE, but I intend to find out. If there is one, I either haven’t seen it or don’t agree. There is no reason to watch this whole show.


Written by Sage Cortez

Sage is a boisterous Los Angeles sports fan. Unsurprisingly, like many other loudmouth LA fans, he also likes the Raiders and a range of combat sports.

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