Through the Years: Clash of the Champions 22

Time for Clash of the Champions 22, which features a fantastic sounding THUNDERCAGE STREET FIGHT as the main event. Very interested in that, and that isn’t the only thing. We have the singles debut of Chris Benoit, and Brian Pillman and Steve Austin challenging Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas for their tag titles. This is before the Hollywood Blondes thing got going, but that sounds like a potentially great match. I just want to get to it and see what happened.

– January 13th, 1993, from the Mecca in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The opening video is totally inaccurate. This main event wasn’t an eight-man tag, nor was Van Hammer in it. Well, damn. This WWE Network video doesn’t have chapter markers. That’s…not good. Sadly, Bill Watts is with Tony Schiavone again to introduce the show. WHY? He told us about all the changes to the show, which is all he seems to ever do. Van Hammer was injured and couldn’t do the arm wrestling deal with Tony Atlas. VINNIE VEGAS takes his place. There was also an incident with Erik Watts and Arn Anderson that they hadn’t actually shown yet.

Larry Zbyszko was with Erik Watts, who was pulled from his match against Cactus Jack. Would Cactus have had to put him over? Probably not, because this match was never going to happen. Why did WCW do stuff like this?

Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura did commentary on this show, and it was for the last time.

Cactus Jack vs. Johnny B. Badd

Pre-Match Thoughts: WCW wanted to leave things ambiguous as to whether or not Cactus was a babyface or heel until later in the show. He did get a pop, because people had just seen him get beaten up a few days previously and he came back with a shovel. NOW Badd has his new music. HE LOOKS JUST LIKE LITTLE RICHAAAARRDD. This match is happening because Badd cost Cactus their match at Starrcade.

Match Review: Cactus and Badd lock up, and Cactus elbows Badd in the face quickly. Badd comes back with his rapid punches, then Cactus does the BANG BANG thing to some applause. Cactus starts choking him, but people like that. Cactus misses a charge to the corner, then Badd rolls him up for 2. Badd dropkicks Cactus, then arm drags him. Cactus breaks the armbar with some forearms, but Badd rams him into the buckles. Cactus misses another charge to the corner, getting booted in the face as a result. Badd knocks him down with a right hand, then a small package gets 1. Badd hits Cactus with an elbow, then goes up top for his sunset flip, but Cactus dodges it. Cactus drops an elbow, and picks up the victory at 2:53!

My Thoughts: Little bit surprised to see Cactus in a position to win, but WCW was changing and things were starting to come together. It took a while for the Watts era to get going, but I like what I see now. Not a whole lot to say about the match because there was nothing to it. Missed sunset flip here, elbow gets the win there, etc. *.

Tony Schiavone is there to discuss the Great Muta winning the NWA Championship, which feels totally unimportant given that they don’t have a video of it.

OH SHIT, IT’S THE 2 COLD SCORPIO VIDEO. NO WAY. They showed him dunking on some kid. GET IN SCHOOL KID. YOU GONNA STEP YOUR WAY TO SCHOOL. Some of the athleticism they showed in this video was mind blowing.

Scotty Flamingo vs. 2 Cold Scorpio

Pre-Match Thoughts: Certainly can’t complain about this matchup. This could be good if given longer than the last match. If it’s shorter, then it probably won’t be anything but spots. After that video, I bet it won’t be shorter or anything like that. Also, it’s quite obvious Scorpio is going to win the match now. It is so hard to believe Scotty Flamingo and Raven were the same person.

Match Review: The bell rings, and the crowd doesn’t like Flamingo very much. Scorpio uses flips and cartwheels to get out of a wristlock, then hip tosses Flamingo. Scorpio cartwheels and hits Flamingo with his ass, then kicks him all the way to the aisle. 2 Cold goes to the apron, and flies off it with a clothesline of sorts. Flamingo dropkicks Scorpio out of the ring when they get in there, and he flies out with his own dive over the top! Back inside, Flamingo gets cradled up for 2. Flamingo comes back with a suplex for 2, then chinlocks Scorpio for a bit. Scorpio gets out of it, and hip tosses Flamingo. After a dropkick, Scorpio slams Flamingo. Scorpio goes up top, and down he comes with a splash where he turns backwards in the air for 2. That was WEIRD. Scorpio then throws Flamingo into the corner, but misses an avalanche, then gets rolled up for 2. Flamingo follows with his own charge to the corner, but Scorpio dodges it and kicks him in the face. Scorpio follows that with his twisting leg drop, then he hits Flamingo with the 450 SPLASH for the victory at 4:14!

My Thoughts: 2 Cold Scorpio was a hell of a lot of fun, man. He did some ridiculous stuff in this match, and Flamingo was capable of following him too. I found it interesting. Obviously, they should have pushed Scorpio very hard after this. He would have made a better Ron Simmons for WCW than Ron Simmons was. No disrespect intended. **, the match wasn’t very long.

Now we get a feature on THUNDERCAGE for some reason. Can’t figure out why. It showed Harley Race making a substitution for Rick Rude’s spot in the team, and the teams aren’t even finalized so I’m confused. I loved the idea to have Harley watch Cactus and Orndorff have a street fight. They showed some highlights of that, including Cactus attacking Race and the aftermath. I literally just watched this, though. Later in that show, they had Cactus Jack run out with a shovel and hit Race, Vader, and Orndorff with it.

Chris Benoit vs. Brad Armstrong

Pre-Match Thoughts: Benoit’s first WCW run was very inconsequential, hardly even enough to call it a run. Maybe we should call it a blip. They gave him somebody decent to work with, at least. It’s funny that they’d debut somebody in this spot and not give him anything to do afterward. He was too small to get a real shot at this particular time. Interesting that they pretended he didn’t wrestle in WCW before.

Match Review: Benoit has a heelish look on his face, and Armstrong puts a headlock on him. Benoit goes for a monkey flip when he gets out, but Armstrong dodges that, then Benoit dodges a dropkick. Benoit goes for a powerbomb, but Armstsrong uses an arm drag and hip toss. Armstrong goes back to the arm drag, and down they go. Benoit kips up, then gets dropkicked and arm dragged again. Jesse finally brought up Benoit’s prior appearance. Armstrong goes to a knucklelock, and Benoit powers out. They do some bridging sequences, until Armstrong takes Benoit down with an overhead throw. They exchange hammerlocks for a while, until Armstrong uses the old Bret Hart thing and runs Benoit out of the ring. Wonder whose idea that was? Benoit gets back in, and it’s back to hammerlocks until Benoit tries what Armstrong did, only for Armstrong to dropkick him and take him down with another arm drag. Benoit gets up and goes for a Boston crab, but Armstrong kicks him away. Regardless, Benoit picks Armstrong up and throws him on the top rope. Benoit then springboards up to the second rope, and clotheslines Armstrong off the apron! Armstrong gets back in the ring, and Benoit clotheslines him again. Benoit snap suplexes Armstrong for 2, but Armstrong comes back with a knee lift. Benoit fires off a backbreaker, then tries to get the submission for a bit. He doesn’t get it, so he winds up slamming Armstrong and heading up top. Armstrong gets to his feet, but Benoit headbutts him and flies down with a FLYING HEADBUTT that misses. Armstrong follows with a neckbreaker, then drops an elbow for 2. Benoit grabs him for a DRAGON SUPLEX, and that’s good enough for the victory at 9:15.

My Thoughts: That was pretty good, and I don’t know why they’d make Benoit a heel. As a worker, Benoit was already there. He could do anything that was required of him. The problem was that at this point in American wrestling, he was too bland to be a babyface and get over, and too bland to get heat. Also, it feels like bland people were more apt to get over during the Monday Night War. He was in a tough spot. Once Benoit figured out how to sell himself by talking or by looking extremely menacing and angry (which may not have been an act), he was ready to be a regular in the United States. ***. Lots of good counters, which was a good tell for the wrestling style that would be implemented in the future by the big two promotions.

For some reason WCW is selling the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express right here. They’re in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, though. They showed a video of them there, and plugged SMW pretty hard. WCW said that they were going to feature the RnR’s at SuperBrawl. Well now. They showed video of them facing the Heavenly Bodies in front of what looks like a REALLY hot crowd. Looks like Cornette had another Big Bubba Rogers figure in his corner there. Haha. It’s like the greatest hits of WCW right here. At some point, I may do a project where I watch this stuff. This particular match looks like the literal definition of Southern style wrestling. Also looks like something out of 1985. I’m cool with that.

After that, it’s time for Vinnie Vegas to fill in for Van Hammer and face Tony Atlas in an ARM WRESTLING CONTEST. WHY? There is no reason to still do this. Nash’s selling was hilarious. He wanted a LEFT-HANDED arm wrestling match, and he won! I don’t know what I just watched. After that, Jesse wants to interview Vinnie Vegas, who calls out Van Hammer. YES, DO THAT FEUD! Atlas didn’t show up in WCW again after this.

The Wrecking Crew vs. Tom Zenk and Johnny Gunn

Pre-Match Thoughts: I don’t know who the Wrecking Crew are. One looks a lot like Road Warrior Animal. I looked it up and they’re brothers. What do you know? The one that looks like Animal is called Fury, so that’s easy! The other one is Rage. I hardly care. Zenk and Gunn is the most lame team they could have possibly made.

Match Review: Zenk and Rage start this one, and Zenk grabs onto a headlock. Rage gets out and goes for a press slam, but Zenk blocks it. Zenk then misses a charge and winds up on the apron, then flies off the top with a cross body for 1. He then dropkicks Rage and Fury out of the ring. That wasn’t bad. Gunn then lines them both up, and flies out over the top with a running dive! Rage finally gets back in the ring, and he’s not happy. Gunn makes a legal tag in, and gets popped in the face. Rage accidentally knocks Fury off the apron, and Gunn rolls Rage up for 2. Fury tags in, and Gunn arm drags him. Fury hits Gunn with a clothesline in response, then follows with a backbreaker. He then puts his head down, so Gunn gives him a facebuster and tags out. Zenk hip tosses Fury, then they blow a spot, but that’s no big deal. Fury takes Zenk down with a gutwrench suplex, then drops him with a side slam. Rage tags in, and powerslams Zenk. Fury gets back in, throws Zenk from corner to corner, and winds up getting kicked in the mouth. Gunn makes the not hot tag in there, and backdrops Fury. He slams Rage and Fury a few times, then takes him down with a forearm. A noggin-knocker follows that, then Rage hits Gunn from behind as he runs the ropes. Fury picks Gunn up in powerbomb position, Rage jumps off the top with a double axehandle, and covers Zenk after that for the win at 6:07.

My Thoughts: This was far better than you’d be able to guess judging by how the Wrecking Crew looked. They looked far too built up and way too slow, but things didn’t turn out that way. There were some decent spots with these guys, but given the inexperience of Johnny Gunn, a few were blown too. Gunn blew himself up by slamming them and was barely able to execute the end of the match, which I thought was funny. *1/2, no better than that.

Sting is with Tony Schiavone, and he has new music! MAN CALLED STING MANNNNNNN CALLED STING. His partners in tonight’s main event were supposed to be Dustin Rhodes and Ron Simmons, who are dressed in STREET FIGHTING GEAR. The heel team of Barry Windham, the Barbarian, Paul Orndorff, and Big Van Vader looks quite menacing. Vader isn’t wearing street fighting gear, though. Harley Race then said that Cactus Jack would pay for putting his hands on him. Race then decided to kick Barbarian off the team because he had associated with Cactus. Barbarian then chokes Race, until Vader clotheslines him. Orndorff follows up with a PILEDRIVER ON THE FLOOR, putting an end to the Barbarian. YOU’RE FIRED.

The SuperBrawl video following this really made it look like Sid Vicious was going to come back. Ric Flair too for that matter.

Brian Pillman and Steve Austin vs. Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas for the WCW/NWA Tag Team Championships

Pre-Match Thoughts: This is pre-Blondes era, so we don’t get a whole lot of the good stuff that they would go on to do. Been looking forward to this one, but for some reason I hadn’t watched any of this show for a few days. Don’t know if that means anything. Larry Zbyszko had a promo with Austin and Pillman, who said they were the next great dynasty. If only. Douglas and Steamboat were interviewed too, and said they weren’t ready to lose their titles yet. For some reason, there were no entrances.

Match Review: Austin and Steamboat will start, and Austin gets right to clobbering. He goes for a backdrop, but Steamboat cradles him up for 2. Steamboat takes Austin down with a cross body for 2, then everyone winds up in the ring. Douglas dropkicks Pillman out of the ring, and Steamboat chops Austin to the outside. Austin gets back in there, and wants to shake hands. Steamboat slaps the hand away, so Austin kicks him and tags out. Pillman chops at Steamboat, who comes back with a hip toss and dropkick. Steamboat follows that with an arm drag, then tags in Douglas for a double axehandle from the top rope. A few quick tags follow, until Pillman fakes a knee injury after a leapfrog. Shane Douglas acts like a dope, so Pillman goes for a sunset flip, only for Douglas to powerslam him for 2. Douglas takes Austin down with a drop toe-hold, and Austin returns the favor. Douglas reverses to a hammerlock, and is able to keep that on for a while. Steamboat tags in again, and he uses the hammerlock slam. Douglas gets back in there, and sunset flips Austin for 2. Austin rolls him up and holds the tights for 2, then tries a backslide only for Douglas to flip out of it and elbow him for 2. Steamboat tags back in for a double hip toss, then Steamboat press slams Douglas onto Austin. Steamboat press slams Pillman onto Austin, then takes Austin down with a chop to the chest. Eventually Austin gets Pillman in position to forearm Steamboat, then Pillman tags in and slams Steamboat for 2. Pillman suckers Douglas into the ring to distract the referee, then he throws Steamboat over the top. Austin slams Steamboat on the floor, then Pillman beats Steamboat up on the apron. Steamboat tries to suplex Pillman out of the ring, but Austin boots him, allowing Pillman to suplex Steamboat back in for 2. Austin tags back in, and drives the shoulder into Steamboat for a while. Back out he goes, and Pillman chops Steamboat down hard and rams his face into the mat. Steamboat goes for a sunset flip, but Austin has the referee distracted. Austin gets in there, then gives Steamboat a gutwrench suplex. Steamboat tries to fight back, but Austin gives him a back suplex. Pillman worked his rail bump in there after getting hit by Steamboat, too. Austin goes for an over the shoulder backbreaker, which Steamboat flips out of. Austin goes for it again, until it’s time to tag out. Pillman comes in and hits his partner with an accidental AIR PILLMAN, then Steamboat chops Pillman and Austin from the top rope. Pillman goes for a back suplex to cut Steamboat off, but Steamboat reverses to his own.

Douglas finally makes the hot tag, and runs in there for some bodyslams and dropkicks. He clotheslines both guys, then drops Pillman with his BELLY TO BELLY. Austin jumps off the top with a double axehandle to break the cover, then puts Pillman on top. The referee doesn’t count for a very long time, and Douglas kicks out at 2. Austin and Steamboat brawl on the floor, then Austin gets one of the belts. He hits Douglas with it during a cradle, but the referee sees that and disqualifies Austin and Pillman at 13:44. Pillman gives Steamboat a DDT, and Douglas has been busted open by the belt shot. Pillman hits Douglas with it a few more times, then starts whipping Steamboat across the back with the tag belt until some babyfaces run out from the back to stop it.

My Thoughts: This was another good match from the team of Douglas and Steamboat, they worked pretty well together. There were a lot of good spots in this one, they worked really well to what was a pretty good finish. In some ways it was like they were just getting going. WCW having all this talent and running the company the way they did makes no sense to me. ***1/2, looking forward to watching the other matches between these four. They did have quite a few, after all. The dynamic will be interesting to check out.

We got a chance to see Vader beat Ron Simmons again, which is really not very nice. Jesse Ventura then introduced Vader. After Harley Race talked some trash on Vader’s behalf, Ron Simmons decided to run out to the ring. Simmons said he wasn’t going to make any excuses about losing his title. Race grabbed Simmons, then Vader and Simmons went toe to toe for a bit. Simmons gives Vader a SPINEBUSTER, then he starts beating up Race in the aisle. Vader gets up and goes over there, squashing Simmons and tackling him. He drops an elbow on the back of Simmons, then takes him down for a big splash on the floor. Vader follows that up with a shoulder-breaker, and a second one to Simmons’ injured shoulder. They sure made their former champion look pretty bad. Obviously, he was being severely punished for no-showing.

Sting and Dustin Rhodes vs. Vader (WCW Champion), Barry Windham, and Paul Orndorff (w/Harley Race) in a THUNDERCAGE STREET FIGHT

Pre-Match Thoughts: Sting and Dustin are screwed. Time for WCW to use that garish cage they built for Halloween Havoc 1989 once more. They had to justify the expense, I guess. Suppose that’s how things work when you have a cage sitting in a warehouse somewhere. The announcers made it sound like Simmons wasn’t going to be in the match, which is why I listed the match this way.

Match Review: Windham and Rhodes get to it, and so do Orndorff and Sting. Vader’s just standing there, as Dustin picks Windham up and slams him. Now for some reason, this turns into a tag match. Dustin backdrops Windham, but Windham comes back with a bodyslam. Windham misses an elbow drop, then gets beaten up in the corner for a while. Dustin follows that work up with a clothesline, then makes a blind tag to Sting, who drops Windham with a facebuster. Sting then press slams Windham, who decides to tag in Vader. Vader pushes Sting into the corner, but Sting comes back with some big rights. Sting picks him up for an inverted atomic drop, then drops him with a DDT. He hits Vader with a STINGER SPLASH, then beats him up for quite a while. Windham runs in and gets beaten up too, and so does Orndorff. Sting then throws Vader into the corner, and Vader does the Flair thing, then wrecks Sting on a charge into the corner. That was interesting. Now Vader goes up top, and hits him with that standing flying splash. Vader follows that with a bodyslam, then goes up to the second rope for a BIG SPLASH that misses. Sting clotheslines Vader over the top and into the cage, then Orndorff runs up from behind on Sting and gives him a GERMAN SUPLEX. That’s one way to deal with Sting. Vader then tags Orndorff into the match, and he stomps on Sting for a little bit. Orndorff follows that with a clothesline, an elbow smash, and he drops an elbow on Sting’s nuts. IT’S A STREET FIGHT. Windham tags in and hits Sting with a double axehandle from the top rope, then he suplexes him for 2. Vader tags in there and splashes Sting in the corner, then hits him with a big clothesline. Vader then press slams Sting like he’s nothing, and Windham makes a tag in. Windham goes for a SUPERPLEX, but Sting starts hitting him to knock him back into the ring. Sting makes the tag out to Dustin, then Dustin tries to beat up all three of the heels. Dustin hits Windham with a clothesline, then everyone gets one. Next, Dustin backdrops Windham, and clotheslines him in the corner. Dustin beats Windham up in the corner, and HERE’S CACTUS JACK! Jack is unlocking the cage, as Dustin’s in the middle of being beaten up. Windham runs over there, and Cactus hits him with bolt cutters. Then he hits all the heels with his boot, taking them out! THE MATCH HAS BEEN EVENED UP! All six guys are fighting now, but Vader crushes Rhodes and Windham in the corner. Orndorff throws Cactus to the outside, and attacks Sting from behind to throw him out too. Mr. Wonderful starts working on Dustin, but Cactus gets up before anyone else at ringside. Orndorff goes for a PILEDRIVER on Dustin, but Cactus jumps off the op with his boot, hits Orndorff in the head, and picks up the cover at 11:23!

After the match, Cactus takes some time to cut a promo and says that he’s there to get rid of Paul Orndorff and Big Van Vader. Oh boy. YOU CAN’T STOP CACTUS JACK. He then scales the cage and starts headbanging, getting what little crowd remains a bit rowdy.

My Thoughts: The crowd didn’t really know how to react to that finish, nor much of anything in the match for that matter. I liked it even though it was more of a formula tag match than a wild brawl. I dug the finish, it seems like they needed to establish that Cactus was a full blown babyface, and the end of the show accomplished that. Also, I feel like Vader and Sting appeared to be part of the roster rather than a special attraction, but I don’t think that mattered. I always think it’s funny when WCW would book a finish like this, where somebody either not in the match would take the pin, or somebody not in the match would get the victory. ***, it was good. Not quite what I expected, though.

That was quite an interesting event. It was like WCW was bridging from one year to the next, letting people know that what they would get in the next year would be quite different than the previous one. Not only was it different, it was really good. They had a lot of interesting things on this, it would be quite difficult to dislike the show. I would loved to have seen WCW sustain their pushes of Scorpio and Cactus, because those guys being at the top of their shows would have been in stark contrast to what the WWF was doing at this time. Hell, the whole show was. I’m really interested to see what WCW did next, but first I have Royal Rumble 1993 to watch. Never seen that before.

Wrestling Time: 47:36. Lots of time spent outside the ring during this, in addition to segments that weren’t wrestling matches.

Best: Steamboat and Douglas vs. Austin and Pillman. Lots of fun stuff here, but that was the best.

Worst: Vinnie Vegas vs. Tony Atlas arm wrestling contest. I don’t know why this was here.

Card Rating: 8/10. With three matches over three stars and some interesting angles to boot, this was a good show by any standard.

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.