Through the Years: Clash of the Champions 23

WCW in 1993 had brought some interesting changes, some of which were good but many terrible. The idea to bring the Four Horsemen back certainly qualifies as terrible. Pairing Steve Austin and Brian Pillman does not. For one night, this one in particular, both of those decisions culminated in a hell of a main event. That’s pretty much all they advertised for this show that I care about. Ric Flair back in the ring, what a time to be alive.

– June 17th, 1993, from the Scope in Norfolk, Virginia

2 Cold Scorpio challenging Barry Windham sounds pretty awesome. However, WCW just couldn’t resist with the false advertising. I’ll explain shortly. Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura are on commentary, hyping up Ric Flair’s return. However, Paul Orndorff won’t be defending his TV belt against Ron Simmons. Of course. Every WCW show has to have a last minute change.

Dick Slater (w/Paul Orndorff) vs. Ron Simmons

Pre-Match Thoughts: The more things changed, the more they stayed the same. This is a total 1991 match. Feels like nothing’s changed. Simmons was starting to look a little weathered, and Slater always did so nothing was different there. It makes fans feel ripped off to not get the match they want and then see the guy walk out there anyway.

Match Review: Slater and Simmons lock up, and Simmons atomic drops him shortly afterward. Slater comes back with a trip, but Simmons monkey flips him and slams him. Simmons follows with a shouldertackle for 2, and Slater rolls to the outside. They do a test of strength and wind up in the ropes, then Simmons goes for a sunset flip only for Slater to slap him. Simmons then hip tosses Slater, but Orndorff trips him which allows Slater to clothesline Simmons from behind. Slater then drops Simmons with a swinging neckbreaker, which gets 2. Slater and Orndorff celebrate like idiots, so Simmons works Slater over with right hands. Simmons powerslams Slater, covers, and that gets 3 at 3:58.

My Thoughts: This was not a particularly good match nor was it designed to be. Of course, I wonder what they had originally had planned. Anyway, this was a standard competitive type squash match. Nothing to see here. 1/2*.

Looks like Michael Buffer is at this show. His addition to WCW led to some hilarious gaffes. I’m totally okay with this!

Lord Steven Regal (w/Sir William) vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell

Pre-Match Thoughts: Nice to see Regal given the opportunity to have a showcase match. Hopefully that’s what it is, anyway. In the worst case, Bagwell would win it. Bagwell was so obviously on steroids, so any claim WCW made that they were doing steroid testing is totally absurd. Bill Dundee was a great fit, and this gimmick suited Regal amazingly.

Match Review: These two lock up, and Regal trips him to apply a wristlock. Bagwell reverses, and they do a series of reversals that leads to a drop toe-hold by Regal. Of course, Bagwell counters with a hammerlock. Bagwell then arm drags Regal across the ring, and goes back to the wristlock until Regal hits him with some stiff forearms. Regal clips out Bagwell’s knee, then snap mares Bagwell in a manner that knocks his knee into the ropes. Regal then works on Bagwell’s leg for a bit, using toe-holds and smashing Bagwell’s knee into the apron. Bagwell gets out of a toe-hold by kicking Regal in the face, but Regal trips him and goes back to work on the knee. The toe-hold is applied again, but Bagwell snaps Regal away. He lands a big forearm, then backdrops Regal. A hip toss follows that for Bagwell, and it gets 2. A backslide also gets 2, then Bagwell hits Regal with a big clothesline. They then go for the finish, and completely botch Regal’s cradle and holding of the tights. In any case, he picks up the pin after 6:29.

My Thoughts: I think it’s funny to see this version of Regal given how things turned out. In the end, he looked like an extremely accomplished wrestler who could have great matches. Here, he looked a bit behind the times, with a style that looked too old-school to work. They messed up the finish but otherwise I thought the match was fine. *3/4.

Maxx Payne is supposed to face Johnny B. Badd here, and he has Badd’s BADD BLASTER. He says he’ll give it to Badd before the match. Payne gives it to him, alright. He blasts Badd in the face with it. BADD HAS BEEN BLINDED BY CONFETTI.

After a commercial, Payne is waiting for his forfeit win. Instead, Tom Zenk runs out from the back and they brawl for a little while until some officials run out there to stop Payne from breaking Zenk’s arm.

2 Cold Scorpio vs. Barry Windham for the NWA Championship

Pre-Match Thoughts: I’m half-expecting Jesse Ventura to make an NWA joke, but I think even he may have known how far to push things. Maybe I need to figure out how far to push things. Scorpio and Windham were a good match for each other and it’s quite likely this would turn out to be a great one. Windham got a lot of cheers. There’s a reason behind this much more than the fans cheering against the black guy. It’s because he had a LOT of guys against him and needed to fend them off. Hard to be a heel in that scenario. Buffer’s introduction of Scorpio is surreal to me. I’m a huge boxing fan. This is worlds colliding.

Match Review: Scorpio and Windham get it on, and break clean. After that, Scorpio dodges Windham and dropkicks him. They fight over a wristlock, until Scorpio slams Windham. Windham comes back with a clothesline in the corner, then misses a charge to the other side and Scorpio trips him. Scorpio tries for a half crab, but Windham makes the ropes and bails to the outside. Windham gets back in there and boots Scorpio after faking a punch, then heads up top for a flying clothesline. Windham slams Scorpio and lines him up for a knee drop, then wants the referee to ask Scorpio if he quits. He didn’t. Windham suplexes Scorpio for 2, then forces Scorpio into a missed dropkick. Windham drops Scorpio with a DDT, but that only gets 2. Scorpio comes back with a cradle for 2, but Windham responds with a gutwrench suplex for his own 2 count. Scorpio fires off a dropkick, but Windham cuts him off with a gut shot. Windham drops Scorpio throat-first on the top rope, then tosses him to the outside. Scorpio comes in with a springboard Thesz press for 2, wasn’t expecting that at all. Windham dropkicks Scorpio, then picks him up for a Samoan drop that gets 2. Windham follows up with a back suplex for another 2 count, then starts slapping his challenger. Windham picks Scorpio up again, but this time Scorpio sunset flips him for 2. Windham cuts Scorpio off with a clothesline, then goes for another back suplex that Scorpio counters with his own. Windham has to go to the eyes, then puts Scorpio in place for the SUPERPLEX. However, Scorpio shrugs Windham off, comes off the top with a big splash, and covers for a very close 2 count! Scorpio takes Windham down with a hurricanrana, then superkicks him, leading to a victory roll type cradle that gets 2. Scorpio slams Windham, then goes to the apron for a SPRINGBOARD 450 SPLASH that gets 2. WOW at this closing stretch. Scorpio heads up top and comes down with a big dropkick, and THAT GETS 2. Windham then shrugs Scorpio out to the apron, and when Scorpio tries to fly back in he slugs him. DDT, cover, that’s it and Windham retains after 12:53.

My Thoughts: Fantastic match in my opinion, what a closing stretch that was. They slowly escalated things up to a perfect climax. Really enjoyed the whole thing. The near falls were such that it seemed like Scorpio had a legitimate chance of beating Windham. Obviously, they never would have booked things that way, but I got the sense the fans would have bought it. Anyway, great match, must watch in my book. ****.

Rick Rude, Big Van Vader (WCW Champion), and Sid Vicious (w/Harley Race and Col. Robert Parker) vs. Dustin Rhodes, Sting, and the British Bulldog

Pre-Match Thoughts: It’s fair to say that Sting was quite a bit marginalized in 1993. I have no idea why. Was it because his title runs bombed? If so, I think that’s kind of unfair. That being said, he got a much better shake than Ron Simmons did. The babyfaces had a promo before the match, in which the production looked quite professional. It’s funny. The main camera angle on this show looks nowhere near as clear as this. Sting’s part in the promo was great. That’s the image of Sting I have in my mind and have had in my mind for all these years. Hell of a six man grouping. The United States Championship is still in Rude’s briefcase.

Match Review: Rude and Sting will start this one, as everyone goes on to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Sting goes to a headlock, but Rude tries to power out of it. He couldn’t. Eventually he does and they go to the ropes, where Rude pops Sting with an elbow. Sting comes back with a nice backdrop, then picks Rude up for a press slam and throws him onto Sid and Vader, then they goof up and drop Rude. Sting beats up Sid, Vader, and Rude by himself for a while, until Rude goes for a slam and gets cradled up for 2. Dustin tags in and goes after Rude, tearing him up with elbows. He then dodges a Vader splash, so Vader lands on Rude and squashes him. This crowd is HOT. Sid makes a tag in to deal with Bulldog, and Sid does so with kicks. Bulldog comes back with some big rights, and slams Sid after them. Sid tries to leave the ring, but Sting crotches him with the middle rope and the babyfaces all clothesline Sting. Bulldog shoulders Sid down, then Dustin gets back in there, as does Vader. Dustin beats Vader down in the corner, getting another big reaction from the crowd. He suplexes Vader after that, then drops some elbows on him. Dustin drops a low elbow on Vader, then heads up top for an elbow drop that misses. Vader levels Dustin with a clothesline, then goes up to the second rope for the VADER BOMB. Vader covers and gets 2, then tags in Rude for some forearms to the back. Rude drops Dustin with a gourdbuster, it gets 2. Rude goes for a suplex, but instead Dustin drops him with a gourdbuster. Sid tags in to cut Dustin off from his corner, and throws him into the buckle numerous times after doing so. Sid takes Dustin down with a headlock for no reason at all, only for Sid to kip up and clothesline him for 2. Where the hell’s the psychology there? Vader tags in there and punishes Rhodes, then goes up to the second rope only for Rhodes to powerslam him on his way down. Rude tags in there quickly, and he goes for the TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER only for Dustin to reverse it. These guys used that spot…a lot. Sid breaks up the cover, so when Sting tags in, the referee doesn’t see it. Sting and Bulldog run in anyway, cause they’re tired of that shit. We have a big brawl now, with Sting and Vader on the outside. Sid and Bulldog are in the ring, and Sting misses a STINGER SPLASH and hits the rail. Vader now has Rude’s briefcase and clocks Dustin over the head with it, at which point Rude’s able to cover Dustin for the win after 11:02.

After the match, Vader and Sid team up on Bulldog, leading to a double team powerbomb. Sting runs in and steals the briefcase to chase Rude out of the ring, which very well could lead to the US belt being returned to WCW. Or not. For some insane reason the referee just gave it back to Harley Race. WHAT KIND OF LOGIC IS THAT???

My Thoughts: This was a fun match, they worked things really quickly. That headlock and kip up spot with Sid very nearly took me out of the match. He didn’t do a whole lot here, but the other five were more than capable. The crowd was going crazy for some of these spots, which gave the match a feeling of great excitement. All in all, good stuff. Having a six-man on a show like this is perfect and usually there’s always one guy who will clearly do the jobbing. That was the case here. ***.

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson vs. The Hollywood Blonds in a 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS MATCH for the WCW/NWA Tag Team Championships

Pre-Match Thoughts: This is one of the few matches from this year I had seen before starting to review this stuff. This is Flair’s big return match. Feels right. Don’t know why they couldn’t fill a building for it, but such things have always been inexplicable to me. Why didn’t they play Flair’s music? That seems like a mistake of some sort. Flair was finally starting to look like himself again with long hair. The Blonds were definitely looking to impress and show their talent here, so it’s the right mix. Also funny is that Paul Roma wasn’t mentioned on this show AT ALL.

Fall #1: Arn and Pillman will start the match off, and Pillman does a bit of Flair routine. Haha. Arn shoves Pillman down, and Flair walks the apron in response to that, doing his own routine. Pillman slaps Arn, who spits in his face and knocks him across the ring. Pillman pokes Arn in the eyes, but Arn catches and drops him on the top rope. Austin makes a tag in, which is what Arn wanted. The crowd wants Flair. Austin elbows Flair, then Arn trips Austin…and WE GET FLAIR. Flair pokes Austin in the eye, then hits him with some big chops and backdrops him. He brings Pillman in the hard way, and chops him too. He grabs Austin by the mouth, hits him with more chops, and struts around the ring as Arn rams Austin’s knee into the post. Flair hits Pillman with a back elbow, then goes over to Austin and rakes at his nose. Austin goes to the eyes and leaves the ring, then gets back in and trips Flair. Flair comes back with chops anyway, tags out, and Arn picks Austin up for a hammerlock slam. Flair tags in and drops a knee on Austin, then he gets back out of there. Arn works on a wristlock, but Pillman grabs the towel and chokes him for a bit. Austin walks over to stomp on Arn, then the towel choking gets mixed in there. Pillman tags in and drops Arn with a jawbreaker, then drives Arn’s face into the mat. Austin tags back in for a suplex, then misses a dive at Arn and gets caught with a DDT. This sequence was like…perfect. Wrestling at its best. Ventura’s commentary summed it up. Both guys make tags out, but Arn gets clipped by Pillman on the way there. Flair tries to beat up both Blonds by himself, giving Pillman an inverted atomic drop and elbowing Austin over the top. Flair beats Pillman up in the corner, but Austin attacks him from behind to stop it. Arn then trips Austin and Flair hits Pillman with a flying forearm, which earns Flair and Anderson the fall at 9:41!

Fall #2: During the break, apparently Flair was helping Arn with his hurt knee. Flair and Pillman restart the action, and they trade chops for a while. It’s awesome. Pillman throws Flair upside down into the corner, but he winds up on the apron and chops both Blonds. Pillman attacks Flair from behind to send him to the floor, and Austin suplexes Flair on the pads. Flair pulls Pillman out to the floor, but that was a mistake given that Pillman chops him and rams him into the railing. Austin picks Flair up and slams him, so Flair has to crawl back in the ring. Austin tags in there and Pillman chokes Flair with a towel, then Austin sets Flair on the top rope for something. Looks like a SUPERPLEX, and it gets 2. Austin then drives his shoulder into Flair a few times, until Flair starts choking him. Austin bites Flair in response, then Pillman tags in for more hard chop trading. The two guys then collide with each other, then Arn makes the big tag in. He backdrops Austin, then takes Pillman down with a big left hand. Arn drops Austin with the SPINEBUSTER, but Pillman makes the save. Pillman clips Arn’s knee out again, and Austin covers for 2. Arn can’t get up, though. Pillman drops some elbows on his leg, then works that knee over in the corner. Austin tags in for a stepover toe-hold, but Arn kicks him in the face. Arn kicks at Austin’s head for a little bit, then Pillman tags in for a half crab. Arn gets up and hits Pillman with an enzuigiri, but Austin cuts Arn off from the tag. Pillman gets back in there and gets booted in the face, then Flair makes the hot tag in. He cleans house on the Blonds, hitting them with big chops and throwing Pillman over the top. That should be a DQ. Flair drops Austin with a back suplex, then goes for the FIGURE-FOUR. Barry Windham runs out there to stop Flair from winning the tag titles, and obviously that gets the Blonds disqualified after 20:47. Windham beats Flair up for a while, as Paul Roma runs out of the crowd to save his Horsemen buddies. He should have went after Windham, but instead he gets the Blonds out of there.

My Thoughts: This was a good match, and really a tale of two halves. The first fall was excellent, worked at a great pace and paced perfectly. Everything was done well, especially Flair’s first appearance and the finish. The second fall wasn’t as good, it was more based on Arn’s bad leg, and was a little too slow for my liking. I thought the whole scenario ended well, given that they really needed to put more emphasis on Flair vs. Windham. At the same time, it’s not so good that the Blonds didn’t even get a fall. ***1/4 is as high as I can go given the difference in the quality of the falls.

To close out the show, Barry Windham says that Ric Flair doesn’t want any of him. He wants Flair, though. He took that title belt because he deserves it and Flair doesn’t, apparently. FLAIR RUNS IN TO TAKE CARE OF HIM! Officials and security guards separate them to end the whole thing.

I really felt like this was a great show. Those three closing matches were a lot of fun, and two of them served to really further on storylines that needed to be moved along. However, this show also suffered from the usual WCW problem of false advertisement. For some reason, despite this being Flair’s first match in WCW for a long time, this was a show that got very poor TV ratings. Those ratings caused WCW to break up the Hollywood Blonds. In the end, this event was actually a bad one for WCW. WCW was in a rough way as could be seen here, they didn’t exactly have a lot of depth outside of the wrestlers used on this card. Next up, it’s going to be WCW matches leading to Beach Blast. Those are interesting in their own way as well.

Wrestling Time: 55:09. Quite a bit of wrestling and most of it good.

Best: 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Barry Windham. The closing stretch of this match was so damn good.

Worst: False advertising. They plugged two matches that didn’t happen. Why did WCW do this?

Card Rating: 8/10. Really good show that ended in a way that left me wanting more.

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.