September 11, 2010
NWA Clash of the Champions
March 27, 1988, Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
Announcers: Tony Schiavone, Bob Caudle & Jim Ross
WWE has Night of Champions coming up this month, so hereís a look back at a show that could sort of be considered a predecessor to that one. Maybe thatís a stretch, but itís as good an excuse as any to watch this show. So, after having two consecutive tries at running a PPV sabotaged by the WWF (Starrcade 87 by Survivor Series, and Bunkhouse Stampede by Royal Rumble 88 respectively) Jim Crockett decided to fire back. On the day of the WWFís big show, Wrestlemania IV, he scheduled a special show to air live on TBS, and called it the Clash of the Champions. It was hyped as a supercard level show, but one that would air on free TV instead of PPV, with the obvious intent being to draw people away from Wrestlemania. It wasnít hugely successful in that regard as the WWF still did well, but it did result in a truce of sorts being demanded by the cable companies who feared their revenues would be hurt if the two companies kept trying to sabotage each other. So in that sense it could be seen as a victory for Crockett as he was assured of no interference on future PPV dates. Anyways, I know going in that thereís some great stuff here, so letís get to it.
Opening Match, NWA World Television Championship, ďAmateur RulesĒ Match: Mike Rotundo (w/ Kevin Sullivan) vs. ďGorgeousĒ Jimmy Garvin (w/Precious)
The Setup: The Varsity Club had been hassling Garvin and Precious over the past couple of months, but to get the match here Garvin has to agree to face Rotundo under his rules.
The Action: In this case, ďamateur rulesĒ means that there will be three five minute rounds, and a one count is all thatís needed to win. They start out trading moves, with each guy making sure to quickly get off his back due to the stips. Not much exciting happens before the 5:00 Round 1 ends at 5:07 with Rotundo unsuccessfully trying to turn him over. Round 2 begins with Rotundo going up top and getting slammed off. Sullivan and Precious then get involved on the apron, which distracts Garvin, and that lets Rotundo roll him up for the 1 count to retain at 0:57 of Round 2. Rick Steiner runs in for the beatdown, but Precious actually makes the save, nailing him with a 2x4 and then choking Sullivan out with a coat hanger.
The Verdict: It wasnít good or anything, but there was nothing wrong with it either. Also, I donít understand what the point of the stipulations was. They never really came into effect. Shouldnít Garvin have had him finished at then end of Round 1 so they could say he got screwed by them or something? *
United States Tag Team Championship Match: The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette) vs. The Fantastics
The Setup: The Fantastics were the new pretty boy babyface team brought in to feud with the Midnights and after an altercation on TV, this match was quickly signed.
The Action: They start out with a wild brawl on the floor, which includes using chairs and tables. Cornette gets in his share of shots too. Just when it looks like theyíve got it settled down, they go at it again which culminates with Rogers getting double teamed while the ref tries to restore order by getting Fulton out. Now weíve got a tag match going as Rogers takes an ass kicking by the MX. Fulton keeps trying to get in, but even after all the wild stuff earlier, now the rules must be enforced so the ref keeps cutting him off. That just makes things worse for Rogers of course as he keeps getting killed. At one point, Cornette holds up a table and they run him in to that. Then he gets beaten on the floor, including a slam and a bulldog on a table. Finally he gets back in the ring and dives over top of Lane to make the tag, but Eaton had the ref and he wonít allow it. Fulton has rightfully had enough of this, so he just tosses the guy out of the ring, and we get another four way brawl. Actually a five way as Cornette comes in, but he accidentally nails Eaton with the racket. Fulton the launches Rogers on to Eaton and a new ref runs in to make the 3 count at 10:20. The Fantastics are the new US Tag Team Champions! Or they would be if the original ref hadnít already disqualified them for Fulton throwing him around. The MX beats them down afterwards, including Cornette whipping Fulton with a belt repeatedly until Rogers comes back and clears the ring.
The Verdict: This was a really fun, all action, match, with an unfortunate Dusty Finish, but I still really enjoyed it. The crowd heat for this was also pretty unbelievable as they loved this dynamic. It makes me sad that tag teams are so de-emphasized today. **** Thankfully the feud would continue and the Fantastics would go on to win the belts about a month later.
Barbed Wire Match: The Road Warriors & Dusty Rhodes vs. The Powers of Pain & Ivan Koloff (w/Paul Jones)
The Setup: These teams were feuding over the Six Man Titles, which the POP and Koloff recently won from Rhodes and the Warriors, but the Titles are not on the line here. Also, the heels recently dropped a barbell on Animalís face during an angle on TV, resulting in him wearing a protective mask here.
The Action: The barbed wire is wrapped around the ropes, but doesnít come into play that much. They just do a six way brawl since no one can hit the ropes, and thereís not really much to it. Animal gets a powerslam on Warlord, with Barbarian trying to come off the top for the save, but he hits his own partner and Animal covers Warlord for the 3 count at 3:37. Heel beatdown on the injured face of Animal follows, but Hawk and Rhodes eventually clear the ring.
The Verdict: Short is good here as there was nothing they could really do so they just got it over with before it started dragging. Given what they had to work with, it was fine, I guess. Ĺ*
NWA World Tag Team Championship Match: Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Lex Luger & Barry Windham
The Setup: Luger, who had been recently turfed from the Four Horsemen, comes back for revenge by teaming with another longtime Horsemen nemesis Windham to try and take the Tag Team Titles away.
The Action: Luger takes it to the Horsemen right away, even getting Tully in the Torture Rack right off the bat, but Arn saves by clipping the knee. They work it over briefly until Luger runs them into each other and makes the tag to Windham. Windham kills everyone now with a lariat on Tully, and then a powerslam for 2. Eventually though he gets dropped on the ropes and the Horsemen take over again. Windham takes everything they have, including the spinebuster from Arn and the slingshot suplex from Tully, but keeps kicking out. He then finally escapes and makes the hot tag to Luger, who runs wild again. It breaks down into a four way with JJ getting on the apron with a chair as well, but Luger runs Arn into it and covers him for the 3 count and the Titles at 9:35.
The Verdict: This was another great tag team match, and the reaction Luger and Windham got for winning was huge. I loved this one just as much as the Midnights/Fantastics. **** The celebration would be short lived though as Windham would soon turn on Luger and join the Horsemen during a rematch which resulted in the belts going right back where they were.
Main Event, NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match: Ric Flair (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Sting
The Setup: This is Stingís first major main event match as he had grown in popularity following his face turn last year, and he was clearly being setup as the future of the company. JJ Dillon is locked in a cage and hanging above the ring to ensure no involvement from him. Also, we have five judges at ringside to score the match because in the exact words of the ring announcer ďthere must be a winnerĒ. Keep that in mind.
The Action: They go at a relatively slow pace compare to the other matches, but thatís obviously understandable. Sting controls early, no selling the chops and hitting some big moves before settling down and working a headlock. Flair canít get anything going, even when he tries to cheat. Sting even stays on offence after missing a Stinger Splash. Finally Flair gets an atomic drop as Sting mounts him for punches in the corner. He then takes it to the floor and sends Sting to the barrier a few times. This doesnít last long though as Sting soon starts no selling again. He hooks the Scorpion, but Flair is in the ropes. Around the 30:00 mark, Flair finally starts targeting the knee, working it over for a bit and then hooking the figure four (using the ropes of course). Sting fights it, and eventually rolls it over and gets the break. As it comes down to the last 10:00 or so, they start going into the nearfalls, but Sting canít hold him down. Flair gets the crossbody off the Flair Flip, but Sting rolls through for another 2. As the end approaches, Sting finally connects with the Stinger Splash that heís missed several times and hooks the Scorpion again, this time right in the middle, but Flair holds on until the 45:00 time limit expires at 45:02. So we go to the judges, because of course ďthere must be a winnerĒ. One votes for Flair, another votes for Sting, and a third calls it a draw, while the other two apparently donít matter and that means there is in fact is no winner and Flair retains on the draw.
The Verdict: It was a fine match, but I didnít like it as much as I liked the tag matches from this show. Obviously itís very different from those matches, so directly comparing them isnít necessarily fair, but itís still only third best match on the show. This is remembered as the night Sting became a superstar, and thatís probably correct, but itís still not that great, and the ending is disappointing, but I guess not really unexpected. Iíll call it ***.
Overall Thoughts: I guess I sound down on the main event, but when it has to follow two **** matches, anything not at that level isnít going to look as good. But on its own it would be fine, and it still helps this be a great show as a compliment to those tag matches. Not to mention that when I make the obvious comparison to Wrestlemania IV, all three of those matches were better than anything on that show, and the whole thing is only two hours long instead of four. Itís an easy Thumbs Up for Clash of the Champions, and a strongly recommended show.