June 16, 2012
Matt Peddycord
The Powerdriver Review

WWE – The Best of WCW Clash of the Champions
Released: 5/22/2012
Two-Disc BLU-RAY Set

DISC ONE

Your host is Dusty Rhodes. He introduces the original Clash concept as firing a shot back at the evil corporation up north for ruining their Starrcade 1987 buyrate by pinning the cable companies into a corner promising not to give them WrestleMania IV if they showed the NWA’s first PPV offering. So to respond, the NWA ran the first Clash up against WrestleMania IV thus giving what could have been potential PPV viewers a chance to see one amazing card for free.

NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. Sting – Clash of the Champions (3/27/88)
We got judges for this one and they just might be the worst panel I’ve ever seen. An NWA board member Gary Juster, former authority-type figure and wrestler Sandy Scott, the highly esteemed Penthouse Pet of the Year Patty Mullen, Eddie Haskell from both incarnations of the Leave it to Beaver TV series, and Wayne Arnold from The Wonder Years. You would see Jason Hervey every now and then on WCW TV over the years (mostly while dating Missy Hyatt) and he would actually later receive an executive producer credit with WCW, become friends with Eric Bischoff, and then they would begin the Bischoff-Hervey Entertainment company, who are responsible for some pretty terrible reality television shows involving Hulk Hogan.

More importantly than who the judges are, JJ Dillon is locked inside an ascended cage to prevent any foul play. No longer is Sting from every man’s nightmare. THIS-IS-STING! As opposed to the typical 60-minute time limit, this one can only go 45 minutes. JR and Tony Schiavone join us for commentary. Flair finds out that Sting is just too strong during the feeling-out process. The hiptoss and the dropkick send Flair out to the floor. Back inside, Sting is all about the leapfrogs. There’s the press slam and an old school flying headscissors. Sting sticks to a headlock on the mat. Once Flair gets to his feet, he takes Sting over to a corner. The chops don’t work, but he can certainly another dropkick. WOO! Flair dumps him out, but Sting jumps right back in the ring for some punches up in the corner. Back to the headlock. Flair fights out, but Sting catches him for another press slam. Sting grinds on Flair with a bearhug and takes him down to the mat. Jumping elbow drop misses, but Sting is just fine until he misses a corner charge. Sting tries the punches up in the corner again, but Flair brings him down with an inverted atomic drop. They go to the floor for some guardrail stuff with Flair in total control. Back inside, Flair starts up with the hard corner whips. He follows up with a couple of Rolling Knee Drops. More corner violence ensues and Flair tosses Sting to the floor. Flair threatens Sting with a chair, but ref Tommy Young takes it away from him. Back in, Sting starts to PSYCHED UP. They head back to the floor where Sting misses a clothesline up against the ringpost. In the ring, Flair twists on the arm. Sting starts to choke him back into a corner using his good arm and mounts Flair for more punches. Hiptoss and a clothesline gets two. Sting goes for the SCORPION DEATHLOCK at the 25 minute mark, but Flair reaches the ropes. Sting punches Flair to lead to the flop for two. Now Flair ducks a charge and Sting goes flying over the top rope to the floor. However, Sting NO-SELLS a neck snap on the top rope and delivers a Flying Bodypress for 1-2-NO! Flair hits a quick shin breaker and begins to take Sting to school. He delivers another one and Sting has to roll out. Back in, Flair continues to dissect the knee as he hooks on the FIGURE-FOUR after the 30-minute mark is announced. The ropes are pulled on, but Sting will not submit. From there, looks like we JIP to Sting having Flair in the figure-four. What. Flair reaches the ropes and as Sting breaks the hold, he runs over to the camera to yell out to Greensboro: “Do you know how to party or what?!” Now Sting start to take Flair to school. The Flair Flip lands the champ on the floor as Sting takes it to him on the guardrail. Now over at the ringpost! Back in, Sting stands tall when Flair tries the sunset flip. Flair tries to bring Sting out of the corner with another inverted atomic drop, but Sting avoids the knee and nails Flair with a clothesline for 1-2-NO! Oh, but the Stinger Splash misses with less than five minutes to go. Back inside the ring, Flair tries to cut off Sting with a sleeper. Sting then runs him into the corner. Now Flair dumps out. Sting comes back with a sunset flip. Flair drops down to his knees and grabs hold of the ropes to try for the cheap win. Tommy Young knocks his hands loose and Flair falls back for 1-2-NO! Flair runs down the apron out of the corner flip to the top turnbuckle for a flying bodypress, but Sting rolls through for 1-2-NO! Sting NO-SELLS the chops and fires himself up. One minute remains. This time the Stinger Splash connects! He hooks on the SCORPION DEATHLOCK, but Flair holds out until the 45-minute time-limit expires. (39:16 shown) The Penthouse Pet awards the match to Flair while Gary Juster gives Sting the nod. In a ridiculous final decision, Sandy Scott declares the match a draw. Apparently he doesn’t understand the judge concept, which renders the entire panel completely meaningless. Well, they just went out there and tore the house down. Not just historically significant for creating one of the biggest stars of the 1990s, but also a great match in front of a crowd that stayed lava hot for the entire show. ****

NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Barry Windham & Lex Luger – Clash of the Champions (3/27/88)
The Horsemen try and trap Luger to start, but he comes fighting out with clotheslines. He hits a powerslam on Blanchard and looks ready to rack him, but Arn breaks that up with a kick to the back of Luger’s leg. Arn tags in and goes to work on the thigh as though he’s paid good money to cripple people. He tags Blanchard back in for more of the same. Just as soon as Luger gets back to his feet and starts swinging, Blanchard trips him up and tags in Arn. Luger kicks out of a figure-four attempt and sends Anderson into Blanchard on the apron. Blanchard still gets a tag, but so does Windham! DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER! I bet he learned that during his time in the WWF! Windham delivers his Running Lariat to Blanchard, but doesn’t go for the pin and hits a powerslam instead for 1-2-NO! Windham hooks on a sleeper hold! They end up in the ropes and fall out to the floor, but Windham doesn’t let go no matter what! Anderson breaks the count and tries to revive Tully to get him back in this match. Blanchard catches Windham with a shoulderblock from the apron and hotshots him to slow Windham down. He goes up on the top, but gets caught and slammed down to the mat. Anderson gets popped on the apron and then Windham applies an abdominal stretch in the middle of the ring. He really cranks on it and does that so much, that he doesn’t see Anderson coming in this time to nail him in the face! All of this thanks to JJ Dillon distracting the ref, of course. Anderson becomes the legal man and delivers the DDT to Windham for 1-2-NO! Anderson doesn’t show any frustration and gives him the next best thing, which is the Double-A Spinebuster for 1-2-NO! Windham is INHUMANE! Anderson does the spot where he tries for a pin out of a knucklelock, but gets crotched instead. Blanchard gets the tag and keeps Windham from doing the same. Blanchard pounds away on Windham, but then misses a clothesline and goes down to a crossbody block for 1-2-NO! Blanchard shoves off on a headlock for a double-KO. Back up, Blanchard starts off another headlock sequence, which ends with Windham delivering a gutwrench suplex! Windham can’t capitalize this time either and Blanchard tags in Arn. Windham kicks out of a wristlock and avoids a knee drop, but still can’t reach Luger. Anderson and Windham punch each other down, but it’s Tully who gets the tag once again. He delivers the SLINGSHOT SUPLEX for 1-2-NO! Windham has taken the best these two have to offer and kicked out of pin attempts for all three moves! Windham punches Tully down and staggers into his corner to make the MOLTEN HOT TAG TO LUGER! Luger destroys Arn with clotheslines, but then Blanchard catches him coming off the ropes to slow him down. However, Luger reverses a corner whip on Arn and gives him a powerslam. Arn goes low on Luger as Tully comes in and brawls with Windham. Meanwhile with the ref’s back turned, JJ Dillon holds a chair in the corner. The Horsemen’s plan backfires and Arn gets pulled face-first into the chair by Luger! Cover, 1-2-3! We’ve got NEW NWA World Tag Team Champions! (9:33) Crowd goes insane for it, but it wouldn’t be long until Windham SHOCKED THE WORLD and turned on Luger to give the belts back to Anderson and Blanchard. To compensate the loss, he became a member of the legendary Four Horsemen. It’s every kid’s dream! This is how tag-team wrestling is supposed to be done. ****¾

NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Dusty Rhodes & Sting – Clash of the Champions II (6/8/88)
Sting takes a backseat to Luger here, as he’s sent down to tag-team status instead of taking on Flair at the Bash. Don’t worry, he’ll get his chance. Sting no-sells some takedowns by Arn with kip-ups to start, but then Arn fires back and then takes Sting out to the floor. Arn unwisely tries to clothesline Sting up against the ringpost, but of course Sting ducks and Arn hits steel. Back in, Sting goes right to the arm, so Arn rakes Sting’s face to escape a wristlock and tags in Tully. It’s THAT simple. He comes in and takes a hiptoss/headscissors from the Stinger. Tag to Dusty! Man, Florida REALLY loves this guy. He’s all fists and elbows for Tully, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Dusty puts on the Figure-Four, but Dillon gets up on the apron for Arn to run in and break it up. Now that the Horsemen have Dusty hurt, they tag in and out and stay on top of him. Blanchard tries a suplex, but Dusty blocks it. Tully flips out of Dusty’s suplex attempt, but then gets knocked down with a clothesline. Dusty hits a standing dropkick and tags in Sting. Sting delivers a press slam and then connects with a Stinger Splash! Sting wants the SCORPION DEATHLOCK, but Arn comes in to stop him. Tully nails Sting from behind and then knocks him out to ringside for Arn to hotshot him on the guardrail! Arn tags in as Blanchard tosses Sting back in the ring. Arn tries the pump splash, but he hits knees instead of Sting’s abdomen. Sting gets within five feet of Dusty when Tully runs into cut off the tag. Arn comes in and tags Tully immediately. He can’t suplex Sting, so Tully leaps off the top for a sunset flip. Sting won’t fall down, so Arn clotheslines him to MAKE him go down for 1-2-NO! Sting starts to fire back, so Tully yanks him out to the floor. While Tully is with the ref, Arn gives Sting a DDT on the concrete! Dillon tosses Sting back in and Tully covers for 1-2-NO! Sting trades blows with Arn and then gets a backslide for 1-2-NO! Tully tags and stops Sting again from tagging in Dusty. Sting reverses a whip and hotshots Tully. Arn gets a tag and so does Dusty! He’s got elbows for everybody! DDT to Arn! Dusty hits the big elbow off the ropes, but Tully breaks it up at one. Sting comes in to stop Tully and shoves the referee aside. Uh-oh. Teddy Long gets tossed by Dusty as well. (11:02) Just as I say that, Barry Windham runs down and delivers a top-rope double-sledge to Dusty, then he puts Dusty in the CLAWHOLD! I guess the champs win by DQ, because Teddy Long called for the bell before Windham came in the ring. It’s hard to tell since I’ve seen people say it was a double-DQ as well. This was pretty good stuff by the Horsemen, as they attempted to teach Sting a thing or two about good tag team wrestling. **½

Ricky Morton vs. Ivan Koloff (w/Paul Jones) – Russian Chain Match (Clash of the Champions III, 9/7/88)
Paul Jones feels Koloff needs to prove himself worthy of his managerial services, so this is what we get. Strap match rules apply here, but there’s a chain used instead of a strap. By the way, this is Ricky Morton during his *lame* attempt at being a singles wrestler. Ivan uses the chain a lot to start with clotheslines and things of that nature. Ivan goes for the win at two minutes in by touching two corners, but Morton armdrags him down to interrupt. Ivan tosses Morton out to the floor where they play tug-of-war with the chain. Morton wins that and gets back in, only to receive some stomps from Ivan. He goes for the win again, but Morton starts kicking at his leg. Morton whips Ivan down, but can’t go for the win because Ivan kicks him away. Ivan hits a double-sledge from the top, He tries for another, but Morton pulls him down. Ivan comes right back and begins to choke on Morton some more with the chain by lifting him up in a hangman’s position. Morton breaks free and fires back, but it doesn’t take long for Ivan to start whipping him with the chain again. Ivan taps three of the corners, but Morton trips him up on his way to the fourth corner. Ivan kicks back at Morton and goes to the top again. He comes down on Morton, but Morton was “waiting in the weeds” so to speak and they nail each other with the chain. Morton is the first man up and he starts to drag Ivan around the corner. He hits all three corners, but Ivan grabs the middle rope to prevent Morton from reaching the fourth corner. Paul Jones wants Ivan to grab hold of his riding crop to help him out and he does, but it slips out of Jones’ hand and Morton falls into the fourth corner to win the match. (10:36) Paul Jones gets all in Ivan’s face, so Ivan decks him. The Russian Assassins run in to save their leader. Crowd chants for “NA-KI-TA!”, but that guy has already left the building. Ivan is now a face by default. Rather boring stuff as far as the match goes, but Ivan Koloff being kicked out of the Army is somewhat significant. *

NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk (w/Gary Hart) – “I Quit” Match (Clash of the Champions IX, 11/15/89)
Six months of back and forth intense feuding has led to this match. This feud WILL end tonight. It has no choice. Before the bell, Funk gives Flair a chance to leave before he gets seriously hurt. Of course, Flair doesn’t budge and chops Funk to the floor. Back in, Flair has more chops for Funk. He tries to stay away from Flair as much as possible. Funk meets Flair back in the ring and gets choked, so Funk goes to the eyes and kicks Flair out to the apron. A STIFF chop from Flair stuns Funk for a moment, but he maintains the advantage and dumps Flair to the floor. Funk pounds away and grabs the mic to ask Flair if he’s ready to quit, but Flair chops him back. There’s your answer, Terry. Funk brings Flair back in the ring and mounts him in the corner for some punching. Does that egg-sucking dog Flair want to give it up? No way. Flair says nothing and atomic drops Funk out of the corner. Funk delivers a swinging neckbreaker on the formerly injured neck. That’s the story of the match. How much can Flair’s neck sustain if Funk decides to go after the injury? That’s been the story of this feud for the past six months. They go to the floor again with Flair taking Funk around the ring with chops. Back in the ring, Flair slaps and chokes Funk to make him quit, but Funk doesn’t say a word. Flair gets distracted by Gary Hart, so Funk nails him from behind. Funk hits another swinging neckbreaker and then reminds Flair of the plane crash and Wrestle War. Funk sets Flair up for a PILEDRIVER and gives Flair a chance to say “I Quit” before he does it. Awesome! Flair says nothing, so he takes the PILEDRIVER. Funk tries to make him say it, but Flair just won’t do it. They go to the floor again. This time, for a PILEDRIVER! Flair STILL will not say it. Funk just doesn’t understand this. Funk sets a ringside table against the apron, but Flair chops back and slams Funk’s face into the table. Flair sets up the table on the floor and then slides Funk across it right into a chair. Haha. Ouch! Atomic drop on the guardrail does Funk NO good, then Flair chops him down. Back in, Flair hits the Rolling Knee Drop. He goes after the leg and everybody in the building knows what is coming. Funk tries to leave, but Flair bull-rushes him down the aisle and brings him back in the ring with a suplex. FIGURE-FOUR attempt is blocked with an eye gouge. Flair chops back after a suplex on the APRON. He kicks the knee and Funk collapses for the FIGURE-FOUR! Will he quit?! Funk says “Never!” Thirty seconds later, Funk says “I quit!”. (18:33) Gary Hart is livid! Funk said he would shake Flair’s hand even though it was against Hart’s wishes, and he does. Gary Hart decks poor Terry Funk and that was all the excuse Flair needed to run across the ring and nail Gary Hart. Funk instantly becomes a babyface because of the next five minutes even after six months of belittling and nearly ending the hero Ric Flair’s career. Great Muta and the Dragon Master come down to save their boss and beat the heck out of Flair. Out comes Sting in Flair’s defense. Figure-Four to Muta, and the Scorpion Deathlock to Dragon Master. Now Lex Luger runs in the ring with a steel chair and nails Sting in the back! Flair goes over to punch Luger’s lights out, but Muta grabs the chair and blasts him in the back. Meanwhile, Gary Hart is punishing Funk’s knee with his own branding iron. On Luger’s way back to the dressing room, Luger bashes both Flair and Sting’s trophies with the steel chair. Freaking awesome. Funk and Flair only did like four moves a person too! For all you naysayers who care WAY too much about move set, watch this match and see if you don’t get into it. I can’t praise this match enough. These two guys busted their butts and the intensity level was off the charts. On par with the Magnum/Blanchard “I Quit” match in ’85 and in some ways better by them being able to brawl around ringside and all the chaos at the end to set up the Starrcade Iron Man tournament. Excellent booking by Jim Ross. *****

Cactus Jack Manson vs. Mil Mascaras – Clash of the Champions X (2/6/90)
The only real difference in 1990 Cactus Jack and 1991 Cactus Jack is that he’s about forty pounds lighter here and he’s got on a different ripped up looking shirt. Of course, he dropped the Manson part and kept the craziness. Not sure why they brought in Mascaras, but they did. Mascaras applies a bow-and-arrow early on and then dropkicks Cactus out to the floor. He does a funny little spot where he chases off Capetta and then falls back and trips over his chair. Back in, Mascaras slaps on an elevated Boston crab, but then Cactus makes the ropes and tosses Mascaras out. He wants to deliver the elbow drop off the apron, but Mascaras sneaks back around into the ring when Cactus isn’t looking and dropkicks him to send Cactus back-first on the concrete! Cornette ~ “Cactus Jack is dead!” Well, he’s clearly moving so that can’t be true. Sick bump though, and one that he talks about in his first book. Back in, Mascaras hits the FLYING CROSSBODY for the 1-2-3. (5:00) And that’s that. ½*

NWA U.S. Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette) vs. The Rock N Roll Express – Clash of the Champions XI (6/13/90)
Sure, why not. Gibson and Eaton start the match and do some armlock exchanges. Gibson gives Eaton a headscissors takedown into the headscissors on the mat. Eaton escapes and backs Gibson into the corner for a tag to Lane, but Gibson breaks loose. Lane comes in with the savate kicks, but Gibson returns the favor with an enziguri. Morton tags in and gets a hiptoss, so Lane gets mad and pops him in the corner. Lane then misses a charge and receives a backdrop. He goes low on Morton and tags Eaton, who runs right into an armdrag and an armbar. Eaton sneaks in a back elbow, but then gets nailed with a hurracanrana takeover. Gibson and Lane tag. Lane takes an atomic drop off into his partner Bobby Eaton. Eaton and Morton come back in, as Eaton goes for a superplex. Will he get it? No! Morton flips out and rolls Eaton up, but Lane comes in and throws Morton off into the turnbuckle. Morton gets tossed aside and the Midnights give Gibson a double backdrop. They go for another one on Gibson, but he sunset flips Eaton and Morton rolls Lane up off the rope for a double-pin situation for 1-2-NO! Once order is restored, Morton hiptosses Lane. Morton goes for another hurracanrana, but Lane blocks it and Eaton comes off the turnbuckle onto Morton. They continue the double-teaming with a Curt Hennig neck snap, followed by an elbow drop for 1-2-NO! Eaton misses a corner splash, which sets up the HOT TAG TO GIBSON! He hits a knee lift and a crossbody for 1-2-NO! Eaton saves and Morton clotheslines him out to the floor. Morton falls out with him and throws Eaton from the apron to the guardrail! Morton climbs up onto the apron, but Gibson knocks him off inadvertently. Meanwhile, Eaton is back up and on the apron. Gibson applies the SLEEPER, but Eaton lowers the boom on him to break it up. Lane covers for 1-2-NO! Now all four men are back in the ring. The RnR hit the DOUBLE DROPKICK on Eaton, but Lane stops the count by grabbing the referee and that’s an automatic DQ. (12:08) What a letdown of a finish. It was actually picking up there at the end too. Definitely one of the least exciting matches I’ve seen from this seemingly never ending rivalry. **¾

NWA U.S. Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair – Clash of the Champions XII (9/5/90)
This is the last of the great Flair/Luger matches, IMO. By ’95 when Luger returned from the WWF, he was getting pretty lazy and a shell of his former self. Flair’s totally confident here, but Luger is just TOO pumped up here, and I don’t mean necessarily with steroids. Luger’s Press Slam puts Flair on the floor to regroup. Back in, Flair goes low and chops on Luger, but that has no effect. Another Press Slam and a clothesline sends Flair out again. This time, Luger follows him out with another clothesline. Flair tries to gain the advantage with a neck snap from the apron, but Luger isn’t fazed and stalks Flair in the ring. Flair turns around and cowers to the corner. A THIRD Press Slam follows! Flair avoids the jumping elbow drop though, but then Luger explodes out of the corner with another clothesline. Flair starts to fake a shoulder injury and lures Luger hook line and sinker. Luger gets dumped out for some guardrail action. Flair brings Luger back in the ring and punishes him with chops. Luger definitely slumps down to the mat this time. Flair tosses Luger back out for some more guardrail action. Once Luger gets back in the ring, Flair goes after the knee. He places Luger in the corner and chops at the chest, then kicks at the knee. How are you going to combat against that? Luger wins a slugfest, but just before Flair flops to the mat, he pokes Lex in the eyes. Back up, Luger delivers a backslide for 1-2-NO! Another Flair chop starts to wake Luger up. He turns the tables on Flair in the corner and gives him the ten-count corner punch. Clothesline connects, but his knee REALLY hurts. Cover, 1-2-NO! Flair heads up top, and I don’t even need to tell you what happens next. Flair flips out of the corner off a whip and gets leveled with a clothesline. A FOURTH Press Slam to Flair! Luger hits the Powerslam and calls for the TORTURE RACK. Flair rolls the apron and thumbs Lex in the eyes, but then Luger shoves off a headlock and grabs a bearhug. He puts Flair in the corner for a superplex for 1-2-NO! Luger thinks he’s won, but Flair goes his foot on the bottom rope. Flair gets a cheapshot in and then they tumble out to the floor. Luger NO-SELLS a whip into the guardrail and jumps in front of Flair to get back in the ring. Just as he does that, Stan Hansen runs in and attacks Luger with elbow drops and chokes him out the cowbell! Luger wins by DQ. Before Hansen leaves, he spits a wad of tobacco on the champ. (15:28) If I was Flair, I’d be PISSED at Hansen. His whole plan of regaining the belt is ruined thanks to this guy. This was like a condensed version of the Flair/Luger match at Starrcade ’88, only with a bad finish. ***¾

The Young Pistols & Tom Zenk vs. The Freebirds & Badstreet (w/Big Daddy Dink, Diamond Dallas Page and Diamond Doll) – Clash of the Champions XV (6/12/91)
Badstreet is hyperactive Brad Armstrong under a mask and body suit. Oh yeah, if you’re wondering why this isn’t a six-man tag title match, the taping schedule had yet to recognize the new champs. Zenk and Garvin start the match. Z-Man goes hiptoss crazy on the Birds. Once that’s over, the Pistols shoot off the top rope on the Birds with STEREO CROSSBODY BLOCKS! Hayes and Smothers tag. Hayes misses a left hand in the corner and takes a slingshot dropkick Garvin tries to attack from the top rope, but Armstrong is there to slam him down to set up a slingshot double-clothesline by Zenk! The Birds get a blind tag to Badstreet. Smothers runs right into a left hand from Hayes to slow him down. With Smothers on the floor, Badstreet runs over and knocks Zenk and Armstrong to the floor as well so he and the Birds can FLAPJACK Smothers on the guardrail! Awesome. He tries to get back in the ring, but Garvin kicks him off the apron to the guardrail. Sick! Once Badstreet tosses Smothers in the ring, a pier-six brawl erupts. The faces all get dumped and while the Birds and Badstreet turn away to pose, they regroup and TRIPLE SUNSET FLIP in for 1-2-3. (4:49) This was almost too spotty and fake-seeming, but nevertheless this was incredibly fun for what it was. **

15-Man Battle Royal – Clash of the Champions XVI (9/5/91)
This is nicknamed the “Georgia Brawl” to make it seem important. The entrants are WCW TV champ Steve Austin, Big Josh, Bobby Eaton, One Man Gang, Oz, PN News, Buddy Lee Parker, Ranger Ross, Dustin Rhodes, Thomas Rich, Tracy Smothers, Terrance Taylor, Barry Windham, El Gigante, and one-third of the WCW six man tag champs Tom Zenk. I’m not even going to attempt play-by-play here. The final four comes down to One Man Gang, Oz, Dustin Rhodes and El Gigante. OMG and Oz eliminate Rhodes and then Gigante clotheslines them out to win the match. (9:33) Completely meaningless. CRAP

WCW U.S. Heavyweight Champion Sting vs. Rick Rude (w/Paul E. Dangerously) – Clash of the Champions XVII (11/19/91)
Paul E grabs the mic to kill some time as Sting’s ambulance that he stole is shown driving up to the arena. Sting wobbles out of the ambulance and heads for the ring as Paul E begs the ref to start the ten-count. If Sting doesn’t make it in the ring in time, he’ll forfeit the title. He of course makes it in time and Rude meets him on the rampway for a press slam, but that just kills Sting’s hurt knee. They brawl into the ring until Sting makes a huge mistake by giving Rude a clothesline out to the floor. With Rude on the floor, he trips up Sting and posts his knee causing the crowd to shriek in horror of what just happened to their hero. I love it. Back in, Rude gyrates to TREMENDOUS boos and goes for the RUDE AWAKENING, but Sting powers out. He fires back on Rude and knocks him into the ropes, but then Rude falls forward into the back of Sting’s hurt knee when he turned away to shout out to the little Stingers. With the ref’s back turned, Paul E hops up on the apron and blasts Sting with his phone in the back of the head. Cover, 1-2-NO! Sting comes back with a desperation DDT and Dangerously is going ballistic down on the floor. Paul E gets up on the apron again and Sting goes after him, but Rude clips Sting from behind and cradles Sting up using the tights and pins Sting to win the title. (4:50) A rare match where the big huge babyface doesn’t overcome all the odds. Everything was booked to perfection to give Rude that extra something as a monster heel that the WWF never seemed to be able to provide for him and to make the crowds hate Paul E even more than they already did. Awesome stuff. ***

WCW/NWA World Tag Team Champions The Hollywood Blondes vs. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson – 2/3 Falls (Clash of the Champions XXIII, 6/17/93)
Ric Flair makes his return to the ring. The crowd erupts immediately as Flair and Anderson walk through the curtain. They get the most out of Buffer tonight, as he does ring introductions for both teams. Arn and Pillman start the match. Pillman goes into full blown cocky heel mode by mocking Flair and then slapping Arn around, only for Arn to fire back. Pillman tries to flip out of the corner off a whip, but AA catches him and drops him throat-first across on the top rope. Arn kicks Pillman over to Austin because he wants Austin. He makes fun of AA’s belly, which is ironic if you look at Austin now. He’s the guy always wearing a t-shirt. Crowd chants “we want Flair”. Well, tonight, they get Flair. In awesome Flair fashion, he immediately pokes Austin in the eyes and backs him into the corner for some good old fashioned chopping. Pillman gets pulled in and chopped down as well. Then he goes back to Austin and destroys him in the Horsemen corner. Meanwhile, Arn trips up Austin while Flair messes around with Pillman and posts the knee a couple times. Of course, the camera is focusing solely on Flair, so we miss some of it. Arn tags and does what Andersons do best – work the arm. Hammerlock slam ensues, followed by a tag to Flair for the Rolling Knee Drop. Back to Arn for more arm work. Flair has too much fun messing with Pillman and distracts the ref long enough for Pillman to choke on Anderson with their towel. Arn manages to break free with a jawbreaker, but Austin comes over and stomps a mudhole in him to keep him down. Arn becomes face-in-peril, which sounds really weird. That carries on for a few minutes. As Anderson starts to crawl to his corner using the ropes, Austin tries to stop him with a running straddle, but AA moves out of the way and hits a DDT! Just as Arn makes the hot tag to Flair, Pillman runs by and clips him from behind on the bad knee. Flair comes off the top rope (it happens when he works face) on Pillman and takes care of the Blondes. Austin gets dumped but comes back in to save Pillman during a ten-count corner punch. With Anderson on the floor, he interrupts a double-team as Flair nails Pillman with a running forearm for 1-2-3! (9:41 Horsemen – 1 Blondes – 0) And the crowd blows the roof off the Scope. Evidently they forgot it was 2/3 falls. Apparently so did Buffer, who just as we cut to commercials, announces Flair and Anderson as the new tag champs.

Second Fall: Flair and Pillman trade chops, but then Flair Flips out to the apron and chops both Pillman and Austin down. Flair takes a second to WOO and that’s all the time Pillman needed to forearm Flair off the apron to the floor. Since he’s there, Austin might as well suplex him on the concrete. I mean, why not. The Blondes continue to do a number on Flair until Arn comes over and scares them away with a chair. Back in, Pillman chokes Flair with the towel again while the ref is with AA. Austin one-ups his game and gives Flair a superplex for 1-2-NO! Austin whips Flair from corner to corner until Flair grabs him by the throat just to get him away from him. Austin cuts off a tag and brings Pillman back in for more chops. Flair chops back, but then it’s a double knockout. HOT TAG TO ANDERSON! Spinebuster to Austin! Pillman breaks up the cover and then clips AA from behind again. Austin covers for 1-2-NO! Pillman tags and goes to work on Anderson’s knee just like Flair would to set up the figure-four. Anderson’s knee is shot, which gets two for Pillman. Austin tags and does more of the same. Anderson kicks Austin away right into a tag to Pillman. He hooks a half crab and in an awesome case of irony from when Anderson and Zbyszko used the same tactic in 1991, Austin pushes Pillman’s head back to gain more leverage on the crab. Pillman lets off the crab and maintains hold of the leg, so Anderson fights up with an enziguri. Austin gets another tag and brings Anderson back to his side of the ring for more punishment on the leg. Pillman comes off the top and catches a boot in the face by Anderson to set up the HOT TAG TO FLAIR! He flies over to the Hollywood Blondes corner with chops. Austin takes a Wahoo chop and then Pillman gets dumped over the top rope, which should be a DQ if the ref had been watching. Flair hits the back suplex on Austin to set up the FIGURE-FOUR! Wait, here comes Barry Windham. He lands right on top of Flair and starts wailing on him to give the Horsemen the win by DQ. (20:41 Horsemen – 2 Blondes – 0) So they don’t get the belts, but they go over the champs twice. This was a sign of the times for the Blondes that their five-month dominance on the tag team scene in WCW would be winding down soon. Very similar to the Enforcers-Rhodes/Steamboat match at the Clash in the fall of 1991. You basically just have the roles reversed. This was tons of fun up until the ending. The crowd was so intense that you know the wrestlers involved would be able to deliver just on the sheer high from the atmosphere. As the show comes to a close, Flair and Windham get into a sweet pull-apart brawl. ****

Steve Austin (w/Col. Robert Parker) vs. Brian Pillman – Clash of the Champions XXV (11/10/93)
So Col. Parker takes Austin under his managerial wing and splits up the Blondes. Oh, it’s a sad state of affairs. Pillman’s wearing red HB trunks while Austin wears the black HB trunks. Big brawl to start, as expected. Pillman chases Parker around the ring and runs around into an Austin clothesline. Back in, Pillman backdrops and chops away in the corner. Pillman snaps off a headscissors and Austin wants a handshake. He kicks Austin the face and they head out to the rampway. Austin wants a piledriver out there, but we know that never works. Pillman backdrops him and comes off the top, but Austin’s boot meets Pillman’s face on the way down. Austin shoves Pillman off the rampway into the guardrail for the chest-first bump. Austin charges at Pillman once he’s on the apron, but runs into a slingshot crossbody for two. Pillman charges right into a hotshot and Austin covers for two. Austin grabs a half-crab and uses the ropes for leverage, which doesn’t make any sense. Pushing *against* the ropes would give you leverage, not pulling. The ref finally catches him cheating and Pillman chops back. Austin whips Pillman in the corner, but he lands in the corner and nails Austin with a back elbow. Austin gets crotched up on the top turnbuckle, but throws Pillman down when he tries a superplex. Austin flies down and Pillman catches him with a dropkick. Cover, 1-2-NO! Pillman ranas out of a piledriver for two. He tries for that slingshot crossbody from the apron again, but Austin catches him for a powerslam. That gets two. Pillman avoids a Bossman straddle and hits a DDT for 1-2-NO! Pillman wants a crucifix, but Austin falls back on him. Austin misses a flying splash and gets rolled up by Pillman for 1-2-NO! Austin reverses a whip and tries for the STUNGUN, but Pillman counters and lands on the apron. He goes for AIR PILLMAN, but Parker grabs Pillman’s leg and sends him crashing to the mat. Austin covers for 1-2-3. (9:11) Good match, but I feel like they could’ve done more. Sad to see such a great tag team split up like this. ***

WCW World Television Champion Lord Steven Regal (w/Sir William) vs. Dustin Rhodes Clash of the Champions XXVI (1/27/94)
Rhodes seems to want to turn this into a brawl to start, but Regal knows he can’t hang with Dustin when it comes to brawling. He heads to the floor to find out how much time remains from Sir William within the first minute of the match. Back in, Rhodes flips out of a three-quarter nelson and hits a shoulderblock to put Regal back on the floor. Back in again, Rhodes clamps on a headlock. Regal finally gets Rhodes in the corner where he sneaks in a European uppercut. He grounds Rhodes and grabs an overhead wristlock. Rhodes looks to break free, but Regal snaps him over with a gutwrench suplex. Regal goes back to the mat and GRINDS his elbow in the side of Dustin’s head. Yeah, ouch. Rhodes flips Regal over to escape a bow-tie lock and hits a Lariat. Regal rolls out to the floor to kill more time with three minutes remaining. Rhodes blocks a sunset flip and pounds away. He connects with another Lariat for 1-2-NO! Rhodes flips out of a suplex and hits a dropkick for two. Regal rolls Dustin over into the ropes and since he can’t even get a one-count, he decides to just head out to the floor again. They brawl on the rampway, but Rhodes backdrops Regal back in and splashes him from the rampway for 1-2-NO! Regal heads out to the floor again with 45 seconds left. Dustin delivers a DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER! Back in, Rhodes hits an elbow off the top and delivers the BULLDOG as the time limit expires. (15:00) One thing you can say about these Regal time limit draws: they do tell a great story. Regal’s style is so different from the US style that if he was to face a brawler like Rhodes, he would just ground you until time runs out or stall out on the floor if you happened to get back up on your feet. Either way, Regal is holding on to that title. **½

Ric Flair & Sting vs. Rick Rude & Big Van Vader (w/Harley Race) – Elimination Match (Clash of the Champions XXVI, 1/27/94)
At the start of the match, Sting and Rude have a hip swiveling contest. Kinda weird. From there, Sting works the arm. Rude knees Sting away and tags in Vader. Holy crap, from a press slam position, Sting gets dropped throat first on the top rope. Not sure why, but that looked cooler than it usually does. Vader tries a sunset flip from the middle rope, but Sting holds his ground and sits down on Vader! The tables have turned! Rude comes in and nails Sting to return the advantage right back to Vader. Out of nowhere, Sting delivers a German suplex and makes the tag to Flair. He’s got chops-a-plenty for Vader! We take a break as Sting tags in again. After the commercials, Sting is stuck in a bearhug courtesy of Rude. Sting ear-claps out and hits an inverted atomic drop before tagging in Flair. He delivers a flying double-sledge (because he’s face) and an inverted atomic drop, but misses a corner charge. Tag to Vader, he hits an avalanche. Vader follows up with a Vader Bomb, a superplex, and then a TOP-ROPE superplex! Vader heads up again, but Sting has enough and drags Flair away. Sting gets nailed from behind by Rude as Vader and Flair go to the floor. Vader grabs a chair and goes after Flair. Lucky for Flair, new WCW Commish Nick Bockwinkel stands in Vader’s way. Race even seems to fear the new Commish! They stand there and talk long enough for Vader to get counted out. Flair gets counted out as well, leaving us Rude vs. Sting at 12:16 shown. Meanwhile in the ring, Sting hits a flying clothesline. He tries another inverted atomic drop, but collapses for some reason when he has Rude in the air. Rude hits a forearm off the top and goes to work on the back like he always does. Sting stands up out of the sit-down chinlock and takes Rude over for the electric chair drop. Sting tries a splash, but he hits knees. Rude goes for the RUDE AWAKENING, but Sting holds on to the top rope and slips away. He hits a Rude Awakening of his own for 1-2-NO! Rude’s foot is on the bottom rope. Now Rude hits an inverted atomic drop and tries for a Stinger Splash, but Sting moves away. Rude kicks Sting in the gut and goes for a tombstone piledriver, but Sting reverses and KO’s Rude. Sting comes off the top with a splash for 1-2-3! (18:52 shown) Not sure I like the way Flair and Vader were eliminated. I think Vader should have been DQ’ed using the chair and Flair stretchered out or just been rendered unable to continue instead of a cheap double-countout to put over the new Commish. The double-countout this way makes them look stupid in a way. Especially Vader, who really looked awesome up to that point. Anyways, right now Flair does look vulnerable going into Superbrawl, which is what needed to be done here. As for Sting and Rude, they had done way better matches in Clashes past. ***

DISC TWO

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs. WCW International World Champion Sting – Title Unification Match (Clash of the Champions XXVII, 6/23/94)
After the ring introductions, “Sensuous” Sherri Martel makes her appearance. Since showing up in the audience at Slamboree, she’s been watching and figuring out which WCW talent to manage. She walks out with a masquerade mask covering her face. Once she makes it down to the ring, she reveals Sting face paint. Sherri is in Sting’s corner! Sting shoves Flair out of the tie-up several times. Flair is PISSED! Flair grabs a wristlock and tries to bring Sting down to the mat by his hair, but he kips up every time. Sting points the finger at Flair. Sting takes Flair down and they get into the ropes. That flusters Flair, so Sting poses. Flair takes a walk up the platform for a double-bicep pose. Woo! Back in, Sting delivers a pair of press slams and Flair is back on the floor for a Flair Flop into Johnny B. Badd’s confetti right in front of Sherri. Back in again, Sting NO-SELLS chops in the corner and Flair just doesn’t know what to do with himself. Sting hiptosses Flair out of the corner and follows up with clotheslines. Flair takes another breather on the floor and jaws with the front row. He returns to the ring and goes low on Sting to take over, but he decides to chop and that has no effect on Sting. He starts up again on Flair, but whiffs on a dropkick. FIGURE-FOUR? No! Sting gets an inside cradle for 1-2-NO! Flair shoves the ref and the ref Randy Anderson shoves back, so Flair takes another walk. “Sting” chants go up with Sherri leading the crowd. Just as that happens, Flair avoids a Stinger Splash and throws Sting over the top rope behind the ref’s back. Flair chops him down while Sherri tries to help Sting up. Back in they go, Flair connects with a pair of Rolling Knee Drops. Flair puts his foot on the top rope and gets a bunch of nearfalls. Sherri yells at the ref, so Flair gets up and tells her to SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP! Flair hits a back suplex and goes for the FIGURE-FOUR, but Sting kicks him off. Sting ducks a chop, but not a back elbow. Flair grabs a sleeper. Sting escapes by running Flair’s head into the top turnbuckle. Here comes Sting! He catapults Flair into the corner and brings him in from the apron with a suplex for 1-2-NO! Flair Flip leads to a clothesline for Flair. Sting takes Flair to the corner for the ten-count corner punch, but Flair brings him out. The inverted atomic drop fails, so Sting drops him with a clothesline for 1-2-NO! Sting delivers a top-rope superplex and follows with a flying splash, but there’s nobody in the pool! Just when you think Flair has Sting down, he NO-SELLS a suplex. Sting goes wild on Flair and clotheslines him out for a plancha, but Flair pulls Sherri in the way! Oww. Looked like she hit her head on the guardrail. But she’s not Mick Foley? Sting’s pretty upset now. Flair kicks Sting in the back of the head from the apron and brings him back in the ring. Sting gets a backslide, but the ref was slow to get back in the ring because of Sherri. Sting checks on Sherri again and promptly gets rolled up by the tights for 1-2-3. (17:16) Another great Sting/Flair affair, but had Hogan and Flair not already shown signs of an immediate feud, maybe the match would have been less predictable. After the match, Flair looks at Sherri. Sherri looks at Flair. They embrace and once again, Sting gets double crossed by Flair. Will he ever learn? When Sting goes after Sherri, Flair clips him from behind and a double-beatdown follows until Hogan makes the save as we end the show. ***¾

WCW U.S. Heavyweight Champion Steve Austin vs. Ricky Steamboat – Clash of the Champions XXVIII (8/24/94)
The DQ rule has been waived for this match – meaning if Austin loses by disqualification, Steamboat wins the belt. They keep us tuned in to what is going on with Hogan in the back. He’s heading to the hospital via ambulance. Now back to the ring for the more important stuff. Steamboat controls early with a headlock while a stage hand tells Bobby Heenan (what a great broadcast journalist!) that Hogan’s injury may be fatal. Well, what does he know? He’s not a doctor, he’s just a stage hand. Steamboat changes over to an armbar. Austin shoves out and starts up a series of nearfalls between the two. Back to the armbar. Austin breaks free by throwing Steamboat out to the floor. Hey, that works. On the floor, Steamboat chases Austin around the ring for a double-chop. Back in, they exchange sleeper holds, but Austin gets the best of that with a jawbreaker. STUNNER! Nah, just kidding. Steamboat avoids a corner charge which causes Austin run his shoulder into the post. Steamboat walks the ropes and drops Austin’s arm down hard across the top rope before nailing him with a Flying Judo Chop. That gets two. Blacktop Bully starts barking at Steamboat. Not sure what Austin did because the camera was on Darsow, but Austin breaks free from an armbar and starts slapping Steamboat around. Steamboat escapes a chinlock, but a splash off the ropes hits knees. Doesn’t it always? Austin covers for two. He follows up with a vertical flying elbow drop for another nearfall. Steamboat puts the brakes on a suplex and decides to take it to that next level by placing Austin in the corner for a Superplex. Austin shoves him down awkwardly on his tailbone. This was just the beginning of the injury that kills Steamboat’s career. Austin gets crotched all the same, but still manages to block the superplex! Now he gets caught coming down on Steamboat, but slams him down face-first during a FLYING BODYPRESS attempt. Nice. Austin starts slapping the challenger around. I’m not sure you want to do that, Dragon Slayer. Steamboat gets FIRED UP and double-chops the crap out of Austin. Steamboat just delivered an Arn Anderson Spinebuster! Awesome. Austin tries to leave by climbing the top rope apparently and gets taken down to the mat with an electric chair drop for 1-2-NO! Steamboat goes WrestleMania 3 on Austin with tons of rollups and nearfalls. Austin dumps Steamboat out to set him up to skin-the-cat, but the poor man needs a little assistance from Austin himself. Steamboat flips back in and rolls up Austin for 1-2-NO! Speaking of WrestleMania 3, Steamboat blocks a slam with a small package for 1-2-3. (16:08) We’ve got a NEW WCW U.S. Champion. The typical great Steamboat/Austin match that we’ve come to expect over the last few years. Even with the injury that led to more back problems than Steamboat already possibly had, he still made it through a few more matches at house shows. Sad to know that this is his last live TV match, but still comforting to know that he didn’t stick around past his welcome. His career ended on a high note in my book. ****

Hulk Hogan & Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth & Kevin Greene) vs. Ric Flair & The Giant (w/Jimmy Hart) – Clash of the Champions XXXII (1/23/96)
The chicks from last night (including Woman, Debra, and Linda Hogan) come out with the good guys before the match. They leave because Elizabeth is the main chick of the night. During a commercial break, Schiavone tells us how the Cowboys are going to beat the Steelers at Super Bowl XXX to get under Kevin Greene’s skin. Greene takes off the shirt and comes into the ring to get into a three point stance with Flair, but the NAITCH isn’t dumb and walks away from that. Enough shenanigans, it’s time to get busy. Flair and Savage hook it up. Savage takes Flair’s chop and then fires back with a clothesline. Savage whips Flair in for the Flair Flip that sends him right into Hogan’s Big Boot on the apron. Back inside, Flair suckers Savage into the corner and chops. Immediately after, Savage blocks a hiptoss and backslides Flair for two. Flair gets caught in between Savage and Hogan and then tags in the Giant. Hogan wants him some, so he tags Savage. Hogan can’t do anything to the Giant to start. He tries a slam and fails. If you couldn’t shoulderblock him down, what made you think you could SLAM him? Instead, Giant slams Hogan and kicks him around. He takes FOREVER walking around Hogan and then finally headbutts Hulk in the balls. Giant delivers a backbreaker and goes for a running elbow drop off the ropes, but misses. Here comes Hogan. He SLAMS the Giant, but it’s right after a backbreaker, so he goes down. Flair tags in and delivers a stalling suplex. Well, Hogan will NO-SELL that. Flair pokes Hulk in the eye as Jimmy Hart gets up on the apron. That allows Giant to pull Hogan out to the floor to back him into the guardrail. Back in, Hogan NO-SELLS chops and slams Flair off the top. Tag to Savage, he nails the Flying Double Ax Handle on Flair and hits the MACHO ELBOW while Hogan clotheslines Giant to the floor. Jimmy Hart’s with the ref again. Savage grabs and nails Jimmy while Flair pulls out the infamous taped knux from his trunks. Savage goes over and picks Flair up off the mat and gets DRILLED in the face. Oh man it’s over. (9:53) All those “secret weapons” and the Mega Powers still couldn’t pull off a win. Afterwards, Hulk Hogan and Kevin Greene dispose of Brian Pillman and Zodiac who try and attack them. As you would expect, the Savage/Flair stuff was the best part. *¾

Madusa vs. Bull Nakano (w/Sonny Oono) – Clash of the Champions XXXIII (8/15/96)
Some nasty Moolah whips from Nakano to start. Nakano brings out the nun-chucks! Madusa mounts a comeback with the clothesline neckbreakers, but tries a sunset flip and Nakano sits down on her. Madusa dropkicks Bull off the top, sending her to the floor. She heads up and flies down, but Nakano moves and Oono gets wiped out up against the guardrail. Back in, Nakano holds up Madusa for Oono to get a little revenge with a kick, but Madusa moves and Nakano gets nailed. Madusa schoolboys Nakano for the 1-2-3. (2:43) BAD finish. ¾*

Eddie Guerrero vs. Diamond Dallas Page – Clash of the Champions XXXIII (8/15/96)
Supposedly this is for the ‘Lord of the Ring’. I think? Who cares. Eddie starts off hot and heavy with dropkicks and a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. He misses a charge in the corner and runs shoulder-first into the ringpost to slow him down. DDP follows up with non-shoulder related moves like the Gutbuster and the Tilt-a-Whirl Sideslam for two. Page cheats a little during a chinlock. Eddie armdrags out and punches Page back. Dropkick sets up a Hilo for two. DDP hits a jawbreaker and delivers a sitout powerbomb for 1-2-NO! He sets Eddie up top, but takes a headbutt down to the mat as Guerrero regroups with a FROG SPLASH for the 1-2-3. (4:21) Finally, a different finish. Afterwards, DDP shakes Eddie’s hand and pulls him in for the DIAMOND CUTTER. Out goes the ref! Another DIAMOND CUTTER to Eddie. That brings out Chavo Jr as Page sets Eddie up on the top turnbuckle. As Chavo gets shoved away, DDP delivers a SUPER DIAMOND CUTTER to Eddie. Well that wasn’t too bad. It also leads to DDP/Chavo at Fall Brawl. Is Eddie really the new ‘Lord of the Ring’? No idea. Time will tell. **

WCW World Tag Team Champions Harlem Heat (w/Sister Sherri & Col. Robert Parker) vs. Sting & Lex Luger vs. Rick & Scott Steiner – Triangle Match (Clash of the Champions XXXIII, 8/15/96)
Pretty typical triangle match where nobody has any kind of advantage, which means the action doesn’t really ever go anywhere. Nick Patrick is the ref in this match, meaning nWo shenanigans are almost a guarantee. Once the action spills out on the floor, Hall and Nash start attacking everybody in the aisleway. In the ring, Scott Steiner is about to put Booker T away with the FRANKENSTEINER when Patrick stops at the count of two and calls for the bell. (13:21) Scott is about to knock Nick Patrick into 1997. Gene grabs Nick Patrick for an explanation. He says Hall and Nash were attacking people on the floor, which means a DQ is in order. Well technically, it’s a no contest because they attacked members of all three teams. At least what we could see – they kept the hard camera on the ring while all that was going on. Yeah, best WCW production crew in the world, right Tony? Patrick calls what he’s done over the past five days ‘unfortunate incidents’. Right after that, Gene compliments Patrick on the new Armani suits in his closet. *½

WCW Cruiserweight Champion Ultimo Dragon (w/Sonny Oono) vs. Dean Malenko – Clash of the Champions XXXIV (1/21/97)
The feeling-out process apparently bores everybody and we go to commercial. When we return, Malenko gets rough with some turnbuckle smashes and drops Dragon with a nice suplex for two. Dragon fires back with his kick combo, but Malenko shrugs it off and blasts him with a nasty back suplex. Turnabouts fair play as Malenko goes after Dragon’s leg for a bit. He even takes Dragon to the floor and kicks his knee up against the guardrail. Back inside, Malenko grabs the figure-four. When he doesn’t get the submission he wants, he starts roughing up Dragon again in the corner with clotheslines. Dragon stops him with a spinning heel kick, but gets caught up top for a superplex. The crowd is EXTREMELY behind Malenko here. Dragon’s kicks are caught, but then he counters a powerbomb into a hurracanrana for 1-2-NO! Great exchange there. Dragon dropkicks Malenko off the apron and lands on his feet when Malenko steps away from the pescado. It appears Dragon learned his lesson from last night. Dragon reverses a whip into the guardrail and then wipes out Malenko with an ASAI MOONSAULT! Back in the ring, Dragon hits a Brainbuster and delivers one more Moonsault for 1-2-NO! SPINNING HURRACANRANA by Dragon! He tries the Tiger Suplex (which won him the belt at Starrcade), but Malenko slips away and tries the TEXAS CLOVERLEAF. Dragon counters into a small package for two. Malenko attempts another powerbomb, but Dragon flips out. However, he cannot avoid the Butterfly Powerbomb. Sonny Oono hops up on the apron, but Malenko takes a moment to knock him back to Japan. Back over to Dragon, he catches another kick and takes Dragon to the mat for the TEXAS CLOVERLEAF! Dragon taps! (13:06 shown) In just under seven months, Malenko has won the cruiserweight title for the third time. Another great outing from these two. I loved the continuity carried over from Starrcade into the final moments. ****

WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Eddie Guerrero – Clash of the Champions XXXV (8/21/97)
Since returning from an injury, Eddie is quickly becoming one of the BEST heels in WCW. Jericho is still just a good guy at this point. Eddie schools Jericho to start, but Jericho battles back with armdrags, so Eddie claims hairpulling was involved. Here’s one of the few times you’ll see a press slam in a cruiserweight title match. Eddie bails and Pearl Harbors Jericho to take control. He hits the Hilo and follows up with a headscissors out of the corner for two. Eddie walks the ropes for his signature headscissors, but Jericho counters with a powerbomb. Jericho grabs Eddie for the big swing. They head to the floor where Jericho tries a double-jump plancha, but trips himself up on the top rope. Jericho reverses a suplex from the apron and takes Eddie to the floor. Back inside, Eddie stops Jericho up top for a nice superplex for two. A series of reversals leads to a release German suplex by Jericho for two. Next up, a nearfall sequence leads to Jericho picking up the upset win. (6:41) Short but a strong effort from both guys. Afterwards, Guerrero nails Jericho with the Brainbuster and FROG SPLASHES the Cruiserweight belt on his sternum to set up their great Fall Brawl match. **½

Diamond Dallas Page & Lex Luger vs. Scott Hall & Randy Savage (w/Kevin Nash & Elizabeth) – Clash of the Champions XXXV (8/21/97)
Somehow, the tag titles are on the line despite Hall and Nash being the tag champs. I guess the nWo are some giant Freebirds crew now where they can just have anybody defend the tag titles. Also, the guy WWE has replacing Michael Buffer on this set sounds even more ridiculous than Buffer actually does. And what exactly is this one-year anniversary of the nWo thing? When did Memorial Day become a part of August in the world of WCW? I am so confused by this anniversary deal. All that aside, let’s just get this one finished. Luger and Hall start the match. Lex wins a test of strength, so Hall dumps him out to Nash where Lex gets waffled. Ref Nick Patrick will have none of that and sends Nash to the back. Back in, DDP gets a hot tag and knocks Hall to the outside where he trips up DDP to become *your* face in peril. Fallaway Slam gets two. They keep DDP in their corner a while. Eventually, he ducks a clothesline and fires off one of his own before making the real HOT TAG TO LUGER! He goes clothesline crazy. He even gets Hall in the TORTURE RACK, but Savage kicks Luger in the gut before Hall can give up. After that, Savage goes over and thumbs DDP in the eye. With DDP standing with his back to Luger, Hall knocks Lex into DDP, who staggers back into Luger, and gives him a completely blind DIAMOND CUTTER. Whoops! Hall crawls over and covers Lex for the 1-2-3. (9:56) Well, the finish was actually well done. I mean, it could happen I suppose. Before the match there was black and white balloons falling from the ceiling, now there’s nWo flyers coming down. I pity whoever has to clean this mess up. Everybody in the new World order celebrates their one-year anniversary – whatever that means. Next thing we know, the lights start to flicker and Sting appears in the rafters with a vulture and a monologue given to us through an awesome tune (debuting what would soon become his entrance music) and the voice of a child. *½

BLU-RAY EXTRAS

The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette) vs. Ric Flair & Barry Windham (w/JJ Dillon) – Clash of the Champions IV (12/7/88)
After the Midnights had taken the belts off Anderson and Blanchard, they became enemies of the Horsemen. Well, now both those guys are gone, so they just become enemies of Flair and Windham. No titles on the line here, just a good old-fashioned dream match. Remember those? To keep Lex Luger connected to Ric Flair, they show that he and Tony Schiavone are watching this main event from somewhere else in the building besides ringside. Flair and Eaton start things off. Flair stops to WOO, so Eaton smacks him HARD in the face! Eaton gives Flair a backdrop and then sends him into the corner for the Flair Flip. Stan Lane, who is the only man Ric Flair ever publicly trained, tags in for a savate kick. Even in 1988, JR uses the “educated feet” clichés that he still uses twenty years later. Flair gets caught with an enziguri and tags in Windham. Lane catches Windham with a dropkick and then avoids an elbow drop off the top. Another savate kick from Lane sends Windham out to the floor. Windham gets pulled back in the ring the hard way and tags in Flair as does Eaton. Beautiful Bobby goes SLAM CRAZY on what’s left of the Horsemen and then takes them both down with a double clothesline. Lane tags in as Flair regroups with JJ down on the floor. Lane surprises Flair with a drop toe hold and puts on the figure-four! Eaton nails Windham coming in and applies the figure-four on him! STEREO FIGURE-FOURS! JJ hops up on the apron, but Cornette comes over to bring him down. Once the action settles, Lane delivers a slingshot back elbow into the ring for 1-2-NO! Lane sends Flair to the opposite side of the ring with a savate kick and then tags in Eaton. Flair begs off into his corner, but doesn’t tag out and locks up with Eaton. Eaton wins a slugfest with Flair and tags in Lane, but Flair pops him in the nose with a back elbow as we get a word from Paul E about his “Original Midnight Express”. Meanwhile, Windham comes in and misses a knee drop before tagging back out to Flair. He heads up top, which means he’s going STRAIGHT down to the canvas. Eaton tags in for the five-count corner punch, which leads to a corner whip and a Flair Flop. Flair comes down off the top, but gets caught in the gut. SWINGING NECKBREAKER by Eaton! Windham comes in and gets knocked out the floor, allowing a DOUBLE FLAPJACK by the Midnights on Flair! Eaton takes too much time wailing on Windham to cover in time, as he only gets two. Eaton rolls Flair up off the ropes, but Windham breaks it up with a forearm. Windham gets a tag and manhandles Eaton with an atomic drop before punching him out to ringside. Windham is able to suplex Eaton back in and then follows up with a powerslam. Flair tags and connects with the rolling knee drop. Flair slaps Eaton around until he falls out to ringside again. Windham drops Eaton on the guardrail while the ref isn’t looking. Back in, Windham tags and hits the Lariat, but only gets a one-count! Windham follows up with a gutwrench suplex and then hooks on a sleeper hold. Eaton shrugs him off, but Flair gets a tag anyway. Eaton wins a slugfest on Flair and makes the HOT TAG TO LANE! He’s got savate kicks and backdrops for everybody! DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER! Windham staggers around and gets dropped with the Double Goozle by the Midnights! Flair gets kicked out to the floor while Eaton heads up top for the ALABAMA JAM! Eaton covers, but Tommy Young is busy trying to get Lane out of the ring. Meanwhile, JJ Dillon sneaks his shoe into the ring. Cornette grabs him and chokes him down while Flair knocks Eaton in the back of the head with JJ’s shoe! Windham drapes his arm on top of Eaton as the ref turns around for the 1-2-3! (17:42) A phenomenal match that keeps everyone looking strong going into the PPV. ****¼

Sting & Ricky Steamboat vs. Rick Rude & Steve Austin (w/Paul E. Dangerously) – Clash of the Champions XVIII (1/21/92)
Steamboat kicks things off with Austin and chops him away. He treats him like Randy Savage just like on last week’s Worldwide with a ton of near-falls. Rude gets involved and he’s kicked out to ringside to regroup with Paul E. Back in, Rude slaps Sting and we’ve got a switch. Sting kills Rude with atomic drops and then works a camel clutch. In between some hip-swiveling, Sting and Steamboat do some illegal switching to make the crowd giggle while the ref is tending to an irate Steve Austin. During one of the switches, Sting tries to come down on Rude, but he gets the knees up to block. The DA control Sting by ironically not cheating. Sting inches his way over to Steamboat during a front headlock spot, but Rude releases the hold and knocks Steamboat off the apron and then levels Sting for two. Austin tags in and gets caught with a sunset flip, but misses trying to punch out. HOT TAG TO STEAMBOAT! He goes CHOP CRAZY! Double noggin knocker! Victory roll on Austin, but the ref is busy restraining Sting and Rude makes the save. The DA work on Steamboat’s back for a little bit with slams and stuff. A Steamboat inside cradle causes Sting and Rude to get into a brawl, which ends with Rude tossing out Sting. While the ref is with Rude, Sting manages to pull Austin out to the rampway with him for more brawling. Back in, Austin lifts up Steamboat for a backbreaker, but Sting comes off the top and jumps on Steamboat to fall on top of Austin for 1-2-3. (11:22) Afterwards, Rude gives Steamboat a pair of Rude Awakenings and starts whipping him with Paul E’s belt. Some jobbers in security tees come down to put a stop to this madness, but even Paul E can take those guys down. Sting finally just jumps on top of Steamboat so they won’t hurt him anymore. Anyways, great match as you would expect from these four. ***¾

Sting & Dustin Rhodes vs. Paul Orndorff, Barry Windham & Big Van Vader (w/Harley Race) – Thundercage Match (Clash of the Champions XXII, 1/13/93)
They’re using that big cage that was used for Chamber of Horrors and the Thunderdome cage match at Halloween Havoc ’89. Like I’ve said before, it’s like a hell in a cell without a ceiling. Windham and Rhodes start the match. They’re still pissed at one another from when Windham turned on him back in the fall. Sting gets a blind tag and slams Windham’s face into the mat. A press slam is all he can handle, so Vader gets a tag. Vader starts off stiffing Sting, but he comes back with a clothesline that staggers Vader. He follows up with a DDT and hits a Stinger Splash. He punches and kicks Vader down in the corner and cleans house on Orndorff and Windham. Sting cross-corner whips Vader in, but he flips out of the corner and lands on the apron. Sting charges and Vader catches him coming in. Vader comes off the top with a clothesline. Now he wants a flying splash, but Sting moves out of the way. Sting clotheslines Vader out , but then Orndorff sneaks in and gives Sting a German suplex out of nowhere. Orndorff and Windham trade tags while they continue to break down Sting. Rhodes gets drawn in, but Vader stops him. Vader tags and hits an Avalanche on Sting. Windham tags and wants a SUPERPLEX, but Sting punches him down and makes the HOT TAG TO RHODES! Wow, he actually dominates all three guys! Meanwhile, Cactus Jack is at ringside and he’s got bolt cutters. He gets inside the door, but Windham is there to greet him with a forearm. He gets past Windham and starts beating the heels with his boot! Orndorff clears the ring so that’s it just him and Rhodes. He attempts a PILEDRIVER, but Cactus breaks it up with the boot. He covers Orndorff for 1-2-3. (11:22) Now I KNOW Cactus wasn’t legal, or even any part of the match for that matter. Brainless finish aside, Cactus Jack has turned full-blown babyface here as a result, which makes the match important for ’93 WCW whether you enjoy this particular year or not. **¾

Final Thoughts: Aside from several head scratchers and a few matches that only look good on paper and don’t deliver what you probably think they would from reading the back of the case, there is still enough to like here especially if you’re kind of new to WCW. A lot of great matches, but a lot are DVD repeats (Flair/Sting at the first Clash, Flair/Funk). Another downside is that it’s too short for a 2-disc Blu-Ray set. Rock’s Blu-Ray that was released in February was nine hours, this was just 7.5. Off the top of my head, I could probably have added an extra 90 minutes of matches for this set. I mean, I am such a huge fan of the Clash series, so it’s REALLY hard for me to be unbiased here. I want to give this a thumbs up. However, I think I’m going with a STRONG thumbs in the middle. There’s plenty to like, but there’s just too many oddballs and not long enough of a set. To know that it had even more potential to be great than what we got is pretty outstanding. Oh, did I not mention that Jesse Ventura commentary has been COMPLETELY cut? Yeah it has. Nevertheless, if you would like to see more WCW releases from the E, make sure you BUY this!

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