Clash of the Champions XXXIV
February 12, 2015
We are up to the penultimate Clash of the Champions event, Clash XXXIV, which was held January 29, 1997 from Milwaukee, WI. The event drew 6800 fans (5695 paid) and a 3.5 rating. The previous Nitro pulled a 3.6 head to head with RAW so I don't think this rating can be considered a success despite being the exact same as the previous Clash. While the rating may not have improved, the fan response compared to the last Clash certainly did.
If you recall Clash XXXIII only had 5% of fans giving the show a Thumbs up and 76% thumbs down. Clash XXXIV had 62% of fans giving it a Thumbs up and 29% giving a Thumbs down. On a side note this event was building towards the first ever NWO Souled Out PPV which was so terrible fan response fell to an unbelievable 1% Thumbs up and a 98% Thumbs down. Think about that for a second.
Ultimo Dragon vs. Dean Malenko (Cruiser Title): Dragon was again the heel in this match which didn't help it but both guys were really good. The crowd was super hot for this match in odd places. It was so odd I thought perhaps it was a bad crowd sweetening job, but when you looked at the crowd the people were going nuts, it just seemed to happen at weird times in the match. Malenko won the match and the title by submission with The Texas Cloverleaf. The match went 15 and wasn't as good as I expected, for me it just felt like too lopsided of a match in favour of Malenko through out to really get behind the submission victory.
Scotty Riggs vs. Mike Enos: This was 2:30 minutes of nothing worth talking about. Riggs was facing Bagwell at the PPV (they just broke up as a team) so Riggs needed a win but this was a nothing match and Riggs won with a forearm. You read that right a forearm.
Jericho, Super Calo, Chavo jr. vs. Konnan, La Parka, Mr. JL: This was basically a bunch of guys doing a bunch of stuff for a little over 5 minutes. They climaxed with a bunch of consecutive dives, which the crowd liked and then Jericho hit a both men standing on the top rope, FrankenSteiner for the win. Finish got over and this may have been Jericho's debut and the finished got him noticed.
Harlem Heat vs. Renegade & Joe Gomez: This was a squash match that lasted 3:44. The heat got the win and the other 2 looked pretty bad. It was lopsided enough that it wasn't a negative on the show; Harlem Heat just beat them up and won.
Masa Chono vs. Alex Wright: This was the first match on the show that I saw as a negative. This match was all about getting over Nick Patrick as the heel NWO referee. Chono was part of the NWO so Nick Patrick would slow count ever time Alex made a cover and they went too far out of their way to make this point completely ruining what could have been a good match. The match only went 4:30 but it was Alex constantly getting roll up pins on Chono and Nick counting really slow to get over the heel gimmick. This completely buried Chono who looked completely inept needed virtually 5 and 6 counts to be able to kick out of basic moves that never would have pinned anyone else. In the end Chono won with his mafia kick which looked awesome, but no one got over because it was all about heel Nick Patrick. To make matters worse, throughout this match they were talking about how all of the matches at Souled Out would be like this because it was the NWO show. Think about that for a minute. To promote the PPV they booked this heel ref gimmick on this show, which totally ruined this match and made it the worst thing on the show, and told you that all of the matched on the PPV would be like this. Note the 98% Thumbs down voting for the PPV I mentioned at the start. WCW ladies and gentlemen.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Scott Norton: Nick was the referee again but thankfully they let this match be more about the match. I really enjoyed this match because it told a story and made sense. Norton was not a great technical wrestler but he knew how to be a big man and he was an awesome one here. Eddie was of course great in this David vs. Goliath type match. Eddie wasn't just fighting Goliath he was fighting Goliath who also had the ref in his pocket. Norton beat the hell out of Eddie and looked big and scary (it helps when you are actually big and scary, which Norton can pull off in his sleep). Eddie hung in there and fought like a champ. Eventually Nick got bumped and DDP ran in and hit Norton with a Diamond Cutter (I almost typed RKO) followed by a frog splash by Eddie. Nick reluctantly made the count, counting very slow trying to give Scott as much chance as possible to kick out, which he didn't, giving Eddie the win. This got a huge reaction and was a lot of fun. Eddie had the deck stacked so high against him this did not come off like a tainted win, it came of like the heels got what they deserved and everyone was happy for Eddie. Norton looked like a killer, DDP was the guy to stick it to the NWO, and Eddie picked up a win. Everyone benefitted here, the complete opposite to the previous match.
Chris Benoit vs. Kevin Sullivan (Falls Count Anywhere): I did not watch this match. Woman was in Benoit's corner and this match was promoted as having a domestic violence element to it, so there was no way I was going to stomach this. According to the Observer the match was good, went 5 minutes, was pretty violent, and of course at one point went into a bathroom. Benoit pinned Sullivan.
Steiner Brothers vs. The Amazing French Canadians: The French Canadians were Carl Oulette & Jacques Rougeau. This was Scott Steiner's first match back from an injury and was just a little more than a squash match. Match was 7 minutes and the Canadian's got enough heat on Rick Steiner to make this not feel like a total squash and allow the crowd to cheer for the hot tag. Steiners won to make them look strong because they were facing the Outsiders at the PPV.
Lex Luger vs. Scott Hall: I had a much different view of this match than Dave Meltzer did in the Observer back in the day. He didn't like the match but I thought this felt more like a legitimate Main Event than recent Clashes and the crowd was into the WCW guy vs. The NWO guy. The match broke the 10 minute mark which was the longest match since the opener by far, which I think added to it feeling like a Main Event. It wasn't a great Main Event but with several almost squash matches on the card it felt like the most important match on the card by far. Hall had great timing and charisma here and Luger was over. Nash and Syxx were at ring side contributing to the heat so I never lost interest. Like the previous Clash this Main Event ended in a DQ but this time I was okay with it. The reason I was okay with it was that the rest of the show had pin falls or submission finishes, so this was the only DQ and they made it exciting. Nash and Syxx fed Luger like crazy leading to the DQ making him look like a million dollars heading into the DQ and then in the post match beat down, the WCW baby faces hit the ring to clean house leaving the crowd up and the DQ set up the rivalry for the PPV. Post match was a little clumsy, because they apparently went home early and had to stretch the post match brawl, which at times was uncooperative. This was the proper way to do a DQ IMO.
I liked this show a ton more than I did many of the previous Clashes although not because the matches were all really good, more because with the exception of the Chono match, nothing on it was stupid or really bad. This show had a lack of negatives, more than it did an abundance of positives, but at this point I'll take it. The final Clash, Clash of Champions XXXV is up next!
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