Clash of the Champions III

August 29, 2014

I have to say this damn WWE Network is addicting. No sooner do I finish Clash of the Champions X and I'm back with Clash III. The reason I went to Clash III is because I seem to have reviewed Clash I and II a couple years ago and figured I'd slowly work my way through the Clashes. I will also get back to my Mania reviews, but right now I'm really enjoying my old NWA/WCW.

Clash II was Sept. 7/88 from Albany Georgia and was dubbed "Fall Brawl" it drew 3700 people and a 5.4 rating on TBS. Yes a 5.4 rating. A 5.4 would be less people then than a 5.4 would be today but still a 5.4 rating. Tony Schiavone and Ric Flair were the hosts of the show and Jim Ross and Bob Caudle called the action. Damn these two were a great team. Today you hear a lot about how the announcers aren't suppose to call the action anymore that they are out there to tell stories, well back then these guys called the match and told the story of the match and by God it was engaging.

Mike Rotunda vs. Brad Armstrong (TV Title): I loved this match. Brad Armstrong was always one of my favourites and this match was classic wrestling and storytelling. Aspiring wrestlers could learn a lot in this match as far as baby face fire and selling because Brad was text book. The story of this match was that Brad was a young up and coming kid trying to attain his first major singles title. The crowd was so into Brad and the announcers did such a great job, that when Brad was still hanging on and kicking out of pin attempts when the 20 minute time limit elapsed, his survival and avoidance of defeat was celebrated like a victory.

Nikita Koloff & Steve Williams vs. The Sheepherders (The Bushwhackers): For those of you who don't know before the Bushwhackers were a comedy kid's act, they were a feared brawling tag team. They were accompanied to the ring by their flag bearer Rip Morgan who I worked with in Europe in 1995. This match drove me nuts, because the guys were in the wrong corners the whole match. I know it doesn't really matter but I'm a bit OCD so I spent this entire match wanting to scream at the screen "You're in the neutral corners, you idiots!" You see in the NWA at this time they had different coloured turnbuckle pads. One corner had 3 red turnbuckle pads, the opposite corner had blue and the other two corners, the neutral corners had white. I loved this detail because it made perfect sense and was a great visual. These guys didn't notice this and set up in the neutral corners ruining the whole thing. Nikita who is likely not remembered as a great worker took the heat in this match and his selling and staying alive would put most people today to shame. He was great here. Williams got the hot tag, made a brief comeback before getting cut off, then almost immediately tagged Koloff back in who just hit the Russian Sickle (his clothesline finisher) on Butch and pinned him. The 10,000 near fall approach to wrestling had not been invented yet, and this got a great reaction and was a fun match.

John Ayers promo segment: I'm not sure where in the show this was but at one point they pitch back to Tony and Flair and they are joined by NFL star John Ayers, who is going to be the guest referee for an upcoming Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair title match. They never said when the match was so I assume he was doing a loop of house shows and everyone in those towns were supposed to think they were the ones getting this one time only special match. As much as we like to bury WWE scripted promos today, my God did this dude need a script. This was one of the worse promos I've ever heard. At one point Tony asks Ayers how he is qualified to referee a World Title match and Ayers stumbles and bumbles around offering only that he has a decent knowledge of wrestling. Wow because those professional referees who do this for a living certainly don't have that. Not only was his material bad but his delivery was worse. I can't imagine this sold a single ticket. Why they didn't coach this guy to say that Flair has a history of intimidating officials, showed clips of him shoving Tommy Young, and then just add that as a 6' 5' former NFL player he wouldn't be intimidated and certainly wouldn't be pushed around by anyone, is beyond me?

Dusty Rhodes vs. Kevin Sullivan (Grudge Match): Yes this was billed as a grudge match, but there was never any explanation as to what that meant. In hindsight it seems Grudge Match means that there is no DQ and you are allowed to pin whoever you want, even if they aren't in the match. At the end of the match Al Perez (whatever happened to this dude) came out and just started beating on Dusty right in front of the ref. With Sullivan, Perez, and Gary Hart (Sullivan's manager) all in the ring beating on Dusty Rhodes and the announcers not explaining at all why this is not a DQ, Dusty fights back and small packages Gary Hart. Tommy Young makes the 3 count and Dusty rolls out of the ring sits in a chair in the front row and celebrates his victory with fans. So weird!

Rick Morton vs. Ivan Koloff (Russian Chain Match): Unlike the previous match, this stipulation was explained very well. The guys were tied together at the wrist with a chain. To win the match you must drag your opponent to all 4 corners consecutively and touch each turnbuckle pad. If your opponent managed to take you off your feet before you completed all 4 buckles you had to start all over. What was also nice in this match was the guys didn't go to the corners using the length of chain; they had to grab the wrist of their opponent and be in contact with them while dragging their opponent and touching the corners. Announcers were great telling the story in this match as well, pointing out that Morton's lack of size would be an even bigger disadvantage in this match because he couldn't use quickness to win; he would physically have to drag his bigger opponent around the ring. Despite this disadvantage Ricky won the match after Paul Jones' (Ivan's manager) assistance failed to help Ivan. In the post match Jones and the masked Russian Assassins (pretty sure one of them was Jack Victory) turned on Ivan and beat the hell out of him. The crowd started chanting for Nikita to make the save but he did not. I think he did eventually on a later show.

Barry Windham vs. Sting (US Title): This was the main event, Sting continuing his quest to win Gold. Sting was very green back then but he had athletic ability, a great look, and a lot of fire. Barry was freakin awesome so that was all Sting needed and this was a lot of fun. They went just over 20 minutes Barry was part of the Horsemen back then so JJ Dillon was out with him and this was a great match. Sting was awesome at selling on his feet and keeping alive. One of the aspects of wrestling I push hard at my school and I think is missing today. The match wasn't about the specific moves they were doing it was about the battle back and forth and the fight between 2 men. The match ended in a DQ when Barry hit Sting with a chair. Tommy Young didn't see the shot but John Ayers came out to stooge Barry off, I guess to get over that he's a take charge guy who won't let the Horsemen get away with anything, to build his ref appearances in the Luger - Flair matches. I'm not sure demonstrating that with John Ayers out there, there is a greater chance of a DQ and the heel retaining his title is the best way to sell these upcoming matches, but what do I know. Today fans would no doubt be bitching about shitty booking with a DQ in the Main Event but back then the heat would be on the heel for getting DQ'd and the face got his hand raised so everyone was pretty happy in the end.

Lance


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