Clash of the Champions XV

Nov 05, 2014

Clash of the Champions XV was dubbed Knoxville USA; not the most creative Clash name considering the event hailed from... you guessed it Knoxville, TN USA. This was the civic auditorium in Knoxville, which was the site of the famous Thrillseekers vs. The Heavenly Bodies match from SMW. They drew 5000 people live, which was likely pretty close to a sell out, because I don't remember the building being all that much bigger than that. The show pulled a 3.9 rating on TBS, the same as the previous Clash so at least the several show string of declining ratings has come to an end.

Missy Hyatt opened the show welcoming us to Knoxville and Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone handed the play by play from ring side. I was going to comment that I liked these two as a combo but realized I've said that about almost every single combo Jim Ross has been a part of for these events, and think there is a good chance the JR is just so damn good at calling wrestling matches you could pretty much put him with anyone and I'd think they did a good job. That was not meant as a shot at Tony just an observation that JR is, in my opinion, inarguably the greatest pro-wrestling play by play guy ever.

This event also continued the trend of awkward ring entrances. I think I mentioned this on a previous review, but WCW had the big ramp from the stage to the ring at this point and on the stage was this big circle which was one step higher than the stage. For ring entrances we would see the guys walk out on the stage and stand on the circle waiting for their ring intro and music. They looked like such dummies standing there on stage in front of the crowd just waiting for their entrance. After this awkward pause their music would hit, they would be introduced and then they would start walking. It felt so Mickey Mouse. The only guy who avoided this fate was OZ who had an elaborate entrance I'll describe when we get to his match.

The Freebirds vs. The Young Pistols & Z-Man: The Young Pistols are the slightly repackaged Southern Boys (I assume in an attempt to make the company feel less regional and Southern), so we get what seems like installment 500 in this feud. At least after 2 failed attempts at making this match a 6-Man match both partners show up and we get the 6 man match. The Freebirds' 3rd man is the masked Bad Street (Brad Armstrong), who was a fantastic worker that added a lot of athleticism to the charismatic Freebirds combo. In addition to their new partner the Freebirds were also managed by Diamond Dallas Page (plus a Diamond Doll) and Big Daddy Dink (Oliver Humperdink). No idea why they needed this big of an entourage but we got all 6 out there. Big Daddy Dink was tremendous at ring side offering such veteran advice to his team as "Beat 'em up!". Like most of their previous Clash openers this was a super short match where the good guys picked up a quick win to pop the crowd and open the show hot. They did a whacky triple sunset flip spot and all three good guys pinned all three bad guys. I doubt this match went 4 minutes, which was a shame, because they no doubt could have had a much better match with 15 minutes.

Oz vs. Johnny Rich: After going through 2 partners in the Tag Team the Master Blasters, and a short singles run as The Master Blaster, Kevin Nash was repacked yet again this time as Oz. A curtain was down over the stage and a giant castle was either painted on it. There were green lights (you know it's the Emerald City) and what seemed like smoke or mist. From the door way of the castle emerge OZ and another character who I think they called the great wizard. Oz was in a full green wizards outfit with wizards cap and cape. They both looked very old with white hair and beards. Once Oz got in the ring the wizard guy left (at least I think so) and I'm pretty sure it was Kevin Sullivan. Once in the ring Oz proceeded to take off it face, which turned out to be a rubber Halloween mask (No idea why a guy would wear this). Without the mask, it was Kevin Nash with much shorter painted grey hair and no beard. His tights were green and poorly fitted. Oz squashed poor Johnny rich in a pretty bad match. I love the countless stupid gimmicks WCW gave this guy in an attempt to get him over, because when he finally was over and drew money for them it was as Kevin Nash, as himself.

Dan Spivey vs. Big Josh: Big Josh was Matt Bourne who would later become Doink the Clown in WWE. Josh didn't seem too happy on this night, perhaps because he was doing a job, but he walked to the ring looking bored as hell and had no fire in this match at all. This was not good and the finish was terrible. We get a camera angle where we can see Kevin Sullivan running down the ramp towards the ring with a crutch in his hand. Sullivan then stands there in plain sight waiting for Josh to run towards him to hit the ropes. When he does Sullivan whacks him in the back with the crutch (right in front of the ref) Josh sells the shot and turns and Spivey hits him with a German suplex for the 1...2...3

Dustin Rhodes vs. Terrance Taylor: Taylor is now the top guy in the York Foundation doing the gimmick they stooged off prematurely on the last Clash. They also have Mr. Hughs (The Big Cat from a previous Clash as a body guard). Match was fine but not very long and we got a DQ when Ricky Morton runs in to help Terrance Taylor to join the York Foundation. I guess Ricky was unable to be as covert in his interference as Kevin Sullivan was so his guy got DQd.

We got a "Rap Master" PN News in ring promo. PN was accompanied by members of the Rap group Salt-N-Pepa. They had Pepa and Spinderella, so I guess Salt wanted nothing to do with WCW. They really had nothing to say and the Rap he did seemed pretty lame but thankfully they were interrupted by Johnny B Badd and Teddy Long. I had forgotten how effeminate Johnny B Badd's character was back then. Teddy laid out the challenge and then completely botched a classic Ric Flair line when he propositioned the girls by offering, "Neither one of you can be next but one of you sure can be first" Perhaps Teddy was working a virgin gimmick at the time.

Sting vs. Nikita Koloff: I enjoyed this match, and I've always been a fan of both guys. Match was almost all heat with Nikita dominating Sting throughout. Sting picked up a surprise roll up out of nowhere to pick up the surprise win, while making Nikita look as strong as possible in losing. They also did a promo segment later in the show where Nikita came out and left Sting laying, I assume to set up rematches on the road. I've always liked Nikita and thought he had a great look and unequaled intensity about him in the ring.

Barry Windham & Arn Anderson vs. Brian Pillman & El Gigante: This was so strange; the stipulation was the loser of the fall would have to leave WCW. It was mentioned briefly but not played up at all, and during ring introductions only mentioned that Pillman and Gigante had a lot at stake. You would think the possibility that long time WCW and Horseman veteran Arn Anderson potentially having to leave WCW would be a big deal, but not here. Match was super short and made to feel completely unimportant. Pillman started the match and Gigante never tagged in, not even once. They did a couple spots before Pillman hit a crossbody off of Gigante's shoulders that was pretty cool, then after climbing to the top rope again, he just gets shoved off by the illegal guy, we then see Arn getting choked by Gigante and Pillman is pinned by Barry, with the announcers stating that Barry had kicked him in the face. Yes in a loser leaves WCW match they had 1 near fall and the camera man missed the finish. The most unceremonious departure of an over guy I think I've ever seen. We got the replay where we saw Pillman sell bent over after getting shoved off the top rop and getting kicked in the face by Barry Windham. On the up side the kick looked good. But the magnitude of this was completely blown off. He was beaten fairly clean and sent packing. He would return under a mask as The Yellow Dog, doing the Midnight Rider type gimmick, but I have no idea (outside of this being a rib) why you would call the returning baby face under a mask The Yellow Dog. I suspect this was a time in WCW when they were cutting budgets and Pillman had a good contract and they wanted him to take a pay cut. Pillman refused so they decided to bury him in an attempt to shame him into taking a pay cut. Pretty terrible.

The Steiners vs. Chono & Hase (IWGP Tag Titles): This match was for the IWGP titles but for some reason the Steiners only had their WCW Tag Titles with them. I loved this match. It wasn't that long but I was such a fan of the 90s NJPW guys so this was awesome. It was high impact great action. The Steiners picked up the win, and then the Hardliners (Murdock & Slater) dressed in coveralls ran in to attack and lay out the Steiners. Ironically they attacked Rick Steiners arm at the end, but it was Scott Steiner who actually suffered a bicep injury in the match. I could not imagine people wanting to see the Hardliner feud after seeing the New Japan guys in the ring.

The Diamond Studd vs. Tommy Rich: The Diamond Studd was Scott Hall and he was managed by Diamond Dallas Page. Studd was gigantic here billed at 292 lbs, and doing what would later become his full Razor Ramon gimmick. I'm not sure how WWE would later sue Hall for using his Razor Ramon moves and mannerisms in WCW during the Monday Night WAR. The Razor Ramon gimmick was exactly the Diamond Studd. He had the strand of hair down his forehead, he had the toothpick, and he did the hand and arm movements he did as Ramon. He even used the Razor's Edge, which he called the Diamond Death Drop (I guess 3D before the Dudleys used the name). Match was just a squash.

Stunning Steve Austin vs. Joey Maggs: Steve was billed from Hollywood, CA, which is hilarious in hindsight and you know how much of a Texas boy he is. This was a 1 min squash and they didn't even get ring entrances. I guess the show was running long. Steve hit his stun gun finisher and the camera cut away from some reason, so when they cut back it looked like Steve did another move that they missed so it felt like they missed the finish again.

Lex Luger vs. The Great Muta (#1 Contender match): This too was very short, which was disappointing. Muta was awesome and Luger was huge (290lbs). Muta took an incredible bump after over shooting his round off elbow in the corner, doing a full backflip over the top rope landing in control on the floor. Most people would die trying this but Muta looked completely safe. When Muta got back in the ring he tried to spray Mist in Luger's eyes but Luger put his arm across his face to block it, and hit a power slam (I think) for the win. They did a great job with the mist. When Luger won his whole face was covered in green except a clear strip across his eyes, where he blocked the mist.

Ric Flair vs. Bobby Eaton (2 of 3 Falls World Title): I'm a big fan of both guys, but this match didn't work for me, I just didn't buy Bobby Eaton as a World Title threat. I know he was one of the best wrestlers ever, but he was never presented at that level. There wasn't anything wrong with the match it just never felt like a Main Event World Title Match. Bobby picked up the first fall with the Alabama Jam. Flair evened it up with a count out after Bobby fell off the top rope injuring his knee. Flair worked Bobby's leg for the third fall eventually pinning Bobby while applying the figure four and holding the ropes for leverage. The finish didn't really work, I think fans were focused on the "Hey he's using the ropes" reaction when the 3 count hit, and then there was a "What really? It's over" reaction.

Not a great show, but things are getting better in my opinion, and I loved seeing Nikita and the New Japan guys. New Japan in the 1990s was so freaking awesome.

Lance


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