We continue our series looking at the history of The Clash of the Champions, taking in part with Clash of Champions XIII: Thanksgiving Thunder. Held on November 20, 1990, at Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum in Jacksonville, Florida in front of 5,000 fans. The show drew a 4.2 rating on TBS.
This Clash was the build to Starrcade ‘90 and the continuation of the feud between NWA World Champion Sting and the mysterious Black Scorpion. There’s been a ton of roster fluctuation over the last few months. Of course, this is a different time when guys would come and go more but it seemed like a constant revolving door and that would be evident with this show.
The first match of the night was scheduled to be a six-man tag team match between The Southern Boys (Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong) and El Gigante vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Jimmy “Jam” Garvin & Michael “PS” Hayes) & Bobby Eaton w/Little Richard Marley. However, The Birds claimed that El Gigante couldn’t make it as he stuck at the airport in a box big slated to return to Argentina. The referee ejects Eaton since The Birds claimed responsibility for El Gigante’s absence. So in essence, we have the third meeting in a row between The Southern Boys and The Birds. The Southern Boys start out strong hitting double dropkicks on all the members of The Birds, including Little Richard. After a few minutes, all four men enter the ring and battle it out. Armstrong backdrops Garvin to the entrance ramp and then dives over the top rope for a flying bodypress. Meanwhile, Little Richard trips Smothers allowing Hayes to hit the DDT finisher on Smothers. This was a really quick match, thinking the absence of El Gigante threw everything off.
Next up Tony Schiavone interviewed Sting who is set for a showdown with The Black Scorpion on the Paul E. Dangerously Danger Zone interview segment later in the show. Just as Sting begins to talk, The Scorpion voice (aka Ole Anderson) informs Sting that he’ll see him later and give him everything he wants.
The second match of the night was “Nature Boy” Buddy Landel vs. “Flyin” Brian Pillman. Pillman defeated Landel at Great American Bash so Landel was looking for revenge here. Pillman uses the entranceway to his advantage backdropping Landel onto it and then executing a flying clothesline over the top. Pillman was so good before his injuries especially at this time, he uses the middle rope to springboard crossbody all the way onto the floor where Landel was prone. Landel looked much better in this match and the guy that some fans may remember. Landel attempts a superplex but Pillman gets out of it and hits a Flying Bodypress for the win!
Third match was The Cat vs. “The Candyman” Brad Armstrong. The Cat would later be known as Mr. (Curtis) Hughes in WWF but here was billed as unstoppable force and was using the Torture Rack backbacker just like Lex Luger. The Cat is demolishing Armstrong with a flurry of power moves until Armstrong moves out of the way of a splash in the corner. However, The Cat dismisses Armstrong’s comeback and racks him for the win.
Funny banter between Jim Ross and Paul E. Dangerously as Paul E said Armstrong gave up while Ross vehemently denied he did, “Brad Armstrong would never give up” Really? Armstrong was a great wrestler but let’s not get carried away now.
Legend of the Squared Circle Dick the Bruiser says there will be a clear-cut winner at Starrcade. Didn’t really say what match he apparently was going to be a part of, but whatever he’s a classic character.
The fourth match was an interesting one as “The Z-Man” Tom Zenk took on “Primetime” Brian Lee. Always like seeing guys in their early years as Lee was making his debut in WCW. Lee would go on to have success in ECW and later in the WWF as Chainz in the DOA. Match got off to a rough start as Zenk went for a flying bodypress off the top but Lee is completely in the other corner, it looked ridiculous. Zenk would hit a dropkick off the top as Lee would kick out at 3.1. Too late for Primetime.
Schiavone is back out with Mike Rotunda who now goes by the name, Michael Wallstreet along with his administrative assistant Alexander York (Terri Runnels). York who carries around one of these future laptop computer things and has all the data to defeat his opponent tonight, The Starblazer (Tim Horner).
It was good to see someone as talented as Rotunda involved in something again after the disbandment of The Varsity Club. This was York’s debut and she seemed very comfortable talking on the mic and in front of the camera. Wallstreet would win the match as it seemed like someone messed up the finish and instead he unleash the Wallstreet Crash Samoan Drop and that was that. Wallstreet would have a good run here as part of The York Foundation stable.
Next up Gordon Solie goes through the WCW Magazine Top Ten rankings, let’s just say the tag-team was lacking some talent at this time:
Former NWA Champion, Pat O’Connor passed away in August of ‘90 so to celebrate his life they were having an international tournament in his name so they ran a video explaining the 18-team tournament.
Match six was the Pat O’Connor Memorial International Tag Tournament in the African Final: Sgt Krueger & Col. DeKlerk vs. Kaluha & The Beast. DeKlerk would go on to become Rocco Rock in Public Enemy as DeKlerk, while Krueger would sometimes play Doink the Clown in WWF. This was the third clunker match in a row and showed how the quality of the roster had quickly gone downhill. Krueger and DeKlerk win the match and move on in the tournament with a dropkick and a pinfall.
They go over the feud between Stan “The Lariat Hansen” and Luger including Hansen’s U.S. Title victory at Halloween Havoc.
Funny segment as Paul E. is at a bar recruiting the Motor City Madman who would later go on to become 911 in ECW so that was a pretty cool early interaction between these two.
Luger then is being interviewed by Schiavone when The Cat interrupts but is quickly dismissed as Luger blasts him with a quick punch.
Luger finally gets to the ring for his match with The Motorcity Madman. The Madman starts the match but hitting Luger with everything he’s got. Luger gets the Madman outside the ring and attempts a suplex and almost decapitates him in the process, not sure if he couldn’t get the massive man up or what but this looked nasty. The Madman attempts a backbreaker but Luger gets out of it and hits him with a stiff clothesline for the pinfall. The Madman was great in ECW but maybe now we know why he only really had one move, the chokeslam. This was another rough match.
Match number eight was The Nasty Boys (Jerry Saggs & Brian Knobbs) vs. The Youngbloods (Chris & Mark). Just as the match started to get going as Saggs tosses Mark Youngblood to the floor and into the guardrail, the Steiner Brothers rush down to the ring! The Nasties take off not wanting to get involved with their fierce rivals at this point. The Nasties and Steiners along with Doom as seen earlier in the Top Ten Rankings were far and away the best the tag-teams and needed to get more time to shine. So a DQ win for the Youngbloods in another short match.
Next up is The Nightstalker to take on Sid Vicious. This was an early look at Brian Clark who went to become Adam Bomb in WWF, Wrath in WCW, etc. The Stalker was supposed to be accompanied to the ring by the legendary wrestler, Ox Baker but felt that he didn’t need to be there because The Stalker was good enough. The Cat again is involved in a match as he comes down to the ring just as Sid was beginning to gain the advantage. The Stalker grabbed his giant axe and attempts to nail Sid with it but of course, misses. Sid then grabs the axe and hits The Stalker with own prop and gets a win. It looked pretty sloppy but it kept up with the theme of the night. Sid was receiving a ton of cheers at the time, maybe it was his red singlet?
Next up, Schiavone is talking with The Freebirds about how they apparently sent El Gigante back to Argentina when The Southern Boys come down but this time El Gigante is with them and he’s still very tall!
The penultimate match of the night was The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) vs. Magnum Force. Not much is known about Magnum Force and it didn’t seem like The Steiners cared as they quickly disposed of them after about two minutes. Scott executed his flawless Frankensteiner for the easy win. The Nasty Boys attempt to jump the Steiners but the Brothers from Michigan are able to fend off the Nasties. This would end up being the last appearance for the Nasties in WCW for now anyways, as they were on their way up north to WWF.
Arn Anderson and Ric Flair are out with Schiavone going over the main event tonight against either Butch Reed or Ron Simmons. A coin-flip would determine which team members would compete and if The Horsemen would win Teddy Long will become his chauffeur and The Horsemen will receive a rematch from Halloween Havoc tag-team title shot against Doom. Meanwhile, if Doom wins, Long gets Flair’s yacht.
It’s finally time for The Danger Zone, Paul E. begins to talk with Sting and then the eerie music hits and the Black Scorpion is on the ramp. The Scorpion yanks “a fan” out of the crowd and puts some odd box over his head and manages to turn his head all the way around, Exorcist-style! Then he puts the fan in a caped cage, then he pulls the cape off and it’s a tiger…Don’t ask. During all this, the Ole Anderson voice-over is talking but the masked man on the stage didn’t look like he was talking at all.
It’s main event time and this had a really good build up between two teams who didn’t have much interaction until now:
Flair and Reed win their respective coin-flips and are set for the final match of the night. Flair and Reed are going back and forth, trading some heavy chops and punches to the face. Arn Anderson and Ron Simmons would both get involved as each time their partner’s opponent was tossed on the outside they would immediately pounce on them. Reed slaps Flair’s own figure four leglock but Anderson aids his partner by pulling him on the ropes to break the hold. Flair gets busted open by a bevvy of right hands to the face. Reed then hits a shoulder block to Flair and attempts the pin but referee Nick Patrick is on the outside with Teddy Long. Anderson then enters the ring and blasts Reed with a chair! He tosses the ref back into the ring so he can count the 1-2-3 for Flair. The Horsemen are now in line for a tag-team title match at Starrcade ‘90.
This was definitely not the best Clash to date. Outside of the main event and maybe Pillman/Landel; every match was under five minutes and very sloppy. The thin roster was very evident at this time. Inexperienced guys in primetime opportunities equated to a mess during most of this show. Still interesting to see guys like Clark, Lee, etc get their start. As a big fan of Reed, it was really cool to see him get the main event slot, which he didn’t receive in the WWF. The Scorpion Angle had gone from interesting to let’s get this over already because it’s starting to become cheesy. Luckily it would end at Starrcade ‘90 with the reveal (Spoiler Alert) of Ric Flair!
You can read all ‘Styles Clash: Clash of the Champions Revisited’ pieces here.