We continue our series looking at the history of The Clash of the Champions, taking in Clash of the Champions XVI: Fall Brawl. Held on September 5, 1991, at the Augusta Richmond Civic Center in Augusta, Georgia. The show drew a 3.7 rating on TBS.
This was the first Clash to take place after the departure of Ric Flair to the WWF in July of ‘91, so it was safe to say things were different in WCW without the man synonymous with the company. But as the old saying in wrestling goes; “The Show Must Go On.”
The first match of the night is The Georgia Brawl Battle Royal: “Z-Man” Tom Zenk, Thomas Rich, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, Ranger Ross, Young Pistol Tracey Smothers, Oz, P.N. News, Sgt Buddy Lee Parker, “Stunning” Steve Austin, “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes, Terrence Taylor, Big Josh, Barry Windham, One Man Gang, and El Gigante.
WCW didn’t have as many battle royals as the WWF did on TV, so this was sort of something different to open the show. This was your typical battle royal with a few highlights; Big Josh, Ranger Ross and Taylor all go at once as Josh tried to skin the cat. Eaton gets thrown out and into the cameraman by One Man Gang on the rampway. Windham and Austin eliminate each other and continue to brawl on the outside. The final four is Rhodes, Gang, Oz and El Gigante. Rhodes is eliminated by Gang and Oz. Then El Gigante double clotheslines Oz and Gang out of the ring for the win. El Gigante was being pushed as the “unstoppable giant” here. He wasn’t very good in the ring but did have a good look and the fans seemed to like the big man.
The second match of the card is a Second-Round matchup in the WCW Light Heavyweight Championship Tournament between Badstreet (Brad Armstrong) w/Michael P.S. Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin vs. “Flyin” Brian Pillman.
This is Pillman’s “return” after losing a “Loser Leaves Town Match” but was wrestling under a hood as Yellow Dog until his reinstatement. Some good fast-paced back and forth high flying action between these two. Pillman tried to suplex Badstreet from the apron to the ring but instead was suplexed to the outside in a pretty nasty spill. Pillman is then flung into a railing and nearly Ricky Steamboat’s his throat on the steel. Pillman recovers to dropkick Badstreet off the top. Pillman then hits a suicide dive on the outside that he basically ended up with his face into the railing. Bradstreet sets Pillman onto the top but Pillman fought his way out and hit a flying bodypress for the winning fall! This would be a match that would be a typical 205 Live match in 2017, but in 1991 it stood out as exceptional and unique.
Next up is Sting vs. Johnny B. Badd w/Theodore R. Long. In recent weeks, Sting was receiving strange giant boxes from someone, including one with Abdullah the Butcher inside!
These two got off to a really quick start and look to be on equal footing. Suddenly just as things got going, another giant box was delivered to the rampway and for some reason, Badd thought the box was for him. The match basically stops, but then Sting rolls up the previously undefeated Badd for the win. Just then, Cactus Jack rips out of the box and attacks Sting! Real cool spot as Cactus Jack delivers his patented elbow from the top rope to the floor, but this time it’s OVER the announce table on the outside of the ring.
Cactus hadn’t been since in WCW since early 1990 for his brief, but memorable stint so people seemed to remember who he was. This was an effective way to reintroduce him into a feud with
Match four was another Light-Heavyweight Tournament title, Richard Morton w/Alexandra York vs. Mike Graham. Graham had some modest success in the 70’s and 80’s while wrestling for his father, Eddie Graham’s Florida Championship Wrestling and the AWA. The match itself was fine, more mat action than high flying for lightweights. York climbs onto the apron as Graham had Morton rolled up, but has it reversed as Morton grabs a handful of tights to advance in the tournament.
Eric Bischoff is in the ring to interview “The World’s Strongest Man” Bill Kazmaier as he attempted a world record by bending a metal pipe over his head and neck. Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko hit the ring and clobber Kazmaier with a dumbbell to the ribs knocking to the mat. Kazmaier and Rick Steiner were scheduled to take on Anderson and Zbyszko later tonight in the finals of WCW World Tag Team Championship Tournament, so this throws everything for a wrench!
Match number five is The Fabulous Freebirds (Garvin & Hayes) vs. The Patriots (Todd Champion & Firebreaker Chip). This match starts off with a Moonwalk-Off between Hayes and Chip, so there’s that. The Birds won as Hayes nailed Chip behind the ref’s back so Garvin picked up the pin. Chip and Champion had good looks, but horrible gimmicks as a Special Forces soldier and a fireman. WWF would have a run with the occupational gimmick later in the 90’s. Why aren’t they just wrestlers?
Now onto something better as it’s time for the Danger Zone as Paul E. Dangerously interviewed Cactus Jack. Great line as Cactus asks the crowd for a moment of silence for Sting’s career. Just then another giant box appeared on the rampway, Cactus said his associate Abdullah the Butcher to congratulate him. Cactus went to hug the box when just then Sting rips his way out of the box! Cactus and Sting brawl up and down the rampway in a real wild segment.
They have a video package on Ron Simmons having his football jersey retired by Florida State University and a statement from his coach Bobby Bowden. Kinda random but they were trying to make Simmons a big babyface as he was scheduled to take on Lex Luger for the World Heavyweight Champion at the upcoming Halloween Havoc.
Match six was Ron Simmons vs. The Diamond Studd. Simmons was in the midst of his monster push as a singles star. The Studd jumps Simmons before the bell with a solid sidewalk slam and a bulldog off the top the rope. Simmons rebounds and drills The Studd with a killer spinebuster and a flying shoulderblock for the quick win.
After the match, Paul E. Dangerously interviews Simmons about his match with Luger. Harley Race and Mr. Hughes come out to confront Simmons on behalf of Luger. Simmons isn’t having it and walks past them to look for Luger his damn self.
Up next is Terrence Taylor w/Alexandra York vs. Van Hammer. It’s Van Hammer’s big debut in WCW. He has a guitar and he’s heavy metal! Taylor nails Hammer with the laptop to the back of his head but it does nothing. Hammer then rolls off about four clotheslines in a row. Hammer then gets the crowd going with some type of “We Will Rock You” stomp chant. Hammer then hits a pretty bad looking knee off the top for the quick victory.
Funny segment as Missy Hyatt interviewed Lex Luger in the locker room. It barely started when Simmons is knocking at the door looking for Luger. Simmons ends up in the hallway and shoulderblocks through the door and into Luger’s entourage. They had some weird cuts and camera angles here but it worked.
Match eight was for the WCW World TV Championship as Stunning Steve Austin w/Lady Blossom put his title on the line vs. The Z-Man Tom Zenk. This match starts off slow with some mat wrestling. Things get going as Austin is on the outside on the rampway when Zenk delivers a flying bodypress on the rampway. Zenk then misses badly on another bodypress in the ring. Austin hits the stungun finisher but doesn’t go for the cover for whatever reason and almost gets rolled up. Zenk goes for a sleeper when Lady Blossom handed Austin a “foreign object.” Zenk goes for a suplex but Austin hits him in the face for the knockout win.
Nice segment as they show Ron Simmons with a bunch of kids from the Boys & Girls Club.
Next is the contract signing between Simmons and Luger up on the stage. They made this out to be a big deal with all the pomp and circumstance. Luger was really good here as first he gave credit to Simmons then he said maybe Simmons could be “his driver” after their match. All hell breaks loose as Simmons flies across the table after Luger and the big pull-apart takes place. Very effective booking for people to see the big match on PPV.
Next up is the main event and the Finals of the WCW World Tag-Team Championship Tournament between Rick Steiner & BIll Kazmaier and The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko). Scott Steiner was injured in the summer of ‘91 so the Steiner Brothers were stripped of the title, thus this tournament to crown new champions.
Kazmaier is bandaged up from the attack earlier but he’s here and ready to fight. Steiner jumps right into the action and attacks both men trying to get the quick pin to no avail. The Enforcers work over Steiner on their side of town. Steiner gets Anderson in the corner to set up a superplex but Zbyszko fights him off. Steiner is being worked over when Kazmaier tags himself in. The big man attempts a press slam on Zbyszko but Anderson hits him in the injured ribs as he falls to the mat to allow The Enforcers to nab the win and the titles! Pretty clunky finish to the match and show.
Decent show building up to Halloween Havoc ‘91 with some highlights including the return of Cactus Jack and his impending feud with Sting was a reason to get excited. The Simmons push was good to see as he was being groomed to be a big star in WCW, although he wouldn’t win the Big Gold Belt for another year in August of ‘92. This was right in the middle of another transition time for WCW and we know this wasn’t going to be the last one.
You can read all previous ‘Styles Clash: Clash of the Champions Revisited’ pieces here.