We continue our series looking at the history of Clash of Champions, taking in Clash of the Champions XVIII. Held on January 21, 1992, at the Kansas Expo Center in Topeka, Kansas in front of 5,500 fans. The show drew a 3.7 rating on TBS.
It’s 1992 and WCW has been overrun with the formation of Paul E. Dangerously’s Dangerous Alliance as the strongest faction since the Four Horsemen. The group consisted of: Rick Rude, “Stunning” Steve Austin, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbyszko, Arn Anderson and Madusa. Dangerously vowed to bankrupt WCW and put all their heroes like Sting, Ricky Steamboat, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes etc on the shelf for good. This show was the build to Superbrawl II, coming up on February 29, 1992.
The first match was Big Van Vader & Mr. Hughes w/Harley Race vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott). Scott Steiner had an injury plagued 1991 after starting off the year with a singles push. The first big move of the match was Scotty’s impressive over the head belly-to-belly suplex on the massive Hughes. The big men took quick control of the match by throwing The Steiners to the floor, but they quickly recover and hit a double Steinerlines off the same top turnbuckle. The crowd was always so into everything The Steiners did at this time including tonight, so this is a hot way to engage the arena right away! Vader started tossing around Rick until he goes to the top to unleash some more pain, but instead, he’s met by Rick who tosses him with an overhead the belly-to-belly suplex of his own! FYI: Somehow Mr. Hughes wrestled the whole match with his sunglasses on. All four men are in the ring brawling and Race is knocked off the apron by Rick as Scotty and Vader flip over the ropes to the floor. Rick then climbed to the top and nailed Hughes with a bulldog for the big victory for the Steiner Brothers on their road back to WCW tag-team title contention. Real solid opener involving four bruisers of the ring.
The next match is The Taylor Made Man & The Young Pistol Tracy Smothers vs. Flyin’ Brian & Marcus A. Bagwell. This one is somewhat of a hodgepodge of younger talent against veterans. Taylor was a member of The York Foundation, but the group was dissolved just as 1992 began. This match started out quickly as the high-flying Pillman and Bagwell snapped off a double dropkick and a double bodypress in perfect tandem to the floor. Smothers and Taylor gained the advantage on Pillman by using some double-team tactics including a suplex to the outside. Cannot express how great Jim Ross was at selling Pillman’s story of being courageous and overachieved his whole career, just showed how much a solid announcing team can make or break a broadcast.
Things get a bit crazy as all four men are in the ring, Bagwell tried a sunset flip on Smothers but he’s been held by Taylor until Pillman dropkicks The Taylor Made Man letting go over Smothers for the winning fall. Fast-paced match between four of the best workers in ‘92.
Quick video showing Jushin Thunder Liger win over Pillman for the WCW World Lightweight Championship on Christmas ‘91.
The third match is Johnny B. Badd vs. Richard Morton. As with Taylor, Morton was a heel member of the defunct York Foundation but right now is going at it solo. Really wasn’t too much to the match as Badd still had a ton of work to be done in the ring. Real sloppy ending as Morton tried a flying bodypress but Badd reversed and rolled into the ropes and on top for Morton for the three count. Morton just kinda laid there and then kicked out after the three. Yikes.
After the match, Eric Bischoff interviewed Pillman and Badd about their matches. Pillman was all fired about his upcoming rematch with Liger, while Badd blew kisses at the camera. Pillman is talking about companies from Japan taking jobs from friends of his. When Pillman is finished, Badd plants a kiss sticker on his cheek to which Pillman decks him with a quick right to the jaw. This was the first time Pillman’s bad boy image was shown as we all know it would become one of the most memorable in wrestling history.
Next up is Diamond Dallas Page vs. P.N. News. Page is only about three matches into his career as a wrestler after spending his time as a manager. The Rapmaster started the match off by using his size to his advantage. For a new wrestler, Page was looking at home in the ring. He’s doing a bunch of talking in the ring, including a remix of PN’s rap with “Go Baby, Go Baby, Go Baby, Go!” Page hits a nice looking neck drop to the ring ropes onto the floor, shades of Macho Man. Page then tried a bodyslam, but the big man is too much to handle. PN hit a suplex and a Rapmaster Splash off the top for the win. PN was still getting a modest push here and Page was new, but the tide would soon change.
Tony Schiavone is out on the rampway with a bunch of WCW executives to announce the main event of Superbrawl II WCW World Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger vs. Sting. Also, the man to call the action at Superbrawl will be none other than the man that Tells it like it is, Jesse “The Body” Ventura! The addition of Ventura was a huge move by WCW as Ventura was still a big deal in ‘92 after leaving the WWF nearly two years before this.
Next up was Falls Count Anywhere match Cactus Jack vs. Van Hammer. This one is nuts and showed that Cactus was in his element here and the far better wrestler. Cactus pulled the floor mat off the concrete floor and tried a sunset flip from the top rope but basically nearly breaks his back in the process. The action spills onto the rampway and onto the floor as Cactus is screaming like a high-pitched madman. They continue to brawl to the outside of the building and near some holding pens for bulls that apparently are back there for a rodeo. Hammer has a bull rope around the neck of Cactus when suddenly a huge cowboy starts brawling with both of them in the holding pen, that’s Abdullah the Butcher! Abdullah tried to hit Cactus with a shovel but instead hits Van Hammer to allow Cactus the victory. Abdullah and Cactus continue to brawl when suddenly Missy Hyatt who was in the back covering the action is thrown into a tank of water for good measure. Wild from start to finish. Abdullah and Cactus were set for a match at the upcoming Superbrawl.
The Freebirds have a new song and yeah they should’ve stayed with “Badstreet USA”
Match six was The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “PS” Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin) vs. Big Josh & Brad Armstrong. Apparently, this was the “new” Freebirds, but it was basically the same thing with a terrible new song and some new tights. The Freebirds were supposed to be faces but resorted to their old ways by hitting a double DDT on Armstrong for the quick win. They were trying to squeeze out the last bit of juice from The Freebirds at this point.
Real cool video package on The Steiners and their huge victories through the years over such teams as The Road Warriors, Samoan Swat Team,etc. Bischoff then interviewed The Steiner Brothers about them wanting a shot at the WCW World tag-team titles, held by Arn Anderson and Beautiful Bobby Eaton.
Next up is Thomas Rich vs Vinnie Vegas. Of course, we know who Vinnie Vegas was Master Blaster Steel and Oz but tonight was the first time we saw the personality of Kevin Nash come through. Vegas was supposed to be a wiseguy type with a slight New York type accent. Not much to the match as Vegas suckered Rich in with a clothesline and then hit the snake eyes finisher for the quick “debut” win.
Next up is Bischoff with Paul E. Dangerously who goes over that every prediction he has made has come true and that one more will come true tonight that one of WCW’s main guys will end up in the Magnum T.A.’s retirement home at the hands of The Dangerous Alliance. Whoa…he went there.
Here we go with first of the two tag-team matches that involved The Dangerous Alliance (Larry “The Cruncher” Zbyszko, Arn Anderson & “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton)w/Paul E. Dangerously vs. “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes, Ron Simmons & Barry Windham. The big story here is Windham revenge on Zbyszko and Anderson for breaking his hand in that heinous attack at Halloween Havoc ‘91. Eaton and Windham started things out hot, including a superplex from Windham. Soon all six men are in the ring as the faces execute triple figure-fours on The Alliance. Simmons is showcased destroying all three members handily. Windham and Zbyszko go at it until Eaton tries to get involved but is instead hit with a dropkick off the top rope by Windham. Rhodes and Eaton are fighting on the rampway while Anderson distracts the ref so Dangerously takes advantage and clobbers Rhodes with his mobile phone. The Alliance took control of the match as Anderson hit a perfect spinebuster and a DDT on Rhodes but couldn’t put the young Rhodes away. Finally, Windham is tagged in and as hell breaks loose as all six men are going at it. Eaton attempted to hit Windham off the top rope but Barry caught Beautiful Bobby with his gloved hand for the revenge victory for Windham and the good guys.
It’s main event time as Sting & Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. “Stunning” Steve Austin & “Ravishing” Rick Rude. Jim Ross is joined by Ventura for his first ever broadcast in WCW. Even before the bell rang, you know this is going to be good. Ross pointed out that is the first time that the top four ranked competitors for the WCW World Championship are all in one match at the same time. Austin and Steamboat started things off with Ricky holding most of the advantage using some his deadly chops to the younger Austin. Rude entered the match and blatantly slapped Sting on the apron. Sting is taking it to Rude, including mocking The Ravishing One by doing the Rude special swivelling of the hips. Steamboat and Sting slide in and out by not making tags in a fun heel switch by the faces. Austin and Rude are taking turns punishing Sting. Finally, The Stinger makes the desperate tag to Steamboat who cleans house for awhile. As the match came to a crescendo Austin had Steamboat setup for a backbreaker and set him for another one when Sting dove off the top onto both of them for a monkey pileup winning fall for Steamboat and Sting! Ventura is going wild as to why the heck referee Nick Patrick counted with two guys laying on top of Austin.
After the match, Rude delivered two Rude Awakenings to Steamboat and then started to whip Steamboat with Paul E’s belt. A bunch of “security” guys enter the ring and are beaten to a pulp by Austin and Rude. Sting puts himself on top of Steamboat to take the whippings instead of his fallen partner. Effective end to very entertaining show and a good build towards SuperBrawl II.
1992 started off real strong with this show. The addition of Ventura was a big surprise and he was a welcome addition to the broadcast team. Cactus Jack and Vader would become major players in ‘92, while The Steiners would return to their winning ways as well. The Dangerous Alliance provided so many different avenues for WCW to go down in what would become one of the best years in the company.
You can read all ‘Styles Clash: Clash of the Champions Revisited’ pieces here.