We continue our series looking at the history of Clash of Champions, taking in Clash of the Champions XIX. Held on June 22, 1992 at the McCalister Field House of the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina in front of 4,600 fans. The show drew a 2.8 rating on TBS.
As per tradition with WCW, a ton of changes have taken place since the last Clash in January included the hiring of “Cowboy” Bill Watts as Vice President of Wrestling Operations. Watts brought in a number of changes included taking away the mats on the outside, banning moves off the top rope and discouraging brawls on the outside of the ring. So instead of looking to the future, it was a step backwards to the 70’s.
Also, Watts re-established ties to NWA after it was no longer recognized with the confusion of Ric Flair leaving with the NWA Belt. For this Clash, the entire card were first round matchups from the NWA World Tag-Team Tournament to crown a new champion with teams competing from around the globe.
Ricky Steamboat & Nikita Koloff vs. Joe & Dean Malenko. The Malenko Brothers are representing Europe and this would be the first look at Dean Malenko in WCW until his run in September of ‘95. Joe made his name in Japan, but did make appearances in ECW and one appearance on WCW Nitro. Steamboat started things off with Joe executed a ton of classic chain wrestling maneuvers that Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura do a great job of explaining how proficient the Malenkos are. Koloff entered the match against Dean and uses his muscles more than his wrestling skills, no selling a suplex. The Malenkos worked over Steamboat with some double-team tactics. It’s really cool seeing Dean and Steamboat in the ring together, thinking how amazing it would’ve been to see them in solo matches when they both were in their prime. Steamboat made the hot tag to Kolloff who destroyed both Malenkos with a pair of Russian Sickles including one to Dean for the win.
The Z-Man Tom Zenk & Marcus A. Bagwell vs. The Dangerous Alliance (Rick Rude & Steve Austin) w/Madusa. For some reason, Rude and Austin are seeded #6 as Ventura pointed out that seemed low for them. Rude pummeled Zenk with a bevy of stiff forearms and crisp dropkick followed up with his hip swivel to which Ventura said, “Three or four women just passed out.” It sort of seemed like Austin and Rude are going extra tough on these youngsters because they are destroying them in every aspect of the match. Rude hits a real nice piledriver on Zenk but only gets a two-count. Finally, Bagwell gets the hot tag and briefly unleashes on Austin. Madusa is on the apron to distract the ref for some reason as Rude swatted away Bagwell’s dropkick and nailed the Rude Awakening for the rather easy win.
Terry Gordy & “Dr Death” Steve Williams vs. Larry & Jeff O’Day. The O’Days were a father and son combo out of Australia with Larry being an NWA promoter in the Land Down Under. Gordy and Williams were representing Japan at this time as they were representing All Japan Pro Wrestling. Gordy nearly decapitated Larry with a belly to back suplex. Larry for some reason tried to clothesline Williams and Gordy, yeah that didn’t work out. Dr. Death hits the Oklahoma Stampede on Larry to move along in the tournament.
Sting is out with Ventura to hype his big WCW World Title showdown with Big Van Vader at the Great American Bash ‘92.
Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham vs. Dangerous Alliance (Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton) w/Paul E. Dangerously. Nice banter to start things off as Ross and Ventura about how Anderson and Windham used to be tag-team partners at one time. Anderson is knocked off the top rope onto the unmatted floor. Anderson and Eaton took control of the match by working over Rhodes including Eaton hitting a bulldog right from Dustin’s repertoire. Windham got hot the tag but the ref didn’t see it. Windham and Eaton battle on the outside as Anderson dropped Rhodes with a spinebuster. Eaton tried to take advantage but only gets a two count. Eaton then attempted to hit his Alabama Jam but misses, Rhodes recovers to catch Beautiful Bobby with a bulldog and the three count in a real exciting finish to this match.
Missy Hyatt and Eric Bischoff are in the back explaining that there has been an accident involving the Puerto Rican team (Ricky Santana & Miguel Perez Jr). Williams and Gordy interrupt things and say since the Puerto Ricans won’t be able to wrestle that the Steiners will move on because of forfeit and face them instead.
The Fabulous Freebirds (Jimmy “Jam” Garvin & Michael “PS” Hayes) vs. The Silver Kings. The Silver Kings are pulling out moves that we see in just about every match these days but in 1992, Lucha Libre style was not seen on US very much at all. This was a mess as things get real sloppy as the different styles are clashing big time as all four are going at it onto the floor. Hayes rolls up Silver King #1 for the win. Carry on…
Brian Pillman & Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Chris Benoit & Biff Wellington. This is going to be a big step up from last match. Wellington was Benoit’s tag partner from their days in Calgary and made a brief appearance in ECW as well. Pillman and Wellington have a big staredown as Ross points out that these two have a history from Stampede Wrestling in Calgary. Pillman and Benoit go at it next as Flyin Brian tossed Benoit through the ropes to the floor and then followed it up with a crossbody from the top rope to the floor. Pillman and Benoit then exchange a bevvy of exploding chops in the aisle. Wellington is tagged in but is soon met with a crossbody to the outside as well. Benoit and Liger then continue their rivalry from Japan with an unbelievable sequence as Liger hits a moonsault from the second rope to the floor. Crowd exploded with this athleticism from Liger. Later in the match, all four are going at it including Benoit and Pillman chopfest part II. Benoit and Wellington attempted a double bulldog but instead are pushed into each other. Liger then hits a moonsault to the fallen Wellington for thrilling victory.
The Head Hunters vs. Hiroshi Hase & Akira Nogami. There is some rumor and innuendo that the Head Hunters were not the Dominican Republic Team of Manuel and Victor Santiago, but actually a number of different names that could’ve been under the hoods. Meanwhile, Hase is currently Minister of Education in Japan and Nogami is still wrestling in Japan at age 51. Not all too much to this match as Japanese team who were ranked #2 put on a clinic showcasing their talents. Nogami and Hase hit dual suplexes for the double pin to advance.
Ventura is in the ring to interview Ron Simmons on his quest to become the first black World Champion. Harley Race enters the ring along with the Super Invader as Race said when he was Seven-Time Champion he would have a boy like Simmons carry his bags. Well, that didn’t go over well as Simmons jacked both of them out of the ring.
Schiavone interviewed Watts in the ring about this situation with the Puerto Rican team and Dr. Death and Gordy. The Puerto Rican Team will not be able to compete so the Steiners will move on via “forfeit.” So it will indeed be The Steiners (Rick & Scott) and Dr. Death and Gordy will “Hook em Up” in a second round match and the main event.
Rick started the match off with amateur type match with Gordy. Scott is tagged in and Gordy doesn’t seem to into helping Steiner out with his bridge out as this seems to be a shoot fight so far. At one point all four men are in the ring and there seems to be actual heat here. Rick then tossed Dr. Death with an overhead suplex. Ross talked about how way back when Williams and Rick were in the Varsity Club together. Williams slapped Rick in the face and Rick double-leg takedown Rick and they begin to swing on each other. The match starts to become more of wrestling match now. Scott entered with a hot tag and hit a modified powerbomb on Gordy but missed on a Frakensteiner. Williams and Gordy then took the advantage on the fallen Scotty including a rough double-clothesline. Finally, Rick gets the hot tag but the ref didn’t see it as Gordy and Rick are trading blows left and right. Williams hits the Oklahoma Stampede on Scotty’s knee on the outside of the ring and onto the floor. Scotty attempted a belly to belly suplex on Williams but Gordy clips the injured knee as Dr. Death falls onto to Steiner for the major upset win.
This Clash was definitely a stand-alone episode with the tournament but it was an entertaining two hours. Seeing Malenko is his early days was a nice touch to this show. Also, the entire Pillman/Liger & Benoit/Wellington match was spectacular. If only WCW could’ve stayed with the same people in charge because they really had something with The Dangerous Alliance, Sting and Vader’s feud, Ron Simmons quest to become the first African-American champion as well as The Steiners and the rest of the tag-team division.
You can read all ‘Styles Clash: Clash of the Champions Revisited’ pieces here.