Styles Clash: Clash of the Champions XXIII

Benjamin Trecroci

We continue our series taking in the history of Clash of the Champions with this latest instalment taking in part XXIII. Held on June 16, 1993, at the Norfolk Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia in front of 6,000 fans. The show drew a 2.6 on TBS.

In February of 1993, Ric Flair triumphantly returned to WCW took his proper place in the territory he rightfully belonged in after a successful but maybe not game-changing run (1991-93) in WWF. Flair had a non-compete clause in his contract, so in the meantime was host of a weekly talk show called “A Flair for the Gold.” Tonight, however Flair was back to fight!

Jesse Ventura and Tony Schiavone hype the in-ring return of the Nature Boy Ric Flair as well as the injury sustained by WCW World Television Champion, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff that kept him from competing against Ron Simmons.

So now the first match of the card is Simmons vs. “Dirty” Dick Slater w/Orndorff. This was during the time when the crowd was really into chanting “Paula” towards Orndorff. Simmons started off hot before Slater took a powder to the outside. Slater rallied when Orndorff grabbed the leg of Simmons while he was set up his three-point finisher. Orndorff and Slater believed the won the match after a swinging neckbreaker, but it was only a two count. Simmons grabbed the distracted Slater and buried him with a powerslam win.

Eric Bischoff is out with Larry Zbyszko and then is joined with ring announcer, Michael Buffer who would end up making tons of cash through the Nitro days.

Match two is Marcus Alexander Bagwell vs Lord Steven Regal w/Sir William. This was Regal’s first live match in the United States since he joined WCW earlier in ‘93. Regal has recently took on the persona that many will remember him by; as the aristocrat who turned his nose up at anything American peasantry. Meanwhile, Sir William was Bill Dundee, the standout from the Memphis Territory. Regal and Bagwell did a number on each other with Regal working on Bagwell’s left knee. Bagwell rallied with a series of clotheslines and some near falls. Bagwell attempted to roll up Regal, but instead he’s reversed into being rolled up as Regal grabs hold of the tights for the win. Solid match between a young Bagwell and Regal coming into his own.

Bischoff is back with “Mean” Max Payne who is embroiled in a hot feud with Johnny B. Badd over his “Bad Blaster” confetti shooter. Payne shoots the confetti right in the face of Badd. Pretty good line from Payne as he says, “Consider it returned.”

Payne was set for a match against Badd but because of the confetti injury he won’t be able to compete. Payne is declared the winner by forfeit. The “Z-Man” Tom Zenk comes out to show he had Badd’s back but after a few dropkicks is put into the Payne Killer armbar.

Next up is 2 Cold Scorpio vs. NWA World Heavyweight Championship Barry Windham. Pretty cool introduction by Buffer as he gave the bout a big time feel. The whole championship situation was a bit confusing at this time as now the NWA championship is back in WCW after Windham defeated The Great Muta at Superbrawl III in February. But Big Van Vader was also the WCW World Champion, so yeah…

Windham was going by the name “The Lone Wolf” at this time as he turned down a return to the Four Horsemen along with Flair. Windham was still looking really good here as he hit a clothesline off the rope. He followed that up with a delayed standing suplex for a close fall. Windham then hit a beautiful standing dropkick and a crucifix suplex but he still can’t put away 2 Cold. Windham set up for 2 Cold for a superplex, but instead was thrown to the mat as the challenger hit a splash off the top for a near fall. 2 Cold then hits an innovative 360 springboard off the apron for another near-fall. Crowd is really getting into this match. 2 Cold attempted another springboard apron off the apron but this time he’s met with a stiff right hook from Windham. The champ then hit the leaping DDT to knock out 2 Cold to retain the title.

Bischoff is in the back with Sting, Dustin Rhodes and The British Bulldog as they ready themselves for their six-man battle vs. Rick Rude, Big Van Vader and Sid Vicious w/Col Parker and Harley Race. Just a year earlier, this match between these six competitors wouldn’t seem feasible as Sid and Davey Boy were both in WWF. Sid returned to WCW at Slamboree in May ‘93. Meanwhile the Bulldog debuted in WCW in early ‘93. (According to ‘rumor and innuendo’ Sid and Bulldog were let go from WWF because of steroid allegations.)

Sting started things off with Rude and the two rivals go at tooth and nail. Sting press slammed Rude into his heel buddies as hell breaks loose early here as The Stinger took on all three. At this time, more confusion over the U.S. Title as Rude said he never lost it after being stripped of it while he was out with an injury. Race brought out the title in a Halliburton case.

Meanwhile, Rhodes was the rightful owner of the title after winning a tournament. The former WWF superstars go at it as Sid and Bulldog face off. Rhodes absolutely destroyed Vader with clubbing blows and a massive suplex. The heels, however, hold the advantage tagging in and out as they take care of the tired Rhodes. Rhodes reversed a tombstone piledriver from Rude and attempted to tag Sting, but the ref didn’t see it. This frustration from the face group brought in all six men for a huge brawl. Sting and Vader battle on the outside Vader hits Rhodes with the Halliburton as Rude nabbed the pin. After the match, “The Masters of the Powerbomb,” Vader and Sid hit a spiked powerbomb on The Bulldog. Real wild match with intertwining storylines that included two newer members of the roster. Bulldog looked like a million bucks during his 1993 run in WCW.

It’s main event time in a Two out of Three Falls match for the WCW World Tag Team Championship The Hollywood Blonds (Brian Pillman & “Stunning” Steve Austin) vs. “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson & “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

This feud got going with some great work from the young guns towards the old guard:

The match kicked off with Pillman and Anderson. Funny stuff to kick off the match as Pillman tried to imitate Flair’s strut, but instead reached for his lower back. The crowd is chanting for Flair who then tagged himself in and the building absolutely explodes! Really excited to see Flair back in WCW. Flair blasted Austin with some extra loud chops in the corner. Flair knocked Pillman off the apron as Austin can’t make the tag. Finally, The Blonds are able to recover and tag in and out as they control Anderson on their side of the ring. Austin taunted Flair on the outside but Anderson caught him with a deadly DDT. Pillman and Austin attempted a double-team move off the ropes but Arn tripped Austin as Flair hit Pillman with a forearm to grab the first fall. Just as they go to commercial, you can hear Buffer saying, “Unbelievable, we have new WCW tag team champions.” Yeah, slow down Buffy. As great as Buffer was, sometimes it seemed like he went into business on his own and said whatever he felt like through the years.

As the match continued, the announcers are selling Anderson’s bad knee that’s been injured throughout the year. Pillman and Flair battle it out on the outside. Pillman dropped Flair on the guardrail right onto his throat. The Blonds continued their assault on Flair who needed to make the tag to the somewhat injured Anderson. Flair tagged in Anderson who delivered a spinebuster to Austin but Pillman saved his partner. Pillman then clips the injured knee of Anderson as The Blonds regained control. Anderson now desperately needed to make the tag to his partner. Arn finally hot tagged in Ric who goes on an assault of Blonds. Just as Flair was about to lock in the figure four on Austin, Barry Windham ran down the rampway and jumped off the top rope onto Ric. The interference from Windham resulted in a DQ fall for Anderson and Flair, but it would not give them the titles. Windham continued to beatdown his former Horsemen brethren until the newest member of the group, Paul Roma came through the crowd in street clothes for the rescue.

Schiavone quickly grabbed Windham for a comment who said that he was the World Champion when Flair walked away (from WCW) and he took it. Flair then jumped Windham in a real wild scene to end the show! They were building for their match at Beach Blast in which Flair would regain the NWA World Championship.

This was the shortest Clash, but for only 90 minutes it was really entertaining mostly because of Flair’s return but also the six-man match as well as Windham and 2 Cold highly contested battle. One person who was “missing” from this show was Cactus Jack, but it was part of a storyline so they did acknowledge him as he was a big part of WCW in 1993. This is one of those years that some people didn’t like, while others like myself really enjoyed it.

You can read all ‘Styles Clash: Clash of the Champions Revisited’ pieces here.

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