Styles Clash: Clash of the Champions XXXII

Benjamin Trecroci

We continue our series looking at the history of The Clash of the Champions, taking in Clash of the Champions XXXII. Held on January 23, 1996, at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada (attendance N/A). The show drew a 4.5 on TBS.

It’s 1996, WCW Monday Nitro became the flagship program in September of 1995 and since then nearly every storyline is centered around the show. So Clash of Champions was slowly being phased out. The last Clash was back on August ‘95, which in wrestling time, felt like years.

This Clash kicked off with the recap of Monday Nitro from the night before with two major championship changes as “Macho Man” Randy Savage defeated Ric Flair to capture the WCW World Championship, while Sting & Lex Luger took home the WCW tag-team championship with a win over Harlem Heat.

Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan teased the return of Miss Elizabeth to be in the corner of Hulk and Macho Man later. Also, they sent it to Mean Gene Okerlund who is at the famous sleazy drive-thru Little White Chapel in downtown Las Vegas as Col. Robert Parker and Sister Sherri were scheduled to be hitched! You know a wrestling wedding always ends well…right?

The first match is Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Saggs) vs. Public Enemy (Johnny Grunge & “Flyboy” Rocco Rock). P.E. had just debuted a week earlier in WCW Monday Nitro.

As expected this match is pure chaos as all four guys go at it, inside and outside the ring. Grunge and Knobbs battle on the outside, while Rocco and Saggs brawl on the outside. Saggs is dropped right on his business over the guardrail, but within 30 seconds is walking directly towards the back to grab a table to bring back to the ring but it’s not used…yet. Saggs hit a piledriver on Grunge as the Nasties set up the table.

Nick Patrick called for the bell as this match is too much to handle. They kept fighting though. Saggs went up to the top rope but Rocco knocked him off as Grunge set Knobbs on top of the table. Rocco then executed a moonsault, but the table doesn’t even break! Saggs then whacked Knobbs with a piece of the table as a piece went flying into the crowd and probably nearly decapitated a kid. Saggs then picked up the table and flung it right at Grunge’s head on the outside of the ring, that looked healthy. They continued to brawl all the way up the entrance way. P.E. would have a pretty successful run in WCW, winning the tag straps in ‘96 for a short reign.

They would bounce around after WCW, back to ECW where they made their initial name and then the WWF in ‘99. JBL and Ron Simmons would allegedly basically “bully” them out of the company.

Ric Flair and The Giant w/Jimmy Hart are out to talk with Eric Bischoff about his title loss to the Macho Man and that it didn’t mean anything to him.

Next up is “The Iceman” Dean Malenko vs. Alex Wright. This match stemmed from their match from WCW Saturday Night when Malenko refused to let go of the Texas Cloverleaf hold. Malenko along with Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero jumped from ECW in September of ‘95 and was already into his “Man of 1,000 holds” persona. This match started off with a bunch of chain wrestling and Malenko continued to work on the “injured” leg of Wright. Das Wunderkind rallied to hit a superplex, but only for a two-count. Malenko clipped Wright in the knee and hit a slick roll-up for the win. The referee or Wright screwed this up as Alex had his shoulder up, so that was a clunky finish to a quick entertaining match. Malenko would, of course, make an impact later in 96, capturing the Cruiserweight Championship and would take on a who’s who of WCW’s talent, like Rey Mysterio, Ultimo Dragon, etc.

Match number three is “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan w/Jimmy Hart vs. Disco Inferno. Just as Disco was supposed to come down the ring, an Elvis Presley impersonator walked down to the ring eating a big peanut butter sandwich. “Elvis” was there to deliver a singing telegram that apparently Disco wasn’t going to make it to the match as he was at the Parker/Sherri wedding. He started to sing and Sullivan beat the crap out of Elvis, much to the delight of the crowd. No clue who Elvis was, but he looked kinda familiar. Vegas, baby.

Mean Gene is back at the chapel as Bunkhouse Buck & Dick Slater arrive and they are not sure where Col Parker is at this time.

Eric Bischoff is out to introduce Lex Luger and Sting as the new tag-team champions. Sting wasn’t sure about Luger’s allegiance since his return to WCW in September of ‘95 so the new champs had some controversy between them. The Road Warriors, who had just returned to WCW, suddenly walked out to confront Sting and Luger. Sting is extremely excited to see his old brothers in the paint while Luger was not. Sting offered the Road Warriors a shot at the titles, Luger wasn’t feeling this. He said other teams like Harlem Heat and State Patrol (!) were more fitting of a title. Luger was always better as a jerk.

Next up they had a feature on “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, who was in a neck brace said the Four Horsemen ended his career for turning them down to join the Four Horsemen and Brian Pillman took his spot. This ended up being the actual end of Orndorff’s career. Mr. Wonderful was one of the top stars in the business but injuries and other circumstances cut his career short. He’s a Hall of Famer no doubt, but he could’ve been one of the all-time top stars in wrestling history if things turned out a different way.

Back to the Little White Chapel as Col Parker is late to his own wedding and hits up Mean Gene for $50 to pay the cabbie. Gene is hilarious throughout this whole skit, calling the cab driver “a jabroni” for honking his horn non-stop!

Here we go with a classic as “Flyin’” Brian Pillman took on Eddie Guerrero. This is definitely “Loose Cannon” Pillman as he’s out of his mind going after fans at ringside and not paying attention to Eddie. Guerrero hit a dropkick to Pillman who falls out near Heenan and Schiavone. Pillman wandered around and grabbed hold of Heenan’s who then said “What the Fuck are you Doing” directly into the mic, in an iconic WCW moment! Heenan’s walked around the ring and looked legitimately heated and then sounded a bit shook up that he would have his injured neck aggravated by Pillman.

Eddie hit a spinning DDT out of the corner and then chopped the hell out of the Pillman. They both went for a crossbody block, but Pillman was able to get the best of it and rolled up Eddie with a handful of tights for the win. As Pillman rolled out of the ring, he fell onto the announcer’s table as Heenan walked away again, clearly annoyed at this point. This was a somewhat disjointed match in what could’ve been a classic at another time in their lifetimes.

Huge fan of Pillman and this was probably one of the best incarnations of the Four Horsemen with Pillman, Benoit, Arn, and Flair. It wouldn’t last long as, by February of ‘96, Pillman would be gone from WCW after this doozy:

Hogan, Macho Man and Pittsburgh Steeler, Kevin Greene are out with Bischoff hyping their match tonight and “Oh Yeahhhh’n It.” Some odd remarks about Liz here looking back at it-“We all know she’s was too much for you to handle,” Hogan to Macho. Whoa, hey now brother!

Sting and Luger put up their WCW World Tag-Team championships on the line against The Blue Bloods (Lord Steven Regal & Earl Robert Eaton).

Some classic stuff here as Bobby became Earl Robert

Luger and Sting controlled most of the early part of the match on both Regal and Eaton. Finally, The Blue Bloods switched in and out to gain the advantage. Eaton went up to the top and tried a flying body press but Luger somewhat caught him but instead just sort of fell. Sting entered the match as all four men are going at it. Eaton went back to the top but is accidentally knocked off by his own Regal. The Stinger then slapped on the Scorpion Deathlock for the win.

Back at the Chapel, Harlem Heat is at catering looking for neckbones. Sherri finally showed up looking disheveled and upset at Parker for gambling all his money away.

Schiavone delivered a great line to Parker if he was listening to, “Get in the limo and run for your life!”

Bischoff brought out Pillman who threatened to say the “Seven deadly words” you’re not supposed to say on TV. Pillman was all in at this point to The Loose Cannon, think Matt Hardy being Woken/Broken.

Psicosis took on Mexican Heavyweight Champion Konan. Mike Tenay joined the commentary team for the very first time during a Clash and gave some background on both stars. Tenay would acknowledge that Konan appeared during the 1990 Starrcade Pat O’Connor tournament under a mask.

This would be an intro to later on in ‘96 and beyond when the international stars would make up a large part of Monday Nitro, etc. Konan was still in really good shape here and was using some high-speed maneuvers.

During this match, Schiavone alludes that on the WCW Hotline, Billionaire Ted skits that the WWF was running during this time.

Konnan nailed a deadly DDT that spiked Psicosis to the mat. Psicosis hit a suicide dive to the outside but nearly destroyed himself. Konan then hit an excellent release superplex. Konan then put some type of Ziplock submission hold on Psicosis and that was that. The submission move didn’t look right. Entertaining early look at two guys that would shape part of the identity of Nitro.

Parker is back at the Chapel as Sherri is changing in the back of the limo. Okerlund said, “I doubt this is the first time she’s been in the back of a car!”

Gene then made a nice gesture and offered to walk her down the aisle (aka the driveway) as he’s known her for a very long time.

Harlem Heat, Disco Inferno, and others are singing the wedding song as they make their way to the Drive-Thru. Slater is emotional. Mean Gene is cracking up, Booker is shaking his head. All of a sudden Madusa walked out of Parker’s trailer and she and the bride start brawling all over the reception area beating the crap out of each other with decorations. Apparently, Madusa was Parker’s side chick and it was a cool nod to to Sherri and Madusa’s feud while they were both in AWA in the late- 80’s.

The whole segment was legendary, including Disco commandeering a couple bottles of champagne.

It’s main event time as Michael Buffer is out collecting another check as introduced Ric Flair & The Giant w/Jimmy Hart vs. Hulk Hogan & Macho Man Randy Savage w/Kevin Greene, Miss Elizabeth and Woman (Nancy Benoit). This was Liz’s first appearance in wrestling since ‘92 after she and Savage had legitimately divorced. Kevin Greene entered the ring and got in the face of Flair. This was days away from the Super Bowl for Greene so he wasn’t going to do anything anyways. Mach and Flair start things out and do their tit-for-tat shtick. These two had great chemistry from day one. The Giant is tagged and the crowd popped knowing that Hogan would want in. The Giant shoves Hogan into the corner twice in a row. Hogan attempted a slam but couldn’t pick up the big man. Schiavone and Heenan brought up the opening moments of Wrestlemania III when Hogan failed to attempted to slam The Giant’s “Dad” (Andre the Giant).

After The Giant missed a flying elbow, Hogan then successfully bodyslammed him but it took a toll on Hogan. Flair is tagged in and he hit a delayed suplex on Hulk. Flair went to the top rope but Hogan caught him and flung him across the ring before making the tag to Savage. Macho entered and went to work on Flair, as he nailed the elbow drop from the top but Hart is on the apron as the ref is distracted. Hogan and Giant brawl wildly on the outside. Flair had a foreign object in his hand as he slugged Savage with to grab the win over the champ and Hogan!

After the match, The Zodiac and Pillman enter the ring but they are both thrown out by Greene and Hogan. Liz came Macho’s aid as the show signed off with fireworks.

This was a big step-up from recent Clashes. The top notch production from Nitro would carry over onto this show and gave it an overall big-time feel. The wedding was hilarious and entertaining as hell. The roster at this time was filling out with guys that would shape the company for years as they were just months away from entering into their most successful run as a couple of “outsiders” were about to enter WCW.

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

One thought on “Styles Clash: Clash of the Champions XXXII

  1. Another great thing about the Nitro prior to this Clash, was when after Savage won back the World Title from Flair thanks to help from Hogan, who then celebrated and wouldn’t leave the ring while hogging Savage’s spotlight, an incensed Savage grabbed the microphone and told Hogan off:

    “You’re celebrating this match like you won it. *I* won it! You’re clowning around the ring, don’t embarrass yourself like that, brother!”

    Liked by 2 people

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