Clash of the Champions XXII
Date: January 13, 1993
Location: The Mecca, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jesse Ventura
The main event tonight sees Sting/Ron Simmons/Dustin Rhodes/Van Hammer vs. Vader/Barbarian/Barry Windham/Paul Orndorff (substitute for an injured Rick Rude) inside the Thunder Cage. We’re nearing the end of an era here in WCW as Bill Watts’ job is already on the brink and would be ended soon thereafter. In other words, most of the matches tonight don’t mean much, especially with a few changes coming soon. Let’s get to it.
Bill Watts welcomes us to the show and talks about his history wrestling in Milwaukee. Also Van Hammer is injured and out of the main event tonight. There will be a replacement in his arm wrestling match later. No mention of the main event. Also, Erik Watts has been arrested (kayfabe) and is out of his match tonight.
It’s another new set with the entrance being under a metal frame like last time, but no long curtain behind it.
We go to Erik who says that the allegations are false and he’ll make this bad situation into a good one.
Cactus Jack vs. Johnny B. Badd
Cactus has been a face for about three days now for reasons we’ll get to later. This stems from a the Lethal Lottery at Starrcade where the two teamed together but got in a fight. Badd’s headlock is quickly countered by forearms to the back but Jack grabs the ropes to avoid the big punch. Jack misses a charge into the corner and gets dropkicked down followed by an armbar. Back up and Badd gets some boots into Cactus’ face and a small package gets two. Johnny goes up for his sunset flip but only hits mat, allowing Jack to drop an elbow for a fast pin. This didn’t have time to go anywhere.
Great Muta has become NWA World Champion and there will be a recap of how he did it on Sunday.
We get a music video from 2 Cold Scorpio featuring kids dancing on a basketball court.
2 Cold Scorpio vs. Scotty Flamingo
They trade headlocks to start until Scorpio cartwheels into Scotty before kicking him in the face to put Flamingo on the floor. Back in and Scotty takes over with a dropkick to send him outside, followed by a nice plancha. They get back inside again with Scotty still in control and stomping away at 2 Cold. We hit the chinlock from Flamingo but Scorpio fights up and hits a spinning splash for two. Flaming comes right back with a running clothesline but walks into another kick to the face. A spinning leg drop sets up the 450 to give Scorpio the win.
Rating: C. That 450 is still gorgeous and Flamingo was good enough in the ring to keep up with 2 Cold. It’s so interesting to see Flamingo go from what he is here to what he would become in ECW as Raven. He wouldn’t be around much longer after this show which is a shame as he was starting to really grow into the role.
Rick Rude is out of the main event due to an injury, but he’s found a replacement. A few days earlier he put together a match between Paul Orndorff and Cactus Jack with the better performer winning the spot. Harley Race interfered on Orndorff’s behalf so Jack went after Harley, earning Vader’s attention. Vader attacked Cactus and cost him the match in the end. Orndorff got the spot, so Jack beat up Paul, Harley and Vader with a shovel to turn face for the first time.
Chris Benoit vs. Brad Armstrong
Feeling out process to start with Benoit grabbing a headlock before trying a powerbomb but Brad counters with an armdrag, leading to an incredibly fast pinfall reversal sequence and a stalemate. They earn a nice ovation as Brad takes him down with another armdrag and slapping on an armbar. Benoit tries to nip up but Brad takes him back to the mat to maintain control. Chris finally gets up and they try a test of strength with both guys going to the mat and bridging off the mat with pure neck strength. That always looks cool.
They stick with the arm motif by trading hammerlocks until Brad sends him to the floor by the arm. Back in and Benoit is taken down by the arm again before going with forearms to the back to take over. Chris lifts him up and drapes Brad over the top rope before knocking him to the floor with a springboard clothesline.
Back in and Benoit takes his head off with a clothesline followed by chops and headbutts. A backbreaker has Armstrong in trouble and Chris bends him over the knee for a submission attempt. Benoit misses the swan dive but Brad misses an elbow drop, allowing Chris to snap off the dragon (full nelson) suplex for the pin.
Rating: B-. This was a nice way to wake up the crowd a little bit after some decent at best matches earlier. Benoit would get a job soon after this if not from this match alone. Armstrong continues to be as good a hand as anyone else and can have a good match with almost anyone you put out him out there against.
We look at a clip from Smoky Mountain Wrestling with the Rock N Roll Express taking the Tag Team Titles from the Heavenly Bodies, setting up the Express’ appearance at SuperBrawl III.
Van Hammer was scheduled to defend the Strongest Arm Title in an arm wrestling match here but is injured, so Vinnie Vegas replaces him against Tony Atlas. Vegas finally wins a left handed match after nearly a minute.
Vader is standing in the snow and challenges Sting to a White Castle of Fear match at SuperBrawl III.
We recap the tournament to determine a #1 contender to the US Title. At this point we’re down to Ricky Steamboat vs. Dustin Rhodes. The tournament would eventually be for the title itself after Rick Rude was injured.
Wrecking Crew vs. Z-Man/Johnny Gunner’s
The Wrecking Crew is Rage (Al Green) and Fury (Marcus Laurintis, Road Warrior Animal’s brother). Z-Man grabs a headlock on Rage to start and Rage claims a hair pull, which would be difficult due to his mohawk. Rage sends him to the apron but Z-Man runs up to the top for a dropkick and the Crew is sent to the floor.
Gunn hits a HUGE dive to take both guys out and the fans are all fired up. Back in and Gunn takes over on the arm, only to be dragged to the corner for the off to Fury. The Crew shoves Gunn into the corner and Fury powerslams him down. Gunn avoids a clothesline and it’s back to Z-Man to speed things up. Rage slams him down and Fury adds what would eventually be known as the World’s Strongest Slam.
Z-Man charges into a knee in the corner but still superkicks Fury out of the air. Gunn comes in off the hot tag and cleans house with slams before ramming the Crew’s heads together. Things settle down but Fury gets in a cheap shot from the apron, setting up a powerbomb/top rope forearm to the chest (the Wrecking Ball) for the pin on Gunn.
Rating: D+. Not a terrible match here but the teams were exactly interesting. It was a generic pretty boy tag team against a generic monster tag team, neither of whom lasted long at all. It was fine for a six minute match but neither team had much of a future. I mean that literally as both were gone soon if not immediately after this.
Brian Pillman and Steve Austin, soon to be known as the Hollywood Blonds, promise to win the Tag Team Titles tonight. Austin was a replacement for Barry Windham who had been teaming with Pillman when Barry was moved into a singles push.
Sting, Dustin Rhodes and Ron Simmons come out and say they’re ready for the Thunder Cage match tonight.
Harley Race says Vader’s team will take care of Sting and company. He also guarantees that his men will get their hands on Cactus Jack one day, but for now they don’t like anyone associated with Cactus. Therefore, Barbarian is fired. Barbarian chokes Race and gets beaten up by Vader as a result.
We get highlights from SuperBrawl I and II to get us ready for this year’s edition.
Shane Douglas and Ricky Steamboat aren’t ready to lose the Tag Team Titles.
Unified Tag Team Titles: Steve Austin/Brian Pillman vs. Shane Douglas/Ricky Steamboat
Pillman and Austin are defending. Steve and Steamboat get things going as the announcers talk about the time limit only being thirty minutes instead of sixty. Steamboat gets a very early rollup for two before running the ropes for a cross body, drawing in the partners as everything breaks down. The champions quickly clear the ring and Ross is already making football comparisons. Back in and Ricky won’t shake Pillman’s hand, earning him a hard chop and ram into the buckle.
A pair of dropkicks send Pillman into the corner for a punch from Shane and it’s off to an armdrag from Ricky. Douglas comes in to crank on the arm and the champions start some fast tags with a focus on the shoulder. They tag five times in less than thirty seconds until Douglas stays in. He sends Pillman into the ropes and Brian fakes a knee injury to get in a thumb to Shane’s eyes. Brian tries a springboard cross body but gets powerslammed out of the air in a nice spot.
Off to Austin who gets caught in a hammerlock and we get an old school hammerlock slam. Austin and Douglas trade some very fast rollups for several two counts each before Shane runs to the middle rope and jumps back to crash into Austin. Pillman breaks up the pin but the champions take Austin into the corner. Brian runs in again but Steamboat picks him up and tosses him onto Austin for a big crash. Austin finally comes back with a belly to back suplex to Ricky and makes the tag off to Brian.
Steamboat is tossed over the top while Shane tries to come in, allowing Austin to slam the Dragon down onto the concrete. Austin kicks him in the back and Pillman suplexes Ricky back in from the apron for two. Pillman stays on Steamboat’s back before it’s back to Steve for a gutwrench suplex. Ricky is able to knock Pillman to the floor but Austin breaks up a tag attempt with another suplex for two. Austin puts on an over the shoulder backbreaker but Steamboat uses the corner to flip forward to escape.
The hold goes right back on but Ricky gets out again, moving just fast enough to avoid a springboard clothesline from Pillman which drills Austin instead. Steamboat suplexes Pillman down and falls into Shane for the tag. Douglas comes in and cleans house as everything breaks down. Shane’s belly to belly knocks Pillman silly but Austin comes off the top with an ax handle to break up the corner. Pillman is thrown on top but Douglas kicks out at two. Austin and the Dragon fights on the floor as Shane rolls up Pillman. Steve comes in with a title belt to knock Shane out but it’s a disqualification.
Rating: B+. This was a really solid old school tag team match with both teams working the tag team formula very well. Steamboat and Douglas are an underrated team and held the belts for several months but they’re not very well remembered. The ending came out of nowhere though and didn’t fit with the match at all. WCW may have had some problems around this time but the tag division wasn’t one of them at all. The match lasted about thirteen and a half minutes so the shorter time limit wasn’t a factor at all.
The champions get beaten up with the belts, busting both of them open. Some of Steamboat and Douglas’ friends come in for the save but Pillman and Austin make off with the belts.
We look at Vader winning the World Title back from Ron Simmons about two weeks ago with a shoulder breaker. Simmons had a bad shoulder coming in and the injury was worsened during the match.
Here are Vader and Race with something to say. Race talks about how amazing of an athlete Vader is and promises he’ll be the longest reigning champion in wrestling history. Ron Simmons comes out and promises to take the title back the first chance he gets. Race goes after Simmons and gets decked. Vader goes after Ron and takes a HUGE spinebuster. Simmons goes after Race again but gets jumped by Vader. The champion nails him with two shoulder breakers and Simmons is in agony.
The Thunder Cage is lowered.
Sting/Dustin Rhodes vs. Vader/Paul Orndorff/Barry Windham
This is basically Hell in a Cell and everyone but Vader is in street clothes. It’s a big brawl to start until most people go to the apron like a regular tag match. I’m not sure why that’s the case in a big cage match with no disqualifications but I’ll go with it. We start with Dustin vs. Barry and Rhodes takes over with a suplex before handing it off to Sting for a bulldog.
Vader comes in to hammer on Sting but the hero comes back with some big punches and a DDT. Sting gets him into the corner and punches Vader down with right hand after right hand. Vader gets sent into the corner where he flips upside down, only to land catch Sting coming in with a big standing splash. A top rope clothesline puts Sting down and Vader takes over. Sting avoids a middle rope splash and hits a running clothesline to put Vader on the floor.
Orndorff comes in without a tag and stomps on Sting before Vader comes back in to make a legal tag. A low blow has Sting in even more trouble and it’s off to Windham for some big right hands. Back to Vader for a splash in the corner before he throws Sting into the air and decks him on the way back down.
Barry gets another tag but Sting fights his way out of the superplex and makes the hot tag to Dustin. The numbers quickly catch up to him, but here’s Cactus Jack with some bolt cutters. He breaks into the cage and takes off his boot to beat up Vader and company. Everything breaks down and Cactus comes off the top with a boot shot to Orndorff for the pin.
Rating: B-. Good brawl here with a surprise ending that fit the story, but I’m not wild on the tagging in cages. They emphasized that it was a street fight inside a cage but the guys had to tag? I’ve never cared for that rule but at least we got a solid match as a result. There’s nothing wrong with combining a bunch of feuds into one match and it worked well here.
Cactus Jack is in the audience and says he has a very bad neck right now, but he wants more of Vader and Paul Orndorff. The announcers talk a bit but Cactus climbs onto the cage and poses for the crowd.
Overall Rating: B. This was another good entry in the series with most of the matches being good and the worst match being totally watchable. Cactus turning face was a big move for him as he had been a heel his entire career but won the people over through hard work. WCW is still on a roll at this point and things are looking up for them at the moment.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!