Clash of the Champions Count-Up – #3: My Goodness Barry Windham Was Awesome In The 80s

Clash of the Champions 3: Fall Brawl
Date: September 7, 1988
Location: Albany Civic Center, Albany, Georgia
Attendance: 3,700
Commentators: Jim Ross, Bob Caudle

This is roughly the 837th show called Fall Brawl out of about 3847 of them. It’s late 88 and therefore this is a tricky show to call. The main event is Sting vs. Windham which should be awesome. This is one of the odd 90 minutes shows, making it about 75 minutes on the commercial free version. There isn’t anything special coming up as Starrcade was in December. This is just a show and on paper it could go either way. Let’s get to it.

The opening video is about Sting being so close before but losing at the very last moment. Oh and he’s fighting Windham, a Horseman, in the main event. That’s about all there is here.

TV Title: Mike Rotunda vs. Brad Armstrong

Rotunda was a mega heel at this point and the champion. He’s considered unbeatable in 20 minutes. He’s the leader of the Varsity Club at this point. We take a break and come back for the opening bell. I think this was broadcast live. Rotunda takes him to the mat early and stalls a lot. Armstrong wakes up and sends Rotunda to the floor where he wants time out.

He speeds things up and gets a dropkick to Rotunda for two. That was a nice flurry for him and it’s another great moment of Armstrong that you don’t often get to see. We take a break with Rotunda getting back in. Back with Rotunda getting a knee to the ribs and taking over. Sullivan adds some cheating on the floor as Rotunda stalls. For once though that makes sense as he wants to burn off as much of that time limit as he could.

Suplex back in over the ropes gets two for the champion. The kickout gets a nice pop too. People were dying to see Rotunda lose and when he finally did the explosion is great. Chinlock goes on but Armstrong hangs on. Armstrong Georgias Up but gets knocked right back down. There’s a “That’s the Night That They Drove Old Dixie Down” joke somewhere in there.

Back to the chinlock as we’re wasting time, which like I said makes sense in this case. Here comes Armstrong who gets some shots in but runs into a clothesline for a long two. The crowd is eating this up with a spoon mind you. Just after the kickout we take another break. They do those very abruptly on this show.

Back with another chinlock and now Steve Williams, former member of the Varsity Club, playing cheerleader at ringside. Rotunda goes way old school with an airplane spin but he goes down too. Two minutes left as the ending is very clear here. Armstrong gets the left shoulder up and the fans are literally standing. To his credit Rotunda goes for the pins still with a small package at one minute to go. There seems to be an incentive to Armstrong lasting here. Naturally he does and for some reason it’s a huge deal. Apparently this is a huge underdog story or something. Williams comes in to celebrate.

Rating: D+. This is a fine example of a match where long does not mean good. This was mainly chinlock which is never a recipe for something good. Armstrong would get a lot better and Rotunda would lose very soon. This wasn’t much, but Armstrong is a guy I could watch for days so I can’t complain here. Still though, kind of weak. Ok maybe I can complain a little.

We see Jimmy Garvin getting a cinderblock dropped on his leg to end the Garvins vs. Varsity Club feud. Garvin would be gone for months.

Nikita Koloff/Steve Williams vs. The Sheepherders

The sheep dudes are of course the Bushwhackers and are absolutely insane here. This is a challenge match of some sort. Koloff is over here as is Williams. Williams gets taken to the corner and fights them off so Koloff and Williams have a standoff with the evildoers and are like BRING IT ON. It’s a shame Williams turned face. As a heel he was more or less the Brock Lesnar of his day.

Doc (Williams’ nickname, short for Dr. Death) runs over both guys like they’re not even there. We talk about the Midnight Express vs. the Horsemen. This was the top tag feud at the time and would be done in less than ten days with the titles changing hands at a house show and never being mentioned again as the Horsemen went to the WWF and wouldn’t be seen for 2-3 years and Blanchard more or less never wrestling again other than once a year at legends shows. Great thing to push no? This was when Crockett was selling to Turner so everything was completely up in the air if you couldn’t tell that.

Koloff runs them out of the ring with ease as well. It should be noted that the Sheepherders have a flag bearer named Rip Morgan who is more or less just a lackey. Williams hits a clothesline to send Luke to the floor. This has been domination. Doc crushes Luke (who is called Luke Williams here so it’s a bit confusing. If I say Williams I only mean Steve) with a top rope cross body for two.

Koloff in now and then back to Williams. This has to shift control soon here. Doc works on Luke’s arm and then it’s back off to Koloff who works on it as well. Ah there’s a thumb to the eye to break the momentum which lasts about 3 seconds as it’s back to Doc. Williams gets a running charge but his shoulder hits the post as I think we have our face in peril as we take a break.

Back with Williams no selling punches from Luke. Butch comes in from behind to take Doc down again as we hit the chinlock. Now let’s talk about the tag titles again. Williams causes some heel miscommunication and it’s off to Koloff. The flag bearer hits Koloff in the back and the heels take over one more time. Luke hits a middle rope headbutt for two. Butch spits at Williams, allowing double teaming to occur.

Koloff kicks out of an elbow. The crowd is white hot here which is a good sign for later on in the night. Koloff stands up and uses the power of Communism or something to…get beaten down by a punch from Luke. There’s a sleeper by Luke to fill some time. Ross really likes reminding us that the Sheepherders have been partners for ten years. We hit the fifteen minute mark as Koloff breaks the hold.

Luke keeps hammering away on him as the rest that Koloff got didn’t last very long. Koloff is like screw it and punches the heck out of Luke. The flag bearer hits Williams in the back with the flag so there’s no Doc for Nikita to tag. Luke misses a top rope headbutt and there’s Doc for a tag and a ROAR. Morgan, the flag dude, is in there now too. Doc gets chop blocked when setting for a slam. Back to Koloff who ENDS Butch with a Russian Sickle (clothesline with the arm hooked at an angle) for the pin. Sick clothesline.

Rating: B-. Better match than the first here which worked rather well. This was a formula tag match but the crowd carried this to a higher grade than it probably should get. The big power guys were awesome at their job of being the monsters that the crowd was going to pop for. Also that clothesline was great. I usually don’t like simple moves like those as finishers but this was one of those times where if he had kicked out it would have been awful. This was Nikita’s last match for almost three years as his wife was very sick and he stopped to be with her.

Dusty Rhodes vs. Kevin Sullivan

This is a grudge match for no apparent reason. Dusty’s booking around this time was uh….bad. Basically he made Russo in 2000 look like Jim Cornette with whatever roster and money he wanted complete with mind control powers to keep people from arguing. Sullivan is completely insane at this point and more or less turning into a demonic character. This became very fun when the Road Warriors took turns beating the living heck out of him. I’d assume this is for JUSTICE or something like that.

Dusty hammers away to start and we hit the floor almost immediately where Dusty hammers him towards the announce table. All Dusty to start here. He rams Kevin into the table a bunch of times then throws him into Gary Hart, Sullivan’s manager. Sullivan has something made of metal in the ring so Dusty chills on the floor. My guess is he’s looking for a taco.

Kevin slaps away at Dusty’s chest but the power of fat jiggling stops any pain. Dusty hammers him out to the floor and then does the same in the corner. A bunch of elbows follow but Sullivan gets a shot to the throat which sends Dusty spiraling out of control. Out to the floor goes the fat boy and Hart hits him in the head with his shoe.

Back in and it’s a chinlock. Hart distracts the referee so Sullivan can use a spike that he’s been known to use in the past. Hey look it’s more chinlock! We talk about Jimmy Garvin getting hurt by Sullivan and the feud with the Garvins vs. Sullivan. Dusty gets a low blow to break the hold and here comes Dusty.

Sullivan tries the spike again but Dusty steals it to drill him in the head. The referee is like whatever man and counts anyway but Hart makes the save. Dusty goes after Hart but Al Perez runs out with a chain and drills Dusty which isn’t a DQ and the double team is on. Dusty gets a stupid spot as they try to double clothesline him with the chain so he dives on it and pulls them into each other. Then he pins Hart for the win. I give up.

Rating: D-. Yeah this was bad. The match made no sense, there might have been one wrestling move in there somewhere and no one could tell what was going on. Not to mention there were multiple interferences and Dusty pinned the manager to win. See what I meant about his booking being out there? Case in point, this next match.

Ah wait as we have to have a football player here. He’s refereeing an upcoming Flair vs. Luger title match. Flair comes out and humiliates him by just outthinking him in a funny bit that wasn’t supposed to be funny.

Ricky Morton vs. Ivan Koloff

It’s a chain match here as in the touch all four corners type. Yes this is another one of those matches/angles that made zero sense. It’s supposed to lead to a face turn for Ivan but no one cared and the whole point to it, his nephew Nikita saving him, meant nothing as Nikita had already left the arena so there was no one to help and get the angle over. Koloff overpowers him to start of course and uses the chain to clothesline him.

The announcers talk about how Jones (manager) had said Koloff was the weak link in the chain (get it?) and has to win here. Yeah think they’re giving it away easily enough? Koloff uses power to start as this is HIS match. And now we talk about the football player (John Ayers) and how he earned his reputation on a field, not by talking. Morton heads to the floor and pulls Ivan down to the mat.

Back in the ring now with Ricky in control. And never mind as it’s back to Ivan again. He gets two corners but Ricky hits him in the knee to break that up. Morton tries to drag him but Ivan is like “In Soviet Russia, opponent pulls you” and breaks that up. Ivan goes up but gets pulled down by the chain as we take a break. It never ceases to amaze me that Koloff is a former WWF Champion. That’s always odd to see. Back with Morton getting three but Jones holding out his riding crop for more leverage. Then he loses his grip and Ricky wins. Ok then.

Rating: D. Another weak match here and the only point was to set up the post match face turn by force. Jones and Koloff were completely worthless and some of the weakest heels of all time. This went nowhere at all and is a gimmick that I can’t stand anymore. It doesn’t prove anything and this was no exception. Bad match.

Koloff hits Jones post match but the Russian Assassin makes the save. Another runs out for the double beatdown as there’s no Nikita to save. They hang Koloff over the ropes so we take a break.

US Title: Sting vs. Barry Windham

This should be good. Ayers, the aforementioned football player, is doing commentary for this. Sting can wear yellow and be manly doing it. Sting gets some armdrags to frustrate Windham to start. Ayers hasn’t said a word yet. Wait is he on commentary or just at ringside? They speed things up and of course Sting wins that portion. Windham hids on the floor with JJ.

Back in and Windham gets a belly to back suplex which is no sold and Sting hits a pair of sweet dropkicks to send Windham back to the floor. Test of strength goes on and Windham kicks him in the gut to take over. Punches in the corner of course result in an atomic drop as this has been about 95% Sting. Sting gets the punches in the corner as I guess Windham didn’t learn a thing from moments ago.

Sting misses his big elbow as always and Windham takes over for real. Barry sends him to the floor where Windham hammers away. We talk about the Claw Hold of Windham’s which is something I’ve never been a fan of. Not Windham’s per se but the hold in general. Back in and Sting gets a sunset flip for two but that’s the end of his offense here.

Powerslam by Windham gets no cover. A falling punch gets two as Windham is in control. We’re ten minutes in now and Windham misses a splash in the corner so Sting shoves him over the top to the floor. Shouldn’t that be a DQ? We adjust the rules again because that’s not the finish. Sting rams Windham into various metal objects to bust him open. Into the table now as Windham looks gone.

Sting gets a dropkick but Windham is in the ropes. Sleeper by Sting and the champion is in trouble. Naturally it isn’t the finish but Sting holds it for a good while. Barry goes after the knee to escape and it’s a Figure Four. Barry shifted Sting’s torso to the middle of the ring before putting it on which is the sign of a great worker. Sting taps but that would mean waiting about six years before it meant anything in America.

Windham gets caught cheating and the hold has to be broken. Barry shifts over to a delayed belly to back suplex but here comes Sting on one leg. He manages a suplex but holds the knee afterwards. I can live with that I guess. Barry cops a feel of Sting’s chest. Oh wait it’s the claw. On Sting’s man boobs. Well sure why not. Sting hammers away to break it up. I guess he’s just not that kind of wrestler to let someone feel him up in their first match.

Sting slingshots Barry back in after he knocked him out to the floor a second ago. Since this is a major match we get a ref bump. See? It wasn’t just an Attitude Era thing. Stinger Splash hits and here comes the Scorpion but JJ brings in a chair which Barry drills Sting with. That gets two as John Ayers, the football player, comes in and stops the count, telling the referee what happened. Sting and Ayers pose to end the show.

Rating: B+. If this had anything resembling a good ending it’s pushing an A. These two had a 20 minute war out there with neither guybeing able to take over for the most part and it was very back and forth. Sting was awesome at this point and had it not been for Dusty losing his mind, Barry could have been the biggest star not named Hogan in the world. Anyway, this was a great match with a bad ending, which would become one of WCW’s trademarks.

Overall Rating: B-. This was a hard one to grade. It’s definitely more good than bad and the commercials hurt it a lot. The first match is certainly watchable and the tag is good. The two “special” matches more or less suck, but a great main event makes up for a lot of that. It’s one of the better shows in this series, but that’s not saying much. Anyway, decent show but other than the main event there’s nothing worth going out of your way to see. See the main event though.

 

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