Clash of the Champions Count-Up – #29: That’s One High Quality Sleeper

Clash of the Champions 29
Date: November 16, 1994
Location: Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum, Jacksonville, Florida
Attendance: 4,000
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan

We’re in 1994 here and almost a year before Nitro. Hogan is of course world champion and has recently retired Flair. We’re also in the days of the 3 Faces of Fear which would evolve into the Dungeon of Doom soon which was rather successful if you think about it from an odd angle. Either way this wasn’t a great year for the company so let’s get to it.

The opening video is of course about Hogan vs. the Faces of Fear. He recently unmasked Brutus Beefcake, revealing him to be the Butcher in name change #85 or so. The main event is a six man tag with Mr. T. as guest referee for no apparent reason.

Heenan says that Hogan is done and is booed out of the building.

After running down the card we’re ready to go to….Gene who talks about the Hotline for a bit before Meng and Colonel Parker come out. Apparently he has a tag title shot lined up for Bunkhouse Buck and Arn Anderson which they lost.

Tag Titles: Stars N Stripes vs. Pretty Wonderful

Stars N Stripes are Bagwell and the Patriot, Pretty Wonderful are Paul Roma and Paul Orndorff (holy Yoda line Batman and holy combination of two awesome geek series) and this is mask (Patriot’s) vs. title (Pretty Wonderful’s). The camera is a bit low so you can’t see over all of the fans. These teams traded the titles over the last two months or so. After a lot of stalling it’s Bagwell vs. Orndorff to start.

Roma comes in quickly and ever the genius, wrestles like a face. By that I mean he’s climbing the ropes and flipping off of them, jumping over Bagwell, using cross bodies and dropkicks. How many heels do you know that wrestle like that regularly? Anyway the challengers clear the ring quickly. Heenan thinks Patriot is Al Gore.

Paul vs. Patriot at the moment. Blast it this is one of those teams that I have to specify with. Orndorff vs. Patriot at the moment. How in the world was Roma a Horseman but not Orndorff? Patriot takes him down with an armbar and Orndorff isn’t sure what to do. Off to Roma who shows off again with three backbreakers without putting Patriot down. Thesz Press gets two for the masked dude.

The champions try a double hot shot but the cameraman falls over so we don’t see what happens. I know it’s just an accident but when do you ever see that? Orndorff drops an elbow on Bagwell as they’re legal at the moment. The fans chant USA for four American wrestlers. Off to Roma who has a REALLY high dropkick. Powerslam gets two. Sunset flip by Bagwell gets two on Orndorff.

Roma and Patriot hit the floor as this match is needing to end rather soon. Thankfully it does but even a simple pin doesn’t go right for them. Orndorff suplexes Bagwell and lays there with him, but doesn’t let him go. Roma goes up for a splash off the top ala the Powerplex but Patriot makes the save. Orndorff just stayed in the position and gets pinned, but Tony screws up the count, making it seem like the titles change on a two count and generally confusing the TV audience. Either way, new champions.

Rating: D+. Orndorff got a push at this point for some reason which I’m SURE wasn’t because he was one of Hogan’s buddies but whatever. The tag title situation never really was interesting at all at this point but they were trying….I think. Harlem Heat would rise up soon to half save the division but they tried at least.

TV Title: Johnny B. Badd vs. Honky Tonk Man

I know I know, just go with it. Badd is champion here. Honky, ever the Memphis man, stalls to start us off. He works on the arm of Badd as we talk about Honky’s hair. Now Badd works on his arm for a change of pace. This is a rematch from Halloween Havoc where someone thought them having a draw was a good idea for no apparent reason.

Badd catches a kick and Honky hops around so Badd messes up the hair. Why is this airing? For the life of me I don’t understand. Honky takes over with the falling fist for two so we hit the chinlock. That lasts only a few seconds and it’s time for the Shake Rattle and Roll. That goes nowhere as Badd gets him into the corner for multiple punches. Million dollar kneelift gets two. Down goes the referee and Honky pops Johnny with the guitar, only to get caught and we’re done.

Rating: F+. Honky Tonk Man is one of the worst investments in the history of this company. For the life of me I don’t get the point of having him around as he hadn’t meant anything in about 6 years at this point. Badd wasn’t any good yet but in a few months he would get awesome in a hurry. Terrible match here though.

The 3 Faces of Fear (Brutus Beefcake called Butcher, Earthquake called Shark and Kevin Sullivan who is rarely called) say that they’re Hogan’s worst nightmares. This is the least intimidating group I’ve seen in years. Avalanche has a brother named Tropical Storm Gordon. How do you even respond to that?

Harlem Heat vs. Nasty Boys

These two fought at about 5 PPVs in 1995, which says a lot more when there were only 9 or 10 PPVs that year. This is a street fight. The Nasties are faces here……I think. Ok maybe it’s not an official street fight but one in name only. Booker vs. Knobbs starts us off. The Nasties clear the ring and the fans get in the face of Stevie on the floor. Off to Stevie who gets shoved around by Sags. This is another boring match already.

Knobbs works on Booker’s knee as this is a ridiculously boring match. THANK GOODNESS we take a break as even Bobby wants to take one. Back with….a shot of the video screen. Heenan is gone apparently. Booker gets a big kick to Knobbs and Bobby is back. Stevie pounds away as Tony says this is everything they expected. They had really low expectations then.

Booker, by far the most talented guy in the match, comes in and misses an elbow off the middle rope and Sags comes in to hammer away a bit. Everything breaks down as there’s a phone involved somehow. Booker tries to call someone on it as Stevie is beaten within an inch of his life. Apparently it’s Sister Sherri who has been their boss all along and her distraction allows Booker to get the Harlem Hangover on Sags to end this.

Rating: F+. Other than Sherri looking surprisingly good in leather, this was a total mess. The Nasties were another team that existed because they were buddies with Hogan and that’s about it. Anyway, weak match here as expected although it at least had a major storyline development in it.

Ad for Starrcade on a Tuesday. Well Sunday was Christmas Day so their backs were to the wall on that one.

Dustin Rhodes vs. Vader

This is a pretty big match actually as Vader is #1 contender and Rhodes is about the level of Kofi Kingston at the moment. At the same time though Dustin has one of the worst theme songs of all time. Look up a song with the line “They call him the natural” in it and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Naturally we talk about Dusty Rhodes because we have to do that once a show to meet a quota I guess.

Vader shoves him around with ease to start as anyone would expect him to do. Dustin spears him down and hammers away to a BIG pop. Vader was hated at this point and was easily the best heel since Flair but Hogan beat him at two straight PPVs with ease. Dustin rips the mask off and gets a cross body for two. All of this is high impact and fast paced with the crowd getting louder with every move.

Clothesline takes Vader to the floor and the beating continues. Dustin drills Race (Vader’s manager) because he can. Back in the ring and Vader hammers away even more, drilling him down in the corner. Other than a few shots in the opening this has been ALL Dustin. Dustin gets a pretty freaking nice snap suplex on Vader who bails to the floor to try to get a breather.

And then it all comes crashing down as Vader just rams into Dustin to shift momentum again. Vader hammers him down and pounds away. A missed splash in the corner lets Dustin get a rollup for two and so ends Dustin’s offense at the moment. Dustin manages to avoid another splash and gets a powerslam out of nowhere for two. Another Thesz Press kind of move puts Vader down but the referee is bumped.

Bulldog is countered as Vader throws Dustin over the ropes. No DQ though since the referee was down. Vader Bomb gets two as Dustin gets his foot on the ropes. Another Vader Bomb gets the same result as Race curses more than a fleet of sailors. Dustin is more or less dead here. Vader slams him down and tries a shoulder off the middle rope but Dustin pops up with a powerslam out of nowhere.

They slug it out and Dustin HAMMERS away but he can’t put him down. Ok maybe he can with a top rope clothesline. Dustin puts Vader on the top rope and wants a superplex. Realizing that simply isn’t going to happen he DDTs Vader for two off the middle rope instead.

Bulldog hits but Race gets in for the distraction. A splash to the back sets up a wheelbarrow drop (picture a German suplex but grabbing the legs instead of around the waste and slamming Dustin down face first instead of suplexing him back. Look up a wheelbarrow suplex and instead of doing the suplex slamming him forward) Dustin is dead and it’s finally over.

Rating: B+. WHERE IN THE WORLD DID THIS COME FROM??? This was an awesome match to say the least which got me totally into the concept that Dustin could pull this off when this should have been a squash. Vader could sell far better than he’s given credit for and Dustin took advantage for every bit of it. I was ready to say “and that does it” at least five times and had to keep erasing it. Find this match and check it out as it’s very good and a total surprise. Absolutely brutal fight with Dustin going move for move with Vader for about twelve minutes.

Vader sets to beat up Dustin even more until Duggan comes out for the save. Vader would take the US Title from Duggan at Starrcade

Hogan, Sting and Dave Sullivan (cue Pretender joke) say they’re not afraid of the 3 Faces of Fear. We get more references to the tropical storm, which is ok to make fun of I guess. It only killed 1150 people and caused over a billion dollars of damage in 2011 dollars. Nothing you can’t work into a bunch of references to it in a wrestling show right?

US Title: Jim Duggan vs. Steve Austin

Duggan beat Austin for the title in 35 seconds at Fall Brawl because the writing was clearly on the wall that DUGGAN was the future of the business, not this guy named Austin that had recently started fighting authority and legends and was swearing a bit while wearing black. Yeah some people are still stunned (get it?) to this day that this company ever made a dime. Duggan goes after Austin who stalls a lot. And never mind as here’s Vader to return the favor from earlier and end this with Duggan winning by DQ in less than a minute. Duggan saves himself with the board.

3 Faces of Fear vs. Hulk Hogan/Sting/Dave Sullivan

Mr. T is referee here for no apparent reason at all. He’s in something like a nightcap as my head hurts again. The Faces of Fear come out to what would become Eddie Guerrero’s music which is way too perky for them. All three non-Faces of Fear are in yellow and red because they want to eat this week or something. We even get a reference to Hogan retiring Flair in the intro by Buffer. That’s rather amusing.

Hogan jumps Taskmaster (Sullivan) to start us off. Off to Sting who actually hits that big jumping elbow of his. Everything breaks down as shocking no one, Sullivan can’t do anything. Actually there is one thing he can do: get injured, which he does here. His arm gets messed up and he has to leave, making it a handicap match. Hogan vs. Avalanche at the moment and Hogan can’t slam him for now.

Off to Hogan vs. Beefcake which wound up being the main event of Starrcade for no reason involving intelligence. Avalanche comes back in again and Hogan still can’t slam him. Sullivan comes in and hammers away which gets him nowhere as Hogan fights off the Boston Midget. Earthquake throws on the bearhug as Sting hasn’t been in for a very long time now.

We get the usual Hogan vs. Quake match that we got a few thousand times around 1990. Powerslam sets up the missing elbow and there’s your hot tag to Sting. Sting has to fight three guys off and ultimately gets caught in a splash in the corner as it’s apparent Hogan is going to get the big save at the end. Avalanche drops a big leg on Sting to be funny.

Off to Sullivan vs. Sting now and that sounds so lopsided it’s unreal. Hot tag to Hogan so he can fight Butcher. The Megaphone gets involved in there somehow and Hogan pins the wrong guy (Sullivan) to finally end this. Mr. T goes down and it’s a big fight. T would fight Sullivan at Starrcade. This also set up Sting vs. Avalanche and Randy Savage got involved somehow also.

Rating: D+. Just a main event tag match here but the problem is that at the end of the day, the top heel is Brutus Beefcake on a team of three. How excited am I supposed to get about this match? No one wanted to see it other than Beefcake and Hogan, which would become a running theme with various people being substituted in for Beefcake for like a year.

The 3 Faces of Fear beat down Hogan with a sleeper going on him for like 2 minutes. The announcers play it up like Beefcake shot him in the head with a shotgun or something because NO ONE has ever been in a sleeper for over a minute right? Various faces come out to try and help but it takes security and cops to break it up. Hogan is “in serious condition” to end the show.

Overall Rating: D-. The only thing keeping this from being a failure is the shockingly awesome Rhodes vs. Vader match. Other than that, it’s WCW in 1994 and that simply wasn’t very good. At the end of the day, Hulk Hogan vs. a heel Brutus Beefcake does not work. They wanted this to be something epic but it just wasn’t there. Hogan booked this company into a lot of trouble around this time and 1995 made things even worse. Thankfully I’m mostly done with that era though, as I don’t think I could take much more of it.

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