On This Day: August 15, 1996 – Clash of the Champions #33: The Bad Before The Good

Clash of the Champions 33
Date: August 15, 1996
Location: Denver Coliseum, Denver, Colorado
Attendance: 8,304
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan

We’re at one of the final editions of this show and it’s probably a good thing. This is right after Hogan won the world title as a member of the NWO and tonight it’s his first defense which is against Flair. This isn’t a terrible looking card on paper and I vaguely remember watching it when it aired. I’m on a WCW 96 kick for some reason so this isn’t completely off from what I just got done with. Let’s get to it.

We get a series of clips of Hogan destroying various people as head of the NWO, saying if he’d do things to Savage like he did then what would he do to Flair who he can’t stand? Good question.

Tony and Bobby talk for a bit and we get a video from Nitro with the Outsiders vs. Sting/Luger. The Horsemen came out for a save when Luger was down. This was around the time when Nick Patrick was about to join the NWO but he hadn’t quite done it yet. This was part of attempt #1 to get WCW united out of about 8375, none of which worked.

Crusierweight Title: Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio

Mysterio had won the title on Nitro the night after Hogan turned and this is a rematch. Tenay shows up for this one. Rey is AWESOME at this point given that his knees are still in their original form here and he’s about 40 pounds lighter before steroids happened. Yeah young fans, the Rey you see today is a giant compared to what he debuted as.

Dean jumps him before the bell and the beating is on. He’s relatively heel here but only as heel as he could get. Rey speeds things up, flying all over the place for a bit to tick Dean off. He speeds up again and takes over with ease. The move that would become known as the 619 is still a taunt here and Rey tries to get at Dean’s mind with it.

Dean slows things down and hits a slick move by setting for a powerbomb and dropping back into a hot shot. JUMPING brainbuster should kill Rey but it only gets two. Cool move by Rey as he gets a running start, grabs Dean and rolls backwards into a Fisherman’s suplex for two. Chinlock goes on by Dean to slow things down. We take a break and Tony says if anything happens we’ll show you. No replay is shown so did they just stand there? Was it a game of freeze tag?

Rey gets a running start and gets LAUNCHED into the air but lands on the middle rope. After catching his balance for a second he backflips off, starting an insane pinfall reversal sequence. That’s reminiscent of one of my all time favorite spots. Shortly after Rey debuted in WWE he was facing Noble on Smackdown.

Jamie threw him over his head (more or less throwing Rey into a leap frog) and Rey landed on the middle rope, didn’t stop for a second and bounced backwards, catching Noble in a rana into a pin. Noble totally telegraphed it but who cared man. That was insane and my jaw hit the floor when I saw that, which does not happen with me. We start talking about Nick Patrick and how he’s apparently become white. And black. That joke didn’t work as well as I wanted it to.

Dean with a leg lock that gets him nowhere. Oddly enough Dean is winning with power here. Rey sends him to the floor and gets a HUGE tope con hilo into a senton. He more or less botches the heck out of a Lionsault off the guardrail but to be fair the big spot just before that makes up for it. Springboard version of the West Coast Pop (doesn’t have that name here) gets two. Now we’re talking about the tag titles for no apparent reason at all.

One of Dean’s signature moves is a gutbuster out of a fireman’s carry off the middle rope. The problem here is that Rey weighs 130lbs soaking wet with a brick in his pocket, so when Dean elevates him for it he loses his grip on Mysterio so there is NOTHING to protect Rey as his ribs hit Dean’s knee. That looked incredible. He covers Rey who gets his foot on the rope. The referee counts three anyway but then waves it off. Rey uses the distraction to get the pin on a victory roll.

Rating: B+. This was AWESOME. You had Dean LAUNCHING Rey all over the place, making it look like Rey was flying. The big dives from Rey were top notch and that gutbuster looked incredible. Dean’s timing on that was great too as he had to move his knee into position to have Rey land on it. Great match here and very fun. Unfortunately we have to watch the other 78 minutes of this show.

Glacier is still coming. Holy sweet merciful crap that was one of the biggest bombs of all time. His entrance alone cost over half a million dollars and we had to deal with six months, yes I said MONTHS of vignettes hyping him up.

V.K. Wallstreet vs. Jim Duggan

Get it? VKM, obsessed with money, wears a suit a lot? Yeah it was crap. It’s Mike Rotunda, aka IRS. What does the R stand for anyway? There are fans with an NWO banner and Heenan isn’t sure what to think of that. These two are feuding apparently. Duggan gets a wristlock but Wallstreet gets the ropes. He looks at the camera and says he’s too smart for Duggan who is right behind him. Nice one dude.

Naturally we’re talking about Hogan vs. Flair almost nonstop here. After some basic back and forth stuff we hit the chinlock. Jawbreaker gets Duggan out of trouble. This is incredibly dull. Duggan gets a slam and tries to tape up his fist which was a thing he was doing at the time so the referee tries to stop him. In the ensuing chaos Wallstreet rolls him up for the pin. What the heck ever man.

Rating: F+. Just boring beyond belief here with nothing special going on whatsoever. This was one of those feuds that happened and I don’t think anyone actually remembers it. GrantedI don’t think anyone remembered it as it was happening either. Either way, this was dull beyond belief and a waste of 5 minutes counting introductions.

The Nasty Boys say they’re going to fight. They’ve been having issues with the NWO who they would soon try to join or maybe they already did. Knobbs says they want the gold. Oh and they should be in the triangle match for the titles.

After a break we’re with Gene again who says that earlier he and Tenay were interrupted by the Outsiders and wound up interviewing them. Want to know what was said? CALL THE HOTLINE!!! Oh dear.

Ultimo Dragon vs. Konnan

Naturally they call him Ultimate here because they’re stupid. Thankfully Tony and Mike say the right name but his graphic says Ultimate. Konnan is in regular trunks here which is weird to see. Nick Patrick is the referee here so I’d bet on a lot of the focus being on him because a referee is more important than the wrestlers.

Konnan dominates to start, taking Dragon to the mat and getting an insane looking deathlock/Cloverleaf on him. Dragon’s arms were between his legs and it looked painful very painful. He hits the floor and we hear about how Konnan is all bitter over losing his US Title, which would lead to his heel turn. HEY! That’s a great way to start talking about Hogan!

Dragon sends him to the floor and Sonny lays in some decent kicks of his own. Somehow the referee has no issue with this at all either. Dragon takes over and gets a moonsault and a majistrol cradle for two. Konnan rolls through a German Suplex and uses the tights to get the very fast win. Under three minutes so no rating but this wasn’t anything special at all.

There’s a really old school internet chat going on and Ice Train is there. It’s on Compuserve of all things. Scott Norton, his old partner, jumps him there.

Meng vs. Randy Savage

This should be dull. Savage is badly injured here. Actually scratch the here part as there’s no Savage. That rock version of Pomp and Circumstance is pretty awesome to listen to though. Not so good to put on toast. Savage is too injured to wrestle so it’s a forfeit. Fans are not happy to say the least.

The Dungeon of Doom comes out to talk. Sullivan talks about how he’s never been a fan of Hogan and never praised him. He’s always told it how it is about Hogan and wants an explanation from Gene about him supporting the entire time. Jimmy cuts him off to say how great the Dungeon is…and a Leprechaun is here. No one talks about him but the camera shows him running all over the place. Apparently that’s Dwayne Bruce, the guy that ran the Power Plant and trained Goldberg. Yeah that’s it.

Bull Nakano vs. Madusa

These two had some great matches in Japan so this should be good. Madusa starts off very fast but can’t get much going. Nakano grabs her by the hair and spins her around the ring by it. That has to freaking hurt so she does it again! Nakano hits her with knunchuks twice and the referee is all cool with it apparently. Madusa totally botches a cross body, hitting Nakano in the feet. Top rope double axe handle to the floor kills Sonny (manager) who then kicks Nakano by mistake for the pin. This was very short but sloppy beyond belief. Terrible match indeed.

Flair and the girls say tonight it’s Flair vs. Hogan with Flair talking about how this is about being the best. He has zero chance to win the title but at least he’s acting intense. Flair says he has the Horsemen backing him up. Liz is so much hotter in the leather jacket and regular shirt than the dresses it’s unreal.

Diamond Dallas Page vs. Eddie Guerrero

This is for the Battlebowl Ring which is apparently a defendable title. Page is on the brink of the push of a lifetime as he would become the first guy to turn down the NWO and become the hottest face in the company for about a year. He has the look down here too. Eddie starts off fast of course but Page takes him down early. Guerrero’s shoulder hits the post so Page stomps on his ribs. He was still learning here.

Page gets a nice spinout gutbuster for two. Heenan still complains about the lack of arm work. DDP has an earring in his ear and Heenan suggests that Eddie rips it out. Brain could be a bit evil at times. They slug it out and Eddie pounds away, winning that aspect of the match. Batista Bomb gets two for Page. Page sets him for a top rope suplex but Eddie knocks him off and gets the Frog Splash for the win and the ring. Diamond Cutter post match and Page keeps the ring. More Diamond Cutters hit and Chavo tries to save which fails as well.

Rating: C-. Not much of a match here but it wasn’t bad. These two feuded forever with the idea being to get Page much better as a result. It kind of worked but the people were tired of the feud once it was over. Anyway, they would meet again for the US Title at Starrcade and then Page would turn and everything would get awesome.

Hogan pops up to yell at Gene. He talks about how there can only be one great one and starting tonight…nothing apparently. This is rather pointless indeed.

Glacier is STILL coming. Exact same ad from earlier.

Chris Benoit vs. The Giant

Ok this has to be good right? It’s Benoit. Woman is helping Benoit out of his vest so Giant DROPKICKS him in the corner. Keep in mind that the Giant is more commonly known as Big Show. He’s still lean here and one of the most amazing athletes you’ll ever seen. This is the Giant that could have destroyed Andre, not the big oaf you see today. Giant immediately grabs him and gets the BIGGEST CHOKESLAM EVER, with every bit of Benoit above the post for the easy pin in 30 seconds if you stretch it out. Ok then.

Tag Titles: Sting/Lex Luger vs. Steiner Brothers vs. Harlem Heat

Heat are the champions here. This is a triangle match which has some different rules depending on what year it is. This time it’s one fall to a finish and you have to tag in and out. Sometimes it would be elimination, some times it would be three guys in the ring at once, sometimes it would be like this. You never could tell for sure. Ok, please give us something watchable here. I beg of you.

Scotty and Booker start us off. Luger drills Booker with a clothesline to take him to the floor and he’s shaken up. Scott, like an idiot, tags in Luger. If his team isn’t in the match, they can’t win the titles. Well he does have to dumb himself down so maybe that has something to do with it. Stevie in now and they take turns slugging each other down in the corner.

Rick tags himself in and kills Stevie with a Steiner Line. Top rope bulldog gets two as Luger breaks it up. We take a break and are back with Booker and Rick but Sting tags himself in to beat on Booker. There’s an interesting matchup. They alter the top rope rule again so Sting isn’t disqualified. Off to Luger now as the superstars are in control. We get into the psychology part here as everyone keeps breaking things up.

Scott REACHES to get a tag to bring himself in to beat on Sting. Sting has on purple and yellow. Must be an alliance with Cena. Back to Luger as this is getting more like a brawl by the second. Rick gets a nice reverse German suplex as we hear about how the air this high off the ground could be a factor. That’s rather true actually. Luger gets a fireman’s carry which is called the Rack for no apparent reason.

Everything breaks down and it’s Booker vs. Scott in the ring still. Everyone else is fighting in the aisle and here come the Outsiders! They beat the tar out of everyone else but the key thing here is that Nick Patrick does not see it. Scott gets the Frankensteiner but Patrick sees the Outsiders leaving and call that a DQ to throw the match out. Scott is right: that’s nonsense.

Rating: C. The match was starting to get good by the end but of course the referee is more of a focus than the freaking match so we’ll go with that instead. This isn’t much to talk about as far as the ending goes, but the rest of it was pretty good. It’s nothing I’ll remember in half an hour but it was ok while it lasted.

Gene talks to Patrick who says that it was a DQ. Gene says that it shouldn’t have been because it wasn’t in the ring. So freaking what? So if Nexus comes down and beats the heck out of Cena but doesn’t get in the ring it’s legal? Yeah this is rather stupid and Patrick is right here.

WCW World Title: Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan

Oh look it’s this match again. They talk about the 4th member of the NWO being around but no one knows who he is. It would be DiBiase which would actually save WWF in the long run as it freed up Austin. Fifth would be Giant. Both try to get in each other’s heads which only kind of works. Flair grabs a headlock as Tony tries to convince us that Flair is nervous. That’s very funny.

Hogan struts a bit as this is Larry Z levels of stalling. I love hearing Bobby go off about how he told us all so about Hogan for years. The match is two minutes old and we’ve had maybe 30 seconds of contact. Flair gets in chops and punches to take Hogan down to the floor and he’s very frustrated.

Out to the floor now with Hogan in control. They’re trying to make this out to be a huge match but it’s the same thing we’ve seen so many times before. That was an issue I always had with the NWO. Both guys had been in WCW maybe five years earlier and probably a lot less than that. Also it’s not like they were brand new as everyone knew who they were, but all of a sudden we’re supposed to be terrified of them?

Hogan works over Flair on the floor and mainly his back, but Flair gets him back into the ring and lands a suplex. Hogan, for perhaps the only time ever that I can remember as a true heel, Hulks Up complete with the basic offense. I’d love to have him do that more often I think. He was almost unbeatable with that so why not keep doing the same thing he’s done for years?

Legdrop misses and Flair goes for the leg. SHOCK AND AWE SHOCK AND AWE SHOCK AND AWE: HE GOT IT ON THE PROPER LEG!!! I have never seen him do that in his entire career! Flair gets the hold on the leg that Hogan just hurt and the champ is in trouble! After an attempt at a reversal, Hogan shoves the referee and cue NWO for the big beatdown. The Horsemen, Sting and Luger hit the ring for the save.

Rating: C-. This was your traditional Hogan match from this era: punch, punch, punch, scratch, punch, punch, leg drop. The Hulking Up thing was a nice add-on here though and while it’s not their worst match ever, these two never had that big epic awesome match that they were supposed to have. The matches tended to go downhill after a decent first WCW meeting.

Tony and Bobby wrap things up.

Overall Rating: D-. The lack of failure is only for the awesome opening match. Aside from that this is one of the weakest shows I can remember in a long time. They did nothing for the most part as everything ended in a DQ or was like three minutes long. Yes they had 9 matches, but when only one is good and two are ok and the other six are bad, what’s the benefit there? WCW was running on pure drama and hype at this point and it’s very clear here. Terrible show but at least it was relatively short.

 

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