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We’re starting 1996 by giving you a big show for free, was partially the message in amongst the set of jibes between WCW and the WWF admist the Billionaire Ted segments that aired on Monday Night Raw. But while it was being talked up as a big show, in the shadow of a World Title change the night before, and on the Tuesday after a Royal Rumble, to say fans were getting the “best” possible version of the Clash Of The Champions was far from the truth.
The show was built around the return of two major acts – Miss Elizabeth (who despite being a big name apparently was a major let down for those backstage with her age starting to catch up with her) and the Road Warriors. Both made fleeting appearances on the show. Elsewhere, new World Champion Randy Savage would be teaming with champion in waiting Hulk Hogan against Ric Flair and Randy Savage, and new tag champs Lex Luger and Sting would face the blue bloods.
The rest of the card actually shaped up with largely appealing if barely built matchups between WCW’s increasingly exciting undercard. We also had the small matter of the wedding between Col. Robert Parker and Sister Sherri. Boy were you in for a treat where that one was concerned. Still, we’re in Ceasar’s Palace, Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan have the call.
The Public Enemy (Flyboy Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge) vs The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags)
Well, they got to the “dream” Public Enemy match right off the bat, and quite the match it was. Despite only being four minutes long, this walking brawl was captivating at times, and brutal at others. Ending at the mere threat of a table being used, the post match angle saw a Rocco Rock moonsault not break the table, before a long shard that broke off the side was used by Sags – leathering Grunge with it as a piece snapped off a flew into the crowd. Sags then grabbed the table itself and just dumped it onto Grunge on the outside. Strong stuff, more please.
The run an ad for Superbrawl, listing “former, present and future” champions in the vignette – in order they are Sting, Savage and the future? Lex Luger.
Dean Malenko vs Alex Wright
Remember when Alex Wright was green? I don’t. OK, he’s been focused in ring with some excellent wrestlers in the prior months, but he’s holding his own. We get some lovely technically wrestling from both men, with Malenko working Wright’s leg to dry and down his aerial offense. That all being said this match took place in front of no crowd heat, and they did botch the finish as Malenko let go of the pin thinking it was already three. They let that slide and Malenko won a frustratingly short match. More please.
The Taskmaster (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs Disco Inferno
If we’re counting this as a match – Inferno wasn’t there, instead on location at the Chapel ahead of the wedding. Instead we get an awful Elvis impersonator coming out, Taskmaster beats him up (which makes Taskmaster a face, right?). At one point, Schiavone says: “Don’t look at me Kevin, I’m just the announcer” – more funny that you think given that it’s Sullivan who’s booking this crap. Less, please.
At the chapel – Bunkhouse Buck and Dick Slater are on hand, but they haven’t seen Parker since he was on the tables in Vegas. Eric Bischoff interviews tag champs Lex Luger and Sting on the ramp, they get interrupted by The Road Warriors. Sting is delighted to see them back, he wants to give them a shot at the titles, Luger wants to give a shot to every WCW tag team apart from them.
We then get a really good sit down interview with Paul Orndorff wearing a neck brace. He says it could have been a career threating injury if it wasn’t for surgery, before crediting the influence of Gary Spivey on him. Respect is being knocked down by a 450 lb gorilla (Vader) getting back up and kicking his head like a football. The Horsemen don’t know the meaning of the word respect, and that Flair and Anderson have held his own rejection to join the group previously against him. In over two years of doing this project, Paul Orndorff hasn’t been anywhere close to as good as this as he was here. Great segment.
Colonel Robert Parker arrives at the chapel in a taxi, he’s looking worse for wear. He promises the taxi driver he’ll get him the twenty dollars he owes him, before asking Okerlund if he can borrow fifty dollars. He says he’s lost all of his money, before taking a phone call, presumably from Sherri.
Brian Pillman vs Eddie Guerrero
This will be remembered as the match where Bobby Heenan said “What the fuck are you doing?” live on air as Brian Pillman attempted to pull his jacket off. The moment, unplanned, was part of Pillman’s emerging “loose cannon” gimmick, and Heenan as someone with neck issues was concerned Pillman might do something to trouble that. Given the whole Pillman story, it’s hard to completely work out what’s story and what isn’t, but there are reports that many in WCW were uneasy about Pillman at the time.
As for the match itself… Pillman’s emerging character is doing so completely at the detriment of his in ring work. The character is more interested in doing funky shit and getting into arguments with fans. This was decent, but only in small bursts and not long enough to be anything significant. Another thing I’d like to see on pay per view.
The Blue Bloods (Lord Steven Regal and Earl Robert Eaton) vs Sting and Lex Luger for the WCW Tag Team Titles
Not the match you might perhaps think it might have been. Regal working injured and his second match of the night wasn't up to his usual high standards, and this featured the *slightly* odd decision to have Luger play the babyface in peril spot (he's so unaccustomed he basically stopped selling once he tagged out). Eventually Sting locks in the Scorpion Deathlock onto Eaton, who submits. Not a bad match, but I reckon these four could do much much more in another setting.
We get back to the Chapel, Parker says he's been losing money all day, Sherri arrives – pissed. We get an interview with "Loose Cannon" Brian Pillman, this whole thing is slightly odd – if Pillman in story really is scaring people why are they giving him interview time? Pillman threatens to say one of the seven words you can’t say on television – well, six now Heenan has said one of them. Not for the first time tonight Pillman's investment in his own character actually detracted from it getting over.
Konnan vs Psicosis for the Mexican Heavyweight Championship
I blow hot and cold with Konnan, usually he doesn't look up to much (see his match at ECW House Party the same month) but occasionally he looks like a star. Now, it helps that he was working with an absolute Don like Psicosis, but this was really good for the time it had. Some sweet exchanges including a tope and a top rope German suplex – Konnan finishes it with the "Zip Lock" - a figure four with arm submission, to pick up the win. More of this, please.
Parker has lowered his asking price for Okerlund – he now wants $30 and the taxi still seems to be there. We're now doing the wedding in a drive through. This segment really sucked until Medusa came along (the phone call Parker took earlier will presumably turn out to be from her, rather than Sherri – this is what Blayze left the WWF for, folks!). They get into a relatively quite violent fight and have to be held apart by Harlem Heat and Buck & Slater. The closing shot is of Disco Inferno, clutching to about three bottles of champagne with his life.
Ric Flair and The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan (w/ Kevin Green, and a series of ladies – including Woman aka Nancy Sullivan, and Linda Hogan)
Boy did this one fall flat. The only thing the crowd popped for, oddly enough, was The Giant. The rest of these guys really do start to feel over the hill here – the action felt like a retirement tour at times. Add Miss Elizabeth into the mix who, beyond an initial pop, added absolutely nothing to proceedings. Flair gets passed some brass knuckles from Anderson, nails Savage with them and wins the match. Less of this, please.
Score Rating: 6/10
Go Back And Watch: Nasties/Enemy, Malenko/Wright, the Wonderful Interview, Pillman/Guerrero, Konnan/Psicosis. You might think that's a lot of positives for a 6/10 show, but there's some real bad stuff mixed in and none of these matches are long enough to get beyond that. Still, as Clashes go – decent.