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It’s clear between 1994 and 1996 there was a switch for the WWF and WCW with regards what they both wanted in the new era of monthly pay per views. Caught in the crossfire was the dying embers of the once great Clash Of The Champions live TV spectacles that were quickly being forced out. Nothing says that quite like the August 1996 show, the second of only two in the year, that was six days after Hog Wild.
The other factor working against the show was the fact that when the Clash Of The Champions was first created it was a two hour live TV special when most wrestling television was horrible dingy syndicated programming taped previously. A two-hour live television show was an event. In 1996, specifically in August 1996, this wasn’t a big live two-hour TV show. Hell, it wasn’t even the biggest two-hour live TV show of the week – it was actually the third in six days if you count the live WCW Saturday Night the proceeded the pay per view.
In terms of what WCW could put together for the show, it was basically a one match show. To be fair, WCW had gone to well on a match that had provided them a record TV rating two years ago at the Clash Of The Champions in August 1994. And the newly heel Hollywood Hogan against the sorta-turning Ric Flair should’ve been a big match. But going to it so quickly with such little build was perhaps a company believing that Hogan/Flair wasn’t going to draw any more by not giving it the opportunity to draw any more.
Dean Malenko vs Rey Mysterio Jr
We’re still at the stage where this match is a bit of a struggle, the fans aren’t quite into the style yet, and a masked Mysterio and the still dull as dishwater Malenko. Some really nice stuff, a running somersault senton from Mysterio and Mysterio goes for a moonsault off the guardrail, the guardrail slips and Malenko has to do a good job catching him. Malenko, still a fantastic wrestler, hits a ludicrously good top rope gutbuster from the top, but Mysterio gets his foot on the ropes during the three count, then grabs a roll up in the resulting conclusion.
VK Wallstreet vs Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Yeah, this again! The feud that nobody ever really wanted to see in the first place just won’t end either. After a scoopslam, Duggan goes to tape up his fists in full view of the ref, who tries to stop him. Wallstreet rolls him up, grabs some trunks and mercifully ends the short match. Hopefully that’s it.
Ultimate Dragon (w/ Sonny Ono) vs Konan
Konan is a real funny character – an English speaking Puerto Rican born Mexican star with size and a great deal of work rate, yet it’s a big mystery of this run that WCW struggled with him so much. The failure to identify a decent opponent for him. Konan is also turning heel, it seems, so after a nice if very short match he rolls through a German from Dragon and grabs a handful of trunks for the win.
Bull Nakano (w/ Sonny Ono) vs Medusa
These two are really good, and will have far better and far longer matches than this, but Nakano and Medusa put on an impressive short match here. Nakano grabs Medusa by the hair and flings her across the ring twice. Medusa attempts a sunset flip but Nakano just sits on her – that can’t be fun. We end, of course, with Ono getting involved. He gets on the apron, throws a very feint kick in Medusa’s direction, but she moves and Nakano sells it. Medusa rolls her up for the fourth consecutive roll up win on the show.
Diamond Dallas Page vs Eddie Guerrero
Two guys on the rise, both motivated – this was quite good. Page hits a nice sit-out powerbomb for a two, but Guerrero gets up for a frog splash and (perhaps a bit surprisingly) picks up the clean win. Of course, it doesn’t last – Page hits a pair of diamond cutters, Chavo runs out, but Page fights him off and hits a not-particularly-safe looking Diamond Cutter from the top rope. Effective, if a bit obvious.
Chris Benoit (w/ Woman and Miss Elizabeth) vs The Giant
As the two ladies are trying to get Benoit’s jacket off, Giant takes advantage with a dropkick then a fantastic high chokeslam for a very quick win. Very effective quick match, but Benoit shouldn’t have been the fall guy here.
The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott) vs Sting & Lex Luger vs Harlemt Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray w/ Col Parker and Sister Sherri)
Ah… business has picked up. Six guys, all of which I like, having a nice fast paced six man tag match. We end up with the Heat quite content in their corner watching the other two teams go at it, which they do. Scott comes off the top, but Luger catches him and attempts a Torture Rack but Rick kicks his knee out. The match breaks down, four of the guys end up on the outside. Booker hits a big sidekick, Scott hits a frankinsteiner on Booker before the ref counts two then pulls up.
He pulled up as the Outsiders were attacking the other four guys on the outside. Afterwards, Mean Gene questions Nick Patrick, but Patrick (with a fair point) says that even though the interference wasn’t in the ring it was still interference and had to be called as such, however close the Steiners were to winning the titles. Compared to the angle at the pay per view, a really clever finish that both exasperated the fans but made a lot of sense.
Ric Flair (w/ Woman and Miss Elizabeth) vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan for the NWO World Heavyweight Championship
Two years prior this match created a big TV ratings record for WCW, the match itself doing a 6.7 TV rating in just the pair’s second match for WCW. Two years on and boy have these two aged – there was something quite about when Hogan removed his bandana, and ran his hands through his increasingly thinning hair that perhaps made you realise why WCW were running away from this match, Flair had aged in TV years a lot in the past 24 months. Early doors Bobby Heenan says “could you have ever imagined a match between these two where Flair was cheered and Hogan was booed?” – funnily enough Bobby that’s basically been every match between these two.
Not their best match, there was one stage where there seemed to be a miscommunication as they both ran into each other, but the highlight of the match was Hogan missing the big boot after hulking up, a nice throwback to his babyface past but suggesting that he no longer had the crowd to feed off. Flair locks in the figure four, and they suggest Hogan verbally submitted (funnily enough, the exact story they told two years prior as well). The match ends, shockingly, when the Outsiders interfere. At this stage, even less than two months after the NWO formed, you look a bit stupid if you’re ill-prepared for that, as the Horsemen clearly were.
Score Rating: 3/10
Go Back and Watch: Final three matches probably make for a decent half hour, although Flair and Hogan is a disappointment it still has a big fight feel WCW haven’t replicated much elsewhere.