Throwback Thursday is back once again to take a trip through the archives of the WWE Network and relive one of World Championship Wrestling’s forgotten classics in Clash of the Champions XIX, which aired on screens 25 years ago today!
Clash of the Champions XIX came at a pivotal time in WCW’s history. Bill Watts, former Mid-South/UWF promoter, replaced Kip Frey as WCW’s Executive Producer and immediately moved to make WCW in his own image. Gone were the safety mats around the ring, any and all top rope maneuvers, and use of the ring posts/safety rails. Watts intention was to force the wrestlers to either learn proper, old-school psychology or get out of his locker room. Watts wanted to distinguish WCW from the World Wrestling Federation, not be WWF-lite.
This event (taped four days prior to Beach Blast ’92) was the first significant one of the Bill Watts era. Built exclusively around the opening round of the global tournament to crown the very first NWA World Tag Team Champions, Clash XIX was to be the main set-up for Great American Bash ’92, where the remainder of NWA tournament and the Vader/Sting WCW World title showdown were to take place. One of the key selling points of GAB ’92, beyond Vader/Sting, was the highly anticipated showdown between the Steiner Brothers and Steve Williams & Terry Gordy. That was until Bill Watts decided to give the match away for free on Clash XIX, removing the lone marquee match from the remainder of the tournament.
Clash XIX was the only COTC not air Live on TBS and marked the first time a Clash event failed to reach a 3.0 rating. As for context, it simply doesn’t exist in this case. Aside from prior PPVs none of the programming of the era is currently available (as of this writing) on the WWE Network.
WCW Clash of the Champions XIX (WATCH)
Date: June 16, 1992 (AIRED: June 22, 1992)
Location: McAlister Field House, Charleston, South Carolina
Attendance: 4,600 – Rating: 2.8 (>3.5 million viewers)
Hosts: Tony Schiavone, Missy Hyatt, & Magnum T.A. – Commentators: Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura
Interviews: Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, & Tony Schiavone
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
NWA World Heavyweight Champion: VACANT
NWA World Tag Team Champions: VACANT
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Sting
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: “Ravishing” Rick Rude
WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott)
WCW United States Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “P.S.” Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin)
WCW World Television Champion: “Stunning” Steve Austin
WCW Light Heavyweight Champion: Scotty Flamingo
Clash of the Champions XIX begins with a short video package highlighting the NWA World Tag Team tournament. Backstage Tony Schiavone, joined by Missy Hyatt and Magnum T.A., welcome us to the show. Missy Hyatt announces that New Japan Pro Wrestling has been awarded the NWA World title tournament and that she’s going to find out more information. This leaves Tony and Magnum to discuss the tournament before Schiavone brings in Bill Watts, who talks about the tournament matches being fought under NWA rules.
At ringside Jim Ross introduces Jesse Ventura, who talks about his upcoming interview with WCW World Champion Sting, while J.R. again reminds us that tonight’s matches will be contested under NWA rules.
Though they never actually show a full bracket, there were eight seeds to the tournament. The seeding was as follows: #1: Steiner Brothers (U.S.A.); #2: Hiroshi Hase & Akira Nogami (Japan); #3: Bobby Eaton & Arn Anderson (U.S.A.); #4: Terry Gordy & Steve Williams (Japan); #5: The Silver Kings (Mexico); #6: Rick Rude & Steve Austin (U.S.A.); #7: The Malenko Brothers (Hungary); and #8: Chris Benoit & Beef Wellington (Canada). All other teams were unseeded.
— First-Round Match of the NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament (WATCH – 3:24)
The Malenko Brothers (Joe & Dean) (#7) vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat & Nikita Koloff (Unseeded, U.S.A./Lithuania)
This marked the Malenko’s WCW debuts and one and only tag team match together in the company, while Steamboat and Koloff had only been teaming, on TV, for little over a month. This is a tremendous opener packed with great psychology and pacing. In the end Steamboat makes the hot tag and Koloff cleans house, hitting the Russian Sickle on Dean Malenko for the win at 9:52.
WINNERS are Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat & Nikita Koloff (Unseeded, U.S.A./Lithuania) (Pin, 9:52)
— First-Round Match of the NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament (WATCH – 15:55)
“Z-Man” Tom Zenk & Marcus Alexander Bagwell (Unseeded, U.S.A.) vs. The Dangerous Alliance (WCW United States Heavyweight Champion “Ravishing” Rick Rude & WCW World Television Champion “Stunning” Steve Austin) (#6) w/Madusa
The Dangerous Alliance entrance theme has been overdubbed, for those curious. Though Bagwell and “Z-Man” are never really in this one, it’s not a bad match. Bagwell attempts a comeback when Rude sidesteps a dropkick and hits the Rude Awakening for the win at 7:55.
WINNERS are The Dangerous Alliance (WCW United States Heavyweight Champion “Ravishing” Rick Rude & WCW World Television Champion “Stunning” Steve Austin) w/Madusa (#6) (Pin, 7:55)
After a break Eric Bischoff interviews Terry Gordy and Steve Williams about their forthcoming opening round match against the O’Days. Gordy says nobody cares about Australia, they only want to see Gordy and Williams face the Steiner Brothers. Williams says he’s getting a headache from so much talk of the Steiners. “When we’re from Oklahoma and ya hear about somebody plays for Michigan, some kind of athletic sport,” Williams says, “all you think about is queers—well I can’t say that on TV.” Williams then freaks and says they’re going to find out who the number one team is.
— First-Round Match of the NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament (WATCH – 26:01)
The O’Days (Larry & Jeff) (Unseeded, Australia) vs. The Miracle Violence Connection (“Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy) (#4)
This one is just a squash. Williams and Gordy look fantastic as they demolish the older Larry O’Day (including a devastating back suplex). Williams ends the suffering 2:34 with the Oklahoma Stampede.
WINNERS are The Miracle Violence Connection (“Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy) (#4) (Pin, 2:34)
After a break Jesse Ventura interviews WCW World Heavyweight Champion Sting in the ring and we see footage from March when Vader brutalized Sting in a post-match attack. Ventura tells Sting that Vader is back and looking for him. Sting says that “the Big Van Vader story is a bad story for the Stinger when you look past and see what he’s done to me.” Sting says he feels like telling a David & Goliath story and that he’s feeling like Goliath, that he’s ready for Vader.
— First-Round Match of the NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament (WATCH – 36:49)
“The Natural” Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham (Unseeded, U.S.A.) vs. The Dangerous Alliance (“Beautiful” Bobby Eaton & Arn Anderson) (#3) w/Paul E. Dangerously
Rhodes and Windham’s entrance music has been overdubbed, along with a bit of ticket information and phone numbers. As they do all night, J.R. and Ventura call the NWA’s “seeding” into question, complaining about Rhodes/Windham being unseeded. This match is southern tag team rasslin’ at its best. The psychology and timing in this one are on a whole other level. Eaton misses the Alabama Jam which leads to Rhodes hitting a wild running bulldog for the 1-2-3 at 10:24.
WINNERS are “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham (Unseeded, U.S.A.) (Pin, 10:24)
After a break Eric Bischoff announces an “injury” to the Puerto Rican team of Miguel Perez, Jr. and Ricky Santana that occurred outside of the ring. Meanwhile, Missy Hyatt announces the dates and locations for the NWA World title tournament in Japan, and that all four members of the Dangerous Alliance have been entered into the tournament. Bischoff attempts to clarify the “injury” news to the Puerto Rican team when Steve Williams and Terry Gordy appear, screaming about a bad accident in the back. Gordy proposes that they and the Steiners “cut the butter” and face tonight and not wait for July 12th.
— First-Round Match of the NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament (WATCH – 52:13)
UWA World Tag Team Champions The Silver Kings (#1 – Silver King & #2 – El Texano) (#5) vs. WCW United States Tag Team Champions The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “P.S.” Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin) (Unseeded, U.S.A.)
So long as Jimmy Garvin is in the ring this match isn’t all that bad. Once Hayes gets in, though, it’s just a mistimed mismatch. By this time in the show J.R.’s annoyance with Jesse Ventura is on full display with J.R. either unwilling to work with Jesse or outright ignoring him! In the end Silver King wipes out El Texano with a flying body press on the outside of the ring. Hayes rolls Silver King in the ring and scores the pin at 6:29 with an inside cradle.
WINNERS are WCW United States Tag Team Champions The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “P.S.” Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin) (Unseeded, U.S.A.) (Pin, 6:29)
After the match J.R. talks about the Steiners having a bye to the second round to face Williams and Gordy at the PPV.
After a break Tony Schiavone talks about the semi-finals to come at GAB while Magnum T.A. says it was an attack (not an accident?) that took the Puerto Rican team out of the tournament. Ole Anderson comes out and says the Steiners get a bye and that the order of the matches needs reworking.
— First-Round Match of the NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament (WATCH – 1:04:00)
“Flyin'” Brian Pillman & Jushin “Thunder” Liger (Unseeded, U.S.A./Japan) vs. Beef Wellington & Chris Benoit (#8)
This marked both Biff “Beef” Wellington and Chris Benoit’s WCW debuts. Curiously, both men would be discovered dead on the same day on June 24, 2007. Liger and Pillman, who traded the WCW Light Heavyweight title in a series of classic matches, were a “dream team” for many. This match, one of the best on the card, is more Stampede Wrestling than WCW and is a fun match to watch. The match breaks down late, with all four guys in the ring, when Benoit and Wellington go for tandem running bulldogs. They get run into one another instead which allows Liger to hit a gorgeous moonsault for the pin at 11:30.
WINNERS are WCW Light Heavyweight Champion “Flyin'” Brian Pillman & Jushin “Thunder” Liger (Unseeded, U.S.A./Japan) (Pin, 11:31)
— First-Round Match of the NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament (WATCH – 1:18:17)
The Headhunters (#1 – Joe Cruz & #2 – Bob Cook)(Unseeded, Dominican Republic) vs. Hiroshi Hase & Akira Nogami (#2)
For my money this is the worst match on the card. This one is a very basic TV squash that sees the Headhunters get just enough offense in to make it interesting. Nogami hits a German suplex while Hase hits a picture-perfect northern lights suplex to simultaneously pin the Headhunters at 5:11.
WINNERS are Hiroshi Hase & Akira Nogami (#2) (Pin, 5:11)
After a break Jesse Ventura is in the ring to interview Ron Simmons. Simmons talks about beating the odds and his drive to become the first black World Champion. Harley Race suddenly appears with the Super Invader. Race tells Simmons to deliver a message to Sting but Simmons refuses. Race says he was a 7-times World Champion who had “a boy like you carryin’ my bag.” Simmons kicks Race and tries to beat the former Champion down when Super Invader attacks Simmons from behind. Simmons eventually fights both men off before knocking both men out of the ring with crushing clotheslines.
After another break Tony Schiavone is in the ring with Bill Watts. Schiavone talks about the confusion over the Puerto Rican team and NWA & WCW officials meeting backstage. Watts says “there’s more or less a jurisdictional dispute” between the NWA, who is running the tournament, and WCW, who is simply hosting the tournament. Watts says the NWA President is going to resign over a difference of opinion, that Watts believes the fans should get what they pay for, telling the fans he’s overriding the NWA and gone to both the Steiners and Williams/Gordy to tell them they would be kicking off the second-round of the NWA World Tag Team title tournament tonight, a decision the Charleston crowd loves.
— Quarter-Final Match of the NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament – “Non-Title Match” (WATCH – 1:33:19)
The Miracle Violence Connection (“Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy) (#4) vs. WCW World Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) (#1)
This classic match is a prime example of elite tag team action in respect to pacing and psychology. Built on leverage and control, this is a realistic, athletic contest that is without question the best match of the night. Every move means something and every bump has a purpose. The last few minutes of this one are just fantastic. In the end Gordy clips Scott Steiner’s knee as Steiner lifts Williams for the belly-to-belly, a perfectly timed spot. Williams falls on top of Steiner for the pin at 15:01.
WINNERS are The Miracle Violence Connection (“Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy) (#4) (Pin, 15:01)
Tony Schiavone and Magnum T.A. move Williams & Gordy to the semi-finals of the giant bracket behind them as Magnum emphasizes how big an upset we’d just witnessed. At ringside J.R. and Ventura talk about the Steiners being eliminated and wrap the show as Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes assist Scott Steiner to the back.
Aside from the O’Days match and the Headhunters squash this is a great Clash event!
Loaded with good to great matches, superb psychology throughout, and at times absolute perfect timing, Clash XIX is a show for serious wrestling fans who like their wrestling “real”.
Well worth your time to say the least, so if you’re already subscribed to the WWE Network go check out this classic edition of Clash of the Champions today and let us know what you think.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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One of my faves.
Very good review, thanks.
Hello Shane C. Montgomery. I’m glad you enjoyed the review!
Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave your thoughts. It’s very much appreciated. Have a good one!
Oh boy. The Bill Watts era. Thankfully it didn’t last long. His idea to compete with the WWF was by setting the business back 15-20 years. He was completely out of touch by this point. The sad thing is WCW had a really good roster during this time and imagine how much better it could’ve been if Watts didn’t put so many handcuffs on them.
Hello LP1. I’m not sure I completely agree with the idea that Watts set the business back by 15-20 years. I think had TBS gotten behind WCW at that time and pushed WCW as Vince was pushing the WWF the story would have been a lot different. It was easy to call WWF “fake” and mock the WWF but it wasn’t so easy with WCW in the Watts era in respect to the in-ring product. Watts’ WCW was far more realistic and more likely to land a more mature, adult audience with the proper promotion. It’s easy to nit-pick the bad things about Watts time (and sometimes damn fun, let’s be honest!) but the truth is he was fighting an uphill battle against the suits and fellow wrestlers who were out to get him. As hard as he tried, Watts never had a chance. He had the numbers trending in the right direction, though, and the product was the antipathy of the WWF at the time.
However, I will agree that Watts was out of touch. There were better ways of dealing with some of the in-ring issues he had than banning this and banning that. On that point I agree.
Thanks for reading LP1 and taking the time to leave your comments, as always. Take care!
I actually kind of agree with Brock. Just watching how ahead of the time WCW was in the early 1990s. Mind you Frey did a fantastic job before Watts. Im sure that made it a tad easier. The roster speaks for itself. The Tag teams at the time were also awesome. 1992 WCW ruled.
Actually the numbers dropped significantly under Watts. Attendance was down 3%, TV ratings were down 19% and PPV buys were down nearly 41% in the 8 months that he was in charge.
What I meant by “setting the business back 15-20 years” was what you agreed with. The ridiculous changes he made like banning all moves from the top rope, no brawling allowed outside the ring during a match, no floor mats, not being allowed to cut promos from the ring, no throwing an opponent into the barricade or ringpost allowed, amongst other issues that, even for 1992, were ridiculous and unnecessary limitations. You have a roster at the time that included Ricky Steamboat, Flyin’ Brian, The Great Muta, Jushin Liger and other high flyers and they weren’t allowed to jump off the top rope. I get wanting to have a more realistic approach to wrestling, but that was absurd.
Not to mention the TV production changes that he made. For most of the shows he wanted to make it feel like you were watching a wrestling show out of the late 70s/early 80s with less emphasis on production values. Which was not gonna differentiate the company in a positive way from the WWF.
That’s not to say that there weren’t any good matches during that period, there were plenty. Like I said the roster was really good during that time and most guys were talented enough to work through the limitations placed upon them, but I think there would’ve been a lot more great matches had the wrestlers not been handcuffed by outdated rules. Which is why pretty much the entire locker room was not sad to see him finally go in February ’93.
I tend to agree with some of Watts changes, that the fighting outside the ring and the cheap heat shticks where just overused and, worse yet, used in the wrong places on the card.
Watts main goal, let’s not forget, was to save WCW money. They were running smaller houses, which would naturally decline those numbers, and producing fewer PPVs. Had he stayed on I have no doubt that WCW would have broken even in 1993 and possibly even made a tiny, tiny profit in 1994.
It’s important to remember that WCW wasn’t in a vacuum. The entire industry, with the exception of the indy scene, was experiencing the kind of contraction not seen since the ’50s when network TV booted wrestling, which gave rise to the territories of the ’60s and ’70s we all love so dearly and the emphasis on house shows. WWF’s ratings were tanking as well and they were at the very heart of the controversies tearing the business apart. In light of all that was going on at the time I firmly believe Watts did the best he could.
I can’t fault a guy for trying to break bad habits and for trying to remind fans and the boys what real psychology and work is. His heart was in the right place. Another thing to keep in mind is that Watts quit, he wasn’t fired and he certainly wasn’t removed for doing a poor job. Watts was trying to turn WCW around with largely homegrown talent. No Flair, Hogan, Savage; no raiding the WWF roster. Aside from some of the established talent the roster under Watts, for one of the final times in company history, was largely homegrown.
In the end it comes down to personal preference. I remember this era vividly and was a big WCW fan at this time largely because of the great action. The talent adjusted well, for the most part, and I felt the wrestling was the best around at the time. Rarely could WWF ever come close to touching it. It’s easy in hindsight with all the footage in front of us at once to say this or that about Watts’ job and WCW at the time. In real time, however, week to week in 1992, it was a breath of fresh air for many of us fans who were growing sick and tired of the WWF stuff. Not everything was a hit (I still don’t understand the top rope thing) and no one would/should suggest that, but Watts tried to make a difference.
Sorry for the long reply, LP1. It’s an interesting subject. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and engaging in a real discussion.
I love talking about old wrestling. The mid 80s through the early 90s was my favorite time period. While I was more of a WWF guy during that time, I was also an NWA/WCW fan. And then later on I got into the GWF when it used to air in the afternoons on ESPN. Good times. It’s nice to have an intelligent conversation on this site for a change without arguing. Take care.
Not trying to get off subject but the way the timing worked out with the date this event leading to this review happening today only 2 days before the anniversary of what happened with both men is just creepy. I only mention that because I remember watching this event never seeing Benoit & Wellington before and them leaving a lasting impression that made me a fan of Benoit’s literally overnight.
Hello d.p. It’s strange for sure, the timing. Like you, this was the first I had seen of either man as well. I had read about Benoit in magazines and seen pictures and whatnot but I had never seen him work. When it was over I wanted to see a rematch first and then I wanted to see more Benoit in WCW. I was surprised it took another 3 years for him to return full-time.
Thanks for reading d.p. and taking the time to leave your thoughts, as well as the trip down memory lane! Have a good one!