THE AUDIT: Clash of the Champions XXIII REVIEW

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WCW Clash of the Champions XXIII

Live from the Scope in Norfolk, VA on June 16, 1993

Before our first match, Tony Schiavne & Jesse Ventura inform us that the TV Champion “Mr. Wondeful” Paul Orndorff has suffered a groin injury and can’t defend his title against Ron Simmons. Instead we’ll see a non-title match with Simmons taking on Dick Slater.

Notes Going In: I always found the announcement of Slater replacing Orndorff odd. Slater really hadn’t been around much at the time, and the groin injury came out of nowhere. Simmons had earned the TV Title shot after beating Orndorff on an edition of Saturday Night, but he got the win AFTER the first 10 minutes of the match. You see, back then the TV Title was only online for the first 10 minutes of the match. WCW was notorious for forcing other people to defend titles on their big shows when a champion was injured, but in this instance, we get a non-title match.

Opening Match
Ron Simmons vs. Dick Slater (w/Paul Orndorff)

The fans are really behind Simmons. Slater tries to ground Ron, but Simmons responds with a shoulder tackle and Slater decides to regroup with Orndorff on the floor. Simmons tries a sunset flip and Slater counters with a SLAP. Simmons gets pissed and goes after Dick. Ron sets up for the 3 point stance, but Orndorff grabs his leg and Slater hits a clothesline to take over. Slater channeling some Terry Funk with a punching combo and a neckbreaker for 2. Slater misses a clothesline, and Simmons out of nowhere with a POWERSLAM and the 3 count in 3:56.

Winner: Ron Simmons

Post Match Thoughts: Solid for the short time the guys were given. Can’t say that I’m not happy they avoided a long winded chinlock spot and went right into the finish. 3/4*

– Eric Bischoff & Larry Zbyszko discuss the show. Bischoff brings in Michael Buffer. And it begins. The Michael Buffer Era. Bischoff gauges Buffer’s opinion on the main event of the Horsemen vs. Hollywood Blondes. I assume Buffer was spewing some lines he memorized before the show.

Steve Regal vs. Bagwell Notes Going In: I was absolutely in love with the Regal character in this era. The character, the wrestling, the great heel psychology and facial expressions. Bagwell was best in a tag team position, as we’d learn based on most of his career. I always felt like Bagwell was floundering for the first couple years after his initial push.

“Lord” Steven Regal (w/Sir William) vs. Marcus Bagwell

Sir William Dundee escorts Regal into the ring. Bagwell takes Regal down to the mat to begin things, but he’s trying to match technical wrestling with a master. Regal counters and works Bagwell over. Marcus breaks free with a reverse back kick inzuigiri, nice move by Bagwell. But Regal gets right back on him with a leg lock. Bagwell escapes again and hits a stiff forearm and backdrop, before he blows a hiptoss for 2. Bagwell with another near fall off a backslide, and Marcus with a very sloppy looking reverse cradle. Regal reverses the rolling cradle, sort of, and hooks the tights, sort of, for 3 in 6:20.

Winner: Steven Regal

Post Match Thoughts: A typical extended squash match, Bagwell was protected enough that he looked like a believable challenge for Regal to an extent. Some sloppy stuff by the future Buff, but some nice moves as well. The entire rolling cradle sequence at the end looked screwy. I’m not sure if the guys knew if it was time for the finish or not. Regal almost looked like he didn’t want to hook the cradle. Glorified squash gets 1/2 *

– In the next segment, Eric Bischoff interviews Maxx Payne about his upcoming match with Johnny B. Badd. Payne has recently stolen Johnny’s “Badd Blaster” gun. Payne talks about being in the layer. WTF? Payne says he wants to give Badd his Blaster back. Johnny comes out with his fists clenched, but Payne assures him he’s going to give the Blaster back. Payne then SHOOTS BADD IN THE FACE with the Badd Blaster!


OH MY GOD!!! HE SHOT HIS FACE OFF!!!!!

Johnny goes down like he’s been shot in the face with shrapnel rather than confetti. I’m sure Meltzer shit on it at the time, but in hindsight it was a pretty clever angle, and definitely something unique for the time period. The follow up stuff to this angle really wasn’t anything to brag about, but the initial angle here was pretty cool now that it’s had time to age. Certainly shocking for the time.

– Maxx Payne stands in the ring to accept his victory over Johnny B. Badd on a forfeit. Badd has been taken to the hospital, his face is burned. As Payne begins to celebrate, he’s cut off by “The Z-Man” Tom Zenk, who is upset with what Maxx did to Johnny. Zenk calls out Payne for his attack and Maxx tries to swing on the Z-Man. Zenk ducks and goes after Payne, Zenk lands a SUPERKICK and Payne doesn’t even bump. But a standing dropkick by Zenk takes Payne down! Z-Man tries to take his shirt off while Payne gets up, but he has trouble, so he decides to leave his shirt on, lol. Z-Man with another dropkick, and NOW he removes his shirt. There we go, that’s what everyone was waiting for. Ugh. Payne begins to no sell Zenk’s offense and takes him down with the PAYNE KILLER (Fujiwara armbar). Zenk is tapping before tapping was cool. The referees finally get Payne off Zenk. Assuming Zenk has suffered a broken arm. Just as well, the Z-Man was hardly ever on TV at this point. I’ll give Maxx Payne a * for taking out the Z-Man.

NWA Title match Notes Going In: If I remember correctly, this match was actually never advertised for the show so it was a pleasant surprise. Scorpio was a bit of a surprise as a choice for challenger since he had mainly been teaming with Bagwell prior to this. No complaints here, a big fan of both men.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Barry Windham vs. 2 Cold Scorpio

These damn WCW Slam Jam songs. So bad they’re good! Barry Windham is Smokin’, or so his song says. Michael Buffer asks us to man our battle stations. Scorpio dodges Barry and hits a dropkick to start. Scorpio tries to stay with Windham but blows a twisting Brisco roll out of the corner, but the camera misses most of it so it’s easy to miss. Scorp goes into panic mode and tries to hook a half crab so Windham slides outside. Back in the ring, Barry hits a big punch and a FLYING LARIAT off the top. This is a PRO SOUTH crowd, as they’re strongly behind the heel Windham. Windham hits a nice delayed vertical suplex and the fans are popping for everything he does. Scorpio tries to comeback, misses a dropkick, and the fans pop. Windham with a DDT gets 2. At this time, Windham’s finisher was a leaping DDT, so it was odd to see him use a normal one as well. Scorpio with a hope spot but Barry hits a gut wrench. Windham argues with referee Nick Patrick, allowing Scorpio to hit a dropkick, but Windham comes right back with a Lariat and a Stun Gun across the top rope. Windham pitches Scorp to the floor, but Scorpio fights his way back in with a slingshot Thesz Press for 2! Windham comes back with his own standing dropkick. Damn, how good was Windham? Barry with a Samoan Drop for another near fall. Windham with a back suplex and AGAIN a near fall! Windham starts slapping Scorpio and it wakes 2 Cold up. Scorpio counters a back suplex, with a back suplex of his own. Barry just won’t give up the offense, trying for a Superplex, but Scorpio counters with a gourd buster from the top rope. 2 Cold hits a splash from the top rope, changing direction in mid-air and gets 2. Scorpio with a Huracan Rana but Nick Patrick is too retarded to count. Scorpio with a SUPERKICK and a VICTORY ROLL! 1, 2, Windham kicks out! Scorpio to the apron with a SLINGSHOT 450 SPLASH! Crowd is alive now!  1, 2, Windham out again! MISSILE DROPKICK by Scorp for another 2 count! Windham finally tosses 2 Cold out of the ring. Scorpio returns with a Slingshot cross body, but Windham meets him with a punch right to the jaw! AND THE LEAPING DDT for the win in 12:52.

Winner: Barry Windham

Post Match Thoughts: There were times it seemed like Windham wasn’t happy with Scorpio’s slow start. 2 Cold looked very lethargic out there early on, so much so that even Schiavone points it out. Once it was time for the comeback though, all was forgiven. Scorpios unique aerial offense always woke the crowd up, no different here. Unfortunately, it was the only time in the match 2 Cold looked good. Barry was wise to control the duration, he was a true natural in the ring. I expected a LOT more from this match, but Scorpio was having an off night. **1/2 It’d be a lot less if not for the hot finish and Windham’s hard work.

– Eric Bischoff interviews Sting, Dustin Rhodes & The British Bulldog who are preparing for a 6-Man match against Vader, Sid Vicious & Rick Rude. Bulldog calls his team “The Triple Threat”. Sting says he’ll be DAMNED if the Masters of the Powerbomb, “Master” him. Whatever that means. OWWWWW!

Notes Going In: Sting & The Bulldog have a match with Sid & Vader coming up at Beach Blast. The same can be said for Dustin & Rude, who will be squaring off for the vacant U.S. Title in a 2/3 falls match. Rude actually has the U.S. Title locked in a briefcase here, refusing to give it back to WCW. Look at the star power in this SEMI-Main event. It’s crazy, and this is just WCW. If only things could be like this again.

Six-Man Tag Team Action
Sid Vicious, Vader, and “Ravishing” Rick Rude (w/Rob Parker & Harley Race)

vs.
Sting, “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, & “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes

Rude and Sting, no strangers, starting it off with the feeling out process. Sting picks Rude up in a Gorilla Press, but Sid & Vader run in to make the save. Sting presses Rude onto Sid & Vader, but they catch Rick and throw him back at Sting. But Sting ducks and they end up throwing Rude to the mat. Sting fights off all 3 and tags to Dustin. Rhodes grounds Rude and Vader comes charging for a splash, but Dustin moves and VADER SPLASHES RUDE! Bulldog tags in and he wants a piece of Sid. Sid ends up in the wrong corner and gets popped by everyone, Sting low blows Sid with the middle rope and clotheslines him down while on the apron. Crowd loves it. Dustin & Vader get it on and Rhodes goes absolutely BATSHIT CRAZY on Vader in the corner with punches and kicks. Rhodes SUPLEXES Vader and a series of elbows. Rhodes comes off the top with a flying elbow, but Vader moves and Dustin misses. Vader goes up for the Vader Bomb Splash and connects for 2. Now Rude goes to work on Rhodes. Rude with a  gourd buster, but Dustin blocks a second one and counters with his own. Big Sid back in and has his way with Rhodes. Dustin grabs a head scissors for no reason, and Vicious kips up out of it. Okay, not the move made sense, Sid just wanted to do that spot. Vader back in and pounds Dustin down into the corner but Dustin counters Vader as he comes off the second rope, with a POWERSLAM on Vader. Rude tags in and goes for a Tombstone, but Dustin reverses and Rhodes hits Rude with the Tombstone Piledriver!

Dustin tags Sting, but the ref misses it, and the heels drag Dustin back. The faces have had enough and a pier 6 breaks out with all six men fighting inside and outside the ring! Sting misses Stinger Splash against the safety rail. Vader CLOCK Rhodes with Rick Rude’s Halliburton briefcase, and Rude covers Dustin for the win in 10:57.

Winners: Rude, Vader, Sid

After the match, Vader & Sid spike powerbomb the Bulldog. Sting chases them off with the briefcase with the Bulldog & Dustin left laying.

Post Match Thoughts: This was a REALLY good 6-Man for some of the guys involved. It was a little blah when Sid was in there, but in general, everything was fluid, the faces really had some fire behind their offense, this was when Dustin was really catching his stride. It was a little on the short side for a 6-Man of this magnitude, but the guys worked their asses off to make this match good. ***

It’s Main Event time as we get ready for a World Tag Team Title match with the Champion  Hollywood Blondes going up against Ric Flair & Arn Anderson of the Horsemen. Before we get going, let’s take a look and see what initiated the rivalry between these two teams. The stage is set, Ric Flair is on the set of his “Flair for the Gold” interview segment, his guests are Brian Pillman and “Stunning” Steve Austin.

Well, if that didn’t work the Horsemen up enough, the Blondes continued with their shenanigans, perhaps performing the very first wrestler parody, long before DX. Here’s Austin & Pillman on “A Flair for the OLD”

Definitely ahead of it’s time. Now we get ready for the World Tag Team Title Match, and to add something to it, it’s a 2/3 FALLS MATCH!

Notes Going In: This particular version of the Hollywood Blondes were way ahead of their time. You never got a bad match, or a bad interview. I don’t even need to tell you about Flair & Arn. Getting back to the Blondes, just an amazing team with tremendous heat. Jesse Ventura referred to them as the team of the 90’s. It’s hard to believe the team was axed within a year, according to Austin it was done in fear because the duo had gotten so over. If you’ve never seen a Blondes match, I invite you to find this one, or any of their stuff really. One of the greatest tag teams lost in history. The promos heading in made this match intriguing, and you just knew you’d get a good match from these four.

WCW World Tag Team Championship Match – The Best 2/3 Falls

 The Hollywood Blondes (Pillman & Austin) (c) vs. The Horsemen (Ric Flair & Arn Anderson)

Fall 1: Arn & Pillman start, Brian mocks Flair. Both of the Blondes had this thing where they’d mimic using an old timey motion picture camera, complete with crank wheel. They’d pretend there were filming things as their way of taunting. It got irritating at times because they did it so much, but looking back I get a chuckle when I see Austin doing it. Pillman gets cute with Arn to start and Anderson beats him down and hits a Snake Eyes on Brian across the top rope. Austin tags in and has a short scuffle with Arn while the fans begin a very LOUD “WE WANT FLAIR” chant. And Arn gives the fans what they want, IN COMES FLAIR! Ric chops the shit out of Austin and drags Pillman in for a beating as well.

Anderson crotches Austin into the post while Flair has the referee distracted. The Horsemen show the Blondes they can play just as dirty, if not dirtier. Arn stomps a mud hole in Austin and works his arm. Pillman forces a Flair distraction and Brian chokes Arn with a towel. Pillman legally tags in and the Blondes begin to work over Arn. Austin goes for a jumping leg straddle over the back of the head of Arn, but Anderson moves. Austin lands on the middle rope but bounces back to his feet. Austin gloats by taunting Arn with the “Motion Picture Camera” hand gesture, but Stunning Steve leans in too close and Arn grabs him out of nowhere with a SNAP DDT! Fans love it, as do I. GREAT SPOT! Both men down. Pillman tags in, but Arn gets the hot tag to Flair! Ric off the top with a double axe handle and chops. Flair gets rid of Austin and mounts Pillman for a 10 punch in the corner. Austin returns and the Blondes try a Double Clothesline. Flair ducks, Arn trips Austin from the outside, and Pillman runs right into a Ric Flair Flying Forearm? Flair channels Terry Taylor right there. Well that’s different! 1, 2, 3, The Horsemen win the first fall in 9:41!

Fall 2: Pillman & Flair trade chops, and they both had some of the loudest, nastiest chops of all time. Flair flips upside down in the corner, lands on the apron, chops Pillman in the ring, then knocks Austin off the apron. Pillman  knocks Flair off the apron, and Austin suplexes Ric on the floor and drops him throat first on the railing. Back in the ring, Austin Superplexes Flair. Austin stays in the ring working on Flair for an extended amount of time before tagging Pillman back in. More chops between Flair & Pillman, just nasty! Brian & Flair crack heads and both men go down. Pillman gets to Austin, but Flair also hot tags to Arn! Arn with a SPINEBUSTER ON AUSTIN! But Pillman breaks up the count! Pillman CLIPS Arn from behind, Austin covers but only gets 2. Pillman tags in to work the leg of Anderson. The Blondes use some illegal double teaming to keep Arn down in a Half Crab. Pillman holds Arn’s leg as both men are standing and Anderson delivers an Inzuigiri. That was a fun spot because it’s usually Arn that takes it! Austin back in, brings Arn back to the Blonde’s corner and they continue to work the leg. Pillman jumps off the middle rope and eats a boot from Anderson on the mat. Austin tags in, but HOT TAG TO FLAIR! Ric tosses Pillman out of the ring, back suplex on Austin. FLAIR WITH THE FIGURE FOUR ON STUNNING STEVE! NO WAIT! Barry Windham comes rushing down to the ring and comes off the top rope with an attack on Flair! This draws the DQ after 11:06. This gives the Horsemen the win with two straight falls, but because of the DQ the titles won’t change hands!

Winners: The Horsemen, on a DQ

The Blondes & Barry Windham continue the attack after the match.

Post Match Thoughts: Well, that was a good, solid, old school story telling match. Two out of Three Falls, when done right, can really be exciting. This is proof of that right here. The first fall was perfect from beginning to end. The Flying Forearm from Flair caught me off guard, but all four men were really kicking ass, laying in the shots, and that DDT spot was gold. The second fall featured two hot tags, the Blondes looked REALLY good as the heels in the match. Flair had no problem working with these guys, and making them look great. It helps when a main eventer is cooperative in elevating stars rather than holding them down. Both falls were just really good. I didn’t mind the DQ run in from Windham, I just wish there had been time for a Blondes win in Fall 2, and the Windham run in for the final fall #3. Even still, this match easily gets a ***1/2 from me, and had this thing went a full 3 falls, I think you would have easily been looking at a ****+ star match.

– Tony Schiavone interviews Barry Windham after the final break. Ever since Flair returned, Windham had snubbed all interviews, he had no interest discussing his former status as a Horsemen, nor the topic of Flair. Well, NOW Barry is ready to talk! Windham waited for his moment and he took it. Barry reminds the world that HE is the NWA World Champion, not Ric Flair. Windham says Flair doesn’t deserve his title. As Barry continues RIC FLAIR FROM OUT OF NOWHERE Pounces on Windham! Flair tackles Windham and the two men brawl on the floor. The fans go insane as the brawl ensues to end the program! Great shit!

THE FINAL AUDIT: I can’t begin to tell you how glad I was that I chose to go back and Audit this Clash. This is one of the later Clashes that I didn’t remember with much fondness, and thus I hadn’t watched it in a good long time, 15 years or more. I sort of started revolting against the Clash show when they cut the length of the program down, that additional 30 minutes would have helped the main event here, but it was still a really solid show through and through. With Orndorff legit injured, they protected Simmons, continued the build of Regal, shot a pretty cool angle with Maxx Payne & Badd, and we got a unique match between Windham & Scorpio. And THAT was just the undercard. Factor in a really solid 6-Man, and an AWESOME Tag Team Main Event, complete with a post match angle. You’ve got yourself a pretty damn good show for free TV.

While two pretty damn good matches don’t make a whole show, nothing on the show was terrible, and the few interviews were kept short. Once you get past the first couple of matches things really pick up and never look back. Each match getting better than the last. I’ll give this show a 7 out of 10 for a TV product, the number is slightly skewed because the second half of the show is what makes this show worthwhile. I don’t know that you need to watch the undercard, but I recommend the last 3 matches, and even the Payne angle. To my surprise, Clash 23 passes the Audit.

Approved

Next week starts WCW month. I’ll be Auditing NWA & WCW PPV’s for the entire month of February! Until next week, I wish everyone a happy Royal Rumble weekend. In honor of the PPV, be sure to check out my Royal Rumble Audits of 1989 Here, and the Lost Royal Rumble of MSG 1994 Here.  This has been the REAL I.R.S., Ian R. Singletary, catchya later, tax cheats!

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