– This week’s Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro is a little different. We’re taking a look at the Clash, the live special that aired on TBS the night AFTER Nitro. It’s a pay-per-view without anybody having to pay for it, and it’s enough of a Nitro to warrant a full writeup. You asked for it, so here you go!
– If you’d like to watch Clash of the Champions 32 on WWE Network, you can do that here.
– If you’d like to read about previous episodes, check out the WCW Monday Nitro tag page. We’ve also started up a vintage Best and Worst of WWF Monday Night Raw column, so if you like these Nitro reports, you’ll probably like those too.
– Share the column. Every time you click the button, Bobby Heenan drops an F-bomb.
Please click through for the vintage Best and Worst of Clash of the Champions XXXII, originally aired on January 23, 1996.
This Week’s Pepe Costume: Tony Schiavone
I’m going to be so disappointed when the Nitro announce team stops being Bobby Heenan, an enthusiastic football yokel, a cosplaying chihuahua and a living, talking Ken Doll that says “Hulk Hogan” when you pull his string. THIS IS THE GREATEST DOG IN THE HISTORY OF OUR SPORT.
Best, In An Anthropological Sort Of Way: The Nasty Boys vs. Public Enemy
The Public Enemy are like eight days into their WCW run, so the company says “f*ck it” and confronts them with their ultimate destiny: facing The Nasty Boys in a Walk Around And Hit Each Other With Stuff garbage match. If you aren’t familiar with Public Enemy’s work, imagine if David Simon had created The Nasty Boys. They’re Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese varieties of the same damn Dorito.
The match is literally nothing, to the point that Heenan makes fun of them whenever they try wrestling moves. It’s just four out of shape guys in baggy shirts and leggings punching each other in the shoulders. The finish comes when Brian Knobbs tries to put one of Public Enemy — Chuck D, I think — through a table. It backfires on him and HE gets put through the table, if by “put through” you mean “the table kinda splintered on the sides and fell over.” Jerry Saggs takes the botched table finish to the next level by ripping off pieces of it and attacking people with the shards. Johnny Grunge tries to escape, so Saggs throws the table at him. THE ENTIRE TABLE. It’s one of the rarest moments in hardcore wrestling: a table being put through a person.
Instead of finishing the match, they just go to commercial. Works for me!
Worst: These Referees Are Not Even Trying
That’s a picture of the finish to Alex Wright vs. Dean Malenko. Wright is kicking out with his arm in the air. Malenko’s not even covering him. Referee Randy Anderson’s still coming down for the three and sticking with it.
He’s not the only referee mailing it in. In the opening match, Tony starts talking about how disqualifying the Nasty Boys and Public Enemy would be fruitless, because they don’t care and would just keep fighting. He says referee Nick Patrick’s doing the right thing. As that sentence ends, Nick Patrick calls for a double disqualification and the the match ends, but keeps happening because nobody cares. Later in the night, Brian Pillman holds Eddie Guerrero’s tights so high he’s holding them over his head, and Randy Anderson has to look directly at the floor to pretend he doesn’t see it.
There comes a point when a referee making a bad call stops being a plot point and starts being a bunch of guys in blue shirts not paying attention for real and half-assing it so they can get to the back.
(note: the sad thing is that Malenko/Wright was going really well. They had a story going where Malenko was destroying Wright’s knee to dismantle his high-flying offense, and Wright was trying to fight through it and come up with a new plan of attack, but still being kinda green and instinctively going for his regular stuff. The pin happened in the middle of a kickout in the middle of nothing in the middle of additional nothing.)
Best: The King Is Dead
“The Taskmaster is beating up Elvis Presley.”
Tony Schiavone’s deadpan delivery of that line’s probably my favorite call he’s ever made. My favorite call in the history of our sport.
If you’re wondering why Kevin Sullivan’s punching out a musician who’d been dead for almost 20 years, Elvis is a stand-in for Disco Inferno. Yes, WCW booked and promoted The Taskmaster vs. Disco Inferno on a show called “Clash of the Champions.” Disco couldn’t make it because he’s attending the wedding of Colonel Parker and Sherri, which happens nearby and happens about an hour later so feasibly he could’ve made it to both. Maybe somebody went “wait, we’re having a DISCO INFERNO match on CLASH OF THE CHAMPIONS?” and sent him to be Background Joker #6 in the wedding gag.
I don’t know how they found an Elvis impersonator this bad. It has to be some production guy who volunteered and was like I DO A GREAT ELVIS, and forgot to mention he can’t believably say anything beyond “thanka thanka very much.” It’s even worse than Rob Bartlett eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches on Raw.
Ah well, at least this one gets punched in the face.
Worst: Welp, We Booked Gary Spivey For Something On This Show, Might As Well Show Him
Back in December (of 1995), Paul Orndorff caught a piledriver on the floor courtesy of the Four Horsemen and suffered a career-ending injury. The real story is that his body had started to atrophy due to years of accumulated injuries and his limbs were starting to shrink, but “I got piledriven by Ric Flair” is a lot cooler of a way to go out than “horrible things are happening to my body in real life.”
Apparently nobody was aware of the severity of Orndorff’s injuries circa January 23, so we get an extended video package of him in a neck brace dressed like the world’s oldest man, talking about how he’s “old school” and how we hadn’t seen the last of him. We can BANK ON IT. The good news is that he wasn’t lying: he’d return to action exactly once at Fall Brawl 2000 and get severely injured again trying to THROW a piledriver instead of take it. He lies motionless in the middle of the ring while a Filthy Animals/Natural Born Thrillers match awkwardly happens around him.
Also awkward: I guess WCW had planned to do something with the Mr. Number One-derful character and had brought back self-help guru Gary Spivey to reprise his role as Orndorff’s … mentor? Guardian angel? I’m pretty sure he’s a ghost. The ghost of a kind-hearted old black man. He just stands in the crowd for a moment, holds up one finger, mouths “number one” a few times, nods, then disappears forever. This is the spookiest Clash ever!
Best/Worst: Pillman Vs. Heenan
Up next is another in Brian Pillman’s impossible string of terrible, terrible matches against great opponents. This time it’s Eddie Guerrero, and it’s only slightly better than the previous night’s turd-burner against Dean Malenko. Pillman spends the entire match stalling and messing with the announce table, pulling at Bobby Heenan’s jacket and causing one of the great F-bombs in wrestling history. “The f*ck are YOU doing??”
Heenan gets so hot he actually leaves the table and angrily walks around the ring. Eventually he returns and apologizes for his language. Pillman makes it worse by winning the match with a handful of tights and then knowingly trying to slip backwards out of the ring ONTO the announce table. He just backs up and wiggles his legs on their stuff before rolling out another way. You keep expecting Heenan to lift the table over his head and break it over Pillman like a Nasty Boy.
Pillman returns later and cuts a promo about how he’s gonna say the SEVEN WORDS YOU CAN’T SAY ON TELEVISION, which Eric Bischoff sells by pulling away the microphone and glaring like an upset Danny Tanner. Controversy creates ca$h, am I right folks
Best: Sting Accidentally Defeats The Blue Bloods
Sting and Lex Luger are one of the best tag teams of all time because they bring different things to the table.
Luger isn’t afraid to get delusional and cheat to win. He won the tag team championships the previous night by stealing a handful of change from Jimmy Hart and bashing Booker T in the face with it, for example. He’ll celebrate and carry you around the ring because the ends justify the means. He’s got edge. A killer instinct. The default decision to go as low as possible to benefit himself. Sting doesn’t have that. Sting’s a Good Dude.
At the same time, Luger’s not lucky. He doesn’t have Sting’s advantageous stupidity. Sting will goofily wander into situations like opening man-sized birthday presents and NOT expecting someone to burst out of one and attack him, or being replaced by evil doppelgängers, or being haunted by Ric Flair doing show magic in a mask with a voice changer, but he’ll come out stronger on the other side. He derps into situations, but is blessed enough to derp out of them.
Luger won the titles, so now it’s Sting’s turn to prove his worth. He’s getting beaten up by the Blue Bloods and double-teamed, but Regal accidentally pushes him back into the ropes and trips up a flying Bobby Eaton. Eaton goes tumbling off the ropes, crashes into Regal and knocks him out of the ring. That leaves him prone, so Sting goes GAAARP and locks on the Scorpion Deathlock for the win. It’s great. He’s just accidentally beating guys because he’s Sting, god dammit, and he’s God’s brain-damaged messenger on Earth.
Best: Welcome To WCW, Sloppy Lucha Libre!
Before his character was a lazy Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas character who took too long to do forward rolls but added forward rolls to EVERYTHING, Konnan was the Mexican Heavyweight Champion and, I think, a ninja turtle.
The original version of Konnan is so weird and awesome. He’s this abnormally strong, squat little guy with a ton of moves you’ve never seen who is very clearly getting into position for everything and rushing through his spots so he can stand around. He’s wrestling Psicosis (aka Psychosis, but never “Psichosis”), an insane luchador with horns who’s like a dirt mall Jushin Thunder Liger. It’s so sloppy and violent and a breath of fresh f*cking air for WCW.
Imagine being a teenager who’d spent a year trudging through Hugh Morrus matches and all of a sudden this Mexican guy with a cape is throwing SPIDER SUPLEXES and dropping the weirdest looking people you’ve ever seen on their heads. This and the upcoming Nitro match against Devon Storm made me a huge Konnan fan, mostly because he was the opposite of Brutus The Barber Beefcake and those types. I wanted to see more.
Also, shout-out to pre-Crisis Mike Tenay, heard here circa 10 years before TNA told him he had to explain every single thing he was seeing or thinking in realtime like a hyper-intelligent golden retriever.
Best: The Wedding Of Sista Sherri And Colonel Robert Parker
The centerpiece of the Clash, believe it or not, is the marriage between two heel managers. Our own Danielle Matheson has written the definitive word on the wedding, and I couldn’t hope to top it.
January 23rd, 1996: Sister Sherri and Colonel Robert Parker, WCW Clash of the Champions
This one takes some set up. First, if you haven’t already read David’s look back at the racist gimmicks of Harlem Heat, do that first. It’s tangentially relevant, but also really great. Proactive cross-promotional synergy buzzwords!
Secondly, I needed some background. I wasn’t a WCW kid, and was extremely limited in my television wrestling access due to a lack of cable and the weird way Nitro was broadcast in Canada. The romance between Col. Parker and Sister Sherri, then manager of the aforementioned Harlem Heat, begins like all great love stories: with a whole bunch of sexual harassment. While Sherri managed the Harlem Heat, Col. Parker managed Dirty Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck. Tag teams get at each other, but their managers run each other down even more. Parker attributed Sherri’s mean streak to a lack of love in her life, interrupting a promo to lay one on her. The kiss was met with a punch, because you don’t just kiss Sherri without asking. Parker continued to pursue her, and Sherri continued to resists his physical advances, because wrestling sure does love it’s romantic sexual assault.
Sherri and Parker’s teams would continue to feud back and forth, with Sherri insisting that she could (and would) whip Parker’s ass. This all came to a head in a 6-man tag match with both managers joining their tag team wards in the ring at Clash of the Champions 1995. Harlem Heat beat down Col. Parker, then tagged in Sherri to give him the business. Parker rolled out of the way as Sherri set up for a dive from the top rope, causing her head to hit the mat and her to “pass out.” When she came to, instead of tearing Parker a new one, she pinned him with a kiss. Literally. His shoulders were down, and Harlem Heat won. But that wasn’t the end. Sherri wasn’t playing mind games (WarMindGames?) with Parker, she was suddenly head over heels in love with him.
Throughout the months that followed, Sherri and Parker enjoyed a whirlwind relationship, often abandoning their tag teams mid-match so they could sneak off and be together. This drew the ire of both teams, but the concussed beauty and the creep didn’t care. In December ’95, Parker interrupted a Harlem Heat-American Males match on Nitro to propose. The wedding was set for the very next Clash of the Champions, their PAPER-view anniversary (hehehe).
Colonel Parker just dressed how he always did: Kentucky Bowtie (not the reach around euphemism)(though really, I don’t know his life), white cowboy hat with no hatband, but a tiny black brand on the side, and classic white suit. Sherri’s dress continued the paradigm put upon her in WWE, the whore to Elizabeth’s Madonna.
The psychological nudges wrestling fashion gives us are sometimes subtle, but the rest of the time are meant to hit us over the head like a tonne of bricks. The Headshrinkers are adorned with bones and large wooden beads and grass because they’re savages. JTG’s pants say YO! all over them. These are visual clues that tell us what the character is supposed to be before they speak up and prove that racist stereotypes are way too easy to reach for, I guess. But the same thing happens with women in wrestling. Bayley is this infantilized powerhouse, but we know she loves hugs and simple things because of her bows and headbands. Aksana has boob zipper, and is clearly DTF. It’s the same thing with this wedding dress. Where the others are meant to convey purity and tradition, Sherri’s is siren red. It’s got a deep v in the front with illusion netting to simulate nudity. She’s got a cape, which is admittedly baller and referential to Disney’s Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, a lovely callback to her time with Shawn Michaels, but it’s also sheer. Everything about Sherri is meant to be alluring and sexual.
Madusa shows up looking like an extra from Oliver, furthering that idea. She’s the Anne Klein to Sherri’s Vivienne Westwood, if you will. While Sherri is all personality, Madusa (the Colonel’s other Fried Pie) is meant to be all business, a real wrestler.
Wrestling weddings are insane, but when you peel back the layers of what they’re meant to portray, they can present a whole lot more than what’s shown at face value. Look forward to Part Two soon, where we explore fifty years of Stephanie McMahon wedding dresses, and my favourite wrestling wedding of all time.
My three favorite parts of the wedding, in order:
1. Dirty Dick Slater’s sad cowboy wistfulness
2. Booker T dressed like Arsenio Hall, slipping around and falling down because he’s never had good luck with food.
3. Mean Gene corpsing his ass off through the entire thing.
Me too, Gene. Me too.
Best: MILF Elizabeth
Alternate caption, “!!!”
In the 1980s, Miss Elizabeth was a delicate flower who mostly clasped her hands together and made sad faces. Aside from that time she ripped off her skirt at SummerSlam she was never really portrayed as a sexual character. Sure, Macho Man and Hulk Hogan lusted after her and feuded over it, but they’d lust after and feud over a garbage can if they accidentally tried to throw away trash at the same time.
In 1996, Elizabeth reemerges as a FOXY MOM, and if you were 16-years old at the time like I was you remember it fondly. Well, you remember remembering it fondly. She was still all hand-clasps and concerned frowns, but now she could teach you some things. 90s Miss Elizabeth is the greatest, and one of the many, many reasons we should not ever totally forgive Lex Luger.
As an aside, Hogan and Macho Man have the most absurd posse for this match. They’ve got five women in ballgowns (including Woman), aka their “Harem Heat” from Nitro, and Elizabeth makes six. You’ve got SIX STIFFLER MOMS walking you to the ring. That should be enough, right? NOPE, LET’S ADD NFL STAR KEVIN GREENE. If you don’t know Kevin Greene, imagine Hulk Hogan had a baby with Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
Worst: Ric Flair Just Pinned Macho Man But That’s The Least Important Thing Happening
On Monday, Macho Man Randy Savage pinned Ric Flair to become WCW Heavyweight Champion. On Tuesday, Flair hits Savage with brass knuckles (aka “that plastic thing the Horsemen keep pulling out of their underwear”) and pins him in a tag team main event at Clash of the Champions. You’d think this would be the story, but nope, Hulk Hogan.
As legend has it, the original finish was just Hogan pinning Flair with a leg drop for the billionth time. Flair rightfully protested and promised to leave the company if the finish wasn’t changed, so it became Flair cheating to beat Savage. Hogan still needed to be the focal point, though, so when his seven-deep entourage fails to prevent one instance of cheating, he asks Kevin Greene what he saw. That leads to a dramatic “BEHIND YOU, BROTHER” moment where Greene dodges an attack from The Zodiac, and Hogan and Greene team up to beat up Zodiac and Brian Pillman. The WCW Champion lies on the ground in the corner trying not to be seen as Hogan and A Football Guy high-five.
Here’s a preview image from next week’s Nitro: