Thursday, 21 September 2017

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXII 1996

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXII - January 1996 review
January 23, 1996
Ceasers Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada

So, we've just finished reviewing all the major events from 1996, but there was one I hadn't covered - the first Clash of the Champions of 1996. 

I say 'major,' but by this time, the event had fallen from grace and was now no longer the big time attraction the first ever Clash of the Champions had been. Now it was merely just another TV event.

Still, I wanted to make sure I'd covered as much as I could of this game-changing year in pro wrestling. So, let's go back to the beginning of 1996, to a time before any of us had heard of the New World Order, and check out what happened at Clash of the Champions XXXII.

Last Night on Nitro

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - Hogan and Savage
Our show tonight began with a recap from the previous evening's WCW Nitro.

Of note:
  • Macho Man Randy Savage beat The Nature Boy Ric Flair. In a repeat of Wrestlemania 4, Hulk Hogan celebrated Savage's win a little too enthusiastically, promoting Savage to tell Hogan off. 
  • Lex Luger used an International Object to defeat Harlem Heat for the WCW Tag Team titles, making he and Sting the new champions. 
  • The Dungeon of Doom and The Four Horsemen were pissed about something. 
From here, we got a run down of tonight's show before going down to Ceaser's Palace, the same venue that brought us Wrestlemania 9. Here, we got our introduction from Tony Schiavone and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan.

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - Mean Gene Okerlund
The two hyped up our show tonight, running through the matches before sending us to Mean Gene Okerlund.

Gene was stood outside a little white chapel where Col. Robert Parker and Sister Sherri were supposed to be getting married later on in the show

After making a few jokes about celebrity marriages, Gene sent us to the ring for our first match.

The Public Enemy (Flyboy Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. The Nasty Boys (Jerry Sags & Brian Knobs)

Flyboy Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge were fairly new at this point, having only made their debut a week earlier on Nitro.

Tonight, they were here doing what they did best throughout most of their WCW tenure: engaging in a wild brawl.

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - Nasty Boys vs. Public Enemy
Sure, this kind of match may not have been for everyone, but for this fan, it was a perfectly fun way to start a show, ending when Brian Knobs and Jerry Sags brought furniture into the ring.

More chaos ensued, leading to a double disqualifications.
Double DQ 

The two teams continued to fight into the commercial break, after which a promo for Superbrawl V1 aired.

Eric Bischoff Interviews Ric Flair and The Giant 

Having just lost his title the night before, you may have expected The Nature Boy Ric Flair to be at least a little bit upset, but no.

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - Eric Bischoff interviews Ric Flair & The Giant
In this promo, Flair smiled and styled and profiled and told us that he wasn't worried about it because tonight he would get to kick Macho Man's ass, and what he didn't finish, The Giant would.

For his part, The Giant called himself a Master of Destruction and, well, promised to destroy Hogan and Savage.

Dean Malenko vs. Alex Wright 

Maybe it was the dancing gimmick that he became synonymous with in the later part of his WCW career, or maybe it was the fact that -apart from that brief Berlin thing- the company never presented him as a serious contender to anything, whatever the reason, I admit to never seeing Alex Wright as a credible pro wrestler.

As such, I would often switch off -metaphorically if not physically- whenever he wrestled.

That, however, was my mistake -and my loss- because here against Dean Malenko, he looked fantastic.

   

This was a short but exciting little match, originally set up on WCW Saturday Night when the two had first met and Malenko had refused to let Wright out of the Texas Cloverleaf.

This time, Malenko won via pin fall and nobody cared, which is a shame.
Your Winner: Dean Malenko 

The Taskmaster (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Disco Inferno 

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - The Taskmaster hates Elvis Baby!I try not to use profanity often, but this non-match was utter shit.

In place of the Disco Inferno, a bad Elvis impersonator made his way to the drink and delivered a terrible singing telegram which made him sound drunk or stoned or inflicted with a speech impediment, or a combination of all three.

The telegram announced that Disco wasn't there because he was at Col. Parker & Sister Sherri's wedding.

Taskmaster beat up Elvis and tossed him out of the ring, after which Jimmy Hart grabbed the microphone and yelled 'The Taskmaster HATES Elvis impersonators, BABY!'

This was garbage, but at least it spared us having to watch Disco Inferno wrestle.
Your Winner via Forfeit: The Taskmaster 

That little incident did segue nicely into our next segment: Mean Gene at The Little White Chapel.

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - Dirty Dick Slater, Mean Gene, and Bunkhouse Buck
Okerlund was there to greet Bunkhouse Buck and Dirty Dick Slater as they arrived for the wedding. Slater said he hadn't seen Parker since the night before at a craps table, and for some odd reason Buck spat about how he didn't care whether the wedding went ahead or not, after which Okerlund said to him 'I know you're excited about this wedding!'

Sure Gene, that's exactly what I got from that too.

Blah.

Okerlund next sent us back to the arena, where Eric Bischoff welcomed New WCW Tag Team Champions Sting and Lex Luger for an interview.

With Lex Luger erring on the side of heeldom, he began ranting to Eric about how he and Sting had proven to be the Tag Team of The 1990s by winning the titles.

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - The Road Warriors confront Sting and Lex Luger
Before Sting could chime in, The Road Warriors made their big return to WCW. Sting was delighted to see them and offered them a shot at the titles any time they wanted, but Luger, displaying more charisma than perhaps at any other time in his career, was apprehensive.

Instead, he insisted that Harlem Heat, The Nasty Boys, and even State Patrol deserved a shot before the LOD.

The banter went back and forth, with no real conclusion being reached other than the inevitability that the two teams would eventually wrestle.

Making this one of those shows with more talking than action, the show next took us to Paul Orndorff.

Mr. Wonderful Speaks Out 

In a pre-taped segment, Orndorff reminded us of the devastating injury he had suffered at the hands of The Four Horsemen on a recent episode of Nitro (in reality, a cover up for Orndoff getting neck surgery).

Going over his recent history with the fiction, particularly his hatred of Brian Pillman, Orndorff swore revenge and promised us that it wouldn't be the last we would see of Mr. Wonderful, though of course, it actually was.

Col. Parker Arrives For His Wedding 

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - Col. Parker was set to marry Sister Sherri Martel
Next, we cut back to Mean Gene, who was waiting at The Little White Chapel for the bride and groom.

In a bad continuity error, Gene was standing in front of a couple of newlyweds who had actually walked off in the previous segment.

Ignoring that, Parker arrived in a rented limo and was all in a fluster because he'd lost all his money at the casino.

After asking Mean Gene to loan him $50, Parker got on the phone with his 'Little Fried Pie' to assure her that he was going to go through with it.

This wasn't entertaining in the slightest, and it was a welcome relief when we finally got back to some wrestling.

Flyin' Brian Pillman vs. Eddie Guerrero

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - Brian Pillman went ape shit in his match with Eddie Guerrero
This could have been a great match, but Pillman was more interested here in playing up to his 'Loose Cannon' gimmick than actually wrestling. So, what he gave us instead was a disappointing, disjointed outing against Eddie Guerrero.

Pillman's behaviour did, however, give us one memorable moment when he went off-script and started roughing up announcer Bobby Heenan.

Irate (and as he would later explain, worried about his neck), The Brain very loudly yelled 'What the FUCK are you doing!?!' and stormed off, only to gather his composure, return to his job, and apologise for his outburst.

That was the only thing that mattered in this match. Pillman won with a handful of tights, but really, this was an underwhelming effort made watchable only for Heenan's F-Bomb.
Your Winner: Brian Pillman 

Out in the entrance way, Eric Bischoff put over Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, and Kevin Greene, bringing them out as his next guests.

The three talked about their positive momentum and how they would take out Ric Flair and The Giant before Hulk Hogan questioned which one of them would get to take Liz on the town later that night.

It was an odd question from babyface Hogan, especially when he told Savage -his friend, remember?- that his ex-wife Elizabeth was more than the Macho Man could handle.

Honestly, this was just an odd promo.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW Tag Team Champions Sting & Lex Luger vs. The Blue Bloods (Lord Steven Regal & Earl Robert Eaton) 

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - Steven Regal & Bobby Eaton faced Sting & Lex Luger
Finally, after an awful lot of drivel and nonsense on this show, we got back to some honest-to-goodness, good wrestling.

Both teams worked hard here to create a fun match which, though it may not have mattered in the grand scheme of things, was still fun to watch.

Predictably, Sting picked up the win, retaining the titles for he and Luger.
Your Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: Sting & Lex Luger

Back at the Little White Chapel, Sister Sherri finally arrived looking absolutely smacked off her tits, and was mad that Col. Parker had gambled away all their money.

She was then even more upset that she couldn't get into a trailer to change into her wedding dress.

This whole thing was atrocious. There was nothing entertaining about it, and by now I'm really starting to regret committing to reviewing this show.

Eric Bischoff Interviews Flyin' Brian 

Despite making a shambles of his match earlier, Pillman was actually on form here, first threatening to drop 'The Seven Words You're Not Allowed to Say on TV' live on the air before talking about respect, and how he and The Four Horsemen would do whatever it took to get it.

AAA Americas Championship
AAA Americas Champion Konnan vs. Psicosis 

For this keeping track, this was billed as being the WCW Mexican Heavyweight Championship that was on the line here, but that title was actually short lived AAA Americas Championship.


Today, Konnan defended that title against Psicosis in a so-so match which, though it contained some exciting spots, mostly came across as sloppy and awkward.

After a bit of back and forth, the champ retained with a Ziplock submission move which I have never seen performed once before in all the time I've been watching wrestling.
Your Winner and Still Champion: Konnan  

Finally, we got to the wedding of the century, which Madusa interrupted by coming out of Parker's trailer to attack Sherri.

A wild brawl ensued, during which Disco Inferno stole off with a bottle of champagne. That and Booker T accidentally falling on his ass, where the only two good things about this whole thing.

Actually, I lie: the third good thing was that it was finally over and we could get to the main event.

The Mega Powers (Hulk Hogan and WCW World Heavyweight Champion Macho Man Randy Savage w/ Kevin Greene and Miss Elizabeth) vs. The Nature Boy Ric Flair & The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart)

WCW Clash of the Champions XXXI - Elizabeth returned to manage Hogan & Savage against Giant & Flair
The big news here, of course, was Miss. Elizabeth returning to pro wrestling, not just returning, but looking absolutely stunning in the process.

The match itself was your standard WCW main event for the time; a so-so effort with nothing spectacular to write about.

The end came when Flair used an International Object to knock out Savage and get the win.
Your Winners: Ric Flair & The Giant 

Afterwards, Brian Pillman and The Zodiac ran in, but Hogan and Greene quickly got rid of them, bringing this horrible and tedious show to a much-welcomed end.

   

When I say horrible and tedious, I seriously mean it. Outside of a handful of highlights (the opening Malenko/Wright match, the tag team title encounter, and Bobby Heenan dropping an F-Bomb on live television), Clash of the Champions 32 was a chore to watch, and should probably be avoided at all costs.

And that's the last WCW 1996 event to be featured here on Retro Pro Wrestling. Missed any of the others? Here's the full list.
The next time we cover WCW, we'll look at the ill-conceived NWO Souled Out pay per view.  Be the first to check out those reviews by following Retro Pro Wrestling on Twitter or the brand new Facebook page

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.