EVENT REVIEW: Clash of the Champions XVII

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 Review

November 19, 1991
Savannah Civic Center, Savannah, Georgia

WCW's Clash of the Champions 17 was notable for being the first Clash show since the first event in 1988 not to have its own subtitle. 

The event is also highly regarded for being one of the better shows World Championship Wrestling put out that year, helping the company find its footing after the departure of franchise player Ric Flair and the steaming pile of garbage that was the company's first Flair-less PPV, The Great American Bash 1991.

Was it really all that good?

Let's go down to Savannah, Georgia to find out, shall we?

All the Titles are On the Line

Tonight's show began with a garishly 90s video that ran down tonight's big matches, mainly focussing on the fact that all titles except for the US tag team titles would be defended here tonight.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 Review - Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone called the action

From there, we went to our announcers, Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone, who also put over tonight's action before sending it to Eric Bischoff and Missy Hyatt.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 Review - Eric Bischoff and Missy Hyatt

The two said little of note, though Missy and her enormous hair were excited about interviewing "WCW's newest rookie," Marcus Alexander Bagwell.

So that was nice.

Lumberjack Match
Thomas Rich (w/ Alexandra York) vs. Big Josh

Big Josh was a lumberjack, you see, or at least some type of vague "outdoorsman" so the lumberjack match was apparently his thing. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 Review - Thomas Rich and Alexandra York

Not that he had many people to be lumberjacks for him.

On Thomas Rich's side were his York Foundation stable mates Terrence Taylor and Richard Morton along with The Young Pistols and, randomly, Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker

Sure, just five lumberjacks for the heels was a pretty sad affair, but apparently, Josh could only convince The Fabulous Freebirds and Todd Champion to back him up. 

The match was decent enough, but the lumberjack gimmick seemed silly and unnecessary with only eight people surrounding the ring. 

After a solid opener, Rich's teammate Terrence Taylor deliberately tripped him up. That allowed Big Josh to hit his rival with "The Northern Exposure," which I still say is a horrible name for a move that involves sitting on your opponent's chest so that your junk is in his face. 
Your Winner: Big Josh

Folks, call the WCW hotline right now and you could talk to The Steiner Brothers! 

Beautiful Bobby Eaton vs. Firebreaker Chip 

This wasn't a terrible match, but it was bland and just kind of there to fill a little bit of TV time. 

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 Review - Clash of the Champions 17 - Firebreaker Chip gets the better of Bobby Eaton

Nothing exciting happened and then Bobby won with a back suplex, and that's all I've got to tell you about this one.
Your Winner: Beautiful Bobby Eaton 

Before the commercial break, a promo aired for the upcoming Starrcade 1991 event featuring the inaugural Battlebowl. To be honest, I'm looking forward to reviewing that one soon.

Sting Receives His Final Gift

Over the last several weeks and months, Sting had been receiving mysterious packages (some of which included surprises like Cactus Jack and Abdullah The Butcher) and had been promised that he would receive his final gift tonight.

The US champion made his way out at the request of Tony Schiavone and excitedly claimed that getting his gift was just like being at a party.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Madusa seduces Sting

At that point, a bunch of oily dudes in black undies (one of whom I swear down was Mike Awesome) brought out a royal lifter-type thing from out of which stepped Madusa

Looking all kinds of foxy, she crawled up to Sting and began rubbing herself all over him until Sting did his patented "Wooo!" 

That was clearly Lex Luger's cue to burst out of the box thing and attack Sting as JR told us that it had been The Total Package all along.

That was pretty underwhelming.

The Diamond Studd vs. The Z-Man

It's almost impossible to say much about this match as viewers hardly got to see any of it.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - The Diamond Studd attacks The Z-Man after losing to him

Clash of the Champions 17 returned from the commercial break with the match already in progress. Almost immediately, cameras cut to the back where Sting was being loaded into an ambulance to go have his knee checked out. The match continued in a small box in the corner of the screen, but it was hard to pay attention to it as Eric Bischoff jumped in the ambulance too and the thing rode off.

As soon as the show cut back to focusing only on the match, Z-Man caught The Diamond Studd with a roll-up and that was that.
Your Winner: The Z-Man

Post-match, Studd attacked Z-Man with a clothesline then hit him with The Diamond Death Drop before yelling "I'm the bad guy!" at the camera.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW TV Champion Stunning Steve Austin (w/ Lady Blossom) vs. PN News

This wasn't a bad match, but it easily could have been had PN News' opponent been anyone other than Steve Austin. Indeed, it was the US champion who carried his opponent to a watchable match before pinning him in under five minutes with his feet on the ropes.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Lady Blossom leads TV Champion Stunning Steve Austin into battle

It wasn't an amazing match or anything, but it was certainly better than most PN News matches had any right to be.
Your Winner and Still TV Champion: Steve Austin

At this point, I believe the Missy Hyatt interview with Marcus Bagwell was shown, but for some reason, it's omitted from the WWE Network.

Cactus Jack vs. Van Hammer

After Cactus Jack made his way to the ring, a "music video" of sorts played in which Van Hammer and his band stood in a wrestling ring in an empty arena Milli Vanilli'ing their way through Hammer's theme song. Their performance was intercut with clips of Hammer hitting Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker with a slingshot suplex and pinning him inside the same ring where he'd just been jamming out.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Heavy Metal Van Hammer prepares for his match with Cactus Jack

Once in the ring, WCW's resident rocker had a decent TV outing with Cactus, making up for what he lacked in-ring skill with charisma and enthusiasm while Jack did most of the heavy lifting.

After a few minutes of action, Cactus rammed Van Hammer in the throat with his own guitar and pinning him in the middle of the ring, ending the rocker's undefeated streak.
Your Winner: Cactus Jack

Post-match, Jack and Hammer continued to brawl.

Sting is Going to Be OK...Probably

Up next, Jim Ross got on the phone with Eric Bischoff, who was supposedly at the hospital with Sting. Bischoff told us that Sting had three doctors looking at his knee, but an orderly had just given him -Bischoff- a thumbs up. 

Quite what that gesture meant for The Stinger remained to be seen.

Who is Dustin's Mystery Partner?

Before the next contest, we were reminded that The Enforcers had taken out Barry Windham back at Halloween Havoc '91 by crushing his arm in a car door. Windham had returned to action but reinjured the already damaged arm, meaning there was speculation over whether or not he would compete here tonight alongside his tag team partner, Dustin Rhodes.

Putting paid to that speculation, Windham came out wearing a cast as he accompanied Rhodes to the ring. He then took to the microphone to confirm that no, he wouldn't be competing tonight but that he did have a suitable replacement.

That's the point when a random figure wearing a crazy dragon costume came out. 
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Dustin Rhodes' mystery partner

The fact that it was a dragon should've immediately told you who was underneath the mask, but this being pro wrestling, the announcers were both clueless.

Of course, when the crazy-looking character finally revealed himself, he was none other than the returning Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat.

World Championship Wrestling World Tag Team Championship
WCW World Tag Team Champions The Enforcers (Arn Anderson & Barry Windham) vs. The Natural Dustin Rhodes & Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat 

Last seen on WCW PPV back at The Great American Bash 1989 (and last seen on PPV overall at Summerslam 1990), Steamboat's return was a huge deal. The crowd popped big time, and you have to give credit to Arn Anderson who sold it beautifully.

Even with the cameras nowhere near him, Arn could be heard yelling "Oh no! Not Ricky Steamboat!"

It was a great moment that kicked off a great match.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - The Enforcers double-team Ricky Steamboat

Ok, scrap that, this wasn't just a great match, it was an awesome match, and perhaps one of the best Clash of the Champions matches ever. 

The babyfaces started strong, with Steamboat in particular getting the better of the champions at every turn. At one point, Arn Anderson and Larry Zybysko regrouped on the outside, with Anderson reminding his partner that "he (Steamboat) is only a man."

That seemed to be all the pep talk The Enforcers needed, as they soon cut The Dragon off from his corner and began to wear him down. 

Anderson & Zybysko were a fantastic tag team, and when you combined that with Steamboat's top-notch job of playing the face-in-peril, it created a truly golden match.

Eventually, Ricky made the hot tag to Dustin, who cleaned house before letting The Dragon fly high, taking out Anderson with a wicked flying body press for the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winners and New WCW Tag Team Champions: Ricky Steamboat and Dustin Rhodes

Seriously - track down that match, it was phenomenal.

Will Sting Forfeit?

After the commercial break, Ross & Schiavone told us that The Enforcers had been protesting the outcome of the last match, noting that they had signed a contract to face Rhodes & Windham, not Rhodes & Steamboat, thus the title change shouldn't count.
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Paul Heyman reveals the US title match contract

This was followed by a quick video package looking at Jushin 'Thunder' Liger as he kicked some ass in Japan ahead of his WCW debut in December.

When we returned from that video, JR was standing by with Paul E. Dangerously, who claimed that the earlier actions of Madusa and Lex Luger were heinous before showing Ross a written contract that stated that if Sting didn't make it to the ring by bell time, he would forfeit the title and Ravishing Rick Rude would be the new US champ.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Jim Ross on the phone with Eric Bischoff

Another commercial break followed, after which we saw Jim Ross phoning Eric Bischoff at the hospital to tell him about Dangerously's loophole. Bischoff then relayed this message to an angry Sting, who apparently "commandeered an ambulance" so that he could make it back to the arena.

I don't use this term often on Retro Pro Wrestling, but "lol."

World Championship Wrestling World Light Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Light Heavyweight Champion Flyin' Brian Pillman vs. Johnny B. Badd (w/ Teddy Long)

As Johnny B. Badd made his way to the ring, the announcers told us that he and manager Teddy Long had been having their issues, essentially giving us a heads-up as to what would happen at the finish of the match.

WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Flyin' Brian Pillman celebrates his big win over Johnny B. Badd

Before that, he and champion Brian Pillman engaged in a decent but unspectacular match which made the challenger look strong.

Towards the finish, Badd looked to have Pillman beat with his trademark sunset flip, but Long was busy distracting the referee on the outside.

When Johnny confronted his manager, the champion pushed his opponent into Long, knocking the manager off the ropes and then rolling up Badd for the win.
Your Winner and Still World Light Heavyweight Champion: Flyin' Brian Pillman 

Post-match, Badd punched out Long, ending the duo's relationship and turning face in the process. 

As the show went to break, Ross and Schiavone reminded us that the US title match was next. If Sting wasn't back in time, he was done for.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Sting vs. Ravishing Rick Rude w/ Paul E. Dangerously

Fortunately for him, Sting did make it back as he was driven to the arena in an ambulance at full speed with its sirens blazing. While the idea that an ambulance crew would consider getting a wrestler to a match on time to be a siren-worthy emergency was a little goofy, it was kind of fun at the same time.
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Rick Rude prepares to challenge Sting for the US title

As he got to the arena, a gaggle of babyfaces hurried the champion inside as referee Nick Patrick began to count him out. 

Ravishing Rick Rude then met his rival on the entranceway and thus began an explosive and wildly entertaining match in which Sting seemed to overcome all the odds. 

Alas, those odds were simply too heavily stacked against him on this night. 

After doing everything he could to topple Rude, Sting was hit over the head by Dangerously's cell phone. Sting kicked out of the near fall, but when he confronted Dangerously, he got himself rolled up and pinned by Rude.

Seriously, that was awesome. Just an intense, electric storm of a match that only lasted five minutes but was so compelling you couldn't help but love it.
Your Winner and New United States Champion: Ravishing Rick Rude

Out in the back, Tony Schiavone interviewed Rude and Dangerously. 
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - The Dangerous Alliance celebrate Rick Rude's US title victory

With Madusa fawning over Rude, the two men revealed that it had been a conspiracy all along to take out Sting and destroy WCW. The promo was every bit as compelling as the match itself. 

Big Bad Ron is Back

Before our main event, Jim Ross interviewed Ron Simmons.
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Jim Ross interviews Ron Simmons

Simmons thanked the fans for their well wishes after he had been sidelined with a broken wrist that he'd suffered in his Halloween Havoc match with Luger. 

Undeterred by his injury, Simmons insisted that he was there to scout the winner of the upcoming world title fight as he would then beat them and keep his promise to become the first black man to hold the world title.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger (w/ Harley Race and Mr. Hughes) vs. Rick Steiner (w/ Scott Steiner)

This was a solid main event that saw both champion and challenger utilize brawn and brute power against one another. The crowd was hot for it, the announcers made it sound like the most important event in the world, and while it lacked the intensity of Sting/Rude and the all-out drama of the earlier tag team title match, it was still a very good effort in its own right.
WCW Clash of the Champions 17 - Lex Luger defends the world title against Rick Steiner

Towards the end, everything broke down with Luger, The Steiner Brothers, Harley Race, and Mr. Hughes all getting involved. 

In the middle of the chaos, Lex blasted Steiner with the title belt and that was all she wrote.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Lex Luger

Once a sweat-drenched Luger had made his way to the back, Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone signed off one of the best Clash shows in ages by telling us that if we wanted to know what was going on with the tag team titles, we'd have to call the WCW Hotline.

It's no exaggeration to say that Clash of the Champions 17 was one of the best Clash shows to have taken place in a long, long time. 

The main event delivered, the US title match and surrounding storyline were utterly compelling, and the tag team title match was a thing of pure beauty. 

Elsewhere, while some of the under-card matches weren't exactly amazing, nothing really sucked.

If you're looking for a good example of how excellent Clash of the Champions events could be, check this one out, if only for the magnificent Enforcers vs. Rhodes & Steamboat match.

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