EVENT REVIEW: WCW Clash of the Champions XX - 20th Anniversary


WCW Clash of the Champions XX Review - DVD cover


September 2, 1992
Center Stage Theater, Atlanta, Georgia

Clash of the Champions XX was a big deal for World Championship Wrestling.

Not only was it the 20th installment of the Clash series, it also happened to coincide with the 20-year anniversary of pro wrestling on TBS. 
To celebrate, the company had brought in numerous legends, including a crutch-assisted Andre The Giant in what would be his final TV appearance.

They also brought in a former WWWF World Heavyweight Champion who, much to WCW's delight, I'm sure, now found his former company "a total embarrassment,"
As for the current stars, Cactus Jack was set to challenge new WCW Champion Ron Simmons for the gold.

Thrust into the title hunt not long after his Doom partnership with Butch Reed had ended, Simmons’ popularity had continued to grow despite failing to dethrone Lex Luger at Halloween Havoc '91.

He was then gone for a brief spell due to injury, returned, and effectively worked his way back up the card. 

Then Simmons had been selected as a replacement for an injured Sting (why was Sting always seemingly injured?) in a title match against dominant monster champion, Big Van Vader.

Simmons had defeated Vader, making history as the first black world champion, and now looked to prove himself to be a true championship-caliber athlete by taking on one of his biggest rivals in the man from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

All this, and more, in tonight’s Clash of the Champions 20.

The Tradition: Celebrating 20 Years on TBS

Things began with one of WCW’s better show openings; a simple vintage clip of Andre The Giant fading to black and making way for an animated "WCW Scrapbook," which highlighted the last 20 years of pro wrestling on TBS.
WCW Clash of the Champions XX - Missy Hyatt & Tony Schiavone

To really make the event feel special, we didn’t immediately go into the arena, but rather outside of it. There, Tony Schiavone and Missy Hyatt greeted us in front of a throng of fans.
WCW Clash of the Champions XX Review - Tony Schiavone interviews Bob Caudle and Andre The Giant

The two quickly introduced us to Gordon Sollie and a waistcoat sporting Andre The Giant before turning their attentions to the arrival of Ron Simmons and his wife.

From there, a seemingly inexplicable number of WCW higher-ups piled out of one limousine like clowns out of a clown car, each giving Schiavone a quick quip about how excited they were to be there.

Bruno Sammartino was on hand too, expressing how excited he was to be with a company that promoted “real wrestling,” before Missy Hyatt appeared to have a genuine fan girl moment, coyly expressing her appreciation of the legendary grappler and asking for a handshake.

Even if it was fake, it was still kind of a sweet moment.

Hyatt soon composed herself, gushing with excitement as Sting rolled up on a Harley to greet the fans.
WCW Clash of the Champions XX Review - Dusty Rhodes, Teddy Long, and Bill Watts

Next, we went inside, where Teddy Long presided over a brief and informal ceremony in which Atlanta City Councilman Rob Pitts presented a certificate to Cowboy Bill Watts and declared that it was officially “World Championship Wrestling Day” in the city of Atlanta.

Finally, we made it into the arena to meet our hosts for the evening, Jim Ross and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura.

Ross promoted tonight’s card, noting that there may have been a problem with the scheduled Light Heavyweight Championship match, a problem which Ventura promised to personally investigate.

With that, it was onwards to Gary Michael Capetta for the introductions for our opening contest.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW TV Champion ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin (w/  Paul E. Dangerously) vs. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat.

No DQ. Paul E. Dangerously to be suspended in a cage.

So, you know how super special wrestling shows start with the singing of the national anthem?

Yeah, well, this was WCW, so you probably won’t be too surprised to learn that they brought out Steve Austin and Ricky Steamboat for our opening contest first and then had Johnny B. Badd bring out an 11-year-old girl Megan Sheehan (who I'm not sure is the same person as this actress) to do the star-spangled banner.

Dangerously no-sold the enforced pre-match patriotism, using the duration of the anthem to give some final words of advice and encouragement to the TV champion before being locked in a suspended cage for the contest.

I’m not saying WCW loved the whole “manager in a cage” gimmick, but this is the second Clash review I’ve done in as many weeks, and that show (Clash of the Champions 2), likewise had a manager in a cage.

The camera barely paid attention to Dangerously for the rest of the match, which was good when considering how well Austin and Steamboat wrestled together.

The two would later have an incredible match at WCW Bash at the Beach '94 that is now among my all-time favorites, so it was no surprise that they delivered here, too.

Making even the simplest of moves like side headlocks and abdominal stretches look like the most punishing offense, champ and challenger went at it in a solid and fast-paced seesaw battle that proved itself to be the perfect choice for an opener.

And if you’re wondering about the whole DQ thing? 
That was just a way to veto WCW’s overly strict rules in which you’d get disqualified for throwing your opponent over the top to the outside or jumping off the top rope onto him, both of which were integral to the finish.

Stunning Steve hurled The Dragon to the outside, but the moment the TV champion looked away, Ricky crawled under the ring to the opposite side, confusing Austin to the point that he was easy pickings for a match-winning top rope cross body.
Your Winner and NEW WCW TV Champion: Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat 

Following Steamboat’s triumphant celebration, we returned to Ross and Ventura, who introduced a video tribute to some legendary tag teams who had been an integral part of WCW and the NWA’s presence on TBS.

The Assassins, The Briscoes, The Fabulous Freebirds, The Road Warriors, and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express were all featured, with clips of their matches set to a somber violin piece that made it seem like they’d all died.

The video tribute gave Jesse Ventura a moment to reflect on his own tag team days as the partner of Adrian Adonis in the East-West Connection, though The Body’s real excitement only came when he learned that he’d get to wear a costume at the upcoming Halloween Havoc ‘92 show.

Speaking of…

Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal

A short vignette aired in which Madusa had to use the password “spin the wheel, make the deal” to enter a rowdy dive bar, where Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts sat at a table wearing a leather jacket and chuckling to himself.
WCW Clash of the Champions XX - Madusa in the Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal video

This place was apparently where Madusa worked because she immediately got up on a stage and started spinning a Wheel of Fortune-style wheel while she and the rest of the bar chanted, “Spin the wheel! Make the deal!"

Then -and I truly swear to you that I’m not making this up there was a brief shot of a dinosaur thing which promptly exploded.
WCW Clash of the Champions XX - WTF is a dinosaur doing here?

Of course, I get that this is supposed to be a snake, but doesn't it look more like a spooky Loch Ness Monster to you?

In case you’re unfamiliar with this whole thing, it was all leading up to Jake Roberts’ match with Sting at Halloween Havoc.

Tag Teams Combine 

Backstage, Jesse Ventura stood by for an interview with Michael ‘P.S’ Hayes, who was now the manager (or something) of Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton.
WCW Clash of the Champions XX - Jesse Ventura interviews Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton


The latter duo had apparently broken away from the crumbling empire known as the Dangerous Alliance and, tonight, would be facing a team managed by their former stablemate, Larry Zbyszko.

Not that either of them were given much chance to talk.

Michael Hayes (whose own team was over now that Jimmy Garvin had left the company) ranted about how his team was a combination of the Fabulous Freebirds, The Midnight Express, and The Minnesota Wrecking crew, which wasn’t a bad setup at all.

Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton (w/ Michael ‘P.S’ Hayes) vs. Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine & Dick Slater (w/ Larry Zybyszko)

So, here we had four talented veterans giving us a rare heel vs. heel tag team match that was nowhere near as good as it could have been had it followed the standard heel vs. face tag team formula.

Instead, we got a few short minutes of relatively basic action interspersed by each team’s attempts to out-heel the others. 

Eventually, Greg Valentine held Arn Anderson in place so that Valentine’s manager, Larry Zybyszko, could hit him with the cast he was sporting on his arm.

Anderson ducked. The Hammer got taken out, and that was it. Double A made the cover, and this one was over.

Despite the potential, this was not a great match.
Your Winners: Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton 

Out in the back, Jim Ross stood by for an interview with none other than  Bruno Sammartino, who had famously worked for the completion for most of his career.
WCW Clash of the Champions 20 Review - Jim Ross interviews Bruno Sammartino


Sammartino told Ross that the last few years of his time with ‘that other league’ were a ‘total embarrassment,’ hence, he was so glad to be in WCW, which was more to the legendary grappler’s liking.

The interview wasn’t spectacular or anything, but it was fun to see Bruno taking a shot at the competition while also adding some star power to this 20th-anniversary celebration.

From there, we went to see Gordon Solie and Teddy Long hanging out with Andre The Giant.
WCW Clash of the Champions 20 Review - The last TV appearance of Andre The Giant


Andre didn’t actually say anything; he just chatted quietly with Sollie while Long first interviewed Bullet Bob Armstrong, then Thunderbolt Patterson, then finally threw us to some pre-recorded comments from Mr. Wrestling II, who was happily enjoying just retirement in Hawaii, and this couldn’t be at the show.

All these interviews said the same thing - this was a good night, old-school wrestling was the best, and everyone was glad to be involved.
WCW Clash of the Champions 20 Review - Ted Turner commemorates 20 years of pro wrestling on TBS


Back in the arena, Ross and Ventura introduced us to pre-taped comments from the TBS head honcho himself, Ted Turner.

Like everybody else, the boss was also happy that WCW was going back to “traditional wrestling,” the way it used to be. 

Yes, all this was on the same show that had a ‘Spin the Wheel’ vignette with an exploding dinosaur.

Brad Armstrong is Injured

So, you remember how there was some sort of problem with the light heavyweight championship?
WCW Clash of the Champions 20 - Brian Pillman confronts Brad Armstrong


Up next, Bill Watts revealed that the problem was an injury to champion Brad Armstrong. 

Not only was the injury so bad that Armstrong wouldn’t be able to compete on this show, it was so bad that he hadn't been able to compete for the last five weeks. 

As such, Watts insisted that he had no choice but to strip him of the title.

The dumbest thing about all this is that it was only a few minutes earlier that Brad’s dad had expressed his enthusiasm for seeing his son in action tonight.

Yet if Armstrong was so badly injured and had been for some time, didn’t he think it wise to tell his pops?

Anyway, we next returned to the arena once more, where the now-former champion expressed his dismay at being unable to compete.

At that point, Brad’s scheduled opponent, Brian Pillman, arrived, cutting a scathing and excellent heel promo in which he lambasted Armstrong for his cowardice and promptly slapped him.

Honestly, on a show that’s been 90% video packages and mediocre interviews, Heel Pillman was a true highlight.

Speaking of video packages, we got more of those next.

First, there was a lengthy look at many of the singles stars that had been on TBS over the past 20 years.

This show has been pretty boring so far, so I kept myself occupied by listing every wrestler in the video.

They were:

Dusty Rhodes, Stan Hansen, Ron Garvin, Tony Atlas, Magnum TA, Buzz Sawyer, Mr. Wrestling II, The Great Kabuki, Ted Dibiase, Bill Watts, Wahoo McDaniel, The Masked Superstar, Jimmy Valiant, King Kong Bundy, The Spoiler, The Iron Sheik, Tully Blanchard, Ric Flair. Terry Funk, Tommy Rich, Roddy Piper.

From there, we got the exact same exploding dinosaur spin-the-wheel promo for Halloween Havoc that we’d already seen, followed by yet another video showcasing WCW champion Ron Simmons.

Finally, after over 16 minutes without an actual match, it was back to the show.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Ron Simmons vs. Cactus Jack 

The problem with recapping a quarter of an hour’s worth of videos and interviews is that you’re too worn down to care much when an actual match takes place.
WCW Clash of the Champions 20 - Ron Simmons vs. Cactus Jack


Fortunately, Ron Simmons and challenger Cactus Jack did a good job of getting this tired fan back to being invested in the show.

Although this wasn’t the best title match you’ll ever see, it was a strong effort that got better the longer it went on.

Cactus dominated much of the contest, combining his usual wild man savagery with good old-fashioned wrestling to wear down the champion until Simmons suddenly struck a power slam from out of nowhere to retain his title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: Ron Simmons 

After the break, Ross and Ventura took us to another video, this one recapping the finals of a three-day tournament held in Japan in which Masa Chono defeated Rick Rude to capture the vacant NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

By all accounts, this looked to be a tremendous match, and I would have happily watched more of that, but instead, it was off to pre-recorded from the Ravishing One.
WCW Clash of the Champions 20 - US Champion 'Ravishing' Rick Rude


Charismatic as ever, the WCW US Champion cut a simple promo in which he challenged Chono to a rematch for the Big Gold Belt.

From there, WCW really went outside the box to give us something truly unique :

The same ‘Spin the Wheel’ Halloween Havoc promo we’d already seen twice.

Cactus Jack Introduces The Barbarian’s Tag Team Partner

Before we could see any more wrestling, we first went to Jim Ross, who stood by with Cactus Jack.

Flanked by a brooding Barbarian, the future Hall of Famer cut a compelling promo in which he claimed that, despite being banged up and hurting worse than he ever had in his life, he was feeling good because at least the match had allowed him to identify Ron Simmon’s weak spots.

To help him take advantage of those weaknesses, Cactus had brought a new recruit to his side; Simmon’s former Doom partner, Butch Reed.

Not that Reed was going right after his ex-team mate. Instead, he was forming a new team with The Barbarian, and the two looked to be in action next.

The Barbarian & Butch Reed vs. ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham 

Reed and Barbarian seemed like an odd pairing, but at least they were effective against the babyface duo of Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham.

Effective but not very entertaining.

Don’t get me wrong, the match was fine for what it was, with Windham and Rhodes’ popularity among the fans making up for the mediocre action, but this certainly wasn’t a match anyone would want to rush out and see.

After gaining momentum in the early going, Dustin missed a shoulder tackle and toppled to the outside.

Reed and Barbarian seized the advantage, cutting The Natural off from his partner and wearing him down until Windham made the inevitable hot tag.

By that point, however, it was too little, too late.

Barry and Dustin took out Butch with a nifty double drop kick (despite waiting far too long for Reed to put himself in position for it), but then Barbarian kicked Windham square in the mush and that was all she wrote.
Your Winners: The Barbarian & Butch Reed

Afterward, the victors rejoined Cactus Jack (who had been on guest commentary throughout the contest) for yet another interview with Jim Ross.
WCW Clash of the Champions 20 Review - Jim Ross interviews Cactus Jack, with Butch Reed & The Barbarian


This one was pretty much like the first, putting over the new tag team and promising that the trio were gunning for Ron Simmons.

It was decent. Cactus Jack promos were always at least decent, but it didn’t really add anything.

From there, the producers decided we hadn’t seen enough video packages and thus gave us another one.

Fortunately, this wasn’t yet another Spin the Wheel commercial but a genuinely helpful and interesting package recapping the build for tonight’s eight-man elimination main event. 

It all started with Sting losing the world title to Big Van Vader and then being attacked a little time later by the debuting Jake ‘The Snake’ Robert’s.

While all this was happening, Rick Rude was feuding with Sting’s ally, Nikita Koloff.

Throw in The Steiner Brothers and Super Invader, and we had ourselves a match.

8-Man Elimination Match
WCW United States Champion ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude, Big Van Vader, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, and The Super Invader (w/ Madusa and Harley Race) vs. Sting, Nikita Koloff, and The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner)

What we had here was basically the closest thing to a WCW Survivor Series match, which I only mention as a lazy segue into encouraging you to buy my book, The Complete History of Survivor Series - Vol. 1

That cheap plug aside, this was a good main event that made up for what had otherwise been a slog of a show. 
WCW Clash of the Champions 20 Review - 8-Man Elimination main event


The early going saw various heel/face combinations testing each other out before the pace picked up and Jake Roberts gained an early lead for his team by taking out Nikita Koloff. 

However, the bad guys weren't ahead for very long, as String quickly evened the score moments later by eliminating Super Invader.

From there, we got the highlight of the entire match, a brilliant exchange between Rick Steiner and Vader in which Steiner threw Vader around with ease. Vader, of course, reacted to being brutally suplexed multiple times by smashing The Dog Faced Gremlin square in the mush. 

Of course, it was no surprise that this was the highlight. Steiner and Vader had enjoyed another solid encounter back at Starrcade 1991, though this one was -arguably- even better. Honestly, it makes me pine for the fact that we never got a straight-up singles match between the two, at least not to my knowledge.

Rick eventually got the better of this exchange, but after taking a beating, he failed to properly lift his larger opponent onto his shoulders, ready to receive brother Scott's top-rope Steiner Line. 

Scotty hit the move anyway and was swiftly disqualified since the top rope rule was still enforced. 

Of course, though Garry Michael Capetta told us that Steiner had been eliminated, he didn't say why, so it was kind of baffling until Jim Ross chipped in to explain. 

As the future Big Poppa Pump made his way to the back, Rick and Vader both went through the ropes to the outside, prompting a wild brawl between all remaining combatants. 

In the midst of the madness, The Dog Faced Gremlin failed to beat Nick Patrick's 10 count and was gone, leaving Sting to take on the formidable trio of Vader, Jake Roberts, and Rick Rude. 

Despite a valiant effort and the will of the crowd, the numbers game proved too much for WCW's franchise player. 

Vader came off the top rope and crushed both Sting and -inadvertently- Rick Rude. He got disqualified in the process, but by that point, the damage had been done. 

Jake Roberts dragged a lifeless Rude to his corner behind the referee's back, made the tag, and then DDT'd an equally-as-lifeless Sting for the win. 
Your Winners: Jake Roberts and Rick Rude

Wrapping up this 20th Anniversary edition of Clash of the Champions, we went back to Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura, who first plugged The Steiner Brothers vs. Anderson & Eaton on WCW Saturday Night before giving us a "very special" look at the upcoming Halloween Havoc PPV. 

This time, we got the full version of the Spin The Wheel, Make The Deal mini-movie, which was amazing and horrible in equal measure. 

I mean, the cheesiness of it can be written off as being a product of its time and the over-the-top nature of pro wrestling, and Jake, The Snake's performance was actually pretty convincing to the point that, had life not taken Roberts on a different path, you could easily see him with a future as a movie villain. 

Alas, the same could not be said for Sting, who revealed himself to be a truly terrible actor.  

He was, however, responsible for the most hilarious part of the whole movie:

A bar full of tough bikers reacted to his shadowy figure in the doorway with a harmonious chorus of "oohs" like they were in the audience for an episode of Ricki Lake. 
Oh yeah, and did I mention Sting and Roberts shot fricken' LASER BEAMS from their eyes?
WCW Clash of the Champions 20 - Sting & Jake Roberts shoot FRICKEN LASER BEAMS at each other


Finally, Ross and Ventura were joined by the execs we'd seen at the start of the show, all of whom wished us farewell and one of whom encouraged us to watch Halloween Havoc with an overly enthusiastic "BEEEEEEEE THERE!"  

With that, Clash of the Champions XX, and the last televised appearance of Andre The Giant faded into the history books. 

For a show that was designed to celebrate all that was good about wrestling, there was surprisingly very little of it on the 20th installment of Clash of the Champions. 

Endless video packages, three repeats of what I guess you'd call a "teaser trailer" for the Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal mini-movie, and interviews made up the majority of the show, with only two of the five matches (Austin/Steamboat and the main event) being worth a look. 

Other 1992 pro wrestling event reviews
  1. WWF Royal Rumble 1992
  2. WCW Clash of the Champions XVIII
  3. WCW Superbrawl II 
  4. WWF UK Rampage 1992
  5. WWF Wrestlemania 8
  6. Wrestlewar 92
  7. WCW Clash of the Champions XIX
  8. WCW Beach Blast '92
  9. WCW Great American Bash 1992
  10. WWF Summerslam 1992
  11. WWF Survivor Series '92
  12. WWF 1992 - The Year in Review
Other Clash of the Champions Reviews:
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