WCW Clash of the Champions XXII Review (1993)

WCW Clash of the Champions XXII Review (1993)

January 13, 1993
The Mecca in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

WCW Clash of the Champions XII arrived at the start of a brand new year that brought more than a few changes for World Championship Wrestling. 

Bill Watts was on his way out and Eric Bischoff was on his way in as WCW's new Executive Producer. Also on the horizon was the imminent return of Nature Boy Ric Flair, who would come up short in a 'Loser Leaves Town' match against Mr. Perfect 12 days after Clash 22 on WWF Monday Night Raw. 

Until then, we had this: 

Vinnie Vegas arm-wrestling, 2 Cold Scorpio being a jerk to some little kids, and, of course, a Thundercage main event pitting Sting and his buddy against Harley Race's heels. 


Let's get into it.

Clash of the Champions XXII - Thundercage Time

And so, the 22nd edition of WCW Clash of the Champions began with a video that told us only the Thundercage could contain WCW’s biggest stars as two teams of rivals got set to wage war in tonight’s main event.

WCW Clash of the Champions XXII - Tony Schiavone and Bill Watts

After a quick look at tonight’s two title bouts, we went live to Milwaukee for an enthusiastic greeting from Tony Schiavone.

Bill Watts was still hanging around at this point, so Schiavone kicked off proceedings by giving the boss some mic time.

Appearing in a jovial mood, the soon-to-be-axed Head of Operations gleefully recalled his last visit to Milwaukee when he teamed with The Crusher against Larry ‘The Ax’ Hennig and ‘Handsome Harley Race.’

Big Bad Bill then turned his attention to more serious matters, announcing that he had suspended his son, Erik Watts, following some recent kayfabe legal trouble.

WCW Clash of the Champions XXII - Larry Zbyszko interviews Erik Watts

That led us to the backstage area, where Watts Jr. was ready to give an interview to Larry Zybysko.

Stumbling and fumbling his way through a terribly awkward promo, WCW’s most famous nepobaby was irate about missing out on his scheduled match with Cactus Jack. He even referred to it as “the biggest night of his life.

Unfettered, Erik insisted he’d stick around and watch tonight’s matches all the same.

Back on the arena floor, Schiavone and Cowboy Bill announced that Johnny B. Badd would be taking Erik’s place tonight.

WCW Clash of the Champions 22 - Jesse Ventura & Jim Ross

With that, we went down to our announce team of Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura for our opening match of the night.

Cactus Jack vs. Johnny B. Badd

These two had been forcibly teamed together by the random draw of the Lethal Lottery back at Starrcade 1992 and hadn’t gotten along too well.

That made Badd the perfect replacement for Watts in this short but decent opener.

In fact, even though it only went for a few minutes, I’d argue it was much better than it would have been had Erik Watts been involved.

No sooner had it started than Badd missed a somersault off the top rope and got pinned.
Your Winner: Cactus Jack

Out in the crowd, Tony Schiavone told us that The Great Muta had defeated Masa Chono for the NWA Championship.

Here Comes 2 Cold Scorpio!

Up next, 2 Cold Scorpio dunked on a bunch of little kids, refused them a ride in his limousine and forced them to dance all the way to school.

And this guy was supposed to be a babyface.

This vignette was set to Scorpio’s banging theme from the WCW Slam Jam album, and although it was meant to help get him over, it honestly made him look like a complete jerk.

Combine that with the terribly wooden acting, and this video was awfully embarrassing to watch.

2 Cold Scorpio vs. Scotty Flamingo

Fortunately, Scorpio was much better at wrestling than he was at acting, making light work of Scotty Flamingo in no time at all.

WCW Clash of the Champions 22 - Scotty Flamingo vs. 2 Cold Scorpio

2 Cold came out of the gate strong, getting the better of both collar-and-elbow tie-ups with his opponent and quickly taking him to the outside.

There, Flamingo turned the tables and took things back to the ring, where he attempted to wear down his foe with a good old-fashioned chin lock.

It wasn’t effective.

No sooner had Flamingo slapped on the hold than Scorpio battled out of it, followed up with a few gnarly moves off the top, and won easily with a 459 splash.
Your Winner: 2 Cold Scorpio 

Returning to Schiavone, our host for this evening next introduced us to a “special feature,” on the upcoming Thundercage match. 

It wasn’t a look at the cage itself, but rather at Harley Race’s announcement that Paul Orndorff and Cactus Jack would battle for the spot on Big Van Vader’s team left vacant by Rick Rude’s injury.

WCW Clash of the Champions 22 Review - Cactus Jack & Michael Hayes

That match saw Cactus get annoyed with Race and clothesline him out of his boots.

Vader then appeared and demolished the man from Truth or Consequences. 

Later, as the trio of heels gloated, Cactus returned, walloped them all with a snow shovel, and told Michael Hayes he was coming for revenge.

Chris Benoit vs. Brad Armstrong 

This was Chris Benoit’s second appearance on a big WCW show following his appearance alongside Biff Wellington back at Clash of the Champions 19.

WCW Clash of the Champions 22 - Chris Benoit vs. Brad Armstrong

Tonight, he and Brad Armstrong engaged in a solid match with a simple story:

Benoit couldn’t get the better of Armstrong from a pure technical wrestling standpoint, so he turned to aggression and violent force instead.

Save for one solitary ‘boring’ chant, their efforts were met with near-silence in the early going as Armstrong locked in an armbar.

However, the crowd quickly picked up once Benoit seized control, especially when he leapt from the top, smashing his opponent right after the apron with a vicious and impressive clothesline.

Speaking of impressive, the finish came when Benoit flew over two-thirds of the way across the ring with a flying headbutt attempt, only to miss and splatter face-first into the canvas.

Armstrong looked to capitalize, but Benoit was not to be deterred, he quickly drilled his foe with a wicked dragon suplex to gain the fall.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit 

Out in the arena, Schiavone introduced us to a Jim Ross narrated video package announcing that The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express was back together.

This was great news because the last time we’d seen Ricky Morton in WCW, he was working as a solo heel with the gimmick of ‘Most Boring Wrestler Ever.’

Ross informed us that not only was Morton now back with Robert Gibson, but the duo was working for a then-little-known regional outfit named Smoky Mountain Wrestling.

Thanks to a special agreement with SMW commissioner Bullet Bob Armstrong, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express would be competing at the upcoming SuperBrawl III Pay Per View.

The deal apparently included national TV exposure for Smoky Mountain as we next cut to a clip from the company featuring Morton and Gibson taking on The Heavenly Bodies.

Though we didn’t see the full contest, it did look genuinely exciting and served as a tremendous advertisement for the up-and-coming promotion.

Arm Wrestling Contest
Vinnie Vegas vs. Tony Atlas

Alright, let’s recap.

Of the 8,000 tournaments Bill Watts booked during his time at the top, one of them was a “Strongest Arm” contest. That was eventually won by Heavy Metal Van Hammer.

WCW Clash of the Champions 22 review - Vinnie Vegas vs. Tony Atlas arm wrestling match

Since then, Hammer had been injured, but Watts couldn’t deprive the fans of the unbridled excitement they’d only get by watching two men holding hands and yelling for five minutes.

Thus, we had ourselves another arm wrestling match. 

MC Jesse Ventura told us that Tony Atlas was involved since he didn’t have a chance to compete in the original tournament.

Vinnie Vegas had been in the tournament but had apparently been at a disadvantage because he was left-handed.

Tony Atlas, Do you mind if Vinnie Vegas uses his left hand?” Ventura asked.

I don’t care if he uses his left hand, his right hand, or his center hand!,” replied Atlas.

So, there you have it ladies and gentlemen, while some guys boast a third leg, Kevin Nash had a third “center” hand that he’d been keeping a secret.
A shame really, you’d think he’d use three hands to his advantage to win more matches.

I say all this mainly to amuse myself because there was nothing exciting about an arm wrestling match.

Vegas eventually won, after which he boasted about having the strongest left arm in World Championship Wrestling.
Your  Winner: Vinnie Vegas

Unfortunately, Vinnie didn't mention how strong his center arm was, nor how he managed to keep it so well-hidden.

The Wrecking Crew (Rage & Fury) vs. The Z-Man & Johnny Gunn

Oh, dear.

The last time we saw The Z-Man and Johnny Gunn was back at Clash of the Champions 21. On that show, they were introduced with much hype via a video in which they went to a tailor and turned it into a big sex party.

So, after all that hype, it was a little surprising to see them demolished by The Wrecking Crew.

You know when sitcoms feature a pro wrestling episode and the baddies are always super-angry meatheads with ridiculous names written by someone who had clearly never watched much pro wrestling?

Rage and Fury were those characters.

This was a shame really, because they were pretty decent as a heel power team, but it was hard to look past how stereotypical and one-dimensional they were.

Ultimately, the was a decent filler match but nothing more.

Maybe if Gunn and Zenk had spent less time hitting on shop assistants and more time training, they might have won.
Your Winners: The Wrecking Crew

Out in the back, Larry Zybysko interviewed Flyin’ Brian Pillman and Stunning Steve Austin.

WCW Clash of the Champions 22 review - Larry Zybysko interviews Steve Austin & Brian Pillman

Doing all the talking for his team, a fired-up Pillman bragged that he and Austin would stop at nothing to capture the gold.

Although the promo itself may not have appeared all that special at the time, I did really enjoy looking back at the beginnings of one of my favorite teams of the 90s.

Get Ready for the Thundercage!

As anticipation built for the Thundercage main event, Tony Schiavone called out Sting for an interview.

WCW Clash of the Champions XXII Review - Tony Schiavone interviews Sting

WCW’s franchise player was soon joined by his teammates, Ron Simmons and Dusty Rhodes.

With such a tough team behind him, Sting wasn’t concerned about being at a 3-on-4 disadvantage against Vader’s team.

It was never explained why he couldn’t just replace his injured teammate, Van Hammer, with someone else the way Harley Race had replaced Rick Rude, but it didn’t matter for long.

WCW Clash of the Champions XXII Review - Larry Zybysko interviews Harley Race's team

Speaking to Zybysko, Harley Race fired Barbarian from Vader’s team due to Barb’s association with Cactus Jack.

Vader, Barry Windham, and Paul Orndorff beat up on Barbarian, and now things were evenly matched at 3-on-3.

Following a lengthy commercial for SuperBrawl 3 which featured highlights of both SuperBrawl 1 and SuperBrawl 2, we finally rounded off PromoMania with a word from our unified tag team champions. 

WCW Clash 22 (1993) Larry Zybysko interviews Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas

Ricky Steamboat insisted he and Shane Douglas had come too far to be stopped now, while Douglas invited Pillman & Austin to hook up and see where the path of destiny took them.

World Championship Wrestling Unified World Tag Team Championship 
WCW Unified World Tag Team Champions Shane Douglas & Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat vs. Stunning Steve Austin & Flyin’ Brian Pillman 

As expected, this was a tremendous match from start to finish.

Austin and Steamboat came out swinging right from the opening bell and the pace barely let up until the whole thing was over.

Even as The Dragon fulfilled face-in-peril duties, the match remained utterly enthralling and served as a great vehicle to establish Austin & Pillman as a force to be reckoned with.

After a very strong effort, the champs looked to be on the verge of winning until Stunning Steve clocked Douglas upside the head with one of the title belts.

Unfortunately for him, the referee saw the whole thing and called for the bell.
Your Winners Via DQ and Still Unified World Tag Team Champions: Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas 

I’m perfectly OK with the soon-to-be Hollywood Blondes not losing clean as it kept them looking like a credible choice for a second title shot.

By the looks of things, Austin and Pillman were OK with it too, and followed up after the bell by destroying the champs with their own title belts.

Brad Armstrong, 2 Cold Scorpio, and Marcus Bagwell all rushed to the rescue but it was too late. The damage had been done and the bad guys bailed, taking the title belts with them.

Man, I can’t wait to see the rematch. 

It’s Vader Time

Returning from the commercial break, a voice-over introduced us to the closing moments of Big Van Vader’s “earth-shaking” second world title win over Ron Simmons.

The match, which took place on a December 30th, 1992 live event in Baltimore, Maryland, ended when Vader put his nemesis away with a big standard shoulder breaker.

The voiceover told us that Simmons had signed for a rematch “in the very near future.”

Alas, that match would never happen. In fact, the next time Simmons and Vader shared a ring together, they were on the same team at Survivor Series 1996.

Anyway, all this led to the introduction of Vader himself and his ever-present manager, Harley Race.

Race bragged that his man would be the longest reigning World Heavyweight Champion in wrestling history, but Ron Simmons disagreed.

The Florida State alum rushed to the ring and warned Vader that he would reclaim the title.

Naturally, this led to fisticuffs between the two, with Simmons getting the upper hand before turning his attention Race.

That was a big mistake on his part.

Vader regrouped, battered Simmons, and took him out of commission with a couple of shoulder breakers, focusing on his previously injured shoulder.

Ladies and gentlemen, Ron Simmons' push had just been killed right before our very eyes.

May it rest in peace.

2 vs 3 Thundercage Match
Team Vader (WCW World Heavyweight Champion Big Van Vader, Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff, and Barry Windham w/ Harley Race) vs. Team Sting (Sting & Dustin Rhodes)

In case you were wondering, the Thundercage was essentially the Thunderdome cage match from Halloween Havoc ‘89 with the word “dome” taken out of its name.

That was easy to explain.

What wasn’t so easy wasn’t so easy to explain is how this was billed as a “no disqualification, no rules,” match yet for some reason tags were still enforced and mostly adhered to.

Why stand around on the apron when there are no consequences for getting involved in the match.

Still, if you thought that defied logic, wait until you hear about the finish:

Cactus Jack came down with some bolt cutters, opened the cage, and won the match by jumping off the top and whacking Paul Orndorff with his boot.

The action in between these baffling moments was great and made for compelling viewing, but it certainly left this fan with more questions than answers.
Your Winners: Team Sting 

“How can Cactus Jack win a match he isn’t even in?” Asked Jesse Ventura, echoing the thoughts of the confused audience.

WCW Clash 22 (1993) - Cactus Jack

I say confused, most of them were simply happy to embrace Cactus as a babyface, cheering him on with a show-closing promo in which he promised to take out Paul Orndorff on WCW Saturday Night.

Buy The Complete History of WCW Starrcade on Amazon

For the most part, WCW Clash of the Champions 22 was a stellar show.

Sure there was some filler here and there, but nothing sucked and the last two matches still hold up today from a wrestling standpoint.

It’s just a shame that the lack of logic overshadowed what was otherwise a great main event. 

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