Everyone talks about certain years in wrestling as the most important. 1997 and 2001 are ones you often hear bandied about. But for my money one of the most important years in wrestling is 1992.
The booking techniques that had pushed America's two biggest promotions, WWF and WCW, through the 80s were proving to be flawed with ratings steadily declining . The state of the wrestling world was put into flux. The two companies had two ways of doing this. Vince and co circled the wagons and pushed Hulkamania as hard as ever, using Macho and Flair as auxiliary players whenever Hogan decided he was too cool for wrestling. On the other hand, WCW brought in old school territory booker Bill Watts. And that in a sense is why I think WCW in 1992 is so captivating. You have the neon of the 90s, tons of influx from Japan, and JCP mainstays like Steamboat and Koloff, all helmed by an crotchety old man. I think the best place to start our look at Watts era WCW is Clash of the Champions 19.
Opening video package:We get a look at a map, complete with drums of war music, while a dramatic announcer tells us about the NWA Tag Team Title Tournament on tap tonight, we then smash cut to the MTV-eque, jagged neon of the CotC logo, which was a styles clash to say the least
Tony Schiavone, Magnum TA, and Missy Hyatt run down the card: Weird, Tony plugs the venue, The Citadel, and that's fine, but Missy Hyatt rambles off about a tournament for the NWA Heavyweight Title tourney that some WCW will be in, but she will have details later. She skitters off, Magnum spouts some generic wrestling commentary lines, and Tony brings in Bill Watts. Watts spouts some fluff about tradition, NWA rules and how the tournament will conclude at Great American Bash 1992. They throw down to
Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura actually run down the card: Bad. We get no info other than Jesse is going to interview Sting
NWA Tag Title Tournament Round 1: Dean and Joe Malenko vs Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff
Steamboat moves like a Crusierweight on some flourishes and technical exchanges with Joe. The crowd is super into the super basic offense and babyface fire by Steamboat. Koloff tags in, and powers the Malenkos around. Steamboat tags in for more. Koloff and Dean get into it on the apron which logically explains Nikita distracting the ref while the Malenko's double team Steamboat illegally. More tag stuff by the Malenkos. A botched facebuster warrants the hot tag, which Ricky briefly sells going to the wrong corner for, shaking himself, awake, and tagging Nikita. Nikita tags in and basically runs wild on the Malenkos hard enough to get the win.
This was a fun tag match made special by some extra flourishes
NWA Tag Title Tournament Round 1: Marcus Alexander Bagwell and Z-Man vs Rick Rude and "Stunning" Steve Austin (w/ Madusa)
A running theme of this show is the commentators bitching about the seeding in the tournament. Which, if I was producing I'd shut up right away. It's not our tournament so let's not call attention to it.
The match starts out hot with a lot of strikes and flourishes. Austin and Z go tease a knuckle lock, which the crowd is all about the face not accepting, and he doesn't. The heels eventually take control of Marcus with punches. A few attempts at a comeback yield no results. Bagwell tags out but the heels make mince meat out of Z too. Bagwell makes the hot tag, gets a two count, and then the heels take control again. They tease a miscue while Madusa takes the ref that breaks things down into a brawl. Then Rude just hits his finish and wins.
This was a weird match. Bagwell is a great face, and Austin/Rude are great heels, but they couldn't make it work.
Eric Bischoff interviews The Miracle Violence Connection: Awesome. Terry redneck rambles his way through a promo about how nobody cares about their opponents, and that they want to face The Steiners. Dr.Death calls the Steiners queers and Bischoff bores a hole in him for the rest of the promo.
NWA Tag Title Tournament Round 1: The Miracle Violence Connection vs The O'Days
The O'Days come out to the least intimidating, "lazy day on the porch" music. Larry gets murdered by Gordy and Death.
no rating, squash
Jesse Ventura interviews Sting: Sting is dressed like he's going to a wedding reception after this, avec matching face paint. Either have him come out in the suit with no paint, or have him come out in a surf shop shirt , colorful pants and paint. Jesse heels out on Sting for being hurt by Vader, Sting says in a David and Goliath scenario he is Goliath because he is backed up by all the little Stingers, This was an excellent, short babyface promo that the crowd loved.
NWA Tag Title Tournament Round 1 Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes vs "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton and Arn Anderson (w/ Paul E. Dangerously)
Oddly, the story they tell initially is that Arn and Windham are even, but Windham is the better striker. Weird in practice because Barry is such a big dude but it works out good. A dropkick off the top turnbuckle to the floor gives the heel team a chance to be whiny about perceived over-the-top rope rule breaks. Bobby bumps like a boss for Barry and again the heels give out. Barry gets momentum but the heels gain up on him. Dustin gets the hot tag but a distraction of the ref by Paul allows for the heels to take control again. Dustin eventually fires up and makes his own comeback to win. It's clear to see that they have big plans for Dustin, and to a lesser extent Barry, in the future.
Missy Hyatt and Eric Bischoff at the tournament bracket: Weird. Missy plugs the New Japan NWA Title tournament. I question the logic of plugging a tournament no one will see other than stroking the NWA's ego. Bischoff goes to talk about the injured Puerto Rican team, when
The Miracle Violence Connection show up: The Puerto Rican team were injured in a car accident, and somehow Bischoff seems to think the MVC caused it. Beyond the complete absurdity of it, the MVC cut a fantastic promo, complete with Gordy laying down to demonstrate how they looked and Williams screaming his bit. They want to challenge the Steiners.
NWA Tag Team Title Tournament Round 1: The Silver Kings vs The Fabulous Freebirds (Micheal Hayes and Jimmy Garvin)
The Birds Road Warrior jump the Mexicans. One Mexican missile dropkicks his own partner. Jimmy can keep up, Hayes cannot. Unfortunately that's who's in there most of the time. The crowd love The Birds all the same. Suicide Dives and miscues from both teams, but Hayes can take advantage.
This must've been a rib to put the Freebirds with two luchadores, but it wasn't very funny.
Tony and Magnum again: Fine for what it was. This is very much a Bill Watts technique of having a short segment to make clear to us the viewer that the structure of tonight's events has been upended by the attack on the Puerto Ricans. Senior ref Ole Anderson makes a quick appearance to say that he and the other referees must confer about the order of matches.
NWA Tag Title Tournament Round 1:
Flyin' Brian and Jushin Thunder Liger vs Chris Benot and Beef Wellington
Flyin' Brian and Jushin Thunder Liger vs Chris Benot and Beef Wellington
This match is just moves, and Benoit/Liger try to do a cruserweight exchange to start but realize they're losing the crowd and tag back out. This match is also just moves. However, the pace does slow down to a level that the yokels in the crowd can understand it, and Jim Ross provides a bit of background (Liger and Benoit have feuded in Japan before, Wellington and Pillman came up at the same time in Canada) so it sells the idea that these guys are going move for move instead of just doing moves. A miscue from the Canuks nets Liger and Pillman the win.
This was a fun match, but unfortunately this is now the second miscue finish we've seen (with a third miscue in the Rude/Austin vs Z-Man and Bagwell match that was just a spot.
NWA Tag Title Tournament Round 1 The Headhunters vs Akira Nogami and Hiroshi Hase
At first I marked out because I thought we were getting the fat Arabian lads called The Headhunters but they're two masked white guys. Nogami has an oni mask on and has Spider-man webshooters that shoot streamers. People mark out for Nogami's cool kicks, including a dropkick/enzuguri hybrid I've never seen before, but then the Headhunters get on offense and the crowd die. They pick up again for the Japanese guys but then the Headhunters gain momentum and they lose the crowd. A pair of suplexes for the win for the Japanese.
This is for sure a match that should have been a squash but wasn't. And it's not like the Headhunters did anything wrong. it's just that no one cared.
Jesse Ventura interviews Ron Simmons: His goal is to be the first black WCW Champion and he's a survivor. Harley Race shows up and says racist things to him because he's a friend of Sting. The heels jump Ron but Ron makes a comeback. This was "meh" but the crowd loved it.
Tony Schavonie interviews Bill Watts: Watts says that there's dispute between NWA and WCW about what to do about the tournament now that the Puerto Rican team is out. The NWA President is resigning for some reason. Watts doesn't seem to be sure the team were involved in a car wreck. which is an odd thing not to know. Anyway, we find out we're getting Miracle Violence Connection vs Steiners NOW.
NWA Tag Title Tournament Round 2 Miracle Violence Connection vs The Steiners
We get lengthy, amazing amateur wrestling sequences to start where everything they're doing looks 100 percent real, and that ends when Rick hits Williams with a Belly to Belly. This was awesome. We get more amateur wrestling until Williams doesn't break cleanly and Rick starts throwing fists. Stiff clotheslines and suplexes a plenty. Scott tags in and runs wild but Gordy cuts him off. Scott gets his leg worked over forever, until he hot tags to Rick (which, unless you were eagle eyed, you wouldn't notice that the ref was occupied with the heels) , and he and Bam Bam seemed to have the most shoot punching fight I've ever seen, just two big fucks throwing hands. Rick hits the Powerslam and we fidnd out that the ref never saw the tag! Williams hits Scott with a chop block on the outside which looked like a legit football tackle. Rick and Terry, who have just been brawling up to this point, just separate. Williams hits a Press Slam-like Jackhammer that I've never seen before for a 2 1/2 count. Rick and Terry go back at it, but Rick takes enough time leaving the ring so the ref doesn't see Terry chop block Scott as he attempts a Belly to Belly on Dr.Death, allowing Death to pick up the win!
This is an amazing match, one that's more at home in peak Ring of Honor than America or Japan in the early 90s. Go watch this. Now.
The commentary teams speculate on the conclusion of the match: Tony and Magnum update the leaderboard and wax philosophical about what happened briefly before Jesse and Jim get there turn. I loved this, spending some time with the announcers post main event made this feel like a pro sport.
Unless you're a superfan of one of the Japanese or Japanese homesteaded guys, the only thing worth watching on here is the main event