Written By: Matt Peddycord
NWA Clash of the Champions III: Fall Brawl
September 7, 1988
Your hosts are Jim Ross and Bob Caudle!
NWA World Television Champion Mike Rotunda (w/Kevin Sullivan) vs. Brad Armstrong
Rotunda delivers a REALLY cocky fireman’s carry on Armstrong to start, but then Armstrong rolls through a high crossbody for two. Rotunda delivers some forearms in the corner, but then Armstrong gets a hiptoss and a dropkick for another two. I love how Armstrong is really taking Rotunda to the limit here as compared to his NWA US title match against Windham three months earlier. Armstrong controls with the headlock for a bit and then hits a crossbody block for 1-2-NO! We clip to Rotunda breaking Armstrong down with chops for two. Rotunda goes to a chinlock. Armstrong breaks free, but then gets NAILED with a clothesline for 1-2-NO! Armstrong fights out of the chinlock again, but Rotunda comes back at him with a backbreaker for two. Since that doesn’t finish him off, Rotunda throws him out to the floor like a sack of French-fried potaters. Armstrong gets a sunset flip on his way back in the ring for 1-2-NO! Rotunda delivers a back elbow and a legdrop for two as Dr. F’N Death has come down to watch over Kevin Sullivan AND cheer on his buddy, Brad Armstrong. The crowd is going APESPIT for everything here. Armstrong gets an inside cradle out of nowhere for 1-2-NO! Rotunda grounds Armstrong some more with the chinlock. Armstrong breaks free again, but then he runs into an Airplane Spin by Rotunda! After Rotunda drops Armstrong, he’s too loopy to cover the man. There’s two minutes left in this thing! Rotunda finally covers for 1-2-NO! Rotunda hits a gutwrench suplex for two, followed by an inside cradle for another two. Since he can’t pin him with impact moves, he tries to KO Armstrong with a stiff forearm off the ropes for 1-2-NO! Holy crap! Rotunda hooks on a half-nelson pin and uses the ropes for leverage and STILL can’t pin Armstrong. Why didn’t Dr. Death do anything about that? Rotunda delivers a clothesline with twenty seconds left for 1-2-NO! Rotunda tries over and over again to get the pin on Armstrong until the twenty-minute time limit is reached. It’s a DRAW! (12:33 shown of 20:00) Oh snap, that was some great stuff. Too bad Armstrong wasn’t made a champion in WCW until the Light Heavyweight title was a joke and ultimately abandoned while he was champion. ***½
The Sheepherders (w/Rip Morgan) vs. Nikita Koloff & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams
Doc gets caught in the Sheepherders corner to start, but he fights out and gives Nikita a nice pat on the keister. Doc and Luke trade headlocks, but then Doc gives both of the ‘herders a three-point stance. Butch works over Nikita in the corner, but then Nikita reverses a whip and no-sells a missed charge. Nikita goes SLAM CRAZY on the ‘herders and even gives them a DOUBLE-NOGGIN KNOCKER before trading a double-thumbs up with the Doc! Butch regains control after stepping outside and tags in Luke. Nikita fights back and tags in the Doc. He applies an armbar and then clotheslines Luke out to the floor. Doc gives him a suplex from the apron into the ring and then delivers a CROSSBODY from the top for 1-2-NO! The faces trade tags while working on Luke’s arm until Doc misses a corner charge and runs shoulder-first into the ringpost. Butch gets the tag and starts pounding away on Doc. Luke tags back in, but that proves unlucky for him because that’s exactly when Doc starts to no-sell everything! Butch sees that as a problem and nails Doc in the back of the head for the ‘herders to regain control. They trade tags and work on Doc’s mid-section instead of the shoulder, which seems odd. Butch nails Luke on the apron when he tries to hit Doc, which leads to a HOT TAG TO NIKITA! He gets the ten-count corner punch on Butch, but then Morgan trips Nikita up from the floor. That jerk! Luke tags in and begins to bury his knee into Nikita’s ribs and sends him out to the floor with Butch for a nice ribs-meet-guardrail spot. Butch uses the opportunity to ram Nikita into the ringpost before Doc comes by to check on him. Back in, Luke hits a diving headbutt from the second rope for 1-2-NO! Luke takes too long to cover and doesn’t get the pin. Luke delivers a knee drop to Nikita for another two. Butch tags back in and stomps on Nikita while spitting at the Doc. That brings Doc in for a ‘herders double-team clothesline for 1-2-NO! Luke comes in and puts on the sleeper hold. Nikita escapes and knocks Luke out to the floor. Can he make the tag to the Doc?! Noooooo! Rip Morgan brings the Doc off the apron just as Nikita reaches his corner. Butch pounds Nikita down into a neutral corner until Luke can get back in the ring. Luke heads up top again for the diving headbutt, but this time it misses! Nikita makes the HOT TAG TO WILLIAMS! DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER for the ‘herders! Doc lifts up Luke for a press slam, but Butch chopblocks Doc. Nikita gets another tag and explodes into the ring to deliver the SICKLE to Butch for the 1-2-3! (17:08) A very good formula match and one of the last Sheepherders matches in the NWA, as they would be one of those teams to head up north by the end of the year. ***½
Dusty Rhodes vs. Kevin Sullivan (w/Gary Hart) – No-DQ Match
Dusty is all over Sullivan to start, as they brawl inside and out of the ring. Dusty even smashes Sullivan’s face into the announce table at ringside. In order for Sullivan to gain control, Gary Hart distracts the ref long enough for Sullivan to whip out some metal object. That goes nowhere since Dusty is hanging out on the floor. Big Dust gets back in and tosses Sullivan out. Back in, Tommy Young gets in between the two which gives Sullivan enough time to jab Dusty in the throat with some other metal object from his trunks. Who is he, Abdullah the Butcher now? They go back out the floor where Gary Hart beats on Dusty with his shoe. Back in, Sullivan goes to a chinlock for the only wrestling move of this match. Gary Hart gives him a spike to choke Dusty with while the ref gets distracted. Sullivan covers for two. Dusty low-blows out of the chinlock and hits the FLIP FLOP AND FLY, but then Sullivan goes to the eyes. Sullivan grabs the spike, but Dusty hits him with an elbow and jabs Sullivan in the head with it. Gary Hart pulls Dusty out to the floor with him, but Dusty no-sells an eye rake. He starts to chase Gary Hart around the ring as Al Perez runs down and nails him in the back with a big ol’ chain. Perez throws him in the ring for a big beatdown. Dusty takes out both Perez and Sullivan and pins Gary Hart with an inside cradle to win the match. (7:00) Insane booking like this was illogical even on a Russo level. CRAP
Ricky Morton vs. Ivan Koloff (w/Paul Jones) – Russian Chain Match
Paul Jones feels Koloff needs to prove himself worthy of his managerial services, so this is what we get. Strap match rules apply here, but there’s a chain used instead of a strap. By the way, this is Ricky Morton during his *lame* attempt at being a singles wrestler. Ivan uses the chain a lot to start with clotheslines and things of that nature. Ivan goes for the win at two minutes in by touching two corners, but Morton armdrags him down to interrupt. Ivan tosses Morton out to the floor where they play tug-of-war with the chain. Morton wins that and gets back in, only to receive some stomps from Ivan. He goes for the win again, but Morton starts kicking at his leg. Morton whips Ivan down, but can’t go for the win because Ivan kicks him away. Ivan hits a double-sledge from the top, He tries for another, but Morton pulls him down. Ivan comes right back and begins to choke on Morton some more with the chain by lifting him up in a hangman’s position. Morton breaks free and fires back, but it doesn’t take long for Ivan to start whipping him with the chain again. Ivan taps three of the corners, but Morton trips him up on his way to the fourth corner. Ivan kicks back at Morton and goes to the top again. He comes down on Morton, but Morton was “waiting in the weeds” so to speak and they nail each other with the chain. Morton is the first man up and he starts to drag Ivan around the corner. He hits all three corners, but Ivan grabs the middle rope to prevent Morton from reaching the fourth corner. Paul Jones wants Ivan to grab hold of his riding crop to help him out and he does, but it slips out of Jones’ hand and Morton falls into the fourth corner to win the match. (10:36) Paul Jones gets all in Ivan’s face, so Ivan decks him. The Russian Assassins run in to save their leader. Crowd chants for “NA-KI-TA!”, but that guy has already left the building. Ivan is now a face by default. Rather boring stuff as far as the match goes, but Ivan Koloff being kicked out of the Army is somewhat significant. *
NWA U.S. Heavyweight Champion Barry Windham (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Sting
If you haven’t found anything else on this show that you like, you’ll surely enjoy this one. Sting has come within a finger’s reach of all the major titles in the NWA in 1988 and this is his big chance at the NWA US belt. Sting starts off with a bunch of armdrags, which immediately pisses off Windham. Barry drills Sting with right hands, but Sting comes back with a shoulderblock and a pair of dropkicks to send Windham out to the floor. Back in, Sting no-sells a back suplex and puts Windham back out to the floor with another pair of dropkicks. Windham takes time to readjust his strategy (kayfabe!) and comes back in wanting a test of strength. Like an idiot, Sting tries to lock up with him and gets kicked in the gut. Sting gets caught in the corner, but fights out with an inverted atomic drop. Sting delivers a backdrop and then follows up with a ten-count corner punch. Sting goes for the jumping elbow drop off the ropes, but there’s nobody home. Windham takes Sting out to the floor and punishes him out there for a bit, including a big slam on the concrete. Windham gives Sting a suplex back in the ring, but then Windham ducks his head down off a whip and allows Sting to give him a sunset flip for a one-count. Windham takes back control with a great-looking powerslam. Knee drop follows for two. Sting gets a second wind out of nowhere and hooks up Windham in a small package for 1-2-NO! Haha, Windham tries for a Stinger Splash, but Sting avoids and Windham falls out to the floor. Sting goes out and drives Windham’s face into the ringpost not once, but twice! He is SO busted open! Back in, Sting starts BITING and PUNCHING on Windham’s cut forehead. Sting applies a sleeper, but then Windham comes out by giving Sting a shin breaker. SMART. Windham goes after the leg just like a proper Horseman would do. Windham hooks on the Figure-Four and cheats a little bit thanks to JJ. Tommy Young finally catches them cheating and makes Windham break the hold. Windham argues with Young and then OWNS Sting with a stalling back suplex. Sting then starts to punch back and even connects with a suplex, but Windham rolls through it and has the CLAWHOLD on Sting’s pectorals! Sting stands up out of it and slings Windham through the ropes and out to the floor. Sting brings Windham back in and hits his usual stuff until the ref gets nailed inadvertently by Windham. STINGER SPLASH! SCORPION DEATHLOCK! JJ Dillon hops in the ring with a chair, but he gets nailed. Without Sting realizing, the chair ends up in Windham’s hands. After Sting beats JJ out of the ring, he turns around and takes a chairshot to the face from Windham. Tommy Young recovers just as Windham covers Sting for the 1-2-NO! Out of nowhere, some football nobody named John Ayres who is supposed to ref an upcoming Luger/Flair title match who was at ringside, gets in the ring and stops the count. He looks like Jeff Foxworthy. Since Tommy Young didn’t see Sting get hit with a chair, Ayres tells him what happened and awards the match to Sting by DQ. That SNITCH! (21:11) I hate to see great 20-minute matches ruined by disqualification finishes like this one; especially when the guy involved was as short-term as John Ayres. ***¾
Final Thoughts: Despite Dusty’s terrible booking during this time period, the guys could still put on a great show. By the end of the year, Ted Turner would seal the deal on JCP, Dusty would be fired, and business really started to pick up for the NWA. Thumbs up for CotC #3!
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.