The Chrononaut Chronicles: NWA Clash of the Champions II: Miami Mayhem – June 8, 1988


The Chrononaut Chronicles
NWA Clash of the Champions II: Miami Mayhem – Wednesday, June 8, 1988

– It’s Mayhem in Miami as the Four Horsemen run wild at the second Clash of the Champions! Ric Flair and Lex Luger sign a contract for an NWA World Title bout at the 1988 Great American Bash, Sting & Dusty Rhodes challenge Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard for the NWA World Tag Team Title, Barry Windham defends the NWA US Title against Brad Armstrong, and much more!


Miami Mayhem

– LIVE from Miami, Florida! Jim Ross is stationed outside the James L. Knight Center as limousines arrive to the building eight years before the nWo made it their gimmick. JR claims that a host of celebrities and dignitaries will be in attendance, and the disappointment is immediate as the first limo contains Lyle Alzado, Frances Crockett, and a dude who has some affiliation with the ownership of the Chicago Blackhawks. The star power doesn’t stop there, though, as the next limo opens up and out come NWA promoters Gary Juster and Elliot Murnick. Somehow, this qualifies as a pretty big deal.


Lyle Alzado
Man, they’re really pulling out the big guns tonight!


– Tony Schiavone and Bob Caudle are on commentary. No offense to Bob, but is there some reason he can’t be standing around the parking garage while JR handles the play-by-play?

– NWA United States Heavyweight Title: Brad Armstrong vs. Barry Windham © (w/James J. Dillon)

Barry Windham is now a heel and the newest member of the Four Horsemen after turning on Lex Luger during a World Tag Team Title defense against Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, who regained the belts in the process. Bolstering his new heel image, Barry started wearing a fingerless black leather glove and using the clawhold, a favorite signature move of his father Blackjack Mulligan. Returning to singles action, Windham captured the vacant US Title by defeating Nikita Koloff in the tournament final. I’m not sure how Brad Armstrong earned this title shot, although Tony notes that Armstrong has held tag team titles as a member of the Lightning Express with Tim Horner. Brad holds his own early on, frustrating the US Champion and causing him to regroup with JJ Dillon. Armstrong works a headlock and shows some impressive strength by catching Windham in mid-leapfrog and bodyslamming him, but Windham breaks out of a chinlock via back suplex and powerslams Armstrong for a two-count.

Windham locks on a figure-four and it’s VINTAGE Horsemen, as Dillon literally lends a hand from ringside for added leverage and Barry also uses the ropes, but referee Teddy Long finally sees it and makes him break the hold. Windham dumps Brad to the floor and drops his throat across the guardrail, but back in the ring, Brad moves when Barry attempts a flying elbowdrop off the top. The crowd is hot as Armstrong is on fire and unloads on Windham, earning a near-fall with a flying bodypress. Unfortunately, Brad goes to the well once too often and pays for it, as Windham rolls through another bodypress and grips Armstrong’s forehead with the clawhold in one fluid motion, holding him down for the three-count at 13:55 to retain the NWA United States Championship. Not a bad match, but it took a while to get going and Armstrong didn’t sell the leg after being in the figure-four for a few minutes. Windham was a natural heel and a perfect fit for the Horsemen.


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– Tony and Bob interview former football star Lyle Alzado at ringside to push the pro wrestling sitcom, Learning The Ropes, premiering in October. The show is about an underpaid high school vice-principal who moonlights as a hooded jobber named The Masked Maniac, featuring guest appearances from NWA stars such as Ric Flair, The Road Warriors, Ron Garvin, and Dick Murdoch. Fun Fact™: in the actual match footage of the Maniac, it’s Steve “Dr. Death” Williams under the mask. This was your typical ’80s sitcom chock-full of wacky hijinks and important life lessons, with the added hook that Lyle and his kids had to keep his profession a secret.


– Making their return to the NWA, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express come down to ringside for an interview and Robert Gibson & Ricky Morton both say pretty much the same thing, warning that no tag team titles are safe now that Rock ‘n’ Roll is back home. That might be more intimidating if Robert hadn’t tripped over his own two feet on the way out, pre-dating Shockmaster’s infamous entrance on Clash of the Champions XXIV by five years.


Rock and Roll Express
Kids, this is what happens when you rock ‘n’ roll all night and party every day.


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– Earlier Today, aboard a fancy yacht previously used by the likes of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Frank Sinatra, Lex Luger and champion Ric Flair sign the contract for their “Match of the Century” for the NWA World Title in Baltimore, MD, at the 1988 Great American Bash in July. Despite the presence of the Four Horsemen, this is one of the handful of contract signings in the history of professional wrestling that doesn’t result in a beatdown or confrontation of some sort, although the Nature Boy makes an off-handed remark about the Total Package having to make it to Baltimore for his title shot. Would it have been too obvious to attack Luger and throw him overboard?


Everything’s classier on a boat.


– Jim Ross is still standing outside as Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and Tully Blanchard emerge from a limousine and greet JJ Dillon and Barry Windham. The NWA World Heavyweight Champion cuts a promo hyping Tully & Arn’s Tag Team Title defense tonight and reiterates his prophetic comment that Lex Luger still has to make it to the Great American Bash.

– And wouldn’t you know it, after the introductions for the next match, we cut back outside as Lex Luger’s limo arrives and he is immediately besieged by the Four Horsemen. How dense is Luger for not picking up on those subtle hints that Flair and his boys were going to fuck his shit up? The Total Package receives a royal asskicking and ends up laid out and busted open. Parking lot beatdowns in pro wrestling never get old, and the Horsemen were the masters.


Lex Luger
Lex, you’re such an idiot.


– NWA United States Tag Team Title: The Sheepherders (Luke Williams & Butch Miller w/Rip Morgan) vs. The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers) ©

Since the last Clash, in which the Fantastics lost to the Midnight Express by disqualification, Fulton & Rogers gained revenge when they won the US Tag Team Title from the Express the following month. Only months away from beginning their WWF run as the Bushwhackers, the Sheepherders were ruthless and rugged heels who hated Americans and had Yankee turncoat Rip Morgan waving the flag of New Zealand in their corner. Schiavone delves into the history between these two teams as the Sheepherders start strong and isolate Fulton, but the match spills out to the floor and Morgan accidentally clotheslines Luke Williams. The Fantastics eventually clear the ring after some back-and-forth, but the Sheepherders take control again and work over Rogers until a double-team goes awry and Tommy makes the hot tag. Bobby punches away on Butch Miller, but he’s too close to Sheepherder territory and Luke gouges his eyes. The wild and woolly New Zealanders dish out some more punishment until Fulton takes them both down with a crossbody for a two-count. As soon as Luke & Butch kick out, Rogers jumps on top of them and referee Teddy Long registers another two-count. What the hell? Fulton is back on top for another two, and then Rogers gets his turn to cover both Sheepherders for two. Schiavone declares that we’ve never seen anything like that before (mostly because it defies all self-contained logic) as Miller finally rolls out and Fulton covers Williams for a more conventional two-count.


How is this even legal?


Rogers maintains control of Williams until he goes to run off the ropes and Miller pulls down the top rope. After taking a nasty spill to the floor, Rogers is tossed against the guardrail and whacked across the back with one of the title belts and a chair. Luke scores a near-fall and the Sheepherders continue to batter Tommy as he gets in a couple of hope spots, but they keep cutting him off before he can tag out. Williams baits Fulton into stepping into the ring in order to distract the ref, but their plan backfires when Rogers reverses an Irish whip and Luke bumps into a chair being held by Butch on the apron. Miller crashes to the floor and Rogers makes the hot tag, allowing Fulton to roll up Luke for the 1-2-3 at 19:29 to retain the NWA US Tag Team Championship. The Sheepherders attack the Fantastics after the bell and drive them out of the ring. Dare I say, the Fantastics work a better Rock ‘n’ Roll Express style than Ricky & Robert themselves, taking a beating like nobody’s business and building to the hot tags. This match shows what the Sheepherders were capable of before they were completely sanitized by the WWF. It’s odd that Vince McMahon looked at these two crazy brawlers and decided that they should be loveable babyfaces who just liked to eat sardines and lick each other’s faces, but obviously he knew what he was doing because I loved the Bushwhackers as a kid and they are still remembered fondly today.


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– Looking dapper in a white tuxedo complete with formal gloves, Steve Williams joins Schiavone on commentary and almost immediately stumbles over his words as he cuts a rambling promo in support of Lex Luger. Didn’t anybody pay attention to his promo on the last Clash? Is this a rib?


Who dressed this man?


– Still confined to the parking lot, Jim Ross has some updates for us: Lex Luger has been taken to the hospital, the Horsemen were heard bragging that their plan worked, and Jim plans on being in contact with the Total Package. That’s really not much of an update, JR.


– The Varsity Club (Mike Rotunda & Rick Steiner w/”Gamesmaster” Kevin Sullivan) vs. Ronnie Garvin & “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin (w/Precious)

In storyline terms, the Garvins were on-screen brothers, but Ron was actually Jim’s stepfather. I hope they never did any promos talking about “Mom” and growing up together. Wrestling is a strange business. Rick Steiner is the Florida Heavyweight Champion, a title bequeathed to him by Mike Rotunda when Rotunda won the NWA World Television Title. Kevin Sullivan is locked in a small cage at ringside, but unlike JJ Dillon at the last Clash, he is not suspended in the air. Adding to the intrigue, Precious has been entrusted with the key. It’s a wild four-way to start as the Garvins grab the Varsity Club in a pair of sleepers and they control the early portion of the match. The real story is Sullivan trying to lure Precious over by waving around some mysterious papers, while the Club isolates Ronnie and work him over in their corner.

Gorgeous Jimmy finally gets the tag and grounds Steiner with a front-facelock as I am in awe of how bad Dr. Death is on commentary, shouting nonsense like Hacksaw Duggan. Ronnie tags back in and sunset-flips Rotunda for a near-fall, but the Varsity Club resume their dominance as they punish Ron in and out of the ring. Ronnie headbutts Steiner and tags Jimmy, who rolls up the Dog-Faced Gremlin for the pin at 13:11. Meanwhile, Precious has decided to release Sullivan from the cage and he starts choking her. Thankfully, this inspires Steve Williams to abandon his commentary post and make the save, but for some reason Precious is not very appreciative and she shoves Gorgeous Jimmy as well before walking out alone. Maybe she’s sick of her husband being such a huge pussy. Not much of a match, since it was designed as a backdrop for the ambiguous Sullivan/Precious angle to build to the “Tower of Doom” match at the Great American Bash.

– Tony and Bob discuss the Road Warriors/Powers of Pain feud and announce a Skywalker scaffold match scheduled for the Bash, which was such a stupid idea that Barbarian & Warlord left the NWA before it could happen. Using a helpful diagram, they also explain the stacked triple-cage concept for the Tower of Doom, which was a match originally held in World Class Championship Wrestling.


See, the rules are simple!


But just in case you thought the NWA stole the idea, Tony and Bob display an ancient parchment, allegedly provided by Kevin Sullivan, with a depiction of the “original” Tower of Doom.


Seems legit to me.


– “Latin Sensation” Al Perez (w/”Playboy” Gary Hart) vs. “Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff

This is billed as a Special International Challenge Match, although Al Perez is from Miami so I’m not sure how it’s much different from any other match Nikita Koloff has with an American. The commentators do a good job of noting the bad blood between the two participants and putting over Perez as a wrestling machine. The bout goes back-and-forth with Nikita displaying his superior size and strength, but Perez dumps him to the floor and Gary Hart slams Koloff’s face on a table. Perez rams Koloff’s back against the apron and adds to the punishment with a double-axhandle off the apron and a bodyslam on the concrete floor. Perez tries to suplex Koloff back into the ring, but the Russian Nightmare lands on top for a near-fall. The Latin Sensation targets the lower back with knees and a poor-man’s camel clutch, but Nikita powers out by lifting Al up on his shoulders in an electric chair slam. Using sound wrestling psychology, Perez goes to the back again, but Koloff takes the advantage and knocks Perez out of the ring. Gary Hart hops up on the apron to distract Koloff as Larry Zbyszko runs in and blindsides him for the disqualification at 11:51. Nikita manages to clothesline Larry, but the 3-on-1 odds are overwhelming and Hart, Zbyszko, and Perez lay Koloff out with a chain. The work here was solid, but Perez was too bland to be a heel and Koloff had become stale as a babyface. If the roles were reversed, this might have been something cool.


– NWA World Tag Team Title: “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard © (w/James J. Dillon) vs. Sting & “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your main event! Schiavone admits that Sting & Dusty Rhodes don’t team up often, but says they are two of the NWA’s premier athletes, explaining why they would receive a title shot. Early on, Arn Anderson accidentally clotheslines the ringpost during a scuffle at ringside and Sting works the arm, but Arn makes the tag and Sting & Dusty unload on Tully Blanchard. Rhodes applies the figure-four on Blanchard, but Anderson does something dastardly to free his partner while JJ Dillon distracts referee Teddy Long. The Horsemen dominate the American Dream, but Dusty hits a flying lariat off the ropes and even pulls out a dropkick (he must be feeling motivated) before making the hot tag. Sting squashes Tully with the Stinger Splash and goes for the Scorpion Deathlock, but he foolishly turns his attention to Arn, allowing Tully to knock the Stinger out of the ring. The Enforcer drops Sting’s ribs on the guardrail and scores a two-count after a sharp elbow across the back of the head, but Sting blocks a pump splash with a pair of knees to the gut. Both men crawl toward their respective corners, but Arn makes it first and Tully stops Sting from tagging out. As usual, the Horsemen are tag team precision personified as they execute a spot that sees Sting block a suplex from Anderson, so Blanchard dives over his own partner for a sunset flip on Sting. However, Sting won’t go down so Arn clotheslines him and Tully gets a near-fall.

Tully dumps Sting out and Arn drills him with a DDT on the floor, but the Stinger kicks out at one when Arn tries to pin him back in the ring. Was that the NWA’s way of proving that their wrestlers are tougher? In the WWF, a whole feud was based around Jake Roberts nearly killing Ricky Steamboat with a DDT on the floor, but here it’s basically a transition move. Sting hotshots Tully to escape the Horsemen’s wrath and makes the hot tag to a fresh Dusty, who unleashes elbows on Anderson, Blanchard, and Dillon. The big elbowdrop on Arn only gets a one-count as Tully breaks the pin and all four men are in the ring. Sting tosses the ref aside and brawls with Blanchard at ringside while Rhodes and Anderson slug it out in the squared circle. Dusty shoves the ref away and grabs Arn, but Barry Windham runs down in a suit and tie and leaps off the top turnbuckle onto the American Dream. Teddy Long has finally seen enough and calls for the bell at 10:58, although no result is announced. Ric Flair also runs in to stomp Sting while Windham locks in the clawhold on Rhodes, busting the Dream’s forehead wide open with the sheer strength of his gloved hand. A hot main event furthering the Four Horsemen’s issues with both Dusty and Sting, putting Windham and his clawhold over strong at the end.


Dusty Rhodes
Now THAT’S a clawhold.


– Tony Schiavone, Jim Ross, and Bob Caudle wrap things up after a final commercial break. Jim still plans on going to the hospital and promises an update on Lex Luger this Saturday night at 6:05 on the Superstation, while Tony urges us to stay tuned for the Atlanta Braves game. Ahh, good ol’ TBS.


The Last Word: Although it wasn’t as strong a show as the first Clash of the Champions, Miami Mayhem was a good effort and succeeded at pushing the storyline between Ric Flair and Lex Luger toward their “Match of the Century” at the Great American Bash. The beginning of the show was slow with only one match and a lot of talking, but it picked up with the excellent Fantastics/Sheepherders collision and the World Tag Team Title showdown was a fun match-up. From the limousines arriving to the end-of-show beatdown, the second Clash felt like a precursor to the nWo-dominated editions of Nitro in the mid ’90s: a live two-hour show in primetime, built mainly around the exploits of the top heel faction, both in and out of the ring. Clash II drew another impressive TV rating, this time on a Wednesday night and without the hook that Sting/Flair provided in March, ensuring that we would see many more Clashes to come.