I’d like to introduce Joel Geraghty to Retro Ramblings with his Chrononaut Chronicles, where he goes back in time and reviews old wrestling shows! I’ve been a fan of his work for a while, and I’m sure you’re going to be as well. He’ll be dropping his great reviews on us on a regular basis, so take a minute and help me welcome to the family.
Along with his actual reviews, I’ll be popping into them as well with little comments of my own personal memories of what he is reviewing to add another level of nostalgia. You’ll see my comments in bold wherever I drop them in. With that said, I proudly present to you the first edition of The Chrononaut Chronicles here on Retro Ramblings, as Joel takes us back to the very first Clash of the Champions show from 1988…..
The Chrononaut Chronicles: NWA Clash of the Champions – Sunday, March 27, 1988
– The Clash of the Champions was the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions’ answer to Saturday Night’s Main Event and came as a result of the intense promotional war with Vince McMahon and the WWF. Riding high on the success of WrestleMania, McMahon had added another PPV event in 1987 entitled Survivor Series and scheduled it on the same night as Starrcade, pressuring cable companies to drop the NWA’s signature supercard. Not satisfied with that major victory, in January of ’88 the WWF presented the first televised Royal Rumble for free on the USA Network opposite the NWA’s Bunkhouse Stampede PPV. In response, the Clash of the Champions was conceived as a special TV event broadcast live on TBS the same night as WrestleMania IV, featuring PPV caliber match-ups.
This was a huge deal and proved so successful that the Clash became a Superstation staple, spawning thirty-four more broadcasts over the following nine years. By 1997, the introduction of weekly two-hour shows such as Nitro and Thunder rendered the Clash obsolete. In this series, I will take a look at each Clash in chronological order. Let’s go all the way back to the very first Clash of the Champions as it aired opposite the WrestleMania IV tournament for the WWF Heavyweight Championship. Years before the Monday Night Wars, it was WrestleMania vs. Clash of the Champions live and head-to-head!
– LIVE from Greensboro, North Carolina! Bob Caudle and Tony Schiavone welcome us to the Clash live on the Superstation, but it’s actually Tony and Jim Ross who handle commentary at ringside.
– NWA World Television Title – Amateur Rules: “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin (w/Precious) vs. Mike Rotunda © (w/”Gamesmaster” Kevin Sullivan)
I never understood what kind of connection the occult-minded Gamesmaster had with a group of standout collegiate athletes like the Varsity Club. Sullivan as a brutal taskmaster of a coach would be logical, but he was still wearing black robes and being billed from Singapore. In accordance with the stipulations of the match, three five-minute rounds are scheduled with a one-count sufficient for a pinfall, so more emphasis is placed on Rotunda and Garvin staying off their backs. The first round is pretty even, ending with Rotunda using his considerable amateur skills as he struggles and fails to pin Garvin’s shoulders to the mat. Rotunda sneaks in a quick cheapshot during the 30-second rest period and assumes control in the second round, but Gorgeous Jimmy mounts a comeback and hooks up the champ for the brainbuster.
Before he can execute the maneuver, Sullivan and Precious get into an altercation on the apron and Garvin gets distracted. Making Syracuse proud, Rotunda rolls Garvin up for the one-count to retain the NWA World Television Championship at 1:10 of the second round. Afterward, Garvin brainbusters Rotunda and punches Sullivan, but another Varsity Club member strikes in the form of Rick Steiner. Precious swiftly makes the save and completely emasculates her husband by whacking Steiner with a 2×4 and garrotting Sullivan with a coat hanger. Seriously. She strangles the Gamesmaster until Garvin drags Precious off of him and out of the ring. I knew Precious was spunky, but damn girl.