PTBN’s Excellent WWE Network Adventure: Clash Of The Champions IX

As many of you are aware, WWE Network is pretty packed with all sorts of content. And as you may also know, we here at Place to Be Nation love long term, in depth projects. So, as part of this initiative, members of the PTBN Staff are choosing programs at random and after watching each program, they will share their thoughts, notes and recommendations with our readers. So, settle in and enjoy this epic ride through wrestling history!

Clash Of The Champions IX

Run Time: 113 Minutes

Why Calum Why???: Because it’s Ric Flair and Terry Funk killing one another!!!!!

Best Segment

Dignity restored.

Aaron George:  I think it has to be the Lex Luger/Sting confrontation following the very solid Luger/Pillman matchup. Both guys had such great energy and by the time Sting ripped off his handsome dress shirt I was ready to oil up and jump in there with them. Sting slapping people and declaring where they are situated would become a tired trope by the end of the 90s, but here it’s apropos against a winded crimson Luger.

Brian Bayless: The Luger and Sting confrontation after the U.S. Title match was awesome. Sting ran out after Luger attacked Pillman. Luger telling Sting its about time he had the guts to show up while Sting telling Luger they were friends and he overlooked the fact Luger was an “arrogant snothead” before slapping him across the face drew a ton of heat.

Jacob Williams: I’m going with post match brawl after Steiners v. Skyscapers. The energy was fantastic, and the crowd was going absolutely insane when the Road Warriors came to make the save.

Calum McDougall: The post-match chaos that after the main event was superb. I had the similar brawl after the Steiners/Skyscrapers match penciled in but this one takes it purely on star power. Five legends of the game and The Dragon Master involved! Excellent way to build up future events, and it makes me want to look into the following months Starrcade so it’s still doing its job almost 30 years later.

Dave Hall:  Ric Flair’s promo before the main event. Apart from the Flair vs Funk match, the next best segment was probably Flair’s interview before it. It was a classic Flair promo, with passion and enticement. It hyped the match but also reminded everyone why Flair wanted to get his revenge on Luger. And it was the only interview segment that did not have a stumble or a muffed line.

Best Match

A RARE figure four win in its natural habitat

Aaron George: In a much tighter race than I thought it’s Ric Flair and Terry Funk’s I Quit match. There was something missing here for me. Maybe it was the timing. Perhaps the lack of sledgehammers? The sad part is that we’ve been conditioned by fifteen years of John Cena I Quit matches in which we’ve seen him take more punishment than Christ; so when we’re faced with great leg selling and Terry Funk quitting after less than a minute in the figure four our brain just can’t process. Our frontal lobe is confused. It fights with us, claiming, “I saw Shawn Michaels last for nearly two minutes in an Olympian’s ankle lock. I saw Miz and Alex Riley commit multiple murders on John Cena and he was jumping around smiling right after.” It was a refreshingly simple match, but I wanted more hate.

Brian Bayless: Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk. The “I Quit” stipulation is a classic that all fans should see. It might also be one of Funk’s best performances ever. His bumping and intensity were on point, and Funk himself was pissed that he had to quit because it was designed by Jim Herd to retire him and make Funk a color commentator.

Jacob Williams: This goes to Flair v. Funk, though on many other shows Luger v. Pillman would have easily taken the honor. But the “I Quit” match was just incredible. Both guys sold the intensity of the match, and everything had a gritty realism. Also, they were laying in some massive shots. I was surprised there wasn’t more blood or carnage, but looking back at the whole match, they didn’t necessarily need it. There were so many great moments – Funk trying to revive himself with punches, Gary Hart losing his mind, the crazed look in Flair’s eyes. I had never seen this match before. It lives up to the hype.

Calum McDougall: There’s only one winner here – it has to be Steve Williams vs. Super Destroyer. Of course, I’m only joking but there is only one winner and its Flair vs. Funk. I loved the little bits of attention to detail with things like Funk slowly backing Flair up to make sure there was a little protection on the piledriver, or when Funk gives Flair the option to quit before he piledrives him again, harkening back to the original attack. This could still be used as the template for the blow off to a blood feud in 2018 as there was not a drop of blood in sight, not massively dangerous high spots but it still gave the impression of two men who absolutely hated each other.

Dave Hall: Ric Flair vs Terry Funk. This match was phenomenal. These two men put it all on the line, and produced a very entertaining match that flew by. The psychology of the match was great. Funk went after the neck of Flair, even saying into the microphone “Remember your neck? Quit now”. The piledriver on the concrete floor was a real high point of the match. It is great to look back at a time when that was a unique moment. Then Flair fights back and targets the leg, resulting in the figure four spot, and Funk crying out, “My leg is breaking… Yes I quit”. Must see match.

Most Cringeworthy Moment

Hodor.

Aaron George:  BADSTREET ATLANTA GA! This would be enough on its own. However watching Fat Shawn Michaels and Jimmy Garvin stand aimlessly at the top of the ramp while they waited for their music to reach the chorus made me bury my head in my hands faster than my child shitting up a McDonald’s. Then they waited at the bottom for fireworks. Good lord guys was there not a walk through? No rehearsal dinner/feast/gorging? When I think BADSTREET the last thing I want swirling through my mind is sloppy choreography.

Brian Bayless: Watching Rick Steiner act mentally challenged during the “Louisville Slugger” segment while telling us how his brother Scott came up with the “Frankensteiner” name did not get over.

Jacob Williams: Jim Ross constantly calling Muta and Dragonmaster “THE JAPANESE!” after the main event.

Calum McDougall: I didn’t think that there was that much that was cringe worthy, so I think along the same lines as last time and go with the thing you’d get away with the least in 2018 and that’s probably Jim Ross calling Muta and Co. “The Japanese” with vintage JR disdain.

Dave Hall: Rick Steiner’s interview and then his entrance. I really struggled with Rick Steiner’s interview and entrance for his match. I had forgotten how far they had taken the “friendly goof” character of Rick Steiner, and this just pushed it to the extreme. His interview seemed forced, he interrupted Scott, then he came to the ring giving away popcorn which looked ridiculous. I think if his entrance had a heel color man making fun of Rick Steiner, it may have made the segment less cringe-worthy, but unfortunately we had commentary silence as Rick looked like a fool.

Funniest Line/Moment

“Sweet Caroline…”

Aaron George: I guess I had never really hear or paid attention to what Gary Hart sounded like. Not what I was expecting.

Brian Bayless: After a vignette where Woman, wearing a dress that greatly enhanced her cleavage, said her team of Doom will destroy the Steiner Brothers, we heard Gordon Solie quietly say in a deadpan voice, “She’s an evil person but she sure is pretty.”

Jacob Williams: “DON’T EMBARASS TEXAS!” – Gary Hart

Calum McDougall: “Troy, NY – the place where Mike Tyson got his last two parking tickets!” – JR doing his best to sell the viewers on the host city.

Dave Hall: Sadly the night was filled with the analytical style of Jim Ross and Gordon Solie so there was pretty well no good or funny lines all night. However during the Midnight Express vs Dynamic Dudes match, Solie came out with a great line that I had to rewind and listen to again. As the action went to the floor, Ross commented how Jim Cornette had remained in his seat in the neutral corner, and Solie said, in his dry manner, “Well he should stay away. I don’t mind having a Coors Light with the man, but I sure don’t need him in our laps at our desk”. The other funny moment for me was when Lex Luger was doing his entrance. He stood at the top of the stairs and did his posing routine. The problem is, for probably the first time ever in his career Luger had this stupid looking tunic-type robe on, and you could not see his arms or pecs when he posed.

Highlights

So much hair…

Aaron George: The I Quit match was solid, but I was really surprised with the Luger/Pillman affair. The more I watch of young Luger the more respect I gain for the man. Also, the tights. Those red tights looked freaking swank out there. I LOVED the crazed lightning-filled opening graphics. Always happy to see Sid. If you have ever seen The Simpsons where Hans Moleman dresses up like Bart, you have seen EXACTLY what Johnny Ace looks like to me.

Brian Bayless: The last two matches of the show were tremendous and both had heated post-match angles. Flair vs. Funk is one of the best matches of the decade. And the Midnight Express reuniting with Cornette was another great moment.

Jacob Williams: I enjoyed the overall pacing of the show. The top stuff got the most time, while the lackluster was pretty limited. The final two matches were incredible. The crowd was mostly hot the entire night, especially considering they aren’t in what is traditionally considered a NWA hotbed. Tons of great Gordon Solie quotes. The show did a great job of building feuds for Starrcade, even in the matches that were lacking great in-ring work.

Calum McDougall: There was a good number of highlights in this one for me. The main one is that that crowd were hot for the whole show which I feel really added to the event. The ending to the Midnight Express-Dynamic Dudes match was a good one, amplified by the crowd going nuts. I was pleasantly surprised at Dr Death being on the show as I didn’t think he showed up in WCW until 1992, and Woman as a package was a highlight – Hache Mache! Lastly, I thought that Pillman vs. Luger was a very good match, and a lot better than I’d ever thought it would be – Brian Pillman was so good, and Luger carried his end of the bargain too.

Dave Hall:  I was surprised with how few highlights I actually found on this card. Flair vs Funk was outstanding, as mentioned before. The post-match brawl involving Great Muta, Dragon Master, Sting and Luger was also well done, and really made Luger look like a bad-ass. Speaking of Luger, his match against Brian Pillman was also very good, with Pillman really shining in his first crack at a singles title. Luger worked hard in that match, and helped make Pillman look like a genuine challenger. His post-match chair attack was also good. The only other highlight for me was Jim Cornette’s swerve on the Dynamic Dudes. The reaction of the crowd when he hit Shane Douglas with the tennis racket was one of the loudest reactions of the show.

Lowlights

Still have the great fashion sense.

Aaron George: How many shit finishes do we need on one two hour show? Every second match was a DQ. Enough! Can we talk about the wardrobe? Number one the Freebirds are on the wrong side of the great ZUBAZ debate. It’s not quiiiite ZUBAZ, but we know Michael. It’s ZUBAZ! Paul Ellering’s suit is about three sizes too big and has the weirdest pockets I have ever seen. What on Earth is Gary Hart wearing?  It’s like someone broke into Frazier Crane’s house, had their way with Lilith, and made off with his sweaters. Dynamic Dudes. Super Destroyer obviously gives about zero fucks about his wardrobe or his severe hamburger addiction. I get Norman’s a lunatic but you are on National Television, there’s not ONE proper Santa suit in ALL of the NWA? Someone’s jacked up Uncle doesn’t own a mall or something. It’s off season! There are children watching you monsters! And Rick Steiner… Good lord what is wrong with this guy? Curly hair does NOT go with the wrestling helmet and the mentally handicapped should probably not be fighting men called the Skyscrapers. Speaking of which: finally something exciting happens. We get a pier six brawl with four huge, and over teams. What do we do nearly immediately? Cut to a commercial of course. The entrance seemed like a good idea but whoever did the lighting was more concerned with getting a good glare off Bill Apter’s head than actually seeing any of the wrestlers.

Brian Bayless: Can’t say that the crowd was wrong when they chanted “Freebirds Suck.” The Freebirds were out of shape, had terrible attire, and wrestled like crap. Plus, the DQ finish was really lame.

Jacob Williams: I guess the Steiners are suppose to be lovable meathead goofs, but every time they try to speak it’s like the synapses are misfiring. The Freebirds were a little sad to watch.

Calum McDougall: The booking of the Freebirds was more of a head scratcher than a lowlight, but it annoyed me, perhaps more than it should. Firstly, you have your World Tag Team Champions come out with no belts, talking about their big defense against the Steiners the following Saturday, then they proceed to get dominated, win by a cheap DQ and continue to be dismantled after the match. All the while still promoting how they will defend the titles on Saturday Night??? – Very strange. To paraphrase Scott on the mothership, they got the formatics of the show wrong for me. Four words describe the first hour of the show – so many tag matches!

Dave Hall: The first four matches of the night all seemed rushed. Each match would just get started, and then we rushed to the finish. It did not allow for any momentum in the matches. The Super Destroyer looked horrible against Steve Williams, and took some really bad bumps. The real lowlight for me was Dan Spivey. He was awful in the Skyscrapers match against the Steiners. He bombed about three straight moves, including missing a dropkick by so much that even the commentators could not overlook it. It really felt like they overbooked the card and then realized they did not have any time to tell any stories. The sound quality of the in-ring microphones was really bad as well, and made it hard to hear what Funk said before the main event, or the verbal sparring between Luger and Sting.

Wild Card BABY!!!

“I’m your man, baby!”

Was There Elevation? Jim Ross told us to “Watch this elevation,” when Dr. Death powerslammed Super Destroyer. Was there elevation? There was not. – AG

Most 1989: The title graphic with the checkered graphic, along with the little electronic tune just completely screamed “Transitioning from the 80s to the 90s”. It was very reminiscent of Sega Genesis. Also, it was in the show about 400 times. – JW

Best Tidbit: Jim Cornette said he was the one who came up with the finish of the Dynamic Dudes vs. Midnight Express match but underestimated how much the fans hated the Dynamic Dudes and how the fans sympathized with the Midnights because they were booked terribly for most of the year. – BB

Best Knockoff Theme: 100% is Road Warrior’s (NOT) Iron Man. They fly close to the sun with the “WE. ARE. IRON MEN!” start and the proceed to just have Iron Man with every third note changed. Outstanding work from whoever composed this one. – CM

Most WCW Moment: The Freebirds entering the ring heralded as World Tag Team Champions, but without their belts as they had already lost them to The Steiners. A match that Jim Ross told us would be airing later that week. –DH

What Must Their Mother Think? Could Mrs. Laurinaitis have two more different sons than Animal and Johnny Ace? One is a main event level tag guy with a god damn spider painted on his face. The other is a six foot four guy decked out in neon and performing skateboard moves my six year old can do. There is no way that her husband ever trusted her again after Marty Funkhauser came out of her (presumably into the sink). – AG

Overzealous Fan Award: Props to the guy who was trying to wrestle the chair away from Luger during the post main event chaos. – JW

Least Colourful Colour: Gordon Solie might be one of the best play-by-play announcers in the history of the sport, but his colour commentary is as dull as dishwater.

Final Thoughts

“Four out of five, ain’t bad!”

Aaron George: Not feeling this one. It was laborious to get through and I was hoping for a KILLER main event, but was given a good one. It was a nice snapshot of the NWA during this period but the match quality, and booking was a real turn off.  I want more from two legends. Those ugly ass grey tights don’t cut it Terry. RATING: 4/10

Brian Bayless: The best stuff (last two matches) got the most time and the Midnight Express reuniting with Cornette was awesome as that is when they are at their best. There was some crap at the beginning but it was kept to a minimum and they did showcase newer acts like Doom. RATING: 7.5/10

Jacob Williams:  Maybe being from the South subconsciously predisposes me to like the NWA, but I loved this show. Everything wasn’t exactly great, but the big matches delivered. It felt like most matches were building and feud or angle, which got me more invested. Finally, I found myself invested throughout the entire show, as even the non-match segments were fun. All I would ask for is maybe a better match at the beginning of the show, but that’s a minor complaint.  RATING: 9/10

Calum McDougall: This show was fantastic. When you think of Clash IX its easy to fall into the trap of it being a one match show, I know I did before watching it, but each match delivered in my view. 4 out of the first 5 matches being tag matches did feel a bit much, but none of those matches were bad. At no point in this show was I bored and wanting it to hurry up and end, and of course, it has a legendary match as the main event. Wonderful stuff and I’d recommend it to anyone. RATING:8/10

Dave Hall: The last two matches were magnificent, but everything before them was a real let down.  I was hyped for this card as I love 1989 WCW and remember it fondly.  Sadly the first four matches did not meet my expectations.  Thankfully the last two matches lifted the standard, with the Flair vs Funk match being a true classic. RATING: 6/10

And we are out! Where will the Network Adventure travel to? Which Coliseum will be conquered next? Which of these assholes will quit the project in an indignant rage??? Find out in TWO WEEKS!

Author: Place to Be Nation Staff

Place to Be Nation Staff pieces feature any number of our contributors who are multifaceted when it comes to Pop Culture expertise.