This week Throwback Thursday takes a look at the post-Clash of the Champions XXIV (Throwback here) edition of WCW Saturday Night, as seen on the WWE Network and Peacock, that aired 29 years ago this month!
By late August 1993, with the wrestling industry still in one of its worst recessions in history, the relationship between World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) was reaching a breaking point. Since the sale of Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) to Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) in November 1988, WCW needed the NWA as much as the NWA needed WCW. For WCW the affiliation with the NWA gave the new TBS-owned venture much-needed credibility and helped maintain a level consistency for longtime fans who, despite a myriad of changes to the on-screen product, could be reassured that the history, lineage, and tradition of the NWA they had grown to love under JCP would remain intact with TBS. But as WCW grew and looked to become a national player against the increasingly beleaguered World Wrestling Federation (WWF), WCW left the NWA in late 1991. Gary Juster, a longtime promoter and member of the NWA, became WCW’s conduit to the Alliance, ensuring that WCW could still feature the NWA World title (and eventual World Tag Team titles) on their broadcasts. For the NWA, however, the relationship with WCW was bit more serious. In less than twenty years the NWA, once the largest sanctioning body in professional wrestling, had shrunk from over 30 territories to less than five functioning, dues paying territories. On April 30, 1992, longtime promoter Don Owen, beloved promoter of Pacific Northwest Wrestling out of Portland, Oregon, finally closed shop, selling what remained to Sandy Barr. The departure of Don Owen, the last of the old time promoters, marked an end of an era for the NWA. Sixteen months later, in August 1993, WCW was one of only three viable NWA affiliates. The late Dennis Coralluzzo was running NWA New Jersey, without television, while Jim Crockett, Jr., (free from his non-compete clause with TBS) was working to get his new NWA promotion, the World Wrestling Network (WWN), off the ground with the help of Paul Heyman and Tod Gordon. Gordon, founder of Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW), and Paul Heyman were working with Crockett to book and tape the new WWN promotion, a promotion that was to be filmed in high definition and broadcast over the internet. (Yes, in 1993.) In the summer of 1993, promoters Coralluzzo, Howard Brody, and Steve Rickard (who promoted All Star Pro-Wrestling in New Zealand), agreed to a joint-presidency of the NWA. As Tod Gordon’s ECW prepared to join the cartel, the only full member with weekly TV, the NWA sought to reclaim its autonomy from WCW, who had been doing as they wished with the NWA World Heavyweight and World Tag Team titles as the NWA floundered. While WCW’s inability to work with fellow NWA promoters was a major bone of contention, it was WCW preparing to book Rick Rude as NWA World Champion behind the cartel’s back, a move the NWA did not approve of, that was the final straw. As this edition of Saturday Night went “live” the drama between WCW and the NWA was thickening. The NWA was refusing to sign-off on Rude winning the NWA World title, a move WCW was all but boxed into seeing as they had booked weeks of TV in the spring with Rude as the new NWA kingpin (the infamous “Orlando Tapings”). As Fall Brawl ’93 drew closer and the advertised NWA World title match between Rude and NWA World Champion Ric Flair loomed, negotiations regarding some kind of settlement dragged on, including one option that would have seen Rude win the NWA World title only to drop it to an NWA approved wrestler at a future NWA event. WCW’s new Executive Producer, Eric Bischoff, wasn’t worried about losing the NWA and wasn’t interested in appeasing the cartel, realizing the NWA needed WCW far more that WCW needed the cartel. For WCW to grow, Bischoff knew, the promotion had to cast off regional shackles and push to create a new, national identity. As WCW reduced their live events, consolidated TV tapings, and cut “geographically undesirable talent”, the NWA found itself fighting a losing battle for survival. While much of WCW’s business figures were either stagnant or moving in the wrong direction, TV ratings for their flagship Saturday Night program were solid, routinely matching (and sometimes exceeding) national numbers for the WWF’s Monday Night RAW. Though wrestling was in the midst of a serious slump, one largely brought on by the actions of those on top, there were glimmers of hope for World Championship Wrestling as the autumn of 1993 drew closer.
The big story on WCW TV as this edition of Saturday Night aired was the build for the upcoming Fall Brawl ’93 pay-per-view event. WCW World Champion Big Van Vader’s renewed feud with Cactus Jack, the looming showdown between Ric Rude and NWA World Champion Ric Flair, and the Four Horsemen regaining the World Tag Team titles were all top stories heading into this edition of Saturday Night. Outside of the ring the top song in the country the week this edition of WCW Saturday Night aired was UB40’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” from the film Sliver. The soundtrack album for the classic romantic-comedy Sleepless in Seattle was the top-selling album in the nation. On television ABC’s Home Improvement was the top show on television while the classic thriller The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, was the top film in cinemas.
Now let’s fire up the WWE Network on Peacock, hit ‘play’, and see how well this post-COTC XXIV edition of WCW Saturday Night holds up in 2022!
Edits aren’t an issue with this edition of WCW Saturday Night on the WWE Network on Peacock. Live event and merchandise promos, as well as any and all sweepstakes promos, have been removed. Context, meanwhile, is solid. Despite the bulk WCW TV of the era not currently being uploaded to the WWE Network and Peacock, including WCW Pro, WCW Main Event, and the syndicated WCW Worldwide, context is solid. Nearly every edition of WCW Saturday Night, dating back to the relaunch of the Saturday night series on April 4, 1992, as well as all prior Clash of the Champions events and all past WCW pay-per-views are available for you to enjoy right now on the WWE Network and Peacock.
WCW Saturday Night #73 (WATCH)
Date: August 21, 1993 (TAPED: August 2, 1993) – Location: Center Stage Theater, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance: 750 – TV Rating: 3.4 (>2.1 million homes)
Commentators: Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura – Interviews: Tony Schiavone & Jesse Ventura
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
NWA World Heavyweight Champion: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (July 18, 1993, WCW Beach Blast ’93, from Barry Windham)
NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Four Horsemen (“The Enforcer” Arn Anderson & “Pretty” Paul Roma) (August 18, 1993, WCW Clash of the Champions XXIV, from The Hollywood Blondes (“Stunning” Steve Austin & “Flyin’” Brian Pillman); Pillman was unable to compete due to a leg injury and “Lord” Steven Regal took Pillman’s place in the match; the NWA and WCW World Tag Team titles were, despite not officially being unified, defended as one in the wake of the inaugural NWA World Tag Team title tournament that concluded at Great American Bash ’92 on July 12, 1992, where the then-WCW World Tag Team Champions the Miracle Violence Connection (“Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy) defeated “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham in the finals to win the newly-formed NWA World Tag Team Championship)
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Big Van Vader (March 17, 1993, Dublin, Ireland, from Sting)
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: VACANT (May 29, 1993, WCW Saturday Night; Greg Gagne, member of the WCW Board of Directors, announced that the U.S. Heavyweight title was declared vacant following a match between then-U.S. Heavyweight Champion “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes and “Ravishing” Rick Rude on the May 15, 1993 edition of WCW Worldwide (taped April 20, 1993) in which Rude, after original referee Nick Patrick was knocked from the ring, pinned Rhodes with a back suplex counted by replacement referee Randy Anderson; Anderson saw Rude lift a shoulder prior to the three-count as Patrick witnessed Rhodes lifting his own shoulder prior to the three-count; despite the confusion, and replays that showed both Rude and Rhodes lifting a shoulder at the same time, Rude was awarded the title at the time)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Four Horsemen (“The Enforcer” Arn Anderson & “Pretty” Paul Roma) (August 18, 1993, WCW Clash of the Champions XXIV, from The Hollywood Blondes (“Stunning” Steve Austin & “Flyin’” Brian Pillman); Pillman was unable to compete due to a leg injury and “Lord” Steven Regal took Pillman’s place in the match; the NWA and WCW World Tag Team titles were, despite not officially being unified, defended as one in the wake of the inaugural NWA World Tag Team title tournament that concluded at Great American Bash ’92 on July 12, 1992 where the then-WCW World Tag Team Champions the Miracle Violence Connection (“Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy) defeated “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham in the finals og the tournament to win the newly-formed NWA World Tag Team Championship)
WCW World Television Champion: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (August 18, 1993, WCW Clash of the Champions XXIV, from “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff)
This week’s edition of WCW Saturday Night opens with a vignette detailing the history and build for this week’s main event NWA World Heavyweight title match between Sting and World Champion Ric Flair. We see a clip of Ric Flair promising to give Sting a shot at the NWA World title if Sting were to be Flair’s partner at Clash of the Champions XXIV to take on the Colossal Kongs (Awesome & King). We then see a few moments of Flair & Sting’s victory of the Kongs before we head to the standard Saturday Night open of the era.
We then head inside Center Stage Theater in Atlanta, Georgia where Tony Schiavone, off-camera, welcomes us to the show. Tony Chats with Jesse “The Body” about the show to come as we head straight to the ring where Col. Rob Parker is set to introduce his trio for the opening six-man tag team contest.
—“Six-Man Tag Team Match” (1:04)
Harlem Heat (Kane & Kole) & Sid Vicious w/Col. Rob Parker vs. 2 Cold Scorpio, Marcus Alexander Bagwell, & Ron Simmons
Harlem Heat had debuted on WCW TV on the August 14, 1993 edition of WCW Worldwide, as part of Col. Parker’s stable. For those wondering, Harlem Heat were about a year away from changing their names to Stevie Ray (Kane) and Booker T (Kole), which would happen in late September 1994 as the duo slowly introduced Sister Sherri (Sherri Martel) as their manager. This is a solid, fast-paced opener. Despite Harlem Heat’s best efforts the babyfaces control the action to start. Before long the match breaks down with the faces driving Parker’s heel trio to the floor. Sid enters the match but Ron Simmons gets the better of the bigger man. Scorpio tags in and takes the fight to Sid before Sid, with the help of Kane and Col. Parker, manages to guillotine Scorpio on the top rope, turning the tide in a flash. The heels take the fight to a game Scorpio until a worn out Scorpio lands a reverse crossbody on Kole for a near-fall. Moments later Scorpio evades a Kole elbow drop and makes the hot tag to Bagwell, who battles Kole until Sid makes a blind tag. Bagwell traps an entering Kane in a sleeper hold as Simmons is tossed to the floor by Sid. The timing gets a bit flubbed here as Kole and Scorpio, who are supposed to take each other out of the match, seem to miss their cues, a problem we’ll see plenty of in the main event still yet to come. Soon enough, as Kole and Scorpio make their way to the floor, Sid hits Bagwell in the back of the head with a big boot before powerbombing Bagwell for the pinfall at 10:20.
WINNERS are Harlem Heat (Kane & Kole) & Sid Vicious w/Col. Rob Parker (Pin, 10:20)
After the match we see a replay of the action as Sid mugs for the camera. Tony hypes the card to come before we head to our first Peacock ad-break.
—Singles Match (14:05)
The Equalizer vs. Ron Preston
Old school squash here. The Equalizer is the future Dave “Evad” Sullivan. Equalizer works over Preston’s head and neck before cinching in a swinging full nelson for the submission win at 2:16.
WINNER is The Equalizer (Pin, 2:16)
Following the match, Equalizer holds on to the full nelson and mugs for the camera before we see a replay of the action and head to our next Peacock ad-break. Coming out of the break we get the “Fall Brawl ’93: WarGames Report” with Chris Cruise. Cruise announces the main event “WarGames: The Match Beyond” pitting the team of Sting, Davey Boy Smith, The Shockmaster, & “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes against the team of Sid Vicious, Kane, Kole, & WCW World Heavyweight Champion Big Van Vader. After going over the rules for the match we see a highlight package of the last two “WarGames” on WCW PPV. Cruise hypes the pay-per-view and closes out the segment and we head straight to the ring for the next match.
—Singles Match (20:45)
Charlie Norris vs. Fury
Charlie Norris had taped matches for October and November editions of WCW Worldwide on July 9 & 10, 1993 before taping this TV debut match in August. Norris looks good to start, grounding Fury and working armbars. A thumb to the eye gives Fury the momentum, though, and Fury works hard to put Norris away. Fury has Norris reeling but is unable to put the newcomer away. Fury ends up going for a leg drop that Norris rolls out of the way of. Norris makes a big comeback and chops Fury down to size before landing a running, flying double chop to pick up the pinfall at 6:40.
WINNER is Charlie Norris (Pin, 6:40)
After the match Tony hypes the return of Cactus Jack with footage of Jack attacking Vader from the prior week’s COTC show before we head to our next Peacock ad-break. Following the break Tony tosses to a ringside interview he conducted with Cactus Jack at this past Wednesday’s COTC XXIV event in TBS. In the footage Tony starts by telling Jack that last time anybody saw Cactus he “didn’t have a memory” and “didn’t know who you were” but now Jack is back in WCW. Cactus Jack tells Tony that he is indeed back. Jack then says that the only reason he’s back is for “the look”. Vader may have the WCW World title but that’s not the most important thing Vader’s ever done. Harley Race, Jack says, held the World title seven time, but that also isn’t the most important thing Race has ever done. Cactus Jack says that Vader did what no one though possible: Vader put Cactus Jack out of wrestling. Over the past four months, Cactus says, not a day has gone by that he hasn’t thought about “the look”, the look in the eyes of the “young, upcoming wrestlers” when they realize they’re signing a contract to get into the ring with Big Van Vader. It’s a look Jack says he knows well, because “the look” used “to be reserved for Cactus Jack!” Jack says one would be right to think that Jack misses “the look” and is “jealous” of Vader. But, Jack says, if Vader thinks Cactus Jack hopped out of a hospital bed and off “the streets of Cleveland” just to see “the look” in Vader’s eyes then Vader is selling Cactus Jack “very short”. Jack says he will see “the look” again, but this time in Vader’s eyes. Then, instead of saying “no pain, no pain”, Vader will look up at Cactus Jack and say “no more pain. BANG BANG!”
—Singles Match (30:27)
Johnny B. Badd vs. Mike Thor
Badd was still wearing a “protective mask” at this time after Maxx Payne launched one of Badd’s “Badd Blaster” confetti cannon’s into Badd’s face just prior to their match on June 17, 1993 at Clash of the Champions XXIII. Badd had promised heading into his match that he would take the mask off, something Jesse is skeptical about. As for the match, it’s a squash. Badd has his fun with Thor, working Thor’s arm and neck, before landing a sloppy Lou Thesz press that Thor easily escapes. Coming out of the Thesz press Thor makes a minor comeback. Badd ends up landing a head scissors takeover before pulling off the mask, as promised, and dropping Thor with big left hand for the pinfall at 4:11.
WINNER is Johnny B. Badd (Pin, 4:11)
Following the match we see a replay of the action before Jesse catches Badd at ringside for an interview. Badd, badly blown up, says that he is a man of his word, calls himself the “prettiest man in WCW”, calls the less than tepid reaction from the fans “music to his ears”, and boasts to have the best song on WCW’s Slam Jam album. Between the awkward pauses and awful delivery, this is one of the worst promos you’re likely to find on the WWE Network or Peacock this week. Finally Badd puts us out of our misery when he says he has the best left hand in pro wrestling because he is, of course, “a ba-a-a-d man!” Jesse wraps the interview as Badd shadow boxes and we head to the next Peacock ad-break.
—Singles Match (38:05)
Ice Train w/Thunderbolt Patterson vs. Rage
Ice Train had been wrestling enhancement talent in small arenas and school gyms before making his “big time” debut on WCW Saturday Night. Ice Train is selling the hell out of this gimmick, but his choo-chooing sounds more like caw-cawing. Some will find aspects of Ice Train’s gimmick and presentation racially insensitive, which it certainly is given that it was taped in 1993, but Train’s dedication to getting over at any cost is admirable to say the least. Rage tries to jump-start the match but Train easily walks through the offense before dominating the action. Soon enough Train lands a beautiful double thrust chop to Rage’s throat before landing a great looking powerslam for the 1-2-3 at just :55-seconds.
WINNER is Ice Train w/Thunderbolt Patterson (Pin, 0:55)
After the match we see a replay of Ice Train destroying Rage before Tony Schiavone grabs a word with Patterson & Train at ringside. Patterson says he told everyone Ice Train was coming and wants all of the WCW wrestlers to sign on the line to face Ice Train. Patterson asks Ice Train if he didn’t tell Patterson he wanted to learn. Ice Train, calling Patterson “Mr. Bolt, sir”, says he wants to start at the bottom and work his way to the top. Ice Train gives us a big choo-choo before Patterson tells Tony it’s a “new day” in WCW and that all the wrestler’s need to sign the line. Tony wraps the interview and we head to the next Peacock ad-break.
—“Non-Title Singles Match” (41:52)
J.D. Stryker vs. WCW World Heavyweight Champion Big Van Vader w/Harley Race
For those who love a good, old-fashioned Vader squash, this match is for you. Vader tosses chairs and guardrails on his way to the ring. Stryker rushes at Vader as the World Heavyweight Champion enters the ring and eats a brutal lariat for his troubles. Vader pounds on Stryker, beating the snort out of the young man, until finally closing the show with a big powerbomb for the pinfall at 1:08.
WINNER is WCW World Heavyweight Champion Big Van Vader w/Harley Race (Pin, 1:08)
Following the match we see a replay of the destruction while Tony and Jesse argue over who has to go interview Vader and Race. Tony gets the gig. Race starts by saying he doesn’t care what happens to Sting or Flair in the main event tonight, hoping the two beat one another to death. Race tells Flair that he will never forget “what happened”, alluding to Flair defeating Race for the NWA World title in the cage at Starrcade ’83. Race then turns his attention to Vader’s role in “WarGames: The Match Beyond” at Fall Brawl ’93. Race puts Vader over as “the man that rules the valley” as World Heavyweight Champion. Vader jumps in and says he is the “king of the world” and one and only Heavyweight Champion of the world. At “WarGames”, Vader says, Sting, Davey Boy Smith, Shockmaster, and Dustin Rhodes don’t stand a chance. When the cage comes down, Vader says, it’s “time to go to war!” Tony wraps the interview, hypes the main event to come, and sends us to our next Peacock ad-break.
Coming out of the break we see Sting and Ric Flair’s entrances before we go to a quick, ad-free break.
—NWA World Heavyweight Championship (46:26)
Sting vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair(c)
This match would mark one of the final, if not the final, NWA World title defenses on WCW TV. Second, if you’re looking for the Sting/Flair classic you haven’t seen, this isn’t it. If these two talked about anything aside from the finish it sure doesn’t look like it. While “calling it in the ring” is the way many modern fans want to see wrestling, or at he very least wish it were done, this match is a lesson in why “calling it in the ring” can end up being as big a train wreck as “scripted” spots. At times Sting is absolutely lost, repeating a number of spots and flubbing twice as many more. If this match was a “lesson” for Sting, Sting sure didn’t get the memo! There is little symmetry here and the two appear to be on different wavelengths for the entirety of this match. When Flair is on offense the match runs smoothly but, in something that may bolster Bret Hart’s critique of Flair’s style that Hart wrote about in his autobiography, when Sting is in charge the match stutters from one awkward spot to another as if Flair were actively trying to sabotage Sting. The match starts with Sting in control of Flair, cutting Flair’s momentum off at every pass as he out-quicks and out-wrestles Flair. Sting works over Flair’s lower back and legs with a number of different holds. As for the flubs, which start early, great analytical commentary from both Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura help give the mistakes a real sports feel, as if the mistakes were a part of two great wrestlers trying to impose their will upon the other. As Sting controls the action Flair slowly wears Sting down, sapping Sting of his energy and strength. Finally, fifteen minutes in, Flair ducks a Stinger Splash and Sting Stun Guns himself across the top rope. Flair works near-falls and chops as we head to a Peacock ad-break.
Despite some great hope spots from Sting, Flair is in firm control of the match. The fans are 50/50 as Flair opens up on Sting, even landing top rope moves Flair seldom (if ever) hits. Sting gets close at one point to making a comeback but a shot to the eyes cuts it off. At last Sting tosses Flair off the top rope to start a solid comeback. The two end up going over the top but the referee ignores the rules here. Back in the ring Sting scores a near-fall with an O’Connor roll before Flair goes to the eyes yet again. Flair cinches in the figure-four but Sting reverses it as Sid Vicious arrives to watch and add gems of analysis on commentary. Flair tries to work Sting’s knees but Sting fires up, dropping the Champion with a lariat before cinching in his own version of figure-four. Flair reaches the ropes before the two start trading near-falls. Sting walks through Flair’s chops before landing a big superplex off the top rope, a move that hurts the back of Sting’s head. The two, tired and worn down, trade shots before Flair lands a crossbody that sends both wrestlers over the top rope once again. Flair manages to get back into the ring before Sid, leaving the commentary area, flings Sting off the apron and into the guard rail where Sting lies as he’s counted out to give Flair the win at 36:39 to retain the NWA World title.
WINNER and STILL NWA World Heavyweight Champion, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (Count-out, 36:39)
After the match Flair argues with both Sid and the referee about Sting being cheated when Harlem Heat attack Flair from behind. Flair fights Kane & Kole off before Sid enters the ring to go after Flair. More timing miscues here as Sting enters the ring and helps Flair fight off Sid and we head to our final Peacock ad-break.
Coming out of the break we head to interview location where Jesse joins Tony for an interview with Sting and NWA World Champion Ric Flair. Sting says that Flair can still go “all night long” and took Sting to the limit. But Sid took away the NWA World title that Sting may have won had Sid not interfered in the match. Sting calls Sid a “punk” and tells Sid to bring whoever he wants to the fight. As Sting wanders around aimlessly Ric Flair jumps in and says if you have the Cowboys and the Bills playing in the Super Bowl you don’t want any punks running on the field in the middle of the game. Flair calls Sid and Harlem Heat “punks” before challenging the trio to six-man tag team match next week on WCW Saturday Night.
Flair and Sting walk off as Tony and Jesse talk about the main event and wrap the show!
This is a great fast-paced edition of WCW Saturday Night that keeps the focus in the ring. There aren’t very many promos, and those there are are short and too the point. The best match on the show is also, in some ways, the weakest, talking about the Ric Flair/Sting showdown for the NWA World title. The opening six-man tag team match is also one to check out. All of the matches, though, including squashes, deliver and make for a great 90-minutes of action. If you haven’t seen this edition of WCW Saturday Night, or if it’s been a while, this is a show well worth your time to seek out. You won’t regret it! Who knows, you might actually like it, and that’s never a bad thing!
Already subscribed to the WWE Network on Peacock? Then you can relive the classic edition of WCW Saturday Night right now or experience it for the very first time! As always, let us know what you think in the comments section below!
For pre-WNN editions of Throwback Thursday, click here!
Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!