This week Throwback Thursday, with some help from the WWE Network and Peacock, takes a look at Jim Crockett Promotions’ final big event before selling to Turner Broadcasting when we review Clash of the Champions III: Fall Brawl, which took place 34 years ago yesterday!
As Clash of the Champions III went live from Albany, Georgia the sale of Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) to Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) was nearly complete. Years of overexpansion, overbooking, and overspending had destroyed what was, at one time, the second biggest wrestling promotion in the country behind only Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation (WWF). But JCP didn’t have the market cornered on troubles. Elsewhere promoters like Verne Gagne, the Von Erichs, and Jerry Jarrett were attempting a partnership that would pool their resources and talent to make what they hoped would be a viable national push to compete with the WWF. Don Owen, the last of the old-time promoters, decided against joining the Gagne/Von Erich/Jarrett union in favor of running his Portland territory (Pacific Northwest Wrestling), which Owen would continue to do until the summer of 1992. Then their was the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) itself. At one time the NWA had over forty dues-paying promoters on its rolls. By September of 1988, however, the cartel had dwindled to less than eight. The surest sign of change, though, came in the form of Starrcade. The annual Thanksgiving Night event was being moved to December to avoid any further head-to-head ratings wars between JCP and the WWF, wars that had only strengthened the WWF while financially crippling JCP. The financial hardships within JCP, specifically wrestler’s not receiving regular paychecks, led to more than a few of the JCP faithful, like Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, to walk out on JCP. While a sizable loan from TBS helped JCP catch up on much of the back pay, problems persisted. Fans in the territory, conditioned to get into shows for free or almost nothing, weren’t turning out for the bigger shows. Dusty Rhodes booking, a source of much debate in the decades since, was a main contributor to the lack of fan involvement. JCP hadn’t been able to produce a new, viable star in years, and there were many who didn’t hold out much hope for Sting. For many fans it was the same old story with the same old cast. In truth, money and time were running short for JCP, and no angle, newfound star, or TBS loan was going to save the day this time.
The biggest story in JCP at this time was the looming World title rematch between Ric Flair and Lex Luger. Sting’s mission to win a title in the NWA was another top story as was the ongoing Kevin Sullivan/Jimmy Garvin blood feud and the disintegration of the longtime Paul Jones/Ivan Koloff relationship. Outside the ring the top song in the country the week COTC III aired was Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine” while Def Leppard’s seminal album Hysteria was the top album. NBC’s Cosby Show spin-off A Different World was the number one show on television, helping to continue NBC’s ratings dominance, while Moon Over Parador, starring Richard Dreyfus, Raul Julia, Sonia Braga, was the number one film.
Now it’s time to fire up the WWE Network on Peacock, hit ‘play’, and see just how well Clash of the Champions III: Fall Brawl holds up 34 years later!
Edits are not an issue with Clash of the Champions III: Fall Brawl on the WWE Network and Peacock. Context, meanwhile, is great. While the bulk of JCP’s TV of the era is still missing from the WWE Network and Peacock the bulk of their flagship series, World Championship Wrestling, dating back to November 2, 1985, as well as all past JCP PPV events, are available for you to enjoy right now!
NWA Clash of the Champion III: Fall Brawl (WATCH)
Date: September 7, 1988 – Location: Albany Civic Center, Albany, Georgia
Attendance: >3,700 – TV Ratings: 5.4 (>3.5 million homes)
Commentators: Jim Ross & Bob Caudle – Interviews: Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
NWA World Heavyweight Champion: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (November 26, 1987, NWA Starrcade ’87: Chi-Town Heat, from “Hands of Stone” Ron Garvin; this was a steel cage match)
NWA United States Heavyweight Champion: Barry Windham (May 13, 1987, Houston, Texas, defeated Nikita Koloff in finals of 7-man tournament to fill vacancy left after then-U.S. Heavyweight Champion Dusty Rhodes was stripped of the title after inadvertently striking Jim Crockett, Jr., with a baseball bat on the March 26, 1988 edition of World Championship Wrestling; the 7-man tournament also included Midnight Rider (Italian Stallion under a mask), Lex Luger, Al Perez, Ivan Koloff, and then-World Tag Team Champion Tully Blanchard, who received a bye to the semi-final round)
NWA World Television Champion: Mike Rotunda (January 26, 1988, Raleigh, North Carolina, from Nikita Koloff; Rotunda had been the reigning Florida Heavyweight Champion when he won the NWA World TV title; Rotunda gifted the Florida Heavyweight title to Rick Steiner to defend)
NWA Western States Heritage Champion: Larry Zbyszko (January 24, 1988, NWA Bunkhouse Stampede Finals, from Barry Windham; Zbyszko is the final recognized Western States Heritage Champion and this would end up being the final recognized Western States Heritage title change; the title would be retired in early December 1988 following Zbyszko’s jump from NWA/WCW to Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association)
NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Four Horsemen (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) (April 28, 1988, World Championship Wrestling, taped April 20, 1988, from Lex Luger & Barry Windham; Barry Windham turned on partner Lex Luger, joining the Four Horsemen and helping Arn & Tully win the World Tag Team titles)
NWA United States Tag Team Champions: Midnight Express (“Beautiful” Bobby Eaton & “Sweet” Stan Lane) (July 16, 1988, Great American Bash ’88, from The Fantastics (Tommy Rogers & Bobby Fulton))
NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Champions: “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes & The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal) (July 9, 1988, Great American Bash Tour ’88, Chicago, Illinois, defeated the Four Horsemen (NWA World Heavyweight Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard) to win vacant titles; pre-match stipulations stated that the winner of the July 9 match in Chicago would win the vacant Six-Man Tag Team titles; the Six-Man Tag Team titles had been vacant since the Powers of Pain (Warlord & Barbarian) had left JCP for the WWF in June 1988)
NWA Florida Heavyweight Champion: Rick Steiner (January 26, 1988; Steiner was gifted the Florida Heavyweight title after former Champion Mike Rotunda gave up the title after winning the Television title)
NWA World Women’s Champion: Debbie Combs (April 10, 1987, Kansas City, Missouri, defeating Penny Mitchell to win vacant title; the World Women’s Championship had been vacated the prior year when promoter Bob Geigel bought his Kansas City territory back from Jim Crockett, Jr., withdrew from the National Wrestling Alliance, and founded the World Wrestling Alliance (WWA), a new sanctioning body Geigel hoped would supersede the NWA and compete with the nationally expanding WWF and JCP; whether Combs won the title in a tournament in Hawaii the prior day or defeated Mitchell in a singles match to claim the gold remains unclear; As a member of the NWA, Jim Crockett Promotions recognized Misty Blue Simmes, then-U.S. Women’s Champion, as their Women’s Champion)
NWA United States Women’s Champion: Misty Blue Simmes (September 10, 1986; information about this title change, including location, circumstances, and participants is, unfortunately, unavailable at this time; Jim Crockett Promotions recognized Misty Blue Simmes as their Women’s World Champion after Bob Geigel pulled out of the NWA in late 1987 and recognized Debbie Combs as the World Women’s Champion of his new World Wrestling Alliance)
Clash of the Champions III opens with a vignette examining the definition of “desire” to Sting. The vignette details Sting’s title losses to members of the Four Horsemen at the first two COTC events, to NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair at the inaugural event and, with Dusty Rhodes as his partner, to World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard at COTC II, before hyping Sting’s latest chance to wrest a title from the clutches of the Four Horsemen when Sting goes one-on-one with United States Heavyweight Champion Barry Windham in a “fall brawl” for the title.
Next we get the standard COTC open of the era before we head inside the Albany Civic Center where our host, Tony Schiavone, welcomes us to the show. Schiavone then introduces out co-host for the evening, NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. As Brad Armstrong enters the ring behind them, Tony runs down the card before putting over Flair as the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion and trying to transition to Flair’s upcoming rematch with Lex Luger, whom Flair defeated via referee stoppage (due to blood) at the Great American Bash ’88 event on July 10, 1988. Instead Flair touts the opportunity the NWA, “in conjunction with TBS”, has to showcase the best athletes and wrestlers to a worldwide audience here tonight, with Flair “particularly interested” in the Sting/Windham U.S. Heavyweight title main event. Tony pulls the discussion back to Flair/Luger by announcing that the late John Ayers, former offensive guard for the San Francisco 49ers, is now a part of the equation, something Tony says we will get into later in the night. Tony then introduces and tosses to our commentators Jim Ross & Bob Caudle at ringside.
At ringside Jim Ross welcomes us to the event before talking about the significance of tonight’s card with Bob Caudle, who stresses the point that the wrestler’s know their going to be showcased coast-to-coast here tonight. As electrifying as it is on the floor of the arena, Jim Ross says, it’s even more so in the locker room. Without further ado Ross sends us up to the ring for the opening match of the night.
—NWA World Television Championship (4:27)
Brad Armstrong vs. Mike Rotunda(c) w/Kevin Sullivan
This is a solid wrestling match and, despite the draw, a good way to start of the card. A cocky Rotunda is flustered early by Armstrong’s quickness and agility. Rotunda tries to slow the match down a number of times, altering his game plan as he goes, but continues to be flustered, stymied, and out-wrestled by Armstrong. Armstrong works headlocks and arm bars as Rotunda tries to cheat his way to the advantage. Suddenly, as Armstrong comes off the ropes, Rotunda lands a low knee that puts the brakes on Armstrong’s momentum. Rotunda takes over, with some help from Kevin Sullivan on the floor, and keeps Armstrong close to him, trying not to allow Armstrong an opening to use his speed and agility against the Champion. With less than four minutes to go Armstrong attempts a sunset flip that Sullivan tries to stop by holding Rotunda’s arm. The referee kicks the two apart and Armstrong scores a near-fall as “Dr. Death” Steve Williams arrives at ringside to cheer Armstrong on. Rotunda continues to work a rear chinlock as Armstrong scores a series of near-falls. With the final two minutes ticking away Rotunda lifts Armstrong for the airplane spin but is too dizzy to cover Armstrong in time to score the pinfall. Rotunda is dead set on pinning Armstrong before the time runs out and spends the final minute earning one near-fall after another without Armstrong making a single attempt at a comeback. Finally, at 20:02, the time limit expires and the match ends in a time-limit draw with Rotunda retaining the World Television Championship.
NO WINNER declared (Time limit draw, 20:02)
Following the match “Dr. Death” helps an exhausted Armstrong out of the ring as we head back up to Tony & Flair who talk about the conditioning of Armstrong and Rotunda, putting a wrap on the opening bout by putting over Flair’s legendary cardio conditioning. Tony then turns his attention to Flair’s battle with Lex Luger for the World title at Great American Bash ’88. Flair says that Luger possesses the second best set of physical skills in wrestling behind only Ric Flair himself. But, Flair says, to be The Man, Luger has to beat the man who defeated all of the greats in wrestling from the Briscos to the Funks. Tony says that while the match ends in the ring it’s the confidence outside the ring, such as the confidence Ric Flair possesses, that can be a big asset as well. Flair says he styles and profiles and is, despite not wrestling on tonight’s card, the “flagship” for the sport and the NWA and says he’s never walked the aisle not knowing he’s the “best man in the building each and every night.” Tony wraps the segment and tosses to a Peacock ad-break with a graphic hyping Sting’s pursuit of the U.S. Heavyweight title in out main event.
After the break we head to ringside where Jim Ross & Bob Caudle talk about Jimmy Garvin having his leg broken on the September 3, 1988 edition of World Championship Wrestling by Kevin Sullivan, noting that Garvin will be out for an indefinite amount of time due to the injury. Ross & Caudle bemoan the action going “outside the ring”, with Caudle talking about how the NWA frowns upon those actions by reminding us of how they handled Dusty Rhodes after Rhodes inadvertently struck Jim Crockett, Jr., with a baseball bat. While there has yet to be any fine or suspension by the NWA in this matter with Jimmy Garvin, Caudle says, they know the NWA has reviewed the footage and is weighing their options. Ross then asks how we fans would respond to the situation before tossing to the footage of the attack on September 3rd. As we join the footage Garvin is preparing to enter the ring to face Television Champion Mike Rotunda when Kevin Sullivan grabs Garvin’s wife, Precious, at ringside. Garvin goes after Sullivan as Rotunda tries to waylay Garvin. Soon enough Rotunda has Garvin on the floor before Precious tries to stop Sullivan. Sullivan shoves Precious hard to the floor and decks referee Teddy Long before grabbing pieces of a cinder block and smashing them over Garvin’s exposed right leg. As Garvin screams in pain both Sullivan and Rotunda make a run for it as Precious and a number of babyfaces, including Dusty Rhodes, Brad Armstrong, the Fantastics, and Sting, come to Garvin’s aid. Garvin screams that his leg is broken as the babyfaces erect a field gurney to carry Garvin off the set. As the babyfaces carry Garvin off we see a still image of the attack before heading to our next Peacock ad-break with a graphic hyping the forthcoming tag team “challenge” match.
—“Special Challenge Tag Team Match” (35:28)
The Sheepherders (Luke Williams & Butch Miller) w/Rip Morgan vs. Nikita Koloff & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams
This a better than decent tag team match that the crowd is hot for from start to finish. The match is back-and-forth to start. Williams weathers the Sheepherders brawling before getting the upper hand. Koloff tags in and does the same. The Sheepherders try to slow the match down but, despite their best efforts, Williams & Koloff maintain control. Williams is a ball of fire until Luke evades a tackle in the corner and “Dr. Death” rams his shoulder into the ringpost. The Sheepherders take advantage of the miscue and go to work on Williams until their own miscue sees the legal Butch ram into Luke on the apron. Williams scores the hot tag and Nikita cleans house. Soon enough, however, Rip Morgan trips Koloff and the heels pounce, battering Koloff on the floor and in the ring. The Sheepherders can’t put Koloff away, though. After a few Koloff hope spots Luke traps Koloff in a sleeper hold. Koloff escapes the sleeper and sends Luke to the floor with a big right hand before attempting to tag in “Dr. Death” only for Morgan to distract Williams. Luke slams Koloff and goes up for the top rope headbutt when Koloff moves out of the way and finally makes the hot tag. “Dr. Death” cleans house, even taking care of Rip Morgan, before lifting Luke for the press slam only for Butch to clip Williams’ leg. Koloff and Butch both tag in, to almost no reaction from the crowd, and Koloff drops Butch with the Russian Sickle for the 1-2-3 at 17:07.
WINNERS are Nikita Koloff & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams (Pin, 17:07)
After the match Williams & Koloff celebrate as we head to our next Peacock ad-break with a graphic hyping Sullivan appearing with manager Gary Hart in the forthcoming “grudge” match.
—“Grudge Match” (51:36)
“Gamesmaster” Kevin Sullivan w/Gary Hart vs. NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Champion “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes
This match has one of the all-time goofiest finishes, one that makes some of the later Flair/Hogan finishes look like masterpieces in comparison. At this time Dusty Rhodes was preparing to face Al Perez in a dog collar match at some point in the very near future, which is an import note to remember as this one carries on. This one is a fight from the start with Dusty taking the war to Sullivan early, introducing Sullivan’s face to the announce table at ringside and ramming Sullivan into an interfering Gary Hart. As Hart gripes to the announcers at ringside Sullivan grabs a piece of metal and stands Dusty off before Dusty reenters the ring to get the upper hand on Sullivan yet again. Dusty has Sullivan in the corner and is thumping away with some of his big elbows when referee Tommy Young tries to separate the two. Sullivan uses the opening to deliver a shot to Dusty’s throat, turning the tide of the match. Sullivan takes the fight to Dusty in and out of the ring with the help of Gary Hart before putting Dusty back in the ring and cinching in a rear chinlock. Gary Hart distracts the referee, allowing Sullivan to gouge at Dusty with a taped, metal spike. Sullivan continues to work the rear chinlock but is unable to put Dusty away. Dusty goes low behind the ref’s back and we get some of the classic “flip, flop, and fly” action. Dusty moves in for the kill when Sullivan jabs Dusty in the eye. Sullivan lifts the spike and advances on Dusty, but Dusty meets Sullivan with a Bionic Elbow. Sullivan drops the spike and Dusty picks it up. Dusty flings Sullivan into the ropes and jabs the end of the spike directly into Sullivan’s forehead. Dusty makes the cover but Gary Hart reaches in and pulls Dusty to the floor, gouging at Dusty’s eyes. Dusty shakes the eye rake off and stalks Hart as Al Perez rushes the ring and waylays Dusty with a dog collar chain, the same chain, we’re told, the two will use in their future dog collar match. All of this is in front of the referee but there’s no call for DQ. Perez rolls Dusty in the ring and both Perez and Sullivan batter Dusty until the two try to clothesline Dusty with the chain and Dusty falls on it sends the two into one another and to the floor as Gary Hart enters the ring. Dusty catches Gary Hart coming in and cinches in an inside cradle for the pinfall at 8:00. That’s right, boys and girls, Dusty pinned Gary Hart to win the match.
WINNER is NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Champion “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes (Pin, 8:00)
Following the match Dusty slips from the ring and leaps over the guardrail to sit with fans as we head to the next Peacock ad-break with a graphic hyping the forthcoming “Russian chain” match between Ricky Morton and Ivan Koloff.
Coming out of the break (59:34) we back up to Tony and Flair where the two are joined by former San Francisco 49er John Ayers for one of cringiest train wrecks in COTC history and some of the most painful three minutes you’re likely to find in all of the WWE Network and Peacock. For as great a football player as Ayers was (Ayers was an All-Pro in 1984 and a second-team All-Pro in 1985, and was part of one of the NFL’s most famous and celebrated moments, “The Catch”) Ayers has the personality and charisma of pooling condensation. Tony starts by asking Ayers about being special guest referee for the Flair/Luger rematch and about being no stranger to “pressure in the big game”. Ayers says he’s been fortunate throughout his career to play in a lot of championship games before beginning to stammer and stutter. Ayers says this is “probably the most prestigious…match—er—title in the National rassl-Wrestling Alliance, Heavyweight World Championship, ya know, in wrestling. It’s the—the title anybody wants.” Like Ralph Wiggum at Krusty the Clown’s 29th Anniversary Show, we can actually see the exact moment Ric Flair’s head explodes. Flair jumps in, trying in vain to save the plane from crashing into the mountain, and starts talking about John Ayers reputation before asking Ayers what qualifies Ayers to be the referee of a Worlds Heavyweight Championship match. It’s not a team sport, Flair says, it’s the “big time, pal”, and Flair asks again what qualifies Ayers to be referee. If Flair was looking to squeeze some kind of emotion out of Ayers, he fails. Ayers continues to stammer and stutter, saying he knows something of wrestling and is an impartial judge. Flair jumps in again and, after reminding us that Ayers is a former football player like Lex Luger, accuses Jim Crockett, Jr., of stopping at nothing to “railroad Ric Flair”. Flair calls Ayers “financially overdue”, citing Ayers 10,000 acre ranch. Flair says he’s not Lawrence Taylor or Randy White but he is the Worlds Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, and Flair hopes that Ayers isn’t looking for a future in wrestling now that Ayers’ Football career is over. Rather than answer the question Ayers gulps and reiterates his impartiality, says “may the best man win”, that he’ll “call it down the middle”, and that he will not be intimidated. Tony steps in and says that having a big man who won’t be intimidated is “good”. Tony thanks John Ayers and says he hopes to see more of him before talking about how big the Flair/Luger rematch is. As Ric Flair talks to no one in particular Tony tosses back to the ring.
Next we get the ring entrances of both Ivan Koloff, joined by Paul Jones & The Russian Assassin, and one-half of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express Ricky Morton before we hear the ring introductions. The ring announcer calls it a “Russian chainsaw” match before correcting himself. After announcements, and prior to the bell ringing, we head to a Peacock ad-break with a promo for NWA Man Event this Sunday at 6:05 on TBS.
—“Russian Chain Match” (1:02:26)
“The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff w/Paul Jones & The Russian Assassin vs. Ricky Morton
For those wondering, the Russian Assassin is David “Angle of Death” Sheldon. This is the standard four-corners style chain match. The wrestlers are chained together at the wrist and must touch all four corner, in succession, to win the match. The story going into this match had been Paul Jones insistence that Ivan Koloff was the weak link in the Army and that Koloff had to “prove himself” to Jones by making an example out of Morton. As for the match, it’s a basic run of the mill chain match. Ivan controls the action from the opening bell. Through a number of hope spots Morton gets closer and closer to getting the upper hand on Ivan, who tries a number of times to touch the corners. As the match carries on Morton takes more and more punishment but is always able to get some measure of offense in on Ivan, wearing Koloff down along the way. Eventually, as Koloff looks to have the match won, and with only one corner left to touch, Morton grabs Ivan’s legs and Ivan tumbles like a tree to the mat. Morton opens up on Ivan with fists and chain but Morton’s ribs are hurt. Morton fights off Ivan until Ivan boots Morton in the face, cutting off the comeback. Moments later Ivan scales the ropes but jumps face first into the chain. Morton gets to his feet and begins dragging Ivan slowly around the ring. One corner…the second corner… then the third. As Morton nears the final corner Ivan clings to the bottom rope. Ivan’s grip falters, however, and Ivan reaches out for Paul Jones’ riding crop. Ivan holds on for dear life but the two slip apart and Morton touches the final turnbuckle at 10:37 to win.
WINNER is Ricky Morton (10:37)
After the match a fuming Jones starts reading Koloff the riot act as the Russian Assassin goes after Morton, chucking Morton over the top rope to the concrete floor where Assassin continues the assault. In the ring meanwhile, the argument between Koloff and Jones grows more heated before Koloff decks Paul Jones. The Russian Assassin jumps Koloff from behind before Russian Assassin #2 (Jack Victory), joins Jones and Assassin #1. The three beat the snort out of Koloff as the referee tends to Morton on the floor. The Russians bust Koloff open and look to hang Koloff over the top rope when we cut away from the scene and to our next Peacock ad-break with a graphic hyping the forthcoming U.S. Heavyweight title main event between Sting and Barry Windham.
Coming out of the break we head to Jim Ross at ringside for another interview with John Ayers,perhaps as a way of explaining why Ayers is anywhere near the ring. After talking about how the National Football League is one of the most violent sports in America and noting that Ric Flair does “a lot of talkin’”, Jim Ross asks Ayers what’s on his mind going into the Flair/Luger rematch. Ayers says you have to let Flair do what he does best, “and that’s talk”, and hopes that Flair doesn’t think for one minute that Ayers isn’t going to be in charge in the ring. After saying he’s not intimidated by either Flair or Luger, Jim Ross wraps the interview and sends us to the ring where both Sting and U.S. Heavyweight Champion Barry Windham are already in the ring. After the ring announcements we head to our penultimate Peacock ad-break with another promo for NWA Main Event this Sunday night on TBS.
—NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (1:19:36)
Sting vs. Barry Windham(c) w/J.J. Dillon
This is a great main event, despite the finish, and ranks as one of Sting’s defining matches of the era. The first five minutes see Sting fluster Windham, using his speed and agility to get the better of the Champion, who tries a number of times to slow the match down. It’s not until Windham evades a high running elbow drop from Sting that Windham is able to take over. Windham controls the action through a number of Sting hope spots until Windham misses a diving splash in the corner. The fight moves to the floor where Sting posts Windham for a bit of color. Back in the ring Sting locks in the Weaver Lock (sleeper hold) that we’re told Sting has been working on with friend Dusty Rhodes. A weary Windham escapes the Weaver Lock with a Flair-esque shin breaker and begins to target Sting’s knee. Windham cinches in a figure-four, broken up when the referee catches Dillon helping Windham, before locking in a claw hold on Sting’s pectoral muscle. Eventually Sting uses momentum to break the claw hold and send Windham to the floor. Sting brings the Champion in the hard way and opens up on Windham before a sloppy spot wipes out the referee. Sting hits the Stinger Splash and looks to cinch in the Scorpion Deathlock when Dillon enters the ring to break it up, chair in hand. Sting releases the hold and meets J.J. as he enters the ring, causing J.J. to drop the chair. Windham gets the chair and gloms Sting with the chair. Sting hits the mat and Windham covers Sting. The referee comes to and begins to count but, as he raises his arm for the three-count, John Ayers steps into the ring and grabs the ref’s arm, stopping the count. Ayers pulls Windham off of Sting before comically explaining what happened. The referee, taking Ayers’ word for it, disqualifies Windham at 21:38 and gives Sting the win, but not the U.S. Heavyweight title.
WINNER is Sting (Disqualification, 21:38)
Following the decision Dillon argues with a stone-faced Ayers as Windham prepares to attack Ayers from behind with the U.S. Heavyweight belt. Sting cuts off Windham with a dropkick as Ayers lifts J.J. into the corner with a double arm choke hold. Ayers says a few words to Dillon before raising Sting’s arm in victory. As Windham & Dillon slink off we head to our final Peacock ad-break with another NWA Main Event promo.
After the break Jim Ross & Bob Caudle talk about the impact John Ayers will have on the future Flair/Luger rematch, with Caudle putting over how honest Ayers is. J.R. then wraps up his portion of the show and tosses it back up to Tony Schiavone & Ric Flair to close out the show.
Upstairs Tony talks about the great card we’ve seen tonight before Ric Flair jumps in and gripes about John Ayers, “under the pretense of being a guest host”, sticks his nose into a match. Flair says that if that is what is in Flair’s future Ayers had better remember what Flair said earlier that life after football is not professional wrestling. Flair then says that despite Luger’s “awesome physical credentials” Ric Flair is still the Worlds Heavyweight Champion and all the “football notoriety” means nothing. Luger has to “walk that aisle” and beat Ric Flair. So Luger and Ayers can put their arms around Jim Crockett’s neck but “the bottom line is” that “to be the Man, Lex Luger, you gotta beat the Man, and I’m the Man! WOO!” Tony wraps up the show and hypes World Championship Wrestling this Saturday evening on TBS as well as NWA Main Event, which Flair will be the star of, he reminds us, before signing off and letting the credits roll!
Clash of the Champions III may not be remembered as one of the greatest Clash events in JCP/WCW history but it’s a solid wrestling program. The event catches not just JCP but the wrestling world as a whole in a massive state of transition to the national stage. While all of the matches deliver in their own right the tag team “challenge” bout between the Sheepherders and “Dr. Death” & Nikita Koloff as well as the main event Sting/Windham U.S. Heavyweight title match are must-see matches from this card. The John Ayers train wreck in the middle of the show is also a sight to behold. The Ayers fiasco aside the promos and matches are good to great and the small crowd is hot and engaged from almost the entire night. If you haven’t seen Clash of the Champions III: Fall Brawl, or it’s been a while, you should take the time to find this on the WWE Network and Peacock. Who knows, you may actually like it, and that’s never a bad thing!
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!