On March 27th, 1988, NWA presented the first-ever Clash of the Champions. The event took place on the Turner Broadcast System network. From the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina, the event featured notable matches and several rivalries coming to ahead. Tony Schiavone and Bob Caudle were on commentary with Jim Ross conducting ringside interviews on the show. Early on, the focus was primarily to address a situation that took place the previous day with Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, and Jim Crockett.
Clash of the Champions
NWA World Television Championship
Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin w/ Precious vs. Mike Rotunda (c) w/ ‘Games Master’ Kevin Sullivan
Interestingly, the rules that were in place for the championship, as stated by ring announcer Tim Miller, was a one fall count would be considered a pinfall win. The match was made of 3, five-minute rounds. A 30 second rest period would take place for both competitors between periods.
Rotunda and Garvin lock up and jockey for position between one another. Early on, Rotunda complains about the hair and tights pulling on the part of Garvin. Garvin counters with an arm drag of his own. At this point, Rotunda scurries from the ring and recoups with Sullivan at ringside. It is interesting to see a match that is focused on amateur wrestling alone. Remember that the matchup consists of three five minute rounds with nearly five minutes finished in this one. As the first round is drawing is closing moments, Rotunda goes onto the attack on Garvin.
A thirty-second rest period follows. Once the rest period is over, Garvin brings the fight to Rotunda. When it appears as though he has the match in control, Kevin Sullivan climbs onto the apron. However, it’s at this point when Precious also gets involved. Garvin comes to her aid and gets rolled up from behind by Rotunda. Teddy Long hits the count leading to a win.
Winner: And Still NWA World Television Champion Mike Rotunda
After the match, Garvin goes after both Rotunda and Sullivan. This was until Rick Steiner comes into the matchup, and Precious comes to Garvin’s aid attacking both Steiner and Sullivan. Garvin and Precious leave the ring unscathed and head to the back, ready to fight another day.
‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams with Bob Caudle
Caudle asks him about his Japan tour, and he discusses Magnum TA and Dusty Rhode’s current feuds taking place. Williams also shares that he wants the winner of the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He spoke about how he sees how Flair is walking around as though he is all that and sees past that.
Clash of the Champions
NWA U.S Tag Team Championships
Midnight Express (c) w/ Jim Cornette vs. The Fantastics
Cornette announces the duo of Beautiful Bobby and Sweet Stan as they make their way to the ring. It was at that point when Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton storm the ring. Once they come to the ring, all four men take the fight to the floor. The action is all over the arena. Both teams are taking the action both in and out of the ring. Fulton and Rogers have the early advantage in this match up. The match then once again goes to the outside, and Cornette gets involved. Tommy Rogers and Bobby Eaton make their way into the ring, and a tag was made to Bobby Fulton.
The challengers are now in control of this match, as Cornette looks on from the ringside area. However, it was at that point when Beautiful Bobby and Sweet Stan regain control. Lane hits a superkick on Tommy Rogers, knocking him flat on his back. Eaton is tagged in and begins to beat him down. He is then whipped into a table that Cornette has hoisted up. Rogers tries to make the tag, but Eaton cuts off the ring. A top rope elbow by Beautiful Bobby leads to a tag by Sweet Stan. Fulton is desperate to get into this match, while Rogers takes all the punishment. Rogers is fighting tooth and nail to get away from Beautiful Bobby.
An attempted sunset flip by Rogers was for not as the referee was distracted
Rogers is then thrown to the floor. The referee is constantly trying to redirect Fulton back to his corner. Tommy Rogers can barely get to his feet. Each time he tries to make his way to his feet Lane and Eaton beat him back down. Again, Rogers fights them off makes the tag, but the referee didn’t see it. The referee is thrown out as Bobby Fulton was tired of it! Anderson disqualified the challengers, but a beatdown after the match ensued. Cornette, Lane, and Eaton all beat on Fulton at the Clash of the Champions.
Winners via disqualification: The Midnight Express
Ken Osmond with Jim Cornette
After the match, ‘Leave it to Beaver’ star Ken Osmond interviews Jim Cornette. They discuss the Midnight Express and Cornette’s mother among their topics.
‘Latin Heartthrob’ Al Perez & Gary Hart with Bob Caudle
Caudle shares how it has been some time since Perez had been around. Hart says that he wanted to be a part of this event to make a legitimate challenge to Dusty Rhodes and be on television. Al says that he wants Dusty to know how hard he has trained and that nothing will keep him from that title. Hart shares that the only way to beat Al Perez is with a baseball bat.
Clash of the Champions
Chicago Street Fight (Six-Man Texas Barbed Wire Match)
Road Warriors & Dusty Rhodes vs. Powers of Pain & Ivan Koloff w/ Paul Jones
Hawk, Animal, and Dusty Rhodes, all sporting face paint, make their way to the ring first. Once Paul Jones crew makes their way to the ring, the battle begins with all six men taking the fight to one another. What was interesting to note was that Animal is sporting a goalie mask akin to Jason of Friday the 13th. It was to protect his injured eye. Hawk press slams Ivan Koloff up and down to the mat. Koloff is trying to cut open with the barbed wire. Both Koloff and Rhodes are busted open in this match. Hawk climbs to the top rope and hits a right hand on the Warlord. Animal hits a big clothesline and makes the pinfall at the Clash of the Champions.
Winners: Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes
After the match, they are trying to take out the eye of the already injured Animal.
Nikita Koloff with Bob Caudle
With a new look, Koloff shares how important it is to have good health is more important. He shares how The Varsity Club tried to take away his health. Koloff says that he doesn’t need to have a belt to be a champion. He didn’t care who has the title and that he will be in their face now. Koloff says that the Super Powers will be at the Crockett Cup and win the Crocket Cup.
Clash of the Champions
NWA World Tag Team Championships
Barry Windham & Lex Luger vs. Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson (c) with James J. Dillon
With the champions waiting in the ring, Windham and Luger make their way to the ring. The match has a thirty-minute time limit, so it should get a fair amount of time. By modern-day standards, it’s unusual to see the champions await the challengers in the ring. Ross referred to Windham and Luger as Twin Towers. Both men are similar in height and stature, with Luger having a more defined physique. Luger goes for the Torture rack almost immediately after getting the upper hand on Blanchard. However, Anderson clips him and then makes a tag to Tully Blanchard. Each time it appears as though they have the advantage on Luger, he manages to regain control.
Eventually, Luger makes the hot tag to Windham, bringing in the Sweet Water, Texas native. Windham is a ball of fire and takes out both Anderson and Blanchard. A pinning attempt followed a power slam, but Blanchard kicks out. Windham than has a sleeper hold on Blanchard as both fall to the floor. Anderson comes over to try and wake Blanchard up. Blanchard then climbs the top rope, but Windham catches him and slams him down to the mat. He decks Arn and then puts an abdominal stretch back on Tully. Dillion gets on the apron, distracting the referee until Arn Anderson interferes and hits a DDT and then a spinebuster.
Cue The Comeback
Windham eventually makes a comeback, and he and Blanchard take the fight to one another. Finally, the two have an exchange of moves combining suplexes and pinning combinations. Anderson is then back in the ring, and he works over Barry Windham. Windham then doesn’t make a tag to Luger, and both continue to work over Barry. He eventually makes the hot tag to Luger, who comes in and cleans house. Anderson hits a faint knee into the midsection of Luger. But Luger recovers and hits a power slam. He then signals for a torture rack, but Windham and Blanchard come into the ring. On the opposite side, Dillon sets up a chair, but Anderson is whipped into it headfirst. It knocks him down, and Luger covers him and makes the pin. 1..2..3
Winners: AND NEW NWA World Tag Team Champions Lex Luger and Barry Windham
The crowd goes absolutely insane as Windham and Luger head back to the dressing room area as there are new tag team champions were crowned.
Before the main event, a panel of judges is announced, which was unique. They include Gary Juster, Sandy Scott, Patty Mullen, Jason Hervey of ‘The Wonder Years’ & Ken Osmond of ‘Leave it to Beaver.’
Clash of the Champions
NWA World Championship
Sting vs. ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair (c) with James J. Dillon
Sting makes his way to the ring first, much to the delight of those in attendance. Flair makes his way to the ring next with Dillon, who will be suspended from a shark tank next to the ring. The bell sounds with both men locking up and trying to up the other with their respective battle cries. It is interesting to see ‘judges’ at ringside. Flair and Sting have a test of strength in the middle of the ring until Sting gains the upper hand. The two then begin to circle each other and once again take part in a test of strength. It is at that point where Sting takes the champions’ best shot.
After returning into the ring, the two engage in a collar and elbow, leading to an armbar by Sting on Flair. Flair then has Sting pressed up against the rope and hit everything from a headscissors to a Gorilla Press Slam. Eventually, Sting has a sidehead lock on Flair while they’re down on the mat. Both men then begin to make their way to their feet. A side headlock by Sting on Flair in the ring leads to the challenger maintaining control of the champion in his match. The champion was trying to gauge the challenger’s eye, but all that does is leads to another side headlock takedown.
‘He can take an elementary maneuver like the headlock and make it mean something’ – Jim Ross on Sting’s side headlock.
At every turn, Flair is beaten down, time and time again. The Nature Boy throws Sting out only for the challenger to climb back up into the ring. Sting hits fist after fist onto the head of Flair while standing on the second rope. He then takes Flair down again with another side headlock takedown. Flair continues to roll him over, attempting to turn it into a pinning predicament. Both men make their way back to their feet. Flair then punches Sting into the kidneys and then leads in with his infamous chops and then a fist. But Sting comes back! A Gorilla Press Slam followed by a bearhug by Sting on Flair is really working over the champion.
Sting has Flair worked over and then maintained a bearhug while the champion is on the…mat? It looks unusual to see a bearhug applied while the person receiving it is flat on their back. The Stinger then attempts an elbow drop but Flair moves. At that point, Sting gets right up. However, Sting attempts a Stinger Splash only for Flair to move. The match then goes to the outside with Flair maintaining control of this match now. He whips Sting into the steel barricade, and then once back in the ring, he whips into the turnbuckle hard. Flair works on the back of Sting, whipping him hard from one corner to the next.
This is a main event anywhere in the world.– Jim Ross
Flair then measures Sting and drops a knee across his head on two separate occasions. This is followed by Sting scratching at the face and back of the challenger. They are approaching the halfway part of the matchup. He followed this up with chops and then a stiff right hand to the jaw. Flair then picks up a chair that the referee pulls away from him. Both men are outside the ring, and Flair continues his attack on Sting at the Clash of the Champions.
Flair then hits an elbow, chop, and punch on Sting, but eventually, it isn’t enough. Sting is making his comeback. With Flair resting across the ring post and Sting attempts a Stinger Splash only to miss him outright. Flair maintains control with a wristlock on Sting, who is crawling to his feet. Sting then has Flair in the corner and hits clotheslines and a hip toss on the champion. With Flair on the ring apron, Sting suplexes Flair into the ring. He follows this up with a Scorpion Deathlock, but the champion gets to the ropes. With Flair in the ropes, Sting is forced to back off. Flair is resting on the bottom turnbuckle. But Flair turns it around and attempts a chop only for it to have no effect on Sting.
‘What a great reversal by the Stinger there into an abdominal stretch on Flair.’– Jim Ross
Flair is then caught with a crossbody by the challenger. The challenger is then caught with a shin breaker by the champion. Flair is trying to weaken the leg to set him up for the figure four leglock. A weakened challenger is then in the corner with the champion working him over. We see Flair measure his kicks to the back of the leg of the challenger. Flair hits a belly to backs side suplex and then salps on the figure four leglock. While the referee is distracted, Flair holds the ropes to gain leverage at the Clash of the Champions.
Sting then pulls himself into the middle of the ring. He then turns the figure four around so that the punishment is on the leg of the champion. The hold is eventually broken, with both men suffering the effects of that move. Eventually, both men make their way to the feet with Sting suplexing Flair back into the ring. Sting attempts a splash, but Flair gets his knees up.
Ten Minutes Remain…
Sting press slams Flair to the mat. He then pulls the champion into the ring post. Once back in the middle of the ring, Sting locks in his version of the Figure Four leglock on the champion. He’s trying to beat the champion with his own hold. The crowd is right behind the challenger here as the champion is writhing in pain. Sting releases the hold and once again has Flair in the corner turnbuckle and once again receives a hip toss. The challenger continues to work on the knee of the champion. Flair goes over the top rope after being whipped into a corner turnbuckle.
Sting whips Flair headfirst into the steel post. The two men continue to battle outside the ring. Flair attempts a sunset flip pin into the ring, but the challenger thwarted that effort. Sting again positions Flair into the corner and takes an atomic drop with no reaction. The challenger once again attempts the Stinger Splash but to no avail. The clock is ticking on this match, with both men continuing to battle time and time again. Both men appear exhausted as the clock ticks down. Sting is thrown to the floor, and he hits a sunset flip into a pin but only for a count of two at the Clash of the Champions.
Sting attempts to pin Flair after a roll through. He is taking Flair’s best only to take the fight to the champion. There is less than a minute left in the match. Sting then hits a Stinger Splash. He follows up with a Scorpion Deathlock. The time is counting down, and the time expires…
Winner by judges decision: Neither…still NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair