A Clash In Time

March 27th 1988,Clash of the Champions was presented by the National Wrestling Alliance. An event that aired free of charge on TV featuring Pay Per View quality matches.

The rivalry between the World Wrestling Federation & Jim Crockett t Promotions was just warming up in 1987. Jim Crockett t decided to run his first PPV as a national wrestling company on November 26th, 1987, Starcade. The event was booked to run on Thanksgiving evening but ran into unforeseen competition when the WWF booked the first Survivor Series on the same evening. 

Crockett worried that he was going to lose PPV buy rates if they were to run in direct competition with the WWF so he moved Starcade’s start time to the afternoon instead of the evening. However, Vince McMahon wasn’t quite finished there. The WWF threatened the cable companies that if they aired Starcade at all then they would not be selected to air any future WWF PPV’s which included that years Survivor Series & Wrestlemania the following year, an event that was uncontested as the number 1 PPV provider in the United States. Unfortunately for Crockett only a handful of PPV Companies aired Starcade which destroyed Starcade 87’s profits. The WWF outperformed Starcade 10-1.

The WWF were up to their old tricks again in January 1988 when Vince McMahon presented the first Royal Rumble (amazing concept by the way) effectively free on Basic Cable to go up directly against Jim Crockett’s ‘Bunkhouse Stampede’ on PPV. As a result of this, the idea of the Clash of Champions was Born.

On March 27th, 1988, Crockett fired a shot in retaliation and decided that they would be airing a wrestling super card, Clash of Champions for free on TBS the same night as Wrestlemania 4. Oh, what a show it was……

The Midnight Express taking on The Fantastics for the United States Tag Team Championships. I’m a sucker for old school wrestling matches and this was an old school style NWA tag team wrestling match. 

Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard taking on Barry Windham & Lex Luger for the NWA Tag Team Championships. Again, another great tag team match and I wish the wrestlers of today would look back at this style of tag match. Luger & Windham picked up the NWA tag team championships and would hold the titles for less than a month before Windham turned on Luger and took his place in the Horseman.

The main event of the show was a superb match between Sting & The Nature Boy Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship which tore the house down. The match was declared a draw when the 45-minute time limit was reached. With a minute left Sting hit the Stinger Splash and locked in. The Scorpion Death Lock! The crowd is going nuts as time expires but the bell rings as time expires. The judges declared a draw and Flair retained the title, however it was a star making performance for Sting.

Sting spoke about this amazing match with NBC which took place 32 years ago. The Icon said: “Ric was an established, huge, national – probably international at that time – name and I was just a young kid, a ‘curtain jerker’ kind of wrestler.

“He had an opponent that got injured and the promoter – Dusty Rhodes, who was promoting and wrestling at the time – said, ‘We got to find somebody for Ric’ and so he put the kid, Sting, in there with Ric Flair at the very first Clash of the Champions.”

Sadly, Clash of Champions was the only thing keeping Jim Crockett promotions alive however the shows ratings were lower than WWF’s Saturday Night Main Event. In November 1988 Jim Crockett sold Jim Crockett Promotions to Ted Turner in November 1988 the promotion was renamed Universal Championship Corporation to World Championship Wrestling.

The event would continue throughout the 1990’s but by the time Eric Bischoff was handed the keys to WCW the event had shifted from it’s original intentions. The very last Clash of Champions Event was held in Nashville, Tennessee on August 21st, 1997 when WCW & the WWF were both running monthly PPV shows. In between there is a long story to tell about the future of the wrestling industry. A story which will soon be told, so keep your eyes peeled to The Beermat for more…

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