Between 1987 and 1998, NWA/WCW presented 35 editions of Clash of the Champions. The show was a special television event outside of WCW's usual television schedule, with the promotion and feel of a PPV. The shows aired on TBS, with the first edition of the Clash airing directly opposite of WWE's WrestleMania IV.
With WWE set to present Clash of Champions on PPV next weekend, an event clearly named (with slight modification) after the iconic WCW series, we thought this would be a good time to look back at some of the best matches to air on the original Clash of the Champions. All of these matches and events are available to stream on the WWE Network, so after you read this list, make sure to use that subscription and go back to relive some of these all time classics.
With that said, here are sevent of the greatest WCW Clash of the Champions matches. Stay tuned at the end for a list of great bouts that just missed the cut.
Sting vs. Ric Flair - Clash 1 (March 1988)
This was on the very first edition of the event and is still arguably the most famous of all the Clash matches. Sting was a newcomer at the time and went toe to toe with Flair, already an icon at the ripe old age of 39. The two had a 45 minute time limit draw that put Sting on the map as a main event player moving forward. It was also a better match than anything WWE presented on WrestleMania IV, an event that aired head to head with the Clash.prevnext
Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair - Clash 6 (March 1989)
Just as the year before, this Clash once again went head to head with WrestleMania. On this night, Ricky Steamboat defended the NWA World Championship against Ric Flair in a best two out of three falls match in the Louisiana Superdome.
Flair and Steamboat had a legendary trilogy of matches in 1989, with the other two occuring at WrestleWar and ChiTown Rumble. However, many feel their match at Clash 6 is the best of the trilogy. Watch it and see for yourself.prevnext
Ricky Steamboat vs. Terry Funk - Clash 7 (June 1989)
1989 was filled with great matches from three men in particular: Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, and Terry Funk. Clash 7 was presented from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, essentially a Tribute to the Troops before they existed. Steamboat and Funk are fantastic here, and while this match sometimes gets lost since it occurred between the last match on our list and the next, it's definitely worth a watch (or rewatch) if you want to have your mind blown. Younger fans who only saw Funk at the tail end of his career will be shell-shocked when they see what a different level the Funker was operating on at the end of the 1980s.prevnext
Terry Funk vs. Ric Flair - Clash 9 (November 1989)
Are we noticing a trend here? Yep, more Ric Flair, and to be honest, Flair in 1989 is pretty tough to beat. At Clash 9, he and Terry Funk wrestled an iconic "I Quit Match" that was set-up by a memorable angle at the end of the Flair/Steamboat match at WrestleWar earlier in the year. That night, Funk was a guest judge for the match and attacked Flair afterward, piledriving him through a table at ringside (during an era where that kind of thing just didn't happen).
Their match at Clash 9 is among both men's greatest matches ever. Funk was always one of the greatest brawlers in wrestling, and that really stands out here. Fans took notice - the event drew a 4.9 cable television rating on TBS, the highest a Clash had done since the third edition.prevnext
Arn Anderson & Larry Zbyszko vs. Dustin Rhodes & Ricky Steamboat - Clash 17 (November 1991)
Sometimes people forget what a great tag team wrestler Dustin Rhodes was. On an edition of my Top Rope Nation podcast last year, we discussed where Rhodes ranks in the pantheon of greatest tag team specialists. His match alongside Ricky Steamboat here at Clash 17 is sure some great supporting evidence. Replacing Barry Windham, Steamboat was a mystery partner on this night, and the fact that he was returning to the company fresh off of his second WWE run made this quite the memorable moment.prevnext
Sting vs. Rick Rude - Clash 21 (November 1992)
Sting and "Ravishing" Rick Rude go head to head in a semifinals match in the King of Cable tournament. For as good as Rude was during his WWE run in the late 1980s and early 1990s, his subsequent run with WCW may have been even better. He and Sting had great chemistry together, and this is one of their best matches. The two had also wrestled a year earlier at Clash 17, but that bout only went 4 minutes and 50 seconds. Check out their Clash 21 match immediately.prevnext
Steve Austin vs. Ricky Steamboat - Clash 28 (August 1994)
Austin and Steamboat had great chemistry together and a wonderful series of matches. Some have said Austin was Steamboat's best opponent of the 1990s. Their match at Clash 28, which was Steamboat's last televised match of his career until a brief comeback in the late 2000s, stands the test of time as one of their best.prevnext
There were obviously some very good matches left off of this, but it's hard to condense such a list into just seven bouts. Perhaps a better title for this would be my personal favorite Clash of the Champions matches rather than the "best."0comments
Even so, in fairness, here are some of the other matches that I considered for this list:
- The Midnight Express vs. The Fantastics - Clash 1
- The Midnight Express vs. Ric Flair & Barry Windham - Clash 4
- Ric Flair & Sting vs. Dick Slater & Great Muta - Clash 8
- Lex Luger vs. Brian Pillman - Clash 9
- Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair - Clash 12
- Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham vs. Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton - Clash 19
- Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes vs. Ricky Steamboat & Shane Douglas - Clash 21
- Steve Austin & Brian Pillman vs. Ric Flair & Arn Anderson – Clash 23
- Ric Flair vs. Sting – Clash 27
- Ultimo Dragon vs. Dean Malenko - Clash 34
What did you think? What are some of your favorite WCW Clash of the Champions matches? Let me know by dropping me a line on Twitter @ryandroste.prev