The epic history of WCW's Clash of the Champions

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May 17, 2012

“It was a bit of a gamble, putting such high quality matches on free TV rather than pay-per-view,” the WWE Hall of Famer remembered. “The entire event could have back-fired and it would have been the first and last Clash of the Champions. It was like giving a movie away for free before you charge for it, but thankfully, it was a success.”

The main event of the first Clash of the Champions was also the first meeting of what would become WCW’s most legendary rivalry, Sting vs. then-NWA Champion Ric Flair. At the time, Flair’s legend was already established, but The Stinger was still a relative newcomer who was slowly on the rise in popularity.

Rhodes believes a great deal of Clash’s success and significance rests in the fact that it helped expose young competitors, like Sting, to a broader audience. (PHOTOS | VIDEO PLAYLIST)

“Clash of the Champions was for the entire sports-entertainment industry because it allowed a wider audience to see young stars and old favorites in matches you would typically only see on pay-per-view,” Rhodes said.

The main event between The Nature Boy and Sting ended in a 45-minute time limit draw, launching Sting’s career as a top competitor and helping transform Clash of the Champions from a response to WWE’s pay-per-view ultimatum to an institution for nearly a decade. The success of the free event led to a second Clash of the Champions being held just four months later, a trend that would continue for the next nine years.

“There was little surprise among the Turner executives with the event’s success,” The American Dream remembered. “Back in those days, especially down South, wrestling fans lived by the time ’6:05’ on TBS, because that is when wrestling would go on the air.”

“At the time, there were only four pay-per-views a year from NWA or WWE, respectively, and no weekly programs like Monday Night Raw,” Rhodes continued. “The thought process behind doing around four Clash events a year was the same that went into having four pay-per-views a year. The Turner executives saw the success of the first one and wanted more. From a business stand-point, if we didn’t have a pay-per-view coming, then we’d have a Clash and use it to build excitement for what to expect from the next pay-per-view.”

Dusty Rhodes Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Sting Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Ric Flair Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles