The first Clash of the Champions was held on March 27, 1988 by JCP and was entitled NWA: Clash of the Champions. Subsequent Clash events had different subtitles, i.e. Clash of the Champions II: Miami Mayhem, up until Clash of the Champions XVI: Fall Brawl 1991 which was the last event with a subtitle. Jim Crockett Promotions was sold to Ted Turner and renamed World Championship Wrestling in 1988, and WCW continued to air the events until 1997. The rights to Clash of the Champions now belong to WWE. All 35 episodes are available for on-demand viewing on the WWE Network.
Following this incident, McMahon was warned by the PPV industry not to schedule PPV events simultaneously with the NWA again. However, he was still not willing to fully cooperate with Crockett, and on January 24, 1988, another scheduling conflict took place between the WWF and NWA. The NWA presented the Bunkhouse Stampede on PPV, while on the same night, the WWF aired the first Royal Rumble for free on the USA Network.
In 1988, with the WWF's WrestleMania IV around the corner, Crockett decided to give McMahon a taste of his own medicine. He aired his own supercard, Clash of the Champions for free on TBS on March 27, 1988 - the same night as WrestleMania. The first Clash was of PPV caliber and made Sting a star after he wrestled NWA World Champion Ric Flair to a 45-minute draw. WCW would repeat the practice again the following year with a Clash coinciding with the WWF's WrestleMania V. Although the main event of NWA Champion Ricky Steamboat defeating Flair in a best of three falls match was widely considered the best wrestling match that took place among the two promotions on that day, ratings and attendance for the event fell well below expectations due to the event not being advertised and the practice of conflicting major events would cease until the Monday Night Wars began in 1995.
Clash events continued on a sporadic basis over the next nine years, quickly changing focus to become a free marketing vehicle for NWA/WCW PPV events, similar to the WWF's Saturday Night's Main Event. WCW aired the 35th and last Clash of the Champions on August 21, 1997. In 1997 the determination was made to discontinue air Clash of the Champions due to the start of Thunder.
WWE, the owner of the WCW properties since 2001, resurrected the name under the WWE Clash of Champions pay-per-view starting in 2016.
In the main event, Sting challenged Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Flair's manager, J.J. Dillon was suspended in a cage above the ring. As no wrestler scored a decision before the time limit expired, the decision was left to the judges appointed for this occasion: wrestling official Gary Juster awarded the match to Sting, while Penthouse model Patty Mullen decided in favour of Flair. Wrestling official Sandy Scott ruled the match a draw. No decision was announced for the remaining two judges, actors Jason Hervey (from The Wonder Years) and Ken Osmond (from Leave it to Beaver), resulting the match being ruled a draw and Flair retaining the title.
Clash of the Champions II took place on June 8, 1988 at the James L. Knight Center in Miami, Florida. There were 2,400 people in attendance and the show drew a 4.8 rating on TBS. Throughout the show, wrestlers were being interviewed as they arrived to the building, most notably, Lex Luger who was attacked by the Four Horsemen and was busted open after being slammed head first into the trunk of his limo. This was a big deal at the time as it was the first time Luger had bled while in the NWA. This would also be an important factor in the conclusion of Luger's match against Ric Flair at the 1988 Great American Bash PPV. Kevin Sullivan was locked in a cage at ringside during the third match but stole the key from the Garvins’ valet Precious. Steve Williams ran in after the match to save the Garvins from a 3 on 2 beat down. Al Perez was disqualified when Larry Zbyszko interfered in the match attacking Koloff. The referee is knocked out near the end of the main event prompting Ric Flair and Barry Windham to interfere, resulting in a double disqualification.
Clash of the Champions IV took place on December 7, 1988 at the UTC Arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This was the first Clash of the Champions following the sale of Jim Crockett Promotions to Turner Broadcasting and the subsequent company name change to World Championship Wrestling. There were 8,000 people in attendance and the show drew a 4.5 rating on TBS. This show set up Starrcade '88. It was on this show that TBS/WCW experimented with a top down camera angle, which did not catch on. This is comparable to the "refer-eye" camera from Halloween Havoc '91. This was the finals of the tournament to crown new United States Tag Team champions, the titles were vacated when the Midnight Express won the NWA World Tag Team titles in September. Ron Simmons and Eddie Gilbert had originally lost to the Sheepherders in the semi-finals but the decision was reversed when the Sheepherders signed with the World Wrestling Federation. Ivan Koloff pinned Paul Jones after hitting him with Jones’ own illegal object. Koloff had one arm tied behind his back during the entire match. The Russian Assassins attack Koloff after the match only for the Junkyard Dog to make the save. Dusty Rhodes was disqualified for hitting Road Warrior Animal with a chair. Both Hawk and Sting had already interfered in the match. The Road Warriors chose Genichiro Tenryu to be the 3rd champion on the December 10th edition of NWA World Championship Wrestling
Clash of the Champions V took place on February 15, 1989 at the Cleveland Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio. There were 5,000 people in attendance and the show drew a 4.6 rating on TBS. This show was warm up show for the Chi-Town Rumble PPV only 5 days later. Steven Casey was billed as "undefeated" coming into this match. The masked Blackmailer was Jack Victory who did double duty on the night (he was also Russian Assassin #2) Mike Rotunda replaced Kevin Sullivan in the match, Sullivan and Williams originally won the US titles. The main event match was declared a double disqualification when Sting, Junkyard Dog and Michael Hayes stormed the ring. Sting, JYD and Hayes were originally slated to face the Road Warriors and Tenryu but were locked in by Kevin Sullivan before the match. A Ric Flair scheduled interview resulted in a Ricky Steamboat confrontation and an unscheduled in-ring, and out-of-ring, brawl, resulting in Flair losing all his clothes except his socks and trunks. The ring announcer for the night was former IWA and WWF Play-by-Play announcer Jack Reynolds.
The Varsity Club (Mike Rotunda and Steve Williams) defeated The Road Warriors when Williams cradled Hawk for the pinfall. The match was marred by controversial officiating: referee Teddy Long refused to count a pinfall for the Road Warriors only moments before making a fast count on Williams pinning Hawk. Long was subsequently fired as a referee and became a manager.
Steamboat pinned Flair after a failed double chickenwing attempt. Flair fell on top of Steamboat, both men's shoulders were down, but Steamboat got his left shoulder up before the three count in the third fall (55:49).
The replay would show that Flair's foot was under the bottom rope, allowing him to get one last rematch at WrestleWar 1989.
Clash of the Champions VII took place on June 14, 1989 at the Ritz-Epps Fitness Center in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The show drew a 3.8 rating on TBS. This show was used to build the Great American Bash 1989 PPV on July 23.Jimmy Garvin replaced Terry Gordy who participated in the first round match; it was Garvin's debut as an official Freebird, although he had been an "undercover" Freebird since 1983. The Freebirds beat The Road Warriors in the first round while the Dynamic Dudes beat Jack Victory and Rip Morgan. Jack Victory once again appears at a Clash of Champions under a mask, having previously appeared as "Russian Assassin #2" and "The Blackmailer" when the bookers needed a generic heel. The Ding Dongs won after a flying kneedrop / flying elbow double team move The Ding Dongs were Jim Evans and Richard Sartain who only wrestled a handful of matches under this gimmick. Stan Lane pinned Samu after the Road Warriors ran in and attacked the Samoan Swat Team while the referee was knocked out. The Midnight Express beat Bob Orton, Jr. and Butch Reed in the first round while the Samoan Swat Team beat Ranger Ross and Ron Simmons. This match is one of the very first matches the Steiner Brothers had together. Jim Cornette was attacked by Paul E. Dangerously early in the match and helped to the back by the Dynamic Dudes. Terry Funk is disqualified for hitting Ricky Steamboat with the microphone. Funk beat down on Steamboat after the match until Lex Luger made the save. After running Funk off Luger turns on Steamboat and attacks him as well.
Tom Zenk made the Cuban Assassin pass out from the Sleeper hold. This was Tom Zenk's WCW Debut match.
Scott Steiner was tripped by either Missy Hyatt or Robin Green at ringside. It was later revealed to be Robin Green who would later go on to manage Doom in a feud with the Steiner Brothers. This was the Steiner Brothers’ first ever shot at a world tag-team title.
Clash of the Champions IX took place on November 15, 1989 at the Houston Field House in Troy, New York. There were 4,000 fans in attendance and the show drew a 4.9 rating on TBS. This show mainly dealt with fallout from Halloween Havoc PPV and set up the Iron Man / Iron Team tournaments at Starrcade 1989.The Road Warriors were disqualified when Hawk hit the referee. The Freebirds had actually lost the NWA World Tag Team Championship on November 1, but the match had not aired yet, so the Freebirds were introduced as the NWA World Tag Team champions. Eaton pinned Douglas after Jim Cornette hits Douglas with his tennis racket. Jim Cornette was in a neutral corner at the start of the match before deciding to side with the Midnight Express. "The Super Destroyer" marked Jack Victory's 4th "Masked Mystery Man" appearance at a Clash ("Russian Assassin #2", "The Blackmailer" and "The Terrorist"). The Steiner Brothers had actually won the NWA World Tag Team Championship on November 1, but the match had not aired yet, so The Steiners were not announced as the champions. The Skyscrapers were disqualified when Doom ran in and attacked the Steiner Brothers. During the match Sid Vicious punctures a lung and is replaced by "Mean" Mark Callous soon after. Woman's bodyguard Nitron makes his debut during the post match brawl between the Steiners, the Skyscrapers, Doom and the Road Warriors. Lex Luger pinned Brian Pillman after hitting him with a chair while the referee was down. Sting saved Pillman from further attacks by Luger. Ric Flair forced Terry Funk to say "I Quit" on the microphone due to the pain of the Figure Four Leglock. Gary Hart attacked Funk after the match and was quickly joined by The Great Muta. Sting saved Flair from the attack only to be attacked by Lex Luger. This match received a 5-star rating from Dave Meltzer.
Clash of the Champions XII took place on September 5, 1990 at the Asheville Civic Center in Asheville, North Carolina. There were 4,000 fans in attendance and the show drew a 5.0 rating on TBS. The Master Blasters debuted at this event, however, after approximately one week Iron was replaced by Blade. Ric Flair was disqualified due to interference by Stan Hansen. After their match, Sting attempted to unmask the Black Scorpion, tearing away his black mask only to reveal a red mask underneath. The Scorpion quickly escaped when the "real" Black Scorpion appeared on the entrance ramp. Although he was never truly unmasked, the Black Scorpion that Sting wrestled was Al Perez.
Clash of the Champions XIII took place on November 20, 1990 at the Jacksonville Memorial Coliseum in Jacksonville, Florida. There were 5,000 fans in attendance and the show drew a 4.2 rating on TBS. This Clash of the Champions set up for Starrcade '90: Collision Course. The first match was originally scheduled as a 6-man tag team match with Bobby Eaton on the Fabulous Freebirds' team and El Gigante on the Southern Boys team, but before the match El Gigante was "injured" by the Freebirds, and the match was therefore changed to a regular tag team match. Ric Flair and Butch Reed both won coin tosses to determine who would represent their respective teams, while their respective partners Arn Anderson and Ron Simmons remained at ringside. Since Flair won, Flair and Anderson earned a rematch against Doom for the NWA World Tag Team titles at Starrcade and Teddy Long had to be Flair's chauffeur for a day. Had Butch Reed won, Teddy Long would have gotten the Yacht and Limosine and there would have been no rematch at Starrcade.
The event was poorly received by fans. A fan poll in the February 18, 1991 issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter showed only 79 out of 394 responding fans gave the show a "thumbs up" vote, with 48 voting "thumbs in between" and 267 voting "thumbs down." Ric Flair and Scott Steiner received the most votes for the event's best match, with 54. El Cubano vs. Ranger Ross received the most votes for the worst match of the night, with 45.
Clash of the Champions XVI took place on September 5, 1991 at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center in Augusta, Georgia. There were 2,800 fans in attendance and the show drew a 3.7 rating on TBS. The Patriots defeated the Fabulous Freebirds to win the WCW United States Tag Team Championship on August 12, but the match didn't air yet, so the Freebirds were announced as the champions. Furthermore, the titles were not on the line, making it a non-title match. Larry Zbyszko pinned Bill Kazmaier. The titles were vacated on July 18, 1991, when one half of the reigning WCW World Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers, Scott Steiner, was injured. Steiner and Kazmaier defeated The Ringlords and One Man Gang and The Executioner to advance to the finals, while The Enforcers defeated The Young Pistols and The Patriots to advance to the finals. Earlier in the evening, Kazmaier was performing "feats of strength" in the ring when Anderson and Zbyszko attacked and injured his ribs with a weight plate. They exploited this injury during the actual match to gain the victory and the Tag Team Titles.
Dick Slater replaced WCW World Television Champion Paul Orndorff, who was injured in a car accident. Earlier, Maxx Payne shot Johnny B. Badd in the face with his Baddblaster. Flair pinned Pillman (09:41), The Blonds were disqualified (11:06). Although they won two straight falls, Anderson and Flair did not win the titles because the interference by Barry Windham caused the Hollywood Blonds to get disqualified in the second fall, thus the titles could not change hands. A dark match saw Jim Neidhart defeat Shanghai Pierce.
Lord Steven Regal replaced the injured Brian Pillman. On September 1, Anderson and Roma would be stripped of the NWA World Tag Team Championship, due to WCW withdrawing from the NWA. Bobby Eaton replaced Regal, who replaced Pillman in the earlier match. If Vader had been disqualified in the main event, he would have lost the title to Smith. Cactus Jack returned after the main event match, attacking Vader. The Shockmaster made his WCW debut in one of the most infamous moments in wrestling history.
Ric Flair pinned Big Van Vader but the referee later reversed the decision to a disqualification victory for Flair as Vader had accidentally knocked down the referee. As a result, Vader retained the championship.
Early on the show, Hulk Hogan was attacked by a masked man (played by Arn Anderson, though in the storyline the assassin was eventually revealed as Brutus Beefcake). Steamboat suffered a career-ending back injury during his match. He would however make a brief in ring return for the WWE in 2009.
Lord Steven Regal injured his knee during the opening dark match against Chris Benoit. Benoit bled from the eye after receiving several headbutts. The show included the wedding of Col. Robert Parker and Sister Sherri, which was interrupted by Madusa, who was revealed to have been seeing Parker on the side. Brian Pillman, during his match with Eddy Guerrero, grabbed ringside commentator Bobby Heenan's jacket neck from behind, causing Heenan to yell "What the fuck are you doing?". Heenan later apologized for his outburst. Disco Inferno forfeited his match to perform at Parker & Sherri's wedding. This was revealed by an Elvis Impersonator (Mike Winner) who Sullivan attacked. The Road Warriors returned at this event and challenged WCW Tag Team Champions Sting and Lex Luger, with Sting agreeing to a match despite Luger being reluctant. Miss Elizabeth, Debra McMichael, Linda Bollea, Woman, and several other women initially came to the ring with Hogan & Savage. It was reported that Ric Flair, who lost the WCW World Title to Savage one day prior, threatened to quit WCW unless the finish to the main event (Hogan pinning Flair with the legdrop) was changed. At the event, Flair pinned Savage after use of a foreign object. Live reports claim 75% of the crowd left during the dark match that closed the show.
The main event was originally announced as a standard tag match, but was changed to a match for Hall and Kevin Nash's tag team titles before it began, with Randy Savage subbing for Nash under the Freebird rule.