Wrestling 365 – 4/20

By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit

Barry Windham and Lex Luger © vs Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard

WCW World Tag Team Title Match

04/20/88

Alongside the forty-five minute draw between Sting and Ric Flair at the first Clash of the Champions, the WCW Tag Team Titles changed hands in an excellent match that saw Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard lose the belts to Barry Windham and Lex Luger. Though not bought up as often as the Sting/Flair draw, this tag title switch, as well as being a good match, helped to sell the idea that anything could happen on a Clash show. Title changes for free? What more could a wrestling fan ask for?

Less than a month later saw the return match between these two teams in Jacksonville. Flair was still NWA World Champion, but the Four Horseman were short on other titles and a fourth man ever since Luger himself had been removed from the stable. However, just like any wild animal, the Four Horseman were often most dangerous when they were cornered, and they were ready to attempt to regain the world titles that they had held so resolutely before.

The first move is a Windham punch to the side of Anderson’s face, which sets the tone for what was expected going forward. Both teams were more than capable of using technique, but neither were above using a simple punch right to the face. Windham would pitch Blanchard across the ring so hard with an armdrag that the challenger slid out of the ring; Windham simply reached through the ropes and dragged him back in. A leapfrog and a monkey flip led to an atomic drop that sent Blanchard careening into Anderson as the champions took complete control in the opening moments.

Things really weren’t going the Horseman’s way as Teddy Long missed a tag and had to send Anderson back to the ring apron. Finally, Blanchard would slip the grasp of Windham and make the tag, though Anderson fared little better; Windham slammed Anderson off the top rope and locked in a figure four. As Long was distracted, Blanchard entered and raked the eyes to get their first concerted chunk of offense. In classic Tully and Anderson style, they aimed to cut the ring in half and use the dark arts of tag team wrestling to halt the tag, though Windham almost stole the victory with a sunset flip for two.

After a sleeperhold by Anderson was broken, Windham telegraphed a back body drop with a boot to the face and managed to avoid Blanchard’s clutches long enough to make a tag to Luger. The fans were out of their seats as Luger hit a powerslam and locked in the Torture Rack on Blanchard, only for Anderson to break it up with a kick to the calf. After a short break on the broadcast, Anderson cemented the challenger’s advantage as he avoided a back body drop and planted Luger with a DDT.

As Luger was pitched to ringside, Windham tried his best to stop the onslaught but even JJ Dillon aimed a couple of kicks behind the referee’s back. An Anderson spinebuster, so often the finish for Double AA matches, saw Luger kick out with authority, before almost grabbing the victory with a backslide on Blanchard for two. Intelligently, Anderson and Blanchard would often bypass Luger completely and target Windham on the turnbuckle, forcing the referee’s hand and making him focus more on the giant Texan than any nefarious double teaming.

The challengers continued to target the leg injured when breaking the Torture Rack, with several quick tags allowing them to conserve their energy. Each time Luger got a reversal or block in, he inched closer and closer to making the tag. A collision mid-ring left both Luger and Blanchard down, and with the help of an Anderson knee to the back, Luger this time managed to get the tag whilst falling through the ropes and hitting the concrete floor.

As Windham’s fire was cut short with an Anderson lowblow, Luger would get posted by Blanchard at ringside. Multiple times, Windham would go for a tag, only for no-one to be in his corner. As Dillon constantly told Windham ‘I told you so’, Luger finally fought his way back into his corner. Grabbing his partner by the hand, Windham forcibly made the tag before picking Luger up and slamming him into the canvas! A big lariat would leave Luger down and out in the middle of the ring with the crowd in stunned silence.

Anderson covered Luger for the three count to regain the WCW World Tag Team Titles, though this almost became secondary to the betrayal the occurred before the pin. By turning on Luger, Windham had not only cost himself the tag team titles, but had effectively signed his name on the dotted line to become the fourth man – the newest Horseman. Less than a month later, Windham would win the US Title and bring the last piece of gold into the Horseman stable, as the turn signified a new, dominant era for the collective.

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