Clash of the Champions 8:Fall Brawl ’89
The aftermath of the Great American Bash saw the booking of a tag team war following the chaotic ending of that PPV- Sting and Ric Flair were signed to collide with Terry Funk and The Great Muta live on national TV at Clash of the Champions 8 and that match up truly promised to be a Fall Brawl!
Before they could get to the match though, the bad blood spilled out early and Funk and Flair and Sting and Muta both had numerous singles matches at the NWA’s house shows. The biggest of these events had to be an show at the Omni held days before the Clash – Ric Flair beat Funk in a “Texas Death Match” and Muta upended Sting in a match that determined the NWA TV championship (a title that was held up following the controversial finish to their Bash PPV encounter).
Funk and Muta also became aligned with “Dirty” Dick Slater, who was returning to a prominent role in the NWA for the first time in over 3 years. Slater’s role in Gary Hart’s “J-Tex Corporation” would lead to Flair breaking his arm for revenge for aiding the evil men who sought to inflict so much pain unto Flair. Terry Funk would also suffer an arm injury prior to the Clash, and that made his role in the main event questionable. More on that later.
After losing to US Champion Lex Luger by DQ at the Bash, Ricky Steamboat vowed to defeat him if granted another match, but this was abandoned quickly as only a week or two later it was announced that Steamboat had left the NWA to undergo foot surgery. Veteran Tommy Rich ended up receiving several shots as Luger had no other suitable competition lined up.
The Road Warriors and Samoan SWAT team failed to settle their differences coming off the heels of WAR GAMES, and so a series of steel cage bouts were signed for house shows across the country.
Rick Steiner’s obsessed fan/girlfriend Robin Green was become increasingly sexualized in the weeks following the Bash and speculation arose as to what kind of distraction her appearance would cause the Steiners as they received their first ever World tag team title match at the Clash.
Dr. Death and Mike Rotunda continued their rivalry, competing in several TV matches under various stipulations.
The debuts in the weeks between the Bash and the Clash were The State Patrol (a glorified jobber tag team), and Tom Zenk (who burned his bridge in the WWF 2 years earlier and was finally now getting another shot at the big stage).
September 12th, 1989
Coming off the crazy finish to the Bash that truly should have spiked interest in the product, the NWA was only able to draw 2600 fans to this night of potential feud blow offs.
Jim Ross and Jim Cornette call the action with Gordon Solie conducting interviews.
Solie interviews Gary Hart – he insists the J-Tex Corporation is not suffering from any issues despite rumors that others are spreading.
The Road Warriors vs. The Samoan SWAT Team
Animal and Fatu start off – Samu drops him with a big thrust kick but Animal roars back with a power slam and then he downs both Samoans, who then flee. Hawk and Samu give it a go, but the Samoan takes a walk, only to have Animal splatter him on the cement floor. Both Warriors take turns taking apart Fatu until Hawk misses a charge and flies to the concrete. Samu then drops Hawk crotch first on the steel barricade. The Samoans drop stereo headbutts to Hawk’s face and crotch. A modified Demolition Decapitation gets a near fall. Fatu tries a flying splash but he lands on Hawk’s boot in an ugly looking spot.
Animal tags in and blitzes through both Samoans and things break down into a four way brawl. The Samoans try using Paul E’s phone but Hawk intercepts it and hits Fatu right in front of the ref. The Warriors nail a Doomsday Device for the tainted win. The Samoans leave without Paul E afterwards.
The Z-Man vs. The Cuban Assassin
This is Tom Zenk’s NWA TV debut. Zenk sends the Assassin to the floor with a number of dropkicks. The Cuban and Zenk exchange basic stuff for a few minutes until Zenk locks in a sleeper for the win. Pretty dull.
South Carolina declared today “Ric Flair Day”. I giggled at their governor saying “Styling and Profiling” in a monotone politician voice.
Ranger Ross vs. Sid Vicious
Dan Spivey joins his partner at ringside (in always fashionable Zubaz). Ross is attacked from behind and knocked to the floor. Ross fights back with his combat kick and martial arts. Sid no sells that and hits a DDT, a helicopter slam and a powerbomb for the pin. THAT’s how you get a monster over!
They play a vignette of Robin “Woman” Green and Missy Hyatt on a shopping spree. Woman makes sure to mention Rick Steiner gave her carte blanche on credit card usage. She buys a $1200 dress and an $800 necklace. They also ride in a limo because they are stars~! (Dave Meltzer would approve, given his recent rant on World Champion Daniel Bryan riding in a rental car on RAW.) Campy but fun segment.
World tag team champions The Fabulous Freebirds vs. The Steiner Brothers
I’m not sure why Missy Hyatt is still with the Steiners since she’s Eddie Gilbert’s squeeze and no longer connected to Rick Steiner. “Freebird” by Skynyrd is edited off (I assume that’s what they were using at this point) and it makes the over the top gyrating dance moves the ‘Birds do 10 times funnier than intended. Terrible stock music for the win! Why not just use Badstreet USA?
Hayes struts and moonwalks. Missy declares his moves to be so-so. Scott controls Hayes early, until “P.S.” hits an AWESOME looking punch that drops Scotty. JR plugs the WCW Hotline that has live play by play of the show. “Turn us down and see how they are calling the action!” Very odd. (Ed. note: I’d pay the premium to have Jim Ross do live play by play to this day. Missed marketing opportunity!)
Scott clotheslines both heels down and that forces the ‘Birds to an impromptu strategy session. Garvin takes his turn and Scott gives him his medicine. Rick nails both Freebirds with Steinerlines. Hayes comes back in and stalls and dances and stalls and…dances. Rick drops Hayes and Garvin with back to back powerslams. Hayes crashes from a belly to belly overhead suplex, but Rick runs into the turnbuckle and eats a DDT.
Rick is worn down until he manages to reverse a suplex into one of his own and Scotty comes in ON FIRE. Both heels are Frankensteinered and Steinerlined! A four way brawl breaks out and Robin Green “accidentally” trips Scott and Hayes hits the DDT for the win. Very good match! I’m really looking forward to seeing the Steiner’s matches for the next 2 years worth of “super cards”.
Brian Pillman vs. Norman the Lunatic
Pillman is jumped to start but Norman is hit with a dropkick and a suplex (!) Norman rolls to the floor and Pillman hits him with a flying crossbody. Pillman turns his back like a rookie and gets squashed. Norman hits a second rope splash and kicks him to the floor. He props Pillman onto the ringpost and splashes into him. A second try and Norman hits the post. Pillman hits a flying dropkick back in the ring but is caught on a cross body and power slammed. Brian gets a desperation crucifix for the pin. Brisk match and shockingly entertaining.
Gary Hart tells Solie if he doesn’t believe Terry Funk is really in the building, then he should follow him and see for himself. Solie says “Alright”…and then stays as Hart walks away. LOL.
“Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. Mike Rotunda
Williams charges the ring and Mike bails. Dr. Death no sells an attempted ambush and press slams Rotunda. Doc hits a football tackle but crashes and burns on another charge. Rotunda locks in an abdominal stretch and I thank goodness that Gorilla Monsoon isn’t calling this. Mike works rest holds and jabs Doc’s eyes with a taped thumb. Rotunda tries a top rope attack and is press slammed off. Rotunda misses a charge and splats on the floor. Doc rolls thru on a slam to gain the win. Rotunda attacks Death after. Mike’s offense is a bore.
US Champion Lex Luger vs. Tommy Rich
Rich is far far far removed from his sex symbol past. Pasty, pudgy and looking old. A fan has a sign that calls Lex “The Untotal Package”. What does that even mean? Incomplete package you goof.
Rich hits some fisticuffs and takes him over with an arm drag. Lex knocks Tommy over with a shoulder block and gets a face pop. Rich out maneuvers Lex and drops him with a big punch. Corny and JR give Rich’s full history – including mentioning his last 5 years of being in a “slump”. I’m not sure that’s the best angle to try and put a guy over. Lex can’t sustain any offense as the slumping vet Rich keeps cutting him off and grounding him with armbars. Chris Jericho must have cribbed most of his 1004 holds from Tommy Rich’s playbook. “Wildfire” misses a drop kick and is driven into the mat with a powerslam. Rich rallies and Lex misses a charge and crashes to the floor.
Rich tries a suplex on Luger and things get ugly as Rich can’t flip him and Lex is dropped on his head instead. They roll with it and Luger rolls on Rich to attempt a pin. Lex tries a rack but Rich slips off – Luger blocks a roll up attempt that follows. Lex hits a superplex and Rich refuses to stay down. Lex misses a dive and Rich fires up. Rich tosses punches and hits the Thesz press (his finisher). Lex gets a foot on the ropes to save his title. Rich goes against his veteran know-how and thinks he won so he turns his back and stops the assault. Luger bails but is caught in a sleeper hold. Lex catches him with a stun gun to free himself and snags the win. Rich attacks Lex after.
The fans didn’t buy Rich winning this at all it seems but they worked a pretty solid match by the end.
Gordon Solie is with Gary Hart again and Hart announces Terry Funk has had his arm broken by Ric Flair.
Sting and Ric Flair vs. The Great Muta and Dick Slater
Slater is suppose to be a “surprise” partner to replace Terry Funk, but the graphics department have pre-made credits for him. Sting coming out to Flair’s theme seems so wrong. The women that come down with them look less than thrilled to be there.
Sting and Muta feel each other out as JR teaches us that Muta’s yellow mist is the most deadly – it has yet to be used in the NWA. (Yellow is considered the paralyzing mist, but black Poison Mist is the most deadly. Then again this is 1989 so who knows how things were back then?) Sting one-ups Muta and Slater is so bent out of shape that he flips half way in the ring. Flair tags in and chops Muta hard a few times – that’s enough to convince Muta to tag out.
Slater eats some big chops too and he gets hung up in the ropes and kicked until he lands on the ropes testicles first. Slater manages to flip Flair over the turnbuckles, but Ric just runs over by Muta and chops him. Things break down and Flair ends up on the floor and Muta hits a plancha. Sting then launches at Muta. All four men brawl.
Gary Hart calls for a regrouping meeting and Slater and Muta are able to control Sting until Sting fights his way out of the corner and tags in Flair. Flair and Slater go blow for blow in close quarters until Dick hits a neckbreaker. Muta and Slater take turns wearing Flair down. Sting manages to make a tag and another four-way brawl occurs.
Muta is hit with the Stinger splash and locks in the Scorpion Death Lock. Gary Hart sneaks in and KO’s Sting with a roll of coins. That gets 2. I bought that as the finish.
Muta hits a powerbomb. Slater slams Sting on the concrete. Muta whips Sting into the railing. Sting avoids a piledriver and tags Ric back in. That spawns another four-way brawl. Sting gets a face full of mist; not just any mist…
YELLOW MIST OF DOOM~!
Flair tries to lock in the figure four but Slater blasts him with his cast. Terry Funk comes in (with a suit that has one arm ripped off for his cast) and puts a plastic bag over Flair’s head! Flair desperately bails out in order to try and breathe. Sting has his leg whacked with the branding iron. Flair is laid out and given CPR. Absolute chaos to set up the next chapter in this blood feud – Sting and Flair vs. Funk and Muta in an electrified steel cage match!
I’m fairly certain that final suffocation angle got the NWA a lot of heat with TBS but it certainly felt raw and gritty and certainly not scripted. The war must go on and how can you not want to see the next chapter unfold after THAT! Another solid outing pretty much from the top to bottom for the NWA.