Fall Brawl ended with Terry Funk placing a bag over Ric Flair’s head in an attempt to avenge having his arm injured by Flair in their continuously escalating feud. NWA official Jim Herd was forced to fine and suspend Funk for the incident – a suspension that Funk and his manager Gary Hart deeply disagreed with. Flair was so adamant about getting his hands on Funk that he paid Funk’s $100,000 fine that allowed him to be reinstated.
The NWA attempted to settle this conflict at Halloween Havoc by putting the two teams in an electrified steel cage match with Bruno Sammartino as the guest referee. A man would be chosen by each team to act as a “terminator” who would end the match by tossing in the towel. Funk and Muta chose their manager Gary Hart. Flair and Sting chose Ole Anderson.
Rick Steiner teased that he was going to ask his groupie Robin Green to marry him, but before that could happen Green set Scott Steiner up to be beaten down by her new team – two “mysterious” black men in hoods known collectively as DOOM.
The Dynamic Dudes convinced Jim Cornette to hire him on as an advisor. The Midnight Express took this in stride and re-focused on their rivalry with the Samoan SWAT Team –who were now managed by Oliver Humperdink. Tama joined the Samoan SWAT Team’s ranks as “The Samoan Savage”.
The Dudes were granted a World tag team title shot against the Freebirds at Halloween Havoc and that announcement created friction among the Express and Corny.
US Champ Lex Luger made it known he wanted to challenge Flair and Sting, but since they were busy with the J-Tex Corporation, he’d offer an open contract to anyone to face him on TV. Brian Pillman stepped up to go for the title and Luger ran away very early in the match – this led to a rematch being signed for Halloween Havoc.
The Road Warriors challenged the SkyScrapers in part due to the hype that the new giants were getting and also to get some further revenge on the Scrapers manager Teddy Long, who screwed the Road Warriors out of their World tag team titles earlier in the year.
All these events led to the Halloween Havoc PPV, which I covered last year and you can catch up with here.
After the ending of the Havoc cage match provided an unsatisfying conclusion to the Funk vs. Flair wars, one final match was agreed to – a non-title “I Quit” match that would air live at the next “Clash of the Champions” special. Funk agreed to shake Flair’s hand if he lost.
Gary Hart and Terry Funk were having some issues, stemming from the frustrations of the J-Tex unit constantly losing big matches to Flair. Hart added “The Dragon Master” and Buzz Sawyer to the group to try and improve their strength in numbers.
Following the Havoc PPV it was revealed that the Midnight Express signed to face the Dynamic Dudes at the next Clash, forcing Jim Cornette into an ultimatum.
Teddy Long and Norman were having issues as Norman had some child-like tendencies Long was attempted to be rid of – such as carrying Teddy Bears around.
Bobby and Jackie Fulton debuted as “The New Fantastics”
So with all that covered, let’s go back to November 11th, 1989 and revisit the New York Knockout!
World Tag Champions Jimmy Garvin and Michael Hayes vs. The Road Warriors
The Freebirds have a gloriously over the top entrance. I love their goofy act WAY too much. Hawk tries to unload on Hayes, so he takes a walk. Animal snatches him and tosses Hayes back in the ring. A four-way breaks out and the Birds bail quickly. Hawk press slams Hayes and he gets Garvin in ASAP. Garvin is taken down right away and Animal comes in to enjoy similar success. Animal almost misses a flying tackle on Hayes and then actually misses a charge and ends up double teamed. JR plugs The Birds defending against the Steiner Brothers this Saturday night, basically spoiling this match. Hawk comes in and batters both Birds and the ref and earns his team the lame DQ loss. Match didn’t get past the basic formula.
Gary Hart tells Funk to not embarrass his family, Texas or Hart by quitting tonight.
Eddie Gilbert and Tommy Rich vs. DOOM
Woman’s pre-match promo outfit is far from PG. She promises Rick Steiner a surprise later tonight. Gilbert neutralizes Simmons’ strength with speed and technical wrestling. Rich tags in and enjoys similar results. Reed tags in and drives Gilbert into the mat and gets a follow up suplex. Both DOOM members take turns grinding away at Gilbert. Rich gets the tag and all four guys spill into the ring. DOOM hits a modified Hart Attack clothesline and get the pin (and a pop from the crowd). Basic stuff.
Jim Cornette interviews The Steiner Brothers. Rick reveals they have dubbed Scott’s finisher as the “Frankensteiner”. Scott promises they will suplex the Skyscrapers around tonight, no matter their size. The Steiners promise to abuse a Woman tonight if she gets involved. They didn’t even plug their World tag title match that was happening that weekend.
The Dynamic Dudes vs. The Midnight Express
Cornette puts himself in a neutral corner. Eaton and Douglas start off and Express take the subtle heel role, despite the fans continuing to crap on the Dudes. Ace catches Lane with a series of dropkicks and Eaton comes in and meets the same fate. Shane hits a plancha and the crowd gives him a deserved ovation. Eaton uses some good old fashion fists to rock Shane. Douglas escapes a superplex by landing on his feet. Ace tries a head scissors and Lane cheap shots him to the crowd’s approval, Lane hacks away at Ace with karate kicks. Eaton eats knees on a rocket launcher attempt. Bobby tries to use a chain, but Cornette takes it away from him. Douglas turns his back to Cornette and gets WHACKED hard with the tennis racquet! Eaton steals the pin and the crowd loves it. The Express gloat afterward, but fail to find any heel heat.
“Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. The Super Destroyer
We can safely assume Destroyer is Jack Victory under another mask gimmick. Williams survives an early flurry, then chucks the masked man onto a ringside table in a bump that looked like it might have sucked. Dr. Death then power slams him for the pin. Norman comes out dressed as Santa and they hug. Okay then. BTW Wikipedia tells me I’m right about it being Jack Victory.
The Steiner Brothers vs. The Sky Scrapers
WWE should just dub the Steiners WWF theme instead of the stock music they are using. Spivey and Rick start. Rick struggles to chuck the big man over, but eventually does nail his desired suplex and then clotheslines him to the floor. Spivey tombstone piledrives Steiner in response. Scott tags in and frankensteiners Spivey and scoops up Sid and chucks him overhead. Sid misses a charge but that doesn’t stop the Scrapers from attempting a double team move but Spivey botches his part and Sid has to do it alone. Spivey does a half ass tilt-a-whirl slam. Rick comes in with a stiff clothesline and a power slam on Spivey. DOOM runs in to make it a 4 on 2 assault. Woman hits Rick with her shoe, but he no sells that. He stalks her until Nitron debuts and saves Woman. The Road Warriors charge in to even the odds and we have a 4 team brawl that nicely sets up Starrcade. JR tells the director to go to commercial right in the middle of the chaos. Match was fun and left me wanting more. The World Champion Freebirds are somehow not involved in the “Iron Team” scrum at Starrcade…man I really don’t like their chances of defending those titles on Saturday.
US Champion Lex Luger vs. Brian Pillman
Lex fails to ground Pillman early and eats a few dropkicks as a result. Lex bails. Another attempt to pound on Pillman goes awry and Luger bails again. Pillman misses a clothesline and flips over the rope – he skins the cat back in and surprises Luger from behind. Pillman nails a flying dropkick from the top rope. Brian starts to work over Lex’s arm by slamming it into the corner post and the railing. He then starts yanking away on it. Lex negates all that by press slamming Pillman. Then gorilla press slams him. Pillman is still spunky so The Total Package dumps him to the floor and slams him on the pavement. Lex suplexes him back in the ring and power slams him. Pillman hits some stiff chops and a flying clothesline. Pillman hits a flying crossbody but the ref is bumped accidentally. Luger cracks Pillman with a chair and the ref counts the pin. Luger cracks him several more times with the chair and locked in the torture rack afterward. Sting runs down to stop this. Luger takes a walk instead of messing with his old friend. Sting jumps him and stalks him to back. Solid match.
World Champion Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk
5 letters. 2 words. 1 winner.
Flair’s first chop sends Funk flying over the top rope. He flips over the railing for good measure. More chops and Funk goes to the floor where Flair gives chase and hits more chops. They “wrestle” for a few seconds but it turns into a two way chokehold because they HATE each other! They trade shots until Funk chucks him to the floor and unloads with punches. Funk slugs away in the corner and begs Ric to quit. A neckbreaker sets Flair up to endure some humbling slaps. Flair’s pride surges and he grabs Funk’s throat and chases him to the floor. Flair endures another neck breaker and Funk delivers a piledriver. Funk drags him to the pavement and hits ANOTHER piledriver! Flair’s up too quick after that death shot. That poor psychology seriously took me out of the match.
Funk slams Flair on a table. Flair snaps and chucks Funk over the table and into a chair. Funk is dropped crotch first on the railing. Flair starts to work over Terry’s leg. Funk is suplexed on the apron and a figure four is locked on. Funk struggles and ultimately quits.
Gary Hart tries to stop Funk from shaking Flair’s hand as he promised he would if he lost – Funk shoves him away. After the handshake Hart kicks Funk’s leg out of his leg and Flair goes after Hart. Muta and The Dragon Master charge in and lay a beating down. Sting charges in for the save and Muta and the Master are both caught in submission holds. Lex Luger sneaks down and fights with a fan over a chair, then he uses it to crack Sting with and Flair is beatdown by all 3 heels.
Another pretty solid show with a main event that is deemed 5*’s in some circles….but man Flair goes from being out almost two months from a piledriver on a table to being out 20 seconds from a piledriver on the floor? Flair should have bladed and/or laid their dramatically for at least a minute or two as Funk hounded him with the mic and begged for Flair to quit. Oh well.
The deep and varied tag team roster continues to make this journey back well worth it if nothing else. Next week I’ll cover Starrcade 89: Future Shock as the NWA prepares to enter the 1990’s!