Classic Wrestling Review: WrestleWar ’90

(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)

WrestleWar

February 25, 1990

Greensboro Coliseum

Greensboro, North Carolina

For months the storyline between Sting and Ric Flair has been building. After Starrcade, Sting became the fourth member of the reformed Four Horsemen. He was also named the #1 contender to the NWA Title because of his win in the round-robin tournament, but this didn’t sit well with Flair. Ric became increasingly paranoid about Sting. At Clash of the Champions X, WCW booked a cage match between The Horsemen and Gary Hart’s crew, but Flair decided to kick Sting out of the Horsemen during the show. Ole Anderson replaced Sting in the match. Sting came to the ring to confront the Horsemen during the bout and he started to climb the cage, but the head of security, Doug Dillinger, stopped him. He pulled Sting off the cage wall, but Sting landed awkwardly and severely injured his knee. Sting would be out for months. The storyline that WCW built crashed and burned and they were left scrambling to fix it. They decided to turn Lex Luger babyface and replace Sting in the World Title Match at WrestleWar. It wasn’t ideal, but it was probably the best decision they had. WCW did their best to build the idea that Luger was getting revenge for Sting. The wrestlers would wear armbands throughout this show that said, “Avenge Sting.” It seemed to work because the fans were behind the idea.

There are a few other notes for this show. At Clash of the Champions, Doom was finally unmasked to reveal that it was Ron Simmons and Butch Reed, all along! Shocking, I know. Woman would leave the team and move on to better things by joining up with the Horsemen. Doom would get a new manager, but I’ll get to that later. Also, Sid is still injured, so he was replaced in the Skyscrapers by a newcomer named Mean Mark Callous. Mean Mark is a tall, pale redhead who needs a little sun because he looks almost dead. Wait, what am I saying? That’s just silly. He’s impressive looking, but I have a feeling we won’t see much more of him. Okay, okay! I can hear you groaning from here. I’m joking, of course. Mean Mark is the man who would become The Undertaker by the end of the year. The last note I have is about WCW’s promotional deal with Roos shoes. They were a short-lived brand of shoes that had little pockets on them, like a kangaroo. I provided a link to some cheesy commercials that WCW wrestlers did for the company. It’s on both the Facebook and Twitter pages for this blog. WCW put advertisements for these shoes on the ring posts for this event.

Okay, enough stalling. Let’s get on with the show.

The show opens with some painfully 90s graphics that look like a rip-off of the Saved by the Bell opening. There is even a WrestleWar rap that claims everyone is doing the Wild Thing and brimming with intentions to bust a move.

Jim Ross and Terry Funk welcome everyone to the show. Funk says he could be the mascot for the show, The Wild Thing, and he calls Ross “Jimbo Didley”. Ross replies by telling Funk he looks spiffy. He then announces that Dan Spivey is injured and won’t be competing tonight. The truth is, Spivey had a falling out with management. He took his ball and went home, but he would be back. Ross and Funk then run through the rest of the card before introducing Gordon Solie, who is with Teddy Long.

Teddy Long is dressed to fight and is doing a little shadow boxing. Gordon calls him “Dancing Teddy Long”, but Teddy tells him it’s “Sugar Ray Long”. Teddy talks about the street fight between The Skyscrapers and The Road Warriors and tells Paul Ellering to get ready. He claims he cannot tell a lie and admits he hired another wrestler to take Dan Spivey’s place. He also claims he has another surprise and it’s a big one. Gordon asks if he’s lying about Spivey, but Teddy says he would never do that. He says Spivey is injured and that’s a fact.

Buzz Sawyer & Kevin Sullivan vs. The Dynamic Dudes

Kevin Sullivan is back and he’s formed a new stable of wrestlers called The Slaughterhouse. It consists of Kevin, Buzz Sawyer, and Cactus Jack, whom I’ll talk about later. Sullivan and Sawyer are already in the ring and Buzz makes sure the camera focuses on him during the introductions. The Dudes come out next and they’ve ditched their skateboards again. Shane Douglas looks less than enthused to be there, but Johnny Ace happily throws his t-shirt into the crowd.

Buzz and Johnny start the match and Buzz starts leaning on him, which makes Johnny uncomfortable. Johnny answers back with a monkey flip, dropkick, and a dive to the outside. This frustrates Sullivan and Sawyer and they end up arguing with each other for a moment. Buzz fights back with some rather disturbing yelling and Sullivan ends up pulling Shane out to the floor. They use ref distractions to attack Douglas outside and Sawyer laughs at his handiwork. They suplex Douglas around and Buzz bites him, while Ross compares Buzz to Peter Boyle. I would call that a pretty accurate comparison. Poor Shane is thrown in and out of the ring and Buzz uses bear hugs to wear him down. He eventually fights back and makes a tepid tag to Johnny, who slams and dropkicks their opponents. Johnny then attempts a head scissor takeover, but he either botches it or Buzz sandbags him because it fails. Sawyer then hits a flying splash off the top for the win. However, he legitimately breaks his wrist in the process. The replay is uncomfortable to watch.

This was a decent opener. It wasn’t great, but Buzz’s mannerisms made it entertaining. The injury at the end does make it tough to watch, but it’s thankfully nowhere near as bad as Sid’s infamous injury in 2001.

Winners: Sullivan & Sawyer (10:15)

Missy Hyatt is backstage with Norman the Lunatic, who is wearing a helicopter beanie and some Sting armbands that are inside out. He’s also holding a bunch of teddy bears that he plans on giving to fans. He tells Missy that she reminds him of his sister and then convinces her to hug and kiss him for good luck. Whoa! I guess that Norman and Mark Henry would get along great! He tries to press his luck again for one more kiss, but Missy claims she hears the bell ringing. She says she was saved by the bell. Someone in WCW must really like that show.

Norman the Lunatic vs. Cactus Jack Manson

I briefly mentioned Norman in my Starrcade review, but I will go into more detail now. His gimmick is that he’s a lovable mental patient. He is a precursor to both the Eugene and Dave Sullivan characters. Why does wrestling keep trying this gimmick? He was originally managed by Teddy Long, who carried around a key to remind him he could lock him up at any time. That explains the key that I didn’t understand in a previous review. Norman broke free from Long and is now on his own. His real name is Mike Shaw, but some of you might remember him as Bastion Booger. On the flip side, we have Cactus Jack, who needs no introduction. I will give him one anyway. This is the first of three faces of Mick Foley. He’s still using the Manson surname here. He picked that up in World Class Championship Wrestling in Dallas. He would eventually drop that part of his name, but this character would last for quite a while. This is part of a short run he would have with WCW, but he will be back for a longer stint soon enough.

Jack comes to the ring with no music and he’s soon followed by Norman, who has what sounds like the Roseanne theme for his music. It’s fitting because Terry Funk states that Norman has the head of a buffalo and the body of Roseanne. That’s horrifying! Where does he keep them? In his garage? Norman hands out teddy bears to the crowd and dances to his music, but Jack attacks him when he enters the ring.

Jack chokes Norman on the ropes and makes a cover, but Norman presses him right out of the ring. Terry Funk takes the opportunity to sing, “Cactus Jack likes his coffee black!” Is Funk drunk? Jack continues his attack, but Norman starts shaking off his offense. He backs Jack into a corner and whips him around the ring. Jack takes some crazy bumps over the ropes and even gets back dropped over the guardrail. Jack manages to reverse Norman into the post and hits a dropkick off the apron before heading back into the ring. He rips and bites at Norman’s face and tries some headbutts, but Norman’s head is too hard. Unfortunately, Jack also slows down the match with some holds. However, Norman lifts Jack up onto his shoulders and hits an electric chair drop. He tries to follow up with a falling headbutt, but he misses and Jack hits some running knee attacks on the ropes. Norman eventually moves and back drops Jack again. Ross says that Norman is on a roll and Funk jokes that if he laid down, he’d always be on a roll. Jack fights back and tries a piledriver, but Norman back drops him. Jack tries to turn it into a sunset flip, but Norman sits down on him for a 3 count.

Foley bumped like a boss to make Norman look good, but this match was slow at times. There were shades of good stuff, but I couldn’t get into it. Foley was still early in his career and had some improving to do, but his penchant for nasty bumps was already present.

Winner: Norman the Lunatic (9:33)

Next, Gordon Solie is interviewing The Midnight Express and Jim Cornette. Gordon brings up their success in the past against the Rock n’ Roll Express, but he says things change. Cornette replies that a lot of things change, but some things never change. They still hate the Rock n’ Roll Express. He calls it the greatest tag team match-up in wrestling history. He also says that they will beat them, hurt them, and put them out of wrestling. Jim claims they’ve faced them more times than they’ve done Hello Dolly on Broadway, but they never get tired of beating up those punks. Then, he asks Stan Lane what day it is and Stan replies, “The day the music died.” Cornette also said the phrase, “Some things never change,” a hundred times, but I paraphrased him. It was a good promo if a bit repetitive.

The Rock n’ Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette)

Thankfully, the Midnight Express have finally turned heel again. They made the transition by attacking the Dynamic Dudes, which sounds like a face turn, to me. WCW was smart enough to cement this change by bringing in the Midnights’ old nemesis, The Rock n’ Roll Express. Robert and Ricky come out first and Morton’s mullet is looking quite glorious. Funk attempts to do some more singing, but Ross ignores him. The Midnight Express comes out next and Cornette grabs a mic, but it doesn’t work. I think he introduces his team. Stan Lane takes the mic next and it finally starts working. Stan claims that Cornette stole Ivana from Donald Trump, but Ross is shocked to learn that Cornette even likes girls. Funk claims he hates Cornette and Ross kind of implies it’s jealousy, which legitimately angers Terry.

Lane and Gibson start the match. They trade-off arm drags, hip tosses, and shoulder blocks until the Midnights become frustrated. Lane gets into a shoving match with referee Nick Patrick, which leads to Cornette challenging him to a fight. Cornette and Patrick nearly come to blows, but Jim thinks the better of it and heads to the floor. Lane and Morton continue the match and Ricky sends the Midnights crashing into each other. Lane and Eaton get into a brief disagreement, but they regain their composure. Eaton comes in and demands a test of strength, but Morton climbs him like a step-ladder and hits an axehandle off his shoulders. The two teams fight in and out of the ring until Lane slams Morton hard on the floor. Ricky finds himself in trouble for a while and the Midnights use ref distractions for some cheating. Cornette gets caught using his racket by the cameraman and tries to play it off like he was using it to scratch his back. Lane and Eaton focus their attacks on Ricky’s back and arm and eventually go for the Rocket Launcher, but Ricky gets his knees into the gut. He makes the hot tag to Robert, who back drops, slams, and dropkicks both men. All four end up in the ring and Cornette hits Gibson in the back with his racket, but they only get a 2 count. The Midnights then try a double flapjack, but Morton spears Eaton out of the way and Gibson rolls up Lane for the win.

This was a great match, as was expected. The beatdown of Ricky might have gone on a bit too long, but it wasn’t enough to ruin the match. Cornette was also highly entertaining in this, as usual.

Winners: The Rock n’ Roll Express (19:31)

Gordon is backstage with The Road Warriors and Paul Ellering. They’re dressed in street clothes, as opposed to their usual spikes. Solie brings up Spivey being injured and Animal says that’s right. He then points at his Sting armband and calls him his brother in paint. He says they’re wearing the armbands to help them as if they need help kicking the Skyscrapers’ butts. Huh? He’s sending mixed signals. Hawk says that they went back to Chicago and slept in alleys and gutters. They put 16 guys in the hospital getting psyched for the match. He also claims that Ellering just got back from Hong Kong. Then, he brings up Teddy Long’s surprise but says it will be the same old story. They win and the Skyscrapers lose. Ellering speaks last and says he’s aware that Long could have Spivey lying in wait. He says they’re ready and dares Teddy to stick his nose into the match.

Chicago Street Fight: The Road Warriors (w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Skyscrapers (w/ Teddy Long)

Teddy Long leads the new Skyscrapers to the ring and we see that Spivey’s replacement is wearing a mask. They refer to him simply as The Masked Skyscraper, but it’s Mike Enos under a hood. Enos might be more well known for his run as Blake Beverly or his later WCW run. Mean Mark is dressed in street clothes, with chaps over the top of his jeans. Leading this team to victory might be quite the undertaking. I’m sorry. I’ll stop. The Road Warriors come out next and ride on the back of motorcycles. Teddy Long grabs a mic and tries to speak, but he’s drowned out by the crowd, the music, and the motorcycles. Ellering gets his own mic and dares Long to fight him. Mark fires Teddy up and sends him into the ring, but Ellering quickly dispatches him.

All four men immediately start brawling. The Road Warriors clothesline them and they break into pairs. They fight into the corners and Hawk slams the Masked Skyscraper, while Animal fights with Mark. While they fight, the unmasked Doom arrives at ringside and Teddy Long meets with them. The Skyscrapers take advantage of the distraction and Mean Mark hotshots Hawk, but Hawk pretty much no-sells it. The four men break into pairs again and Mark chokes Hawk on the ropes before they fight outside. Hawk hits a flying clothesline off the apron, but Mark responds by choking him with his wrist tape. Meanwhile, The Masked Skyscraper and Animal awkwardly fight in the corner like they were waiting for a spot. The four men end up in the ring again and the Skyscrapers miss a double clothesline. Animal back drops Mean Mark out of the ring and Mark decides he’s done with this nonsense. He leaves The Masked Skyscraper to take a Doomsday Device, which gives the Road Warriors the win.

This was a nothing brawl. It might have been better with the original Skyscrapers, but probably not by much. It served more to set-up what happens after the match.

Winners: The Road Warriors (4:59)

After the match, Animal pulls Teddy Long into the ring and press slams him onto Doom. Simmons and Reed start brawling with The Road Warriors and Ron tries to use an object on Animal, but he takes it away from him. They continue brawling in and out of the ring until the Road Warriors finally send them packing.

Ross then recaps the night, so far. He talks about the remaining matches. Ross says that the remaining bouts are all for titles and Terry Funk gets so fired up about the NWA that Ross has to calm him. They show a replay of the match and Funk calls Teddy Long a potato head. He also says that Long could eat a banana sideways. What’s that supposed to mean?

NWA U.S. Tag Team Title Match: Flyin’ Brian & Z-Man (c) vs. The Freebirds

WCW decided to bring back the U.S. Tag Team Titles in an attempt to get Pillman & Zenk over as a team. A tournament was held to crown the new champs. Pillman & Zenk beat The Freebirds in the finals, which set up this rematch. The Freebirds dance their way to the ring first, as Ross recaps the tag title tournament. Pillman & Zenk are out next and they get a pretty good reaction. I guess the push is working. They high five almost every fan in the front row before getting into the ring. The Freebirds then invite a couple of women to join them. Ross claims he doesn’t know whether the one woman is trying to get into her dress or out of it, which greatly amuses Funk. The Freebirds turn around and remove their jackets, but Pillman & Zenk take the women’s place and surprise Hayes & Garvin. They take the jackets and knock them out of the ring before dancing to the Freebirds’ music for a moment.

Hayes and Pillman start the match. Michael struts and stalls, but the Freebirds quickly fall victim to Brian and Tom’s athleticism. They keep Hayes down and go after his arm, but Michael yells at the ref that he doesn’t submit. Garvin comes in, but they go after his arm, as well. Hayes finally takes control with a sleeper. Pillman fights out, but he catches a punch in the corner. Ross and Funk argue over whether it was a right or a left. It was a left. The Freebirds control the match with some double teaming until Garvin and Pillman collide. Zenk comes in and hits 10 punches in the corner before grabbing his own sleeper hold, The Z-Lock. Garvin breaks it up off the top rope and Hayes nearly gets a pin. The Freebirds take back control and Ross calls Hayes an evil man, for some reason. Z-Man almost fights back, but he doesn’t tag after a powerslam. Apparently, Ross and Funk become bored because they start talking about toothpaste and bad breath. Zenk eventually counters with a DDT and tags Pillman, who back drops and dropkicks both men. All four men end up in the ring and Zenk seems a bit lost. The ref becomes distracted by trying to regain control and Garvin sends Z-Man into the cameraman, but Pillman is legal. Brian hits a flying cross body off the top and gets a 3 count.

This match was too slow and a little sloppy. I couldn’t get into it. Pillman & Zenk were good, but I’m starting to not care about this Freebirds revival.

Winners: Flyin’ Brian & Z-Man (24:32)

NWA World Tag Team Title Match: The Steiner Brothers (c) vs. Arn & Ole Anderson

They go straight into the next match. It felt like something was edited out of the network version, but I have no idea. The Andersons make their way to the ring and we see that Arn is now the TV Champion. The Steiners come out next and Rick has a sign taped to his chest that says, “Sting’s Revenge.” He holds it up for the Andersons to see. Ross claims that he’s never called a tag title match between brother teams. Somewhere, Hulk Hogan says, “They’re all brother teams, brother!”

Arn and Scott start and Arn quickly attacks Rick. Rick pulls him outside and the four men brawl before the Steiners clear the ring with a flurry of punches. Arn tries to lure Scott into the Andersons’ corner, but he’s not falling for it. The Steiners keep the advantage and Ole tries to tell the ref to get that “Motherf-” back, but he censors himself when he sees the camera. The Andersons keep getting in trouble and The Steiners keep them at bay. Scott even manages to lock Arn in a Figure Four, but Ole breaks the hold. All four men brawl again and Scott muscles Ole over for a powerslam that some fans rank as a 10. Rick comes in and the Andersons try to double team him. Ole rams him into the corner, but Rick rams his own head into the turnbuckle to show it doesn’t hurt. However, the double teaming becomes too much. Scott eventually enters the match again, but he hits the ring post on a missed clothesline. The Andersons pounce on his arm like sharks and wear him down with holds. Scott finally fights back with knees to the gut on a Vader Bomb attempt by Arn. He also hits a Frankensteiner and tags Rick, who hits both Andersons with Steinerlines. The Andersons try to double team him again, but he kicks Ole away and rolls up Arn for the win.

I sadly found this match a bit disappointing. There was some good action, but it never found a good flow. Perhaps my expectations were too high because of the teams involved.

Winners: The Steiner Brothers (16:05)

After the match, the Andersons immediately attack Scott. Ole dives off the top with a knee drop to Scott’s arm and they leave. Scott holds his arm in pain, while Ross and Funk speculate that it might be broken. This part was good and maybe it means these teams will have a chance to have a better match.

Next, Gordon is with Lex Luger. He asks Luger for his thoughts on his match. Luger says the time for talk is over with, but he’s got a big case of the butterflies. He also says he’s in top physical condition and both of those things are good for him and bad for Flair. The Horsemen tried to take him out and that’s bad for Flair too. He says that all he’s thought about is the powerslam and the rack. He claims that no one has gotten out of the rack and Flair is going to be put in the hold tonight.

Ross and Funk then make their predictions for the match. Funk says that this is not a happening. It’s an athletic event. Is that supposed to be a shot at Gorilla Monsoon? Ross also talks about Luger nearly winning the title in the past and then he sends it to Gordon Solie, who is with Flair and Woman.

Gordon says that a lot of ringsiders are predicting that Flair will lose. Ric replies that when you’ve been king of the sport for ten years, you fear no man and pay no attention to anyone’s opinion but your own. Flair then asks Woman what she thinks of Luger. She replies that Luger better get his engine started. Flair laughs and claims that says it all. He then warns Luger to gear up because he’s coming his way.

NWA World Title Match: Ric Flair (c) (w/ Woman) vs. Lex Luger

Before the match, Gary Cappetta introduces Sting. He talks about how tragedy befell him earlier in the month. Sting walks to the ring on crutches and poses for the fans. Ross says that Sting will be back, but Funk disagrees. Luger comes out next and power walks to the ring. He doesn’t pose when his fireworks go off, which probably made the pyro guy happy. Luger is wearing his U.S. Title, but it’s not on the line tonight. Flair comes out next with Woman and he does pose with his pyro. Ross talks about how it’s Ric’s birthday, but he says it will be Luger’s day. Flair makes Nick Patrick hold the ropes open for him, while Funk refuses to admit that Flair is better than him. Patrick then explains the rules to both men, but the fans drown him out with a “Luger” chant.

The two men start by reversing through some holds until Luger starts powering Flair around the ring. Ric keeps stalling, but Luger keeps throwing him. Luger eventually grabs a bear hug and leans Flair into a pin, but the cameraman misses it. He was too busy focusing on Woman, so Funk complains about it. He says he’s not interested in looking at pretty girls. Flair takes control when Luger flies out of the ring on a missed clothesline. He fights him in and out of the ring and uses ref distractions so Woman can attack him. He cuts off Luger’s comebacks and Luger sells the attacks with a loud, “OOOOF!!” Ric wears him down and works on Lex’s arm for a while. Luger finally grabs a sleeper, but Flair fights out of it. Lex then rams Ric’s leg into the post and attempts a Figure Four, but he botches it worse than The Miz. However, he does manage to hit a powerslam for a close 2 count. Flair eventually takes back control and surprisingly hits an axehandle off the top!! Then, he goes after the leg and locks in a Figure Four. He starts using the ropes for leverage, so Sting returns to ringside. Luger reverses the hold into the ropes and Sting fires him up with a slap. Luger begins hulking-up. He press slams Flair and throws him off the top rope before signaling for the rack, but Woman distracts him. Ric attacks and accidentally takes out Nick Patrick, but Luger makes a comeback. He hits what Ross calls a “Lex Superplex”, but there’s no ref to make the count. The Andersons decide to take advantage and run to the ring for an attack. Luger fends them off and puts Flair into the Torture Rack, so The Andersons decide to attack Sting. Luger has no choice but to drop Flair and save Sting, but this causes him to be counted out by Nick Patrick.

This was a great match, but that ending was a bit disappointing. I still enjoyed 99% of this. I understand that Luger wasn’t going to win here, so I can see why they would keep him looking somewhat strong. The story they told was still good.

Winner: Ric Flair (by Count Out) (38:08)

The Andersons continue attacking Luger and Sting is helpless to stop them, but The Steiners arrive to save the day. They fend off the Horsemen and send them retreating to the back.

Ross calls it a shocking situation and then thanks the fans for watching. He plugs the next PPV, but he calls it Armed and Dangerous. That name would soon be changed to Capital Combat. Funk tries to talk about the match some more, but Ross has to cut him off because the show is ending. He says goodnight while the credits roll.

Final thoughts:

I would call this show good but not great. There was some good action and the main event was great, but half of it fell flat. Considering the fact that WCW had to change plans so late, it’s understandable. However, some things could have been controlled. There were a lot of tag team matches. Only two of the bouts were singles. Also, I’m starting to find the constant digs at the WWF on commentary a bit tiresome. They went into overdrive on this show. It seemed like every match had to have comments. It starts to make WCW look a bit bush league and immature. The WWF would also become bad about this in the future. On a side note, I noticed a fan in the front row that had a sign that read, “We have Herd enough.” How did that fan know about that kind of backstage info in 1990? I’m guessing someone in the company gave him that sign as a form of protest.

Thank you for reading. Be sure to like and follow the Facebook page for this blog by clicking here. You can also follow the Twitter page by clicking here. I post updates and fun items throughout the week. I look forward to your feedback.

My next review will be WrestleMania VI. Look for it next Saturday!

 

Written by Paul Matthews

I chronologically review NWA/WCW and WWF/WWE PPVs on the WWE Network. I put out a new review every Saturday. Like and Follow the Facebook page for this blog here: https://www.facebook.com/ClassicWrestlingReview. Also, follow me on twitter @PaulDMatthews78

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