After the stinker that the NWA just put on in Cleveland, I have to say I’m not too amped up for this. I know the card is actually good, but the previous show was so damn bad. I can’t imagine watching something that terrible again. Hopefully, I won’t be doing so. I seem to remember a match between Sting and Butch Reed advertised here. A six man tag with the Original Midnight Express and Paul E. Dangerously facing off against the Midnight Express and Jim Cornette! Barry Windham defending his US Championship against Lex Luger! Mike Rotunda challenging Rick Steiner for the TV Title! The Road Warriors facing the Varsity Club! Flair vs. Steamboat! Yeah, there’s no way this is going to be as bad as Clash 5, right?
– February 20th, 1989, from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois
The introduction’s music is so 80’s that I think it’s dubbed in as no promotion would have used this. I had to check, and that did turn out to be the case. Jim Ross and Magnum TA will be doing commentary on this show, and they tell us that Michael Hayes will face Russian Assassin #2! There’s the match that I couldn’t name. They show us another introduction type video, and it’s something they really should have put on the Clash to advertise this show. I don’t see the point of advertising a show that people already bought.
Russian Assassin #1 (w/Paul Jones) vs. Michael Hayes
Pre-Match Thoughts: I’m absolutely shocked that they had interviews in the back during this show. They hadn’t before! We have Michael Hayes with Bob Caudle, and he rants and raves like a crazy person. For whatever reason, he hypes up the four title matches instead of his own match. I absolutely love hearing the “Badstreet USA” entrance theme. This was advertised as Hayes against Russian Assassin #2, but now they’re calling Jack Victory…Russian Assassin #1. I spotted a fan wearing a Jake Roberts shirt, you’re at the wrong show, kid.
Match Review: Quite a few empty seats on camera at this early juncture. The match starts with Assassin putting Hayes in a headlock, and Hayes turning it into one of his own. Assassin takes Hayes down with a hip toss, and Hayes summarily blocks an atomic drop. He gives the Assassin a clothesline, then lands a punch from the second rope for a 1 count. Hayes decides to work on Assassin’s left arm, then gives him a back elbow. He tries a sunset flip, it gets 2. After an arm drag, it’s back to the arm. Duh, right? Assassin gets out of it, and throws Hayes to the floor. He gets right back in, and hits the big man. To the arm again, then Hayes takes a hard knee to the gut. Assassin puts him in a choke, then lands a flying shoulderblock for 2. The referee in this match counts way too slow, I’ve never seen him before and I guess there’s a reason for that. Assassin goes to a chinlock, bringing on some USA chants from the crowd. Hayes fights out of it, and lands a cross body for 2. Assassin comes back with a clothesline, and gets 2 himself. He’s chinlocking once again, and finally we go on to something else. Hayes clotheslines the Assassin in the corner, then turns his back to play to the crowd and gets hit from behind. That was a bad idea on Hayes part. Hayes blocks some turnbuckle shots, then gives Assassin a whole bunch of them. He tries a bulldog, but Assassin throws him across the ring instead. Hayes blocks a suplex attempt and gives out one of his own, but misses an elbow drop. He dodges a charge to the corner, and gives Assassin 10 punches in another corner. Hayes gets sent into the ropes, comes off them with a DDT, and picks up the victory with a pin at 15:48. One of the ladies in the front row was so happy at Hayes planting that commie with that move.
My Thoughts: This match was too long, and while they were obviously trying to fill time with it, I don’t think it was necessary. As an opener, this wouldn’t be the modern type in the sense that it didn’t fire the crowd up or tear the house down, but people loved Michael Hayes. It made them happy to see him win a match and hopefully the momentum from that will carry over to the rest of the show. Standard *1/2 match. The thing is, despite him not being a great wrestler, I really like watching Michael Hayes matches. He knew how to keep the crowd involved and did a good job of entertaining people. I expect that’s not a popular opinion among most internet fans, though.
In the back, we have an interview with Ricky Steamboat and his family. He stumbles through it, and frankly didn’t do a very good job. Laughed so hard at his line of “THE UNIT IS HERE TO STAY!”
Butch Reed (w/Hiro Matsuda) vs. Sting
Pre-Match Thoughts: Reed has to perform a lot better here. That Clash match was horrendous and I’m not looking forward to another sorry match. Hopefully it isn’t one. I don’t know why the entrances were skipped, but Sting’s interview was also chopped out.
Match Review: Reed takes a swing, misses and Sting gives him an atomic drop. That’s a nice way to start the match. Sting plays to the crowd for a bit, getting big cheers when he does it. I don’t know why Ross is trotting out the “we wrestle” line when there’s been hardly any wrestling in this match. Sting gives Reed an arm drag and pair of dropkicks, the crowd going crazy for Sting’s arm drag after flipping through a blocked hip toss. Reed takes a break from the action, and when it’s over, Sting takes him down with a headlock. This apparently took up 5 minutes of time. Sting gives Reed a backslide for 2, and takes him down with another arm drag. Reed gets advice from his manager, and misses a charge shortly after that. Sting goes to work on the left arm, and does that for quite a while. He had been doing it for a while before I typed that out, too. It’s just an armbar, no activity. Sting gets thrown out of the ring by Reed, and given a rope clothesline on the way back in. About time we see some action. Reed drops Sting throat-first on the top rope, and hits him with a double axehandle from the second rope. It gets 2. Reed drops the fist, and chokes him using the rope. Matsuda also does it, and gets a lot of heat for doing it, as evil Asian gimmicks tend to do. Magnum TA called him an “oriental.” Reed puts Sting in a chinlock, which goes on for way too long after the earlier inaction. There is such a thing as bad heeling and I think this qualifies. Sting finally gets out by using Reed’s momentum to run him into the turnbuckles, and gives Reed a bodyslam. He heads up top for the first time, and misses a pump splash. Dumb idea. Reed misses a clothesline and tumbles out of the ring, he made that look great. Sting suplexes him back in, and covers for 2. Reed throws him out of the ring, and decides to pull him back in the hard way. He gives Sting a swinging neckbreaker for 2, and goes back to the chinlock. NOOOOOOOOO! This was getting good. Sting gets out with a jawbreaker, and follows that with a clothesline. He gives Reed a backdrop, and drops the elbow as well. Reed tries to throw Sting out of the ring, and it works. He climbs up to the apron, and sunset flips Reed on his way back into the ring. Reed grabs the ropes, gets caught doing it twice, and that sunset flip gets a 3 count for Sting at 20:07.
After the match, they continue to fight and roll around on the canvas. Sting gets the better of it, and knocks Reed to the outside.
My Thoughts: This wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. There were moments that led me to believe the match would be picking up and getting better, but that didn’t happen. It was decent at best, but there were a lot of things I didn’t understand. Why is Sting wrestling a match like this on PPV? It was too long, Reed is completely unestablished in this promotion, and Sting is above this. He should be pushed to the top. Chinlock was too long as well. *1/4. Not a great start to the PPV, but this wasn’t as bad as the last show, at least.
We’re now with Paul E. Dangerously, and there’s an issue with the upcoming match. Paul E. presents this pretty well, he states that Cornette knows Dennis Condrey too well. Because Cornette knows Condrey too well, he drafted Jack Victory into his team!
Jack Victory, Randy Rose, & Paul E. Dangerously vs. The Midnight Express & Jim Cornette in a LOSER LEAVES TOWN MATCH
Pre-Match Thoughts: Time to explain what happened here, and why Dennis Condrey dropped out of the match. It’s quite simple, actually. Condrey thought the NWA had no plan for him after this match. The loser of the fall would have to leave the promotion, and if he wasn’t going to take it, he would have to be a singles wrestler. Instead, he simply didn’t show up to be part of a losing team. Maybe he would have if they paid him more. Jack Victory is like, all over these shows. It’s amusing. The fans sounded and looked extremely confused to see Victory instead of Condrey. That’s not quite what they paid for, but that’s not their fault. Jim Cornette had some thoughts on that before his team made their way to the ring, and calls Paul E. scum for pulling off that trick. I should mention once again that the team doesn’t leave the promotion if they lose, but rather the individual who was pinned or submitted.
Match Review: Cornette wants to start the match, but Dangerously does not. Rose and Lane start things off, exchanging hammerlocks. Lane takes Rose down with a shoulderblock, and Rose comes back with a bodyslam. He heads up top, and gets slammed down from there. Lane clotheslines him over the top, that does not count as a disqualification. Except when it does. Okay. Victory tags in for the first time, and all three members of the other team triple up with a drop toe-hold and two elbow drops. That was great, especially on Cornette’s part. Lane hits Victory with a back elbow, and brings in Eaton. Rose comes in as well, and Eaton sets him up for a right hand from Cornette. That was great too. Lane tags in, and sets Rose up to be hit on accident by Dangerously. This match has a lot of great stuff in it. Lane rolls Rose up for 2, and tags in Eaton once again. Rose brings the fight to the outside, and throws Eaton into the security railing. Back in they go, and Rose gives him a bodyslam. For the first time, Dangerously tags in! He kicks Eaton, Eaton gets up, and Paul E., gets the hell out of there. Cornette comes in for the first time, and he wants to fight with Dangerously. Rose attacks Cornette from behind, and gives a bodyslam. Now Dangerously comes in. He covers for 2, and rakes Cornette’s eyes. After ramming Cornette into the buckle,he spits on him. These guys look so winded trying to wrestle. Cornette hits Dangerously, but winds up getting clotheslined by Rose after a tag in. Victory makes an appearance, and gets heat by punching Cornette a ton of times. Eaton runs and gives Victory a bulldog, then Cornette is able to make the tag out to Lane. Lane gets hit from behind after a Dangerously distraction, and in comes Rose. Rose gives Lane a powerslam for 2, and follows with a clothesline. Lane winds up on the outside, and Victory beats him up. Rose goes up to the second turnbuckle, and comes down with a flying leap onto Lane’s back. Back in the ring, Rose gives Lane a sidewalk slam, and it gets 2. Lane reverses a piledriver into a backdrop, and Victory tags in to cut Lane off from making one of his own. He gives Lane a back suplex, and brings in Rose for a count of 2. Rose puts Lane in a chinlock, but doesn’t hold onto it for too long. Victory tags in once again, and misses a charge to the corner.
Eaton makes the tag in, and gives him a backdrop. He bodyslams Victory, and heads up top for a missile dropkick! He then forces Victory to tag in Dangerously, and brings in Cornette to a big ovation. Cornette hits Dangerously with right hands, and gives him a clothesline. Rose breaks up his pin attempt, and summarily makes a tag in. Cornette gets out of there, and Lane is in again. Pretty sure this will be the end. The four real wrestlers are in the ring, and Rose heads up top. He misses a big splash on Lane, and Lane gets a 2 count. Dangerously throws Cornette out of the ring, as Victory and Lane give Eaton a double back elbow. Victory and Rose then run into each other, and Rose is given a double flapjack for the 3 count at 15:51! Rose must leave town!
My Thoughts: This was a lot of fun, even though the finish was very disjointed. Who cares about the finish though, this match wasn’t really about that. It was about seeing Cornette and Dangerously get their hands on each other. That’s what the people wanted to see and that’s what I wanted to see. Of course, the right guy took the fall and all of that. Rose had no marketability or use as a singles wrestler. Victory could have taken the fall, but it would have been a cop out as he wasn’t originally part of the match. *** for this one, best match so far. Was desperately needed as the show was falling into the pattern of having a slew of bad matches. Cornette and Dangerously had a good showing of themselves in the ring, if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t know what to make of the match.
Bob Caudle is with Ric Flair, who goes nuts talking about Steamboat. Flair calls himself a ‘golden stallion.’ Good nickname. Hiro Matsuda stands there saying nothing during the entire interview. With JJ out of the picture, I see no reason for a manager to be attached to this act.
Mike Rotunda vs. Rick Steiner (w/Scott Steiner) for the NWA Television Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: For whatever reason, some entrances have been cut out of the WWE Network version of this show. That means Scott Steiner’s interview explaining why Rick Steiner is so insane has been cut out. I watched it anyway! According to Scott, Rick got in a car accident that gave him some brain damage. Good way to debut a new wrestler, by having him explain his brother’s brain damage. This is the first of our four title matches, and the only one that is a direct rematch from Starrcade.
Match Review: Steiner takes Rotunda down with a headlock, and Rotunda takes some time on the outside to rest after that. Rotunda uses a fireman’s carry, Steiner does the same. Steiner and Rotunda get in a shoving match, and Rotunda gets dumped to the outside. This Alex hand puppet thing is so dumb. Back in, they lock up again, and Rotunda hits Steiner on the break. Rotunda ducks out of the ring before a clothesline, and for the first time I’ve noticed that Kevin Sullivan isn’t at ringside. Steiner gives Rotunda a hip toss and big clothesline, it gets 2. Jim Ross does a great job of getting through the boring sections of the match by inundating the viewers with information. Steiner’s headlock qualified as one of those boring sections, so Ross started talking about Rotunda doing Punt, Pass, and Kick competitions as a kid. Rotunda feigns a handshake, which Steiner was smart enough to not want any part of. Rotunda puts him in an abdominal stretch, and uses the ropes like a true cheater would. Eventually he gets caught doing it, and Steiner tries to reverse into his own abdominal stretch, only for them to both fall down. Rotunda hits Steiner on another break, and tries a springboard cross body. Steiner reverses into a 2 count, and it seemed clear to me that Steiner wanted to catch him. Rotunda takes Steiner down with a double leg, and they struggle with each other for a few minutes. Steiner and Rotunda botch another rope running sequence, and there seem to be a lot of botches by this point. That being said, the story is clear and concise and I don’t have a problem with the match. Steiner gives Rotunda a high backdrop, it gets 2. He follows with a bodyslam, and heads up to the top for the first time. He tries a big splash, but lands flat on the canvas. Rotunda throws Steiner out to the floor, and into the post. After a hard punt of Steiner’s ribs, Rotunda drags him back into the ring. Steiner gives Rotunda a powerslam for 1, and Steiner starts barking like an idiot instead of covering his opponent. Here comes Kevin Sullivan! He grabs the microphone and tells Steiner that he has a beautiful dog in the dressing room. Steiner leaves the ring, and it appears he’s a little bit bloody. This is hilarious. He slowly climbs back in, but is completely distracted. Rotunda gives him a back suplex for 1, and takes him into the buckle a few times. Rotunda misses a dropkick, so Steiner takes him to the corner for 8 punches. Steiner puts Rotunda in a sleeper, and shoves Rotunda hard into the corner before doing it again. He drags him to the canvas, and while putting Rotunda to sleep, has his shoulders on the mat. The referee counts 3, and it appears that Steiner has pinned himself at 16:21. We have a new TV Champion! Dr. Death rushes out and pulls off a maniacal laugh, then we cut to the next thing.
My Thoughts: I’m really shocked by that finish, I didn’t see that coming. I’m not sure whether I think it’s genius for a wrestler with a gimmick of being stupid to have lost that way, or if it’s a bad finish that shouldn’t have happened (note: my opinion changes at the end). I liked the match, it was hard hitting and had a lot of what I like to call a “realism factor.” Both guys were hitting each other with hard shots, and I liked the style and story that they told. Both guys were too tough to have wrestled the match differently, is what I took from it. Kevin Sullivan’s appearance was hilarious and created a great moment. I’m going to give this ***, it’s equal to the last match.
The Road Warriors are with Bob Caudle, and Hawk does another great promo. He’s the best, you can’t find another tag team like this one. Sadly, there was no “tell ’em Hawk” moment in this interview. Ellering and Animal also did a great job, and I can’t wait to see their match against the Varsity Club.
Lex Luger vs. Barry Windham (w/Hiro Matsuda) for the NWA United States Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: This could be a great match, I’m expecting big things. Despite the reputation Luger has, at this point he could really work. Windham was a great worker, so this is a perfect mixture. Before the match, Windham has an interview, and it seems that he’s fully embraced this cowboy gimmick.
Match Review: Luger and Windham lock up, this looks like two titans about to wrestle each other. Luger puts an early sleeper on Windham, who reverses to a back suplex. Luger doesn’t sell it, and he gives Windham an atomic drop. He follows that with a gorilla press of Windham, who is absolutely huge. Windham tries an inverted atomic drop, but it gets blocked and Luger destroys him with a clothesline. Luger follows with a backdrop, it gets 2. Luger powerslams the champion, and heads up top for the first time. He comes down with a cross body, which misses and Luger tumbles out of the ring. Windham follows him out there and rams him into a table, then they go back to the apron. Windham suplexes Luger back into the ring, and calls for THE CLAW. He isn’t able to use it, but is able to continue punching. He does that for a while, and it appears that Luger has been potatoed or something like that. Windham hits Luger with a clothesline, and rams Luger into the rail outside the ring. Windham accidentally punches the post, and now everyone thinks he has a broken hand. When Windham tries to punch Luger, his hand doesn’t hold up to it…and it also appears that he has BLADED HIS HAND. WHAT A TRUE WORKER. Windham tries to use the CLAW, that doesn’t work either. Luger’s eye is really busted up, too. Luger and Windham trade punches, and Windham gets the better of it. A powerslam from Windham gets 2, and he’s going to set Luger up for a superplex. He does it, and drops an elbow for 2. Windham follows with a back suplex, both guys shoulders are down, and Luger gets his shoulder up before 3 at 10:43. We have a new United States champion, but I don’t like how that went at all.
Windham attacks Luger immediately once the decision is read, and he PILEDRIVES LUGER ON THE CHAMPIONSHIP BELT. He hits Luger with another belt shot, and makes his way to the back.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this match, but that finish was so confusing. They just did a similar thing in the last match! I thought this was really well worked on all accounts. Luger getting potatoed and Windham blading his hand brought some drama to the equation. It says in the WON review of this show that Windham was having surgery on his hand and could come back wearing a cast. He came back but was out of the company shortly after. It’s too bad, as this series could have gone on for quite a while longer. They packed a lot into 10:43, that’s for sure. I didn’t like the booking, and I especially didn’t like what happened after the match. Not only did Luger win the title in a weak way, but he got destroyed after the match. That just made him look weaker. ***1/2, but some taken off for the finish. Still very good stuff.
For some reason, the broadcast pans to Mike Rotunda in the back. He talks about regaining his belt, and stumbles through his promo. He made himself look bad. Not the quality of some of his work as IRS.
The Varsity Club (NWA US Tag Team Champions) vs. The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering) for the NWA Tag Team Championships
Pre-Match Thoughts: This should be a fun bout. Kevin Sullivan and Dr. Death will be taking part in this match as the two Varsity Club members. It’s frustrating that the entrances were chopped out of this. In some ways, I don’t like this match. The NWA was thin on heel tag teams, but you don’t want to be in a situation where your two title holders are facing each other. Such is the problem with having two sets of tag team champions.
Match Review: Sullivan and Animal will start things off, and Sullivan tries to take Animal out with a clothesline. It does nothing, and Animal gives him one of his own. His charge to the corner is blocked by Sullivan, and he heads up top. Animal catches him and gives him a powerslam for 2, and Dr. Death tags in. The crowd is super heated right now, and loves Animal no-selling these shoulderblocks. He gives Dr. Death a powerslam, and here comes Hawk. Williams decides to take a break, and when he gets back in, he gives Hawk a gorilla press slam. He misses an elbow drop, and Hawk lands a clothesline. The Road Warriors then give Dr. Death a double clothesline, as Animal tags in. It gets 2. Sullivan tags in and tries chopping Animal, then throws him over the top behind the official’s back. He also cracks Animal with a chair, and hits him with a double axehandle from the apron. Dr. Death tags in and gives him a leg lariat for 2, weird move for him to have used. The Varsity Club is having a hard time keeping Animal from tagging out, but hitting him with double team attacks at every opportunity. Dr. Death uses a hammerlock, and gives Animal a bodyslam as well. He arm drags Animal, but misses a charge to the corner. He and Sullivan exchange tags, and Dr. Death cracks Animal with a double axehandle from the second rope. They each clothesline each other, and that finally allows Animal to tag out.
Hawk and Sullivan are in now, and Hawk powerslams him. He ruins Doc with a clothesline, and gives Sullivan a flying shoulderblock for 2. Hawk and Doc fight on the outside, as Animal gets confused and picks Sullivan up for the DOOMSDAY DEVICE. Dr. Death takes Animal out with a shot to the back, and falls on top of him. Then, Hawk hits Sullivan with a flying clothesline from the top. The referee counts both pins, and the match is over at 8:27. Hawk and Sullivan were the legal men, so the Road Warriors win!
My Thoughts: This was an inventive finish. It’s as close as you’ll see to a Road Warrior being pinned clean. It does happen again latter in the year, but in a different fashion. Animal wasn’t the legal man, but he was pinned for 3. I’m glad they kept the titles as they were simply the most over tag team in the country at that time. The match was short, strong, and to the point. No filler and no crap. It wasn’t great wrestling, but it was hard hitting. The timing was a little off on the ending, but that was a complicated thing to get down. **1/2.
To the back we go again, for an interview with Lex Luger. He has his head bandaged, and puts over how hard his match was. This was a great job of selling, made the title he won seem very important. This is probably one of his best interviews. I don’t know how some people can say that he didn’t take the business seriously, or acted like he was above the business. All I see is seriousness.
Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair (w/Hiro Matsuda) for the NWA Heavyweight Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: I don’t even remember the last time I watched this match. It has been years and years. I’ve seen the other two matches in this trilogy far more. Everyone expected a match for the ages. Before it starts, we get a video package reminding us of the great stuff that’s happened in this feud. In hindsight, the women in the ring during the Clash angle, should have gotten the hell out of there. Bob Caudle should have too. Flair got cheered HUGE during his entrance. The direction he was headed in, with the women being there for his introduction, was something that people simply couldn’t boo. How did the company not see that?
Match Review: Flair and Steamboat lock it up, and Steamboat gets a 2 count after an early shoulderblock. He puts Flair in a headlock, flips out of a back suplex attempt, and cradles Flair for 2. The broadcast shows some Chicago Bears players at ringside, and these two guys start destroying each other with chops. Steamboat gives Flair a backdrop, and the chops begin again. Flair is mad about it, and points at the challenger. Flair applies a hammerlock, and Steamboat reverses to a headlock. Into the ropes again, and Steamboat knocks Flair down with a dropkick. A headlock takeover gets 2, as well. They fight over that headlock, with Steamboat using some nice takedowns. Flair and Steamboat go back to the chops, and Steamboat uses a double chop for 2. They lock up once again, and Flair tumbles to the outside after another chop. Steamboat teased diving from the top onto Flair, and I really wanted to see him do that! Flair and Steamboat decide to have a test of strength, and when Steamboat is reticent, Flair asks if Steamboat has any guts. Steamboat does a hip toss after a great leap over Flair, then a flying head-scissors. After a dropkick, he goes back to the headlock for a 2 count. Flair gets out of it, and gives Steamboat a back elbow. Steamboat fights back with some chops, which send Flair over the top! Steamboat teases a dive to the outside once again, and Tommy Young gets in the way. Come on ref! Flair pulls Steamboat to the floor, rams him into the rail, and goes to work with chops. He decides to drag Steamboat back in, and drops a knee on him for 1. He gives Steamboat a double underhook suplex, that also gets 1. They chop each other a bunch once again, then Steamboat throws Flair into the corner. Flair does his flip over, runs across the apron and flies off the top with a cross body that Steamboat reverses for 2! Crowd bought that as being the finish. Flair gives Steamboat an inverted atomic drop, now it’s time for the figure-four! Flair cheats by holding the ropes, and simply won’t stop doing it. Finally he gets caught, but is the damage done? Steamboat comes back with some chops, and Flair returns the favor. Steamboat gets the better of the exchange, but Flair comes back with a cross body to send them both over the top. What a bump! Steamboat and Flair exchange chops once again, but Steamboat gets thrown into the post. Flair suplexes Steamboat back into the ring, that gets 2. He gives Steamboat a back suplex for 2, and follows with a backbreaker for another 2 count. Nice try to win with the feet on the ropes, there. The crowd is all over Flair for trying that. Steamboat rolls Flair up for 2, in large part because Flair was too busy talking to the crowd. He shoots Steamboat into the corner, but he springs up and misses a cross body from the second rope. Flair takes Steamboat down with a headlock, and we get the old bridge up move, only it’s into a Steamboat double underhook suplex for an extremely close 2 count. What a match! Steamboat tries a backslide, it also gets 2. They slam into each other’s chests with more chops, and Steamboat takes Flair down with a clothesline. He gives Flair a flying shoulderblock, and heads up top for the first time. He comes down with a flying chop, and up he goes again. Is it time for his finisher? Down Steamboat comes with that flying body press, but he takes out Tommy Young at the same time. Jim Ross was so mad about that. Flair rolls Steamboat up, but there isn’t a referee. Here comes Teddy Long, and Flair tries to throw Steamboat over the top. Steamboat clutches the ropes, heads up top, and misses the flying body press again. Flair walks over for the figure-four, and Steamboat reverses to a small package. Long rushes in to count, and it gets 3 at 23:07! The crowd didn’t pop for this as loud as I expected, maybe they expected the referee to pull off something screwy. Flair walks over to Young and tells him on the sly to raise Steamboat’s hand, and then the crowd EXPLODES! That was a great moment.
In the back, we have Bob Caudle with the new WORLD CHAMP! Luger, Rick Steiner, Stan Lane, and Sting come in with a champagne bath for Steamboat, who deserves it for putting on a match like that. Steamboat says that the NWA deserves to be the #1 organization, and Michael Hayes come in with more champagne for the new champ! Poor Bob Caudle has been drenched. Great way to finish the show!
My Thoughts: Man, what a match that was. Certainly the best I’ve seen in the rewatch of the four years I’ve been doing. I can’t think of any flaw or critique because there were none to point out. The crowd went into it cheering for Flair and popped so big for the title change, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how that went. Even today, having watched a lot more matches, it’s still one of the best matches that I’ve ever seen. Putting the belt on Steamboat was the smartest thing to do to try to pop buyrates and good house show attendance. They didn’t really know how long that Steamboat would be around, so there weren’t any long term plans. Even still, he was a great choice for a champion and I think that the company needed to make a short change to keep things fresh. Of course, it’s ***** and the highest recommendation for this bout. There are more to come too!
That was some show, and given the last match it’s hard to view it as a whole. I’ll do my best though. This PPV didn’t start well at all. The first two matches were very slow, but things picked up awful fast. The Kendall Windham vs. Steven Casey match not airing was a good thing. I thought this was a pretty good show given how things finished up. I was really entertained as the show closed, but there were some obvious issues that anyone who watches these NWA ’89 shows would notice. One is that the wrestling style is too slow and old-fashioned. The arm stuff just shouldn’t be in every match. The finishes used here, while not screwy like Dusty’s, are also very old-fashioned. The Luger one just didn’t make any sense. They had to know Windham was on the way out and they had Luger look bad. The Rotunda/Steiner finish on the other hand was perfectly done. I watched that match a day before writing this section of the article, and in the end it sits pretty well with me. Financially, this show did a gate of just under $70,000. That’s not good at all. The WON states that a WWF house show in Chicago did a gate of 3 times that! The company was pretty much a trainwreck at this stage. I also didn’t like the way Eddie Gilbert was knocked out of the picture here. The heel side is extremely weak as well, they had some interesting draws like Michael Hayes down the card, but a bunch of characters played by Jack Victory on the other side. It’s too bad, really, but I know it gets better! Next up will be an assorted column from the WWF’s Royal Rumble all the way up to WrestleMania V!
Wrestling Time: 1:50:24. Filling out the card with more interviews makes for a better presentation. I approve.
Best: Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat. You thought something different would be here?
Worst: Sting vs. Butch Reed. This was just not the kind of match that Sting should be having.
Card Rating: 8/10. This was a very good card, with one of the best main events you’ll ever see. There’s a lot of nostalgia to be had here, and once you clear the first two matches, it’s very good stuff that builds up perfectly to the end of the show.