It’s time for the Great American Bash, and once again it’s in Baltimore. Big sold out crowd should mean that the arena is on fire for what’s on tap. We have so many good matchups to go through. For the NWA, this was their biggest house of the year. Biggest since Great American Bash 1988. The only match that I don’t know the contestants in is the battle royal that opens the show. Really hoping to see Brian Pillman in that. If not, oh well. There had unquestionably never been a better looking card put on PPV before this one. It should set the mark for shows going forward.
– July 23rd, 1989, from Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland
The production once again looks quite professional. A stark contrast to how stupid the NWA product looked before Ted Turner took over. Jim Ross and Bob Caudle are the hosts, and we head straight into the first match!
KING OF THE HILL BATTLE ROYAL
Pre-Match Thoughts: Alright, so this is a 2 ring battle royal where the winners in each ring will have a match at the end. These people all won battle royals on the Great American Bash tour to be in the match. Or so they say. The participants are Mike Rotunda, Kevin Sullivan, Wild Bill Irwin, Ron Simmons, Brian Pillman, Shane Douglas, Scott Hall, Ranger Ross, Eddie Gilbert, the Steiner Brothers, Dr. Death, the Skyscrapers, and Terry Gordy. Most of these guys have matches later in the show, so I don’t quite understand the point of this. The rules are finally explained in the middle of the match, but I’ll put them in here. Everyone starts in one ring. Once eliminated from that ring, you go to the next. Once eliminated from the second ring, you’re out. Two guys will be left. Should have been explained at the beginning!
Match Review: The wrestlers took no time at all to start fighting, as we have Teddy Long watching the match from the top of the stage. The winner of the entire deal wins $50,000, so there’s a motivation for the wrestlers to win this thing, in theory. Not much hard work going on in that ring, as you’d expect given most of the wrestlers have more work to do. Ranger Ross is the first guy thrown into ring #2, by Ron Simmons. Ron Simmons gets thrown in ther eas well. Why, of course the two black guys are on the bottom. Simmons destroys Ross with clotheslines, and the crowd is jazzed because there’s actual wrestling going on now. Ross uses his COMBAT KICK on Simmons, and backdrops Simmons as well. Ross then throws Simmons over the top, so Simmons is completely out of the match. Scott Hall winds up in ring #2 somehow, as does Terry Gordy. Dr. Death throws Irwin into the other ring, so seeing as 4 guys are in ring #2, that’s the end of the wrestling for the time being. All of a sudden, every guy gets thrown into the second ring for Dan Spivey to powerbomb them, and in the first ring all that’s left is Brian Pillman and SID. What a matchup! Sid wrecks Pillman with a clothesline, as Spivey gives Hall a neckbreaker in the other ring. The Steiners, Eddie Gilbert, and Terry Gordy all take a tumble out of the second ring, as Pillman continues to fight with Sid. Pillman flies over the top after a missed cross body, so Sid wins ring #1! In ring #2, we have Dan Spivey, Mike Rotunda, and Dr. Death. The eliminations came so fast I couldn’t keep track. The crowd loves them some Dr. Death. Spivey stands there as Doc and Rotunda fight, and Doc gives Rotunda a big powerslam. Rotunda then misses a clothesline and flies over the top, so Spivey rejoins the action. Doc clotheslines Spivey in the corner, and tries to send him out with some. Eventually, Dr. Death gets tripped by Rotunda. He turns around to face Rotunda, and of course Spivey clotheslines him over the top. Spivey and Sid have won their respective rings. So, to get some heat, Teddy Long heads down to the ring with a microphone. He says that his clients are definitely not going to be allowed to kill each other. That means the Skyscrapers have won the match at 10:20, and will split the prize!
My Thoughts: This was good fun, and the Skyscrapers got great heat for the way they won it. These guys are clearly a tag team that’s going to get a push. Spivey certainly had the ability to have earned it, Sid on the other hand was a warm body. He didn’t have the charisma or much of anything else yet. Teddy Long was a great fit with these two guys. I also liked that the trophy for winning this match was a dollar store king’s crown. **1/4, better than most battle royals. The sad part was that the camera didn’t pick up a lot of the eliminations.
To the back we go, for a promo by Terry Funk. He talks about extinct animals, and says that he’s the most endangered species. Sadly, there was a technical error and Funk’s promo got eaten up by the tape machine. Very poor production.
We also have an interview where Gordon Solie is with Teddy Long. Long cuts a great promo on behalf of his team, the Skyscrapers. He wants his team to face the best in the business, even if if it has to be a singles match. Long looks like total sleaze with his front teeth out.
“Wild” Bill Irwin vs. “Flyin'” Brian Pillman
Pre-Match Thoughts: I heard the crack of the whip, so it certainly must be time for this match. It could be great, and I expect Pillman to have used a lot of high spots to try to endear himself to the crowd. He hadn’t been around long enough for people to know what he really had to offer.
Match Review: Irwin attacks early, so this thing is on the move. Pillman evades a charge and uses a hip toss, then dropkicks Irwin. He uses a headlock takeover as well, as Ross hypes up his football background. Pillman uses a flying head-scissors to send Irwin out to the floor, and uses a baseball slide to keep him there. Irwin does climb back in, and gets taken down with arm drags. Irwin gets out and tries his own hip toss, but after that, back to the arm drag Pillman goes. Pillman tries a cross body for 2, but Irwin gives him a big side slam the next time he runs the ropes. Irwin suplexes his young opponent, then pulls some hair while clubbing him. He throws Brian to the outside, and taunts him quite a lot upon bringing him back in. He runs him throat-first into the top rope, that gets 2. Irwin applies a chinlock, hopefully that doesn’t last for long. It doesn’t, so Irwin clotheslines Pillman for 2. Irwin hits Pillman with a hard knee to the back, then throws him to the outside again. Those tables at ringside are very dangerous, Pillman landed on one of them. Irwin tries another knee to the back, and crotches himself in the ropes. Pillman hits him with dropkicks, and uses a great looking flying clothesline. After that, a big splash gets 2. Pillman heads up top for the first time, and down he comes with a dropkick that misses. He took a big flat back bump off that. Irwin stomps away at Pillman’s face, then uses a gutwrench throw for 2. Irwin throws Pillman all the way into the other ring, and turns his attention towards intimidating the ref. As that goes on, Pillman climbs up to the top buckle of the other ring, and flies back into the ring where the match was happening, for a cross body that gets a 3 count at 10:18.
My Thoughts: I thought this was a nice opening match. Was about the right length for both guys to showcase their ability, and had a good finish with Pillman leaping from one ring to the next. This is before high spots like that became commonplace. **1/2 for this one, solid match. More to come from Pillman for sure, and that was a good start.
Paul E. Dangerously is with Gordon Solie to talk about his tuxedo match with Jim Cornette, which isn’t something I’m looking forward to. I do not want to see either of these guys in their underwear. Paul says he’s going to take Cornette out. Great interview.
The Skyscrapers (w/Teddy Long) vs. The Dynamic Dudes
Pre-Match Thoughts: The Skyscrapers were already put over once, and they kind of have to be put over here too. That’s the problem I have with that battle royal opening the show and having guys who were to wrestle later on the card in the match. The Dudes play frisbee with some kid at ringside before this thing starts, that’s a good touch but the usual NWA crowd isn’t receptive to that kind of thing. The Skyscrapers rule, period. I don’t understand how Spivey didn’t become a star. Long kept the Burger King crown and brought it down to the ring for this match. Good continuity. Man, these white people really didn’t like Long.
Match Review: Ace and Spivey lock up, getting the match underway. Ace hits Spivey with a dropkick that doesn’t even move him, so Spivey comes back with a clothesline. A shoulderblock follows that, and Shane Douglas runs in to give Spivey a double dropkick. The Dudes also use a double monkey flip, and I can’t figure out why Sid hasn’t run in there. Shane misses a charge to the corner, eating a boot to a huge cheer. Ace makes a blind tag, and tries a cross body which gets botched a bit. The crowd wants to see Sid, but Spivey remains in the ring. He clotheslines Ace in the corner, and there’s Sid! Sid hits Ace with a goofy looking chop, and gets back out of there. Damn. Spivey hits Ace with a hard clothesline, and follows with a bodyslam. His elbow drop misses, and Shane tags in. Shane gets destroyed with a sidewalk slam, and the Sid chants start again. This rules. I love the feel of this show. Spivey picks Shane up and drops him with a powerbomb, then knocks him to the floor with a big boot. Teddy Long hits Shane with some super weak kicks, and Sid rushes over to do the same. Spivey suplexes Shane back into the ring, it gets 2. Sid tags in once again, and takes Shane down with a sloppy ass clothesline. He throws Shane hard into the corner, and grabs a hold of Shane’s kidney. What? Spivey tags back in, and plants Shane into the canvas with a side slam. Shane tries a cross body, and is given a backbreaker for his troubles. Spivey comes off the second rope with a diving headbutt, but it misses. Ace tags in, and hits Spivey with a clothesline from the top. Sid breaks up the cover, Shane rushes in, and now we have a fight. Spivey slams Ace, Sid throws Shane to the outside, and the Skyscrapers clothesline each other on accident. The Dudes hit Sid with a double dropkick and give Spivey a double hip toss, then Ace tries a cross body. Spivey drops Ace with a spinebuster, botches a powerbomb where he drops Ace on his head, and that gets a win for the Skyscrapers at 10:11.
My Thoughts: It says in the WON that Sid had a bad back. That makes sense as his performance was brutal, even for him. His moves all looked really bad. The match was going fine until the finish, which was just dreadful. Sid couldn’t take a bump to the outside after that double dropkick, then Spivey botched that powerbomb. It was hard to watch at that point. Before that, it wasn’t so bad, but it was an extended squash. The crowd was really into Sid. 3/4*.
Paul E. Dangerously vs. Jim Cornette in a TUXEDO MATCH
Pre-Match Thoughts: I’m a bit concerned about this match, frankly. That being said, the booking has been so good that they might turn it into something great. Cornette’s interview before the match was excellent. Dangerously wasn’t lying about Cornette’s knee in the pre-match, though. Apparently he screwed it up not long before this show. Nice spot before the match where they showed a sign that said the WWF sucked. Very classy. Of course, the winner is the one who strips their opponent of their tuxedo.
Match Review: Almost immediately, Cornette rips Paul E’s jacket off. Paul comes back with some powder, throwing it in Cornette’s eyes. He goes to work on Cornette’s knee with some cell phone shots, then rips Cornette’s jacket off. They’re all even! Sadly, the jokes about these guys being feminine start nearly immediately. Paul wrenches Cornette’s knee in the ropes, then he chokes Cornette with his tie. Haha. Cornette steals it and does the same, so Paul spits at him. Cornette rolls out to the floor, and Paul goes for the shirt. This is hilarious, I have to give them credit. A big boot knocks Cornette down, and Paul throws him into the post. The only thing that would make this better would be if Cornette used the blade after that. Paul slaps the shit out of him now, and misses an elbow drop. Cornette is ready for his babyface comeback, and hits Paul with many right hands. I can’t stop laughing and neither can many of the people at ringside. Cornette rips off Paul’s shirt, then they collide with each other on a shoulderblock. Paul has more powder, and this time Cornette kicks it back into his eyes. Sadly, there goes Paul’s pants, and that means Cornette wins the match after 6:22. Of course, Paul runs to the back at full speed. Cornette has bragging rights now.
My Thoughts: I thought this was pretty good, far better than expected. The contest wasn’t a good wrestling match, but it was good entertainment and the crowd loved it. The best part was Cornette’s big comeback. He did his version of Hulk Hogan, and the crowd got fired up for it. **, that was a lot of fun. The match was also longer than I thought, but Cornette did a lot better than I thought given that he was obviously injured.
Before the next match, we have Gary Hart talking with Gordon Solie. As usual, he puts a good sell job on Muta taking away the TV Title in this match. I kind of buy that Muta is going to win this thing. He is undefeated, after all.
The Varsity Club vs. The Steiner Brothers (w/Missy Hyatt) in a TORNADO TAG TEAM MATCH
Pre-Match Thoughts: The Texas Tornado format is good in certain scenarios, this being one of them. Anything with Kevin Sullivan is one of those times, I’d say. The guy knew how to properly build the right kind of violent match. Scott still looks goofy wearing trunks. Don’t know why they keep bringing Missy to ringside either, that’s pretty stupid given everything that’s happened on the TV shows. I like that in this company, they aren’t afraid to have the hot girl get dealt with in some way, as a true heel would do.
Match Review: Almost immediately, Scott takes out Rotunda, and Sullivan takes Rick out to the floor. Sullivan cracks Rick over the head with a steel chair, it didn’t even hurt. Rick does the same to Sullivan, then Sullivan crotches Rick on the railing. Ouch. Sullivan grabs hold of a table now, and throws Rick into it. Rick returns the favor, then picks up the table to throw it at Sullivan. Rotunda and Scott are still fighting in one of the rings, but who even cares? Rick gets thrown into the wooden steps as Scott misses a clothesline and flies over the top, then Rotunda nails Rick with a hard flying clothesline. Sullivan comes off the second rope with a clothesline on Rick, and Rick comes back with a belly to belly suplex. Scott slams Rotunda into the corner, as Rick gives Sullivan a big powerslam for 2. Scott rolls Rotunda up for 2, and Sullivan backdrops Rick over the top. He kicks Rick in the head from the apron, and focuses attention on Scott. They give Scott a double clothesline, and both heels cover for 2. Rick tries a sunset flip, and headbutts Sullivan in the nuts multiple times to try to take him over. He follows with a hard STEINERLINE, and Scott rolls Rotunda up for 2. Dear God the action here. Sullivan throws Rick out to the floor, and they give Scott a huge double backdrop. Sullivan had part of a stretcher, hits Rick in the head with it, and Rotunda decides to run the ropes. Scott pulls down the top rope to send Rotunda flying over the top, and gets on the top rope. Sullivan picks Rick up for a bodyslam, Scott flies down with a cross body, and both Steiners cover Sullivan for the win at 4:42!
My Thoughts: This match was great. I know how short it was and all that mess, but I don’t really care. These four worked super fast to pack as much in as possible and they piled up the violence. Perhaps one of the last three matches ran a little too long and they had to make up for it. It was really well done with some great spots. The violence was also very much appreciated and bought a different element to the show. Glad to have seen that match, ***1/2. Same as the Funk/Guerrero match, but it was like they packed in even more. Nothing was too sloppy either. Thankfully, this was the end of the Varsity Club vs. Rick Steiner stuff. Nearly went on for a whole year.
The Great Muta (w/Gary Hart) vs. Sting (w/Eddie Gilbert) for the NWA Television Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: I almost forgot to put this down. That’s twice now that Gilbert has been programmed with a heel all the way around the house show circuit only to be removed from the match come the time of the PPV. So, no big PPV wrestling chance for him. Kind of sad. They had run so many heel turns that they couldn’t really do this, but I would have strongly considered doing one here with Gilbert on Sting. Hell, maybe they did. I haven’t looked it up. Sting has an interview before the match, and he said he has a lot of respect for Muta and will be taking him very seriously. Gilbert steps in for the rest of the interview, where he says he has no respect for Gary Hart, and intends to keep him out of the picture. Nice of the company to bring out a gong and a fog machine for Muta’s entrance. They don’t have an edge in terms of theme music, but the overall feel of the entrances with the stage and all gives off the impression of the NWA being the big league company.
Match Review: Muta refuses to go into the proper ring, so Sting flies over the ropes with a cross body onto him! He chases Hart around ringside and up to the apron, so Muta takes the chance to hit Sting with a chop from the top. He flies into the corner with his handspring elbow, and gives Sting a backbreaker. Up top Muta goes, and down with the moonsault only for Sting to move out of the way. Muta takes Sting down with an enziguri, then flies over the top with a plancha! Hell of a start to the match. Sting makes it back to the apron and clotheslines Muta, then heads up top for a flying clothesline that gets 2. Sting follows with a dropkick, then flies over the top and deals with Muta in the aisleway. Back in they go again, and Sting utilizes the ol’ bodyslam for 1. Some normalcy has been restored. Muta reverses a suplex and puts a sleeper on Sting, which Sting gets out of for a big press slam. He misses an elbow drop, but Muta doesn’t miss his. Muta puts a chinlock on Sting for a few seconds, then goes to an abdominal stretch. They eventually tumble down for a Muta pin that gets 2, then Sting gets thrown to the outside. He rushes back in, and gets raked in the eyes. Muta misses a handspring elbow to the corner, and Sting lands some clotheslines. He rams Muta’s face into the mat, and knocks Muta to the floor with a dropkick. Sting was going to go for a dive, but changed his mind and let Muta come back in. Muta accidentally sprays red fist into the eyes of the official, and Sting misses a STINGER SPLASH. Another referee comes out to the ring, as Muta gives Sting the MOONSAULT. Another referee comes in to count the pin, and the pin only gets 2. Sting picks Muta up for a back suplex, and they do a pin finish where both guys get their shoulders up, and the match is decided in favor of Sting anyway at 8:40.
For whatever reason, Muta takes the belt and leaves, even though Sting was announced as the winner. On the replay, it’s clear that neither guy won, and neither guy lost.
My Thoughts: Trying to think of a way to put together my thoughts on that finish…it’s very hard to do so. I definitely see the need on the NWA’s part to hold up the title. They could sell a bunch of house show tickets on the idea that this was the night where a new champion was crowned, and all that stuff. Makes sense. It’s annoying to see a finish like that though. As for the match itself, this was very good. The beginning and end were very hot, and both guys busted out some crazy stuff to get things moving along. Sting kicking out of the moonsault was a big surprise and probably should not have happened. ***3/4, and recommended. The match would have lost something if it was any longer. I really wanted to take something off for the finish, but that would be quite unfair. The match had a lot of innovative aspects, especially with all the big dives. A precursor to the kind of matches we’d see in the future.
Ricky Steamboat vs. Lex Luger for the NWA United States Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: This match is a big deal for Luger. It’s another big chance for him to show how good he is as a wrestler, they’ve certainly set him up to have great matches. There was supposed to be a no disqualification stipulation, and Luger has an interview before the match where he says the match will not happen if that stipulation is still part of the match. That’s a bad tease at a bait and switch. Luger really should go over, and as we now know, Steamboat left the company after this match. All the more reason Luger should go over. Steamboat brought a komodo dragon to the ring, that was pretty cool. Luger does poses at the top of the stage before walking down to the ring, that was quite ridiculous. Luger grabbed the microphone and told Steamboat that he wasn’t messing around with the stipulation, and of course, it did get cancelled. Steamboat doesn’t need that no disqualification mess.
Match Review: Luger is so roided up it’s obscene. Some people in the crowd are chanting “steroid freak.” Good job. The two wrestlers shove each other, and Steamboat rolls up Luger for 2. A small package also gets 2, and Steamboat follows with dropkicks. Steamboat gives Luger a backdrop, and Luger goes out to the floor. Steamboat follows with chops, then atomic drops the champion. Back in they go, and Luger hits Steamboat with a high knee to curb his momentum. He clotheslines Steamboat on the floor, and Steamboat fires off more chops. He rams Luger into a table, and back in we go again. Steamboat heads up top, and gets hit in the gut on the way down. Luger gives him a backbreaker, then picks Steamboat up for a press slam, which gets 2. Steamboat rolls Luger up for a 2 count out of nowhere, and Luger responds with three clotheslines. Luger drops Steamboat throat-first on the top rope, and Steamboat comes back with punches. The referee restrains Steamboat from using a closed fist, so Luger hits Steamboat. A Luger powerslam gets 2, and Steamboat’s cross body gets 2. These guys are going quickly from one move to the next. Luger uses an inverted atomic drop on the Dragon, but Steamboat comes back with a swinging neckbreaker. Luger misses a clothesline and flies over the top rope, then gets clobbered on his way back in. Steamboat tries a bodyslam, but Luger falls on top of him for 2. Steamboat then misses a charge to the corner, and Luger heads up top. Steamboat slams Luger down, and dropkicks him as well. Steamboat heads up top for the second time, and comes down with a flying chop for 2. Luger then backdrops Steamboat into the other ring, and Luger follows for some reason. He then goes for a chair, revealing the real reason he wanted rid of the no DQ stipulation. Can use it and protect the belt. Steamboat trips Luger and catapults him into the corner, which causes Luger to hit his face on the chair. Steamboat then grabs the chair, pushes Tommy Young out of the way, and cracks Luger with the chair to get disqualified at 10:26.
Steamboat hits him many more times with the chair, and chases Luger to the back with it to finish the segment.
My Thoughts: That finish was really out of character for Steamboat. that being said, I greatly enjoyed the match. They wrestled at a super fast pace for 10 minutes, and worked extremely hard. Luger having the reputation he has makes no sense to me and probably never will. I’m not a Luger fan but I do appreciate what he brought to the table. Sadly, Steamboat’s contract expired and he didn’t come back for a very long time. It’s somewhat of a big deal that Steamboat is gone, but they have plenty of guys to fill that void. **** for a great match, little taken off for the finish, still recommended. I do like that Luger went for the chair after demanding the no DQ stipulation be removed. Made total sense and was the exact thing a top heel would do. Crazy match, really. If Steamboat had stuck around for another year, I wonder what kind of matches he would have had, and who he would have faced.
The Fabulous Freebirds (NWA Tag Team Champions) & the Samoan Swat Team (w/Paul E. Dangerously) vs. The Road Warriors, the Midnight Express, & Steve Williams (w/Paul Ellering & Jim Cornette) in WARGAMES
Pre-Match Thoughts: Really pleased that they brought this gimmick back. The heel team had a promo before the match, which the Freebirds completely carried, of course. Jimmy Garvin did the best of the three. THEY’RE GOING TO DROP THE BOMB. Of course, the heels won the coin toss. The Midnight Express cut their own promo, where Stan Lane did all the talking. Williams talked a bit and did so much better than he has in other promos. The Road Warriors did as great as they always did. While this is supposed to be a blowoff match, there aren’t enough teams for me to think all these programs are done. If there are, then that would be good. Deliberately being uninformed makes things interesting sometimes. Surprised to see Paul again after what happened to him earlier in the show. The Road Warriors riding bitch on bikes to the ring was not so cool, but the crowd appears to massively disagree.
Match Review: The SST hitting each other before the match was awesome, that’s how you know this is WAR. Jimmy Garvin and Bobby Eaton will start the match off, probably the best way to start it. They lock up, and Garvin eats some right hands. Eaton gives him a swinging neckbreaker as well, but misses an elbow drop. Garvin slams Eaton, and Eaton comes back with an atomic drop. He misses a charge to the corner, then Garvin throws Eaton hard into the cage. The heels pull at Eaton’s hair to keep him up against the fence, but he breaks free and rams Garvin into the buckle. Eaton hip tosses Garvin, but Garvin comes back with a forearm. We should be getting to the next entrant around right now. Garvin uses the rope to choke his foe, but Eaton breaks free again for a backbreaker. The heels won the coin toss, so of course, the next guy in the ring will be a heel. After another backbreaker by Eaton, he slams Garvin, who looks absolutely blown up. Eaton goes for a Boston crab, and the next guy is in…
It’s Terry Gordy! He throws Eaton into the fence, bodyslams him, and they then throw Eaton into the other ring. There’s only one minute left in this period, so the Freebirds hit Eaton with a double back elbow. They pound away at Eaton for longer, then Gordy accidentally hits Garvin. Eaton flies into the fence again, and it’s time for Dr. Death to hit the ring. He comes in with fists of fury, and takes both Freebirds out with a clothesline. He throws Gordy into the other ring and follows him, then presses him into the cage repeatedly before dropping him. Great spot, to do that to a guy as big as Gordy. Gordy comes back with a clothesline in the corner on Dr. Death, as we’ve hit a bit of a lull. Eaton and Garvin fight between rings, as Dr. Death now hits Gordy with a clothesline.
Samu is the fifth guy in, and he nails Doc with a spinning kick to the jaw. Gordy folds Doc up with a back suplex, as Eaton bites Garvin’s thumb. Samu hits Dr. Death with a clothesline, and teams up with Gordy to give Doc a double suplex. Animal will be the next guy in, and when he gets in there, he goes after all his opponents. Gordy gets clotheslined, and Samu takes a ton of kicks. Animal then leaps from one ring to the other with a flying shoulderblock, and hits Garvin with a clothesline as well. The heels are getting wrecked now. Animal and Doc team up for a double clothesline on Samu, and Gordy lands a few of his own. It’s time again for a new guy in the ring, and this time it’s…
Fatu! Fatu and Samu go to work on Animal, hitting him with a double clothesline. They land a double diving headbutt, and Williams gives Gordy a back suplex while that’s going on. Stan Lane enters the ring now, and rams Garvin and Fatu into the fence. Gordy and Samu follow shortly after that, as the lack of blood is now becoming a bit of a problem. All the heels should have been bleeding after that. Michael Hayes clearly doesn’t want to go in the ring, but that’s too bad for him. Lane kicks Samu in the face, then Doc and Animal clothesline Fatu in the corner.
Michael Hayes heads in now, as we’re clearly nearing the end. He hits Lane with a DDT, then had one for Dr. Death and Animal as well. He follows with a DDT for Eaton, and all those guys are out now. Hayes then walks into the empty ring and struts, as Gordy clotheslines Doc again. So many clotheslines in this match, it’s absurd. Hayes jabs Eaton, and now Hawk is in! He flies off the top with a double clothesline onto the SST, then clotheslines the other guys. He picks Garvin up and throws him into the corner, as Eaton gives Hayes a DDT! Eaton gives Samu a DDT as well, as Hawk flies from one ring to the other with a double shoulderblock. Eaton throws Hayes into the fence, as Samu tries to get the phone from Paul E. That doesn’t work. The Road Warriors decide to set Gordy up for the Doomsday Device, but there’s no chance of that move working. Instead, Hawk clotheslines Garvin from the top. He gives him a neckbreaker as well, and picks him up for a hangman’s neckbreaker. Eventually, Garvin submits, and that means his team has lost the match at 22:18!
The heels did have one last trick, which was to bar the doors as Gordy and the SST pounded on Animal. Animal shouldn’t have been the last man out. Gordy hits Animal with a clothesline, Fatu lands a diving headbutt from the top, and finally Hawk rips the door open to save his partner.
My Thoughts: I hate to say it given that I like almost all of the guys involved in this match, but I don’t think this match was great. It was just good. The post-match was probably the best part. My critiques are…too many clotheslines. It was absurd, frankly. The match was a little slow and the crowd didn’t seem as hot as previous incarnations of this match. That’s to be expected. The match also wasn’t structured in the way I like. What I do like, is that the match had a clean finish. I also liked the level of the action we had. The match was constantly moving from one thing to the next, and there were a lot of cool spots. The finish also made sense in that Hawk needed to get revenge after what happened to him, and the best way to do that was to target Garvin’s neck. ***1/2 is my rating. It was definitely a good match, but I wouldn’t go any further than that.
Terry Funk (w/Gary Hart) vs. Ric Flair for the NWA Championship
Pre-Match Thoughts: This is the one everybody bought the show to see. The angle at WrestleWar was done so perfectly, leading to genuine intrigue regarding whether or not Flair would be able to wrestle at his usual level once again. Before the match starts, Flair has an interview with Gordon Solie. He talks extremely seriously about his opponent, his intentions, and his health. This is such an awesomely set up grudge match. Flair played up the fighting champion aspect perfectly as well, by stating that he only wanted to come back against a top quality wrestler. Funk being accompanied to ringside by Gary Hart was a MAJOR surprise. Jim Ross was completely shocked by that, and for some reason his commentary was edited out of the WWE Network version. I don’t understand that at all. Flair was BEYOND over as a babyface after his turn.
Match Review: Flair and Funk decide to start the fight in the aisle, and Flair bites away at him. After beating Funk up, he goes and struts around the ring. Awesome. Terry’s interactions with the crowd make this entire deal. Flair hits him with a double axehandle from the apron, that’s a good idea. Funk throws a chair into the ring, it is gotten rid of, of course. Finally they’re both in the ring, and Terry chops away. Flair hits Funk with some of his own, even harder than the ones he gave to Steamboat. Flair knocks Funk over the top, lands an elbow from the apron, and Funk sends Flair into the post. Funk punches away at the champion, then drags him up to the apron for slaps. Terry suplexes Flair back into the ring, that gets 2. He goes for another suplex, but Flair blocks it. Flair takes a tumble out of the ring again, as the crowd is really heated up for this match. Flair picks Terry up for a suplex to send him to the outside, and both guys fall to the floor. Great spot, they follow it with more chops. Terry picks Flair up for a piledriver, but Flair sends him over the top with a huge backdrop! Flair can’t take one of those piledrivers, you see. He takes Funk down and cranks his neck, as they fight on the floor once again. Back in they go, for a Flair knee drop to the head for 2. Flair plants Funk with a PILEDRIVER of his own, I’ve rarely seen him do something like that. He signals for another, and Funk tumbles to the outside after that. Flair sends him back into the ring, and hits him with a forearm for 2. Flair uses a back suplex and signals for the FIGURE-FOUR, then locks it in! Hart distracts the referee for a moment, and Funk clocks Flair with his branding iron. Flair juices big time after that shot, then takes many punches from Funk to open him up. Funk plants Flair with the PILEDRIVER, and the crowd goes dead silent as if Flair had just been killed. Flair sneaks his foot onto the ropes so that Funk only gets a 2 count, then Funk heads to the outside to remove the padding from ringside. Oh no. He chokes Flair with tape, and the referee has to pull hair to get Funk to let go. Funk signals for the piledriver, but Flair backdrops him to a huge pop! Funk dives off the apron onto Flair’s neck, which Flair sells like death. Back in they go, for a swinging neckbreaker done by Terry. Terry does that move once again, and then for a third time. Flair is just gushing out blood. Funk tries to use the branding iron again, but he takes a knee to the balls and Flair cracks him with it. Now Terry’s bleeding, and he gets thrown into the post as well. Flair sets Funk up for punches in the corner, which open Terry up something serious. Flair misses a high knee charge to the corner, and Terry decides to go for the SPINNING TOE-HOLD. Flair trips him, and goes back to the figure-four only for Funk to roll him up. Flair reverses the roll up, and gets the 3 count at 17:23. Jim Ross did an amazing call of this match, voice cracking at the end and all.
Hart then walks into the ring, for Flair to hit him. Wonder what comes next, you know something has to. The Great Muta rushes down, GREEN MISTS Flair in the eyes, and holds Flair in place for Funk to clobber him. The crowd chants for it, and here comes STING, THE NEXT BIG BABYFACE. HE’S BEEN CROWNED. Sting has a chair, goes to work on Muta, and takes care of Funk too. Somebody had to save Flair! Flair rushes in with a high knee to take out Muta, and the four pair off into their ongoing feuds. Sting and Flair clear the ring, but it’s still not over. Muta throws a chair at Flair, and here we go again. Flair and Sting fly out of the ring, and fight in the aisle! This is amazing stuff. Jim Ross then announces that the TV Championship has been held up, and they fight again! Sting busts Muta over the head with a chair, and Funk tries to use his branding iron, swinging it around like a lunatic. Flair gets it, hits Muta over the back with it, and Funk takes a shot to the head. Flair then takes a chair to the head from behind by Funk, the improvisation here was absolutely amazing. Sting tries to choke Muta with a rope, as Ross and Caudle try to close the show as best they can. That was insane. Flair and Sting are there for an interview, where Flair says thank you to Sting! He says that his feud with Funk has just started, and there’s a lot more to come. He says he’ll wear Funk’s TEXAS ASS OUT, and Jim Ross hypes up a PPV that’s supposed to be at the end of October. Show’s over, it was great!
My Thoughts: We had all the wrinkles of a Sting vs. Funk feud, the only ground we had not covered was Flair vs. Muta…they were sure to have that happen in order to keep things going from one thing to the next. Now the two top babyfaces were going against the guys they wanted to be top heels, and everything was perfect. It’s really amazing booking to have come up with that. The match was an absolute classic, completely out of Flair’s usual formula and was the best possibly brawl they could do. In fact, I can’t believe it was so good. The post-match was as good or better than the match. Anyone who wouldn’t order an NWA show again after watching that, would be an idiot. Funk worked the match with a messed up back, so kudos to him for that performance. No doubt that was one of the best brawls I’ve seen. I hadn’t seen it before, I felt great about watching that. Was certainly an amazing match. ****1/2 and very highly recommended. I wish it had been even longer, I didn’t want it to end. Great program, it’s only getting better. The execution on the post-match brawl was up there with the best things to ever happen in wrestling.
Frankly, this is as good as booking gets to me. The undercard wasn’t always booked correctly in 1989, but everything on top was spectacular. It’s pure fan service. The final two matches were explictly designed to make sure fans got to see what they wanted to see. This show has a reputation for being the best ever, or close to it, and it’s easy to see why. The card was simply too packed with future and current stars. I’m really happy with the way the show turned out and I had a ton of fun watching it. Watching the 1989 version of the NWA is absolute fun, always. The WWF didn’t really compare in any way other than production and the professional look of the product. Certainly in a booking and wrestling sense, there was no comparison. I’m not sure whether or not I think this was better than WrestleMania 17. I’m leaning towards not, but that’s not really what this is about. It’s about watching all the shows and up to 1989, this was clearly the best one. Next up I’ll cover the WWF from June to August of 1989. Lot to go through there!
Wrestling Time: 1:40:40. Can’t believe they packed all that in. Only 10 minutes of this was no good, that being the Skyscrapers match.
Best: Sting & Flair vs. Funk & Muta ending brawl. I can’t think of any better angle to end a PPV, and I really strained to think of that one before making that comment. If I see one I’ll be sure to say so.
Worst: The Skyscrapers vs. The Dynamic Dudes. Botched powerbomb finish.
Card Rating: 10/10. It can be nothing less. It was an experience to finally watch this show, exactly what I was going for when i started doing this. I wanted to see all kinds of stuff that I hadn’t seen before and now I’m doing it. Very fun.