Through the Years: NWA Matches & Angles from Clash 12 to Halloween Havoc 1990

 

It’s finally time to see some NWA wrestlers RUN THE GAUNTLET. We’re hitting a period where they showed a lot of good wrestling on TV, although they also showed a lot of terrible wrestling on TV. The matches I watch here will certainly reflect the statement about them showing good wrestling. In addition to that, I’ll be covering the pushes of a lot of different guys. Like Sid! There were also a lot of feuds that didn’t make too much sense, and I’ll talk about those as well. In the first RUNNING THE GAUNTLET, which I will not review, Brian Pillman was not able to complete the task, and lost to Dan Spivey.

 

– Taped to air September 21st, 1990, on the Power Hour, from Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville, Georgia

 

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET: Bobby Eaton (w/Jim Cornette) vs. Scott Steiner (NWA US Tag Team Champion)

Pre-Match Thoughts: Scott Steiner running the gauntlet sounds awesome, and I have all the matches tabbed to watch. The first doesn’t even sound like the best, honestly. That’s a crazy though. Nice to see Steiner get a chance to wrestle a singles match against a quality opponent.

Match Review: Eaton and Steiner get it going, and Steiner trips Eaton early and tries to tie his legs up. Eaton gets up, and they lock up, leading to a hip toss by Steiner, an arm drag, and a dropkick to knock Eaton out of the ring. When Eaton gets back in there, he tries to put Steiner an abdominal stretch and gets cradled up for 2 instead. He gets advice from Cornette, then lands some punches. Steiner nails him back, and sets him up for a clothesline that sends Eaton from the top turnbuckle all the way out to the floor. Once again Eaton gets back in the ring, and Steiner gets nailed with the TENNIS RACKET, which leads to a neckbreaker given out by Eaton for 2. Eaton takes Steiner down with another neckbreaker, and it also gets 2. He knocks Steiner out of the ring, and follows him to the outside, only to take a charge at him and hit the post on accident. Steiner does the same and accidentally clotheslines the post, and now Rick Steiner is at ringside! Eaton clotheslines Scotty, sends him back in, and cradles him for 2. Now Stan Lane is at ringside. Eaton gives Steiner a backbreaker, it gets repeated counts of 2. Eaton then destroys Steiner with a discus clothesline, and follows by throwing him into the corner. However, he puts his head down, and Scott gives him a TIGER BOMB for 2. He follows that with a backdrop, and Lane then trips Scotty. Eaton charges at Scott, misses, and hits Lane instead. Scott then rolls Eaton up for 2, and Eaton hits Scott with an elbow for 2. He tries to throw Scott over the top, but Scott skins the cat and gives him THE FRANKENSTEINER for 3 after 9 minutes of action!

My Thoughts: Very good start to this gauntlet, I thought both guys looked great. It wasn’t a perfect match, but it was fun for the time allotted and very entertaining. The crowd was also going nuts for this. Great concept too. ***.

 

– Taped to air September 22nd, 1990, on World Championship Wrestling, from Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville, Georgia

 

The Southern Boys vs. The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette)

Pre-Match Thoughts: One more chance to watch these guys wrestle isn’t something I’ll pass on. This was also a match to determine who would be the #1 contender for the US Tag Team Championships. Good way to make them seem important even though they weren’t. The Southern Boys were still going hard with the Confederate thing, to the point where fans in the crowd had their own flag. That’s just disgusting.

Match Review: Armstrong will start the match for his team, and Eaton pops him with some hard shots. Armstrong comes back with a monkey flip, a dropkick, and heads up top for a big flying clothesline. That was an impressive visual. Smothers makes a tag in for a double elbow, then gives Eaton a backdrop. That’s followed with a big boot and a superkick. Smothers then hits Eaton with another superkick after Eaton takes a break, then Stan Lane tags in. Hell yeah, time for the carny karate fight tease. Possibly the best thing about these matches. Lane gets the best of the exchange, but Smothers dodges a charge and gives Lane a cross body for 2. Smothers lands more superkicks, clearing the MX from the ring this time. Eaton crawls back in, and makes a blind tag as Smothers cradles him up. So, Lane gives Smothers a double underhook suplex, and hits him with a double chop to the throat. He tags in Eaton, and there’s the drop toe-hold and elbow drop combination for 2. Cornette gets in a racket shot on Smothers, but Lane runs into Eaton, so Smothers makes a tag out. Armstrong comes in with an insane amount of dropkicks, then all four guys are in there. Lane ducks down for a backdrop, and Armstrong has Lane pinned, but Cornette tries to hit Armstrong. Armstrong then hits Cornette, and THE FREEBIRDS ARE AT RINGSIDE. Rocky King is their new manager, he distracts the official, and Smothers gets planted with a double DDT. Eaton covers, and there’s a win for his team at 8:29.

My Thoughts: This match is just part of a hallmark of consistency when it comes to the Midnight Express. They always put on matches of similar or better quality and that’s why they were such a good team. Once again, just like the other Eaton match I’ve watched so far, there was no down time at all. It’s unfortunate that Lane and Cornette left the company as it feels like we should have had more of these matches. **3/4.

 

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET: Ric Flair (w/Arn Anderson) vs. Scott Steiner (NWA US Tag Team Champion, w/Rick Steiner)

Pre-Match Thoughts: Hell of an opponent for the second round of Steiner’s gauntlet challenge. As good as it gets, but it would have made sense to leave this one for last. However, this was their most widely viewed television show, so that’s probably why it wasn’t saved. I suppose it’s a flaw with the gauntlet for this to be their most widely viewed show and for the second match of these gauntlets to be on it. Should be the decider.

Match Review: Flair is spending quite a bit of time stalling, but when they lock up, Steiner takes Flair down with a fireman’s carry. Flair reaches the ropes to break an armbar, and gets taken down with a shoulderblock shortly afterward. Flair tries to come back with punches and his own shoulderblock, but Steiner gives Flair a tilt-a-whirl powerslam for 2. Flair rolls out of the ring and gets hit with a STEINERLINE, which fires up the crowd as this heads to a commercial.

Back from the break, Flair is still on the outside. When he gets back in the ring, he chops Steiner down, only for Steiner to kip up and nail him with another STEINERLINE. Flair then goes to the outside and Rick Steiner clocks him, good thing the referee wasn’t looking. Scott then rams Flair into the barricade, and posts him for good measure. There’s another STEINERLINE, and Flair uses some dirty tricks with the top rope in order to put a halt to Steiner’s momentum. Flair gets back in the ring, and takes Steiner down, then drops a knee on him. Steiner comes back with a powerslam though, and he puts Flair on the top turnbuckle for a SUPERPLEX! However, the referee gets distracted, and Arn Anderson knocks Steiner down before he can do it. Flair then pins Steiner with his feet on the ropes, but only gets 2. Flair and Steiner then mess up something, and Steiner winds up giving Flair a backdrop and Steinerline. Steiner then goes for the FRANKENSTEINER, but Arn grabs Flair to keep him from getting taken out by it. Then, to get Rick Steiner away from Arn Anderson, the referee goes out of the ring, and Arn runs in and gives Scotty a DDT. Rick then gets in the ring as the referee is marshalling Arn away, and Rick hits Flair with a STEINERLINE. Following that, SCOTT STEINER PINS RIC FLAIR AFTER 10:42!

My Thoughts: That was better for its memorable finish than as a match. The crowd went INSANE for Scott pinning Flair. As a match, it was about as good as the tag team match on this same TV episode. They weren’t able to bust out a lot of spots or anything like that, they just worked a tight match and stuck to a plan. They didn’t have much chemistry. Great finish, and it set up the third match of the set very well. So, **3/4. Two of those matches was pretty good for an episode of wrestling TV in those days.

 

– Taped to air September 23rd, 1990, on NWA Main Event, from Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville, Georgia

 

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET: Arn Anderson (NWA TV Champion) vs. Scott Steiner

Pre-Match Thoughts: Can Steiner win the $15,000 or will Arn split it with the other two heels? We’ll find out here! This was all taped on the same day, so the fans got a great show. Oh no, Missy Hyatt is on commentary. I’ve avoided that for the most part.

Match Review: They lock up, as Jim Ross plugs the next version of RUNNING THE GAUNTLET. It will be Bobby Eaton next time! Steiner takes Arn down with a waistlock, but into the ropes they go. They lock up again, and Arn uses a fireman’s carry, but Steiner immediately gets off the canvas. HE sends Arn into the ropes, gives him an inverted atomic drop, then drills him with a STEINERLINE. Arn leaves the ring, gets Steiner to chase him, and they get back in for Steiner to put him in a sleeper. Arn returns the favor with his own, then Steiner puts Arn in a FIGURE-FOUR. Arn makes the ropes, and he sends Steiner to the outside to ram him into the rail. Into the apron he goes after that, and Arn tries to bring him in the hard way. Instead, Steiner brings Arn to the outside the hard way, and follows with a backbreaker. Now they’re back in the ring, and Steiner runs Arn into a turnbuckle, then follows with a shoulder-breaker for 2. Arn comes back with a DDT, then goes for a piledriver. Steiner reverses to a backdrop, but Arn holds on with a sunset flip for the 3 count! However, he was holding the ropes, and another referee made that judgment. The match restarts, and Steiner powerslams Arn for 2. Ric Flair pulled the referee out of the ring during that count, and Steiner wins by DQ at 8:08, WHICH MEANS HE RAN THE GAUNTLET. Rick Steiner then runs down to save his brother from a double team.

My Thoughts: They didn’t sell this as being a big deal at all. I don’t understand all that hype and the reaction to Scott Steiner winning the thing. Winning $15,000 should have been a big deal in wrestling at that time, instead it was treated like it wasn’t. Not too happy about that. The match was **1/2, the false finish was funny, but Steiner should have went over clean in the end and he didn’t.

 

– Taped to air September 29th, 1990, on World Championship Wrestling, from Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta, Georgia

 

Doom & Four Horsemen FEUD RECAP

 

I’m glad this was on the internet as I didn’t quite understand the start of this feud. Butch Reed and Ric Flair had started arguing, then Arn Anderson and Ron Simmons are there, and we then cut to an edition of THE DANGER ZONE. Ric Flair was cutting a promo on Doom, then Teddy Long runs out there and says he’s had enough. The guys shove, and they show Doom running in to deal with Arn Anderson and Ric Flair during a match. Hell yeah. Lastly, Arn cut a promo on their upcoming match at Halloween Havoc.

 

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET: Bobby Eaton (w/Jim Cornette) vs. Ricky Morton

Pre-Match Thoughts: Yep, we’ll RUN THE GAUNTLET one more time here. I was not able to find the first match, in which Bobby Eaton pinned Tracy Smothers. This one, though…is one I did find. One I would have done anything to find. It’s like, perfect. The two best parts of their respective teams in a match together, sounds awesome and I can’t wait to watch this.

Match Review: They lock up, and start shoving for a little bit, which leads to Morton tossing Eaton to the canvas. Morton follows that with a shoulderblock, then evades Eaton and gives him an arm drag. Morton takes him down with a second, then a third while maintaining an armbar, but Eaton breaks out with a big right hand to the jaw. Eaton gets taken down by a hip toss, then Morton follows with a frankensteiner that gets a pretty big pop. After that, they go to a commercial.

Back from the break, we have Morton sending Eaton into the post. He hip tosses Eaton on the floor, and it’s now in question whether or not Eaton will be counted out. He better hurry up! He makes it back in, and they trade punches for a little bit, until Eaton drops Morton face-first onto the top turnbuckle for 2. Eaton follows that with a suplex that gets 2, and Cornette hits Morton with the RACKET when he has a chance. Eaton throws Morton into the rail, and Cornette hits Morton again with the racket. Five minutes remaining in the time limit, and Eaton pulls Morton back into the ring for a bulldog that gets 2. Eaton hits him with a discus clothesline as well, and that gets 2. Eaton follows with a back suplex for 2, but Morton’s ready to start a comeback. He hits Eaton with some hard shots, but gets raked in the eyes and Eaton takes Morton down with a snap mare for 2. Eaton follows with a single-arm DDT, and goes to a hammerlock. Morton tries a charge to the corner after breaking out of it, but that charge was missed. He comes back with a suplex, but is more fatigued than Eaton and cannot get up. 30 seconds left in the time limit, so Eaton misses a charge to the corner. Morton goes for a cradle, but that only gets 2. Another cradle also gets 2, and the time limit has expired after 15 minutes.

However, given the format it’s not like the match can finish this way. Now there will be a five minute period in which the match can finish. It starts with Eaton ramming Morton into the buckle, then slamming him for a 2 count. Stan Lane is at ringside now, as Eaton pounds on Morton. He gives Morton a suplex for 2, then Lane runs distraction for a RACKET SHOT, but Eaton gets rammed into the racket instead. Morton then heads up top, and comes down with a cross body. Cornette then grabs the official, which should have been an automatic disqualification, but it wasn’t. Lane distracts Morton, Eaton hits Morton with a knee from behind, and he wins the match after about 17 minutes of anarchy.

My Thoughts: This was a really good match, the best I’ve seen so far while typing this up. I loved the selling, but while the match was really good, it felt a little empty. I know they could do better. And why didn’t Robert Gibson run out there? Weird stuff. They were obviously going the time limit, but I was okay with that. I don’t even see the reason for the time limit if they were allowed to keep wrestling. ***1/2 for great selling, a quick pace, and a match that felt like it mattered.

 

– Taped to air September 30th, 1990, on NWA Main Event, from Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta, Georgia

 

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET: Bobby Eaton (w/Jim Cornette) vs. Sid Vicious

Pre-Match Thoughts: It’s fair to say that Eaton won’t be winning his attempt to run the gauntlet. Great matchmaking though, Sid hardly ever worked against anyone legitimate on TV, so if they had him beat Eaton, it would have made him look really good. Sid was the #1 contender for the NWA Championship after all.

Match Review: Sid attacks to start the match, and lands some punches, followed with a splash in the corner. Eaton comes back with punches of his own, but his eyes get raked and Sid hits him with a big boot to knock him out of the ring. Eaton tries to fly in with a sunset flip, but Sid sits on him. Eaton hits Sid with a dropkick, then takes him down with a snap mare for 2. Eaton goes for a bulldog, but Sid plants him with a sidewalk slam for the win at 2:02. Sid, Tracy Smothers, and Ricky Morton each won $5,000.

My Thoughts: Well, that was underwhelming. Not a lot else to say, but for Eaton to basically be squashed wasn’t very much fun. Oh well, onto the next stuff I guess. 1/2*, it wasn’t even fun.

 

– Taped to air October 6th, 1990, on World Championship Wrestling, from Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta, Georgia

 

THE JUICER

 

I really wanted to share something related to this gimmick. I have no idea why they brought in Art Barr to do a Beetlejuice gimmick. Does anyone? A bunch of kids followed this guy to ringside, that was awfully strange. Working with a gimmick like this, you can only do so much, but I thought THE JUICER did some great stuff.

 

Nasty Boys/Steiner Brothers CONTRACT SIGNING

 

This was taped in Chicago. When the Nasty Boys signed the contracts, the Steiners had something to say to them, and the Nasty Boys grabbed the title belts to hit the Steiners with them. Slick move. They flung Rick Steiner out of the ring, then hit Scott with some chairs and powerslammed him THROUGH A TABLE. To finish things up, both teams had a promo. Looking forward to their match now.

 

SID VICIOUS/STING CONTRACT SIGNING

 

I have no idea why they’d air two of these on one show. For the most part I can’t stand contract signings. Sid was hilarious when cutting a promo prior to Sting signing his part of the contract. Sting signed it, and nothing happened during the signing. Instead, during Sting’s match against THE BLACK SCORPION, Sid ran out there and cracked Sting with a super weak chair shot. Sid followed that up with a PILEDRIVER on a chair, he’s the last guy I’d want giving me such a dangerous move. Sid’s promo was hilarious too. They really messed up with their promotion of Sting and made him look ordinary.

 

– Taped to air October 13th, 1990, on World Championship Wrestling, from Georgia Mountains Center in Gainesville, Georgia

 

The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette) vs. The Steiner Brothers for the NWA United States Tag Team Championships

Pre-Match Thoughts: This is one of the final Midnight Express matches. Quite sad, but it’s a great matchup and one I’d enjoy under any circumstance. Seems like something we should have gotten to see on a PPV. Instead, we didn’t, and we got this instead. It’s a rematch, pretty much.

Match Review: Scott and Eaton will get it going, with Scott throwing Eaton across the ring with a hip toss. Eaton then catches a boot attempt, but gets taken down and twisted up into a half crab. Eaton makes the ropes, then knocks Scott out of the ring. He tries a suplex, but instead Scott posts him. Scott then takes Eaton to the corner for some punches, and follows that with a charge that misses, as Scott runs into an elbow. Eaton then goes for a SUPERPLEX, but Scott flips out of it and puts Eaton on his shoulders for an ELEVATED BULLDOG by Rick Steiner. Sick move. Eaton goes to the outside for a break, and we have a commercial.

Stan Lane has tagged in, and it looks like Scott has him in a chinlock. Lane tags out, and Eaton gets taken down by an arm drag. Scott slams Eaton and Lane after that, then his brother runs in for a DOUBLE STEINERLINE. Rick then makes a legal tag in, and Eaton comes in for a handshake, only to be given another Steinerline. That was mean. He then knocks Lane out of the ring with a shoulderblock, and Eaton makes a blind tag in. He gets clobbered, but Lane’s distraction allows Eaton to give Rick Steiner a bulldog. He follows that with a clothesline that gets 2, and Lane tags in for some CARNY KICKS. That is followed with a back elbow, and Eaton tags back in for a right hand that knocks Rick out of the ring. Cornette gets a racket shot in, but when Rick gets back in there, he fires off a belly to belly suplex and tags out. Scott comes in with a few bodyslams, then knocks Lane out of the ring. He gives Eaton a backdrop, then follows with a powerslam. Lane rams Rick into the post, and the Midnight Express regains some control. Eaton clotheslines Scott, then tags in Lane for another clothesline. Another tag is made, and the MX lands a double back elbow for 2. Eaton follows with a single-arm DDT that gets 2, but Scott comes back with a TIGER BOMB. Both guys make tags, and Rick rams both opponents into the buckle. He follows with a Steinerline for 2, then Cornette hits him with the TENNIS RACKET. Eaton covers, but Rick kicks out at 2! Nobody expected that. Eaton goes for a piledriver, but Rick picks him up, Scott hits him with a STEINERLINE, and Rick covers for the victory at 14:01.

My Thoughts: This was really good. I loved all of Eaton’s involvement, and it was for the best that he was in there with Scott Steiner for the majority of the match. Rick didn’t do all that much, and neither did Lane. The only thing the match was really lacking was the belief that either team could win it. However, with the match being on TV and all, and with the Steiners feuding with the Nasty Boys, that’s to be expected. ***1/2 for this one, yet another good match from both teams.

 

Little bit of news to post at the end of this. The Samoan Swat Team quit. Not like they did much by this point anyway. Robert Gibson got hurt, so the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. Midnight Express match they had planned for the PPV was out of the question. With those news bits being posted, I must say that I really hate the direction the NWA took Sting. They made him look so weak, he didn’t look like a star at all in those or anything else he had done since becoming champion. They really dropped the ball with him. I also read that attendance was terrible, so the fans didn’t think so either. Next up will be Halloween Havoc, and the WWE Network version of it is shortened, but that’s what I have to watch.

Best: The Steiner Brothers vs. The Midnight Express. I really enjoyed it.

Worst: Aforementioned usage of Sting. Very poor.

Written by Sage Cortez

Sage is a boisterous Los Angeles sports fan. Unsurprisingly, like many other loudmouth LA fans, he also likes the Raiders and a range of combat sports.

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