Classic Wrestling Review: The Great American Bash ’89

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Before I begin, I want to talk about a new addition to my reviews. Thanks to some feedback on the Facebook page, I will now be adding match times to the results of the match. I will put them in the “winners” section at the end of each match recap. I think it will give some more perspective to the match discussion. Remember, if you have any feedback, I would love to hear about it on either Twitter or Facebook. I will provide a link to both at the end of the review. If I start getting enough discussion on the Facebook page, I might even bring back the caption contest.

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

The Great American Bash

July 23, 1989

Baltimore Arena

Baltimore, Maryland

WCW took advantage of the long break between WrestleMania and SummerSlam by airing two PPVs. They added WrestleWar, which I covered last week, and now it’s time for the second Great American Bash PPV. The main storyline for this show is the feud between Ric Flair and Terry Funk. Funk attacked Flair after his match at WrestleWar and the storyline was that Flair injured his neck in the attack. Doctors warned him not to come back so soon, but Flair demanded a match with Funk. The other primary storyline is the War Games match, which combines two tag team feuds that were born out of the Tag Team Title Tournament. The Road Warriors began feuding with the Samoan SWAT Team, which included the Samoans attacking and injuring Paul Ellering, and the Midnight Express started feuding with the Freebirds. Michael Hayes had reformed the Freebirds after Terry Gordy returned. He added Jimmy Garvin as the third man since Buddy Roberts had not come back with Gordy. Since the Freebirds had a three on two advantage, the Midnight Express recruited Dr. Death Steve Williams to help them. Williams had left the Varsity Club and turned babyface, so Cornette brought him in to back up the Midnights.

The show opens with a shot of a horse ranch outside of Baltimore. They also show shots of the city itself, as a voice-over tells us about Glory Days. Then, they show an opening vignette of clips from each major feud flying over an American flag. Jim Ross and Bob Caudle welcome everyone to the show. They begin talking about the matches, but they are cut off by technical difficulties. Sadly, they plague the first thirty minutes of this show.

$50,000 King of the Hill Battle Royal: Sid Vicious, Dan Spivey, Bill Irwin, Flyin’ Brian, Eddie Gilbert, Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotunda, Ranger Ross, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Ron Simmons, Scott Hall, Steve Williams, & Terry Gordy

Ross tells everyone that this is the finals of a series of King of the Hill Battle Royals. The match takes advantage of the two ring setup for War Games. Everyone begins in ring one, and the object is to throw people into ring two. Then, the people in ring two will eliminate their opponents over the top rope until there’s one person left in each ring. The two remaining people will then face each other in a match for the $50,000. It’s a bit convoluted, but it’s nowhere near as bad as TNA’s Reverse Battle Royal. There are a few notable new faces that I want to point out before I talk about the match. The first is Sid Vicious, aka Sid Justice, aka Sycho Sid. This is his first appearance on my blog and it certainly won’t be the last. Next, is Flyin’ Brian Pillman, who was always a personal favorite of mine. Bill Irwin is also there. Some of you might vaguely remember him as THE GOON!!! Finally, there is a young Scott Hall, who is still sporting his Tom Selleck look. He looks drastically different here than he does as Razor Ramon.

Everyone breaks into a brawl to start the match. Jim Ross nearly calls this a Bunkhouse Stampede, but he quickly corrects himself. Teddy Long is seen watching in the entryway because his team of Sid and Dan Spivey (The Skyscrapers) are in the match. Ranger Ross and Ron Simmons are the first two men thrown into ring two. The two of them continue fighting and Ron tries to throw out Ross, but he reverses it and sends Simmons to the floor. I swear I could hear him mutter “Damn” on the way down. Scott Hall and Terry Gordy are sent into the ring next, followed by Bill Irwin. Unfortunately, some technical difficulties clip the match. The show comes back to reveal that a few people have been eliminated in the missing footage. I didn’t try to figure out who they were. I will focus on who is left. Ring two is now mostly filled and ring one only has Flyin’ Brian and Sid in it. Terry Gordy and Eddie Gilbert both tumble out of ring two, while Brian goes for a cross body in ring one. Sid ducks and Brian goes over into the next ring, which makes Sid the winner of ring one. He then waits for ring two to clear.

Bill Irwin is sent packing and then Rotunda and Spivey throw out Pillman. This leaves Dr. Death in the ring with Spivey and Rotunda, so he starts jogging in place to gather some energy. Williams hits a powerslam on Rotunda, who tries to answer back with a running clothesline. Doc ducks and sends Rotunda over the top rope, which only leaves Williams and Spivey. Williams tries a clothesline, but Spivey is too big to go over the ropes. He tries again, but Rotunda reaches in and trips him. Williams turns to yell at Rotunda, so Spivey clotheslines him over the top rope, which makes him the winner of ring two. Everyone expects Sid and Spivey to face off, but Teddy Long gets a mic and says he won’t let his tag team kill each other. He tells Spivey to join him in ring one and declares that the Skyscrapers will split the $50,000 between themselves.

I already don’t like regular battle royals. Adding in a convoluted gimmick and technical difficulties only made me like it even less. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been as bad if the match was intact, but I doubt it would have made much of a difference. I do like the storytelling at the end of the match. It’s a good way to make the Skyscrapers look strong, but that’s all I liked.

Winners: Sid & Dan Spivey (co-winners) (10:20)

Hey, Gordon Solie is back! He’s not on commentary, but he is doing backstage interviews. He’s with Teddy Long and he calls what Long did a “cool move”. Long says that he’s proven that he has two of the most vicious men in wrestling. They’ve won the $50,000 and the “triple crown”. I’m pretty sure it’s called “King of the Hill” and I don’t think they’re racehorses, but okay. Teddy then says that they’re waiting on guys like Steamboat, The Steiners, Flair, and anyone else. If they’re afraid of fighting alone then they can get a partner. He says that the Skyscrapers are going to take care of everyone in the NWA, whether Jim Herd or the NWA like it. They’re #1 and nobody needs to forget it. Long mentioned Jim Herd in this promo. For those who don’t know, Jim is a former Pizza Hut manager who Ted Turner made Executive Vice President of WCW. He was notorious for his awful ideas, such as a tag team called the Hunchbacks. You see, they couldn’t be pinned because they had humps on their back. He also came up with The Ding Dongs, which were two wrestlers in pink body suits that were covered in bells. They would ring a bell throughout the match to rally their partner. His biggest offense would be when he tried to make Ric Flair shave his head and adopt a Spartacus gimmick. This would lead to Flair leaving WCW in ‘91 to go to the WWF.

Flyin’ Brian vs. Wild Bill Irwin

Apparently, everyone in the battle royal has to pull double-duty tonight. Bill Irwin is already in the ring, but Pillman gets an entrance. He runs to the ring and high fives the fans. He enters the ring and the ref begins checking his boots, but Irwin gets impatient and attacks him.

Bill fights him into the corner and whips him across the ring, but Brian leaps over him and hits a hip toss. He follows this with a couple of dropkicks and a headlock takeover. Irwin tries to turn it into a couple of pins, but Brian rolls him over again. They fight to the ropes and Bill tries to whip him into the corner, but Brian leaps over him and hits a head scissors that sends Bill to the floor. Brian then hits a baseball slide and catches him with a couple of arm drags when he re-enters the ring. He then spends some time working on Bill’s arm. Irwin tries to fight back but keeps finding himself in an armbar. Irwin loudly tells the ref that he doesn’t submit. I think the people in the cheap seats could hear him. He tries to fight back again, but Pillman gets another armbar and Irwin yells, “NO NO NO!” So, a fan replies, “YEAH YEAH YEAH!” Irwin fights to his feet and shoves Brian into the ropes. Pillman leapfrogs him and bounces off the ropes, but Irwin catches him with a side slam. He then suplexes him with a mighty yell and stomps on him. He asks Brian if he wants to fly and sends him through the ropes. Bill then clubs him at the ropes and hotshots him before covering for a 2 count. Bill grabs a headlock and the fans start to clap to rally Brian, but Irwin brings him down by the hair and punches him in the ribs. Pillman returns fire with punches and chops, but he ducks for a back drop and gets clotheslined. Irwin hits a running knee attack on the ropes, chokes him, and throws him outside. Pillman lands on the timekeeper’s table, but he manages to roll back inside the ring. Bill chokes him on the ropes and goes for another running knee attack, but Brian moves. Brian begins a rally that includes dropkicks, a flying clothesline, and a running splash, but he only gets a 2. He then attempts a missile front dropkick from the far corner, but Irwin moves. Bill gets another 2 off a gut-wrench suplex and then throws Pillman into the other ring. Referee Nick Patrick prevents him from following, so Irwin argues with him. Pillman seizes the opportunity to climb to the top rope of ring two and dives all the way into ring one with a cross body for the win.

This was a really fun match. The combination of Irwin’s loud persona and Pillman’s skill made for a great watch. They made great use of the two ring setup for the finish.

Winner: Flyin’ Brian (10:18)

Gordon is backstage with Paul E. Dangerously to talk about his upcoming Tuxedo Match against Jim Cornette. Dangerously has one of Cornette’s tennis rackets and he throws it on the floor. Solie explains the rules of the tuxedo match, but Paul says he’s heard them already from everyone. He doesn’t care if he wins or loses. He’s there for one reason, to take out Jim Cornette. “O-U-T, OUT!” He brings up Cornette blowing out his knees at Starrcade ‘86 and says he knows that Jim wears a brace. He says that Jim isn’t ready for the match. He’s obsessed with Cornette’s demise and he’s been living dangerously all his life. He says he’s stood around during a hurricane, leaned over the edge of the Empire State Building, and even hired Rob Lowe’s babysitter. Huh?? I guess that’s a reference I don’t get. He then says that win, lose, or draw, they’ll have to call him the greatest manager because Cornette will be hobbled. Paul E. then leaves and Gordon reiterates that Cornette might get injured if Paul E. can handle it.

The Skyscrapers (w/ Teddy Long) vs. The Dynamic Dudes

Dan Spivey left the Varsity Club, so Teddy Long was quick to scoop him up and team him with his newest wrestler, Sid Vicious. The two formed the Skyscrapers. They’re named as such because both men are incredibly tall. The Dudes make their entrance first. They’ve ditched the skateboards and now have Frisbees. They run to the ring and snatch a kid from the crowd. They play Frisbee with him for a moment before returning him to his parents, but they don’t let him keep the toys. They throw those into the crowd, instead. The Skyscrapers enter next and Cappetta says they are from “Metropolis”. Are they supposed to be Superman villains?? Spivey nearly gets into a fight with a fan on the way and they take so long that their music stops playing. Jim Ross takes the opportunity to rip into the WWF and talk about how their wrestlers aren’t real athletes. Then, the fans start a “peanut head” chant that’s directed at Teddy Long. The cameraman tries to get a shot of the top of Teddy’s head, so he yells at him.

Spivey and Johnny Ace start the match. Dan fights him to the ropes and clubs him, but Johnny ducks and hits a dropkick. It’s ineffective and Spivey shrugs it off before clubbing him into the ropes again. He dares Johnny to bring it and hits him with a shoulder block, but Johnny slides under him and makes a tag. The Dudes hit a double dropkick and a double monkey flip. They try to take turns hitting corner clotheslines, but Spivey boots Shane in the face. Johnny tags back in and they do a cross body/trip-up combo that nearly lands Johnny on his head. It only gets a 1 count. Spivey fights him into the corner and whips him across the ring before hitting a running clothesline. The crowd starts chanting “We want Sid”, which confuses Sid. He tags in to a pop and clubs Johnny a few times before tagging out again. Spivey ducks and gets kicked, but it only makes Dan mad. He goes for an elbow and misses, so Johnny tags Shane. Shane does a duck down/leap over spot, but Spivey catches him with a sidewalk slam and the fans chant for Sid again. Dan then hits a Razor’s Edge-like move but doesn’t cover. Instead, he boots Shane out of the ring and distracts the ref so Teddy Long can attack. The fans continue cheering for Sid, which now amuses him, so Sid tags into the match. He clotheslines Shane and poses for a moment before grabbing a body claw on Shane’s ribs. Then, he takes Shane to his corner and tags Spivey, which garners boos. Spivey hits another side slam and catches Shane for a backbreaker, but he misses a diving headbutt from the turnbuckles. Shane tags Johnny, who punches both men and kicks Spivey when he ducks. He hits a flying clothesline, but Sid breaks up the pin. All four men end up in the ring and the Skyscrapers knock Shane to the floor. Then, they go for a sandwich double clothesline, but Johnny ducks and they collide. The Dudes hit a double dropkick and a double hip toss on Spivey, but the ref becomes distracted in trying to get Shane out of the ring. Johnny goes for a flying head scissors, but Sid is having none of that. Only he can use scissors. He pulls Johnny to the mat and Spivey hits the worst looking powerbomb ever. He nearly breaks Johnny’s neck. It’s enough for the 3 count to mercifully end this match.

This was an incredibly sloppy match. You can tell Sid was green and Spivey was clumsy. The fans seemed to love Sid, despite his flaws. They couldn’t care less about the Dudes and they hated Spivey, but Sid was over with the crowd.

Winners: The Skyscrapers (9:14)

Gordon is now with Jim Cornette to talk about the Tuxedo Match. He brings up Paul E.’s comments from earlier and Jim says that Dangerously has done his homework. He did blow out his knee at Starrcade ‘86 and he does wear a brace. However, he says it’s his chance to prove himself and get some satisfaction. He’s doing it for himself and everyone who wants to put a fist upside Paul E.’s head. Even if he’s crippled, he will crawl after him. Then, he accuses Dangerously of copying him and his men and trying to take his place. He says that would only happen if he’s six feet under. If there’s one time that Cornette should get physical, it’s right now and he’s going to give it everything he’s got for himself and everyone that’s supported him. Solie then hopes that it’s not the end of Cornette’s career.

Tuxedo Match: Jim Cornette vs. Paul E. Dangerously

The tensions have finally boiled over between these two and they’re going to settle it in the most devastating match ever, the Tuxedo Match! The rules of a tuxedo match are basically to strip your opponent’s tuxedo off and humiliate them. It’s the male version of the evening gown/bra and panties matches that frequented the Attitude Era. Paul E. enters first to some spooky sounding music that would be better suited for Halloween Havoc. He poses in the ring as the crowd chants, “Paul E. sucks.” Cornette enters next to a great reaction and high fives the fans on his way to the ring. Dangerously taunts him, but he bails when Cornette enters the ring. Paul E. finally enters and Jim jumps him immediately.

Cornette manages to quickly remove Paul’s coat, but Dangerously grabs a handful of powder from his pocket and throws it in Jim’s eyes. He then starts bashing Cornette’s knee with his cell phone and rips off Jim’s coat. Paul hits him with what Ross calls a “feminine right hand” before taking him to the corner and wrapping his knee around the ropes. Jim punches his way out of the hold, so Paul takes off his tie and cummerbund to choke him. He smartly begins to put them on again, but Cornette grabs the cummerbund and chokes him. Jim backs him into a corner and kicks him, so Paul responds by spitting on him. He fights Cornette to the floor and punches at the knee before going for Cornette’s shirt. They fight back and forth and Paul rams him into the post. Dangerously re-enters the ring and poses, as Jim crawls back under the ropes. Paul slaps him and goes for an elbow drop, but he misses. Paul then tries some more punches, but Cornette begins hulking up. He punches Dangerously so hard that Paul does a spin and then he does 10 more punches in the corner. Then, he rips off Paul’s shirt. Dangerously attempts a side headlock, but Jim shoves him to the ropes and they both go down to a shoulder block. Paul seizes the opening to get some more powder, but Cornette kicks it into Paul’s face and then rips off Paul’s pants. Dangerously high-tails it to the back in embarrassment, so Cornette is declared the winner. Jim then throws the pants into the crowd and smashes Paul’s cell phone.

This was surprisingly intense for a Tuxedo Match. The two of them are entertaining enough that they made it watchable. They even told a good story in Paul going for the knee. I was fine with this match for what it was.

Winner: Jim Cornette (6:22)

Gordon is backstage with Gary Hart. Solie says that Muta isn’t with them because Hart doesn’t want him to break his concentration. Hart says that the TV Title is second only to the World Title, which he claims is owned by Terry Funk. Then, he flubs his line by saying, “Let me tell you one Sting—Sting!” He says that as good as Sting is, Muta is undefeated and Japan has the best athletes. Gordon asks if Muta is in top shape and Hart says he’s ready, willing, and able. He’s meditating right now and calling upon the “mystic powers of the Orient”. Solie then thanks Hart for his time.

Texas Tornado Match: The Steiner Brothers (w/ Missy Hyatt) vs. The Varsity Club

Rick Steiner’s problems with the Varsity Club continue, but apparently, Sullivan and Rotunda are the only two members left. Rick finally convinced his brother Scott to team with him, so the Steiner Brothers have officially arrived! This match will be contested under tornado rules, which means there are no tags. All four men will be legal at all times. Rotunda and Sullivan come out to music that’s so loud it drowns out Cappetta’s introduction. The Steiners enter next and their music is at a normal level. They’re accompanied by Missy Hyatt, despite Eddie Gilbert not being there. They also have a dog with them, which I guess is the one Rick has always talked about.

A brawl breaks out immediately and they split into pairs. Sullivan and Rick fight to the floor, while Rotunda and Scott fight in the ring. Kevin tries to ram Rick into a table, but it does nothing. Sullivan then crotches him on the guardrail and that does work. Kevin sets up the table and rams Rick into again, but Rick returns the favor. In the ring, Rotunda gets a 2 count off a move that the camera missed, but Scott fights back with some elbows. Meanwhile, Sullivan turns the steps on their side and rams Rick into them, while Scott hits 10 punches on Rotunda in the corner. Scott then flies out of the ring on a missed clothesline, as Kevin and Rick go inside. Scott attempts to break up some double teaming, but Rotunda stops him. Rick does manage to hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex on Sullivan and Scott stomps on Rotunda in the corner. Then, Rick hits a powerslam for a 2 count, followed by Scott rolling Rotunda up for one, as well. Sullivan and Rick fight in and out of the ring and both Varsity Club members attempt pins. When that doesn’t work, Sullivan attempts a sunset flip, but Rick headbutts him in the groin. Sullivan sells it by doing the Stanky Leg. Rick hits a Steinerline on Kevin, but Rotunda attacks him. Scott gets a roll-up, but Sullivan dispatches Rick and joins Rotunda to do some double teaming. Scott then low bridges Rotunda, who falls to the floor. Sullivan picks up Rick for a powerslam, but Scott comes off the top with a cross body that knocks Rick on top of Kevin for the win.

This match was very hard to follow. I usually like tornado matches, but this one was a little too disjointed. Thankfully, they kept it fairly short.

Winners: The Steiner Brothers (4:22)

Backstage, Gordon is interviewing Sting and Eddie Gilbert about Sting’s match with The Great Muta. Gordon brings up Muta being undefeated and Sting says that’s why he’s keeping it toned down. He says he likes to go nuts when he talks to Gordon—even though it’s his first time to do so. He can’t stand still, but he has to keep everything inside of him because he respects Muta. So, he’s going to keep it together and head to the ring because HE’S GOTTA GET THIS THING GOING!!! Sting leaves, so Eddie says this is the most important match of Sting’s career. He wants to see the best Sting has because he too respects Muta, but he doesn’t respect Gary Hart. He says he’s going to make sure that Hart doesn’t interfere.

NWA TV Title Match: Sting (c) (w/ Eddie Gilbert) vs. The Great Muta (w/ Gary Hart)

Two Japanese women ring a gong and thunder signals the arrival of The Great Muta. He’s introduced as “The pearl of the Orient” and they even show a fan sign that says the same. Sting is out next and the fans go crazy for him. WCW’s efforts to make him into the next big star seem to be working. Muta poses on the turnbuckles and spits out the green mist before heading to the second ring. He stays there with Hart, while Sting prepares for the match.

Muta won’t join Sting in the first ring, so Sting takes a running leap over the ropes and hits a cross body. They fight back into the proper ring, but Muta comes off the top with a chop and fights Sting into the corner. He whips him to the other side and hits the handspring elbow before hitting a backbreaker. Muta goes for the moonsault early, but Sting moves. Muta lands on his feet and hits a back kick, but Sting doesn’t flinch. However, a couple more kicks are enough to knock Sting to the floor. Muta then hits a slingshot cross body and meets Sting at the ropes. Sting fights back and hits a kick and a clothesline before hitting another off the top for a 2 count. He then dropkicks Muta outside and leaps over the ropes. They fight on the floor and Sting sends him back inside before hitting a slam for a 1 count. Muta reverses a suplex attempt into a sleeper hold and Sting eventually fights to the ropes. They fight back and forth and Sting hits a press slam, but he misses an elbow drop. Muta answers with a snap elbow and a rear chinlock. That’s not working, so he turns it into an abdominal stretch and uses the ropes for leverage. Sting still won’t submit, so he turns it into a pin for a 2. Then, he throws Sting outside, but Sting immediately re-enters the ring. Muta retaliates by raking the eyes and kicks Sting square in the butt. He fights Sting into the corner, but he misses another handspring elbow. Sting returns fire with some clotheslines and a facebuster before dropkicking him out of the ring. Muta crawls back in and they do a leapfrog spot. Muta attempts to spray red mist into Sting’s eyes, but he ducks and referee Nick Patrick gets hit instead. Patrick rolls out of the ring, and Tommy Young comes to check on him. Muta then hits his moonsault, so Young makes the count. Muta only gets a 2 and Sting fights back to hit a back suplex. It appears that both men’s shoulders are down as Young makes a 3 count. Sting is initially declared the winner, but Patrick says that Muta won. Muta grabs the belt and leaves, while Sting and Gilbert complain and the fans chant “bullshit”.

This was a great match. I’m even okay with the ending because it’s ambiguous enough that Muta can still claim to be undefeated. It’s a good way to keep both men looking strong.

Winner: ???? (8:40)

After the match, they show a replay of the finish. It appears that both men got a shoulder up, but the ref still made a 3 count. The commentators are still unsure who won, so Ross calls the ending controversial.

Solie is backstage with Lex Luger to talk about his U.S. Title defense against Ricky Steamboat. He asks Luger for his thoughts and Luger claims that he says what he means. He’s had a team of attorneys with him all day and he has a surprise. The NWA may dictate who #1 and #2 are, but they don’t tell him how to defend his title. He says there will be a match tonight, but it won’t have the No DQ stipulation. It will be a straight wrestling match. Luger then leaves and Gordon speculates on whether Luger’s attitude is arrogance or prudence.

NWA U.S. Title Match: Lex Luger (c) vs. Ricky Steamboat

Lex Luger has turned heel again. After winning his title back following WrestleWar, he started complaining about not getting a World Title shot over people like Steamboat and Funk. At Clash of the Champions, Steamboat and Funk faced each other and Luger appeared to come to Steamboat’s aid, but he attacked Ricky instead. I guess Luger learned this from being betrayed so often. Luger would claim that he wanted to prove that he was better than Steamboat. In the arena, Steamboat’s music plays and his wife comes out with little Richie. She is followed by Steamboat, who is being carried on a plank of wood. He’s holding a large lizard that he shows to the crowd, as Jim Ross declares it the year of the dragon. Ross and Caudle then speculate on what will happen to the match if the No DQ stipulation isn’t dropped. Luger’s music then plays and he poses on a rotating platform. Fireworks go off as he walks to the ring and Ross calls him arrogant. Cappetta announces that the match is still No DQ, so Lex gets a mic and says that he will leave if Steamboat doesn’t agree to change it. He gives him 30 seconds. Ricky confers with an NWA official and finally agrees to Luger’s demands.

The two men lock-up and Luger keeps shoving him away. Then, he backs Ricky into a corner, but he misses a clubbing forearm. Steamboat rolls him up a few times for 2 counts, before hitting some dropkicks, chops, and a back drop. Luger rolls to the floor to get a breather, so Steamboat gives chase. He chops Lex repeatedly and rams him into the apron. He follows that up with an atomic drop and rolls him inside, but Luger knees him at the ropes. They fight on the floor some more and Luger breaks the ref’s count, but Ricky fights back with more chops. They fight back into the ring and Steamboat goes for a flying chop, but Luger punches him and hits a backbreaker. Lex focuses his attack on the lower back for a while and gets a couple of 2 counts, but he pauses to complain to the ref. The momentary distraction allows Steamboat to roll him up for a 2, so Lex answers back with rapid-fire clotheslines. Steamboat is dazed, so Luger press slams him into a hotshot. However, Ricky fires back with chops. Tommy Young makes the mistake of trying to break up a fight in the corner, which allows Luger to hit a cheap shot. The two men trade off moves for 2 counts before Luger makes the mistake of ducking for a back drop. Steamboat hits a swinging neckbreaker, but Luger bumps slightly early. Lex tries to answer with a running clothesline, but Ricky ducks and Luger falls out of the ring. Steamboat then meets him at the ropes with some overhead chops and tries to slam him into the ring, but Luger shifts his weight and gets a 2 count. Luger attempts to go to the top and Ricky slams him into the ring. Hey, that’s Flair’s spot! Then, Steamboat hits a dropkick and a flying chop, but he only gets a 2. Steamboat makes the mistake of arguing with Young before attempting a corner charge, so Lex back drops him into the second ring. Luger uses the opening to grab a chair, but Young tries to stop him. Young gets shoved aside, but Ricky catches Lex and hits a catapult. For some reason, Lex holds onto the chair and whacks his head on it. Steamboat then hits him with the chair again, so Young has no choice but to disqualify him.

This was another really good match and I’m surprisingly okay with the finish. It was a good way to keep the feud going, plus it told a good story with Luger. He had the No DQ stipulation dropped so that he could keep his champion’s advantage. He grabbed the chair because he thought he was in trouble of losing the title.

Winner: Lex Luger (by DQ) (10:26)

Steamboat continues his attack after the bell. He attempts to get some revenge, but Luger runs for his life. He chases Lex all the way up the ramp before posing with the chair to some surprising boos. The fans still want to cheer Lex, despite his turn. Jim Ross recaps the match and says that Steamboat has a bone to pick with the NWA because of it. He then talks about the War Games Match and says that one of the teams has some comments.

The Freebirds are backstage with the Samoan SWAT Team. Jimmy Garvin claims he’s heard some silly talk lately. People are saying that they should be worried in the War Games and he thinks that’s silly. He tells people to look at their TVs and ask if they looked like them, would they be worried? Hayes replies that they don’t have to care because they have what people want. He tells everyone to want in one hand and do you know what in the other and see which one fills first. Then, he talks about the Samoans and says they paddled across on a boat and ripped out the Road Warriors’ hearts. He also says that the Midnight Express has had technical breakdowns. Next, he talks about Dr. Death and says he was the meanest man in wrestling until Terry Gordy arrived. He claims that they go in the out door, up the downstairs, and are in and out of trouble. They’re the talk of the town and get wild in the streets when the sun goes down. Then, he asks Gordy to tell everyone what war is good for. Gordy claims they have some bombs and are going to drop them on Baltimore. I’m pretty sure that’s a terrorist threat. Hayes finishes by saying that it all comes to an end, while the Samoans bite each other and Gordy yells about bombs some more.

Jim Ross then explains the rules of War Games and informs everyone that the Freebirds team won the coin toss. Of course, they did. The heels always win the coin toss in these matches. Then, he says that the other team has some comments. The Midnight Express are backstage and Stan says it’s a matter of minutes before the toughest match of their career, but they’re ready. He claims that people ask them what they’re doing with all those crazy guys, as Dr. Death walks into the frame with his arms outstretched. He’s pretending to fly like Superman. How much coke did he do before this promo!? Eaton asks him what he’s doing and Williams replies that he’s going bird catching. He calls himself the bird crusher and says he’s looking for some bug spray to kill the “Samoians”. He addresses Gordy’s claim that they’re going to drop bombs and laughs because he has the Road Warriors. Animal and Hawk join him and Williams says they’ve had their differences, but he’s a crazy man like them. He agrees to cover their backs if they cover his. The Road Warriors speak next. They say that none of their opponents have a chance in Hell. He talks about how they jumped their backs—from behind. That second part should go without saying. Hawk says that the difference between them and all other men is that some wrestlers get beat down by an individual and are out for months, but 5 men attacked them and they weren’t out a week. Then, he claims that after they’re done with them, they’re going for their family next.

War Games: The Road Warriors, The Midnight Express, & Dr. Death Steve Williams (w/ Jim Cornette & Paul Ellering) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds & The Samoan SWAT Team (w/ Paul E. Dangerously)

This is the first War Games Match I’ve covered on this blog and I’ve been looking forward to it. War Games is a match that takes place in two rings that are enclosed in a long cage with a roof on it. A member from each team begins the match and they fight for five minutes. After that, a member from each team enters the ring every 2 minutes. The order is determined by a coin toss. These entries give the team that won the coin toss a one-man advantage every other round. The match can’t end until everyone has entered, so the first few rounds are about wearing down the other team. Once everyone has entered, what’s known as “The Match Beyond” begins. Now, the match can end by either submission or surrender.

The Freebirds come out to “Bad Street USA”, which is so loud that Cappetta’s explanation of the rules is lost in the noise. Paul E. is with them and he thankfully put on some new clothes. The Road Warriors’ team enter next and the Warriors themselves ride to the ring on the back of motorcycles. Ellering is with them and Ross talks about how the Samoans put him out of action. The two teams then talk strategy, while Dr. Death checks out the sturdiness of the cage.

Bobby Eaton and Jimmy Garvin are the first two competitors. They quickly get into a slug-fest that Eaton wins, but Garvin fights him back into a corner. Eaton hits a swinging neckbreaker, but he misses an elbow. Bobby then hits an atomic drop, but Garvin boots him in the face and throws him into the side of the cage. Eaton fights back and hangs off the ceiling to hit a kick. He tosses Garvin around, but Jimmy fights back and holds Eaton while Hayes yells at him. You can tell that Hayes had to bite his tongue not to curse because the camera was on him. Eaton then manages to hit a couple of backbreakers, as Cappetta announces that there’s one minute left in the first round. Eaton locks in a Boston Crab, but the round ends and Terry Gordy enters the match. Eaton meets him with some punches, but Gordy sends him into the cage wall. Gordy and Garvin double team him and drape him between the rings. Eaton tries to fight back, but he can’t. They throw him against the cage until the round ends and Dr. Death joins the fray. Williams hits a double clothesline on both men and tosses Gordy into the second ring. He presses Terry over his head and starts smashing him into the ceiling repeatedly before slamming him to the mat. Garvin and Eaton fight between the rings and Garvin chokes him, as Gordy clotheslines Williams in the corner. The round comes to an end, so Samu enters the match. He goes after Williams and kicks him before dropping a headbutt. Gordy then hits Williams with a back suplex that nearly drops Doc on his head. He had to keep him low because of the ceiling. Williams tries to fight back, but the one man advantage is too much. Thankfully, Animal enters the match next to even the sides. Animal cleans house with clotheslines. He takes Samu from ring to ring and then dives all the way over both ropes for a shoulder tackle. On the outside, Hayes fires up Fatu by telling him to “Kill kill kill”. Fatu enters the match next and goes after Animal. The Samoans double team him with headbutts, while Hawk tries to rally Animal from the outside. The Samoans keep dropping headbutts, so the crowd starts to chant for Hawk. Garvin and Eaton fight in the corner, as the countdown brings Stan Lane into the match. He sends multiple members of the other team into the cage wall and goes after Fatu, but Fatu rakes his eyes. Paul E. informs Hayes that he has to enter the match next, so Michael says, “Damn!” Williams and Animal take turns hitting corner clotheslines on Fatu and Eaton does another hanging kick from the ceiling. Hayes enters next and completes the Freebirds’ team. He hits DDTs on three of the Road Warriors’ team members, so a “We want Hawk” chant begins. The Freebirds take control and begin choking people until Hawk finally enters to complete both teams.

Hawk starts chopping people and then teams with Williams to hit Gordy with a double clothesline. Then, he picks up Garvin and lawn darts him into the cage wall. He copies Animal by diving from one ring to the other with a shoulder tackle, but he nearly lands on his face. Paul E. attempts to get his phone through the cage, but the holes are too small. He yells at a cameraman about it. Gordy grabs Hawk and turns towards Animal for some reason. He has to stand there awkwardly until Hawk ducks so Animal can punch Terry. I guess Gordy forgot that Animal wasn’t on his team. Animal then signals for the Doomsday Device, but Ross doesn’t think they can do it with the low ceiling. Garvin breaks up the attempt, but Hawk still hits a flying clothesline to Jimmy. He then hits Garvin with a neckbreaker and lifts him into a hanging neckbreaker and Garvin submits.

Most of this match was pretty good, but the ending felt a little anti-climatic. That is one problem that a lot of War Games have. The ending can feel like it came out of nowhere. It was still an enjoyable match.

Winners: The Road Warriors’ Team (22:18)

Hawk leaves the cage to celebrate, but the Freebirds attack Animal and hold the door shut. They continue the attack, while Hawk and his teammates try to find a way inside. Stan Lane climbs the cage but realizes there’s no entrance on the top. Hawk is finally able to rip open the door and he chases the Freebirds and their team away.

Gordon is backstage with Ric Flair to talk about his World Title defense. He talks about how Flair is a six-time champion and asks why Ric is returning so soon when he could be severely injured for life. A restrained Flair answers that he’s returning because he only knows one thing and that’s wrestling. He has to go out there and find out what his future is. Gordon says that Funk will center his attack on Flair’s upper body and Flair says he’d be a fool not to. Ric says that if he’s 100%, then Funk will have the fight of his career. He says that Funk didn’t attack him on a man-to-man basis and he inflicted injury upon him, but tonight he’ll have to do the same or suffer the consequences. Gordon asks Flair if his timing will be off because he hasn’t wrestled any warm-up matches. Flair says that because of his own ego he didn’t think he needed a warm-up, but he feels he’s ready. Gordon then says he knows he won’t get an honest answer, but he asks if Flair’s 100%. Ric says he feels like 120% and if he’s not, they’ll find out soon.

Ross and Caudle then talk about the match. Jim says that Flair is one piledriver away from being a former champion. Caudle asks if Flair can take another one. Ross then informs everyone that they will stay on the air until the match is finished.

NWA World Title Match: Ric Flair (c) vs. Terry Funk (w/ Gary Hart)

Since turning on Flair at WrestleWar, Funk has joined forces with Gary Hart’s stable of wrestlers. Funk comes out first, with Hart in tow, and he’s carrying a branding iron. He’s accompanied by a security detail, but he still tries to fight with some of the fans. Flair enters next to a great reaction and gets some golden fireworks that fall from the ceiling. Four women join him on the way to the ring and Funk decides to yell at them. Funk exits the ring, so Ric chases after him.

Flair chops him and Funk loses his cool. He climbs over the guardrail and shakes it around before arguing with some fans. He won’t get back into the ring, so Flair hits him with an axehandle off the apron. He chases Terry into the ring, but Funk rolls out again and tosses a chair inside. Flair grabs it and Tommy Young takes it away, so Ric pushes him. He dares Funk to enter the ring and they fight into the ropes. They trade hard chops and punches. Jim Ross starts calling Funk middle-aged and crazy. This is in 1989. He would still be calling Funk that 9 years later. They fight to the floor again and Funk sends Flair into the post. Terry stomps on him, but Ric grabs his leg. Funk then slaps Ric and suplexes him into the ring for a 2 count. He then tries another suplex, which Ross mistakenly calls a piledriver. Flair blocks it and rolls outside. Funk attempts to work Flair’s neck on the ropes, but Ric tries to suplex him to the floor. Funk holds on and they both tumble outside, where they get into a chop-fest. They even trade eye rakes and Funk wins the exchange. They roll back inside and Funk goes for the piledriver. Ross is at least consistent because he calls this a suplex. Flair reverses it by back dropping Funk over the ropes. He follows him outside and hits a snap mare before twisting Funk’s head around. Funk complains that his neck is hurt, but Ric doesn’t care. He chases him into the ring and twists his neck again before dropping a couple of knees onto it. He covers him for a 2 count and when that doesn’t work he hits a piledriver. Funk sells it by doing the Curly Shuffle. He picks him up again and hits a second piledriver. Funk tries to stand, but he falls out of the ring and crawls down the aisle. Flair does another neck twist and rolls Funk into the ring. They trade some chops and Flair hits a back suplex before locking in a Figure Four. Gary Hart then slides the branding iron into the ring and distracts Tommy Young, so Funk nails Flair with it. Flair is bleeding, so Funk punches at the cut. He then hits the piledriver and covers Flair, but Ric gets a foot on the ropes. Terry then decides to go to the floor and pull up the protective mat to expose the concrete. Hart distracts Young again, so Funk chokes Ric with his wrist tape. Young catches him and pulls him away, but Funk shoves him to the floor. He then tries to piledrive Flair onto the concrete, but Ric reverses it into a back drop. Funk tries a clubbing forearm to the neck instead. He follows that up with three swinging neckbreakers and yells at Flair to say he quits. Gary Hart tries yet another distraction, so Funk tries to use the branding iron, but Flair gets it and returns the favor. Funk falls out of the ring and Flair chases. He sends him into the post and Funk is bleeding. Ric hits 10 punches and keeps going for more, but he then misses a running knee in the corner. Funk attempts a spinning toe hold, but Flair tries to reverse it into a Figure Four. Funk rolls him up, but Flair reverses it and gets the 3 count.

This was an amazing main event. There was so much intensity in this match. It seemed like they wanted to tear each other apart. Funk’s hilarious selling also took the match up a notch. Funk is pretty much the king of great mannerisms.

Winner: Ric Flair (17:23)

Flair tries to celebrate, but Gary Hart attempts to attack him. Flair fights him off, but Muta arrives and spits red mist into Flair’s face. Funk and Muta attack him and Muta hits Ric with the belt. Funk then attempts to piledrive Flair onto a chair, but the head of security, Doug Dillinger, stops him. Muta and Funk attack Dillinger, so Sting arrives to aid Flair. The two of them manage to fight off both men, as the crowd go crazy. Funk throws a chair into the ring, so Flair and Sting join them on the floor for more brawling. They fight all the way down the aisle.

The brawl seemingly stops, so Jim Ross attempts to talk. He tells everyone that the TV Title has been held up due to the controversy. However, while he talks, the brawl erupts again and Ross and Caudle have to move. Flair uses the branding iron to fight off both men, as Ross says the war between them is far from over. Finally, Flair is able to end the fight and he joins Ross to make a comment. He invites Sting to join him and thanks him for his help. He tells Funk that they’re just getting started and claims that he’s just broken a sweat. Then, he says he will dog Funk until he wears his Texas ass out. Flair leaves and Ross attempts to regain his composure, but a fan walks into his camera shot and Jim gives him a funny look. He then recaps the madness and Caudle says somebody is going to have to carry one of those men out when it’s over. They show a couple of replays of the finish of the match and Ross tells everyone goodnight.

Final thoughts:

This was a really good show. It started a little shaky with the technical difficulties, but the rest of the show more than made up for it. It’s a shame that despite the quality, WCW was still suffering through some bad financial times. Attendance was still down. Jim Herd’s poor choices would slowly drive away talent over the next couple of years.

Thank you for reading. Be sure to check out the Facebook page for this blog by clicking here. I would love to hear your feedback there or on Twitter @PaulDMatthews78.

My next review will be SummerSlam ‘89.


Written by Paul Matthews

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