Cewsh: Hey, guys. As you know, we've started adding some columns written on the Rajah forums here on the mainpage to give some of the people there a chance to shine. You've seen myself and Defrost with our columns, and now this is THE LAW's running WCW PPV Flashback series. If you like it and want to see more, make sure you come to the Rajah forums and let him know you liked it!
Welcome to WrestleWar 1989! When we last left off, Ricky Steamboat had defeated Ric Flair in an instant classic to become NWA Champion. He would proceed to defeat Flair in a rematch at Clash of the Champions on April 2. That match was 2 out of 3 falls and went nearly 60 minutes. This match at WrestleWar would be Flair's last chance and the final battle in a great series of matches. Let’s get to the action:
Jim Ross and Bob Caudle are our hosts for the evening.
Muta is out first to generic Asian-sounding music. Muta is billed as undefeated in the NWA. Muta immediately drops Gilbert with a thrust kick to the ribs. Muta throws Gilbert to the floor and slams him into the ring post. Back in the ring, Gilbert hits a pair of clotheslines and Muta bails out. Muta rakes the eyes with the assist of his mist. Snapmare and elbow drop by Muta. Muta hits a Tumbling Body Press into the corner. Nerve Hold by Muta. Gilbert mounts some offense but takes a Back Breaker. Muta misses a Moonsault but lands on his feet. Body Press to the floor by Muta! Rib Breaker and Moonsault by Muta get the win at 3:16.
Result: Muta by pinfall
Analysis: **1/2. Really good for such a short match. Muta was doing stuff here that was light-years ahead of most American wrestlers.
Ranger Ross is an Army Ranger and patriot. He gets a big entrance featuring members of the various branches of the armed forces. He also does a nice little wiggle, Rick Rude style, before the match. Not sure how that fits with his character. JR bills Ranger as a martial artist. Ranger starts off with some strikes until being Suplexed by Reed. Reed goes up top and hits a Diving Shoulderblock for the win at an announced 6:51, although the match must have been edited on my tape because we only saw about two minutes.
Rating: Dud. Really just a squash.
These two guys are way past their primes. No cast for Orton, apparently the arm finally healed. Murdoch is billed as "Captain Redneck." They are both connected by a rope with a bell on it. You win by pinfall or submission. Murdoch hogties Orton, drops an elbow, and pins him. Again, I think this match was edited because the announced time is 4:54.
Result: Dick Murdoch by pinfall
Rating: Dud. Again, too short to rate.
Orton beats up Murdoch after the match.
The Dynamic Dudes are skateboarders. That's a truly abysmal gimmick. The Samoan SWAT Team is the Headshrinkers. The Samoans are managed by Paul E. Dangerously. He needed someone new to manage after the Midnight Express was forced out of the NWA at Chi-Town Rumble. Ace slams both Samoans. He applies an armbar to Samu. Big Powerslam from Samu. The Samoans double team Ace. Nondescript heat segment goes on for several minutes. Ace finally makes the tag to Douglas. He hits a series of Dropkicks. Then he gets leveled by a stiff Clothesline. Flying Splash off the top by Samu is broken up by Ace. Same goes for a Powerslam, but Ace Dropkicks Shane in the back off the top rope. He falls into a pin for the victory at an announced 11:02.
Result: The Dynamic Dudes by pinfall
Analysis: *3/4. Formulaic tag match, but the Samoans stiffness and the Dude's energy was entertaining.
Luger won the title from Barry Windham at Chi-Town Rumble. Luger is billed as a heavy favorite here. Hiro Matsuda accompanies Hayes to the ring. Hayes controls early with a Headlock. Lot of stalling early. Luger slaps the vain Hayes across the face repeatedly. Hayes goes for a DDT but Luger powers out. Hayes proceeds to stall for awhile. Luger works on the arm. Back up, Luger no sells a Clothesline and does a choke followed by a ten punch. Luger tries a Diving Shoulderblock but ends up flying over the top rope. Hard fall to the floor. Hayes clubs Luger down on the floor. Hayes Suplexes Luger back into the ring. Hayes applied a Chinlock. Back on their feet, Hayes hits a Bulldog. Hayes throws Luger to the floor. He distracts the referee and Matsuda attacks Luger. Hayes applies another Chinlock. Luger fights out and repeatedly slams Hayes into the turnbuckle. Thumb to the eye by Hayes. He tries a Bulldog but gets sent flying. Corner punches and a Hip Toss by Luger. Military Press by Luger. Hayes pops up with a DDT out of nowhere and both men are down.
The referee gets bumped. Terry Gordy emerges from the crowd and pushes Hayes on top of Luger. He gets the pin to the win the U.S. Title at 16:06. The crowd is absolutely stunned.
Result: Michael Hayes by pinfall (New NWA United States Champion)
Analysis: **3/4. Not a bad match. A little too much stalling. This loss was used to set Luger up for a heel turn.
Pretty sure this is the only thing of any note that Sheik did in the NWA. Sheik gets the jump on Sting before the bell. Sting no-sells. He chokes Sheik with his headdress. Clothesline. Sheik hits a Gutwrench Suplex. Sting revs up and hits a Stinger Splash. He applies the Scorpion Deathlock for the submission at 2:12.
Result: Sting by submission
Analysis: 1/2*. Total squash. Modestly entertaining for what it was. It would have been nice to see them do more with Sting at this point. He was clearly the future of WCW. This was two years after his great match with Flair at Clash of the Champions, but he hadn’t really moved up the card.
They're doing this in the middle of the card to make sure they have time to get it in. Nice bit of realism there, not assuming that the final match will end with 20 minutes. This match has a 60 minute time-limit. In the event it goes the distance, the winner will be determined by the judges: Pat O'Connor, Lou Thesz, and Terry Funk. Flair comes to the ring accompanied by 46 women. He's only a five-time champion here, so he had 11 more to come. Steamboat is accompanied by his wife and son, who ride a horse to the ring. A lot of boos for Steamboat here. They just didn't buy him as the common man. Or they loved Flair so much that they hated Steamboat for beating him. Boxing style introductions with both men in the ring. They're doing a very good job of building this up as a special match. JR says that some are calling this Flair's last chance.
They exchange slaps early. Flair hits some of the hardest chops I've ever seen, and Steamboat responds by chopping even harder. Flair bails out after a Backdrop. They claim Steamboat is the only man to ever make Flair submit. That sounds dubious. Steamboat works on the arm. He won the first fall at Clash of the Champions with a Chicken Wing. Steamboat hits one of his great Armdrags and locks the Armbar. Flair is really selling the arm work here, screaming every time Steamboat applies a hold. Flair chops his way out of an arm-wringer. Steamboat goes back to working on the arm. In most matches, this would be a dull segment but Steamboat is so vicious and Flair sells it so well that it's captivating. Monster chops by Steamboat and Flair collapses face-first. Steamboat locks in another Armbar. Flair picks Steamboat up and sets him on the top rope. Steamboat jumps off and sends Flair flying with a Hip Toss. He follows that up with a Dropkick, sending Flair out of the ring. Total domination from Steamboat so far. He's clearly ahead on the judge's scorecards. Another Armdrag by Steamboat and another Armbar. Clearly, his strategy is to soften the arm to set up the Chicken Wing. Flair manages to take Steamboat down with a Hip Toss. He misses an Elbow Drop and Steamboat connects with another Armdrag.
Flair hits a series of body tackles in the corner. JR reports that the judges have Steamboat ahead after 15 minutes. Flair hits chops and forearms. Steamboat answers with chops of his own. Flair throws Steamboat to the floor, but Steamboat jumps right back in and gets Flair in the corner for a Ten Punch. Flair is thrown into the corner and ends up in the Tree of Woe. Steamboat charges Flair but is thrown to the floor. The referee rules that Flair didn't intend to throw Steamboat over the top, so there's no disqualification on that. Flair chops Steamboat over the guardrail. Back in the ring, Steamboat hits a Springboard Chop from the top rope. Steamboat shoots Flair to the corner. Flair flips over, tries to run to the other turnbuckle, but eats a big chop. Snapmare by Steamboat, followed by another Armbar. Steamboat goes for a Diving Shoulderblock, but Flair ducks and Steamboat falls over the top to the floor. Back Suplex by Flair. Steamboat kicks out at two. Flair drops a knee. JR tries to claim the crowd is taunting Flair when they're clearly cheering for him. Double Underhook Suplex by Flair. Steamboat charges, but Flair drops him, throat-first, across the top rope. Flair is getting cocky.
Flair Suplexes Steamboat on the floor. JR gets the second round of scorecards from the judges: Funk favors Flair, O'Connor favors Flair, Thesz favors Steamboat. Clearly, Flair controlled the second portion of the match. Steamboat rolls Flair up off a Suplex attempt. Good near fall there. Steamboat sends both guys to the floor with a Body Press. Flair throws Steamboat in and goes up top, but Steamboat throws him off. Steamboat beats on Flair, poses, and is heavily booed. Steamboat gets another near fall off a cradle. Steamboat goes for a Superplex and connects! Steamboat goes for the Chicken Wing, but Flair gets the ropes. Steamboat goes up top and hits a Flying Chop. Steamboat goes up again, but Flair hits the ropes and Steamboat falls to the floor. JR says that if Steamboat is counted out the judges will decide the winner. Steamboat's knee is clearly hurting. Flair immediately targets the knee. Vertical Suplex from Flair. Flair applies the Figure Four. He really wrenches it in. Steamboat eventually gets to the ropes. Flair works the leg, but Steamboat takes him down with an Enziguri. Steamboat picks Flair up for a Body Slam, but Flair rolls through into a Cradle for the victory at 31:37.
Result: Ric Flair by pinfall (New NWA World Heavyweight Champion)
Analysis: *****. I can't praise that match enough. Psychological, physical, intense, technical. It was everything you could possibly ask for in a wrestling match. Steamboat worked on the arm viciously and Flair sold it like his arm was about to fall off. Flair's heat segments were just as intense, and he targeted the knee immediately after Steamboat hurt it. In the end, it was the knee injury that cost Steamboat, as Flair managed to roll through his slam and pin him. One of the greatest matches in the history of American wrestling.
Flair is announced as champion and the crowd goes wild. Fireworks explode above the ring. Steamboat is classy in defeat and raises Flair's arm in victory. They shake hands. JR interviews Flair in the ring. Flair puts over Steamboat as the greatest champion he's ever faced. Terry Funk jumps in the ring to congratulate Ric Flair. Funk calls Flair the greatest wrestler in the world today. JR and Flair try to get Funk out of the ring, but he sticks around and challenges Flair to a match for the title. Flair brushes him off, saying Funk hasn't been wrestling and that he's not a ranked competitor. Funk takes offense at Flair's dismissal. Funk punches Flair out and throws him to the floor. Funk beats on Flair pretty viciously, acting like a crazy person. Funk Piledrives Flair on the judge's table, which everyone sells like a gunshot. Funk hits Flair in the head with a chair. Really hot angle there. That kind of violence was pretty shocking at the time. Flair is stretchered out as the announcers express their shock and disgust at Funk's actions.
So the downside to realistically putting the championship match in the middle of the card is that someone has to follow them. Steve Williams and Mike Rotunda represent the Varsity Club, with Kevin Sullivan as their manager. Road Warriors hit the ring and attack right away. Nikita Koloff is the special referee. Teddy Long turned heel by quick counting the Road Warriors to screw them out of the tag titles, so a special referee has been appointed. Sullivan is quickly ejected from ringside after getting in Koloff's face. Back and forth action early. The Road Warriors rely on power, Williams relies on Power while Rotunda relies on quickness. Animal is thrown outside and both men double team him. Hawk tags in and hits an Atomic Drop and a Dropkick! Rotunda is thrown out of the ring and the Road Warriors hit the Doomsday Device on Williams. Sullivan reappears along with Dan Spivey and they attack Koloff. That prevents the pinfall and instead the Varsity Club are disqualified at 6:06.
Result: Road Warriors by disqualification
Rating: *1/2. Not much going on there.
So here's your main event. Steiner gets taken out by the Varsity Club before the match, so Gilbert has to wrestle on his own. Sullivan and Spivey work a long, basic heat segment on Gilbert. After what seems like an eternity, Steiner gets onto the apron and takes a tag from Gilbert. But the referee didn't see it. Steiner Clotheslines Sullivan and Gilbert falls on top of him for the pin at 6:41.
Result: First Family by pinfall
Rating: 1/4*. Garbage.
Overall: Total one match show. Flair and Steamboat wrestled one of the greatest matches ever. The Muta match was a nice short contest, Luger and Hayes had a decent match, but everything else was terrible. Not really any reason to check out anything here other than the Flair/Steamboat classic. Fortunately, things would get much, much better at the Great American Bash in July.