We begin with Steamboat’s historical defeat of Flair to become World Champion at Chi-Town Rumble. Can the “Nature Boy” reclaim the biggest prize in the game today?
Last night, numerous legends including Lou Thesz and Gene Kiniski among others gathered. Afterward, WCW Executive Vice-President Jim Herd offered a few words for them on behalf of Turner Broadcasting.
Next, we see highlights of current NWA talent as an appetizer for today’s event. Mmmm…Cajun appetizers.
Following that, the national anthem played. Unfortunately, I was unable to determine whether or not it played from a cassette tape or a CD. Can someone please provide the audio engineer a pencil to rewind it?
Match 1: The Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette) versus the Samoan SWAT Team (w/ Paul E. Dangerously)
With neither Randy Rose nor Dennis Condrey in the NWA, Dangerously linked (or in kayfabe inked) himself to the SST in his continuing efforts to destroy Jim Cornette.
After Lane and Samu leap-frogged one another, Samu whiffed on a cross body block, but Lane didn’t and got 2.
Upon slamming Lane, Samu tagged out to Fatu who fell victim to a savate kick by Lane.
Eaton tagged in as the Midnight Express delivered their tandem drop toehold/elbow drop combo to Fatu. That NEVER gets old.
Eaton then mounted the top turnbuckle and delivered a missile dropkick to Fatu.
On the floor, Cornette nailed Samu with the tennis racket while Hayes claimed shenanigans.
After a double back elbow by the Midnight Express to Fatu, Samu tagged in and floored Lane with a head butt.
Conversely, Lane came back with a sunset flip and got 2.
After some heel miscommunication, Dangerously offered Fatu the cell phone. Perhaps he was calling out for some gumbo.
As the New Orleans faithful chanted “Paul E. sucks,” Samu countered a Lane side head lock with a belly-to-back suplex and followed with a standing leg drop.
Fatu tagged in, slammed Lane, and got 2.
On the other hand, Lane responded with a standing dropkick and tagged in Eaton.
After a back drop, Eaton hooked an inside cradle for 2.
While Samu occupied referee Tommy Young’s attention, the Midnight Express made an illegal switch. SNEAKY!
Shortly after, Lane hooked a somersault rollup on Fatu for 2.
After both sides tagged out, Samu leveled Eaton with a clothesline. In the meantime, Hayes gave us his best John Madden impersonation.
Samu then planted Eaton with a thrust kick for 2.
Fatu tagged in and gave Eaton a back elbow for another 2 thanks to a save by Lane.
Eaton then attempted a hip toss but received a clothesline instead from Fatu for yet another 2.
Hot tag Lane, and all four men were in the ring.
The Midnight Express then tried a double battering ram, but that was as effective as ice cold lava.
Briefly, the SST fought with one another then came up empty on their follow-throughs.
After Dangerously tripped Lane on one side of the ring, Cornette WALLOPED Fatu on the other side. HA!
As Samu retaliated with a thrust kick to Lane, Fatu made the cover and got 2.
Shortly after, Fatu delivered a powerslam to Lane and got another 2.
While Eaton distracted Young, the SST gave Lane a double head butt sending him into the middle of 1991. That earned yet another 2.
A third thrust kick by Samu earned an additional 2-count.
Lane attempted a comeback with a sunset flip but ate a knuckle sandwich instead.
After a slam, Fatu mounted the second turnbuckle but missed a diving head butt.
Hot tag Eaton.
In an absent-minded professor moment, Eaton gave the SST a double noggin knocker to zero effect.
While Samu held Eaton, Fatu mounted the top turnbuckle but nailed Samu as Eaton evaded him.
Eaton then gave Samu a swinging neckbreaker but only got 2 thanks to a save by Fatu.
Once again, all four men were in the ring as Lane gave Fatu an enziguri.
While Cornette nailed Dangerously on the apron, the Midnight Express gave Samu a Rocket Launcher for a false pin. Unfortunately for the Express, Young was trying to put Lane back in his corner at the same time.
Behind Young’s back, Fatu HAMMERED Eaton with the cell phone and placed Samu atop him.
The SST won.
Summary: Since Dangerously had to scrounge the tag ranks for another team to oppose Cornette’s duo, it made sense that they stole a victory here.
Match 2: The Great Muta (w/ Gary Hart) versus Steve Casey
During Muta’s pre-match routine, Casey got too close and ate a face-full of mist. YUCK!
Muta then gave Casey a cross-corner whip followed by a handspring elbow.
As Muta backed Casey into the corner, he delivered a mule kick.
He then tossed Casey outside the ring, but Hart tossed him back in.
Muta then mounted the top turnbuckle and delivered a missile dropkick.
Shortly after, Muta applied a spinning toe hold followed by a modified Indian death lock.
Next, Muta gave Casey a spinning thrust kick that could have made him cross-eyed.
Casey came back with a clothesline and a back elbow for 1.
After a dropkick, Casey gave Muta a hip toss but missed a second dropkick.
Muta then delivered a second spinning thrust kick that sent Casey between the ropes to the floor and followed with a plancha. Wow!
While Hart distracted the anonymous referee, Muta whipped Casey back-first into the steel railing and gave him a second handspring elbow.
Back in the ring, Muta gave Casey a backbreaker, mounted the top turnbuckle, and hit the moonsault.
Summary: Impressive squash with some innovative high-flying by Muta.
WrestleWar ’89 will be on PPV on May 7 at 5pm Eastern.
Match 3: Junkyard Dog versus “Hacksaw” Butch Reed (w/ Hiro Matsuda)
A New Orleans-style musical entourage brought JYD to the ring. I’m surprised they weren’t playing “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
According to Ross, a “soupbone” by JYD sent Reed scurrying outside the ring for advice from Matsuda. Pass the cornbread please!
After a leap frog by Reed, JYD gave him a head butt then butted him out of the ring.
Shortly after, Reed attempted a hip toss, but JYD blocked it and gave him one of his own.
While Reed distracted referee Teddy Long, Matsuda choked JYD on the second rope.
Upon giving JYD a series of elbow drops, Reed got 2.
Afterward, JYD reversed an Irish whip and gave Reed a back drop for 2.
Next, Reed and JYD clotheslined one another.
Reed then mounted the second turnbuckle, leaped, but ate a shot to the midsection.
After JYD missed a diving head butt, Reed mounted the top turnbuckle and hit the flying shoulder block. That only got 2 thanks to JYD’s foot on the bottom rope.
As Matsuda got up on the apron, JYD reversed another Irish whip sending Reed into his manager.
He then covered Reed for the pin.
Summary: The New Orleans faithful ate this up with a spoon with possibly some jambalaya. To me, it was pedestrian and uninspiring.
Match 4: Dick Murdoch versus “Cowboy” Bob Orton (w/ Gary Hart)
Not available on the WWE Network. I suppose Randy Orton didn’t want footage of his father working for the competition shown. Complain to him instead of me, OK?
Summary: Supposedly, there was a somewhat familiar finish to this match, but I can’t quite place it. I’m sure it will come to me when I reflect upon WrestleMania V next week.
Match 5 for the NWA World tag team titles: The Road Warriors (champions w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering) versus the Varsity Club (Williams/Rotunda)
Not shown on the WWE Network, but the Varsity Club upset the Road Warriors to win the titles thanks to a fast count from Teddy Long. Could Long’s personality finally be making his debut?
Match 6: The Iron Sheik versus Ranger Ross
Not shown on the WWE Network for good reason. Moving along…
Match 7 for the US tag team titles: “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert & Rick Steiner (champions w/ Missy Hyatt) versus the Varsity Club (Sullivan/Spivey)
Gilbert and Hyatt were still married at this point. Knowing Missy, she could turn on him mid-match just to screw with him.
After the Varsity Club knocked Steiner to the floor, Spivey gave Gilbert a chokeslam and got 2 only because Spivey didn’t want to pin him yet.
Upon giving Gilbert a gutwrench suplex, Spivey delivered a cross-corner whip that caused Gilbert to bounce out of the corner.
Spivey then slammed Gilbert and tagged in Sullivan.
While Steiner distracted referee Tommy Young, Sullivan tossed Gilbert over the top rope to the floor. How dastardly!
As Steiner continued to distract Young thanks to Sullivan’s influence, Spivey rammed Gilbert back-first into the ring post.
Back in the ring, Spivey tagged in and gave Gilbert a lariat for 2 thanks to Gilbert’s foot on the bottom rope.
Spivey then tied Gilbert to the Tree of Woe and tagged in Sullivan.
Upon receiving one knee to the midsection, Gilbert freed himself before Sullivan could deliver a second knee.
Hot tag Steiner.
After delivering a Steinerline to Spivey, Steiner gave him a powerslam for 2.
Next, he gave Spivey the ten-punch count-along, but Spivey countered with an inverted atomic drop.
Remarkably, Steiner blocked it and delivered a belly-to-belly suplex to Spivey for another 2 thanks to a save by Sullivan.
While Sullivan tried to keep Gilbert from re-entering the ring. Steiner clotheslined Spivey sending both wrestlers over the top rope to the floor.
Behind Young’s back, Gilbert nailed Sullivan with Hyatt’s Gucci purse, hooked an inside cradle, and got the pin.
Gilbert and Steiner retained.
Summary: Fun tag match that showcased Spivey and Steiner’s repertoires. Thank goodness the only involvement from Hyatt was her purse because the last thing this match needed was her mouth.
After the match, Sullivan dispatches Steiner outside the ring while Spivey decimates Gilbert with a powerbomb. The Varsity Club continues to double-team Gilbert until Steiner returns with a plastic chair to chase them away. According to Ross, Gilbert has been BUSTED OPEN!
Match 8 for the NWA World title (2 out of 3 falls): Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (champion) versus “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
Someone fire the technical producer! Misspelling Ric as “Rick” on national TV is grounds for termination on the spot. He can wallow on Bourbon Street to reflect upon what he did.
While an entourage of beautiful women in evening gowns seconded Flair to the ring, the champion was seconded by his then-wife Bonnie and son Richie wearing a dragon costume.
After ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta gave the introductions, Terry Funk joined Ross at the broadcast table.
When Flair lost a top wristlock battle, he sought refuge outside the ring.
Upon winning a battle of chops, Steamboat gave Flair a hip toss followed by a flying headscissors and a dropkick.
Shortly after, Steamboat gave Flair a cross-corner whip and a back drop.
After a dropkick, Steamboat got 2.
As Steamboat ducked a right by Flair, he rolled Flair up for 2.
Upon losing another battle of chops, a Flair flop occurred.
Flair then countered a front face lock with an inverted atomic drop.
Steamboat came back with a series of near falls causing Flair to exit the ring again`.
In the midst of doing so, a second Flair flop occurred on the floor.
More chops from Steamboat sent Flair reeling to the apron. Steamboat then returned him to the ring via a vertical suplex.
He then attempted a splash but hit knees.
Flair retaliated with a double stomp and a butterfly suplex for a series of 2-counts.
After Steamboat gave Flair another hip toss, he missed a dropkick.
Smelling blood, Flair attempted to hook the figure-four leg lock, but Steamboat countered with an inside cradle for 2.
Flair used momentum to get on top and pinned Steamboat.
Flair led 1-0.
After a commercial break, Steamboat leap-frogged over Flair and gave him a gorilla press slam.
Immediately, he mounted the top turnbuckle and hit a flying chop for 2.
Flair then countered a side head lock with a belly-to-back suplex.
Upon giving Steamboat a knee drop, Flair missed a second one.
Steamboat came back with a series of elbow drops to Flair’s left leg.
He then hooked the figure-four leg lock.
Will Flair submit?
No, he made the ropes.
A relentless Steamboat then hooked a Boston crab, but, once again, Flair made the ropes to break the hold.
Steamboat then won a leverage battle and hooked a backslide for 2.
While Flair escaped yet again, he pulled Steamboat out of the ring, rammed him back-first into the steel railing, and slammed him on the floor. Dirtiest player in the game, indeed.
For a second time, Flair rammed Steamboat back-first into the steel railing.
When Steamboat got up on the apron, Flair guillotined him using the top rope.
At the thirty-minute mark, Flair returned Steamboat to the ring via a vertical suplex.
Do we have a new champion?
Flair then hooked an abdominal stretch, took Steamboat down, and got a series of 2-counts.
He then placed his feet on the second rope for leverage but still couldn’t pin Steamboat.
Steamboat came back with a rollup but only got 2.
He then attempted a somersault rollup and got another 2.
While the New Orleans faithful chanted for Steamboat, Flair mounted the top turnbuckle but got caught.
Steamboat joined him and delivered a superplex.
Afterward, he hooked Flair with a double-arm chickenwing.
Flair submitted to even the falls at one apiece.
As the fall began, Flair countered an abdominal stretch by nefarious means, but Steamboat retaliated leading to the third Flair flop of the match.
More chops from Steamboat resulted in Flair flop #4 as well as a 2-count.
After a cross-corner whip, Steamboat gave Flair another back drop.
Upon exchanging chops, Flair gave Steamboat a knee crusher and hooked the figure-four leg lock.
Will Steamboat submit and surrender the title?
No, he made the ropes.
A third cross-corner whip by Steamboat caused a Flair flip. As Flair caught his feet and ran to the adjacent turnbuckle, Steamboat chopped him down to the apron.
After a double-leg takedown, Flair attempted to pin Steamboat with his feet on the ropes but only got 2. Nice continuity from Starrcade there.
Upon receiving a cross-corner whip, Steamboat leaped to the second turnbuckle, avoided a charging Flair, but ate boot on his follow-through.
At the forty-minute mark, Steamboat reversed a cross-corner whip but came up empty on his follow-through. In the process, Steamboat temporarily hooked his leg around the top turnbuckle which tweaked his left knee.
Flair then delivered a knee drop to Steamboat’s knee and hooked another figure-four leg lock.
Somehow Steamboat didn’t submit. Instead, Steamboat rolled over to the ropes.
Flair then rammed Steamboat’s leg into the apron.
Back in the ring, Steamboat gave Flair another cross-corner whip which resulted in Flair Flip #2.
Again, Flair caught his balance, dashed over to the adjacent turnbuckle, and hit a flying body press.
Do we have a new champion?
Steamboat then attempted a slam, but Flair fell on top for another 2.
After Flair missed a chop, Steamboat hit a flying head butt.
He then mounted the top turnbuckle, hit the flying body press, but only got 2.
Next, he attempted an elbow drop but missed.
Upon receiving an Irish whip, Steamboat delivered a swinging neckbreaker for another 2.
Flair then tossed Steamboat outside the ring.
On the other hand, Steamboat re-entered the ring via a sunset flip and got 2.
Flair then hooked a sleeper, but Steamboat used momentum to send Flair face-first into the top turnbuckle.
As Flair tried to attack Steamboat’s leg again, Steamboat countered with an enziguri for 2.
At the fifty-minute mark, Steamboat mounted the top turnbuckle again but missed a splash.
Shortly after, Steamboat gave Flair the ten-chop count-along, but Flair countered with an inverted atomic drop.
Steamboat blocked it and clotheslined Flair down to the mat for 2 thanks to Flair’s foot on the bottom rope.
Upon giving Steamboat a belly-to-back suplex, Flair mounted the top turnbuckle again but got caught and slammed down to the mat.
Steamboat then hooked another double-arm chickenwing, fell back due to his leg buckling, and Young counted 3!
Young raised Steamboat’s arm in victory.
Wait a minute! Flair’s leg was under the bottom rope. I guess Young didn’t see it.
Summary: Remarkable match that lasted almost fifty-five minutes. With a unique finish and an incredibly-paced long match style, this match could be one of the best matches in the history of professional wrestling.
Be sure to order WrestleWar ’89 only on PPV come May 7 at 5pm ET.
After a commercial break, Ross interviews Steamboat who’s finished with Flair and ready for other challengers. As Ross rightly points out, the finish to the title match was controversial due to Flair’s foot under the bottom rope during the fall. As an honest man, Steamboat sees the legitimacy in Flair’s protest of Young’s decision.
Other matches on the card not shown live on TBS:
Sting retained the World TV title by making Rip Morgan submit to the Scorpion Death Lock.
Lex Luger retained the US title by making Jack Victory submit to the Torture Rack.
Conclusion: As wrestling fans, I implore you to watch the main event of this show because I consider it to be required viewing. Despite the title not changing hands, this match has significant historical value.
Similar to the original Clash, this show was televised opposite the WWF WrestleMania spectacular. However, dissimilar to the original Clash, this show didn’t achieve anywhere near the same TV rating. Methinks the idea of putting a live show on free TV opposite the competition’s PPV can be put to rest.
Minor point: With only 5300 in attendance, George Scott was promptly fired for not promoting this event successfully. One would think they could get at least 10-15,000 fans to attend a wrestling show in New Orleans on Sunday afternoon.