Clash of the Champions Count-Up – #8: An Absolute Classic

Clash of the Champions #8: Fall Brawl 1989
Date: September 12, 1989
Location: Carolina Coliseum, Columbia, South Carolina
Attendance: 2,600
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jim Cornette

We’re in 89 here and since it’s anywhere between late summer and early winter, it’s Fall Brawl. This has nothing to do with the regular PPV because there were about 5 other shows with that name. Anyway, the main event here is supposed to be Flair/Sting vs. Funk/Muta. Funk is hurt via Flair though so it’s…Dick Slater? This is one of those transitional periods for WCW but Funk vs. Flair was the main feud so let’s get to it.

We open with a clip from Great American Bash where Funk and Muta destroyed Flair until Sting made the save.

The word on the street is that Gary Hart has something planned. Here’s Gary Hart who says there are no problems in his camp.

Road Warriors vs. Samoan Swat Team

The Samoans come out to the Halloween theme song. Dangerously is managing the Samoans. The Samoans are Fatu and Samu, more famous as the Headshrinkers. Samu hits the floor to hide but Animal throws him right back in. Hawk gets sent to the floor and takes a powerslam for two back in. Bearhug eats up some time and there’s the unseen tag. A very modified version of the Demolition Decapitator gets two. Fatu comes off the top and jumps into a boot (you know the spot I’m talking about) and Animal is tagged to clean house. Everything breaks down, Heyman’s phone hits a Samoan and the Device ends Fatu.

Rating: C. Man the crowd was excited for this. It was a power match and a pretty quick one at that but sometimes that’s all you need to have. Decent enough match though and at times that works best. The Warriors were just about to jump over to the WWF but they were still as popular as anyone.

The Samoans yell at Heyman and fire him post match. He wouldn’t manage again until the summer.

Cuban Assassin vs. Z-Man

There were a lot of assassins in wrestling. This is Z-Man’s debut. For once this isn’t Jack Victory under a mask but rather just a guy from Cuba. Off to a quick armbar as Z-Man controls early. Zenk channels his inner Jericho and uses about a dozen armdrags and armbars. Of all things a sleeper ends this.

Rating: D-. This was one of the weakest debuts I’ve seen for a face in a long time. Z-Man was really boring here and the ending didn’t prove anything. He’s a cruiserweight style guy so he uses a bunch of arm holds and then a sleeper for the end? Seriously? I’m thinking it wasn’t exactly the WWF screwing him over that got him out of there. He has some crazy ideas about it or whatever, but it could very well be that he’s REALLY dull.

Here’s The World According To Theodore R. Long. He’s in a recording studio and plays it kind of like a radio show. It’s really stupid and it’s basically just a rundown of upcoming house shows.

It’s Ric Flair Day in South Carolina. The governor gives him a plaque. Ok then.

Ranger Ross vs. Sid Vicious

Sid is just SCARY over. He hits Ranger in the head and they go to the floor. Ross gets in a few strikes but the move we would call The Eye of the Storm and a powerbomb end this quick.

Now we get a vignette of Robin Green (Nancy Sullivan/Benoit/Woman, the innocent manager of Rick Steiner) and Missy Hyatt get a limo to go shopping. I have no idea what the point of this is. You also can’t hear a word they’re saying because the car is so loud. This is like a high school show in the late 80s. Now they go jewelery shopping. I think this is supposed to be Robin being all out of character.

The Freebirds say they’re awesome.

World Tag Titles: Freebirds vs. Steiner Brothers

The Birds are champions and this is the Steiners’ first shot at the titles. Scott is a totally different guy here, to the point where he was a nod of the head away from being handed the world title and being made the focus of all of WCW in about 1991. Flair flat out said you say the time I’ll lay down for you. Think about that for a minute. Then he destroyed his arm and didn’t get the title for 9 years. That’s wrestling for you.

Missy and Robin are here with the brothers. Scott is in regular trunks here so you can tell he’s brand new. Scott vs. Hayes starts us off. Hayes stalls a lot and then stalls a lot more. Scott speeds things up but runs into the left hand which is one of Hayes’ big moves. A top rope cross body by Hayes is rolled through for two and Scott cleans house. Garvin comes in and Scott runs over him too. A SWEET reverse German hits and here’s a tag to Rick. Scott looked like Kurt Angle out there.

Rick knocks both of the Birds to the floor and gets on all fours. Hayes comes in next and dances a lot, just ticking Rick off even more. There’s a powerslam and one for Garvin as he tries a sneak attack. Hayes gets in a few punches so Rick just mauls him and hits a release belly to belly. Rick then misses one of the hardest charges ever into the corner. Garvin comes in with his DDT finisher but Scott makes the save.

Back to Hayes who sends him out to the floor for more of a beating. Rick gets beaten down for awhile as we’re just waiting for Scott to come in and start breaking stuff. Garvin comes back in and hits a running knee to the head for two. Time for a chinlock but Rick snapmares out of it. Why don’t more people use that as a counter?

There’s the tag to Scott (thanks for telling me JR. No seriously, the camera cut to the crowd so we didn’t see if he made it or not) and it’s Frankensteiners (and I mean standing ones, not ones out of the corner) and a BIG powerslam for Hayes. Scott hits the ropes but someone (presumably one of the girls but we intentionally can’t see which) trips him and a quick DDT keeps the titles on the Birds.

Rating: B-. If you’ve EVER been unclear about why people rave and rave some more about Scott Steiner, go find this match right now, keeping in mind that he’s 24 here and had been on national TV as a wrestler for about 3 months. This was one of the most impressive performances I’ve seen in a LONG time. By the way, it was Robin that tripped Scott. She turned heel and debuted Doom soon thereafter, presumably because she wanted to get gangbanged by Ron Simmons and Butch Reed. The Steiners got the titles in November.

Norman the Lunatic vs. Brian Pillman

Norman is more famous as Bastian Booger. He’s just what his name says here: a lunatic from the state hospital. Pillman is young, undefeated, and AWESOME at this point. He comes out with the University of South Carolina Cheerleaders and goes off, hitting all kinds of high flying moves which Norman can’t even begin to keep up with. After a springboard clothesline and a dive to the floor, Brian goes for Norman’s key (he brought it with him and freaked whenever anyone touched it) but it goes nowhere.

Middle rope splash gets two for Norman. Out to the floor and Norman splashes him against the post. A second one misses though and a missile dropkick puts Norman down and PILLMAN SLAMS HIM!!! AND A BACKDROP!!! A middle rope cross body is countered into a powerslam for two. Holy crap this is AWESOME. Out of nowhere Pillman grabs a crucifix for the kind of upset pin.

Rating: B. WHERE IN THE WORLD DID THIS COME FROM??? I know I said Pillman was awesome but I didn’t expect that. Pillman was flying all over the place and pulling off stuff that would make Rey Mysterio jealous in 1996. This was incredible and as you can see, Bill Watts was an idiot for wanting to ban this kind of stuff because….why did he want to do that anyway?

Gary Hart insists Terry Funk is here when everyone else says he isn’t.

Mike Rotundo vs. Steve Williams

This is pretty much the very final blowoff of the entire Varsity Club. Williams is freshly face again and gets caught coming in but he’s like “Boy I’m Steve Williams” and clotheslines Williams down then does the still scary gorilla press reps on the slam. Back to the floor where Rotundo hammers away and the fans are all over Rotundo as he hooks an abdominal stretch. Rotundo keeps knocking him down and hooks a chinlock. Even in that Williams won’t stop moving.

Back up and Rotundo puts his feet on the ropes to cheat but Williams won’t go down. A jawebreaker finally gets Steve out of the hold but an elbow misses. The idea here is that Rotundo knows if Williams gets any kind of momentum going then Rotundo is going to die so he has to keep moving every chance he can. A pair of thumbs to the eye slows Williams down and Rotundo goes up. Williams slams him off after getting a RUNNING START.

I’ve told you this before but this guy was the Brock Lesnar of his day. Just SCARY strong and a legit amateur wrestler. Williams misses a charge but Rotundo accidentally dives over the top. Back in the Stampede is countered but Williams holds on and takes him to the mat in kind of a rollup for the surprise pin. The count was cool looking as the referee dove and counted at the same time, sliding on each count.

Rating: B-. Another fun match. This show has rocked so far and Williams just blew away Rotundo here. The idea here was that they never stopped moving out there. Even the rest holds had something going on like using ropes for leverage and Doc (Williams’ nickname was Dr. Death and JR often called him Doc) kept fighting to get out of them. That’s the difference between working and being boring: you can take almost anything in a match and make it more entertaining but you NEVER see that today, which is a shame.

Lex says he’s awesome.

US Title: Tommy Rich vs. Lex Luger

Lex is champion but Rich is an old NWA superhero so he’s very popular here. Lex is a total heel but he was so awesome at this point that you couldn’t help but cheer for him, meaning he gets a bigger pop than Rich here. We hear about how great Rich used to be and JR manages to get cowboy boots into the analysis somehow. Not much to start but Luger uses his power to keep control. He’s a heel but keeps getting cheered.

Rich gets in a right hand and grabs an armbar which gets him nowhere. Cross body gets two and it’s back to the arm. Lex avoids a dropkick and powerslams him for two. He works on the back a bit but Rich hooks a sunset flip for two and Luger goes outside. Back in Lex works on the back some more but the Rack is countered. Superplex gets two. Lex goes up (???) and misses a top rope splash.

Rich starts his comeback and pounds away, hitting a middle rope punch for two. Thesz Press gets the same due to Lex putting his foot on the ropes. In some trivia for you, that’s what he won his world title with. Rich misses a punch and hits the post, only to grab a sleeper while Lex is on the apron. Luger hits a hangman on the top rope for the pin to retain.

Rating: C. Decent match here but not quite as energetic as the previous two matches. Rich is a guy that I think you have to watch a lot of to get the appeal of. Not a great match or anything but more competitive than you would think. That being said, Rich was pure Memphis and that style doesn’t work well with Luger’s power game.

Gary Hart has some more to say. He’s going to let the nation know about something. Hart has a letter from a doctor and there’s a tape from Funk in a hospital bed with a bad arm. Funk talks about how he almost lost his arm and no matter what he’ll be at the Clash tonight.

Sting and Flair (in the classic black robe) say bring it on Funk.

Great Muta/Dick Slater vs. Sting/Ric Flair

Muta is TV Champion here and I think undefeated. He and Sting start which should be awesome. This was one of the hottest feuds of 89 and definitely one of the best. They speed things way up to start and Sting knocks him to the floor very quickly. Back in and they fight over a headlock but Sting grabs an armdrag and works a wristlock. The crowd is WAY into this.

Flair comes in and the fans wake up even more. This is the first time he’s ever been in the ring with Muta. Muta takes a bunch of chops and punches so he collapses into the corner to bring in Slater. Flair beats him up too until Slater sends him into the corner and over the top. Flair runs the apron, hits a running chop to Muta, goes up and hits a top rope elbow to take out Slater.

Dirty Dick (worst nickname ever) kicks Flair to the floor and Muta dives on him. Everyone heads to the floor and it all breaks down. The good guys rule the ring and Hart, the manager, calls a conference. Slater has a cast on his forearm/wrist. Naturally Flair and Sting work it over. This is still the smart Flair, as in the one before Hogan made him an idiot. Sting grabs an armbar and so does Flair. They’re tagging very fast.

Slater comes in and is immediately suplexed for two. Back to Muta quickly and the dominance continues. Muta does the classic heel move of raking the eyes and hits the Handspring Elbow to keep Flair in trouble. Slater comes in and pounds away before sending Flair to the floor. Muta back in now and he hits that snap elbow. A nerve hold is broken and it’s off to Sting. This has been good so far.

Stinger Splash to Muta but Gary Hart comes in to hit Sting in the back of the head with a roll of coins to break up the Deathlock. That only gets two and now both the fans and JR are really getting into this. A powerbomb by Muta gets two. They go to the floor and Flair makes a running save. Back in Slater puts on a sleeper but Sting breaks it up with a jawbreaker and both guys are down.

There’s the hot tag to Flair and he does his best Fifi imitation to clean house. Everything breaks down and Muta gets dropkicked to the floor. Sting goes to pull him back in but takes mist in the face. Oh and it’s yellow too! Slater hits Flair with the cast to bust him open. Down goes the referee and here’s Terry Funk with a plastic bag to TRY TO SUFFOCATE FLAIR. TAKE THAT PG ERA!!! It’s all thrown out of course.

Rating: B+. Pretty awesome tag match here and it plays up to the feud that was going on with Funk vs. Flair, setting up an I Quit match at a future Clash. Slater didn’t really mean much in this as they shifted it back to Muta soon here. Very good tag match here that really needed a finish but still great.

Sting takes a branding iron to the knee. Flair apparently got mouth to mouth by Pillman to wake him up. I’m sure he’s glad that wasn’t on camera. Flair gets medical attention to end the show.

Overall Rating: A. THIS is how you do a TV show. Other than the Z-Man match which is less than four minutes long, there isn’t a bad match on here and you get two or three very good ones, plus a total star making performance by Scott Steiner. Couple that with a great main event that moves the feuds forward and this is one of the best Clashes I’ve ever seen. Find a copy of it because it’s worth seeing.

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  1. Heyo says:

    Huh. I actually have an explanation as to why Watts didn’t like Cruiserweight style wrestling. Apparently, when Watts was booking promotions in the 70s, doing top rope moves would actually get you heel heat from the audience. And Watts was a sucker for old school wrestling, so he thought it would work in the late 80s/early 90s.

    Obviously not.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Bill Watts being entirely out of touch with reality? You don’t say.