WrestleWar 1989: Maybe The Perfect Match

Wrestlewar 1989
Date: May 7, 1989
Location: Nashville Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee
Attendance: 5,200
Commentators: Jim Ross Bob Caudle

Well this is here because of one main reason and a few unimportant minor ones. The main one of course is the World Title match between Flair and Steamboat. Flair had dropped the title to Steamboat back in February at Chi-Town Rumble. There was a rematch at the sixth Clash where there was a one hour time limit in a 2/3 falls match.

They split the first two and Steamboat got a suplex for the pin to end it but Flair’s foot had been under the rope, resulting in this final blowoff match that is called the greatest match ever. I think that’s good enough reasoning to do this don’t you? Other than that there’s nothing at all special going on here. Let’s get to it.

I was lucky enough to find a recording of the original PPV meaning no clipping and I get the FULL preshow. For the sake of time I’ll skip that here but there are some interviews and basically just people talking about the matches. Free bonus material so I can’t complain here.

The opening is a very fast montage of people in matches tonight and then a picture of the logo with a banjo. Oh great.

Oddly enough when Jim and Bob are doing the intros they don’t put a graphic up for Jim. Most odd.

The Oak Ridge Boys sing the National Anthem.

Ross tells us that there will NOT be a hair vs. hair stipulation in the US Tag Title match. The NWA has decided against this as apparently WE WRESTLE in the NWA so gimmicks can’t be used. This would of course be just over one year before the Robocop show and about 30 minutes before the bullrope match.

We run down the card in order that it will air.

Doug Gilbert vs. Great Muta

Gilbert is a substitute for Junkyard Dog who likely found a larger group of people to annoy. This is back when Muta was blowing the minds of everyone on the planet as no one had ever seen anything like him. Muta Mist to the face to start and let the pain begin. Gilbert is rather sloppy to put it mildly. He’s from Tennessee so he’s the hometown boy here. Handspring elbow connects and this is more or less a squash. Moonsault misses, pescado hits, moonsault hits perfectly to end this. Nearly total squash.

Rating: N/A. Total dominance here with nothing from Gilbert that gave Muta anything to worry about. Muta was flat out amazing and his feud with Sting was coming soon which would be absolutely epic.

Lance Russell talks to Ric Flair which causes the 80s to explode. Flair says Steamboat is the best wrestler in the world, but to be the man you got to beat the man, and the man is Flair. So basic yet so effective.

Butch Reed vs. Ranger Ross

Oh what are you expecting here? Ross more or less is just a run of the mill soldier character. Ross does Rude’s hip swivel for no apparent reason. Ross takes him down to start as we may be in for a more competitive match than I thought. They look a lot alike so it’s a bit hard to tell them apart other than their tights. Reed finally takes over as he’s far from popular.

Long is here even though he didn’t have any guys at this point. Doom was on the way I guess. Reed uses a knee lift that literally does not hit Ross but who cares about that? We hit the chinlock which isn’t around the chin or actually locked but why nitpick I guess. They botch the heck out of something and go with a headlock as Ross uses various strikes to send Reed to the floor.

They punch on the floor a bit so Reed kicks him in the head as he’s coming back in. All Reed here as they mess up a suplex back in. A top rope shoulder block where Ross was too close so he more or less got destroyed to end it. Not much at all here.

Rating: F. No point, dull match, ton of botches, what else do you expect?

Luger says he’ll beat Michael Hayes.

Dick Murdoch vs. Bob Orton

This is a bullrope match and Murdoch is Captain Redneck. I give up. You can win by pin here. This is boring already and we’re not a minute into it. Nothing but punching for the most part. The story is that Gary Hart, Orton’s manager, did some evil business deals and Murdoch went after him, resulting in him getting his head kicked in by Orton. Here you go.

Orton controls then Murdoch punches him in the balls just to be a jerk. Murdoch hits him with the boot as this is rather boring to put it mildly. A few more boot shots get two. Murdoch finally hogties him and drops an elbow for the pin. For the love of crap SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT THE POINT OF THESE MATCHES ARE!

Rating: F. It was like 4 minutes long and I have no idea who the face was supposed to be. I can’t stand these southern boys matches where there’s some idiot cowboy dude out there and he wants to treat the other guy like a cow. HATE these things.

Orton hangs Murdoch afterwards and no one cares.

Hayes says he’ll beat Luger. Hayes is a glorified jobber and Luger is more or less the next guy to challenge Flair for the world title. This should be a total squash which was common back then on PPV in midcard title matches.

Samoan Swat Team vs. Dynamic Dudes

This is the Dudes’ debut I think. They’re skateboarders and no one could stand them. Both guys deny being part of the team today as even they get how stupid it was. The Swat Team are the Headshrinkers. The announcers keep talking about how awesome the Dues are. Dangerously manages the Samoans here and we start with Johnny Ace vs. Rikishi. What a great sounding match.

Shane comes in and Fatu drops down to avoid something but Shane dives behind him anyway. Was there a point to that? Nice dropkick by the ECW Dude. They double team Fatu and nothing much is going on here. And then Samu kicks the heck out of Johnny to take over. Ross says they’re like caged animals. You know I don’t think caged animals often wear tights and pound on professional wrestlers named Johnny.

Samu uses a leg whip. What kind of wild savage uses a leg whip? Johnny gets beaten down for a good while as we hit five minutes. We get heel miscommunication but Johnny still can’t make the tag. You can tell he’s in trouble when he can’t get a tag even with that. We hear again about how amazing the Dudes are from Caudle as I think he has a shrine to them somewhere.

Johnny tries to face plant Fatu like an idiot but for some reason it works. He can’t make the tag though as he’s a foot away but just misses it. Fatu uses a Boston Crab, allowing Paul E to grab the mic and say that Johnny is as useless as a Nashville woman. Shane finally comes in and that doesn’t get him anywhere. Fatu goes to slam Shane but Johnny gets a dropkick off the top for Shane to fall on top and get the pin.

Rating: C-. It’s about as formula based as you could get here but at the same time there was absolutely nothing special going on here at all. The Dudes were just annoying and the Samoans were just generic big men. This was ok at best but compared to the other tag teams going on at the time, this was nothing. Not a horrible match though.

Video about Steamboat vs. Flair set to Final Countdown. The highlights are cool if nothing else. It’s a music video set to Europe singing Final Countdown, but pretty cool.

The Oak Ridge Boys perform for FIFTEEN MINUTES. Dang Kid Rock has nothing on them. Ok so he does but this was still a waste of time.

Lance Russell is with Lou Thesz, Pat O’Connor and Terry Funk, the three judges for the world title match tonight. I’ve never heard Pat or Lou talk. Funk is young looking here. This is before his hardcore days started. They give their criteria to the winner.

US Title: Lex Luger vs. Michael Hayes

This would be like Cena vs. Miz two years ago. Hayes is the career tag team guy that says he can do it without help. Luger is the hottest thing in the world not named Sting. Both guys in blue here which is kind of a weird look. Hayes stalls a lot to open the match as he tries to frustrate Lex. Hayes was Luger’s partner for no apparent reason and then turned on him because he’s a natural heel.

Teddy Long is here again for no adequately explained reason. Hayes gets slapped and stalls again. He comes back in, gets slammed and hits the floor again. Five minutes gone and Hayes has stalled more than a broken down truck. Hiro Matsuda, a big time heel manager, is here too. Luger works on the arm to take away the DDT which makes sense.

The idea here is Hayes does basic stuff, it doesn’t work, Luger pounds on him for a bit, Hayes stalls and cheats then we start again. Ten minutes in and Hayes has a chinlock. Hayes gets in a nice left hand and a bulldog for two. Matsuda sends Luger into the railing as Luger is in trouble. Bulldog is blocked by Luger and the crowd pops big.

Luger goes nuts again with a bunch of slams and clotheslines. The Rack is reversed though and Hayes gets the DDT to shock the crowd. No cover though so we slug it out. They hit heads and the referee goes down. One of the Freebirds comes down and puts Hayes on Luger and shoves Luger’s foot off the ropes to allow Hayes to win the title as the crowd is SILENT. This was legitimately a shock, up there with Sheamus beating Cena for the title at TLC.

Rating: D+. The match sucked but the ending brings it up a good bit. This was far too long at over 16 minutes but it wasn’t completely worthless. Luger would get the title back in just over two weeks and hold it for about a year and a half so it’s not like this meant anything long term. Pretty weak match but the ending helped it a lot.

Sting is all fired up.

TV Title: The Iron Sheik vs. Sting

Sheik doesn’t even get an intro. Sting’s pop is just ridiculous. He had a cool entrance where this army of kids would run through the curtain before he came out. He’s the hottest thing in the world and would be for a very long time. Sheik’s other dude hits Sting with a flag pole and Sheik pounds on him a bit. Take a guess how long this works. The match ends in maybe two minutes with Sheik tapping. This was the norm for Sting for a long time as he wasn’t ready for Flair yet but he was way bigger than anyone else so it was all they had for him.

Steamboat talks about how great this is going to be and that no matter if he wins or loses he’ll shake Flair’s hand and good luck. Very classy here as this was far more about respect than hatred which helped it a great deal I think.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat

Flair brings out FORTY women with him. That’s not an exaggeration either. No one can say he can’t make an entrance. Steamboat brings his wife and his son on a freaking pony. Dude, he got his son a pony. How awesome is that? The judges are introduced which is a really great idea. Thesz is a six time world champion which back then was a seemingly unbreakable record although Flair is a five time one here.

Basically everyone knows this is going to absolutely amazing but the question is will it be the best match ever as most people have made it out to be. It’s considered the best match ever, so let’s get to it. They feel each other out a lot as it’s a chess match so far. Big armdrag by Steamboat as the cameraman is filming the fans. We’re going to get updates from the judges every fifteen minutes.

Flair chops the tar out of Steamboat so Steamboat chops the tar out of Flair. The challenger goes to the floor after some SICK chops from both guys. Steamboat works the arm to set up his double chickenwing that he made Flair submit to back in April. I love those armdrags. In an impressive moment, Flair is getting his arm cranked and managed to tell a fan to keep their mouth shut.

And that is why Flair was able to stay where he did for so long. He played to the crowd so well. Little things like those are what separates great people from ok ones. By doing things like those or putting his feet on the ropes for a pin he ticks people off just a little bit more so that you want to see him lose just a little bit more. It may not sound like much but it adds up.

More arm work from the Dragon as Flair is in trouble. They chop it out again and Flair is rocked. Back to the arm as you have the pure psychology there. Steamboat knows he can get Flair to submit to an arm hold so why would you go away from that? Flair uses the good arm to get a fireman’s carry and put Steamboat on the top which fails for some reason. Flair is dropkicked to the floor and doesn’t want to get back in.

An elbow misses by Flair so it’s right back to the armbar. We’re about fifteen minutes in and we’re getting the first scores from the judges: Steamboat is definitely ahead and it’s unanimous. Steamboat goes insane again and chops Flair half to death. He sends him to the corner and we get a Flair flip but he gets caught in the Tree of Woe. Steamboat, ever the gentleman, pounds away at the ribs and chest.

Mostly Steamboat here as Flair is just trying to stay in there. We hit the fifteen minute mark and Flair sends Steamboat to the floor but it was momentum so it’s NOT a DQ. I can’t stand that rule but WCW kept it for years. On the floor and they chop it out again with Flair trying to get away. Steamboat climbs the ropes (not in the corner mind you) and comes off with a big chop. Flair Flip gets chopped down as well as it’s all Steamboat.

Back to the arm one more time as Flair’s arm is killing him here. Steamboat misses a charge and goes over the top as well. Flair drops a knee as you get a shot of a BIG tarped off section in the back. The referee goes down by accident as Flair controls now. Belly to back gets two. About twenty minutes in now. Another knee drop and a butterfly suplex get two each.

Flair keeps cradling the head on covers for some reason. That’s not something he tends to do but he’s doing it for every cover here. Suplex on the floor has Steamboat rocking. We get some new results from the judges as it’s 2-1 for Flair which is kind of stupid as Flair has controlled for about 15 minutes and Flair for about 8. Steamboat has 4 total votes to Flair’s 2 which Ross says puts him ahead. Was there supposed to be a total or something?

Steamboat gets a rollup for two but both guys go to the floor and everyone is down. On a countout we go to the judges which apparently would go to Steamboat at 4-2. Ok so apparently these points do indeed count. Flair goes up and of course gets slammed down and here comes Steamboat. Crowd is way into this if you didn’t guess that part.

Suplex off the middle rope rocks Flair again and here comes Steamboat. He goes for the chickenwing but Flair gets his feet in the ropes before it goes on. He hits a top rope chop but Flair hits the ropes the second time to send Steamboat to the floor and Ricky has a bad knee now. After some basic knee stuff, there’s the Figure Four to a big pop.

We’re thirty minutes in and Steamboat is in big trouble. Rope is grabbed though and Flair stays on the leg. BIG chop in the corner has Steamboat in big trouble. Steamboat throws chops and Flair pounds the knee. Enziguri connects and here comes Steamboat again. He goes for a slam, and in a GREAT nod to Steamboat, Flair rolls him up into a small package for the pin and the title.

Rating: A+. It’s a great match indeed. I’m not entirely sold on it being the greatest match of all time, but this was indeed great and worked all the way through the thirty minutes. This was two guys being allowed to perform out there and it worked as well as it could have. Excellent match and definitely one of the best ever, but I’m not sure if it’s the greatest. Doesn’t matter though obviously as it’s great.

Steamboat shakes his hand and Flair says Steamboat is the greatest champions he’s ever faced. Funk comes in and congratulates him on being the best champion, saying that if it had gone 60 minutes he would have voted Flair. Funk won’t leave and challenges Flair for the first title shot but Flair says no because he’s not an active contender.

As long as Flair has been around, apparently he’s stupid enough to tell Terry Funk that he’s not good enough. Funk says he was kidding and they hug. Naturally Funk DRILLS him and beats the living crap out of him. And then, in something that back then was huge, piledrives him on the judges’ table, which doesn’t break. Flair wouldn’t wrestle again for nearly three months, returning at the Great American Bash to face Funk, which is the next show I’m doing.

Something to note here: look at how basic this was. Flair has a great match, Funk wants a shot, Flair says no, Funk doesn’t like it and injures Flair, big match is made. WHY IS THIS SO HARD TO GET???

We go to Nikita Koloff who will be refereeing the world tag title match. Yeah there are two tag title matches left to go. The booking wasn’t your normal formula stuff back then. Nikita won’t be intimidated.

World Tag Titles: Varsity Club vs. Road Warriors

The Club is Rotunda and Williams this time. The Warriors coming out to Iron Man is still awesome stuff. It’s on while their pyro is still going off as this is a big old feud. Big boot to Rotunda and he’s in real trouble already. Koloff throws Sullivan out. The Warriors lost the titles to the Club in April at the same show as Flair vs. Steamboat II with the fastest count ever by Teddy Long which is why he was fired.

Hawk and Williams start properly here and it’s just a big brawl. Williams is completely awesome as he manhandles Hawk which isn’t something you see very often. Hawk’s arm hits the post. Double clothesline back in the ring and both guys are down. Animal comes in and destroys everyone in sight but only gets two as Williams saves.

Big old brawl but Rotunda goes to the floor. The Road Warriors do their big power stuff and it’s Doomsday Device time for Williams. Dan Spivey and Kevin Sullivan run out and take out Nikita as the champions beat up Animal. It gets thrown out as a DQ for the Warriors of course.

Rating: D. Total nothing match here but this wasn’t supposed to be anything special. The fans pop big for the win but no titles. They would never get those titles back.

US Tag Titles: Dan Spivey/Kevin Sullivan vs. Eddie Gilbert/Rick Steiner

Gilbert and Steiner are the champions here. They’re the First Family apparently despite not being related. Sullivan almost immediately goes after Hyatt as he had a thing for blondes I guess. Other than his own wife you know. Spivey sends Steiner’s shoulder into the post twice and adds a shoulderbreaker so it’s more or less 2-1 now.

Apparently Steiner was legit hurt so that explains the injury thing. It’s a glorified handicap match with Steiner not even able to get his jacket off due to how bad his arm is. Gilbert gets massacred by Spivey who throws in what we would call a Punjabi Plunge. Spivey was decent but Diesel more or less ended his career off a powerbomb. Steiner gets onto the apron.

Sullivan comes in for a second but here’s Spivey again. Gilbert gets a tag out of nowhere but the referee didn’t see it. Everything breaks down anyway though and Steiner hits a Steiner Line to Sullivan and Gilbert falls on top to keep the belts and pop the crowd like crazy. The Varsity Club beats on him some more afterwards. Gilbert saves Hyatt from Sullivan afterwards.

Rating: D. Another pointless match here other than to give the fans something to send them home happy. Nothing more than that. The titles would be stripped later in the month, I’d assume due to the injury and they would be gone for about 9 months and would be gone in less than a year and a half.

Ross says that the Varsity Club have been stripped of the world tag titles. The Freebirds would win a tournament at the next Clash to get them which I’ve already reviewed.

We replay the Funk/Flair thing to end the show.

Overall Rating: D+. This is the epitome of a one match show. Only the world title match is worth anything but that was how this era went for the most part. The next show would more than make up for it though as it’s considered the best WCW/NWA show of all time. That’s also the next review I’m doing. Anyway, the show isn’t worth seeing, but the Flair/Steamboat match is. That’s about it though. Get the two hour version if you really want to watch it as the full one drags A LOT.

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