It’s everyone’s favorite IRS man, Ian R. Singletary , back again with another Audit. This month is WCW month. Each week for the month of February I’ll be AUDITING a different NWA/WCW PPV. This week we kick things off with what has been called one of the best NWA PPV’s of all time. It’s The Great American Bash 1989. It’s time for the tax man to AUDIT this PPV and see if it truly lives up to the hype it’s been given over the past 25 years. We’re looking at the live version, so no edits, every match complete and all interviews intact.
NWA’s GREAT AMERICAN BASH ’89
“THE GLORY DAYS”
It was July 23rd, 1989 from the Baltimore Arena in Maryland. Nine matches on tap, including…
* NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk
* U.S. Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger vs. Ricky Steamboat
* WAR GAMES: Road Warriors, Dr. Death, Midnight Express vs. The Freebirds & SST
* TV Champion Sting vs. The Great Muta
* 2-Ring “King of the Hill” Battle Royal
* The Steiner Brothers vs. Kevin Sullivan & Mike Rotunda (Texas Tornado Match)
* Jim Cornette vs. Paul E. Dangerously (in a Tuxedo Match)
* The Skyscrapers vs. The Dynamic Dudes
* Flyin’ Brian vs. “Wild” Bill Irwin
We kick off the show with an opening video with voiceover work done by Lance Russell.
We head to the arena with our announcers Jim Ross & Bob Caudle.
God, just look at those names! Russell, Ross, Caudle, the NWA had the greatest ensemble of announcers at this time. We kick things off right away with the “King of the Hill” Battle Royal!
(Notes going in: Who doesn’t love a Battle Royal, especially a 2-Ringer. And just look at the talent listed below. If you’re unfamiliar with the rules of a 2-Ring Battle Royal, everyone starts in Ring #1 with the goal of eliminating everyone into Ring #2. The winner of Ring #1 gets to rest and wait while a second Battle Royal continues in Ring #2. To be eliminated from Ring #2, you have to be thrown over the top rope and to the floor. Once there is a winner of Ring #1 & Ring #2, they then must go at it to determine a sole winner. I’ve seen 2-Ringers where the final two men have to try and throw each other out, I’ve also seen them where it breaks down into a match where you have to win by pin/submission. In this case it’s the former. )
“Triple Chance – King of the Hill” Double Ring Battle Royal for $50,000
Participants include Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotunda, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Ron Simmons, Ranger Ross, Sid Vicious, Dan Spivey, “Wild” Bill Irwin, Scott Hall, Flyin’ Brian, Eddie Gilbert, Terry Gordy, and Steve “Dr. Death” Williams.
The wrestlers come down to the ring, many of them wearing or playing with “crowns” that look cheaper than Burger King. In fact, they could have worn BK crowns and it wouldn’t have made me think any less of the money spent for these things.
Jim Ross informs us that all of the men involved in this Battle Royal had won previous Double Ring Battle Royals at live events over the past several weeks to earn their spots in this match. The reason there are only 14 men involved in this match is because some of them won multiple Battle Royals. Okay, JR, makes sense. Why is it tgis is called a “TRIPLE CHANCE” Battle Royal anyway? I mean you get thrown out of Ring #1, that’s one chance, you get thrown out of Ring #2, your nights done. I could 2 chances. As for the winner of both rings, even when one of them is eliminated, they still have had “3 chances”, but whatever.
On to the match! A couple minutes of typical Battle Royal action before Ranger Ross is the first man sent into the second ring. Ron Simmons soon joins Ross in ring #2, and they go at it while 12 remain in ring #1. Simmons with some big clothesline, the Ranger with his Combat Kick (superkick). Ross ELIMINATES Simmons from the match in 3:40 as Scott Hall, Terry Gordy, and Bill Irwin all head to ring #2..The second ring continues to fill up as Eddie Gilbert & Dan Spivey join in. Half the field has now been eliminated from ring #1. Dan Spivey POWERBOMBS the shit out of Ranger Ross to a big pop as everyone except Sid Vicious & Flyin’ Brian randomly all seem to fall into ring #2 at the same time. Spivey disposes of Ross @ 5:36.
With only Pillman, Sid and no squeegee in Ring #1, the second ring has 10 men going at it. Sid no sell Brian and about breaks his neck with a clothesline. As Rick & Scott Steiner are teetering as they try to eliminate Kevin Sullivan, Terry Gordy sneaks up behind and dumps ALL THREE of them in 6:16. Moments later, Gordy tries to dump Eddie Gilbert, and both Gilbert & Gordy go out together @ 6:28. Meanwhile, Spivey does a number on Scott Hall, hitting Hall with the Boss Man Spike Slam, then the Hangman’s Neckbreaker, and FINALLY a POWERBOMB before Spivey eliminates Hall in 6:34. Dropping like flies doesn’t begin to describe these eliminations. Oh, and almost all of the last 6 eliminations were barely on camera. You literally have to watch the background like a hawk, or rewind it several times to make sure you catch them. BAD camera work for ring #2 at the wrong time in the match.
Pillman goes after Sid in ring #1, stuns him with a dropkick and charges at big Sid, but Vicious ducks and Pillman goes flying into ring #2. SID VICIOUS WINS RING #1! And now Sid will rest as he awaits the winner of ring #2. Dr. Death dumps Bill Irwin next @ 6:57. As soon as Pillman gets in ring #2, he’s eliminated from the match by Spivey & Rotunda @ 7:08. And now it’s down to Spivey & Rotunda vs. Dr. Death in ring #2. Williams psyches himself up for the showdown and the crowd gets behind him. Williams with a POWERSLAM on Rotunda. Mike gets back up and reverses a whip into the ropes. Williams holds onto the ropes and Rotunda charges with a clothesline, but Dr. Death bridges back and Rotunda whiffs a clothesline and the momentum carries him out of the ring @ 7:54. For some reason Terry Gordy is still at ringside. Williams with 4 big clotheslines and a shoulder tackle on Spivey. Rotunda trips Williams from the floor, and Spivey clotheslines Dr. Death out @ 9:01. DAN SPIVEY WINS RING #2! AND NOW THE SKYSCRAPERS WILL HAVE TO GO AT IT!!!!
OR WILL THEY???? Sid & Spivey’s manager, Theodore R. Long, gets in the ring and says he’s not stupid enough to let his two men go at it. Long announces that the Skyscrapers are going to split the winnings and share the win. Teddy Long asks for his $50,000 check, and his King of the Hill crown. This crown is hardly an upgrade from the crap the wrestlers wore to the ring, clearly made out of some cheap, bendable plastic.
Winners: The Skyscrapers
(Post Match Thoughts: Well…. that was rushed. There was a 90 second period there where 9 of the 14 men were eliminated, and the camera missed most of them. The Pillman vs. Sid stuff was short but good. This really just felt like a way to put the Skyscrapers over and utilize the 2 rings while they were available. Nothing wrong with it, there was some decent action in ring #2 at times, it just felt like they had to run through the motions. Some of the guys seemed like they were just dying to see how fast they could be eliminated, and almost all of these guys were pulling double duty on the show to begin with. Guys like Simmons & Ross should have been given more time since this was their only appearance on the show. Not really much to go off of for a rating, not even a clear cut finish. Even still, *)
– JR sends us to prerecorded comments from Terry Funk about his World Title match against Ric Flair in tonight’s main event. Funk talks about endangered species, like the whales, the polar bears, and the WHOOPING CRANE. Funk says he is the most endangered species on Earth, because there is nobody else like him. Amen to that! Funk starts to make a promise. It sounds like he’s promising to make “The Glory Days” into the “GORY Days”, but I can’t say that for sure, because the video freezes up, slow motion audio begins in the voice of James Earl Jones, and then the video freezes again, forcing JR to cut it short. Well that was interesting! We can hear the cracking of the bullwhip as Bill Irwin heads to the ring for the next match.
– Okay, so we’ve already heard Lance Russell, Ross and Caudle, now we go to GORDON SOLIE, who’s standing by in the back with Teddy Long. Long calls out pretty much the entire NWA dressing room by name to take on his Skyscrapers. Long praises his check, and it’s back to ringside. I could be wrong, but I believe this was Solie’s debut with the Turner owned company.
(Pillman vs. Irwin Notes going in: Irwin wasn’t really receiving any type of push at this time so I don’t know how he got the opportunity for double duty on this PPV. Irwin had moderate success in the 1980’s, following his brother Scott into professional wrestling, as the Long Riders they had decent runs in several territories including World Class and AWA. Later fans may remember Wild Bill as the WWF’s favorite hockey player, “The Goon”. Pillman was still fairly new to the company and getting high praises, and rightfully so. If you’ve never seen any of Pillman’s work in Stampede Wrestling prior to his WCW run I recommend checking it out. It’s a shame Dusty killed Pillman’s initial push in favor of Dustin in 1991. Don’t get me wrong, Dustin turned out to be a fine worker, but in 1991 Pillman was ready for that spot and Dustin simply was not.)
Flyin’ Brian Pillman vs. “Wild” Bill Irwin
Irwin jumps Pillman, but Brian doesn’t stay down. Pillman with some dropkicks and a flying headlock takes Irwin down to the mat. Irwin takes back over and tries to whip Brian into the corner, but Pillman counters with a flying head scissors that sends Wild Bill to the floor, and a baseball slide from Pillman. Flyin’ Brian works the arm of Irwin, Bill manages to break free but Pillman hits a crossbody and goes right back to the arm. Irwin finally takes control after a big sidewalk slam and a vertical suplex. Bill is REALLY LOUD throughout this match, channeling him some Mike Sharpe, only Irwin actually uses words rather than grunts. In a funny moment Bill asks Pillman “do ya wanna fly?”, and then flings Pillman out of the ring. Wild Bill continues to work over Pillman, beating on him all around the ring before settling in with a reverse chinlock. Pillman eventually escapes but Irwin just about takes Brian’s head off with a clothesline for 2. Irwin drapes Pillman over the middle rope and hits a running knee into his back. Irwin whips Pillman back outside the ring and right onto the time keeper’s table. Irwin puts Brian back on the middle rope and goes for a running straddle to the back of Brian’s head, but Pillman moves. Brian makes a comeback with some nice dropkicks, a flying clothesline and a… Splash??? Pillman gets 2, then goes up to the top rope but MISSES a Missile Dropkick. Irwin lands a gut wrench suplex for a near fall, and then takes a running start as he propels Pillman into the second ring in a powerslam position. While Irwin argues with referee Nick Patrick, Pillman perches himself on the TOP ROPE OF RING #2! Irwin turns to his opponent, and PILLMAN LAUNCHES HIMSELF FROM THE TOP ROPE OF THE SECOND RING, into the first ring, where he connects with a Flying cross body for the win in 11:00! Great finishing spot.
Winner: Flyin’ Brian
(Post Match Thoughts: This match was EXACTLY what I expected going in. Irwin was a very capable hand in the heel role, and Pillman sold like a million bucks. The match was pretty much paint by numbers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It was solid and the finish was unique and a spectacle. I’ll give the match **1/4, that’s ** for the match and an extra 1/4* for the finish.)
– Back to Gordon Solie, who is standing by with Paul E. Dangerously. Paul is getting ready to go up against Jim Cornette in a Tuxedo Match. This can’t lead to anything good. Paul says he knows Cornette hurt his knee in the 1986 Starrcade Scaffold match and wears a brace. Paul says he’s been “Living Dangerously” all his life and he’s going to end Cornette’s career tonight.
– Jason Hervey, from ‘Wonder Years’ fame, and later fame as butt buddy of Eric Bischoff, is in the ring to announce the first team in the next match. Gary Michael Capetta seems thrilled to announce Hervey to the fans, and by thrilled I mean not at all. Hervey receives a round of boos as he announces the Dynamic Dudes, and how appropriate he gets stuck announcing them. No skateboards this week, but the Dudes are rocking FRISBEES BITCHES! Johnny Ace pulls a kid from the crowd to play Frisbee. This kid looks like this is the most exercise he’s had in his life, and he’s just standing there catching. The dudes pose with the kid, who sort of resembles that fat, red haired kid who was in movies like The Sandlot, though this kid appears to be fatter. Anyway, the Dudes pose with the kid, did I mention the kid is wearing a Ghostbusters shirt a size to small, and shorts up to his ass crack? Okay now, the Dudes pose with the kid, and he just stands there doing nothing. I’m not sure if he was confused, or if he was mad Johnny Ace pulled him away from his 18th hotdog but I realize this rant is starting to last longer than the match likely will so I’ll stop here.
(Dynamic Dudes vs. Skyscrapers Notes going in: Well we get the Scrapers for the second time in 3 matches, and at the time everybody couldn’t get enough of these two… these two… Skyscrapers of men dominating and destroying the smaller talent. Back in April of 1989, Teddy Long was fired as a NWA official after making a fast count in favor of the Varsity Club over the Road Warriors on an episode of Clash of the Champions. Long would in turn become a manager and acquire the services of Dan Spivey from the Varsity Club and add Sid Vicious to the mix to form the Skyscraper team. The Skyscrapers had only made their debut appearance together less than a month before this event, and they were already over in a BIG way. If there was EVER a team you wanted to see destroyed, the Dynamic Dudes would be high on that list. The Skyscrapers + Northeast Crowd = DEATH to the Dudes.)
The Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace) vs. The Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Dan Spivey) with Theodore Long
The Scrapers just had an amazing aura about them, you just knew they were going to kill someone. The fans pop for Sid & Dan, since not only were they bad asses, but who didn’t want to see them dismantle the Dudes? Ross & Caudle try and rip the WWF in regards to their “muscle-bound” athletes that aren’t athletes, while guys like Dan & Sid are big, but also athletic. “Peanut Head” chants meant for Teddy Long. Teddy has the balls to bring the CROWN back out with him, but still knows better than to wear it.
Ace & Spivey starts, Ace with a dropkick and Dan barely sell it, let alone take a bump. After Spivey has his way with Ace, the Dudes try a little double team work with a Double Dropkick, and Spivey STILL won’t bump. The Dudes with a Double Monkey Flip on Spivey, that looks nice. Ace rushes Spivey with a clothesline. Douglas follows in with a second clothesline but DAN BOOTS SHANE IN THE FACE. Douglas escapes a backdrop and drops down to all fours behind Spivey while Ace comes off the top rope with a Flying cross body. Spivey trips over Shane and Ace covers and Spivey kicks out AT ONE. The guy won’t bump or sell, what an ass, lol. Loud chants of “WE WANT SID” begin. Meanwhile Spivey blasts Ace with a clothesline in the corner and MAKES THE TAG TO SID, and the crowd pops insane. Sid plays to the crowd, he loves it. Vicious does pretty much nothing before Spivey’s back in. Ace kicks Dan, but Spivey retaliates with a clothesline. Spivey misses an elbow and Ace tags to Shane. Spivey SPIKES Shane into the mat with the Boss Man Side Slam. “WE WANT SID” chants start up again. Spivey picks Douglas up and hits a semi-powerbomb/semi-Razor’s Edge move. Dan boots Shane to the floor where Teddy Long stomps on Douglas. Dan suplexes Shane back inside for a near fall. Sid tags in and the CROWD POPS huge again. Sid can do no wrong, he does almost nothing and crowd worships him as he drops to a knee and poses. Sid applies a CLAW TO THE KIDNEYS. Seriously? Sid tags in Spivey and the crowd Boos loudly, lol, this is hilarious. Spivey with a side slam on Douglas as the fans already wanting Sid again. Spivey catches a cross body from Shane and hits a backbreker. Spivey misses a headbutt from the middle rope. HOT TAG TO ACE. Johnny works over Dan and hits a Clothesline off the top. Ace gets 2 before Sid breaks it up, and the crowd pops like he just saved the Universe. Seriously, Sid is O-VER! Both Skyscrapers go for clothesline on Ace, but Johnny ducks and Sid & Dan clothesline each other. The Dudes Double Dropkick Sid, and he just slowly drops to a knee. Dudes double hiptoss on Spivey, and the referee tries to get Shane out of the ring. With the referee tied up with Douglas, Ace tries a flying head scissors on Spivey, but gets caught, and Sid assists Spivey in a Double Powerbomb. Spivey picks Ace back up for another Powerbomb and Ace nearly breaks his neck on a bad bump as Spivey covers to get the win in 9:30. Fans eat it up.
Winners: The Skyscrapers
(Post Match Thoughts: Well that pretty much went as expected. Several uncomfortable spots in between the beat downs. It looked like the Scrapers didn’t really want to sell anything, and there were several instances of nearly blown spots. I can’t look past the amazing crowd reaction to the Scrapers, and especially Sid who did almost nothing yet was cheered like a God. The match however, was below par. I’ll go *1/4)
Didn’t I just write that two matches ago? Well the fans wanted them some Skyscrapers, or at least Sid, and they got their fill.
– Gordon Solie is with Jim Cornette. Jim admits to blowing his knee out in the Scaffold Match from Starrcade ’86. Cornette says he still wears a brace on his knee because surgery couldn’t repair it completely. Cornette says if he has to crawl, he will get to Paul E. Jim says Dangerously stole his tactics, but he will never replace Cornette until Jim is 6 feet under. Solie plays it up very seriously, like this could be the end of Cornette. To the ring we go!
(Cornette vs. Paul Notes going in: Well, it makes sense to gimmick a match between two guys who make better talkers than they do workers. These two guys were polar opposites as far as personalities go, but they had a couple things in common, first, they both grew up working as ringside photographers before breaking into the business, and second, man could they talk. The 1989 Midnight Express vs. Midnight Express feud was fun, if not for anything else than Paul E. & Cornette’s promos against one another. Leave it to Dangerously to be the only man annoying enough to make the fans back Cornette 100%.)
Tuxedo Match: Jim Cornette vs. Paul E. Dangerously
Paul enters to the “Halloween” theme, used by his SST. Cornette enters to his Midnight Express theme. Crowd pops huge for Cornette, because they finally found somebody they hate worse. The rules here are, you strip your opponent down to their underwear to win the match. Other than that, anything goes. It’s Paul & his phone vs. Cornette & the racket. Cornette immediately rips the jacket off of Paul, but Dangerously retaliates by throwing powder into the eyes of Cornette. Paul works over Cornette’s bad knee with his cell phone and rips the jacket off of Corny. Dangerously removes his own cummerbund and chokes Cornette with it. Jim fights back and chokes Paul with the cummerbund but Paul rams Jim back into the corner. Paul spits on Cornette, but Jim’s leg gives out on him as he tries to go after Paul. Dangerously takes the fight to the floor, and rams Jim into the ring post. Paul struts around the ring while waiting for Cornette to crawl back inside. Paul slaps the shit out of Cornette, but misses an elbow. Cornette no sells some punches from Dangerously, and Corny comes back with some nice punches and Paul takes a back flip bump to sell it. More punching by Cornette and he rips the shirt off of Dangerously. Cornette sends Paul into the ropes and they collide and take terrible bumps. Dangerously pulls more powder out of his pocket to use on Jim, but Cornette kicks Paul’s hand and the powder goes flying back into Heyman’s face!
Paul bumps and Cornette rips the pants off Dangerously! Paul is stripped down to his powder blue underwear and does a comical retreat to the locker room. Cornette is announced the winner of the Tuxedo match at something like 6:00.
Winner: Jim Cornette
(Post Match Thoughts: Well this wasn’t pretty, not that it was expected to be. Actually, the two guys surprised me and pulled off a better match then I expected. It was handled like a fight, and the psychology of the match made sense. I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything different since both of these guys had studied the business and been around the rings since their were old enough to take pictures. Both guys threw some good punches, and Paul took a nice bump at one point. I also enjoyed the finish. I’ll give the guys **)
– It’s Gordon Solie standing by with Gary Hart & The Great Muta. They’re certainly getting their money’s worth out of Solie tonight. JR lied, Muta isn’t with Hart. Gary says he doesn’t want Muta to lose his concentration. Gary Hart says that Japan possesses the best athletes, and Muta is the best that Japan has to offer. Hart says Muta is meditating and that “he is calling the powers of the mystic orient into his own being”. Back to the ring!
(Steiners vs. Varsity Club Notes going in: Rick Steiner had left the Varsity Club several months earlier. While Rick was sidelined with an injury, his brother Scott stepped in to fill the role feuding with the Club, namely Sullivan. At this point we got the Rick Steiner/Robin Greene courtship, where Robin played a fan in the audience that was smitten with the Dog-faced Gremlin. Greene would go on to be transformed into Woman. At one point, the Varisty Club ripped up flowers that Rick wanted to give to Robin. The Steiners would finally unite for the first time in wrestling history as a brother tag team in 1989 and their feud with the Varsity Club was one of the top tag team feuds at the time in the NWA.)
Texas Tornado Match: The Steiner Brothers (with Missy Hyatt) vs. The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan & Mike Rotunda)
I never did get the Missy Hyatt/Steiner connection, I know Missy was with Eddie, and Eddie was with the Steiners, but it still didn’t fit. A Texas Tornado match basically means there’s no tagging, all four men in the ring at the same time, and usually there are no DQ’s. As soon as the Steiners get to the ring the two teams starts going at it. Sullivan & Rick go to the floor, and Rick no sells a chair shot and hits Kevin back with a chair shot. Sullivan picks Rick up in an atomic drop position and drops him balls first, straddling the safety rail. Missy Hyatt’s boobs get in the way of the camera for a quick moment, and that’s alright with me. Kevin flips a table upside down and starts ramming Rick into it.
Then Rick takes his turn driving Kevin into the table and then throwing the table at Sullivan. Back in the ring, Scott Steiner & Rotunda are attempting to do something resembling a wrestling match. Rick & Sullivan continue to throw each other into everything from the ring steps to the steel posts. Finally, everyone is back inside, wait I spoke to soon, Rotunda tosses Scott outside. Sullivan whips Rick into a flying clothesline from Rotunda. Scott returns and all four men go at it in the ring. Rick lands a overhead belly to belly on Sullivan and a big powerslam, while Scott continues with Rotunda. Sullivan tosses Rick back outside and hits a stiff boot to the face from the apron. Rotunda in the ring with a vertical suplex in Scott. The Varisty Club with a double clothesline on Scott. Rick Steiner goes for a sunset flip on Sullivan, but when Kevin won’t go down, Rick just starts drilling him with HEADBUTTS TO THE BALLS! Unique, yet simple. LOVED that spot! Rick with a Steinerline on Sullivan, but Rick gets tossed back to the floor once again. The Club hit a nice double backdrop on Scott and he’s sent out of the ring. Rick comes back in and Sullivan throws a portable stretcher at his head. Scott Steiner pulls down the top rope as Rotunda charges with a clothesline and Mike goes flying to the floor. Sullivan scoops Rick up for a slam, but Scott comes off the top rope with a Flying cross body onto his brother Rick, and both Steiners fall on top of Sullivan for the pin and the win in 4:46.
Winners: The Steiner Brothers
(Post Match Thoughts: Short match, but they squeezed everything they could into it. Sullivan & Rick did a lot of the brawling with various gimmicks (or what my wife calls “props”), while Rotunda & Scott attempted to mainly stick to wrestling. In these “all in” matches with no tagging and no dq’s you can’t really drag the match out too long without repeating the same shit over and over, so while it did seem quicker than it should have been, I’m also grateful it wasn’t dragged out like Bret vs. Vince or some shit. For the type of match it was, I’ll give the guys **3/4.)
– Gordon Solie stands by with Sting & Eddie Gilbert. Sting says he’s approaching this match calmly. Sting leaves the interview to prepare for the match. Gilbert & Sting both have respect for Muta, but Gilbert gives a simple promo about the best man winning. What the hell is up with Gilbert’s hair tonight. It’s dripping like all hell.
(Sting vs. Muta Notes going in: Sting was on a successful run as TV Champion, while the newcomer Muta had been dazzling the crowds and racking up a solid win streak. On TV, Hart & Muta challenge Sting to a “Dragon Shi” match. I think it was in reference to a Kendo Stick on a pole match. Sting accepted the challenge the following week, but Hart exclaimed that Muta wasn’t ready. The following week Sting’s best friend, “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert, stepped up to Muta and accepted the Dragon Shi challenge. At the following Clash of the Champions, Muta attempted to demonstrate the Dragon Shi match when Eddie Gilbert got involved and threw a fireball (Eddie’s answer to Muta’s mist), but the fire ended up striking jobber Trent Knight instead. The match was finally made, one on one for the TV Title at the Bash, and it’s next!)
NWA World Television Championship Match
Sting (c) (with Eddie Gilbert) vs. The Great Muta (with Gary Hart)
Muta sprays some green mist before the match just for the hell of it. As the story goes, Muta has never been beaten. Sting waits in ring #1 for Muta, who is standing in ring #2. Sting gets tired of waiting, takes a running start off the ropes and LAUNCHES HIMSELF OVER THE TOP ROPE. Sting CLEARS BOTH TOP ROPES and nails Muta with a flying clothesline into ring #2. Amazing spot!
The two men fight into ring #1 with Muta hitting the handspring elbow in the corner early. Muta lands the backbreaker and goes for the MOONSAULT. Sting moves, but Muta lands on his feet and hits a back round kick. STING NO SELLS THE KARATE KICK! But Muta takes him down with an enzuigiri kick to the back of the head. Sting rolls outside and Muta meets him with a plancha over the ropes. Sting fights his way back in and hits a clothesline off the top rope for 2. Standing dropkick from the Stinger and Muta powders. Sting comes running for a wild flying dive over the top rope, but Muta is too far away and rather than dying Sting opts to land on his feet on the floor. Wise choice. Muta counters a suplex from Sting by sliding behind and applying a Sleeper. Muta eventually releases when it doesn’t work, but runs right into a MILITARY PRESS SLAM by Sting. Sting misses an elbow, but Muta connects with his power elbow driver. Muta grabs a chinlock, and turns it into an abdominal stretch. Muta using some American cheating tactics, grabbing the rope for added leverage. Muta cradle back into a pinfall for 2. Muta tries another handspring elbow, but Sting out of the way! The Stinger on the offense with some clotheslines and a bulldog. A dropkick sends Muta to the floor momentarily. Sting with a leapfrog, but Muta rolls under and pops up waiting. MUTA SPRAYS RED MIST, but Sting ducks and Muta sprays the referee instead! With Muta stunner, Sting goes for the Stinger Splash but misses. Muta goes up and hits the MOONSAULT. With Nick Patrick down after being hit with mist, the count is delayed until Tommy Young can slide into the ring. Sting kicks out on 2! Muta with a high front round kick aimed at the Stinger’s head, but Sting ducks and hooks Muta with a bridging back suplex! Sting gets the bridge as Tommy Young makes the 1-2-3 count in 8:55! The nearly blinded Nick Patrick instead declares Muta the winner. Muta & Hart grab the TV Title and take off. Gilbert & Sting are left in the ring and everyone is confused. A replay shows Muta’s shoulder up before the 3 count.
Winner: New TV Champion The Great Muta
(Post Match Thoughts: That was a great match to be shy of only 9 minutes, but there were all kinds of problems with that finish. First, the moment Muta sprayed Patrick with the mist, shouldn’t he have been disqualified? Next, how the hell does mist take out wrestler, but Patrick got some of his eyesight back for the finish? Third, why should we trust what Nick Patrick saw in the finish when he’s nearly blind. Fourth, Patrick was on the opposite side of the ring, nowhere near the cover. Fifth, why the hell would Patrick side with the guy who just damn near blinded him? Sixth, the next time you do a complicated finish, inform the announcers ahead of time so they don’t sit there trying to figure out what the hell just happened and why. Even as we leave the ring, Ross & Caudle still aren’t 100% sure what just happened. Anyway, I appreciate the guys leaving the stretched out rest holds out of the match and doing just enough of it to tell a story. Great action, ***1/2 regardless of the ending. Best match of the night up to this point.)
– Gordon Solie is with the U.S. Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger. Luger refuses to wrestle Ricky Steamboat in a No DQ match. Luger wants a straight up one one one match or he simply won’t wrestle. Funny how he waited until match time to make this decision. He’s had weeks to bitch about this. Sounds to me like somebody waited until the day of to decide they didn’t want to do the job. Cough, cough, Steamboat. So they advertise a No DQ match, and wait until just before the match to announce that it’s going to be a straight up regular title defense? Weak.
(Luger vs. Dragon Notes going in: Luger had recently lost the U.S Title to Michael Hayes, but won it back shortly thereafter to regain his spot as the #2 man in the NWA. Meanwhile, Steamboat had lost the NWA World Title to Ric Flair. After it was announced that Terry Funk would be challenging Flair for the World Title at the Bash, Luger, still a baby face, made a candid interview where he said he felt he was the rightful challenger to Flair’s belt and not Steamboat or Funk. In the June ’89 edition of Clash of the Champions, Terry Funk had gotten himself DQ’ed in a match against Ricky Steamboat after beating the Dragon down with a microphone. Lex Luger would run down and make the save, running Funk off, only for LEX TO TURN HEEL and attack Steamboat! In a post interview Lex explained he was sick of Steamboat being looked at as better than him and Luger wanted to prove he is the best. The grudge match was made with a “No DQ” stipulation in effect, but for some odd reason that would change come match time.)
United States Heavyweight Championship Match
“The Total Package” Lex Luger (c) vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Steamboat comes to the ring standing on some plank that a half dozen men have to carry. Steamboat is holding a Komodo Dragon that is dressed up like a member of Demolition.
Waiting for Ricky in the ring are his wife (at the time) Bonnie, and his son who Jim Ross refers to as “Little Ricky”. Bonnie was said to have sucked the soul out of Steamboat, a real bitch if there ever was one. There was actually a point where she owned Steamboat’s likeness and wouldn’t allow him to use his wrestling name. Luger does some posing for the fans before he gets on the arena mike and announces that he will NOT wrestle a No DQ match, or he will walk. Rather than dealing with the headaches, Steamboat agrees to waive the No DQ stip in order to get the title shot, and we wind up with a regular title match. Well, I’ve seen it work the other way around a thousand times, but this is a first for me.
Anyway, the match gets going. Luger tries to intimidate the Dragon with power as they get going, but Ricky responds with a series of quick pinning combinations, a school boy, inside cradle, jackknife, all for 2 counts. Steamboat dropkicks and chops the shit out of Lex, and Luger finally takes a powder to collect his thoughts. The fans are going nuts, they’ve been a great crowd all night. Steamer follows Luger out and chops him on the floor, then atomic drops Lex before throwing him back inside. Luger catches Ricky coming back in the ring with a nice kneelift to slow things down. The two men are back on the floor fighting, Steamboat drives Luger’s face into the table at ringside. Back in the ring Ricky comes off the top but Luger catches him with a punch and backbreaker. Luger works the back of the Dragon, Steamboat tries to fight back but Lex hits him with three solid clotheslines, and drops Ricky throat first across the top rope. Steamboat fights back again, but Luger hits a sucker shot and delivers a powerslam for 2. Luger telegraphs a backdrop and Ricky counters with a swinging neckbreaker. Luger back up charges with a clothesline, but Dragon ducks and Luger goes flying to the floor! Steamboat tries to bring Luger back into the ring with a slam, but Lex falls on top for a near fall. Luger goes to the top, but is met by Steamboat and Ricky slams Lex off the top rope. Ricky fires things up with dropkicks and chops, then a flying chop off the top for a near fall! Luger falls against the ropes and Ricky charges, Lex backdrops Steamboat into the next ring! Lex grabs a STEEL CHAIR, but Steamboat double legs him down. Ricky catapults Luger into the corner while Lex still has the chair in hand. Luger ends up being catapulted into the corner and into the chair he’s holding! Steamboat threatens to use the chair, but referee Tommy Young fights him for it. Ricky shoves down the referee and clocks Luger across the back with the chair, drawing the DQ in 10:26. Steamboat tosses Young to the floor and goes back after Luger with the chair. For losing the match, the crowd is going nuts for Steamboat smashing Lex several more times with the chair. Steamboat chases Luger all the way to the dressing room with the chair, and the fans give him a monstrous pop.
Winner: Lex Luger on a DQ, though you’d never know it.
(Post Match Thoughts: If Luger were to have had a “best year” for in ring work, 1989 would certainly rank at or near the very top for me. This wasn’t one of Luger’s better wrestling matches, nor Steamboat’s for that matter. But both men did what they were best at and it ended up meshing well. This match was 10 times better than I ever remember. The crowd intensity only added to this match, they were REALLY into this one. I’m not sure how much longer Ricky stuck around after this match, if at all, but I know he was gone pretty soon. It’s a shame we didn’t get another match out of these two, it could have been good. I didn’t understand the point of making it No DQ, and then squashing the stip at match time, but I assume that was a political thing. Honestly, the finish with the DQ didn’t even hurt the match as bad as it does in most cases. I would have liked to seen more, that’s the mark of a good story being told. These guys get ***1/4 from me, without hesitation.)
– A prerecorded interview with the Fabulous Freebirds & The SST. The Samoans act all… Samoan-y, ya know all wild and savage and all that stereotypical shit for the times. Hayes does enough talking for himself and the Samoans. Garvin & Gordy get a few words in as well. Gordy says they’re going to “drop the bomb” tonight.
– The Midnight Express begin the face side of the interviews for their War Games team. Dr. Death then FLIES into the screen. I shit you not, he pretends to FLY into the screen. Nothing says SERIOUS WAR GAMES GRUDGE MATCH than Dr. Death pretending to fly through the screen. Doc says he’s flying because he’s a “bird crusher” and he’s going bird hunting. O…..K….. Doc acknowledges the issues he’s had with the Roadies in the past as Hawk & Animal take over the interview. These War Games interviews were all over the fucking map. Pardon my French.
(WAR GAMES Notes going in: The recent vacancy of the NWA World Tag Team Titles would begin this war of teams. During the tournament which followed to crown new champions, the 3 man team of the Freebirds cheated to eliminate the Roadies in the first round. The Midnight Express would also eliminate the SST in the semi-finals. During the finals of the tournament, the Freebirds would again steal a victory and win the vacant titles, this time over the Midnight Express thanks to interference from the SST. Still following me? Actually, at the time it was a pretty creative way of booking to get all of these teams factored into one big feud. Steve Williams was added to the mix, when Jim Cornette basically announced him as an ally of the Midnight Express to counteract Terry Gordy. Terry would end up stealing a win over Doc on TV, and it led to a brawl between all men involved. And all of that brings us here to the WAR GAMES!)
WAR GAMES: THE MATCH BEYOND
The Road Warriors, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, and The Midnight Express (Eaton & Lane) (with Paul Ellering & Jim Cornette)
The Fabulous Freebirds (Hayes, Gordy, & Garvin) and The Samoan Swat Team (Samu & Fatu) (with Paul E. Dangerously)
I don’t feel like explaining the rules of War Games, so for those 4 or 5 people who have yet to watch one, do yourself a favor and GOOGLE IT!
PERIOD #1: “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton kicks things off with “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin. The first period is 5 minutes. Back and forth as you’d expect until Garvin tosses Eaton into the cage. The heels reach through the cage and take some shots on Bobby. Eaton fights his way back up and grabs the ceiling of the cage to use as leverage as he jumps in the air and kicks Garvin with both feet. The two men continue a back & forth battle, Eaton hits his trademark sidewalk backbreaker twice on Garvin as time winds down. Bobby applies a Boston Crab on Garvin as time counts down. The first period comes to an end and the winner of the coin toss gets to send someone in next.
PERIOD #2: And what do you know? THE HEELS WON THE COIN TOSS! What are the odds? Terry Gordy rushes in and jumps Eaton. All periods hereafter will be 2 minutes. Gordy & Garvin toss Eaton into the second ring and continue to double team Bobby for the entire second period. Eaton dodges a punch and Gordy accidentally nails Garvin. However it’s short lived and the Birds are right back on the attack. Time’s up.
PERIOD #3: IT’S “DR, DEATH” STEVE WILLIAMS! Williams comes in with a double clothesline on the Birds. Doc takes his nemesis Gordy into the second ring. Williams PRESSES Gordy into the air, driving his spine into the top of the cage on a good 7 or 8 reps before slamming him to the mat. GREAT SPOT! It’s back and forth on both ends, Eaton finally gaining some ground on Garvin, Williams works Gordy over in the corner.
PERIOD #4: But here comes SAMU of the SST, and Samu hits Doc with a superkick and the faces are again at the disadvantage. Gordy & Samu work over Williams, hitting a double suplex. Eaton fights off Garvin and tries to aid Doc. Doc mounts a comeback, tries for a three point stance rush at Gordy, but Terry clotheslines the Doc down. And the Birds & SST have the match in hand, but not for long…
PERIOD #5: IT’S ROAD WARRIOR ANIMAL! Animal beats the crap out of Samu, and then Gordy. Animal with a big boot on Samu, and Animal pulls a Stinger, and launches himself from one ring, over two top ropes and nails Samu in the second ring with a FLYING SHOULDERBLOCK! Animal going nuts! All 3 faces now turn the tide, clotheslines on the heels all around. Eaton with a bulldog on Samu as the faces remain in fair control.
PERIOD #6: FATU is in next, to make it 4 on 3. Fatu immediately teams up with Samu to work over Animal. And the SST successfully take Animal out of the equation for the time being with lots of double team spots. Garvin & Eaton, the guys who started this thing, pair off in the corner, Doc & Gordy slug it out in the opposite ring.
PERIOD #7: “SWEET” STAN LANE hits the ring and introduces ALL FOUR members of the heel side into the steel cage. Paul E. discusses strategy with Michael Hayes, but Hayes says he doesn’t want to get in the ring. Doc & Animal work over the SST in ring #1. There’s more clotheslines in this match than in any other 10 matches combined, but they don’t get old because they’re so stiff. The Midnight Express double team Jimmy Garvin, tossing Jimmy’s head into the roof of the cage.
PERIOD #8: No surprise, MICHAEL HAYES is the last man to enter for his team. Hayes goes wild. DDT on Lane, DDT on Doc, DDT on Animal, DDT on Eaton. The faces are all down, and now Hayes is out of moves! Hayes with a strut, and allows his partners to take over on offense. The heels wear down their opponents, The heel team has all the faces down on the mat, working them over. Which makes it perfect timing for…
PERIOD #9: HERE COMES HAWK! Hawk is the last man to enter War Games, and now “The Match Beyond” begins. It’s submit or surrender. Hawk blasts into the match with a top rope DOUBLE CLOTHESLINE on the SST. Hawk clotheslines Gordy, double clothesline by Hawk & Doc on Hayes. What did I tell you? CLOTHESLINE-A-MANIA running wild! Hawk with a Snake Eyes on Garvin. Now the faces are turning things around! Eaton with a DDT on Garvin, and then to Samu! Hawk goes flying over both top ropes onto Gordy. Man, everyone in paint wanted to get in on that move. Paul E. tries to squeeze his phone through the cage, too bad it wasn’t the WWF’s big blue bar cage. Most of the wrestlers end up in one ring, while the Road Warriors corner Gordy in the other. The Roadies try and set Gordy up for the Dooms Day Device, but Jimmy Garvin cuts it off. Hawk comes off the top rope with a flying clothesline to Garvin. Animal sends Gordy out of their ring, while Hawk nails Garvin with a hangman’s neckbreaker. And we’ve got 8 men in one ring, and Hawk & Garvin left alone in the other. Hawk picks Garvin up in a Hangman position and leans forward, forcing Garvin’s feet into the air. Garvin is literally hanging in the Hangman, and as referee Tommy Young enters the ring Garvin gives it up! The Match is over!
Winners: Roadies, Midnights & Dr. Death
Following the match, as the faces leave the ring, the heels trap Animal inside and hold the cage door shut while they take turns working Animal over. Finally, Hawk & Dr. Death rip the cage door open and run the heels off.
(Post Match Thoughts: I always enjoyed WAR Games up until the 1993 version when it took a major decline. I don’t remember 1994’s being too bad, but in general, the Games were never the same again after the 1992 five-star match. This however, was no 1992. It was still a pretty fun match with lots of major talent involved. They used the cage at points as a gimmick, but barely used it as a weapon at all. I know we were in between the periods of blood in WCW, but what’s the point of the cage if you’re not going to utilize it? The guys had a good match, period, with or without a cage and I won’t take that away from them. It didn’t feel as well planned as the years around it, but this crowds excitement keeps it right up there. I’ll give it ***1/2)
– Gordon Solie interviews Ric Flair. Ric says he wants to know that he’s the best and to do that he will beat Terry Funk. Ric says maybe he made a mistake accepting this challenge so quickly, but he feels he’s ready. Gordon asks Ric if he’s 100% physically healthy. Ric Flair says in his mind and heart he’s 120% ready, and that if he’s not, he’ll know in about an hour. A very serious promo, done perfectly by the champion who takes on the humble babyface role.
(Flair vs. Funk Notes going in: It all started back at WrestleWar ’89. Flair defeated Ricky Steamboat to regain the NWA World Title, and Terry Funk was one of the many former champions in attendance. Following the main event match, Terry asked Flair for a championship match and Ric politely blew him off. Funk apologized for interrupting the champ’s celebration, only to turn around and attack Flair. This led to the infamous spot where Funk Piledrove Flair on the ringside table, leading to Flair’s baby face turn. Funk would then go on a streak of destruction to rack up wins and position himself in the NWA Top 10. Upon Flair’s return from injury, Ric demanded a championship match with Funk at the Bash, and commissioner Jim Herd agreed.)
NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair (c) vs. Terry Funk (with Gary Hart)
Funk jumps out of the ring and into the aisle following introductions. Ric follows him right out and attacks Funk in the aisle to start this match off hot! Funk is irate after the attack, jumps into the audience, slams the railing and picks a fight with a fan. Flair jumps back outside and beats the piss out of Funk on the timekeepers table.. Terry escapes again and starts slinging a chair around. Finally, we get things going in the ring. Funk chops the shit out of Flair, and Ric does the same before Terry goes flying over the top rope. Flair follows Funk outside and Terry throws Ric into the ring post. Funk suplexes Flair back in the ring for 2, and Flair goes back to the floor. Flair fights Funk from the apron, Ric tries to suplex Funk to the floor, but both men end up taking a bump outside.
The two men trade stiff chops and punches on the floor, until Funk takes it back in the ring for the Piledriver. Flair counters the Piledriver and backdrops Funk out of the ring! Flair works over the neck of Funk as payback on the challenger. Flair lands a pair of his patented kneedrops that garner a 2 count. FLAIR WITH A PILEDRIVER ON FUNK! How’s that for irony! FLAIR WITH A SECOND PILEDRIVER ON FUNK and Terry falls out of the ring and tries crawling up the aisle! Flair catches up with Terry and throws him back inside the ring. Flair hits a back suplex and calls for the FIGURE FOUR and it’s applied. Gary Hart distracts referee Tommy Young while Funk grabs the branding iron and cracks Flair in the face with it to break the hold. Apparently, the “no bleeding” rule didn’t count for Ric Flair. Flair’s busted open as FUNK PILEDRIVES THE NATURE BOY. Remember, Flair’s neck was injured by Funk at WrestleWar when Funk piledrove him on a table.
Terry removes the safety mat on the floor and goes for a Piledriver on Flair on the floor. Flair blocks it and backdrops Funk on the floor! Ric’s bleeding nicely now. Funk jumps off the apron with some weird looking dive and completely misses Flair, but Ric sells it anyway. The entire spot looked ridiculous. THREE swinging neckbreakers in the ring by Funk, and Flair is down. Funk refuses to pin Flair, he wants Flair to QUIT. Funk works over the cut on Flair’s head. Gary Hart distracts the ref and Funk goes for the branding iron again, but FLAIR GRABS THE IRON and smashes it over the head of Funk. Terry falls to the floor, Flair follows and tosses Terry face first into the post. Funk is now bleeding as well.
Flair on Funk, but Terry comes back with the SPINNING TOE HOLD! Flair trips Terry up, and Ric goes for the Fuigure Four! Funk cradles Ric, 1, 2, Ric reverses the cradle! 1, 2, 3! Flair pins the Funker in 17:00!
Winner: Ric Flair
But what the hell is this? The Great Muta doesn’t give Flair a chance to catch his breath. Muta hits the ring and sprays mist into the eyes of Ric.
Funk & Muta work over Flair. Gary Hart tosses Tommy Young out of the ring. Doug Dellinger takes a spin kick from Muta. LOL, that just looked funny. Funk & Muta try to piledrive Flair onto a a chair, but IT’S STING to the rescue! Sting fights off both men until Flair can join him. It’s a 4 man brawl all over the place. The fans love it. Flair & Sting throw Funk & Muta out of the ring, but then go chase them down in the aisle, and the fight continues. A wild brawl all over the arena, the crowd is loving it. Flair starts hitting anything that moves with the branding iron. Just when you think it’s over, Funk comes back with a chair to Flair. Sting starts whipping and choking people with a belt. What a wild ending to the show. Just wild! This would of course lead to the tag team match at Halloween Havoc.
– Ric Flair & Sting stop by Ross & Caudle for some closing comments. I’m sorry but Flair just looks so awesome, the upper face of his face and head covered in blood, the lower half covered in green mist. Flair says he hasn’t thanks anyone in 10 years, but he thanks Sting for saving him. Flair then tells Funk that he’s going to ride him until he “wears his Texas ass out”. WOOOO!
Great ending to a great show!
(Post Match Thoughts: Tremendous match, did you expect anything else from these two World champions? )
THE FINAL AUDIT: On paper, seven of the nine matches were either star-studded or booked as gimmick matches to draw the fans in. The other two matches, Pillman & Skyscrapers, were good use of new talent to continue to get them over on a national scale. Nothing on the PPV was terrible, and somebody finally got the grasp of how to book a PPV in Turnerland. Lots of action, lots of stars, the interviews were plentiful and built up each match properly, and the match times were properly dispersed for the most part. Maybe that Battle Royal should have went a little longer, and the Irwin & Dudes a little shorter. Everything from a booking standpoint was well done, and the show flowed perfectly in and out of every match and segment. The NWA really stepped up as a product in whole, not just because of all the great ring action, but their production felt more “big league” than in years past. It just seemed like they knew what they were doing, and outside of some iffy camera angles in the Battle Royal, the Funk video issue, and the announcers being confused on the Sting/Muta finish, the show was built up to a perfect peak. Then you factor in a fun War Games, and several very good Title matches, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a NWA PPV. Definitely the best of the 1980’s, dare I say one of the best ever.
This show delivered on two points. The action was obviously there, AND the show was executed masterfully, from Gordon Solie holding down the interviews between matches, to the wild brawl at the end of the show. Have their been better PPV’s over the course of the last 30 years? Sure, but when you look back 25 years and can still say this was a damn good PPV, one of the best in NWA/WCW history, that surely stands out as a Major Thumbs Up, especially once you get past the Tuxedo match portion of the card. FOUR, count them, FOUR, ***+ matches in a row to close the show and a great post match angle to set up the next PPV!!! GOOD BOOKING! I’d give this show a solid 9 out of 10. That’s a firm A- rating from me. Strong recommendation to WATCH THIS SHOW! GAB ’89 passes the AUDIT with flying colors!
We’ll continue WCW next week when I’ll be Auditing the 1990 edition of Halloween Havoc, “Terror Rules the Ring”! Until next week, this has been the REAL I.R.S., Ian R. Singletary, catchya later, tax cheats!