The SmarK Retro Repost – WrestleWar ’89


The Netcop Retro Rant for NWA WrestleWar 1989

– Live from Nashville, Tennessee, which is somewhere near Spokane, I


– Jim Ross & Bob Caudle are your hosts.

– Opening match: The Great Muta v. Doug Gilbert. Doug would be the

Gilbert brother who the distinction of still being alive today. This

match is why I hate Muta so much today, namely because he was so far

over what everyone else in North American wrestling was doing it’s just

sickening, and now he’s still doing the same stuff nine years later with

no growth or change or effort put into it. Gilbert is subbing for the

Junkfood Dog here. Aw, that’s a shame. Muta does everything crisp and

smooth, and it’s still amazing to watch him do his thing. He pulls out

a pescano before JR even knew what to call it, and finishes Gilbert off

quickly with the moonsault. *** Odd stat: Announced time of match was


– Butch Reed v. Ranger Ross. This was pre-Doom for Reed, back when the

NWA had him and didn’t know what to do with him. “Hey, let’s team him

up with the other black guy in the fed, there’s a great idea.” Well,

I guess sometimes racial intolerance breeds good things? Ranger Ross is

just some guy, basically. I never heard of him again after 1989, that’s

for sure. His gimmick is that of an Army Ranger, much like Craig

Pittman. Most of his offense is kicking and punching while jumping up

and down and flailing his limbs, which JR calls “martial arts”. Uh huh.

This is back before the letters “UFC” meant anything when typed

together, of course. This match was heavily edited for time reasons

(thank god) but I’ve seen it in full and Reed basically weathers a bunch

of kicks and punches and puts Ross away with a shoulderblock off the top

rope at will. (no rating due to editing).

– I really dislike Gary Michael Capetta’s whiny announcing, by the way.

– Bullrope match: Bob Orton v. Dick Murdoch. Oh, this is too f*cking

exciting. If you think WCW has a dinosaur problem now… This match

came about because of various nefarious dealings on Gary Hart’s part at

Clash VI which resulted in Murdoch being punked by Orton. And since

Dick is from Texas, naturally they have a bullrope match. This is about

as anti-hardcore as you can get, as both guys barely make contact with

each other. Finally, Murdoch simply hog-ties Orton and pins him after

an elbow. Orton beats up Murdoch out of spite after the match. I don’t

know why the NWA kept hiring these two. They do the hanging spot for

some extra heat after the match (although the crowd isn’t really into it

anymore), and the feud never really went anywhere after this match.

Heavily edited for time, thank god, but I’ve seen it in full and it was

safely a DUD.

– The Dynamic Dudes v. The Samoan Swat Team. Wow, how things change.

Let’s run it down…the Dudes are comprised of former king of hardcore

and ECW World champion Shane “I’ve never heard of the Dynamic Dudes”

Douglas, and current God of Japan and former Sheepherder flagbearer

Johnny “I’ve never heard of the Dynamic Dudes or the Sheepherders

either” Ace. The SST is the team who would go on to be known as the

Headshrinkers in the WWF, including Fatu, who would go on to become the

Sultan. They’re managed by Paul E. “What do you mean I used to be a

manager?” Dangerously. And at this point, both teams represent

everything that was wrong with tag team wrestling in North America at

the time. Standard WWF formula tag match, as Ace gets the crap kicked

out of him (literally, that’s all the SST knows how to do) by the

Samoans. Jim and Bob remind us what a wholesome, all-American pair of

kids the Dudes are every two minutes. And HOW many times has Shane hit

a woman, exactly? :) At one point, Paul tries to incite the crowd by

telling Ace that he’s “as useless as a woman from Nashville,” thus once

again showing his sensitive, feminine side. The Samoans are basically

wiping the mat with the Dudes when Fatu goes for a bodyslam on Douglas

and Ace dropkicks them over for an upset Dudes win. **

The scary part is, it took the NWA the better part of a year to come to

their senses and break up the Dudes.

– US title match: Lex Luger v. Michael “PS” Hayes. This is an

interesting match, for reasons I’ll get into later. Hayes, the current

WWF huckster Dok Hendrix, had turned on Lex in a tag match against the

Windhams a few weeks prior, and NO ONE gave him a snowball’s chance in

hell of winning. Hayes is not a good singles wrestler. Luger was a

good singles wrestler back then…honest…but he needed a far superior

worker to kick his ass into gear. You figure out for yourself how good

this was. Lots of headlocks, chinlocks and armbars here. Hayes works

the crowd like a god, but they cut to shots of the crowd reacted way too

much. Boring match, but Luger is a pure babyface and Hayes is a pure

heel so it never gets too boring because both guys get monster reactions

by, you know, breathing. The storyline of the match has Luger

controlling, Hayes cheating to gain an advantage, and Luger simply

shrugging it off because he’s too powerful, then start over. Hayes

gains a protracted advantage after a long chinlock, but Luger mounts the

Big Comeback and just annhiliates Hayes. Luger goes for the rack, but

Hayes hits a fluke DDT, but can’t pin Lex because he’s out of it. Both

guys get up and do an irish whip, but now the ref gets bumped and

everyone goes down in a heap, except Hayes. And then Terry Gordy comes

down! This was out of nowhere, and he pushes Hayes onto the fallen

Luger as Patrick wakes up and counts three! Hayes wins the US title in

one of the biggest upsets ever.

This is an interesting match because there was no such thing as a swerve

back then, because the internet didn’t really exist. The NWA used to

have Sting and Luger go out there and manhandle guys who didn’t have a

chance all the time, and people would think nothing of it because they

were so over and needed someone to kill to keep them over. These

matches would be like if WCW had DDP defending the US title against,

say, La Parka on PPV. It’d just be begging for an angle to give La

Parka the US title because we expect to be swerved nowadays. But back

then people thought nothing of Sting squashing JTTS on PPV because it

was just something he did. So when Luger is signed to fight a

non-contender like Hayes on a major show, no one was expecting Hayes to

win because “the cannon fodder” guys never did, and then the NWA

suprised everyone by having Hayes win.

Of course, it had a point, because Luger got so pissed off that he ended

up eating Hayes for breakfast in a rematch, then taking out the rest of

his frustrations on Ricky Steamboat to signal his official heel turn.

Oh yeah, the match was about *1/2

– TV Title match: Sting v. The Iron Sheik. Remember that little

lecture I just gave? Here ya go. Sting beats the Sheik from pillar to

post and puts him in the Scorpion Deathlock at will, selling not a

single move from the challenger. This was before Sting met Muta and got

REALLY good. The NWA really didn’t know what to do with Sting at this

point, either. It was too early to put him over Flair and too late to

have him keep squashing jobbers ala Goldberg so they gave him the TV

title and let him squash ex-WWF champs on PPV. :) *

– NWA World title match: Ricky Steamboat v. Ric Flair. Flair brings 46

women to the ring, Steamboat brings his son. The match is watched by

three judges: Pat O’ Connor, Lou Thesz…and Terry Funk. Funk actually

looked YOUNG back then. Flair was a mere 5-time champ at this point,

only barely past his prime. Funny how he won all his titles *after* he

deteriorated. They sell this match as Flair’s last hurrah. How many

times have you heard that one?

Well, what do you say about this match? It’s the greatest match, ever,

period. Quite possibly the only perfect wrestling match in the history

of North American wrestling, with the exception of maybe the ladder

match from WM10, but that’s a gimmick match. This match needed no

gimmick. The chops *literally* echo throughout the arena. Jim Ross’

hyperbole is not the least bit silly here, as he gets something to work

with for once. Now *that’s* how you chop a guy. Even the armdrags have

purpose, as Flair sells the arm injuries like he’s dying. It’s ring

psychology, people. ECW take note. These guys could do *everything* at

this point in their careers — mat wrestling, brawling, flying, you name

it. Steamboat goes for the arm like a vulture circling a carcass, which

causes everyone to remember Clash VI, where he made Flair submit to the

double chicken-wing to win the first fall. Storyline, people. All the

punches and forearms actually *hit*, unlike many of the loosy-goosy

matches today where punches miss by 6 inches. I mean, they don’t hurt

*that* much. No ugly missed moves either. This is what happens when

neither guy has an ego to speak of: They can freely beat the hell out

of each other because they trust each other not to hurt themselves.

There’s no “formula” to the match…each guy controls at various points.

Steamboat goes for the kill about 25 minutes in, but Flair gets out of

the chickenwing, and then dumps him over the top rope during the flying

bodypress setup. Steamboat hurts his knee, and then Flair nails him

with the figure-four, like a sadist. The knee is eventually hurt so bad

that Steamboat tries a simple bodyslam and Flair is able to reverse it

into a cradle for the pin and title #6. Ironically, it was this very

move that gave Steamboat the win over Randy Savage in their historic

1987 match. ***** I’d give it more, but that’s as high as the scale

goes. They hug and shake hands in the ring, something unheard of these

days, and that’s that.


Judge Terry Funk also congratulates Flair, and asks him for a title shot

right there. Flair rightly points out that Funk is a non-contender and

Ross tries to shoo him out of the ring. Of course, Funk is a lunatic so

he “apologizes” and when Flair’s back is turned, he decks him from

behind, then destroys him and piledrives him through the judging table.

You see, there was a *reason* for a table to be at ringside. Take note,

ECW. This was the start of the best feud of 1989, and one of the best

ever. It still blows my mind that even through all the turmoil going on

at that time, they were still able to pull off a match and an angle and

a feud like that one so beautifully. They’ve never matched it since.

– Whew. Well, the rest is pretty anti-climactic, but we gotta finish.

– NWA World tag team title match: Steve Williams & Mike Rotunda v. The

Road Warriors. The Varsity Club ripped off the Roadies at Clash VI in

the infamous “fast count” match that turned Teddy Long heel (now THAT’S

a fast count, WCW) so Nikita Koloff has been appointed special referee.

Koloff tosses Kevin Sullivan from ringside in short order. Williams

looks like a luchadore compared to today. Fairly quick, as the Warriors

make short work of the champs and go for the Doomsday Device, but Dan

Spivey pulls Koloff out of the ring and beats the holy hell out of him

to earn a DQ. * The Varsity Club were stripped of the belts at the end

of the show because of their actions. I guess even the NWA knew that it

wasn’t working with them as champs.

– US tag team title match: Eddie Gilbert & Rick Steiner v. Kevin

Sullivan & Dan Spivey. Missy Hyatt was pretty damn hot back when she

wasn’t trying to look skanky all the time. Just a nothing tag match to

put the faces over and send the fans home happy. The Club destroys

Steiner before the match (I guess he was injured legit) so Gilbert

wrestles the entire match. Spivey proceeds to wipe the mat with him.

Gilbert miraculously tags Rick, but the ref doesn’t see it, but in the

ensuing chaos Rick nails Sullivan with a Steinerline and Gilbert gets

the fluke pin to retain. DUD

After the match, the faces get destroyed again. The US tag titles were

temporarily dissolved after this match. End of show.

The Bottom Line: Were it not for the Flair-Steamboat-Funk segment, this

would be one of the worst shows ever. Everything was terrible, save for

the Dudes-SST tag match, which was formulaic at best but certainly not

terrible. Luckily, no one remembers it for the undercard. They would

save themselves with Bash 89, their next PPV, which rocked the world and

was, by contrast, one of the *best* shows ever, featuring the blowoff

match between Flair and Funk. Everything else was in transition at this

point, and the NWA was also building to putting the World title on

either Luger or Sting (Sting got it in 90, Luger in 91) and trying to

get rid of Flair. But Flair doesn’t go away easily, as we all know.

Still, the Flair-Steamboat is an absolute must-have addition to any

library, so I have to recommend the show on that basis alone. The rest

is okay for nostalgia value at least, I suppose.