The SmarK Retro Repost – Clash Of Champions VIII

The SK Retro Rant for Clash of the Champions VIII: Fall Brawl 89!

– I’M BAAAAACK. Okay, those of you reading on Wrestleline probably don’t realize that I’ve been on a Retro Rant-less vacation since finishing the book last week because I’ve been sending in some already-written ECW stuff to catch you guys up with the rest of the online world, but I was. After finishing my first book (The Buzz on Professional Wrestling, available to pre-order for Feb. 2001 from right here) I was so completely burned out on wrestling that I hardly even wanted to watch the weekly TV shows, let alone do older stuff too, but after a week and a half to recharge my batteries I’m ready to tackle the wacky world of wrestling again. For those who keep asking me, the book itself is an examination of pretty much every major happening from 1984 until about a week ago, covering the careers of the big names like Hogan, Savage and Flair in the 80s up through Austin, Rock and HHH today. I give a pretty long explanation of some basic smart terms, and instructions on blading and giving interviews and how to name moves and all the cool stuff you need to know to be a smart mark in the 21st century. The book as written was about 400 pages, and it’s gonna be cut down to 224 for publication, so there’s probably enough material left over for a sequel just from that. There’s also gonna be a continuing series of books by me later on, on a variety of topics about wrestling, to ensure that yours truly is enshrined as the reigning king of the smarks in the literary world.

– Speaking of my contributions to the literary world, my OTHER contribution is in the form of a sort-of technical advisor for “I’m Next”, the Goldberg autobiography. And in fact, by a HUGE coincidence, that book is also available for pre-order (shipping November 7, less than a month from now) right here. Mr. Goldberg apparently shoots all over the place, giving the REAL story on what he thinks of the wonderful people who inhabit the backstage area of WCW, and clears up the rumors of his “attitude problems” backstage once and for all. Buy it now! Buy it often! Hey, I’m involved, so it CAN’T suck, right?

– Hey, sometimes you chill, and sometimes you shill. That’s life.

– Okay, on with this show: This is the followup to the awesome Great American Bash 89 PPV, as Sting & Ric Flair were going to team up to face Terry Funk and Great Muta. However, Flair went nuts on TBS a week or so prior to this and broke Funk’s arm with a branding iron, so he’s probably not gonna make it.

– Live from Columbia, South Carolina.

– Your hosts are Jim Ross & James E. Cornette.

– Opening match: The Road Warriors v. The Samoan Swat Team. Once again for the 13 people left who didn’t catch this the first million times I said it: The SST is Samu and Fatu, with Fatu being better known today as Rikishi. And does Vince Russo know that these Road Warrior guys are using his theme music? The crowd heat here is INCREDIBLE, as the Road Warriors are just crazy over, even in their last days with the NWA. Animal blitzes Fatu to start, hitting a powerslam and knocking Samu off the apron. SST stalls, so the Warriors simply toss them back in and kick their ass. Good plan. Hawk fistdrop gets two on Fatu. Warrior work a headlock on Fatu and overpower him. Hawk hits the floor and some shenanigans from the heels takes him out, thus impeding his ability to no-sell. And we HIT THE BEARHUG! Ah, nothing like samoan restholds. False tag to Animal, which allows more punishment for Hawk. Fatu goes airborne and does a devastating chindrop on Hawk’s foot. Again, I question WHAT THE HELL that these guys are ever hoping to accomplish by coming off the top rope and landing on their feet in the general vicinity of the babyface’s leg. Even if the babyface doesn’t lift their leg, that move can’t possibly hit anything to begin with. And yet heels have been doing that move for YEARS now with no sign of stopping. Hot tag to Animal, and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA! Thank god I have Tazz around to come up with bad cliches to rip on now that Gordon Solie, bless his soul, isn’t around to come up with new ones. Heel miscommunication (ironically, involving Paul E’s telephone) puts Fatu in a dazed state, and from there the Doomsday Device finishes at 6:43. Nothing match, but the heat was AMAZING. **1/4 The SST fires Dangerously after the match, leaving him in managerial exile until the coming of Mean Mark Callous in 1990.

– The Cuban Assassin (Fidel Sierra) v. The Z-Man. Speaking of Zenk, his guest spot on the Meltzer show was incredible on Friday afternoon, as he burned every bridge left in the business and completely cut the proverbial knees out of everyone in the WCW front office from 1989 until the present. He may never get another job in the business again, but poor Dave was in tears of laughter by the end. Awesome show. Worth listening to if only to find out exactly what Ole Anderson would do for Zenk’s $175,000 a year salary. As a note, the answer will probably surprise and disturb you. This match would be Zenk’s uninspiring NWA debut, as he managed to talk them out of the original gimmick idea (“The Zodiac Man” some six years before Beefcake, from which “Z-Man” was derived) and just be a guy in white tights who got a good reaction. Sierra gets some token jobber offense, but Zenk finishes with a sleeper at 3:35. Wow, a sleeperhold as a finisher and he DIDN’T get over? Go figure. *

– Governor Campbell of SC declares it to be “Ric Flair Day”, so of course Flair loses the title in a retirement match and has his head shaved by his own son. No, wait, sorry, Vince Russo isn’t for another 10 years or so, my mistake.

– Ranger Ross v. Sid Vicious. Vicious has the same music as today, it should be noted. Can you say “Legalized murder of a jobber?” I knew you could. Helicopter slam and powerbomb finish at 1:07. Sid is just SCARY over. See ya Ranger, enjoy retirement. DUD

– Robin Green (Rick Steiner’s innocent girlfriend) and Missy Hyatt go shopping.

– NWA World tag title match: The Freebirds v. The Steiner Brothers. This is the Steiners’ first ever shot at the titles. Yes, I know, I too have trouble coming to grips with a time when they had never even gotten a shot before, let alone won it sixteen times. Scott Steiner was to 1989 what Kurt Angle was to 2000, except he had a 100x more potential to be the guy to carry the sport into the next century. Think about THAT and then cry yourself to sleep when you watch him today. It’s so weird when I tell people about how awesome Scott used to be and I get blank stares in return. Here’s a guy who Ric Flair was going to voluntarily lay down for one night – Steiner didn’t even ask, Flair just offered to put the World title on him because he had that much confidence in him – and Steiner refused the title so as not to split up the Steiner Brothers. It makes me weep to have had to watch him deteriorate day by day following an arm injury in 1991 that sent him on a permanent path down Roid Rage Avenue and become more of a parody of himself every moment, when he used to be able to hit crisp and perfect Frankensteiners from every angle at any time, and invent new suplexes by the day. Ah well. The angle here is that Rick picked up a dorky chick who travelled from town to town to cheer him on, and made her his valet. The girl’s name was Robin Green, and soon she was joining Rick’s other valet, Missy Hyatt, for his matches. Missy gave Robin a makeover, however, and as the weeks went by Robin got vampier and vampier, and soon didn’t resemble that dorky girl in the least. Back to her in a little bit. Scott outwrestles Hayes to start, but gets tagged with a right hand. He sends both Freebirds fleeing with clotheslines, however, and the champs stop to regroup. Scott dominates Garvin and hits a breathtaking released german suplex. See, before Scott and Rick came along, no one even thought of doing crazy stuff like letting the guy go when you suplexed them. It’s common to see now, but before then that sort of thing just didn’t happen. Rick comes in and just pounds Garvin with a Steinerline, and the ‘Birds run away again. Rick powerslams both and hits a release belly-to-belly on Hayes. Blind charge misses, and a Freebird double-team whip leads to a DDT on Rick for two. Rick plays moron-in-peril, as the Freebirds HIT THE CHINLOCK. Hot tag Scott, and he just KILLS the champs with a pair of Frankensteiners and a powerslam. He comes off the ropes for a Steinerline, but unseen forces trip him up and Hayes hits a DDT for the pin at 10:00 to retain. *** Some deliberately vague camerawork leaves us unsure if it was Robin or Missy who tripped him up. Here’s a hint: Robin Green is played by Nancy Sullivan, aka Woman. Robin turned heel and debuted Doom at Halloween Havoc.

– Norman the Lunatic v. Flyin’ Brian Pillman. Pillman brings an entire cheerleading squad with him, because he’s a REAL MAN. Norman is Mike Shaw, aka Makhan Singh, aka Bastion Booger. This is the sum total of WCW’s raid on Stampede in one match. Norman blindsides Pillman, but he comes back with a dropkick, suplex and Air Pillman (springboard clothesline). Norman bails and Pillman follows with a SWEET plancha. Back in, Norman quickly hits an avalanche, then drops Pillman face-first off an irish whip and goes upstairs for a FAT GUY OUTTA CONTROL flying splash for two. LUCHA NORMAN~! Brawl outside, where Norman avalanches Pillman on the post, but misses a second try. Pillman gets some Canadian Violence to stun him, then back into the ring for a missile dropkick, bodyslam (!) and a backdrop. Crossbody is reversed to a powerslam by Norman, for two. Lariat gets two, but Pillman comes back with a crucifix for the pin at 3:34. Holy guacamole, that was an awesome 3 ½ minute match. **3/4

– Mike “I’m over 30 years old and I can’t spell my own last name” Rotunda/o v. Steve “Yeah, well, at least YOU didn’t get knocked out by Bart Gunn” Williams. THE VARSITY CLUB EXPLODES! Steve Williams’ ill-advised heel turn ends here, as he split from the Varsity Club to disintegrate the group for good shortly before this show. Williams’ initial heel turn ranks as one of the all-time worst, as he phoned it in. No, I mean, he LITERALLY phoned it in, sending a video from Japan one week in 1988 where he simply announced that he was joining the Varsity Club with no explanation given and none forthcoming. Doc hits a lariat and press slam to start, and being the Doc, he adds FIVE reps to the press portion before slamming Rotundo. He charges Mike in the corner, and gets caught with a wicked stiff lariat out of nowhere. Rotundo then wrecks the momentum by going to the ABDOMINAL STRETCH OF SEVERE DISCOMFORT to eat some time up. Doc sunset flip gets two, but Rotundo drops an elbow for two. HIT THE CHINLOCK. Mike redeems himself about 200% by putting his feet on the ropes. For those struggling to compile my “Top Ten Rules of Wrestling”, you can slot in #7 as “Heels should put their feet on the ropes at every opportunity”. It’s free heat, it costs you nothing, and it instantly pisses off the fans. Doc misses an elbow and Rotundo covers for two. The ol’ Jesse the Body Special (thumb to the eye) keeps Rotundo on offense. Two slams from Rotundo and he goes upstairs, but Williams slams him off – LITERALLY all the way across the ring. Sweet sassy molassy, that’s the Dr. Death we know and love. Williams ducks a blind charge and Rotundo tumbles out. Williams tries to powerslam him back in, but Rotundo falls on top, and Williams rolls with it and ends up on top for the pin at 6:58. Hella fun match. ***1/4

– US title match: Lex Luger v. Tommy “There’s a Party In My Mouth and Everyone’s Invited” Rich. I’m sure I’m gonna offend SOMEONE with that one, but that’s the risk you run. If you don’t get that joke, believe me, you’ll sleep better not knowing why it’s funny. Luger, ostensibly the monster heel, gets the babyface pop here. Feeling out sequence goes nowhere. Rich gets a backdrop and an armdrag, and Luger stalls. Headlockery follows. Cross body gets two for Rich, and back to the arm. Schoolboy rollup gets two, and a small package gets two. Luger comes back with his usual dull power stuff. Rich suplexes him into the ring from the apron and drops him right on his head. Ouch. But I guess Rich is the expert on head. Thank you, thank you, I’ll be appearing at the Improv tonight through next week unless Tommy Rich stops by to kick the crap out of me first. Luger side slam gets two, superplex gets two. Flying splash misses and Rich comes back to a HUGE reaction from the crowd. Wow. MEMPHIS FISTDROP OF DEATH gets two. Lou Thesz Press gets two. Brawl outside and Tommy punches the ringpost by accident. Back in, Luger stunguns him and pins him at 10:34. Shockingly good match. ***

– Terry Funk cuts a promo from his hospital bed, promising to be there tonight to kick Flair’s ass.

– Flair & Sting offer their rebuttal.

– Main event: Ric Flair & Sting v. Great Muta & Dick Slater. Slater is of course subbing for Funk. Sting & Muta start and the crowd is JAKKED. Sting cleans house as Ross goes over the various types of mist used by Muta. For the benefit of readers of the Rick, here’s the definitive guide:

Green: Temporary weakness

Red: Bizarre and unpredictable effects

Gold: Permanent loss of drawing powers

Blue: Only affects WWF wrestlers

White: Kills plant life

Jewel: Releases Scott Hall from the Phantom Zone.

– Okay, so maybe not. Ross DOES, however, mention the fabled Yellow Mist, which he notes is SO dangerous that Muta has never used it outside of Japan. In other words, it was just made up and a lot of people bought into it actually being real. But I digress. Sting works Muta’s arm as Slater futilely tries to steal a tag and Sting keeps yanking Muta back from the corner again. Too funny. Flair comes in and lays in some INSANE chops to Muta and keeps working on the arm. Those things were like 1.1 on the Canadian Violence scale – we’re talking Benoit & Jericho when they’re both pissed at each other level stuff. Slater finally gets his tag – and he gets chopped, too. Flair takes the Flair Flip, chops Muta on the way by, and finishes with a double-axehandle off the top onto Slater. Flair is SO The Man it’s not even funny. Muta hits a pescado onto Flair as he hits the floor, then Sting hits one on him, then SLATER hits one on Flair! LUCHA-DICK! The heels get pounded, however, and regroup. Any match featuring a highspot from friggin’ Dick Slater is an automatic *** in my book, right there. Back in, the faces work Slater’s injured arm (he’s helpfully wearing a cast to give them a big neon arrow saying “Hit me here!”). Sting suplex gets two. Muta back in, and he gets press-slammed by Sting and suplexed by Flair. Muta goes to the eyes and Flair is Nature-Boy-in-peril. Muta hits the handspring elbow (note to Chyna: Buy this tape. Watch 19 times. Take notes.) and Slater pounds on him in the corner. Slater gives him a spinning neckbreaker and works the neck, which was of course injured by Terry Funk. PSYCHOLOGY! Muta hits a spinkick and Slater works him over on the floor. Back in, Muta loads up his fingers with mist from his mouth and applies the Vulcan nerve grip. Hot tag Sting, and Katie bar the door, it’s a pier six brawl, and Sting’s a house afire! Or house of fire, depending on your interpretation. Press slam Muta and Stinger splash leads to the deathlock, but Gary Hart comes in and creams Sting with a roll of coins. Muta gets two. Muta uses a really ugly looking powerbomb for two. He was going for a piledriver and then changed his mind, I guess. Boy, I’d hate to be the guy taking the move with that kind of indecision. Slater does the Piper slingshot under the bottom rope, and now Sting is Ricky Morton. Brawl erupts on the floor, but it doesn’t help Sting. Slater sleeper is quickly escaped. Piledriver is reversed, hot tag Flair. CHOPS FOR EVERYONE! Heels all free, but Muta sprays Sting. It’s just the green variety, don’t worry – Scott Hall is still safely in the Phantom Zone with Ursa and General Zod. Flair takes Muta out with a suplex and figure-four, but Slater uses the cast to KO Flair. Flair blades and the heels beat him down as Sting wanders around blind. And suddenly Terry Funk runs in with a plastic bag, and tries to suffocate Ric Flair! Now THAT’S a hot angle. Sting takes a branding iron to the knee and the whole thing is a no-contest at 19:23. Man, give that sucker an ending and it’s a MOTYC (Match of the year candidate, for those who keep asking). ****1/4 Flair is given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, end of show.

The Bottom Line:

Being Canadian in the late 80s sucked ass for wrestling fans, because we didn’t get TBS until 1991 and thus missed great shit like this show, which is a prime example of how Flair was a master of booking AND wrestling. I know Mick Foley doesn’t have nice things to say about him in his book, but then he can barely remember his own matches anymore, so I don’t count him as a good source on the matter. 1989 ruled, Flair is The Man, and that is all the people need to know.

Strongly recommended show.