Scott, thank you for the 1989 NWA coverage. It was a big part of my childhood, and even today it surprises me that it wasn't a bigger draw.
Do you have any insight on why it wasn't a better year financially for them? Did they just need another great year in 1990 for fans to eventually catch on, sort of like Austin vs. Harts leading into the full-blown Attitude Era? Or were they simply too small/regional in 1989 to catch fire, no matter what they did?
I can't imagine TBS being okay with leaning much further into crazy Funk-style violence, Eddie Gilbert fireballs, and Missy/Woman catfights (like some kind of proto-ECW, I guess), but it doesn't seem like they really needed it either. Both the in-ring product and character work were already top-notch. Did fans not buy Steamboat and Funk as credible main eventers?
Definitely not in the case of Steamboat. His entire run was a giant flop from a business perspective. In general I think that they spent too long poking the bear with stuff like the disastrous attempt to counter program WM5 and all the rebranding, and not enough time actually establishing their own identity. Moving from out of touch booker George Scott to a giant committee probably didn’t help with that either.