Welcome to Flashback Friday, which will be going on hiatus after today while I deal with some other projects. Let’s look back at April 2, 1989 when the NWA and the WWF went head to head, courtesy of recaps, Melter’s ratings, and a panel of insiders and experts.
Live from Atlantic City, NJ from Boardwalk Hall, before 18,946, your hosts are Gorilla & Jesse.
King Haku v. Hercules
Haku attacks from behind to start and slugs Herc into the corner before eventually getting a bearhug. Herc powers out so Haku chokes him on the ropes. Herc comes back with a crossbody for two, but Haku cuts off the comeback with an elbow, but then whiffs on a bodypress attempt of his own. Hercules slugs back and gets a powerslam for two, but goes up and lands on a superkick. Haku goes up and misses his own move, and Hercules finishes with a backdrop suplex. (6:55, Dave gives it 1/2*)
Scott Keith: Not a bad opener, but this crowd is not wrestling fans, it’s gamblers and businessmen.
Brian Bayless: Ring announcer Howard Finkel made a rare screw-up (later fixed in post) when he announced Haku as “King Tonga.”
Bobby Heenan: Herc was a strange guy. He and I were at the airport waiting for a rental car. We were under a partition with five or six businessmen, and the partition had a button that said “Push for Heat.” Herc looked at the businessmen and said, “What happens if you push the button? Does a guy come out and pull your tights?” They had no idea what he was talking about.
The Twin Towers v. The Rockers
The Rockers run away to start, and opt for a sucker punch before Shawn starts with Bossman. Bossman puts him on the top buckle and slaps him, but gets dropkicked for his troubles and Shawn hits both of them and runs away again. Over to Akeem, as Shawn mocks his dancing and then the Rockers trade off and work on the arm. The Rockers keep switching off on the arm, but Bossman gets the blind tag and they sandwich Marty to take over. Bossman gets the running choke and Akeem avalanches him on the ropes, which is ugly but effective offense. And now the Towers are all about the tag team continuity, switching off and splashing Marty in the corner in tandem. Marty fights back, but Bossman clobbers him down again and it’s over to Akeem, who accidentally runs into Bossman to allow the hot tag to Shawn. He fires away in the corner and the Rockers team up for a nice double shoulderblock that gets two on Akeem. Shawn walks into a clothesline and does a 180 sell off it, but Bossman misses a flying splash and Shawn reverses a powerbomb attempt with the help of Marty, and the Rockers team up for a pair of missile dropkicks on the Bossman as well. Shawn goes up again, but this time he falls prey to the powerbomb on the way down, and Akeem splashes him to finish. (8:02, Dave says *3/4)
JWBraun: This is a criminally underrated bigs vs. smalls match. I’d give it three and a half stars, and it should have been the opener.
Kevin Pantoja: The Rockers threw themselves into everything, while Akeem and Bossman were game enough to make it work.
Flash Man: I love this Rockers-Twin Towers match. To this day, Akeem’s clothesline of Michaels is one of the nastiest you’ll ever see. “I believe he irritated Akeem.”
Ted DiBiase v. Brutus Beefcake
Brutus attacks and hiptosses DiBiase to start, and follows with a backdrop that sends Ted out of the ring to regroup. Back in, DiBiase opts for the cheapshot and throws some chops in the corner, but Beefcake comes back with slams and it’s another trip to the floor. Back in and DiBiase tries slugging it out with Beefcake, but quickly loses that battle, and it’s Plan C: Virgil trips him up and DiBiase chokes him down. After some back and forth, Brutus comes back and rams DiBiase into the turnbuckles, and now irony strikes DiBiase as he falls prey to a sleeper. Virgil distracts Beefcake, however, and Beefer gives chase, which results in a brawl on the floor until the inevitable double countout. (9:58, Dave says *3/4)
Scott Keith: Technically fine, but the crowd was dead and there wasn’t any real flow to the match.
JWBraun: In a great bit of character work, DiBiase made sure to shake hands with Donald Trump at ringside. The match, however, wouldn’t have had heat in the best of circumstances because neither of these guys were in a feud at this time and were just thrown together.
Chris: It wasn’t a bad match per se, just bland, and uninspired, the kind of match that requires real effort to stay interested in.
The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers v. The Bushwackers
Rougeaus attack to save Jimmy Hart’s jacket, but they get whipped into each other and bail. Raymond offers a handshake to Luke and then jumps him, so Butch runs in and returns the favor. Battering Ram for Ramond, but Jacques saves and they bail again. The crowd won’t even respond to the Bushwackers, which at least shows they’re intelligent. The Rougeaus get a quick double-team on Luke and Ray hits him with an axehandle off the middle, and we get a quick double-team clothesline for two. They do the abdominal stretch / superkick spot, and that gets no reaction from the crowd of corpses either. Bushwackers sneak in with a Battering Ram and double gutbuster while they celebrate. (5:10, Dave calls it “one of the worst matches in the history of any civilized nation” and gives it -****)
Brian Bayless: This match sucked.
Grail Krusty: How about Bushwacker Luke molesting Jacques while getting scoop slammed? I remember as a kid going, “what the hell!?”
Jackson: You can see that the WrestleMania V ring skirts and banners above are the same ones they used at WrestleMania IV but with the “I”s taken off.
Mr. Perfect v. The Blue Blazer
Perfect grabs a headlock to start and hiptosses the Blazer, and they trade slaps in the corner. Blazer reverses out of a hiptoss attempt and slams him, and dropkicks him to the floor, following with a baseball slide. To the floor as Blazer throws some forearms out there, and he works the arm back in the ring. Perfect tries his own hiptoss reversal, but Blazer does his classic block-and-reverse of that, and a dropkick and backbreaker gets two. Northern Lights suplex gets two. To the top, but a flying splash hits knees, and Perfect goes to work on the back. Perfect charges and hits boot, and Blazer follows with a powerslam for two and gets the nice belly to belly for two. Crucifix gets two. He argues with the ref, however, and Perfect clobbers him and finishes with the Perfectplex. (5:51, Dave says **1/2)
Scott Keith: Not the classic I remembered as a kid.
JWBraun: The match should have been better, but looking back, it’s amazing Owen was able to make it down that treacherous aisleway at a run. The way down was full of hidden stairs under loose carpet. In fact, Mr. Perfect nearly tripped before catching himself. And good thing! Talk about the perfect way to kill your gimmick, pardon the pun.
World tag team titles: Demolition v. The Powers of Pain & Mr Fuji
Ax pounds on Warlord to start, and the Demos add a double-team beating before a pair of chinlocks. Barbarian comes in and gets smashed by Smash, and axed by Ax. Ax goes after Fuji, however, and gets hit from behind to turn the tide. Fuji finally tags in and chops Ax down, then adds his falling headbutt. Over to Barbarian, who starts working the back and boots Ax down. Jumping clothesline and Warlord comes in and stays on the back, choking him down for two. Barbarian powerslams him into a Fuji flying splash, but it misses and it’s a hot tag to Smash, although the crowd doesn’t care, and he clotheslines everyone. They clothesline him on the top rope and Smash gets two, but Fuji comes in, armed with salt. However, it goes awry, and Demolition Decapitation ends it. (8:45, Dave is not a fan: DUD)
Brian Bayless: Bad match to end a long and underwhelming feud. Both teams were off here and the crowd was not into this at all.
Scott Keith: You know, they must have sweetened the video version’s crowd noise, because I don’t remember the show being this dead. I mean, this crowd isn’t popping for anything.
Paul Matthews: This match was mostly punching and kicking, but Fuji didn’t actually look bad.
Dino Bravo v. Ronnie Garvin
Bravo attacks to start and chops Garvin down, and grabs a quick bearhug. Shoulderblock gets two. Garvin blocks a powerbomb attempt by slugging Bravo down, and a splash gets two. Sleeper and piledriver get two, and he throws chops in the corner. He slugs away in the corner, and Bravo brings him out with an atomic drop, and the sideslam finishes quick. (3:55, Dave says DUD)
Arrrrgh the Barbarian: Dino Bravo against the babyface Dino Bravo. How could that not draw millions of dollars?
Scott Keith: Garvin seemed game, but this was going nowhere fast.
MasterDebater: So long, Frenchie, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Fandingo: Dino Bravo won and nobody cared. Next.
The Brainbusters v. Strike Force
Martel grabs a headlock on Tully to start, and then fights off a double-team attempt in the heel corner. Strike Force adds a double dropkick to put the heels on the floor, but Arn quickly regroups. Martel faceplants him for two and they fight over the knucklelock, but Arn catches him with a bodyscissors. Martel wisely tries to turn him over into the Boston Crab, but Tully pokes him in the eyes to break it up. Tito comes in and it’s old double figure-four spot, which the Busters quickly escape from. Tully and Tito do a bridge/backslide spot, which gets two for Tito, and he cradles Tully for two. Blind tag, but Tito hits Martel with the forearm by mistake, and Tully dropkicks Tito to take over. Arn comes in and elbows him in the gut, but Tito fights them off and goes for a tag… but Martel is being a drama queen and selling the injury. Tito keeps fighting with a sunset flip on Arn for two, but Tully breaks it up and gets two. Tito gets a bodypress for two, but Arn slows him down with a rear chinlock. Tito fights out and goes for the tag again, but Martel isn’t feeling it and walks away from the tag. And the match. The Busters go to work on Tito, and it’s the Spike Piledriver to end his comeback. (9:13, **1/2 from Dave)
JWBraun: Santana & Martel were an underrated tag team and knew just how to work with the Busters – so there was a lot of good stuff here, especially the blind tags. There was an especially nice spot where Santana made a running tag to Martel, which the referee missed, before Santana rebounded off the ropes and accidentally knocked Martel out of the ring. Because the ref had missed the tag, Santana continued to be the legal man. This, of course, went completely over the heads of the crowd, which didn’t know a wrist lock from a wristwatch.
Bruce Prichard: There were too many “casino buys” here. What would happen at these events was that the casino would buy up tickets for and give them out to the high rollers. And a lot of times these rollers just wanted to be seen at the event but didn’t care about the matches, and it killed the ambiance.
Jake Roberts v. Andre The Giant
Special ref here is John Studd. Andre attacks to start and rams Jake into a conveniently missing turnbuckle, and quickly tries choking him out. Jake goes for the snake, but Andre grabs him in a chokehold again. Andre leans on Jake in the corner, but Jake slugs back and Andre gets tied in the ropes as a result, which allows Jake to do his own choking. But not for long, because Andre is the master of choking. Jake comes back with punches and sends Andre into the bare turnbuckle, but Andre chops him right out of the ring. Andre won’t let him in. Studd and Andre get into a shoving match, while Ted DiBiase steals the snake, and Andre attacks Studd to draw the rather obvious DQ and set up the big feud that never happened. (9:39, Dave says -***)
Scott Keith: Studd’s face turn just didn’t work, and Andre was pretty far gone by this point.
Kevin Pantoja: This should’ve been like three minutes.
Brian Bayless: Andre could barely moved and Jake was the third wheel of the match.
JWBraun: Should have been Jake & Studd vs. Andre & DiBiase.
The Hart Foundation v. Honky Tonk Man & Greg Valentine
Bret starts with Honky and rolls him up for two, and follows with an atomic drop both ways to send him scurrying back to the corner. Hammer comes in and takes the atomic drop, and Bret dropkicks him, which sets up the pinball spot in the face corner. After some back and forth, Hammer gets his own atomic drop and Honky adds Shake Rattle N Roll, but he allows Valentine to try the figure-four instead of pinning him. Bret thumbs the eye to block, so Hammer keeps coming with a gutbuster and brings Honky back in. Bret tries a rollup, but actually just fakes him out and makes the hot tag to Neidhart instead. Shoulderblock on Valentine gets two. Nice clothesline gets two. Hammer thumbs the eyes to stop the offense, but Honky misses a fistdrop and the Harts go to work on him, as Bret drops his elbow and adds a suplex for two. Valentine saves and cleans house, but Neidhart steals the megaphone and Bret nails Honky Tonk with it to finish. (7:39, **1/4 from Dave)
JWBraun: Curiously, Bret hit Honky in the shoulder with the megaphone and somehow still managed to knock the former IC champ out cold.
Scott Keith: This was actually quite a solid tag match, although the finish should have been stronger.
Paul Matthews: This match was okay. I was surprised to see the Hart Foundation cheat to win, but it fits the storyline of Jimmy Hart using the same tactics on them.
Bret Hart: My match went fine.
WWF Intercontinental title: Ultimate Warrior v. Rick Rude
Rude tries to knee Warrior in the gut on the way in, but Warrior is still wearing the belt and thus outsmarts him. Warrior tosses Rude around like a ragdoll as Rude is all about the bumps tonight, and the crowd FINALLY wakes up. Warrior smartly opts to whip Rude into the corners without following up by charging, and then calmly bearhugs him. He’s thinking for once. Rude goes to the eyes to break and then scoots up top with a missile dropkick, but Warrior no-sells and slams him instead. Back to the bearhug, but this time the ref prevents Rude from going to the eyes, which offends Jesse on several levels. Finally Rude slugs out on his own merits, so Warrior bites him and adds a backdrop. Big splash hits knee, however, and Rude takes over. Piledriver gets two for Rude. Clothesline gets two. Russian legsweep gets two. Rude goes to a surfboard, but Warrior fights to the ropes and hulks up. Shoulderblock and faceplant set up a backbreaker, and he follows with a clothesline after a weird blown spot in the corner. He goes back to whipping Rude around, this time following up with a charge, and missing as a result. Rude goes for the Rude Awakening, but Warrior powers out of it and clotheslines him again. Rude bails and Warrior sends him back in, then dumps him with a clothesline, and then tries to suplex Rude back in, but Heenan grabs Warrior’s foot, Rude falls on top for the pin, and we have a shocking upset. (9:41, Dave says **1/2 and calls it the Warrior’s first good match)
JWBraun: When I told everyone the next day at school that Rude had won the Intercontinental title (which most hadn’t seen because they didn’t have pay-per-view), no one believed me!
Scott Keith: This was the first sign that Rude was more than the pretty boy arrogant heel in the ring, as he more than carried his end of the match and actually got the crowd into it.
Kevin Pantoja: Rude did well to play to Warrior’s strengths and had the crowd engaged.
Paul Matthews: This was easily the Warrior’s best match so far. They did a good job telling a story and the ending was a good way to have Rude win without the Warrior looking weak.
Bad News Brown v. Hacksaw Jim Duggan
They fight back and forth in the ring and fight back and forth outside the ring as Jesse notes that if one of them tries a hold, they might win it. Brown tries the Ghetto Blaster, but Duggan comes back with the three-point stance and they fight outside again, as Brown grabs a chair and Duggan grabs his 2×4 for a double DQ. (3:46, DUD from Dave)
Paul Matthews: Neither of these guys is known for losing cleanly, so it’s no surprise that this match ended the way it did.
Rock Star Gary: This match was worthless and unnecessary.
Brian Bayless: At this point in the show everyone just wanted to get to the main event.
Red Rooster v. Bobby Heenan
Rooster whips Bobby into the corner and pins him. (0:28, DUD from Dave)
Bobby Heenan: This was a “popcorn match.” It was right before the main event, and that’s when people go out to get their popcorn. Originally we were supposed to go six to seven minutes, but Vince was worried the show was running long and told me to just go 30 seconds. I told Terry, “I’ll give you a turnbuckle charge, you move, I hit the post, and you pin me.” He said, “But we’ve got five minutes of spots to do.” I told him, “After the match, when we get to the back, you can do them.”
WWF World title: Randy Savage v. Hulk Hogan
Savage dodges Hogan and plays some mindgames to start, and Hogan overpowers him on the lockup. Savage grabs a headlock, but gets overpowered again and bails. Back in, they go back and forth before Hogan dumps Savage over the top and Elizabeth tries to assist, but Savage doesn’t want help. Hogan follows him out for the brawl, but Liz prevents him from sending Savage into the post, which allows Savage to turn the tables and give Hogan the same treatment. The ref, who’s had enough of Liz, sends her back to the dressing room. With no more distractions, Savage gets down to business, dropping Hogan with the axehandle to the floor before they head back in. Necksnap and Savage goes to work on the throat, choking him on the ropes and adding an elbow to the throat. Kneedrop gets two. Savage goes for broke, choking him out with the tape, and things look bad for the challenger. He goes with the straight choke and drops the big elbow, but Hogan kicks out at two and does the usual to win. (17:53, **3/4 from Dave)
Scott Keith: At the time it made perfect sense to put Hogan over clean and send Savage down a different path with Sherri, but my god, Savage was on such a hot streak as a heel that they could have drawn millions by screwing Hulk out of the belt here and building up the chase to the rematch at Summerslam.
Brian Bayless: A very good match that told an excellent story. However, I did not care for the end much as Savage got treated just like every other jabroni Hogan has beat since 1984.
Rock Star Gary: I understand that due to the release of No Holds Barred, Hogan needed to be not only WWF champion but also the face of the franchise. On the other hand, Savage wasn’t the flavor-of-the-month villain archetype because Savage’s heel turn and machinations were tremendously successful. Having said that, there’s no way WrestleMania V ends with a heel victory.
Daveschlet: I love this show. As a kid this was one of my favorite WrestleManias.
Scott Keith: Editing really is important because the home video version is eons better than the ultra-dull and seemingly endless live PPV version, which stretches 3 hours and 40 minutes and feels like it’s never going to end. Probably one of the worst WrestleManias in its original form, although the shorter version is quite enjoyable.
Brian Bayless: The main event certainly delivered here. However, the rest of the card was built up poorly and a lot of the matches here were either forgettable or plain terrible with just way too much filler.
Dino Bravo Sucks: 14 freaking matches?! And somehow, someway, Dino Bravo managed to have the worst out of all of them (yes, his was worse than the Red Rooster due to how long that abomination went on).
Michael L: Overall, this was a decent WrestleMania for the time, but one that hasn’t aged well.
Clash of the Champions VI: Ragin’ Cajun
Live from New Orleans from the Louisiana Superdome, before 5,300, your hosts are Jim Ross and Michael P.S. Hayes, with the latter explaining this is a real wrestling event overseen by an athletic commission with the participants getting paid based on whether they win or not as opposed to the “show-biz” you might see elsewhere.
The Midnight Express v. The Samoan Swat Team
The Express begin like a house of fire, with Eaton hitting a missile dropkick and Cornette hitting Samu with the tennis racket while the ref’s distracted. Samu gets flustered and hits his own partner by mistake before the Express double-teams Fatu and Bobby gets a backdrop and a small package for two. The Express switches off with a headlock behind the ref’s back, but then legally tag before Bobby gets caught in the Bloodline’s corner and gets worked over. Eventually, Bobby lunges and makes the hot tag to Lane, and the Express runs the SST together. Dangerously trips up Lane, but Cornette hits Fatu with the tennis racket behind the ref’s back. They continue slugging it out and do another melee before the SST collide again, allowing Bobby to go up for the Rocket Launcher. The ref, however, is distracted, and Fatu hits Bobby with the phone and Samu gets the pin. (20:32, Dave says ***)
Scott Keith: Didn’t hate this one, but it was a big letdown after the previous two months.
Michael Fitzgerald: Nothing especially wrong with it outside of the Samoans being uncooperative at points. It was just overly long with a flat finish.
Jim Cornette: This was brutal. George Scott, the booker, didn’t like us, and we didn’t like him, so we had already given our notice. So he told the Samoans to go over strong, and it was impossible to have a good match with them. We stunk up the joint and went back to our hotel room to watch Flair/Steamboat.
The Great Muta v. Steven Casey
Muta immediately spews Casey with the green mist and follows with the handspring elbow, but Casey manages an armdrag. Muta gets him into the corner and hits a standing mule kick, and then goes up and follows with a missile dropkick. Muta rubs more of the deadly green spew into Casey’s eyes and takes out the leg. Muta with a spinkick a nerve hold as this another one dragging on way past the peak. Casey fights back with a clothesline and makes the comeback with an elbow for two. Casey misses a dropkick and Muta kicks him to the floor and follows with a pescado, and then a handspring elbow into the railing. Back in, the backbreaker sets up the moonsault to finish. (8:11, Dave says ***1/4 and wants you to know this Muta kid could be the Jimmy Snuka of the 90s)
Scott Keith: Total one-man show by Muta, who was leagues beyond everyone else at the time.
Jim Cornette: Whereas the WWF was presenting the Blue Blazer as a comic book hero, Muta looked like an assassin, and he was taken more seriously.
Tomás Cunha: Good extended squash with Muta’s offense getting oohs and ahhs from the fans.
Junkyard Dog v. Butch Reed
Jim Ross wishes the best to “all those watching in Stamford, Connecticut” as the match is about to get underway. JYD, who had been absent for a couple weeks before this and was feared to have walked on on the company, hits Reed with a “soup bone” and JR is like “Oh my God, Reed also uses soup bone rights!” Dog works the arm, but Butch beats on him in the corner with his own soup bones until Dog tries to come back and Reed goes to the soup bone chinlock. The Dog escapes and they collide for the double down before Reed goes up hits the flying shoulderblock for two. Hiro Matsuda yells at the ref to distract him, but Dog runs Reed into Matsuda for the pin at 9:00. (9:56, -* from Dave)
Jim Cornette: Three or four years before this, this match could have drawn 30,000, 40,000 people to the Superdome. Here, it didn’t mean anything.
Scott Keith: So the lesson here: go on a crack binge for two weeks and get put over because you drew a crowd a decade earlier.
Sean O Connor: Terrible match with a terrible finish.
Dick Murdoch v. Cowboy Bob Orton.
Wrestling sequence to start, as Orton gets a pair of fireman’s carries. Murdoch responds in kind. Long wristlock follows. Five minutes later, Murdoch escapes and hits two elbows to the throat but Orton turns a brainbuster attempt into a superplex attempt. Murdoch escapes and goes for the brainbuster again, but Gary Hart hooks the leg and Orton falls on top for the pin. (9:45, Dave says *1/2)
Rockstar Gary: Wait a minute! This happened at the same time Rude was defeating the Ultimate Warrior with the same finish! Who stole the other promotion’s booking sheets?
Dark Pegasus: Better than it had any right to be, but it’s hard to care about these two guys at this point.
NWA World tag title: The Road Warriors v. Steve Williams & Mike Rotunda.
Warriors run wild before they get stopped, and a belly-to-belly gets two for Williams. Then Mike comes in with an abdominal stretch before Williams clips Animal, and he hits the floor. Back in, spinebuster gets two. Animal lariats Rotunda, but Williams cuts off the tag. Blind charge hits a lariat, however, and Animal finally tags Hawk. Powerslam and press-slam for Rotunda, flying shoulderblock gets two. Animal throws the ref down and they hit the Doomsday Device, but Long won’t count. Williams cradles Hawk and Long does the fastest three-count in the history of the Arabic counting system, compressing it into what seems like less than a second, and the Varsity Club win the tag titles in a big upset. (11:56, Dave liked it and gave it ***1/4)
Scott Keith: Decent power match here.
Dark Pegasus: Williams was a good opponent for the Roadies because he could match power without sacrificing wrestling ability.
JWBraun: This was the first pinfall loss for the Warriors since 1985, and curiously, three years after losing the NWA tag team title to Rotunda & Williams here, the Warriors would lose the WWF tag team title to IRS & Ted DiBiase.
Ranger Ross v. The Iron Sheik.
They trade suplexes before Rip Morgan and JYD run in and Ross wins by DQ. (1:57, Dave says -1/2*)
Jim Cornette: I love the Sheik, but George Scott thought he was getting the 1979 Iron Sheik, and what he got was the 1989 Iron Sheik. The version here just wasn’t capable of doing what he had to anymore.
Dark Pegasus: Why couldn’t they just give Ross a clean win?
JWBraun: Was “Ranger Ross” really the best name to go with? I mean, we already had Corporal Kirchner. What’s next, “Staff Sgt. Smitty?” Ironically, Ross would later be identified and arrested as “the Motorcycle Bandit,” a mystery man who was robbing banks before fleeing on his Honda motorcycle. Now that should have been his gimmick.
US tag team titles: Rick Steiner & Eddie Gilbert v. Dan Spivey & Kevin Sullivan
Spivey immediately attacks Gilbert and gets a gut wrench and tilt-a-whirl slam, and Sullivan throws Eddie to the floor and beats on him out there. The Varsity Club double-teams Eddie and Spivey gets a clothesline for two and hangs him in the Tree of Woe, but Sullivan misses a blind charge and Steiner gets the hot tag. Rick slugs away and powerslams Spivey for two, into a belly to belly for two. They all fight to the floor, but Gilbert grabs Missy Hyatt’s loaded purse and hits Sullivan for the pin. (11:40, *3/4 from Dave) The heels brutalize Eddie to set up the rematch at WrestleWar.
Mike Fitzgerald: Too short to be any more than that, but it was mostly fun for what it was.
Jackson: Rick Steiner’s feud with Varsity Club seemed to be never ending, but it wasn’t long after this the US Tag titles were eliminated, the Varsity Club was split up, and Rick began teaming with Scott as the whole tag team division was basically reset from scratch.
NWA World title: Ricky Steamboat v. Ric Flair
This is best 2 out of 3 falls, with Terry Funk joining JR on commentary.
Steamboat hauls off with a slap of Flair to start and they take it to the mat for some amateur wrestling before Flair makes the ropes. So Steamboat gives him another smack in the corner. Some back and forth before Flair gets to the corner for the break and they trade some chops before Steamboat gets the flying headscissors and dropkick and goes back to the headlock again. Flair takes it to the corner to break again and then gets a cheapshot and more chops are exchanged. Steamboat with the backdrop out of the corner and a dropkick gets two. Flair gets another cheapshot in the corner, but Steamboat rolls him up for two. Steamboat hits a rebound lariat on Flair’s kick out and goes back to the headlock to control Flair on the mat. More chops and an atomic drop from Steamboat, and Flair bails to the floor again to think it over. Steamboat suplexes Flair back in, but a splash hits the knees and Flair hits the double stomp to take over. Butterfly suplex, but it only gets two, and Steamboat kips up into a test of strength before Steamboat misses a dropkick and Flair goes for the figure-four. Steamboat cradles for two as a callback to the Chi-Town Rumble, but Flair is ready and reverses for the pin at 19:28 to win the first fall.
Flair is now confident, and Steamboat is mad at himself, but Steamboat quickly gets a press slam and the flying chop for two. Steamboat with a facelock, but Flair escapes with a back suplex and drops a knee on him. A second one misses and Steamboat goes to work, dropping about twenty elbows on Flair’s knee to set up the figure-four. Flair sits up in the hold and Steamboat chops him down for a two-count a few times. Flair makes the ropes, so Steamboat yanks him out and tries it again, and then turns him over into the Boston crab instead. Flair again makes the ropes, so Tommy Young holds off Steamboat while Ric recovers and hides in the corner. Then Steamboat pounds Flair with chops until Flair grabs a headlock. Steamboat bridges into the backslide for two, but Flair bails and pulls Steamboat into the railing and adds a slam on the floor. Flair reenters and brings Steamboat back in with a suplex for two. Abdominal stretch into the rollup gets two. Steamboat with a rollup for two, but Flair sends him into the ropes. Steamboat with another rollup for two, but Flair chops him down for two. Flair goes up and gets brought down by Steamboat, which sets up the superplex, and now Steamboat goes to work on the back. This sets up a double chicken wing submission, and Flair submits at 34:11 to give Steamboat the second fall.
Steamboat tries an abdominal stretch, but Flair clips the knee and they slug it out in the corner. Steamboat chops him down for two. Flair goes back to the knee again, but Steamboat fights back with chops, into a Flair Flip, and Steamboat clotheslines him during the run on the apron. Back in, Flair rolls him up in the corner with his feet on the ropes, and gets two. Back to the knee, as Dragon misses a charge and gets hung up in the corner. Flair destroys the knee and gets the figure-four off that and Funk is convinced that Steamboat is done. But Steamboat keeps fighting and finally makes the ropes before throwing more chops while still selling the leg and whipping Flair for another Flair Flip, but this time Flair completes the move and hits a top rope bodypress for two. Steamboat tries a slam and Flair falls on top for two, but Steamboat puts him down with a headbutt before going up top and to get the flying bodypress for two. Elbow misses and Steamboat lands on his bad knee to put him down again. He comes back with a neckbreaker for two, but Flair tosses him out and Steamboat comes in with a sunset flip for two. Flair tries a sleeper and Young is about to ring the bell, but Steamboat gets his arm up and comes back to run Flair into the turnbuckle and knock him out of the ring. Flair slips in from behind the takes out the leg again, but Steamboat hits him with an enzuigiri out of nowhere for two. Steamboat goes up again and misses a flying splash, and Flair goes after the knee again as it’s starting to look like a time limit draw, but Steamboat fights back with chops to make a comeback, and after some back and forth, Steamboat tries another double chicken wing. This time, however, Steamboat’s knee buckles and Flair falls backwards, with Tommy Young counting their shoulders down. But Steamboat lifts a shoulder slightly up, and gets the pin to retain the title. (54:32, Dave and the world give it *****, though today it would probably be 7 or 8 stars, adjusted for inflation)
Afterwards, Ricky Steamboat says he’s ready to move onto other challengers, but a replay of the finish shows that Flair’s foot was in the ropes, so Ricky admits that Flair deserves one last rematch.
Mark Spector: I’ve been watching wrestling since 1979, so it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that I’ve seen thousands of matches, which makes it hard to pick a favorite. Having said that, if you forced me to choose, I’d say this Steamboat-Flair match is the best match I’ve ever seen.
Scott Keith: This is probably still the greatest wrestling match in history, although I love all three matches in their 1989 trilogy for different things.
Sean O Connor: This was a masterclass in how wrestling should be done, and I highly recommend seeking out this match and the entire trilogy.
Ric Flair: Originally, Steamboat and I were supposed to have a draw, but I argued for the new ending.
Ricky Steamboat: Ric and I had a quick conversation in the dressing room, figured out our finishes, and called it in the ring. We knew each other so well, sometimes, without even talking, we’d go into a spot we both remembered from ten years earlier.
Ric Flair: George Scott, the booker, didn’t want to publicize Clash VI because it he was afraid if fans knew they could watch Steamboat and I on TV for free, they wouldn’t buy tickets to the house shows. As a result, not many people saw the event.
JWBraun: The strange thing is that leading up to the show, announcer Jim Ross would reference that it was coming, but almost in code. It’s like he couldn’t say the place, the time, and the event all at once, so he would elude to it and say “check your local listings.” Fans had to solve a Da Vinci Code puzzle to discover what was going on or stumble onto the show while channel surfing.
Jim Cornette: George Scott figured out a way to not promote it on television, and the crowd looked like a piss-hole in a snowbank and it only did a 4.3 rating. TBS was, shall we say, none too happy with that line of thinking. At that point, they finally smartened up and realized George Scott was in over his head.
Scott Keith: I wish they had the complete show on the Network/Peacock. With the Teddy Long turn in the tag title match, it makes Clash VI into one of the best Clash shows ever, but the version that’s streaming is mostly just about the last match. Either way, it’s a recommendation.
Rockstar Gary: I enjoyed Clash VI more than WrestleMania VI for obvious reasons.