Rock Star Gary reflects on…NWA WrestleWar ’89


NWA WrestleWar ’89: Music City Showdown

Live from Nashville, TN

Airdate: May 7, 1989

Attendance:  5,200

Hosted by Jim Ross & Bob Caudle

Can Steamboat/Flair III stand up against the first two classics? What will the rest of the show entail? Let’s find out!

Ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta introduces the Oak Ridge Boys who sing the national anthem. Great rendition!

In a pre-recorded bit, Ross runs down the card. As you will encounter, card subject to change.

Match 1: The Great Muta (w/ Gary Hart) versus Doug Gilbert

Highlights:

  • Right off the bat, Doug was substituting for the Junkyard Dog who must be on a guaranteed contract with no PPV bonus to miss this show. Doug is the younger brother of Eddie Gilbert.
  • While Muta performed his pre-match ritual, he gave Doug a thrust kick to the midsection before spewing green mist.
  • After giving Doug another thrust kick, Muta tossed him between the ropes to the floor, joined him, and made him HIT THE POLE!
  • Back in the ring, Muta missed a kick as Doug hit a cross body block.
  • Next, Doug gave Muta a clothesline causing Muta to seek refuge outside the ring.
  • When Muta returned, he delivered a vicious elbow drop.
  • He then gave Doug a cross-corner whip followed by a handspring elbow.
  • Doug came back and gave Muta a face plant.
  • After a backbreaker by Muta, he mounted the top turnbuckle, attempted a moonsault, but Doug evaded him. Luckily for Muta, he landed on his feet. He must have learned that from this cat.
  • Well, maybe not.
  • Regardless, Muta delivered a dropkick sending Doug to the floor.
  • While Eddie came to the ring to support his brother, Muta hit a plancha. Wow!
  • Back in the ring, Muta gave Doug a second backbreaker, mounted the top turnbuckle, and hit a moonsault.
  • 1-2-3.
  • Muta won.

Rating: **

Summary:  Showcase match for Muta. According to Ross, Muta remains undefeated. The only loss thus far for Muta in the NWA came at the hands of JYD in the Omni on 3/12 when he subbed for Abdullah the Butcher. I guess if it didn’t happen on TV, it didn’t happen.

Backstage, Lance Russell interviews Flair who has his LAST chance to beat Steamboat. Better make it count, Naitch!

Match 2: “Hacksaw” Butch Reed versus Ranger Ross

Highlights:

  • Popcorn, anyone?
  • After each wrestler leap-frogged the other, Ross gave Reed a hip toss.
  • He then reversed a cross-corner whip but ate a clothesline.
  • According to Jim Ross, the “unemployed” Teddy Long then came to ringside.
  • Reed then gave Ross a swinging neckbreaker for 2.
  • After a slam, Reed delivered a series of elbow drops for another 2.
  • Next, he applied a rope-assisted rear chinlock until referee Byron Scott caught him.
  • Not THAT Byron Scott!
  • Anyway, Ross came back with some “marital arts” and a dropkick.
  • To Ross’ credit, a second dropkick sent Reed between the ropes to the floor.
  • Ross leaped over the top rope and rammed him face-first into the apron.
  • After tossing Reed back into the ring, Ross got caught with a boot to the face.
  • With Ross on the apron, Reed gave him a vertical suplex returning him to the ring.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle, hit the flying shoulder block, and got the pin.

Rating: *

Summary: Ross was overmatched here as Reed dominated him for the most part. The popcorn was good though.

Backstage, Russell interviews Luger who believes Hayes is out of Luger’s league.

Match 3 (bullrope): “Cowboy” Bob Orton (w/ Gary Hart) versus “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch

Highlights:

  • Must I watch this?
  • After they brawled at ringside, Murdoch re-entered the ring and yanked the bullrope pulling Orton into the ring post.
  • Upon stomping Murdoch, Orton got 2.
  • Interesting note: when Orton was in the WWF, he hailed from Kansas City. In the NWA, he hailed from the other side of Missouri—St. Louis. His son, Randy, was merely 9 years old when this match took place.
  • Nonetheless, Murdoch removed his right cowboy boot and nailed Orton in the head with it.
  • After he gave Orton a cross-corner whip, he pulled Orton into another boot shot for 2.
  • Upon giving Murdoch an elbow smash, Orton mounted the top turnbuckle, but Murdoch yanked him down to the mat.
  • He then hog-tied Orton, delivered a pair of elbow drops, and got the pin.

Rating: ½*

Summary:  While the southern crowd enjoyed Murdoch’s punishment of Orton, it was punishment for me too. Where’s my applause?

Gee, thanks.

After the match, Hart enters the ring, puts the shoes to Murdoch, and pushes referee Nick Patrick aside. When Orton regains his balance, he hangs Murdoch with the bullrope.

Backstage, Russell interviews Hayes who’s ready to prove himself as a singles competitor.

Match 4: The Samoan SWAT team (w/ Paul E. Dangerously) versus the Dynamic Dudes

Highlights:

  • Before the match began, Dangerously introduced himself to the Nashville faithful. As you might expect, he got the following reaction.
  • For those unaware, the Dynamic Dudes were Shane Douglas and Johnny Ace. The last time I saw Ace, he was waving the New Zealand flag for the Sheepherders.
  • As they stood together in the ring, the Dudes had matching trunks and blond mullets. After all, it WAS 1989.
  • While Fatu missed a clothesline, Ace gave him a face plant that had zero effect.
  • Smartly, Ace then stepped on Fatu’s bare foot and slammed him.
  • When Samu came in, Ace slammed him too.
  • Douglas tagged in and gave Fatu a standing dropkick.
  • Samu tagged in, but Douglas gave him a victory roll.
  • Next, Ace tagged in, mounted the top turnbuckle, and lowered the boom on Samu.
  • Fatu tagged in and gave Ace a superkick.
  • While Douglas distracted referee Tommy Young, the SST put the feet to Ace.
  • Trying to make a comeback, Ace attempted to hip toss Fatu but received a clothesline instead.
  • When Samu tagged in, Ace gave him a cross-corner whip causing Samu to bounce sternum-first off the top turnbuckle.
  • Samu came back with a dragon screw leg whip on Ace.
  • As Dangerously got up on the apron to distract Young, the SST broke the wishbone on Ace. YEE-OUCH!
  • Samu then gave Ace a spinning thrust kick.
  • Fatu tagged in, mounted the top turnbuckle, and nailed Ace in the head.
  • Ace then reversed a cross-corner whip, gave Fatu a back drop, but missed a dropkick.
  • As Samu tagged in, Fatu held Ace. When Samu tried to nail him, he hit Fatu instead.
  • Samu then gave Ace a sidewalk slam for 2.
  • When Fatu tagged in, the SST gave Ace a double head butt.
  • Fatu then gave Ace a powerslam and almost got 3.
  • As Douglas distracted Young again, the SST broke the wishbone on Ace for a second time. He’s going to need some Excedrin after this match.
  • After a leg drop, Samu got 2.
  • Ace came back with a face plant on Samu that actually worked.
  • After a leap frog by Ace, Samu hooked a Boston crab on Ace.
  • Meanwhile, Dangerously got on the microphone and berated Ace: “You are as worthless as a woman from Nashville, TN.” I bet Paul E. is a big hit at the Grand Ole Opry.
  • After a monkey flip, Ace made the hot tag to Douglas who gave Samu a cross-corner whip followed by a dropkick.
  • Upon dropkicking both members of the SST, Douglas got reversed on an Irish whip and clobbered by a Samu clothesline.
  • Fatu tagged in, mounted the top turnbuckle, hit a splash, but only got 2 thanks to a save by Ace.
  • While Fatu picked up Douglas for a slam, Ace mounted the top turnbuckle, hit a missile dropkick, and placed Douglas atop Fatu.
  • 1-2-3!
  • UPSET CITY!
  • The Nashville faithful lost its collective mind!

Rating: ***1/2

Summary:  Great story told here as the young team destined to lose snuck out a victory.

Backstage, Russell interviews the three judges for the World title match—Lou Thesz, Pat O’Connor, and Terry Funk.

Match 5 for the NWA US title: The “Total Package” Lex Luger (champion) versus Michael “P.S.” Hayes (w/ Hiro Matsuda)

Highlights:

  • As you would expect, Hayes came to the ring to “Badstreet USA.”
  • Hayes hit a cross body block that barely registered a 1-count from referee Nick Patrick.
  • He then escaped a press slam attempt and hit a side Russian leg sweep. That didn’t look crisp.
  • In the meantime, Long made his second appearance of the evening. I’m sure WCW could use Long to take down the ring later if he truly needed work.
  • After getting slapped by Luger, a flustered Hayes sought refuge outside the ring.
  • Upon Hayes’ return, Luger gave him a back drop.
  • Hayes came back with a lariat, attempted a DDT, but Luger escaped.
  • Next, Hayes attempted a sunset flip but ate a knuckle sandwich.
  • He then tried a cross body block but received a backbreaker for 2.
  • Hayes came back with a cross-corner whip and a corner clothesline, but Luger no-sold it. Sigh.
  • After a standing choke, Luger gave Hayes the ten-punch count-along.
  • Hayes then tried to counter with an inverted atomic drop, but Luger blocked it and delivered a clothesline.
  • When Luger attempted a cross body block, Hayes ducked sending Luger over the top rope to the floor.
  • He then leaped from the apron, delivered a forearm smash to Luger’s back, and made Luger HIT THE POLE!
  • With Luger on the apron, Hayes used a vertical suplex returning Luger to the ring for 2.
  • Upon giving Luger a couple of jabs, Hayes delivered a bulldog for another 2.
  • He then tossed Luger outside the ring.
  • While Hayes distracted Patrick, Matsuda made Luger taste the steel railing. It must have tasted like the Sonoran burger at the Stillery.
  • Back in the ring, Hayes slammed Luger and hit an elbow drop for 2.
  • Luger then blocked a turnbuckle shot and gave Hayes the ten-top-turnbuckle count-along.
  • Hayes then attempted the bulldog, but Luger tossed him aside.
  • Afterward, Luger gave Hayes another ten-punch count-along.
  • Upon giving Hayes a hip toss, Luger delivered a clothesline for 2.
  • He then gave Hayes a series of gorilla press slams.
  • Following that, he attempted to hook the Torture Rack, but Hayes countered with a DDT.
  • Accidentally, they knocked down Patrick.
  • Suddenly, Terry Gordy ran down to the ring and pushed Hayes atop Luger and knocked Luger’s foot away from the bottom rope.
  • 1-2-3.
  • WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!

Rating: ***

Summary:  Wow!! Hayes wasn’t a prominent singles wrestler but somehow pulled off an incredible upset. Unfortunately, the party didn’t last long as Luger regained the title on 5/22 in Bluefield, WV.

Backstage, Russell interviews Sting. Methinks this guy never needs any of these.

Match 6 for the NWA World TV title: Sting (champion) versus the Iron Sheik (w/ Rip Morgan)

Highlights:

  • As Morgan nailed Sting causing referee Byron Scott to admonish him, Iron Sheik WALLOPED Sting with his flag pole.
  • While Iron Sheik’s attire kept falling off, Sting clotheslined him with a piece of it.
  • Iron Sheik came back with a gutwrench suplex for 2.
  • He then gave Sting a clothesline.
  • Sting came back with a cross-corner whip and hit the Stinger splash.
  • He then applied the Scorpion death lock.
  • Iron Sheik submitted.

Rating: *

Summary:   Showcase match for Sting over the former WWF champion.

Backstage, Russell interviews Steamboat who emphasizes Flair’s “last chance” at the World title.

Match 7 for the NWA World title: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (champion) versus “Nature Boy” Ric Flair

Highlights:

  • As Flair made his entrance, an entourage of forty women joined him.
  • On the contrary, Steamboat came to the ring with his then-wife Bonnie and son Richie on a pony.
  • Unlike WrestleMania V, the challenger entered first. THAT’S tradition!
  • After Steamboat gave Flair a hip toss, he delivered a “deep” arm drag according to Ross.
  • I wonder if there will be more chops in this match than Kayne Prime serves on a Saturday night.
  • My dream comes true as the chops flew faster than the chefs could cook ‘em.
  • Steamboat then gave Flair a cross-corner whip followed by a back drop.
  • Afterward, Flair fell to the floor for refuge.
  • Upon giving Steamboat a series of forearms, Flair sent Steamboat down to the mat.
  • Steamboat came back with a series of chops that resulted in a Flair flop.
  • Flair then countered a hammerlock with a fireman’s carry and placed Steamboat atop the top turnbuckle.
  • When Flair charged, Steamboat leaped over him, gave him a hip toss, and dropkicked Flair over the top rope to the floor.
  • Upon Flair’s return, Steamboat reversed an Irish whip and gave Flair another arm drag.
  • If Ross mentions the chicken wing once more, he owes me dinner at Hattie B’s.
  • Nevertheless, Flair came back with a hip toss but missed an elbow drop.
  • Ross then received the judge’s scores for the first fifteen minutes—all three judges had the match in favor of the champion.
  • After being tossed outside the ring, Steamboat returned immediately and gave Flair the ten-chop count-along.
  • He then gave Flair a cross-corner whip which resulted in a Flair flip as Flair briefly tied himself to the Tree of Woe.
  • Unmistakably, Flair tossed Steamboat over the top rope to the floor, but referee Tommy Young waived off the DQ. Did Steamboat need a quick breather which, in turn, caused Flair to forget the rules for a moment?
  • Flair joined and chopped Steamboat on the floor. As a result, Steamboat landed in the front row.
  • After they exchanged chops, Steamboat chased Flair back into the ring where he mounted the top rope and delivered a chop to Flair’s head causing Flair flop #2.
  • Upon giving Flair a face plant, Steamboat gave him another cross-corner whip that caused Flair flip #2. This time, Flair caught his balance on the apron, ran toward the adjacent turnbuckle, but received a chop.
  • Steamboat then attempted a cross body block, but Flair ducked. Steamboat’s momentum took him over the top rope to the floor.
  • After Flair delivered an elbow smash, he brought Steamboat back into the ring the hard way.
  • He then gave Steamboat a knee drop followed by a pair of chops.
  • Next, Flair delivered a belly-to-back suplex and got a series of 2-counts.
  • He then gave Steamboat another knee drop followed by a butterfly suplex for 2.
  • After an elbow drop, Flair got another 2.
  • As Steamboat ducked a chop, he came off the ropes only to succumb to a stungun.
  • While Flair argued with Young, he placed his shin across Steamboat’s throat. Not only is that crafty but it’s also good heel work.
  • Flair then brought Steamboat outside the ring with him and gave him a vertical suplex on the floor.
  • In the next round of voting, O’Connor and Funk voted for Flair while Thesz voted for Steamboat. And you thought boxing judges in Las Vegas were bad? Is it me or is it rather early for another tally?
  • With Steamboat on the apron, Flair attempted to return him to the ring via a vertical suplex, but Steamboat escaped and rolled up Flair for 2.
  • After Steamboat missed a chop, Flair hit a cross body block causing both wrestlers to tumble over the top rope to the floor.
  • Once Flair tossed Steamboat back into the ring, he mounted the top turnbuckle only to be caught and slammed down to the mat.
  • Steamboat then gave Flair another ten-chop count-along.
  • Upon giving Flair another cross-corner whip followed by a back drop, Steamboat escaped a belly-to-back suplex attempt and rolled Flair up for 2.
  • He then placed Flair atop the top turnbuckle and gave him a superplex.
  • Afterward, he attempted to hook the double chickenwing, but Flair tied his feet in the ropes to break the hold.
  • Steamboat then rammed Flair face-first into the top turnbuckle, mounted it, and hit a flying chop.
  • Once again, he mounted the top turnbuckle, but Flair bumped into the ropes causing Steamboat to crash all the way down to the floor. In doing so, he injured his left knee.
  • When Steamboat reached the apron, Flair delivered a vertical suplex returning him to the ring.
  • Flair then applied the figure-four leg lock.
  • Will Steamboat submit and relinquish the World title?
  • No, at the thirty-minute mark, Steamboat made the ropes to break the hold.
  • When Flair grabbed him by the leg, Steamboat delivered an enziguri.
  • He then attempted to slam Flair; however, since his knee was wobbly, Flair rolled through and got the pin.
  • WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!

Rating: *****

Summary:  Wow! What an encore to the previous two encounters! Once again, I implore each and every wrestling fan to watch this match as it, along with its predecessors, provide the benchmark for excellent professional wrestling. Additionally, Flair is the six-time NWA World champion. Pardon me while I woo in his honor.

After the match, Steamboat raised Flair’s arm as Ross entered the ring to interview Flair. According to the new champion, Steamboat’s “the greatest champion (he’s) ever faced.” That’s quite a compliment. Suddenly, Terry Funk, clad in a tuxedo, comes into the ring to congratulate Flair acknowledging that he would have voted for Flair had the match reached the time limit.

Funk continues by challenging Flair for the title. Flair informs him that while Funk’s been in Hollywood working with Sylvester Stallone, he’s been World champion. Next, he mentions the WCW top 10 where Funk’s not currently listed. Not surprisingly, Funk takes exception but tells Flair he was “ just kidding.” As they shake hands, Funk nails Flair.

He then tosses Flair outside the ring, joins him, and then tosses him into the front row. After ramming Flair face-first into the table, Funk gives Flair a piledriver on the table! OUCH! He then tosses the table atop Flair and WALLOPS him with a steel chair. Lastly, Funk gets on the microphone and calls Flair “a horse-toothed, banana-nosed jerk.” What a hot angle attached to the finish of a spectacular match!

Backstage, Joe Pedicino interviews Nikita Koloff who claims he’ll be impartial.

Match 8 for the NWA World tag team titles: The Varsity Club (champions w/ Kevin Sullivan) versus the Road Warriors (w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering)

Highlights:

  • Due to shenanigans perpetrated by Long at Clash VI, Nikita Koloff was appointed special guest referee for this match. Hmmm…if he joined the Varsity Club, would he represent Moscow State University? Let’s find out!
  • Remarkably albeit appropriately, a group of cheerleaders joined the Varsity Club in the ring during their introductions.
  • As the Warriors made their entrance, they chased the Varsity Club from the ring. In the meantime, fireworks exploded above the ring.
  • Hawk then gave Williams a clothesline as Animal and Rotunda (with a perm) tangled in the corner.
  • Animal then gave Rotunda a Mafia kick. Allegedly John Gotti was nowhere near the arena as this transpired.
  • Williams then attempted to nail Animal with a right in the corner, but Koloff blocked it. Sullivan got up on the apron to dispute it, and Koloff ejected him.
  • When Koloff separated Williams and Animal in the corner, Williams questioned Koloff’s tactics. Koloff threatened to send him to the showers to join his “coach.”
  • After a leap frog, Rotunda delivered a dropkick to Animal.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle, attempted a cross body block, but received a powerslam from Animal.
  • Upon clotheslining Rotunda, Animal got 2.
  • Shortly after, Williams slammed Hawk but missed an elbow drop.
  • Hawk then slammed Williams and delivered a fist drop.
  • When Williams sought refuge outside the ring, Hawk leaped from the apron and clotheslined him.
  • He then tried a second clothesline, but Williams ducked. In the process, Hawk HIT THE POLE with his arm. OUCH!
  • While Animal distracted Koloff, Rotunda rammed Hawk shoulder-first into the ring post.
  • Back in the ring, Hawk reversed an Irish whip, but he and Williams clotheslined one another.
  • Animal tagged in and gave Rotunda an atomic drop followed by a dropkick.
  • After hitting Rotunda with a flying shoulder block, Animal only got 2 thanks to a save by Williams.
  • All four men were in the ring.
  • Rotunda then attempted to clothesline Animal over the top rope, but Animal ducked. In effect, Rotunda sailed over the top rope to the floor.
  • The Warriors then gave Williams a double clothesline from opposite directions.
  • Next, Hawk mounted the top turnbuckle as the Warriors hit the Doomsday Device on Williams.
  • Before Koloff could make the count, Spivey and Sullivan pulled him from the ring and nailed him repeatedly.
  • While Hawk and Nick Patrick tried to keep Koloff from getting pummeled, the Varsity Club gave Animal a double clothesline in the ring.
  • Williams then leaped from the apron to nail Hawk.
  • When Koloff came back, he rammed Spivey face-first into the ring post.
  • Back in the ring, Hawk gave Williams a Mafia kick as the bell rang.
  • As a result of a disqualification, Koloff awarded the match to the Warriors.

Rating: ***

Summary:  Wild tag match that enabled the Varsity Club to retain their titles or so we think.

Match 9 for the NWA US tag team titles: The First Family (champions w/ Missy Hyatt) versus the Varsity Club

Highlights:

  • According to Ross, the hair versus hair stipulation was dropped “due to the animosity between Sullivan and Gilbert.” Methinks they didn’t want to overshadow the World title match.
  • As the teams fought from inside the ring to the outside, Spivey rammed Steiner’s shoulder into the ring post then gave him a shoulder breaker. That’ll ruin his weekend!
  • In the ring, Eddie gave Sullivan the ten-punch count-along.
  • He then gave Sullivan a cross-corner whip but ate boot on his follow-through.
  • While Steiner anguished in pain outside the ring, it became clear that he was unable to continue.
  • As referee Tommy Young was occupied with Spivey and Eddie, Sullivan nailed Steiner.
  • When Eddie checked on Steiner, Spivey followed him. Sullivan then rammed Steiner’s injured shoulder into the ring post again. SNEAKY!
  • Trying to be helpful, Missy assisted Steiner with the removal of his jacket. Otherwise, she was utterly useless.
  • Back in the ring, Spivey tagged in and gave Eddie a standing choke.
  • He then gave Eddie a dropkick followed by an over-the-shoulder backbreaker.
  • Upon regaining his feet, Eddie countered with a back drop.
  • Sullivan tagged in and gave Eddie a knee lift.
  • While Steiner distracted Young, Spivey mounted the second turnbuckle and gave Eddie a double axe handle to the back.
  • Next, Spivey delivered a sidewalk slam to Eddie for 2.
  • He then gave Eddie a Mafia kick followed by a Bossman slam.
  • After a false tag, Sullivan attempted a piledriver on Eddie, but Steiner gave him a Steinerline sending Eddie on top of Sullivan.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The First Family retained.

Rating: ***

Summary:  Excellent story with a decent match to boot. Since Steiner was previously injured, it made sense to “injure” him early to explain his limited participation.

After the match, Spivey nails Steiner’s injured shoulder with a steel chair. Concurrently, Sullivan pulls Missy into the ring pulling her by the hair. How dastardly! Eddie rescues her by trying to nail Sullivan with a steel chair but hits the top turnbuckle instead.

Before the show goes off the air, Ross informs us that the Varsity Club has been stripped of the World tag team titles due to the post-match shenanigans. We then get the replay of the piledriver on the table by Funk to Flair. Unfortunately, Flair’s health status is unknown.

Conclusion:  To be perfectly honest, I thought this show was only going to be a one-match show. Astonishingly, there are a lot of decent matches in addition to the spectacle that is the World title match. Whether you’ve seen this show or not, skip the first few matches and enjoy the rest because it’s definitely worth your time. Furthermore, 1989 continues to impress me as far as pro wrestling goes. Give me more! What’s next?

See you for WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event XXI!

Buyrate: 1.30

Comments? Suggestions? Send them to me at rsg@rockstargary.com and follow me on Twitter (@rockstargary202). Also, please be sure to check out all of my reflections at rockstargary.com.


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