Clash of the Champions

NWA Clash Of The Champions 8: Fall Brawl Review – 09.12.1989 (Sting Joins Naitch)

What’s up everyone, it’s Tomás here with a review of NWA/WCW’s eight Clash of the Champions. On this edition, Ric Flair and Sting team up in the main-event to take on The Great Muta and Terry Funk Dick Slater, Lex Luger puts the US title up for grabs against former World Champion Tommy Rich, The Steiners challenge The Freebirds for the tag straps and much more. Check out the point system here.

Before starting, here is the list of champions in the NWA at the time:

  • NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair
  • United States Champion: Lex Luger
  • World TV Champion: The Great Muta
  • World Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Hayes)

Enjoy the review!

The hosts are Jim Ross & Jim Cornette

Taped from Columbia, SC

The show starts with a Gary Hart interview. He’s backstage with Gordon Solie and promises Terry Funk will be in the main-event. The rumors that Funk is injured were made up by Sting & Flair, and they will have their careers ended tonight. In reality, Funk had a real-life staph infection and had to be written off the main-event, so there ya go.

The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal)(w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Samoan SWAT Team (Samu & Fatu)(w/ Paul E. Dangerously)

These two teams were in the WarGames at the Bash PPV. The Warriors start hot as Animal beats up everyone that moves and finishes with a powerslam on Fatu. Both tag in their partners as Samu runs away from Hawk, only to get attacked by Animal on the floor before putting him back inside. Hawk drops a fist for two as the Warriors proceed to use quick tags and double-team the heels. Hawk clothesline gets two but he misses a charge and eats the post, followed by Samu dropping him right on the railing on the floor. Back in, a powerslam gets two. Off to Fatu for a bearhug as Haku fights for the tag and struggles to get there, but Samu and Heyman distract the ref at the right time to prevent the ref from seeing the tag once Hawk finally gets there. Animal comes in but the referee obviously forces him to go back to the apron since he missed the tag, allowing the SST to illegally double-team Hawk behind his back. Fatu drops an elbow and goes up for a splash, only to find Hawk’s knees. This time he finally reaches Animal for the hot tag and he is in house-cleaning mode. A shoulder tackle gets a very close nearfall as Fatu saves, drawing Hawk in as well as it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA! Heyman puts the phone inside the ring for the finish, but unfortunately for the heels it’s Hawk who catches it and uses it behind the ref’s back to take Fatu out. From there the Doomsday Device puts Samu away at 6:46. The Warriors and Ellering destroy the phone post-match to payoff this feud once and for all and to make the fans go nuts.

  • Analysis: This was a brief old-school tag-team wrestling match, but when it’s done by people who know what they’re doing out there, classic tag wrestling never fails to deliver. The post-match angle was great and the whole match was very enjoyable. Short and sweet. ***1/4

The Z-Man vs. The Cuban Assassin

“Z-Man” is Tom Zenk. Z goes to work and catches Cuban with a quick sunset flip for two. Cuban quickly comes back to his feet and slams him only to miss a headbutt, allowing Z-Man to put him away with a sleeper at 3:36.

  • Analysis: Every glorified squash match you’ve ever seen. Only a little bit longer. 1/2*

Meanwhile, the then-governor of South Carolina declares that day officially ‘Ric Flair Day’. WOOO!

Sid Vicious(w/ Teddy Long & Danny Spivey) vs. Ranger Ross

Sid cheapshots Ross before the bell before dropping him on the railing. Ross tries to fight back in the ring but Sid catches him in a nasty DDT. Sid follows it up with a great-looking helicopter slam. That move is really hard to do right, and Sid is quite the big dude to be thrown off of in a spinning slam. That was impressive! The powerbomb is obviously academic at 1:08.

  • Analysis: Pretty much the same as the previous match. Well maybe except the “only longer” part! Plus Sid is over as shit and that helicopter slam earns them an extra 1/4* because I’m in a good mood today. 3/4*

Meanwhile, Missy Hyatt and Robin Green go shopping. Make up your own Missy Hyatt sex jokes as I quietly move on with the review.

NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin)(c) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner)(w/ Missy Hyatt & Robin Green)

The Steiners just recently debuted and they’re ridiculously over with the crowd. This is their first tag title shot and it’s quite clear it was just a matter of time before they got to the top of the NWA/WCW tag-team mountain. Fun story: if you watch this show back you will notice Hayes doesn’t have his tag title belt. Why, you ask? A fan stole it on the road. Yes you read that correctly! So if you ever see someone selling an official NWA World Tag Team title belt on the internet, it might very well be true!! Hayes goes after Scott to start but gets surprised with a roll-up for two before Scott cleans house with numerous clotheslines. Off to Garvin for his turn to be thrown around for fun. Scott brings in Rick for the Steinerline as the Freebirds decide it might be a smart idea to bail. Back in as the Freebirds walk into Rick powerslams. Hayes tries to make a comeback only to be clotheslined in the corner and suplexed out of there. The Freebirds are literally just flying around the ring for the Steiners. Rick misses a charge finally cutting off the Steiners for a while with a Garvin DDT. The Freebirds dump Rick for a while, catching him with a clothesline (by Hayes) for two once he gets back inside. Garvin hits the chinlock as Cornette really puts over the story and the psychology of what’s happening in front of the viewers’ eyes. Garvin goes for the DDT yet again but this time Rick explodes out of there with a slingshot suplex to get the fans off their feet, before bringing in Scott for a couple of Frankesteiners as the crowds REALLY lose their collective shit! Scott powerslams Hayes only for Garvin to just barely break the count at the last possible second. He runs the ropes but somehow gets tripped (which the camera totally misses), allowing Hayes to hit the DDT and escape the Steiners at 10:27. After the match the Steiners argue over if it was either Missy Hyatt or Robin Green who cost them the match, but the crowd clearly points at Robin. They make a whole drama over this so the camera missing it must have been on purpose.

  • Analysis: Another match, again the Steiners deliver. Props to the Freebirds too for putting this over as a real struggle and thus putting the Steiners really over. Props to JR & Corny as well for telling the story perfectly, making the match even better. Very good stuff by everyone involved. ***1/2

Flyin’ Brian vs. Norman the Lunatic(w/ Teddy Long)

Norman goes after Pillman to start only to be quickly stopped with Air Pillman that dumps Norman. Pillman immediately follows with a dive, but gets distracted with Long and gets absolutely squashed like a bug with an avalanche. And then he splashes Pillman for good measure. And then adds an avalanche while Pillman is on the post to make sure Pillman really is done. He makes the mistake of going for another one, though, allowing Pillman to move out of the way as Lunatic eats post. Back in Pillman catches him with a missile dropkick and actually slams Lunatic. That pisses off Norman as he misses another avalanche and Pillman gets a bodypress but Norman turns it into a powerslam for two. Norman clotheslines him but Pillman catches him with a crucifix pin at 3:38. Long bullies Norman after the match as they tease a sympathetic face turn.

  • Analysis: Yes, that all happened in three minutes. Three minutes! This was (surprisingly) very good for the short time it was given. I feel like a lot happened and they weren’t even out there for five minutes overall. Nothing you’ll ever go back and watch again, but it’s a nice surprise. **3/4

Dr. Death Steve Williams vs. Mike Rotunda

Williams runs wild to start as he then press slams Rotunda and does five overhead reps. That is always awesome to see. Doc clips Rotunda only to eat a clothesline. Rotunda dumps Doc to stop him and it’s the abdominal stretch back in. Williams gets out of there with a sunset flip for two but Rotunda catches him with a high knee. Elbowdrop gets two and from there Rotunda hits the chinlock. Williams blocks that with a jawbreaker but walks into an elbow for two. Rotunda thumbs Doc in the eye and goes up, but takes too long and gives Doc enough time to slam him off. Mike Rotunda, know your role, you’re not Ric Flair! Rotunda misses a clothesline as well and gets dumped. Back in Rotunda grabs the ropes to prevent Doc from slamming him and ignores the ref’s warning, forcing the ref to kick Rotunda’s hand and get him out of there the hard way, allowing Doc to get the win with a cradle at 7:04.

  • Analysis: Nothing spectacular, but it was an enjoyable solid match between two great pros. **1/2

NWA United States Championship: Lex Luger(c) vs. Wildfire Tommy Rich

Luger is fresh off a heel turn and a spectacular title match with Ricky Steamboat at Bash, the last PPV. Rich immediately takes it to Luger with a headscissors into a backdrop and finally a slam. Rich puts him in a headlock and Luger explodes with a powerful shoulderblock as he’s already showing off. He takes too long though, allowing Rich to catch him with the armbar before coming down with a high crossbody for two. And he goes back to the armbar. Luger escapes but misses a charge in the corner, as Rich proceeds to roll him up for two. Small package gets two more and it’s right back to the armbar. Luger once again but escapes but goes nowhere again after walking into a Rich backdrop, but Rich misses a dropkick and that finally puts Luger in the driver’s seat. Powerslam gets two. Now Luger goes to work on the back, setting up the Torture Rack. Rich tries to fight back with a suplex, but his back is hurt now and that allows Luger to fall on top for two. Good touch. Luger goes after the back some more, hitting a side slam for two. He goes for the finish with the Torture Rack but Rich blocks that and tries to roll through, but he can’t power Luger down to the injured back. Luger points to his head to show how smart he is, and you just know this won’t end well for him. Fortunately for Luger, this is that lucky one time out of ten where it works though, as he proceeds to successfully bring Rich off the top with a superplex for two. Now Luger goes up but totally misses a splash, allowing Rich to get all fired up with a back elbow followed by a flying fistdrop off the top for two as the crowd is super into Tommy Rich. Luger bounces off the ropes but runs right into a picture-perfect Thesz Press by Rich for the win and the title… but luckily for Lex he just barely got the foot on the ropes at the very last second. That nearfall was so well done! Rich thinks he’s won but Luger bails while the ref tells him the foot was on the ropes. Rich follows him and goes for a right hand, but Luger moves out of the way and Rich punches the post instead. If an injured back wasn’t bad enough, now the poor guy has to wrestle with his hand hurt too. Rich is too excited and he catches Luger with a sleeper while he’s still on the apron, but allows Luger to stungun Rich and steal the win to retain the title at 10:36.

  • Analysis: Holy shit I was not expecting this! The psychology over the back was really good throught the whole bout, and Rich played the never-say-die babyface role really well. That false finish after the Thesz Press in particular was the highlight of the match, and Luger was only able to survive with the belt. Hidden Gem City, people. ****

Meanwhile, Gary Hart finally announces that Funk won’t wrestle in the main-event.

Main-event: Ric Flair & Sting vs. The Great Muta & Dick Slater(w/ Gary Hart)

JR tells us the difference between all of Muta’s mists, putting over a yellow mist that had never been seen in the NWA as the REALLY deadly one. In other words, telegraphing that it will be happening in this match! Sting starts with Muta for the rematch from their Bash match. I don’t mind watching that all over again! Sting totally dominates Muta to start, taking him down with a number of armdrags followed by a backdrop. Sting brings in Flair who also takes it to Muta with a number of chops, and Muta has finally had enough so he brings in Slater. Slater thinks chopping Ric Flair would be a good idea, but that only earns him the mother of all chops. And a few more. Slater catches Flair and whips him into the corner, but it’s a Flair Flip right into an elbowdrop to Muta and finally an elbow off the top to Slater. Awesome! Then Muta comes in with a kick and dumps Flair before following with a dive, but Sting follows with a dive of his own and Slater joins them on the floor too as it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. Back in Sting is running wild with punches and a press slam to Muta. Flair comes in for a suplex followed by a Flair kneedrop before Muta rakes the eyes to turn things around. Flair tries to fight back with chops to Slater only for Slater to hit Flair with a neckbreaker. The heels proceed to work Flair’s neck, with Slater even sending Flair’s neck right into the barricade. Sting comes in off the hot tag and he runs wild with the press slam followed by the Stinger Splash and the Scorpion Deathlock, but Gary Hart breaks it up by hitting Sting in the back of the head with a roll of coins. Muta covers for two. That wouldn’t have been a bad finish. Muta adds a nasty powerbomb for two. Slater catapults Sting right into the bottom rope and goes for a piledriver, but Sting backdrops out of it and brings in Flair for the hot tag. That means it’s chops for everyone. Sting dumps Muta with a dropkick but falls victim to the DEADLY YELLOW MIST OF INVISIBLE DOOM. And then Terry Funk does a run-in and tries to suffocate Flair with a… uhm… plastic bag for the DQ at 19:16. What a stupid ass finish.

  • Analysis: That finish was just awful. Apart from that, though, the match was quite good and the crowd was feeling. Great match with a finish that got as over as much as wet farts in church do. ***3/4


Final thoughts: The NWA has been been having quite the badass year. This show delivered yet again. Lex Luger and Tommy Rich absolutely stole the show, but the main-event was really good too (apart from that shit finish) and so was the opener. That Pillman match was a nice surprise as well. Good edition of Clash here. 7/10

Finally, here are the points for this Clash of the Champions:

  • Lex Luger: 6 points (4 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 1 for successfully defending a title)
  • Michael Hayes: 6 points (3.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 1 for successfully defending a title + 0.5 for winning the fall)
  • Jimmy Garvin: 5.5 points (3.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 1 for successfully defending a title)
  • Ric Flair: 5.25 points (3.75 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 0.5 for DQ win)
  • Sting: 5.25 points (3.75 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 0.5 for DQ win)
  • Animal: 4.75 points (3.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall)
  • The Great Muta: 4.25 points (3.75 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing – 0.5 for DQ loss)
  • Dick Slater: 4.25 points (3.75 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing – 0.5 for DQ loss)
  • Hawk: 4.25 points (3.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Flyin’ Brian: 3.75 points (2.75 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Dr. Death Steve Williams: 3.5 points (2.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Tommy Rich: 3 points (4 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Rick Steiner: 2.5 points (3.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Fatu: 2.25 points (3.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Scott Steiner: 2 points (3.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
  • Samu: 1.75 points (3.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
  • Sid Vicious: 1.75 points (0.75 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Norman the Lunatic: 1.75 points (2.75 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Mike Rotunda: 1.5 points (2.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • The Z-Man: 1.5 points (0.5 for star rating + 1 for submission win)
  • The Cuban Assassin: -0.5 points (0.5 for star rating – 1 for submission loss)
  • Ranger Ross: -0.75 points (0.75 for star rating – 1 for submission loss)

Thank you all for your time. Stay safe and have a great Christmas!