Hi everyone, and welcome to what could possibly be my last review in the insane year that has been 2020. Before getting to it though, I hope you had a safe Christmas this year. And more importantly, rest in piece Jon Huber, better known in the pro wrestling world as WWE’s Luke Harper and more recently AEW’s Brodie Lee. He was arguably one of the greatest big man wrestlers in this generation and apparently a spectacular husband, father and co-worker. He will be missed by all of us.
Today I bring to you the ninth edition of NWA-WCW’s Clash of the Champions event, featuring a US title rematch from Halloween Havoc between Lex Luger and Brian Pillman and a violent ‘I Quit’ encounter between Ric Flair and Terry Funk. Check out the points system here.
Here is the list of champions in the NWA heading into this event:
- NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair
- United States Champion: Lex Luger
- World TV Champion: The Great Muta
- NWA World Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin)
Enjoy the review!
Live from Troy, NY
The hosts are Jim Ross & Gordon Solie
The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin) vs. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal)(w/ Paul Ellering)
This is non-title. Technically they weren’t the champions anymore at this point, as the Steiners won them on November 1st, but it only aired three days after this show. I still listed the Freebirds as the champs in the list up above because kayfabe rules! Hayes starts with Hawk and you probably know where that goes. Hayes runs away from him and points at his head to tell the crowd how smart he is. That one never ends well, does it? Animal catches him and puts him back inside, allowing Hawk to hit a press slam. Garvin gets involved to allow the heels some cheap double-team attacks, but Hawk no-sells that lame stuff and explodes to take down both Freebirds. A suplex is also no-sold, this time by Animal, and that’s enough for the Freebirds to bail and think some better strategy. Back in with the Road Warriors in control yet again, with the Freebirds constantly trying to cheat behind the ref’s back. That pisses off Hawk, who comes in and beats up everyone but his partner for the DQ at 5:18.
- Analysis: Hm, what exactly was this opener? When the heat spot started, the match ended with a cheap DQ finish. At least both teams were over in their respective roles. 1/4*
– Meanwhile, Garry Hart asks Terry Funk not to quit because he represents Texas. But even more important than that, Funk can’t quit on live TV because he represents Gary. If you’ve watched wrestling for longer than three weeks, you know this means babyface turn coming soon.
– In the ring, Bill Apter of Pro Wrestling Illustrated is in the house with a couple of awards for two very special NWA wrestlers. A young Sting wins ‘Most Popular NWA Wrestler Of The Year’ and the legendary World Champion Ric Flair wins ‘Wrestler Of The Decade’.
Doom (#1 & #2)(w/ Woman) vs. Tommy Rich & Eddie Gilbert
Doom consists of Ron Simmons & Butch Reed under masks, but they’re called #1 and #2. Rich goes to work on Reed with a number of quick armdrags before Eddie comes in for a headlock. Reed powers out of that with a sideslam though, and Simmons comes in to work the back. Press slam into a backbreaker by Simmons as Reed comes back in to assault Eddie’s back some more. Rich gets in but doesn’t do much better than his partner. His brief hot tag comeback doesn’t last long and a Demolition’s Doomsday Device-like double-team move gives Doom the win after 5:15.
- Analysis: Good enough squash with some psychology added to it. But nothing more than that, a squash. *
– Meanwhile, Jim Cornette interviews the Steiners about Scott’s new move (the hurricanrana) as well as their match later tonight with the Skyscrapers. Scott reveals the name as ‘Frankensteiner’ – which you probably knew by now – before Cornette puts over the move. He wonders if he can even do it to someone as big as Sid, just to make sure it gets REALLY over when it happens later that night (spoiler). The young Scott gets lost in his promo, though, so Rick tells some ridiculous story about their mother slapping them when they were kids to save it. Ridiculous in a good way, of course. Tremendous job by Cornette putting over the Frankensteiner, and poor Scott was still a few months into his run.
The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane) vs. The Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace) – Jim Cornette In A Neutral Corner
Hopefully we’re done with the squashes and/or lame DQ finishes. Cornette was obviously the Midnight’s manager for years at this point, but had also been occasionally working with the Dudes recently during this babyface run. The Midnights were also in a losing streak at this point, so there’s your story heading into this one. Eaton works a headlock on Douglas to start, but Douglas turns that into an armdrag. Lane comes in only for Douglas to work on his arm as well, with Lane having to pull the hair to escape that hold. Cornette actually gets on the apron and tells the ref of the shenanigans taking place behind his back, allowing Douglas the chance to sneak in with the ROLLUP OF DEATH. Thankfully for Lane though, this isn’t an episode of RAW in the last ten years or so, so he gets to kick out of the most effective wrestling hold in recent years.
Ace comes in running wild with a series of dropkicks to Lane. Eaton comes in but he falls victim to Dropkick Power as well before bailing, but Douglas comes in with a dive immediately. Back in with Douglas getting in a series of quick armdrags with Eaton trying to fight back. They go up top for what I assume would’ve been a superplex, but Douglas fights back with a roll-up for two and a high crossbody for two. Ace comes in but he gets worked over in the Midnight Express’ corner. He tries to fight back with a monkey flip on Eaton followed by a flying headscissors, but Lane catches him with a massive clothesline from the apron. That looked cheap and great. That allows the Midnights to take over for a while, until Ace gets both knees up to block a Lane splash off the top. He gets the hot tag to Douglas, but the crowd doesn’t really buy the Dynamic Dudes as babyfaces. Not so much People Power here, huh big Johnny?! Eaton brings a chain inside the ring for more cheating, drawing Cornette inside the ring to even the odds. All hell breaks loose from there, but Corny absolutely destroys Douglas with a racket shot to the back to go heel once again. Eaton covers for the win at 9:22 and Cornette leaves with the Midnight Express, as he should have.
- Analysis: This was a good tag match with an even better story carrying it. Cornette works better as a heel and is the legendary manager of the Midnight Express, so the finish made sense. Good match here. ***1/4
Dr. Death Steve Williams vs. The Super Destroyer
And back to Squash City we go. So basically Dr. Death runs over him a few times, press slams him, does a few overhead reps, Oklahoma Stampede, bye bye at 1:41.
- Analysis: A Goldberg squash years before Goldberg squashes were cool. 1/4* because Dr. Death is over like crazy and is AWESOME in this role.
The Steiners (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. The Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Danny Spivey)(w/ Teddy Long)
Once again, the Steiners were technically the tag champs but the match only aired three days later. God bless TV tapings. The Steiners start hot as usual by throwing suplexes and with Rick dumping Spivey with a clothesline to the floor. Spivey comes back in with a tombstone piledriver for two. Rick fights back and tags in Scott for the Frankensteiner, which draws a monster reaction from the fans. Scott follows that with a fallaway slam on Sid. Sid misses a charge and gets worked over until Spivey comes in to double-team Scott. Spivey goes for a dropkick but totally misses and dropkicks the air, but Sid makes up for it by immediately taking Scott down with a lariat. That looked really bad on Spivey’s part. Like REALLY bad. He kind of makes up for it a few seconds later by hitting a nice big boot. Scott turns things around with a suplex but Doom and Woman run in for the DQ finish at 6:08.
- Analysis: This was a surprisingly solid match until the awkward finish to set up the “iron team” tournament at StarrCade. The Steiners were on fire at this point and the perfect team to dethrone the Freebirds. The Road Warriors were more than established and didn’t really need the belts at this point in their career. Again, solid match. **3/4
NWA United States Championship: Lex Luger(c) vs. Flyin’ Brian
Rematch from Halloween Havoc, where Luger just barely escaped with the US title. Luger tries to piss off the fans by stalling after the bell and then he catches Pillman with a knee. Luger pounds away but Pillman fights back with some dropkicks as Luger bails yet again. Luger catches Pillman on his way back in and takes over, but then goes back to the floor once Pillman starts fighting back. Pillman finally catches Luger and runs wild on him with numerous chops as he picks up the pace, but Luger moves away from a charge and Pillman goes flying over the top rope. Luger gets all cocky and starts showing off, only for Pillman to pull a Ricky Steamboat and skin the cat back inside behind Luger’s back, who then turns around right into a Pillman spinkick. Very good work.
Pillman catches Luger with a crossbody for two before going to work on his arm, even using the railing to cause more damage. Pillman locks in an armbar back inside and Luger’s not happy as he struggles to break the hold. He finally powers out of that with a backdrop suplex followed by a press slam to put Pillman down for good. Luger adds a few elbows for good measure while Pillman tries to fight back using chops. Lex suplex gets two and a Pillman roll-up gets two for him as well. Luger goes for the powerslam but Pillman gets another roll-up for two more before making his big comeback with a huge backdrop to Luger. He goes for Air Pillman but the ref gets bumped. Pillman tries to bring him back to life, allowing Luger to grab a chair on the outside and nail Pillman right in the head. Luger gets back in and covers for the win to retain the US title at 12:38.
- Analysis: Wow. Lex Luger was on fire at this point in his career. Another really good match that I enjoyed from this spectacular US title reign, with Pillman taking Luger to the limit yet again and looking great, only for Luger to retain after cheating. I liked their match at the PPV a little bit more than this one and I also enjoyed Luger’s title match with Tommy Rich at Clash 8, but that’s not an issue at all. Every match is different and this was another great one for Lex Luger in 1989. ***1/2
– Lex continues to beat up poor Brian after the match until Sting comes out to make the save. Luger and Sting come face to face and tease a fight, but Luger bails at the last second to REALLY piss off the fans. Great post-match angle.
Main-Event – I Quit Match: Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk(w/ Gary Hart)
The title is not on the line here but they make up for it very well. Both wrestlers promise to shake the winner’s hand should they quit on a televised event and Flair even promises to give up the belt should he lose anyway. Those are really good touches that put over the importance of the match despite being non-title. Funk gets the mic and offers Flair the chance to quit without suffering any pain, but as JR puts it ‘Terry, save your breath’. Flair responds with nasty chops, knocking Funk over the top rope and to the floor. Funk gets the upper hand back inside the ring, pounding down the champion while also talking some trash. Funk asks Flair to quit yet again and that earns him an atomic drop courtesy of the champ. Funk comes back with a neckbreaker and they take the fight to the outside, where Flair literally going nuts on Terry with violent chop after another. Flair puts Funk back inside and tells him to quit while choking him out. Funk doesn’t like that idea, so Flair goes after the branding iron. That only gives Funk some much needed separation, though, allowing him to catch Flair with a neckbreaker and stop him.
Funk teases another piledriver and asks Flair to give it up before doing it – remember Funk broke Flair’s neck earlier that year – but Flair says no, so Funk does it. Funk is really pissed now as he proceeds to assault Flair’s neck aggressively. He gives Flair another piledriver, this time on the floor! Flair is still not going to give Funk the pleasure of giving him the victory, so Funk pretty much says ‘fuck this’ and sets up a table like he did at WrestleWar. Flair ends up tossing Funk into the table himself out of desperation though, and this starts turning into quite the ugly fight. Which is exactly what makes it great. Funk gets crotched on the railing to finally give Flair some time to catch his breath, who then starts laying in the chops to Funk.
Flair hits the kneedrop back inside as Funk starts trying to run away in desperation, but now it’s Flair who has him right where he wants him. What a great story. And now that Flair is in control, it’s time to go to school. WOOOOO! Shot after shot to the leg puts Terry in even more danger, as Flair just keeps laying them in on poor Terry. Flair goes to work on the leg with chop blocks and knees while still giving him the classic chops every time he tries to get back up to his feet. Funk finally has enough and tries to run away from the match, but he’s not fast enough and Flair brings him back to ringside with a knee crusher. Flair throws him back inside to put him away once and for all but Funk goes after the eyes to prevent the Figure Four. He tries to follow up with a suplex but Flair blocks it and hits one of his own onto the apron. Back in, Flair literally chops and beats Funk to death while Gary Hart yells at Funk to keep fighting to protect Gary’s name. Funk finally goes down and he has nothing left, so Flair puts him in the Figure Four. Terry still tries to fight it for a while, but he eventually asks for the mic and gives Flair the clean victory at 18:33.
- Analysis: I have no words. All I have to say is: watch this. What a spectacular story these two told throughout the second half of 1989. They had a really great match at The Great American Bash over the World title earlier that year, but it has nothing on this bout. The violence, the courage of both men, the commentary by JR & Solie, the beautiful ugliness of this pure FIGHT, everything! This match is perfect and a reminder of why I love professional wrestling. There’s no better feeling after watching a wrestling match than that – and this gave me that. Easily one of the best I Quit matches ever done and one of the best matches in the whole sport, period. Is there even a question as to what this gets? *****
– After the match Gary Hart is not happy with Funk for quitting. Funk ignores him anyway and raises Flair’s hand as he promised, but here comes The Great Muta to beat them up alongside Gary, turning Funk babyface in the process. At this point you just want to see Funk punch that asshole Gary in the mouth, this is so well done. He doesn’t get the chance to do so however, as Lex Luger joins the party to beat them up some more. That draws Sting in to make the save for the babyfaces until Luger gets the last shot with a chair. The heels go up the stage and destroy Flair and Sting’s awards given to them earlier in the show, drawing mega heat and making me super excited to watch StarrCade! THIS is how you close a show. Incredible.
END OF THE SHOW
Final thoughts: Great show. Granted, the opener kind of sucked to be honest and there were a few squash matches on this show, but you have to consider this is NOT a pay-per-view. Had it been a PPV I wouldn’t have been as satisfied, but the whole point of this event was to sell StarrCade to the viewers. And guess what, here I am three decades later watching this show and I’m excited to see it! The main-event is one of the greatest matches I have ever seen in my life and it would’ve been enough to make this a recommended show. Add a great a US title match between Lex and Brian as well as a good tag match between Cornette’s Midnight Express and the Dynamic Dudes with a number of really good angles and you have quite the show here. What a tremendous show. 8/10
Finally, here are the points given to the wrestlers on this show:
- Ric Flair: 7 points (5 for star rating + 1 for winning + 1 for main-eventing)
- Terry Funk: 5 points (5 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing – 1 for losing)
- Lex Luger: 5.5 points (3.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 1 for successfully defending a title)
- Bobby Eaton: 4.75 points (3.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall)
- Stan Lane: 4.25 points (3.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
- Steiner Brothers: 3.25 points (2.75 for star rating + 0.5 for DQ win)
- Flyin’ Brian Pillman: 2.5 points (3.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
- Skyscrapers: 2.25 points (2.75 for star rating – 0.5 for DQ loss)
- Johnny Ace: 2.25 points (3.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
- Doom: 2 points (1 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
- Shane Douglas: 1.75 points (3.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
- Dr. Death Steve Williams: 1.25 points (0.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
- Road Warriors: 0.75 points (0.25 for star rating + 0.5 for DQ win)
- Tommy Rich: 0 points (1 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
- Fabulous Freebirds: -0.25 points (0.25 for star rating – 0.5 for DQ loss)
- Eddie Gilbert: -0.5 points (1 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
- The Super Destroyer: -0.75 points (0.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
And that’s it. Thank you for your time as always. Like I said earlier, I am really excited to watch NWA’s StarrCade next. Before getting there though, and coming up next, is WWF’s Survivor Series 1989. Make sure you don’t miss that review. Stay safe everyone and hopefully your 2021 is even better than the I Quit Match!!