Welcome everyone to my review of the seventh edition of the NWA/WCW’s Clash of the Champions. This one featuring a mini-tournament for the vacant World Tag Team titles and main-evented by two of the top contenders for Ric Flair’s World Heavyweight Championship, Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk. For more information about the point system that you will find after the review, click 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: Sting
- World Tag Team Champions: – (vacated)
Enjoy the review!
The hosts are Jim Ross & Bob Caudle
Live from Fort Bragg, NC
Tag Title Tournament – Semi Final #1: The Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin)(w/ Terry Gordy)
I am already in love with this show and this crowd, as they boo the Freebirds out of the building and literally throw garbage at them. The heels cut the ring in half to start the match and dominate Douglas. Douglas sunset flips his way into a tag to Ace, though, getting him in. Hayes knocks Garvin off the apron by mistake and Ace rolls him up for two. Ace ends up missing a bodypress and Garvin drops him on the top rope for two. A slam gets two more as the heels take over from there. The Freebirds literally dump Ace on the railing as if he’s garbage, getting more and more heat with every second. However, another heel miscommunication gives Ace the chance to make the hot tag, as Hayes and Garvin collide with each other. Douglas gets the tag and starts running wild, taking everyone down and getting a nearfall on Garvin with a sunset flip. Everyone gets in for a giant brawl won by the babyfaces, who dump Hayes with a double dropkick. Hayes gets back in and draws Douglas in as well, distracting the ref and allowing Hayes to sneak in with a DDT on Ace while he’s rolling up Garvin. The latter simply gets on top of Ace and sends the Freebirds to the final match for the titles at 7:14.
- Analysis: The heat for the Freebirds was incredible. They did a tremendous job of milking that reaction, and unquestionably made the match that much better. A very hot and enjoyable opener. ***1/4
Ranger Ross vs. The Terrorist
Considering this show is basically a tribute to the US soldiers, it’s obvious a match like this was just a matter of time. The Terrorist gets a few shots before eventually walking into an elbow and a kick to put him away at 1:25.
- Analysis: Nothing but an old-fashioned squash here. DUD
Meanwhile, The Great Muta & Gary Hart join us for a “demonstration” on a pair of jobbers. However, Hart says Muta refuses and demands real competition. Eddie Gilbert apparently accepts that challenge by attempting to throw a fireball at Muta, but Trent Knight ends up being the victim instead. About time for Muta to move up that card.
The Ding Dongs vs. George South & Cougar Jay
I have no idea who these guys are, but they basically have a bell in their corner and ring it all the time to be annoying. And they don’t even have names, they’re basically #1 & #2. Jim Ross hilariously says he has no idea what to call them, so he’ll call one ‘Ding’ and the other ‘Dong’. One of the dings gets a headlock on Cougar to start while the other one rings the bell in the corner, getting immediately booed out of the arena. It gets ugly as hell from there with a couple of bad-looking botched moves from the bing bongs. The geek goks FINALLY put South away with a double flying elbow + kneedrop at 3:00.
- Analysis: Get out of here… This annoying gimmick could work in the right hands, but these ping pongs put on a truly awful wrestling match and totally lost my attention. In the right hands this was NOT, so it ended up being nothing but annoying and very bad. DING DUD
Tag Title Tournament – Semi Final #2: The Midnight Express (Stan Lane & Bobby Eaton)(w/ Jim Cornette) vs. The Samoan SWAT Team (Samu & Fatu)(w/ Paul E. Dangerously)
While Cornette is cutting his pre-match promo, a dumbass gets in the ring and the Midnight Express (being babyfaces now) allow the poor idiot to be carried away. The heels enter second and Heyman cuts his typical pre-match promo as well. A giant slugfest gets things going. The babyfaces take control with an elbowdrop by Eaton followed by a double elbow by both. Eaton tries to follow up with a hiptoss but walks into a Fatu clothesline instead and gets dumped. Fatu with a suplex on the floor. Now the heels take over back inside, keeping the action in their corner. Fatu misses a charge, though, allowing Lane to get in for the hot tag. Lane gets two with a legsweep. Everyone gets in for another epic slugfest that ends with the ref eating a superkick. Fatu goes up, but the Road Warriors join the action to a GINORMOUS pop, beat up everything that’s Samoan and/or Jewish while Lane simply gets the cover to put the Midnight Express in the final at 6:00.
- Analysis: Nothing special compared to the other semi-final match, but it was perfectly acceptable and it helped set up future business. **
Dr. Death Steve Williams vs. Terry Gordy
Slugfest to start. Williams goes after the knee to stop Gordy and follows it up with a massive shoulder tackle. He tries another one but walks into a massive Gordy lariat instead. Damn, this is turning into quite the fun battle of the bulls! Corner clothesline by Gordy does nothing but piss off Dr. Death, who simply destroys Gordy with rights and rights and rights and more rights. Holy shit! Gordy eventually catches Williams with a backdrop suplex to stop him. Williams dumps Gordy with a dropkick as now they take their bull-fighting to the floor. They beat each other up until the double-countout finish at 6:26.
- Analysis: The crowd were enjoying this contest and gave the non-finish a ‘bullshit’ chant. I can understand it, I was enjoying it too. It was a great hoss fight while it lasted, but it’s nothing you will remember the next day. *1/2
Norman the Lunatic(w/ Teddy Long) vs. Mike Justice
Avalanche puts the jobber away at 0:47.
- Analysis: Squash. DUD
Meanwhile, Flyin’ Brian (Pillman) is coming to the NWA.
The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan & Mike Rotunda) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott)(w/ Missy Hyatt)
This is the debut of the Steiner Brothers. Scott just made his debut while Rick is over with the audience. Scott gets to clean the ring with a clothesline to Sullivan to start. Sullivan gets back in only to walk right into a Scott powerslam, and both tag their partners in. Rick grabs a headlock but Rotunda uses a side suplex to escape. Both heels beat up Rick to draw Scott in, allowing Sullivan to dump Scott right into the announce table. And then, behind the ref’s back, he throws the stairs in Scott’s face to make him future-steroid-freak-in-peril. They are doing everything they can to get Scott over and it’s working quite well. Rotunda hits a suplex for two. Scott tries a quick comeback but Rotunda quickly kills that with a nasty lariat. Scott manages to block Rotunda’s dropkick and HEEEERE’S RICK! He cleans house and takes down everything that moves, but Sullivan puts Bob Caudle’s chair inside the ring and distracts the ref. That opens the door for Rotunda to suplex young Scott into the chair and steal the win at 8:36.
- Analysis: Tremendous. What a way to introduce Scott into the product. The way they structured the match was very intelligent, with Rick being the already popular and established hot-tag babyface wrestler while the heels very smartly took advantage of the youngster’s inexperience to steal that win from under the babyfaces. Thumbs way, way up. ***1/2
Meanwhile, Jim Ross interviews Jim Cornette. He says he’s not one to reject some help when needed. If only there was someone there to help him when he’s watching Twinkle Toes McFinger Bang matches.
World TV Championship: Sting(c) vs. Wild Bill Irwin
Sting is over like no one’s fucking business here. The vision of a sea of people getting up out of their seats once his theme song starts playing is a thing of beauty. Bill tries to whip Sting before the bell but Sting catches him with a quick bulldog. Dropkick follows. Irwin catches him near the ropes to stop him. Sting manages to hit a suplex for two anyway. He misses the Stinger Splash in the corner and walks into a spinebuster. Irwin grabs the whip again instead of putting Sting away, allowing Sting to finally hit the Stinger Splash and retain the TV title at 3:14.
- Analysis: Another glorified squash for Sting, but boy are they working. *
Meanwhile, Jim Ross interviews Ric Flair in his house. Flair is still in a neckbrace with a broken neck, selling Terry Funk’s attack from WrestleWar. Flair thanks the NWA for giving him an extra 30 days to defend his title and promises that he’ll be the first to vacate it if he can’t put it on the line. It’s the most prestigious belt in wrestling and it needs to be defended. He’s not sure if he will be able to get back in the ring ever again. However, he warns Funk not to sleep night. No matter how much time it takes, he will be knocking on Funk’s door. AWESOME.
Tournament Final Match – vacant World Tag Team Championships: The Midnight Express (Stan Lane & Bobby Eaton)(w/ Jim Cornette) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin)
Before the match Heyman makes an appearance and knocks Cornette out cold. The Dynamic Dudes come in for the save and take Cornette to the back, setting up a new feud and WARGAMES at the Bash! So basically, it’s two-on-two for the vacant tag titles. The loss of their manager doesn’t distract the Midnight Express from achieving their goal, though, as they take control. Lane runs wild on Hayes with a number of armdrags while Eaton drops elbows on Garvin. Lane adds an enziguiri on Garvin and the Freebirds finally bail to think for a second. That allows the heels to dump Eaton and beat him up on the outside. Back in, Hayes chokes away and dumps him on the other side of the ring just to make sure everyone knows he’s a prick. Eaton fights his way back to the apron… only to get shoved through the railing immediately. Back in, Garvin takes him down to Chinlock City. Eaton escapes and finally gets to Lane for the hot tag only for Lane to miss an elbow. Lane catches him with a DDT anyway and prevent Terry Gordy’s distraction. Flapjack is enough for the titles… but Gordy pushes the ref. He quickly jumps inside the ring to hit a powerbomb on Eaton and give the Freebirds the tag straps at 10:03.
- Analysis: I get what they were trying to do here, but this match in particular wasn’t great. The main reason for it was to set up WarGames, and it was effective in doing that well. Not only do the Freebirds have a new member (Garvin), but they’re the new tag champions and are now the most over heel team in wrestling. As far as the match itself goes, it was fine. **
Main-event – Ricky Steamboat vs. Terry Funk
Long story short for those who need a recap or don’t know the story. After Flair beat Steamboat to regain the title at WrestleWar, Terry Funk (who was one of the judges for the title match that night) came back from retirement for the 326th time to destroy Flair and broke his neck. Since Funk was only the #10 contender for Flair’s gold belt, though, he had the chance to beat Ricky Steamboat (the #1 contender) here and jump all the way to Steamboat’s spot as Flair’s challenger. Hopefully I was clear. Funk chops Steamboat to start. He’s apparently dumber than he looks if he thinks he’s gonna chop Ricky Steamboat and not get his chest turned into a middle well steak. Steamboat obviously responds with VIOLENT chops and Funk wants no part of him. Funk takes it to him with a number of shoulderblocks but Steamboat dumps him again with a dropkick. Funk is getting pissed and comes running after Ricky only to be the victim of another chopfest courtesy of the Dragon. Funk finally turns the tables with a neckbreaker and gets the upper hand. Funk works the neck but eats some more chops and goes flying to the outside. Meanwhile, JR lets us know Lex Luger (the #2 contender and US champion) was supposed to join commentary but he chose to stay home. Who can smell a heel turn coming a mile away? Steamboat goes up and drops the FLYING KARATE CHOP OF DOOM for two. Back in a Steamboat charge only finds Funk’s boot and he tastes some chops as well. Funk piledriver gets two. They get into a chopfest and the ref eventually gets bumped, so Funk proceeds to toss Steamboat over the top rope (which was illegal in the NWA at the time) just to piss off the people. Piledriver on the floor follows. Steamboat is only half-alive but he somehow crawls his way to the apron and Funk violently slugs him down. Funk goes up for a splash, but ends up hitting Steamboat’s knees and taking himself down instead. That allows Steamboat to throw a number of half-assed chops, a gutbuster and another FLYING KARATE CHOP OF DOOM that sends Funk flying to the floor. Funk, almost offended that someone’s nearly as tough as him, grabs a microphone and simply beats up Steamboat to give him the DQ win at 14:00.
Funk continues to beat up Steamboat after the match until Lex Luger runs in to make the save to a huge pop. Luger clears the ring and a nearly dead Steamboat thanks him, so Luger…. kills him with a lariat and destroys him with the chair. Luger officially turns heel, pissed that Steamboat was ranked ahead of him despite being the US Champion.
- Analysis: First of all, I will explain why Funk got the #1 contender spot despite technically failing to take it from Steamboat here. Steamboat obviously wanted to destroy Lex Luger after this and basically gave up his spot in order to get him. Meanwhile, Flair obviously wanted to kill Funk after getting his neck broken by him at WrestleWar, and Flair himself asked Jim Herd to give Funk the match at The Bash. Herd said it’s on and there’s your justification. As far as this match goes, so good. Not a classic or anything, mostly due to it not having a finish and ultimately being nothing but a TV match to help sell the PPV, but it was still fantastic while it lasted. I can buy Terry Funk just getting sick of Steamboat’s ‘never say die’ attitude and throwing the match without even giving a damn. It’s Terry Funk, after all! As far as Steamboat goes, I’d say he’s well on his way to being the wrestler of the year with another great match here. As we now close the first half of 1989, it’s getting more and more down to Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair. ***3/4
END OF THE SHOW
Final thoughts: Considering it’s a free show to help sell the next PPV, you couldn’t ask for much more. The opener was very good. The Freebirds eventually won the tag titles and now have nuclear heat in the process. The Steiners’ debut was awesome as well. Sting keeps getting more and more over. The Great Muta FINALLY has something to do other than squashing nobodies. Despite being about 16x better as a heel, Ric Flair CAN sell a feud playing the role of a badass babyface. Steamboat and Funk put on a great main-event and are heading into the PPV. A lovely crowd. Is that enough or should I keep going!? This show totally flies by, and it’s absolute perfection apart from a couple of quick squashes and the goddamned ping dongs. 8/10
Finally, here are the points earned by the wrestlers on this show:
- Jimmy Garvin: 10.25 points (5.25 for star ratings + 2 for two pinfall wins + 1 for winning both falls + 2 for winning a title)
- Michael Hayes: 9.25 points (5.25 for star ratings + 2 for two pinfall wins + 2 for winning a title)
- Ricky Steamboat: 5.25 points (3.75 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing + 0.5 for DQ win)
- Mike Rotunda: 5 points (3.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall)
- Kevin Sullivan: 4.5 points (3.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
- Terry Funk: 4.25 points (3.75 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing – 0.5 for DQ loss)
- Stan Lane: 4 points (4 for star ratings + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
- Bobby Eaton: 4 points (4 for star ratings + 1 for pinfall win – 1 for pinfall loss)
- Sting: 3 points (1 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 1 for successfully defending a title)
- Rick Steiner: 2.5 points (3.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall win)
- Shane Douglas: 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)
- Johnny Ace: 1.75 points (3.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
- Steve Williams: 1.5 points (for star rating)
- Terry Gordy: 1.5 points (for star rating)
- Norman the Lunatic: 1 point (for pinfall win)
- Samu: 1 point (2 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
- Ranger Ross: 1 point (for pinfall win)
- The Ping Pongs: 1 point (for pingfall win)
- Fatu: 0.5 points (2 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
- Wild Bill Irwin: 0 points (1 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
- The Terrorist: -1 point (for pinfall loss)
- Mike Justice: -1 point (for pinfall loss)
- Cougar Jay: -1 point (por pinfall loss)
- George South: -1.5 point (-1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
As always, I am thankful for your time and attention. Don’t miss the next review. It’s NWA/WCW The Great American Bash 1989, only considered by many to be one of (if not the) greatest PPVs in the entire history of wrestling. Stay safe and healthy.