NWA The Great American Bash 1989 Review (Flair vs. Funk)

Welcome everyone once again to SmarKdown’s Blog. This time I bring to you a show that is considered one of the greatest PPVs in the entire history of pro wrestling, NWA The Great American Bash 1989. It’s a show I’ve never watched, so I’m really curious to finally give it a look. If it’s your first time on my blog, you will see me giving points to all the wrestlers. You can read more about how that whole deal works by clicking here.

Before starting, here is the full 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: The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin)

Enjoy the review!

The hosts are Jim Ross & Bob Caudle

Live from Baltimore, MD

Two-Ring King Of The Hill Battle Royal For 50,000$

No, you didn’t read that wrong. The rules are, to be quite honest, stupid as hell. Basically all the wrestlers will start in ring A and, once eliminated, they go to ring B. Once you’re eliminated from ring B, you’re gonzo for real. In the end, the winner of each ring will battle for the prize. So to sum up the whole thing, you can technically be the first eliminated in three seconds and still win the match. As long as you’re not a chump twice, you’re okay. Your participants: Bill Irwin, Brian Pillman, Dan Spivey, Eddie Gillbert, Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotunda, Ranger Ross, Rick Steiner, Ron Simmons, Sid Vicious, Scott Hall, Scott Steiner, Dr. Death Steve Williams and Terry Gordy. Don’t expect too much commentary here, as battle royals are already quite tough to follow as they usually are, let alone one with two rings. Future WCW Champion and Nation of Domination reject Ron Simmons is the first one to be eliminated TWICE, therefore (really) eliminated. Sid wins the ring A portion quite easily while ring B is full of wrestlers. In the end, Dr. Death eliminates Rotunda only for Dan Spivey to quickly put him out and win ring B, making it a final between Sid and Spivey – The Skyscrapers. Before they go at it, though, their manager Teddy Long says there’s no way his guys are going to wrestle each other. They split the money and they’re both the winners… I guess. Anyway the whole thing lasted 10:20. Yes, TEN MINUTES.

  • Analysis: How am I supposed to rate this? I’ll look at this more and remember it more as an angle to get over the Skyscrapers and just forget the rest. Since these guys like to share things, they will share their point in the points system and each will only get 0.5 points for winning this “match”. I won’t take points from any of the other wrestlers involved in … this. N/R

FLYIN’ Brian (Pillman) vs. Bill Irwin

I am not watching weekly shows, so this is the first time Pillman is appearing. I only saw one vignette promoting his NWA debut, which aired on the last Clash. On that same show, Irwin lost to Sting for the TV title in three minutes. Irwin goes after Pillman before the bell rings but gets quickly caught in a headlock. Great looking baseball slide nearly takes Bill’s head off his shoulders. Pillman follows up with an armbar but gets slammed off. Irwin hits a suplex and talks some great trash – “you wanna fly? Fly over there” before sending him flying to the outside! Irwin locks him in a chinlock and prevents Pillman from escaping by killing his comeback with a nasty lariat. Irwin continues to violently pound Pillman down while talking even more shit, but crotches himself and opens the door for Pillman to make his comeback. Pillman runs wild but lands hard on a missed missile dropkick allowing Irwin to hit a gutwrench suplex for two. Irwin dumps Pillman to the second ring and trashtalks some more. However, behind his back, Pillman climbs to the top rope and finishes him with an awesome splash from one ring to the other at 10:18.

  • Analysis: I wasn’t expecting this to last ten minutes at all. However, Irwin got some pretty good heat while he was on offense and made Pillman’s comeback in the end that much better. The finish ruled, and so did Pillman’s baseball slide in the beginning of the match. I was expecting a shorter match, but it ended up being a good ten-minute match. ***1/4

Meanwhile, Paul E. Dangerously is in the back. He says he doesn’t care about winning the match tonight, he only wants to take out Jim Cornette forever. He says he has a strategy and brings up Cornette falling off the scaffold and breaking his knee in pieces way back at StarrCade 1986. I shouldn’t be this excited for a goddamned tuxedo match, but here I am. This has been the best feud of 1989 apart from anything Ric Flair or Ricky Steamboat.

The Skyscrapers (Sid Justice & Dan Spivey)(w/ Teddy Long) vs. The Dynamic Dudes (Johnny Ace & Shane Douglas)

Sid is crazy over here as usual. Sid is one of those workers who, despite not drawing insane money, was definitely a massive noise-drawer! He always got massive reactions from live audiences. Before the match starts, JR explains the biggest difference between the NWA and the WWF: “the NWA wrestlers wrestle, they are not musclemen who spend all their time under the heat lamps.” BY GAWD ALMIGHTY! Spivey tries to take control early on but falls victim to a double monkey flip by the babyfaces. Ace quickly follows up with a high cross for two as the crowd wants Sid. And here he comes chopping the babyface team to death and getting heavily cheered for doing so. Spivey gets back in and misses an elbow allowing Ace to tag in Douglas, but Spivey catches him with a Bossman slam. Spivey beats him up and dumps him so Long can add his own shots before the ref’s back. Back in, Spivey suplex gets two. Sid comes in with a half-assed clothesline before posing. And gets even more cheered. Back to Spivey and the crowd goes dead again. He screws up again and allows the babyfaces to make the “hot tag”, but the crowd only cares about Sid here. Douglas clotheslines Spivey but Sid breaking up the pin gets a bigger reaction than the whole hot tag sequence did. Sid and Spivey collide to open the door for a babyface comeback, but Sid is like “nope” which allows Spivey to put Douglas away with a powerbomb at 09:14.

  • Analysis: They have something with Sid. Everything else here is skippable, despite not being terrible. *1/2

Tuxedo Match – Jim Cornette vs. Paul E. Dangerously

As I said earlier, this is actually one of the top feuds in the company and the crowd is quite hot for it. Winner is the first to strip his opponent’s clothes off. Cornette jumps Heyman to start but Heyman throws powder in his face to stop him. Heyman grabs the phone and pounds Cornette’s bad knee repeatedly with it as Corny immediately starts selling the leg. PSYCHOLOGY HERE? IN A TUXEDO MATCH? BETWEEN PAUL HEYMAN AND JIM CORNETTE? Heyman takes off Corny’s jacket before pounding the knee some more in the corner. Heyman grabs the cummerbund and uses it to choke Cornette, but Corny steals it and uses it himself to make the comeback as the crowd goes NUTS. Cornette limps while going after him as this match continues to be way better than it should be. Cornette finally grabs him, but Heyman spits in his face and continues to pound him down. Heyman dumps Cornette right on his bad knee before whipping him into the post. Back in, though, Heyman misses whatever and Cornette starts making a babyface comeback while the crowd goes bananas. Cornette takes off Heyman’s shirt before they collide for a double KO spot. Heyman has more powder hidden in his trousers and goes for it again, but Cornette kicks his hand and sends the powder into Heyman’s face before taking off the trousers and winning the match at 06:22. The humiliated Heyman runs to the back like a chicken, in his blue underwear!

  • Analysis: HOLY SHIT THIS ROCKED! I was expecting a comedy show here, but they actually went with emotion and psychology and had a real match. They had more heat than everyone else due to their long (and quite good) feud and used it to their advantage very well, with Cornette’s babyface comebacks getting impressive reactions. Not a technical masterpiece or anything here, but it had a proper story and pretty good psychology. I have seen main-event matches for championships with none of those. This was awesome and will get you in a real good mood for the rest of the event. ***1/2

Meanwhile, Gary Hart reminds us The Great Muta is undefeated.

The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott)(w/ Missy Hyatt) vs. The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan & Mike Rotunda)

The Steiners made their debut at the last Clash and had a damn good match with the Varsity Club, despite ultimately coming up short. No tags in this match, so it’s basically “tornado tag” rules. Sullivan and Rick brawl on the outside to start where Kevin crotches Rick RIGHT ON THE RAILING. FUCK, MY BALLS… Don’t worry, Rick ended up being fine and healthy enough to have children! Sullivan finds a table but is the one who eats it. Back in, Sullivan dumps Scott likes he’s nothing as the Varsity Club goes to work together on Rick alone. Scott comes in for the big babyface comeback, though, and the Steiners start cleaning house. They suplex them over and over again but eventually Rick gets thrown off and the Varsity Club goes to work on Scott this time around. Rotunda’s legdrop gets two, brother. Sullivan uses his power to block a Rick sunset flip… so Rick headbutts him right in the dick! Sounds quite effective, huh!? The Varsity Club take Rick out and double-team Scott once again, hitting a double backdrop for two. Rotunda goes up but Scott sends him flying, following up with a quick high crossbody on Sullivan as Rick gets on top too to get the win at 4:22.

  • Analysis: Maybe it’s just me, but after that great match at Clash, I was expecting a little bit more. I liked the nonstop action here, but I just expected something more. I was getting a bit tired of the same “throw guy out, work over the other guy” formula after a while, but it was still short and quite energetic. And it’s nice that the Steiners came back to win this time around. Still, not even close to the Clash bout, personally. **3/4

World TV Championship: Sting(c)(w/ Eddie Gillbert) vs. The Great Muta(w/ Gary Hart)

Looks like it’s time to finally get underway with the awesomeness for good. Sting is the TV champion who’s ridiculously over at this time while Muta is the undefeated challenger. Muta stands in ring B and refuses to start the match to play mindgames, so Sting responds in “fuck it” fashion by simply diving from one ring to the other to take him down and nearly takes the roof off the house for doing so. Sting takes him back to the ring only to get hit with a flying chop, as Muta tries to finish already. Sting moves out of the way of the Mutasault though, and laughs in his face after no-selling Muta’s spinkick. Oh shit! Muta responds with an enziguiri that does take Sting down and out to the floor while Muta quickly follows him there with a pescado. He puts Sting back in but ends up walking into a Sting flying clothesline for two. This time it’s Muta who gets dumped as Sting chops away on the outside. Back in again where Sting tries a suplex only to get caught in a sleeper, but Sting quickly makes the ropes to prevent that. Sting press slams Muta followed by an elbow, but Muta responds with an even faster (and harder) elbow before going to a chinlock. As Sting is about to get out of that, though, Muta transitions into an abdominal stretch instead. He gets some rope-assistance before rolling up Sting for two. They get into a slugfest but Muta goes to the eyes to stay in control, only to miss an elbow and allow Sting to hit a bulldog for two. Muta gets up and goes for the green mist… but Sting moves out of the way and it takes out the referee instead! Sting goes for the Stinger Splash but finds nobody, taking himself out on the turnbuckle and allowing Muta to hit the Mutasault. Another referee gets in… for a nearfall. WHAT! Muta goes for the spinkick again, which is blocked and Sting follows up with a backdrop suplex for the win at 8:40. However, there’s confusion over who got their shoulders down and who didn’t, so we get a Dusty finish instead. The official result was a draw and the title ended up being vacated because of this finish.

  • Analysis: Even though I’d prefer to get an actual finish, the match kicked some ass. I don’t mind the finish as much as others do though, as when they’re done well and very carefully, Dusty finishes can make the viewers want to keep watching the product. This is one of the examples to me. Absolutely great match. ****

Meanwhile, Lex Luger says he won’t wrestle Steamboat in a No DQ match.

No DQ Match – United States Championship: Lex Luger(c) vs. Ricky Steamboat

Luger destroyed Steamboat with a chair to turn heel at Clash, so Steamboat is pretty much on a mission to murder him in a No DQ Match. Luger comes out last, but he grabs a mic and says Steamboat has thirty seconds to wave the DQ rule or else he’ll walk away and there will be no US title match at all. Steamboat, just wanting to get his hands on Luger no matter what, accepts and thus we have…

No DQ Match – United States Championship: Lex Luger(c) vs. Ricky Steamboat

In a regular wrestling match. They lock up to start before Steamboat gets a series of quick nearfalls. Steamboat runs wild with dropkicks and chops, and when Luger bails to stop him Steamboat follows him and chops him even harder out there! Back in they go but Luger catches Steamboat coming in with a kneelift that sends him all the way back to the floor. Luger adds a clothesline there but Steamboat comes back with chops. Back in Steamboat goes for the FLYING KARATE CHOP OF DOOM, but Luger blocks it and hits a backbreaker. Luger goes to work on the back from there, pounding Steamboat’s back and dropping elbows on it. Luger press slams Steamboat who responds with a roll-up for two, before Luger just destroys Steamboat with three consecutive lariats. And Steamboat still gets up after the third one trying to fight back, only to go fall back down. Brilliant. Luger crotches him on the top rope and powerslams him for two as Steamboat keeps trying to survive. Steamboat finally connects with a crossbody for two but Luger cuts him off with an atomic drop. Steamboat catches him with a neckbreaker anyway and dumps Luger, throwing chops on Luger while he’s on the apron. Steamboat tries to suplex him back in but Luger falls on top of him for a nearfall. Luger goes up(!) only for Steamboat to slam him off the top and start running wild with the chops. Steamboat finally hits the FLYING KARATE CHOP OF DOOM but it only gets two, and then Luger catches a charging Steamboat and backdrops him all the way to the other ring. Luger grabs a chair and brings it to the ring, but Steamboat prevents him from using it and catapults him into the corner. Pissed at what happened at Clash, though, Steamboat grabs the chair and just totally murders Luger with it for the DQ at 10:26.

  • Analysis: Loved it. Everything made sense. Steamboat came in wanting to kill Luger and everyone knew it. Knowing Steamboat wouldn’t want to wait to get his hands on him, Luger asked him to wave the DQ rule and ultimately used that to his advantage. Steamboat killed him? Yes he did, but he would’ve done it anyway, and this way Luger was able to escape with the US title. Steamboat’s rage (and thus the finish) was justified, while Luger was a smartass who still got what he deserved. But not all, since he still has the title, thus making you want to see it yet again. This is how stories are told and business is done. Incredible and yet another classic for Steamboat’s tremendous year of 1989. As far as Luger goes, it has to be one of his best matches ever. Epic stuff. ****1/4

WARGAMES – The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal), The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane) & Dr. Death Steve Williams(w/ Jim Cornette & Paul Ellering) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Jimmy Garvin & Terry Gordy) & The Samoan SWAT Team (Samu & Fatu)(w/ Paul E. Dangerously)

The story here is that both heel teams took out the Road Warriors together, with the Warriors even being carried out on a stretcher that night. Meanwhile, the Freebirds defeated the Midnight Express in the final match of the tournament for the vacant tag titles, so they too got involved here. Dr. Death turned face a few weeks before this show and Jim Cornette announced he’d be the final member on the babyface side.

The heels win the coin toss before the match, allowing their members to enter the match first. That certainly has never happened before, right?! Jimmy Garvin starts for the heels while Bobby Eaton starts for the babyfaces. Eaton wins a slugfest to start and runs wild before Garvin catches him. Bobby grabs the ceiling and uses it to kick Garvin before putting him down with a forearm. Hayes runs his mouth on the outside about how he’s going to enter the match next. Garvin takes Eaton to the corner and rakes his face on the cage, allowing Hayes to pull his hair. Eaton finally catches Garvin in a Boston crab, but it’s already time for a new wrestler and here comes Terry Gordy to break up the hold and run Bobby into the cage. The heels take over from there while Hayes promises he’s next again! The heels collide against each other, but they get back control before Dr. Death joins the match.

He gets in and destroys everything that moves, picking Gordy up and press slamming him numerous time into the goddamned ceiling. SHIT! Gordy tries to fight back only for Williams to kill him again. Samu comes in next with a kick and a headbutt to Dr. Death as the heels proceed to beat up the babyfaces three-on-two. Animal is the next one in and he cleans house, throwing Samu all the way to the other ring before following him with a flying shoulderblock. Meanwhile, Hayes convinces Fatu to enter the match instead of him! Fatu gets in as once again the heels use their numbers advantage to get the heat on the babyfaces. Stan Lane joins the match and runs each and every heel’s faces into the cage, while Hayes nearly has a heart attack realizing he HAS to be the next (and final) heel to enter the match!! Hayes gets in and takes everyone down with a DDT before mocking Hawk, who’s still on the outside and the crowd literally screams ‘HAWK HAWK HAWK’. The countdown is over and WARGAMES FINALLY BEGINS! Hawk comes in with a double flying clothesline on both Samoans and just destroys everyone. Heyman gets desperate and tries to put his phone inside the ring, but he obviously can’t sneak it in and the ref Tommy Young stares at him in a really funny Tom & Jerry like moment. Meanwhile, back inside the Road Warriors go for the Doomsday Device on Gordy, but they can’t do the move because of the cage and Garvin comes in to save. So Hawk takes him down with a massive flying clothesline, followed by a neckbreaker before putting him away with a Hangman’s neckbreaker hold at 22:28.

  • Analysis: Even though there are a lot of WarGames matches more memorable than this one, this was still spectacular. It had a story, the babyfaces were over like crazy to make the “saves” exciting and the finish was nice. However, a lack of at least a little bit of color doesn’t allow me to go any higher than this. ****

Meanwhile, Ric Flair cuts a pretty good and quite emotional babyface promo before the main-event.

NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Ric Flair(c) vs. Terry Funk(w/ Gary Hart)

This is Flair’s first match after Funk broke his neck at WrestleWar back in May. Flair immediately jumps Funk to start as they take the fight to the floor already. Funk sends Flair into the railing but stops to threaten a fan and allows Flair to drop an axehandle on him. Funk grabs a chair but the ref quickly gets it away from him. Funk sends him into the post and gets a suplex back in for two. Funk obviously starts working Flair’s bad neck, but Flair tries to go for a suplex off the apron and they both get tossed to the floor. They trade chops and eye rakes before Funk goes for the piledriver (the move that broke Flair’s neck), and the crowd panics, but Flair backdrops him to the outside. Back in Flair starts working Funk’s neck himself and actually hits his own piledriver on Funk. That was a great comeuppance spot. Flair gives him another one just to make sure he thinks twice after trying to break his neck again, and Funk literally collapses to the floor. Funk actually has had enough and tries to walk away, but Flair’s all like “you don’t get to walk away” and just beats the shit out of him some more with chops and bitchslaps. Flair goes for the academic figure four, but Funk grabs a branding iron and uses it to escape and cut Flair open. Funk follows up with a piledriver for the pinfall… but luckily for Flair his leg literally falls on the rope to break up the count! Spectacular. Now Funk gets pissed and starts exposing the mat on the outside and choking Flair. He goes for another piledriver, this time on the floor, but Flair backdrops out of that. Funk jumps off the apron with something that didn’t look good and misses, but Flair bumps for him anyway. Back in Funk hits Flair with a number of neckbreakers, but instead of putting him away he wants Flair to give it up. He takes Flair to the outside to beat him up some more with the branding iron, but Flair whips Funk facefirst into the post and he’s bleeding too. Flair puts him back inside but misses a high knee, and Funk goes for a spinning toehold submission. Flair gets out of that one and goes for the Figure Four, which Funk blocks with a cradle but Flair reverses Funk’s cradle into his own cradle for the win to retain at 17:23.

  • Analysis: Tremendous main-event. I loved the psychology over Flair’s previously broken neck. Funk working over Flair’s bad neck and constantly going after it while Flair did everything he could to survive. Eventually, Funk got what he had coming to him by taking a couple of piledrivers himself before losing the match as well. Absolutely incredible match. ****1/2

After the match is over, however, The Great Muta gets in and they beat up Flair together. Sting runs in to make the save (and thus gets SOMEHOW even more over) as they take the fight up the ramp and don’t even allow JR and Caudle to close the show. Simply fantastic ending to an all-timer of a show.


Final thoughts: An all-timer. Just as simple as that. The opening battle royal is stupid and the first couple of matches aren’t anything you will remember, but everything from the tuxedo match all the way to the main-event was spectacular. I could give it a nine out of ten due to the first 20/30 minutes being meh, but I’m still going full mounty here. 10/10

Here are the points for this insanely great show:

  • Ric Flair: 7.5 points (4.5 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 1 for successfully defending a title + 1 for main-eventing)
  • Lex Luger: 5.75 points (4.25 for star rating + 0.5 for DQ win + 1 for successfully defending a title)
  • Hawk: 5.5 points (4 for star rating + 1 for winning + 0.5 for winning the fall)
  • Animal: 5 points (4 for star rating + 1 for winning)
  • Dr. Death Steve Williams: 5 points (4 for star rating + 1 for winning)
  • The Midnight Express: 5 points (4 for star rating + 1 for winning)
  • Terry Funk: 4.5 points (4.5 for star rating + 1 for main-eventing – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Sting: 4 points (for star rating)
  • The Great Muta: 4 points (for star rating)
  • Ricky Steamboat: 3.75 points (4.25 for star rating – 0.5 for DQ loss)
  • Michael Hayes: 3 points (4 for star rating – 1 for losing)
  • Terry Gordy: 3 points (4 for star rating – 1 for losing)
  • The Samoan SWAT Team: 3 points (4 for star rating – 1 for losing)
  • Jimmy Garvin: 2.5 points (4 for star rating – 1 for losing – 0.5 for losing the fall)
  • Jim Cornette: 4.5 points (3.5 for star rating + 1 for winning)
  • Rick Steiner: 4.25 points (2.75 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall)
  • Scott Steiner: 4.25 points (2.75 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall)
  • Flyin’ Brian Pillman: 4.25 points (3.25 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Dan Spivey: 3.5 points (1.5 for star rating + 0.5 for winning the battle royal + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for winning the fall)
  • Sid Justice: 3 points (1.5 for star rating + 0.5 for winning the battle royal + 1 for pinfall win)
  • Paul E. Dangerously: 2.5 points (3.5 for star rating – 1 for losing)
  • Bill Irwin: 2.25 points (3.25 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Mike Rotunda: 1.75 points (2.75 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Kevin Sullivan: 1.25 points (2.75 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)
  • Johnny Ace: 0.5 points (1.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss)
  • Shane Douglas: 0 points (1.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for losing the fall)

As always, thank you for your time. Until next time, stay safe.