TLC is right around the corner and we all know that depending who you are the T stands for either “Tables” or “TAKE SHEMUS OFF OUR SCREENS NOW”. I picked this PPV for the famous table spot after the World Title match. Now I don’t know if it was the first use of a table in such a manner, as Terry Funk claims (I actually find it very hard to believe), but it’s infamy deserves dissection in the hard hitting journalistic style you have comes to expect from the Missed Spots crew. So politely ask your best chum to retrieve his favorite fold away friend as we revisit WrestleWar ’89.
We open with Jim Ross (I’m already happy) and his announce partner Bob Caudle who welcome us to Nashville, Tennessee. We are quickly thrown to the ring for the National Anthem to be sung by The Oakridge Boys, who I assume are some local rapscallions that when not up to mischievous what nots are delighting the ears of the folks in their tiny home town with their upbeat yet sensible sing songs.
I knew that Flair vs. Steamboat the major draw to the card. The match was billed as Flair’s last chance to face Steamboat for the title after failing to regain it previously and it is regarded as a one of the best matches between the two, which is really saying something. I did not realize however how packed the card was. Nine matches in under two hours and thirty minutes, there are going to be some rough ones on this show.
Great Muta w/Gary Hart vs. Junkyard Dog Doug Gilbert
While JYD was announced in the match run down at the beginning of the show we find Doug Gilbert in the ring to replace him in the opening match. Apparently The Dog no showed an earlier show as well as this one and was later fired. Muta looks like a baby out there, crazy to think that he is still performing at a high level today. Gilbert gets in a limited amount of offense while Muta dominates most of this 3 minute match. Muta is quick and crisp and hits a nice Moonsault, that he performed with less of an arch to his jump than one is used to seeing, for the victory.
Ric Flair Interview
He puts over Steamboat as the best wrestler in the world today but says that he’s the man and Ricky won’t be able to beat him again. It’s nice to see Flair not playing a total heel, it makes the match more interesting in my view.
“Hacksaw” Butch Reed vs. Ranger Ross
I’m sorry, but Jim Duggan is the only Hacksaw to me. I am not ashamed to say that I know absolutely nothing about Ranger Ross and after reading his Wikipedia page I still don’t (Editor’s Note: Neither do I). Teddy Long is down at ringside during the match, apparently scouting. Even without any authority to do so his temptation to book a multi person tag match must have been an incredible urge to fight. The match was rather simple. Reed used his strength and liberal rule breaking to ground the Ranger. Butch cut Ross’s comeback short with a kick to the head and a Shoulder Tackle off the top rope for the win. Butch Reed was a beast, I know that he was very successful in Mid South and WCW but “The Natural” could have been a much bigger deal in WWF.
Lex Luger Interview
He doesn’t say anything worth repeating.
Captain Red Neck Dick Murdoch vs. Bob Orton w/Gary Hart
Bull Rope Match
The biggest pop of the match is for Murdoch as he pulls off his right boot and proceeds to beat Orton about the face and head with it. Dick wins the match after tying up Orton’s feet with the rope and dropping an elbow, using his weight and the rope to hold him down for the pin. Orton gets redemption after the match by hitting Dick with the bell on the bull rope, tying the rope around his neck and hanging him over the top rope until he passes out. I like the spot where Gary Hart held the referee in the corner, not allowing him to try to break up the assault by Orton. This is something we miss when we have managers/valets that are not relevant and who do not get involved in matches.
Michael P.S. Hayes Interview
Hayes is adamant that he doesn’t need the Freebirds and can win gold on his own. He had great fire and the closing line “Luger, if it wasn’t for people like you, there wouldn’t be people like me”, was money…even if I’m not exactly sure what it meant.
Dynamic Dudes vs. Samoan Swat Team w/Paul E. Dangerously
Shane (Douglas) & Johnny (Ace) vs. Fatu (Rikishi) & Samu
After the interview they go back to the ring and we hear the great Paul “E. Dangerously” Heyman on the mic. He didn’t say anything but tell us his name and mention that the clients he was managing were the ones who recently took out a crowd favorite…he sure has got a lot of mileage out of that promo. The Dudes run to the ring holding skateboards, if only they had another means of conveyance they could have saved some energy for the match. Bob Caudle informs us that Johnny and Shane “do all the fun things the youngsters like to do like surf and skateboard”, well that about covers it doesn’t it young people. Biggest pop of the match: the Dudes tear off their florescent bike shorts to reveal florescent trunks, the women truly went wild. Paul on the outside doing a great job of baiting the crowd. Hearing Jim Ross say “Dynamic Dudes” makes me sad. The Dudes are controlling the beginning of the match which is odd for the underdog baby faces but SST takes over soon enough. Fatu side steps a dropkick… why does no one ever do this? Paul E. grabs a house mic and screams at Johnny “you are as useless as a woman from Nashville, Tennessee”, how many people wish Paul was around to exclaim that fact every week John Laurinaitis was on Raw. The Samoans dominate the match until Shane gets a hot tag and cleans house. The Dudes pick up a big upset when Johnny hits a missile drop kick off the top rope into Shane’s back while Fatu had him up for a body slam. Shane lands on Fatu for the 1,2,3. The crowd pops huge which makes the win feel like a big deal for the Dudes. Everyone played their part in this one, they told a good story and had me drawn in by the end…DAMN YOU DYNAMIC DUDES YOU MADE ME SAY SOMETHING POSITIVE ABOUT YOU!!!!
Lou Thesz, Terry Funk and Pat O’Conner Interview
They will be there to judge the Flair/Steamboat match and decide the victor in case it goes to the time limit. This is something I doubt the WWE would ever do but I’m sure that it could work under the right circumstances.
Michael P.S. Hayes w/Hero Matsuta vs. Lex Luger (Champion)
U.S. Heavyweight Championship
Hayes is an absolute legend, I know this, I like watching his work, but would it have killed him to turn down a cheeseburger every now and then. That being said, Luger certainly watched his diet and I have never enjoyed seeing him on the screen. The crowd is red hot for Luger. The current heel locker room could learn a lot from watching Hayes work, he bales out regularly which gets a reaction from the crowd, he takes the crowds negative reaction and gives it back to them building up there hate for him more and more. Hayes is basically playing underdog to a dominate Luger and still drawing heat. Luger does a great job making his comeback after Hayes got the upper hand; the crowd is salivating for the Torture Rack. Before they get it we get a ref bump where the referee was out of position and was barely touched by Hayes. Terry Gordy comes out, pushes Hayes onto Lex and knocks Lugers foot off the rope in time for the ref to recover and make the count. New U.S. Champ Michael P.S. Hayes. This was a damn good match and the shenanigans at the end worked well in the storyline. I continue to enjoy watching Michael Hayes work and Luger did a fine job by Luger standards.
Sting’s promo tonight brought to you by the counsel of guys who make plenty of strange faces and scream a lot making you guess they are high on cocaine.
Iron Sheik w/Rip Morgan vs. Sting (Champion)
World Television Championship
Sheik isn’t moving around very well. Sting wins a two minute match with the Scorpion Death Lock that only served to make Sting look strong. I can’t help but think that Sheik was just brought in so Sting could beat him, you know, like another famous blonde wrestler billed from Venice Beach California.
Steamboat does his best to put this over as a match of respect. He was never great on the microphone, he didn’t need to be.
Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (Champion)
World Heavyweight Championship
Flair comes out accompanied by 40 women. Steamboat comes out with his toddler son who is perched atop a pony, interesting choice. The match starts out with a flurry of chops until Steamboat takes over and works several holds over 5 min or so. Ross is calling the action like a heavy weight prize fight, punch to punch, move to move. They have got me completely hooked. The referee is definitely a character in this match, separating them and keeping them to the rules, we never see this anymore. Steamboat works the left arm and shoulder all match, controlling the first 10 min. This feels like Ali/Frazier, the crowd is buzzing. Flair takes control after 15 min with some brutal shots out on the railing and then methodically works over Steamboat. The crowd gets loud for a roll up, they feel like this could end at any moment, when is the last time you felt like that on a modern PPV. They both take a big spill over the top rope and Steamboat uses this to take control. At the 30 min mark Ricky is locked in the figure 4, nobody sells like Steamboat. Steamboat has Flair up to slam him but collapses due to the damage done to his knee, Flair rolls him up as he falls with an inside cradle and pins him to win back the World Championship. Ric Flair, 6 time World Heavy Weight Champion, sounds strange to say now.
Ross is in to interview Flair and after he puts Steamboat over as his greatest opponent, Terry Funk interrupts the proceedings to congratulate Ric. After a few uncomfortable moments he challenges him to a championship match. Flair refuses leading to Funk attacking Ric. Terry beats the hell out of him before Piledriving him on a ring side table. This is one of the best matches you can watch leading into one of the great angles of all time. This is the kind of thing you close a special event on, strange that we have two tag matches left.
Nikita Koloff Interview
Koloff will be the ref in the World Tag Title match
Road Warriors w/Paul Ellering vs. Varsity Club w/Kevin Sullivan (Champions)
Hawk & Animal vs. Mike Rotunda & Doctor Death Steve Williams
World Tag Team Championship
The match starts with a brawl and Koloff sends Sullivan to the back. Hawk ends up taking a post to his right arm which Doc works over. Animal gets the hot tag, Hawk is back in and hitting everyone with his “injured” arm, good old Road Warrior selling. Dan Spivey and Sullivan come out to break up the pin, pulling Koloff out of the ring getting the Varsity Club disqualified after six minutes. Meh.
Varsity Club vs. The First Family (Champions)
Dan Spivey & Kevin Sullivan vs. Rick Steiner & Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert
U.S. Tag Team Championship
This match, like the last, starts with a brawl. I guess if it was mediocre once why not try it again. Steiner is injured early getting his shoulder rammed into the ring post (didn’t I just see this match), Gilbert is in the ring taking a beating. Steiner comes in and Clotheslines Sullivan who is rolled up by Gilbert to retain the championship in about six minutes (I could have swore I saw something like this recently). Meh again. (Editor’s Note: There was supposed to be a hair vs hair stipulation in this match. Classic WCW.)
We are informed after the match that Rotunda and Williams have been stripped of their titles for putting their hands on an official in the previous match.
I have no idea why the World Title match did not go on last. After what was an incredible match and following beat down by Funk we get two short and below average tag title matches to reminded us that other than The Dudes and SST, Hayes and Luger and the World Title match this was otherwise a poor show. I do however have to reiterate that the Steamboat/Flair match was damn near perfect. The pace was right and the crowd was into every move and hold. Even if you have seen this before you should watch this match again, it was special.
* Best Mullet of the night – Tie: Johnny Ace and Dan Spivey
* Best “Rambling No Need for a Promo Promo” – Tie: Sting and Lex Luger
* Best Tag Team Named The Dynamic Dudes – No Award given
* Fun Fact About Me – Captain Red Neck is my second favorite wrestling nick name that has the term Red Neck in it.
* Flair Flop Count – 2
* Fun Fact About Me #2 – I have never liked Lex Luger in any shape form or fashion.
* Fun Fact About All Time Classic World Title Matches – They should go on last.