June 14, 1989 at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. This is about a month out from Great American Bash '89, and the hype tonight is on a match between NWA #1 contender Ricky Steamboat and NWA #10 contender Terry Funk, our main event. And since our last outing at WrestleWar, Lex Luger regained the United States heavyweight title in a squash over Michael P.S. Hayes, pulling his trunks in the process. The Fabulous motherfucking Freebirds are back and they've got a mystery member tonight, and four teams will compete in a semifinal and final match of a tournament to crown new NWA world tag team champions as the Varsity Club duo of Mike Rotunda and Steve Williams have been stripped of the gold for misconduct, aka acting like a couple of fucks. I'm a dork so here's how the brackets shake out coming into the Clash.
What a dead ass division when Orton/Reed, Victory/Morgan and Ross/Simmons are getting slots in the tournament. The Freebirds (Hayes/Gordy) got a cheap win over the Warriors, which meant times would a-change overall. But goddamn, do I have to sit through another Midnights/SST match? Of course. Goddamn!
Like those yearly ESPN2 boxing shows at Camp Lejeune, the crowd here at Fort Bragg is crazy hot early on, so we'll see if unlike those ESPN2 boxing shows this will actually stay hot. There's so much "Look at the Army do stuff and also Missy Hyatt goes down a wall and Ranger Ross actually knows what he's doing."
Tag Team Tournament Semifinal: The Dynamic Dudes v. The Fabulous Freebirds
The Dudes come out with a bunch of children and ... frisbees. Mother of God I hate this team. There is of course a portion of the crowd that is mad hot for the Freebirds, who are damn cool compared to the Dynamic Dorks. And the newest Freebird is Jimmy Jam Garvin, of course. I'm still not really sure how I feel about Jimmy Garvin being a Freebird. He can roll with them, and I love the World Class sophisticated cool of Jimmy Garvin, but he's not bringing that vibe to the Freebirds, he's like some kind of rock n' roll caricature, and he's well lost a step in the ring by this point, too. Terry Gordy eggs the crowd on, of course, 'cause he's Terry fuckin' Gordy and doesn't give a rat's ass about Flag Day, which is a dumb "holiday" to begin with.
Holy shit the Dynamic Dorks are worthless. Shane! delivers an ill-timed, idiotic-looking clothesline to Jimmy Garvin which takes the air right out of the Dudes' little hot start. The Dudes are almost laughably bad -- that Ace and Douglas went on to have success of varying degrees is almost amazing watching them stink out the joint in this pathetic team. Hayes DDTs Shane, and Garvin pins him, and the Freebirds advance.
Ranger Ross v. The Terrorist
Be more retarded, Jim Herd. This belongs in Herb Abrams' UWF. Jim Ross lets out the greatest shill of all time: "This is real America right here. Hey I'd like to be home havin' a Coors Light and a havin' a big slice of Domino's Pizza or somethin' right now. A COORS LIGHT would taste awfully good, and the Terrorist is tryin' to make short work of Ranger Ross." The Terrorist of course is Jack Victory like every masked Clash participant in history. I'm pretty sure Psicosis was Jack Victory later on. Ranger Ross is actually sub-green. Calling him green would suppose he ever really learned how to wrestle at all. Of course I probably shouldn't insult Ranger Ross since he allegedly robbed some banks or something. Anyway he wins, and I hope he doesn't bank rob me. The replay of the finish shows just how close Ranger Ross got to nut-shotting Terrorist in the face on a leapfrog.
Here's a Road Warriors video package. I think if I were the Road Warriors I'd be kind of annoyed that the Freebirds get to use "Free Bird" while we're stuck with this karaoke machine version of "Iron Man." But what do I know?
The Great Muta Does Karate or Something
A couple of jobbers in red trunks! red trunks! are here to be karate'd. But Muta doesn't want these losers, says Gary Hart, he wants Ricky Steamboat or Sting or Eddie Gilbert. "No longer will he embarrass himself by beating up gaijin American wrestlers such as yourself." So Eddie Gilbert comes in and accidentally fireballs one of the schmoes instead of Muta or even Gary Hart. Trent Knight is down! Trent Knight is down!
The Ding Dongs v. George South & Cougar Jay
George South still kicks it in wrestling, which I find cool. There's this picture of George with Demolition Ax and Smash and The Barbarian on his front page that is pretty recent that I think is just fucking awesome. George South was never some big star, yet here he is hobknobbing with guys who made hundreds of thousands of dollars per year at various points, because they're all old rasslers who don't want to let it go. I won't say "can't -- I'm sure they can. But they don't want to. Why would you? How cool would it be to have three friends with painted faces to hang out with when you're almost 50 years old, all bound by something most people could never understand.
But anyway earlier I asked Jim Herd to get more retarded, so here's the Ding Dongs. This is awful, and there's just no hiding how idiotic this whole idea is. The wrestling in the ring is decent studio B.S., really, as these guys aren't shit workers or anything, but that constantly ringing the bell thing is actively pissing people off. Ross notes that the Midnight Express are coming up next. He all but adds, "So please, please don't leave." The bells from the Ding Dongs' pants have fallen off and are all over the ring. Mercifully this ends. "Oh, that was horrible," says JR, and he pretends he's talking about the pun he made, but you just kind of know he isn't.
Tag Team Tournament Semifinal: The Midnight Express v. The Samoan Swat Team
Some drunk comes into the ring before the Army guys take him out, with Cornette making a snotty remark to him. Those goddamn bells from the Ding Dongs are still all over the canvas. Didn't anyone have a broom? This is typical Midnights/SST stuff, and goddamn but the Midnight Express are out there dying in '89. Oh boy ref bump and all, and then the Road Warriors run in and help the Midnights win this thing to go to the finals. They totally miss the actual three count as the camera is focused on what Hawk is doing, but who gives a shit? At least the Midnights are through and face the Freebirds in the championship match and the Samoan Swat Team are one less show I'm going to have to watch them on.
Terry "Bamm Bamm" Gordy v. "Dr. Death" Steve Williams
Billed as "The Battle of the Bulls" and stemming from Gordy sucker-punching Doc in Japan. I'm PUMPED. While "Free Bird" plays Gordy in, Williams just runs in and we GET GOING WITH A GODDAMN FIGHT. Gordy with a ROCKIN' fuckin' lariat catching Doc charging into the corner. Then Gordy follows him into the corner with a clothesline. This is one of the exact types of matches you will never see in a major American promotion again. Everyone in ROH is too small and I don't count them as major anyway, much as I dig ROH. You're not going to see a couple of big 300 pound hoss motherfuckers that can move going toe-to-toe again. Not guys who could actually kick an ass. Not guys who can throw these badass punches the Dr. of Death is delivering all over Bamm Bamm. JR drops another "Currs Laht" spot.
Gordy pummels Williams down, then they hit a chinlock. But they come back out of that in short order and turn up the heat again. This is, as Jim Ross says, a pure fight. I get the feeling that every time JR recruited one of his hosses, his hope was that somehow he'd wind up a couple guys that could put on Dr. Death-Bamm Bamm match at some point. I don't think he ever found any of those guys. Gordy bails out into the aisle. Doc follows him and this ends with a double countout. I don't dig how Doc runs back trying to win by countout. Doesn't he want to fuck that man up? Fuck the win! Nice "bullshit" chant kicks up.
Norman the Lunatic v. Mike Justice
Mike Justice is the jobber who Hot Stuff didn't fireball in the body and up the face earlier. Norman is a mental patient managed by Teddy Long, but you're reading this, so you already know all about that. Teddy was one of the hammiest sons of bitches to ever come through wrestling. He has a key for Norman's shackles or whatever and he's HOLDING IT UP LOOK EVERYBODY LOOK I HAVE THIS. If Teddy Long had been Stone Cold Steve Austin he would have walked down the aisle holding up a middle finger and pointing at it with the index finger on his other hand. This is a squash that lasts less than a minute. I actually think Norman could have worked, but not here. Maybe in World Class or somewhere. He could have tried to eat Chris Von Erich or something. Norman is sent out on a stretcher, even though he walked into this motherfucker.
Jim Ross is with the Freebirds, and Jimmy Garvin is being silly. I don't need Jimmy Garvin to yell, I need him to say things like, "You make it sound like you're a slave trader, but we're both *really busy*," changing his expression from goofy to serious in the blink of an eye. Now there's a Brian Pillman video package set to that song from the end of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Kevin Sullivan & Mike Rotunda v. The Steiner Brothers
This is Scott's first major show and he's in TRUNKS. Yellow TRUNKS. Scott does an Ultimate Warrior rope shake. CURRS LAHT. Man the Steiners are fucking awesome already and it's not all Scott unlike so many dopes would have you believe. I really don't get what stops people from remembering the awesome Rick Steiner. They manage with the awesome Scott Steiner. Rick is so great here -- hey, Jim, we get it, "fans in Connecticut," we get it, shut up -- anyway Rick is so great here that he manages to confuse Kevin Sullivan to the point that Sullivan just can't figure out anything to do so Rotunda gets tagged back in. Anything that keeps that no-selling dwarf from Singapowah out of the ring is great by me. But then Sullivan helps Rotunda dump Steiner onto the announcers table outside, and then Sullivan just chucks the steps at Scott, and for a moment, I love Kevin Sullivan. More legit crazy ass behavior and less eye-rolling evil faces. So Scott winds up in trouble and eventually pinned after a suplex onto a chair. This was a good ass match and I'm psyched now that the Steiners are in town.
Jim Cornette is going to talk to Jim Ross. Watching Corny do cheap face heat is ridiculous. Plus he's not fat yet. I prefer fat Cornette.
NWA World Television Title: Sting (c) v. Wild Bill Irwin
What a load of shit challengers they're giving TV champ Sting. I mean no offense to Bill Irwin, who was sort of kind of cool a little bit, but but come on. Irwin has this bizarre looseness to go along with a roughneck persona. Sting actually looks like he isn't really sure what the fuck to do with Irwin's absurd selling. Ridiculous sequence where Irwin dodges a Stinger Splash, lands a bearhug slam which makes it look like he got DDT'd, and then he stands around to fuck around with his stupid bullwhip. So Sting splashes him from behind and rolls him up for what feels like a cheap win over a non-contender. This match was silly in every way.
Scott "Gator" Hall doesn't get over with this gimmick but he does poke alligators with a stick, sort of a pretty boy version of Skinner. Then Jim Ross goes to Charlotte to visit the injured Ric Flair. Flair's Lakers warm-up suit is pretty sweet. How many times in his career did Ric Flair sit around in a neck brace and wonder if he'd ever wrestle again?
NWA World Tag Team Championship: The Fabulous Freebirds v. The Midnight Express
Paul E. clonks James E. on the head with a tennis racket. It's been all loaded up with a horseshoe and a chain. Where did Paul find a horseshoe? So the Dynamic Dudes come out to help Cornette to the back. JR pushes that "Cornette is the one who watches all the videotape." But this match is against what is essentially a surprise team -- the Midnights and Cornette didn't know Jimmy Garvin was going to be in this match. Did Cornette cram with the Garvin tapes available at Fort Bragg since the Midnights won their match with the SST earlier? It doesn't matter. If the Midnight Express don't know enough about Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin by now, that's their own goddamn fault.
I always read that nobody has anything bad to say about Bobby Eaton, but even as a babyface he had this great way of constantly looking displeased all the time. The Freebirds spend a lot of time playing with the crowd, and their actual wrestling is pretty limited, but that's par for the course with this group, and you have great things like Jimmy Garvin bouncing around in his boxer's stance at ringside, while Stan Lane does his even sillier karate kicks at him to keep him away from a reeling Eaton. The Midnights get it together and use their Double Team Expertise to take over the match. Terry Gordy gets involved with a powerbomb on Eaton, which gives Eaton the pin, and the Freebirds are your new tag team champions. Jimmy Jam pulls the tights for good measure.
Ricky Steamboat v. Terry Funk
This is your main event OF the evening. As relates to all that nonsense I talked about the Steamboat/Flair dynamic with the 1989 crowds and Steamboat being too clean-cut for his own good, though Steamboat likely wouldn't change a thing because that's the man he is and he is, as always, Very Nobile (even though he isn't Japanese), this is even more fucked up a difference. Yeah, Ric Flair was the playboy with a million broads on his arm at all times, taking even more of the poon-tang once the other Horsemen weren't tagging along, but I saw earlier on this very program that Ric Flair has a luxurious home in Charlotte. It is decorated in a style that suggests that Ric has a wife -- philanderer or not, Ric has a home life.
This version of Terry Funk is so fuck crazy that the Doublecross Ranch could be any random truck stop where Terry gets off to take a shower and have a home-microwaved meal at 3am. Terry Funk isn't interested in fucking women or having fat babies to stick on a pony in some kind of weird Jon Benet Ramsey deal, he's interested, in one way or another, in fucking Ric Flair. And Steamboat is just a guy in his way. It's almost sad to think of Steamboat that way right after a classic trio of high-profile matches for the world's heavyweight title, but Steamboat is merely an obstacle for Terry Funk now.
Funk is an awesome shape and he's trying to get at Steamboat immediately. Because you can't get away from them, we see Steamboat's goddamn family in the crowd. Funk starts ripping into Steamboat with chops and slaps to the chest, and Steamboat tears right back into Funk. Steamboat is clenching his fists at a distance now -- Ricky is a man who plays it square, but he knows this is a fight. And Funk, like all bullies, wasn't really prepared for Steamboat to fight back, so he takes a powder. Moments later they head outside to brawl.
This is awesome, awesome stuff. Of the NWA's killer '89 main events, this one is kind of forgotten in the middle of the Flair-Steamboat and Flair-Funk series, but holy shit, Funk pulls something different out of Steamboat, and they have such a chemistry that you really wish that there would have been an escalating Funk-Steamboat series that ended in some bloody blowoff. Funk is throwing these awesome haymaker left hands that flatten Steamboat, who looks like he's overwhelmed just enough to make his comebacks really mean something. Funk wanders at ringside for a while as Steamboat waits for him to get into range for a flying chop, then Steamboat carries Funk around the ring, kind of embarrassing him -- I mean he carries him all the way around the ring, like you might do to a petulant child in a supermarket, and if this were 1947, you might even get to bodyslam the little brat like Steamboat does here. Back in the ring, and Steamboat throws him over the top to the floor.
Funk, though, comes back with his legendary toughness. Funk piledrives Steamboat, who does one of his great sells -- sitting up like he's worried that he can't. Nick Patrick gets flattened in the corner on a reversal of an Irish whip, and the crowd groans. Steamboat is piledriven again -- but he comes back. He keeps coming back. Steamboat kicks out at two with a groggy Nick Patrick counting, then does it again. So Funk just pummels a near dead Steamboat with left hands. "Steamboat is cannon fodder," says JR. God, he used to be something else. Funk goes up top and meets knees on a flying splash.
And now it's Steamboat's chance. The crowd rallies, Funk staggers into a straight right hand to the stomach, falling forward because that knee shot took it out of him. Another right to the breadbasket. Stomachbreaker and Dragon goes up, lands the flying chop, and Funk staggers, then Steamboat ... well, that enziguri was shit, but pobody's nerfect, asshole. Funk takes a microphone from ringside, cracks Steamboat in the head, and the match ends by DQ, keeping open the question: Could Funk actually compete with the top guys? He basically sacrificed a win here.
Funk goes after Steamboat a little more, but Lex Luger, the U.S. heavyweight champion, runs in with a chair to chase him off. Luger wants the microphone. Crowd chants "Luger, Luger." Luger has been upset that he's not ranked No. 1 by the NWA board, and I can't blame him. So he addresses his supposed ego problem, saying it's just he has pride, helps Ricky up -- and then he drops Steamboat with a clothesline. So there's your Lex Luger heel turn, and he starts stalking Steamboat with that chair. Steamboat sees him coming, and crawls away, begging for mercy. But Luger hits him anyway. That's an underutilized chair tactic, the guy who sees it coming but can't get away in time. Luger racks Steamboat, flexes, we've got a new top heel in the NWA.
This is a kickass show, and here are FIVE REASONS WHY:
1. Return of the Freebirds w/Jimmy Garvin
2. Terry Gordy-Steve Williams
3. Terry Funk-Ricky Steamboat
4. Lex Luger heel turn is actually semi-decent as a heel turn
5. STEINER BROTHERS MOTHERFUCKER