Recently I found an old Herb Kunze compilation videotape while cleaning the apartment, and I decided to watch it from beginning to end. It soon became obvious that this tape had a great selection of matches and moments from Wrestling history.
The first match was Ric Flair-Ricky Steamboat from WrestleWar 1989 in Memphis. This match became a huge turning point in the NWA at that time, which I’ll describe later. Steamboat was the champion, and for the match there were three judges, among them Lou Thesz and Terry Funk. They would decide on a winner should the match end in some type of no-decision. The announcers were Jim Ross and Bob Caudle.
Semi-random notes from the match: *First part was all Steamboat. He worked on the arm and shoulder of Flair, with Ross pointing out that Steamboat had won the title with a double chickenwing. Throughout the match Steamboat would throw a deep armdrag takedown to stop Flair’s momentum cold. It worked well to keep the match interesting, and of course Flair was selling like the champ he was.
*Lots of chops from both wrestlers. Not much surprise here.
*Flair started to get the nearfalls in after the “15-minute” mark. I use quotes because the judges were supposed to give Ross scorecards every 15 minutes, and the first cards came in at about 10 minutes. While Flair was in control, there were a few moves we don’t see anymore, including the great “half-moon” suplex he used to perform.
*Both wrestlers took some serious hits out of the ring in the second half of the match, Steamboat landing on the top rope once on a crossbody miss and slingshotting himself out of the ring. Another spot saw FLAIR come in with a bodyblock and both wrestlers hit the outside hard.
*There were two Flair flops, and two Flair flips. The second flip was the one where he runs along the apron into a clothesline, which he sold like he DIED. He also went to the top turnbuckle, and, SURPRISE!, it didn’t work.
*At one point, Steamboat went for the double wing, and Flair got to the ropes. Flair got the figure four on, but Steamboat made the ropes. Flair gets a reversal into a pin, and he’s a six-time (according to Jim Ross) champion.
*A show of good sportsmanship later, Flair is in the ring with Jim Ross for a live interview, when judge Terry Funk interrupts to schmooze up to Flair for a title shot. After being refused, Funk at first accepts, calling his effort “just kidding,” then attacks Flair, resulting in a severe beating, the infamous piledriver onto the table (that did NOT break BTW) and finally a chair shot to the head. All this while Funk is screaming “I’m not good enough?”
This match and the fracas afterwards managed to get the title back on Flair, effectively turn him face, and introduce Terry Funk as the crazy dangerous heel. The storyline would eventually involve Muta, Sting and Gary Hart among others and basically culminate in the Flair-Funk “I Quit” match.
Another note: hearing Jim Ross comment about “This is the NWA, where we wrestle!” and make fun of wrestlers who come out “posing” to “rock and roll music” is pretty funny in this day and age.
Of course, if you can get a copy of this match with the post-match material you should, the match itself is great but the end sparked one of the best feuds that era of NWA would come up with.
If I find some more history on this tape, I’ll post it. Next on the tape is a SMW tag match, followed by a Flair-Piper Mid-Atlantic house show match.
(edited by Eddie Famous on 28.4.04 1508) "In the sky. Lord, in the sky..."
My favorite moment from the match itself (the angle afterwards falls in a totally different category) is the first exchange where Flair backs Steamboat in the corner and he unloads the first ungodly chop of the match, which just absolutely echoed, and the referee Tommy Young makes this expression on his face as if to say "God DAMN, that sounded like it hurt!!"
Either that was a genuine reaction or one of the greatest acting jobs I've ever seen a referee do