wrestling / Video Reviews

Clash of the Champions VI Review (4.2.1989)

May 27, 2019 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
Clash of the Champions VI RIcky Steamboat Ric Flair
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Clash of the Champions VI Review (4.2.1989)  

-The pretty damn interesting background story to this show: Vince McMahon was asking for a huge cut of the revenue for Wrestlemania V. Too huge, said cable companies. So the cable companies went to Ted Turner, a major player in the cable industry who now owned his own wrestling company and told him to schedule his own pay-per-view for April 2 to compete with Vince. So the NWA or UWC or whatever the hell the comnpany’s name technically was in early 1989 schedules an event called WrestleWar ’89, LIVE on pay-per-view, Sunday April 2.

-Well, suddenly Vince decides he doesn’t need as big a cut as he was demanding for Wrestlemania V and agrees to share the wealth, and at which point the cable companies go to Turner and admit “That’s actually what we were aiming for the whole time, we were never really planning on airing your show that day, KTHXBYE.” So Turner pretty much demands a Clash of the Champions special to air directly against Wrestlemania V. Well, the cable companies were unhappy. “Yes, we lied to you and fucked over your newly acquired company as a bargaining chip for a negotiation with your competitor, but we didn’t think you’d actually do something about it!”

-So this leads to the end of the pay-per-view wars once and for all, as the cable companies demand a truce and no more pay-per-view sabotage, so the two companies learn to share PPV.

-In the meantime, the Superdome gets booked for the event, which means one hell of a card is needed and one hell of a hype machine is needed to back it up. George Scott, newly appointed big chief crazy cone, opts to keep the card a secret until a week before the event and keep the promotion minimal so that the TV special won’t hurt house show business. Oops.

-Wrestling history: The WCW logo debuts in the show’s opening, although it was another year or so before they decided to go all the way with the rebranding.

-Originally aired LIVE April 2, 1989.

-We’re in the Superdome, seating capacity 74,295. Attendance…about 5,300.

-Your hosts are Jim Ross and Michael Hayes.

-Your lighting is damn dark.

-Last night, Terry Funk, Lou Thesz, Gene Kiniski, Pat O’Connor, Buddy Rogers, Sam Muchnick, Dory Funk, Jr., Harley Race, Ricky Steamboat, and Jim Herd have dinner together. A lively debate erupts over who’s more grizzled. Jim Herd’s choice of words is pretty funny, as he pledges to the old guard that the new regime will “earn our marks,” which is really the goal of any wrestling company.

-Everybody stands for the national anthem. Great, MORE empty seats, just what they needed.

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (with Jim Cornette) vs. SAMOAN SWAT TEAM (with Paul E. Dangerously)

-Samu chops Stan Lane. Lane dodges a bodypress and connects with one of his own for two. SST backs Lane into their own corner, but bungle the attempted double-team and Fatu falls to the floor. Samu throws a chop with extra mustard. Everyone tags and Bobby Eaton goes off the top rope to ground Fatu. Stan Lane locks on a chinlock while Cornette tricks Samu into chasing him and whaps him with the tennis racquet.

-Sunset flip by Lane gets two. SST tries another double-team and Stan Lane ducks again, knocking Fatu to the floor. Eaton tags in and attacks with right hands. Stan Lane comes in and locks on a side headlock, but Samu turns it into a back suplex to finally take over. Fatu tags in and Lane throws a dropkick and gets the hell out of there, sensing he needs a fresh man in. Eaton cradles Fatu for two. GREAT spot as the Midnight Express does the switch behind the referee’s back, and Cornette convinces the Superdome crowd to lie for him when the referee asks about it.

-Midnights are taking turns with a side headlock. Fatu sends Eaton into the ropes and connects with a right that knocks him silly. But Fatu manages to make a tag behind Bobby’s back and Fatu just waffles him to take over. Chops by Samu as Michael Hayes assures us that this is real wrestling, NOT showbiz. Federally mandated Samoan nerve hold is clamped on by Samu. They gang up on Eaton while the referee gets distracted by an argument with Jim Cornette. Fatu takes his turn with the nerve hold.

-Eaton fights free and goes for a hiptoss, but he’s too weak and Fatu easily blocks it and turns it into a clothesline. Samu chokes him in the corner, but Eaton comes back swinging and hot tags Lane. All four men end up in the ring. Midnights ram the SST into each other, but it actually revives them, to the shock of the Midnights. Dueling managers take turns tripping each other’s guys. All four men brawl but the referee restores order again. Bad timing for Lane, though, as he gets trapped in the SST corner. Have I mentioned how much I love the name Samoan Swat Team? Instantly memorable, sounds bad ass, and has a snappy abbreviation.

-Fatu goes to the nerve hold again. Eaton is fed up and breaks the hold just out of frustration. And now Lane gets to hot tag Eaton, but he makes the mistake of noggin-knocking the SST and they just beat the hell out of him. SST continues having an off-night with their attempted double-teaming and both men get laid out. Stan Lane gets his second wind and kicks Fatu out to the floor., Rocket launcher looks to finish, but the referee gets distracted and the lethal ’80s mobile phone knocks Bobby completely out, with the SST getting the three-count. Crowd is pissed. Good story, with the Midnight Express being ahead of the game on double-teaming but bungling their strategy by targeting the head even after they should have figured out that didn’t work. 1 for 1.

STEVE CASEY vs. GREAT MUTA (with Gary Hart)

-Guy’s girlfriend in the second row is visibly falling asleep as Muta goes into his pre-match trance. Casey gets to be the historic first victim of the green mist by Muta. Handspring elbow by Muta, followed by a chinlock. Casey gets out and armdrags Muta into a wrestling. Muta backs him into the corner and mulekicks him from a standing position, then throws Muta to the floor. Hart kindly helps him back into the ring and Muta connects with a perfect missile dropkick.

-Wristlock by Muta. Casey slugs out and applies one of his own. Nerve hold by Muta as we get shots of a bunch of kids in TBS Sports t-shirts. What good fortune that a bunch of kids happened to show up in TBS Sports t-shirts and that they were sitting where the cameras had a clear shot of them. Simultaneous armbar and nerve hold on Muta; god, even his restholds are different from anything else you saw in US wrestling in 1989. Casey throws a desperate clothesline and elbows Muta down, but it only gets one. He dropkicks Muta into the corner and biels him, but Muta dodges a dropkick. Enziguiri sends Casey to the floor and Muta follows him out with a plancha.

-Backbreaker by Muta, and a moonsault gets three. Crowd wants to hate Muta, but he’s such a badass that they just have to pop for him a little bit. 2 for 2. Squash, but an awesome squash.

JUNKYARD DOG vs. HACKSAW BUTCH REED(with Hiro Matsuda)

-JYD marches to the ring with a jazz band as JR plays this up as a homecoming for him. Already covered this, but it’s so shake-your-head funny that it’s worth repeating. JYD got himself fired two weeks earlier for missing six straight house shows, but then they looked at the Superdome and realized they had a damn empty building and that they just fired a guy with a history of drawing in the city, and they re-hired JYD just to see if it might draw an extra 65,000 people to the building.

-Rights by JYD, and JR dubs them soupbones so Dog means business tonight. And JR plants a tiny seed by mentioning that the official for this match, Teddy Long, is one of the great referees in the NWA. Rolling headbutts by JYD send Reed out to the floor. Reed tries to get something going, but JYD hiptosses him, following with a slam. More headbutts by JYD, and he chokes Reed in the corner. Reed rakes the eyes and punches him down. Reed stomps away and lights into him with rapid punches.

-Matsuda chokes the Dog out from the floor while Teddy Long takes his time arguing with Butch Reed. Chinlock by Reed, and JYD has a nice nap before fighting free and backdropping Reed for two. They crash into each other on a double clothesline as Michael and JR get a dig in, saying that tonight’s matches are sanctioned by the Lousiana State Athletic Commission because REAL wrestling uses athletic commissions. Matsuda gets on the apron for no discernable reason, and JYD Irish whips Reed into him and gets the pin. So yeah, JYD fucked up and got fired but they not only rehired him, they gave him the win because they were that hard up. 2 for 3.

U.S. TAG TEAM TITLE: “Hot Stuff” EDDIE GILBERT & RICK STEINER (Champions, with Missy Hyatt) vs. DANGEROUS DANNY SPIVEY & KEVIN SULLIVAN

-This is weird, as WWE Network skips a LOOOOOOOT of stuff at this point, and there was no “most complete form possible” disclaimer. We’re missing Dick Murdoch vs. Bob Orton, which is infuriating because JR assured us that one would be a dandy. We’re also missing Road Warriors vs. The Other Half of the Varsity Club, and that surprises me because we’re missing a title change AND the beginning of Teddy Long’s heel turn. But what really steams by hams is that they have the unmitigated gall to omit BOTH minutes of the Ranger Ross/Iron Sheik match.

-Spivey gutwrenches Gilbert and whips him in, as Gilbert is already the face in peril. Basically, everyone is acting like they’re starting this at the ten-minute mark. Sullivan tags in and goads Rick Steiner into coming him, allowing him to throw Eddie over the top. Spivey rams his back into the post before heaving him back in. Flying clothesline by Spivey gets two. Sullivan comes in and hangs Eddie in the tree of woe, but Eddie utilizes a unique strategy called “falling” to free himself from the hold and Sullivan crashes.

-Hot tag Steiner, and a powerslam on Spivey gets two. Belly-to-belly gets another two. Everyone ends up on the floor, but Eddie sneaks Missy Hyatt’s Gucci bag into the ring and lays Kevin out for a three-count to retain. And they’re definitely in a hurry now, as there’s a post-match beatdown and JR is hurrying to a commercial break. 2 for 4. Only three minutes and it seems like they had a lot more planned as they rush for commercial.

NWA WORLD TITLE, 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS: RICKY “The Dragon” STEAMBOAT (Champion, with Family Values) vs. RIC FLAIR (with Poon)
-TBS sprung for fancy professional laser light graphics for everyone’s entrance, and Ric Flair ends up with “Rick Flair” in the background, rending his entrance totally unusable for future montages. They’re so pressed for time that JR announces that two other scheduled matches have been switched to the end of the card so that we can squeeze this match in. Luckily the card was total mystery meat to begin with.

-FALL ONE: Terry Funk is guest commentator, and in hindsight it’s kind of brilliant as they’re getting us accustomed to “nice old retired legend Terry Funk” here. Steamboat slaps Flair and the Superdome crowd is grasping for something along the lines of “Aww snap!” to respond to it with. They battle for a waistlock and Flair backs off. Flair tries to target the leg but Steamboat blocks him with a side headlock. Flair turns it into a top wristlock but Flair reverses that. There’s a great flow to everything they’re doing and it’s playing out like legit wrestling.

-Steamboat gets the upper hand now, but Flair makes it to the ropes and retreats to the floor. Flair very tentatively offers a test of strength but retreats when Steamboat sticks his arms out. Flair gets hiptosses and Steamboat applies a sideheadlock, and Flair’s hair in the side headlock makes for this unintentionally funny visual, as the camera angle makes it look like Steamboat is headlocking a blonde wig.

-Flair backs him into the corner and chops him like he’s trying to show the SST how it’s done. But Steamboat throws chops back and hiptosses him across the ring. Flying headscissors and a dropkick follow, and Steamboat goes back to the side headlock. Steamboat switches to a side headlock, driving his forearm into Flair hard and repeatedly as he cinches on the hold.

-Another chop battle breaks out, with Steamboat winning handily and backdropping Flair. Dropkick gets two for Steamboat, and Flair begs for a break. We get the ten-minute announcement from Gary Michael Capetta and Ric Flair emerges with a sucker shot, but Steamboat just gets pissed off at Flair being a dirty rotten cheater and levels him with the nastiest clothesline he can muster. Back to the side headlock. This is a great example of making a resthold work as both guys are DOING stuff. There’s a side headlock where all that’s happening is a side headlock, but Steamboat keeps moving around in the hold, shifting his weight and readjusting his arms like he’s trying to figure out the PERFECT way to lock this to put Flair away. Seriously, show this to a wrestler who just started training and have them study the side headlocks here, both of them are making it interesting.

-Flair breaks Steamboat’s next attempt with an inverted atomic drop. Steamboat is hurt and Flair opts for a breather while he has the chance. Big mistake as Steamboat lays him out with a chop. Shoulderblocks by Steamboat get a series of two-counts. Flair is just worn out so he heads to the floor and collapses for the breather he’s been trying to get for the last five or six minutes.

-Back in, Flair unleashes fresh choppy hell on Steamboat. Steamboat fights back with chops that elicit a “Dad gummit” from Terry Funk, which is Texan for “four and a half stars.” “Wooooooo doggies” is five stars. Flair takes over with a double underhook on Steamboat for two, with Tommy Young FLYING into position for the count because even he’s stepping up his game for this match. Flair ties up Steamboat in a lateral press, and we get a spot that modern wrestling has lost, as Steamboat keeps kicking out, but Flair keeps shifting positions to force Steamboat to kick out over and over and over again.

-Steamboat kips up and they trade some more chops. Flair avoids a dropkick and goes for the figure four. Steamboat counters with a cradle, but Flair reverses it…for three. Fans are kinda surprised by that one, but Flair takes the first fall.

FALL TWO: Press slam by Steamboat right away. Chop off the top gets two. Back to the side headlock. Steamboat can’t get a good grip on it so he switches to the front facelock. Flair counters it with a back suplex but misses a kneedrop. Steamboat just goes NUTS on the leg, dropping about 20 straight elbows on it and going right to the figure four. With Flair trapped in the hold, Steamboat keeps chopping him on the face to make him fall backward and put his shoulders on the mat, but Flair survives and makes the ropes. Steamboat London bridges him to the middle of the ring, but when Flair fights the figure four, Steamboat switches it to a Boston crab. Flair reaches the ropes again.

-Chops are traded as Funk criticizes the champ for not staying on the leg. Steamboat bridges out of a pinning combo and backslides him, and hey, Flair has lost a world title to a backslide before. Flair kicks out at two and the fight spills to the floor. Thumbs up to the fan leaning against the barricade screaming, as Steamboat crashes into the barricade and she doesn’t even BUDGE. Flair whips Steamboat into another barricade. He suplexes Steamboat back in for two.

-Abdominal stretch by Flair, and he rolls backward for Brian Blair’s old finishing move, getting a series of two-counts. Punches and chops are traded. Flair heads to the top rope, but Steamboat meets him up there and superplexes him off. Steamboat starts targeting the back and JR launches right into a history lesson about Flair’s plane crash. Steamboat lifts him in a double chicken wing and Flair hangs on and hangs on and hangs on…and finally submits, for the first time in his career. And the match is all tied up.

FALL THREE: Flair dives for the leg to try to take it out early. Flair relentlessly targets the leg. Steamboat throws chops because by god they work. He whips Flair. Flair flips over the top and runs to the opposite side as he’s done a million times, but before he makes the turnbuckles Steamboat just chops him to the mat. Flair begs for a time-out, but rolls Steamboat up with a foot on the ropes. Steamboat kicks out anyway. Flair goes back to the leg. Steamboat stupidly goes for a corner charge feet-first and hangs himself upside down.

-Flair snaps the leg back and forth before locking on the figure four. Steamboat rolls so hard enough to take both of them out of the ring. Flair snaps the leg over the edge a few times. Back in, they slug it out. Flair heads to the top and succeeds, so lightning must have struck the Superdome that day. And the bodypress connects for two. Flair sends Steamboat into the ropes, but Steamboat meets him with a headbutt. Bodypress gets two. Neckbreaker by Steamboat gets two.

-Flair throws Steamboat to the floor again. Steamboat slingshots back in and sunset flips Flair for two. Flair applies a sleeper. Steamboat survives. Enziguiri by Steamboat gets two. We’re 50 minutes in as JR declares that they’ve wrestled, they haven’t come out to music and posed. This match literally began with both men coming to the ring to music and then posing.

-Flair goes back to the leg. Steamboat wants a chop battle again and Flair’s down. And then Flair’s down. Flair comes back with a back suplex as there are only six minutes remaining. Flair goes upstairs, but Steamboat slams him off and all is right with the world. Double chicken wing again by Steamboat. He collapses under Flair’s weight because his leg is so worn out, but Steamboat hangs onto the arms and makes it a pinning combo. One of Flair’s legs slides under the bottom rope, but Tommy Young counts three and Ricky Steamboat retains. 3 for 5, duh. I liked the finish of the Chi-Town Rumble match better, but I liked the overall match here better. Curious to see how I feel after the WrestleWar match.

7.0
The final score: review Good
The 411
The rating is kinda skewed because it's not the full show, but this was a pretty brisk two hours in its WWE Network form. It's not just a one-match show, go ahead and watch the whole thing.
legend