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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Wrestle War ’89: Music City Showdown

November 6, 2008 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Wrestle War ’89: Music City Showdown  

Wrestle War ’89: Music City Showdown
by J.D. Dunn

  • May 7, 1989
  • Live from Nashville, Tenn.
  • Your hosts are Jim Ross and Bob Caudle.

  • Opening Match: The Great Muta (w/Gary Hart) vs. Doug Gilbert.
    This is the PPV debut of Muta (Keiji Mutoh). The fans are already seriously into him thanks to his ring presence and the snap he puts into every move. He does a cool thing where he spits the green mist, sticks his fingers in his mouth, and then rakes Gilbert’s eyes to heighten the discomfort. PSYCHOLOGY~! Btw, the various mists are:

  • Green – discomfort and disorientation (like rubbing an onion in your eye, I assume).
  • Red – burning (like rubbing hot sauce in your eye)
  • Black – blinding mist. Causes the victim to go blind á la Nidia.
  • Yellow – which paralyzes the opponent.
  • Blue – puts the opponent to sleep.

    I think it would be cool for someone to bust out the yellow mist and have the opponent freeze in place like a game of red-light/green-light. Btw, none of them release Scott Hall from the Phantom Zone, smart alecks. That’s a whiskey sour. Doug’s brother Eddie Gilbert runs down for moral support as Doug avoids the moonsault. A second attempt quickly polishes Gilbert off at 3:16. About as good as you can get for a total squash. Gilbert got in one move. *1/4

  • Ranger Ross vs. Butch Reed.
    Ranger Ross was an interesting story if not an interesting wrestler. Just imagine Norman Smiley with a mean streak. He was kind of like the NWA’s version of Sgt. Slaughter at this point, wrestling every enemy America could find, from the Russians to the Iron Sheik to made-up jobbers like “The Terrorist.” Once wrestling had no more foreign boogeymen, Ross became obsolete and went into semi-retirement. He worked for WCW until 1991 until he quit on bad terms and filed a discrimination lawsuit. Vince obviously didn’t want to chance being sued as well, so there was very little interest in Robert Ross as a wrestler. He turned to private investigation and, eventually, to armed robbery in the mid-1990s. Ross turned himself in to authorities in 1996, served his time, and went back to work on the local indy circuit earlier this decade. As far as I know, he retired last year. Anyway, Reed beats him after a missile shoulderblock at 6:59 of which only a fraction was shown. *

  • Bull-Rope Match: Dick Murdoch vs. Bob Orton Jr (w/Gary Hart).
    Hart helped Orton win by nefarious means at Clash VI, so Murdoch wants revenge in his specialty match. This is clipped (mercifully) to Murdoch tying Orton up, dropping an elbow, and pinning him at 1:04 (clipped from 4:54). After the match, Orton tries to hang Murdoch. These two were way over the hill. I don’t think Orton did much of note until coming back to the WWE to second his son. 1/4*

  • The Dynamic Dudes vs. The Samoan SWAT Team (w/Paul E. Dangerously).
    The Dudes are current WWE Head of Talent Relations Johnny Ace and former ECW malcontent Shane Douglas. The Samoans are Fatu, who would go on to become Rikishi, and Samu, son of Afa. Samu, along with his father, now trains wrestlers. Good for him. Fatu no-sells a lot early and powerslams Johnny. Johnny plays face-in-peril and gets caught in the Boston Crab. Paul E. gets on the mic and tells Ace he’s “as useless as a woman from Nashville.” Can you believe he’d be working for him 15 years later? Ace powers out of the Crab and monkeyflips Samu. Shane gets the hot tag and cleans house. Fatu hits him with a big Superfly Splash, but Ace saves. Samu picks Shane up for a slam, but Ace missile dropkicks them over for the win at 5:32. Ace and Douglas get a bad rap for the gimmick, but they were decent wrestlers. Both guys would go on to get much better, mind you, but they weren’t any worse than any other two blonds with a silly gimmick. **

  • U.S. Title: Lex Luger vs. Michael Hayes (w/Hiro Matsuda).
    Hayes turned heel on Luger and hit him with brass knuckles to set this up. Hayes stalls a lot early, but Luger catches up with him, slaps him around, and backdrops him. Hayes goes for the DDT, but Luger just stands up out of it. Luger goes to work on the arm with a long wristlock. He picks things up, chokelifting Hayes to the corner and pummeling him. He misses a swing, though, and topples to the floor. Hayes takes over. Lots of chinlocks follow, but Hayes works the crowd by being an arrogant bastard. He goes for a bulldog, but Luger tosses him through the air. Luger pummels him again and hits a clothesline for two. Luger goes for a press slam and considers tossing Hayes to the floor, but that would be a DQ. Instead, he slams him down and goes for the Torture Rack. Hayes slips out and hits the DDT but can’t cover. They collide, knocking the ref down in the process. Terry Gordy runs down and shoves Hayes on top of Luger for the win at 16:06. Gordy’s interference would lead to a new formation of the Freebirds, on that wasn’t nearly as influential as the original. Luger would regain the title by squashing Hayes, but he lost his soul in the process, becoming bitter and turning heel not long after this. **1/2

  • NWA TV Title: Sting vs. The Iron Sheik.
    Sting had nothing better to do, so they had him bury the WWF by beating their former champion with the Stinger Splash and Scorpion Deathlock in two minutes. Sheik submits at 2:08. 1/4*

  • NWA Heavyweight Title: Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair.
    You probably all know the setup by now, but I’ll go through it anyway. Steamboat defeated Flair in one of the greatest matches of all time at “Chi-Town Rumble” but under chaotic circumstances because the ref got bumped. He beat him again in a 2/3 falls match at “Clash of the Champions 6,” but again, the win was tainted as the ref missed Flair’s foot on the ropes. So, we get one final rematch. Lou Thesz, Pat O’Connor and Terry Funk are your judges at ringside to ensure that if it goes to a draw, there will still be a winner. That doesn’t really make much sense when you think about it, because the other two matches didn’t go to draws. What the match needed was a second referee, but screw logic because it gets Terry Funk out there, and that’s all that’s important. Lots of jockeying for the upper hand early as Flair slaps Ricky around, but Steamboat isn’t one to just let himself get slapped without delivering a slapperin’ of his own. Flair backs him to the corner and hits a chop that even Referee Tommy Young sells. They trade chops, and Flair falls all the way to the floor. Flair stalls for a bit as Ricky starts to get pissed. Back in, Ricky wins a test of strength and turns it into an armbar. Flair whips him off but gets shoulderblocked and armdragged right back down into the armbar. That segues to a hammerlock. This is like seeing those intricate model cities built entirely out of Legos. The building blocks are so simple, but when used correctly, they can create something so beautiful. In fact, you can say that about all three matches. They’re all made out of the same moves, just rearranged to create a different work of art. They trade moves back and forth until Steamboat goes all the way over the top to the floor off a missed crossbody. I like how Thesz is scribbling down notes, and if you know anything about Lou Thesz, you can bet he’s actually taking notes on the match. Man loves his kayfabe. Flair delivers a few chops to Ricky and has words with a guy in the crowd. He gets several two counts and hits a Butterfly Suplex for two more. Ricky tries another crossbody and gets hot-shotted on the top rope. See, he’s too married to a move, and it’s killing him. Great spot as Flair gets two and then leans on Ricky’s larynx while arguing with the referee. To the floor, Flair delivers a suplex, and we get our second tally (Funk and O’Connor for Flair, and Thesz for Steamboat, leaving it at 4-2 Steamboat). Flair tries to suplex Steamboat back in, and Ricky reverses to an O’Connor roll in a nice bit of history that only Pat O’Connor himself would probably get. Flair tries a crossbody, and they BOTH go over in dramatic fashion. Back in, Steamboat catches Flair on top and slams him off. DOUBLE CHICKENWING…but Flair is in the ropes. Ricky goes up, but Flair rattles the ropes, sending Ricky all the way to the floor, injuring his knee on the landing. Well, you know what time it is now. NOW, IT’S TIME TO GO TO SCHOOL! Flair goes after the leg and locks in the figure-four leglock. Ricky just makes the ropes as Ross derides stars in certain other promotions walking around and posing to “the rock ‘n’ roll music.” This is the same guy who claims to have Saliva in his CD changer. Flair grabs Ricky’s leg and just starts pounding away at the knee. He stops to “WOOO” and takes an enzuigiri for it. Steamboat picks Flair up and slams him, but Flair hooks his leg on the way down and reverses to a small package for the win at 31:31. Why is this match so great? Well, for starters, things like headlocks and chops just age well, despite what you might expect. What’s state of the art right now might be passé five years from now. Chops, headlocks and armdrags are so basic and so malleable that they fit in anywhere without seeming contrived like say, oh, the Rolling Thunder. Second, there are a number of small touches they added in there for people who have seen a lot of historic matches. Sure, we all remember the small package reversal off a bodyslam from WrestleMania III, but who would recognize Steamboat getting a nearfall off the O’Connor roll maneuver that got a fall on Nature Boy Buddy Rogers? Third, the intensity is top notch. Watch the speed with which Ricky bounces off those ropes and into a shoulderblock. Watch the height and length Flair gets as he’s being armdragged through the air. I still give the slight edge to “Clash VI” as being the greatest ever, but this one is just a hair’s breadth behind. *****

  • But that’s not all! Terry Funk leaves the judge’s table to congratulate Flair and generally make a nuisance of himself while Flair is trying to give his victory speech. He challenges Flair on the spot, and Flair retorts that Funk has been MIA for years and isn’t even on the radar of contenders like Sting and Luger. Funk appears to acquiesce before suckerpunching Flair and piledriving him on a table and breaking his neck. AWESOME! Flair would take time off to stew in his own anger and hatred before coming back for righteous revenge. Notice how one feud begins right as the other wraps up. That keeps the fans’ attention without a lot of filler.
  • NWA World Tag Titles: The Varsity Club (w/Kevin Sullivan) vs. The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering).
    The Varsity Club finally succeeded in wresting the tag titles away from the Roadies at Clash VI when Teddy Long turned heel with a fast count and became a manager. Nikita Koloff is the special referee this time. He asserts his authority immediately by tossing Sullivan. Rotundo comes off the top but gets powerslammed by Animal. Williams misses an elbow and rolls outside to take a breather, but Hawk comes off the apron with a clothesline. He misses a second try and posts himself. That opens the door for Rotundo to sneak over and toss him into the post. The VC go to work on Hawk’s shoulder. Animal gets the quick tag and cleans house. It turns into a pier-six. Rotundo goes over the top, and the Roadies hit Williams with the Doomsday Device. Oh, but Danny Spivey and Sullivan drag Nikita out of the ring and attack him for the DQ at 5:10. It was pretty good while lasted, but the DQ finish is silly because the VC would be stripped of the titles anyway. **1/2

  • U.S. Tag Titles: Eddie Gilbert & Rick Steiner (w/Missy Hyatt) vs. Kevin Sullivan & Danny Spivey.
    This is an offshoot of Rick leaving the original Varsity Club. He rejoined his old manager Eddie Gilbert, and the two became tag champions. Spivey went to the University of Georgia, although his football career isn’t nearly as decorated as any of the other VC members. He posts Steiner right off the bat, taking Rick out of the match. Gilbert wrestles the rest of the match by himself. Gilbert survives long enough to make the tag, but the ref didn’t see it. Rick nails Sullivan with a clothesline anyway, allowing Gilbert to fall on top for the win at 6:41. Steiner was apparently hurt legit, and the Gilbert/Steiner team fell apart. The tag titles were dissolved until 1990 when the NWA dragged them back out to get Brian Pillman & Tom Zenk over. This match was just Gilbert selling for six straight minutes until Steiner hopped in. *
  • The 411: This show doesn't have much of an undercard, but the main event (the real one between Flair and Steamboat) is an all-time classic, many say the best match in the history of wrestling. Not only that, but it would kick off several threads that would fuel the NWA through a fantastic summer.

    Thumbs up, especially for the main event.

    Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend

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