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Leighty’s Retro Review: NWA Clash of The Champions VII: Guts and Glory

March 12, 2024 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Terry Funk WCW Clash of the Champions VII Image Credit: WWE
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Leighty’s Retro Review: NWA Clash of The Champions VII: Guts and Glory  

-Welcome back as we continue to march through 1989. After this show, I will tackle Saturday Night’s Main Event from July and then get to Great American Bash 89. Let’s get to it!

-Announce Team: Jim Ross and Bob Caudle
-Date: June 14, 1989
-Ritz-Epps Fitness Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

-Lt. General Carl Stiner tells us about the US ARMY and welcomes World Championship Wrestling.

-Members of the ARMY at Fort Bragg sing the National Anthem. This crowd is small, but JACKED.

-Video of several of the NWA wrestlers doing the obstacle courses at Fort Bragg.

NWA World Tag Team Title Tournament Semi-Finals: The Dynamic Dudes vs. The Freebirds (Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin w/ Terry Gordy)

-This is Garvin’s debut as a Freebird and the fans start throwing garbage at them in the ring. All four men brawl to start and The Dudes get Stereo Atomic Drops followed by Stereo Belly to Back Suplexes. A double pin, but no count so The Birds bail to the floor. Hayes and Johnny go and Hayes walks into a right from Douglas and into an arm-drag. Hayes goes to the eyes and tags in Garvin. He gets caught with an arm-drag and the Dudes tag in and out quickly. Double Hip-toss followed by a Double Elbow Drop. JR lets us know that The Dudes were the 8 seed coming into this Tournament and then tells us we will be seeing the debut of The Ding Dongs. Oh! CAN’T WAIT! Hayes lands a kick to the gut on Johnny followed by a chop to the chest. He misses a punch though and hits Garvin by accident, which gets a two count. Johnny misses a flying cross-body and the tag is made to Garvin. He drops Johnny throat first on the top rope and that gets two. A slam and another two count. Johnny gets dumped to the floor and Hayes sends him into the security rail. This crowd is fantastic! Garbage continues to be tossed at The Birds and Hayes has to be in his glory. Back in the ring Garvin and Johnny collide in the middle of the ring and the race is on to make a tag. Shane gets the hot tag and he runs wild as the crowd loses it. The Birds get ran into each other and Shane gets a roll-up for two. All four men in the ring and the crowd counts along as Hayes is rammed into the top buckle. Double dropkick from The Dudes. Hayes and Johnny take turns throwing each other out of the ring. The ref tries to get Johnny back to his corner which lets Hayes PLANT Douglas with a DDT as he had Garvin rolled up. The pin is academic as The Birds get the win at 7:05.

Winners: The Fabulous Freebirds via pin at 7:05
-Just a simple and basic tag match, but this crowd was fantastic. **1/2

-The Wrestling Hotline commercial is included and for whatever reason I vividly remember that commercial playing every week as a child.

The Terrorist vs. Ranger Ross

-They are playing to the live crowd here and good on them for that. Ranger Ross is over huge here as you would expect. Terrorist attacks from behind as JR plugs Coors Light and Domino’s Pizza. Ross hits a flying forearm and the place explodes. Dropkick followed by a slam gets two. Running lariat as the crowd starts a USA chant. Karate Offense from Ross and he hits The Combat Kick for the pin at 1:25.

Winner: Ranger Ross via pin at 1:25
-This was exactly what it needed to be as they gave the live crowd a moment. Harts in Calgary, Punk in Chicago, Rhea in Australia, and now Ranger Ross in Fort Bragg! SQUASH

-Road Warriors hype video with Iron Man rip-off. Again, The Road Warriors scared me as a young child.

-Great Muta (w/ Gary Hart) does a demonstration of his martial arts. It seems Muta and Gilbert are going to face off down the line and a coin flip will determine if it will be Muta’s match or Gilbert’s (Gold Miner’s Glove). Hart says Muta wants real competition, and that brings out Gilbert who tries to throw a fireball at Muta, but burns one of the jobbers instead. The story is Muta is afraid of fire as his father was burned in the face. Gilbert throwing fire and teasing a Coal Miner’s Glove Match is so Memphis!

George South and Cougar Jay vs. The Ding Dongs

-So, The Ding Dongs are two guys in pink body suits with bells on their ankles. They also have a bell positioned above their corner. JR isn’t sure if they should refer to them as Ding and Dong or Ding Dong 1 and Ding Dong 2. The poor crew guys are using tape to secure the bell to the post. Ding gets a side headlock as the bell rings like crazy. Where was this man when Vince McMahon needed someone in Montreal? This once hot crowd is not amused by this. Ding with an arm-drag and he tags in Dong, who somersaults over the top and lands a strike. More bell ringing! South gets a side headlock and we get a criss-cross. Ding back in and we get a double hip-toss. Thesz Press from Ding gets a two count! I KNEW IT WAS AUSTIN! Dong back in with a series of arm-drags and he works the arm as we get more bell ringing. Had it been a cowbell we would have had something to work with here. The bells on their ankles are all over the ring as they fall off. Something gets messed up by Dong, but they cover and he gets a belly to belly suplex. Dong off the top with an elbow and Ding with a top rope knee drop for the pin at 3:37. JR: “Oh that was horrible.” He is talking about the joke me made, but we know what he really meant.

Winners: The Ding Dongs via pin at 3:37
-Well, I can say I watched this match now. I have no clue what the NWA was thinking here as they always touted themselves as the wrestling company without the gimmicks and such. Then they gives us this! It was short at least, and I’ll take that over the 18 minute Butch Reed matches I was getting on Clash shows a few months ago. 1/2*

NWA World Tag Team Title Tournament Semi-Finals: The Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette) vs. The Samoan Swat Team (w/ Paul E Dangerously)

-A fan rushes the ring before the match, but Cornette tells him they will save his life and let him sleep it off as security hauls him away. Who charges a ring with wrestlers and members of The ARMY in the crowd? Dangerously threatens Cornette before the match, so Cornette takes a swing at him. All four men start brawling in a hot start. Lane with a drop toe-hold on Fatu, and Eaton drops an elbow. The ME make quick tags and double team when able. All four men back in the ring, but Patrick is able to restore order. Eaton with a swinging neckbreaker and he knocks Samu off the apron. Fatu gets dropped on his face which brings Samu into the ring with a super kick. Lane tries to save, but gets forced out. Fatu with a clothesline and then a tag to Samu. Double chop to the throat and Eaton gets knocked to the floor. Fatu suplexes Eaton on the floor and this crowd is not happy with The SST. Dangerously is on the phone with someone as the more things change, they stay the same in pro-wrestling. Samu plants Eaton on his face as the crowd is thunderous with their attempts to rally Eaton. Fatu misses a charge in the corner and hits his shoulder. Hot tag to Lane and he connects with a flying forearm. Side Russian Leg Sweep gets a two count and everyone is back in the ring. The ref gets knocked down in the chaos and here come The Road Warriors. Fatu gets slammed off the top and then a double clothesline on Samu lets Lane crawl over for the pin an 6:06. 

Winners: The Midnight Express via pin at 6:06

-Super hot crowd even if it was just a basic tag match, just like the opener. The reaction the Warriors got and then the reaction to the pin was something else. God bless this crowd! **1/2

-Recap of Terry Funk throwing out a challenge to Ric Flair after WrestleWar and then beating the dog piss out of Flair when he blew him off. Great stuff and my recap of that show can be found here. PILEDRIVER THROUGH A TABLE! Again, had that been Memphis they would have been calling a coroner for Flair.

Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams

-Dr. Death rushes the ring and it’s time for some BIG MEATY MEN SLAPPING MEAT! Williams goes at the knees with a tackle as Jim Ross is losing it on commentary. Needless to say this is right up JR’s alley. Gordy back with a clothesline and then a running clothesline in the corner. I always like when Hogan did that move. JR tells us the story as Kevin Sullivan paid Gordy off to sucker punch Doc in Japan. JR also brings the history as he mentions this feud started in Mid-South and The UWF. Williams unloads with right hands in the corner as the crowd explodes. More punches from Williams including an uppercut to the jaw. Headbutt, but Gordy shrugs that off and goes for a waist-lock. They jockey for position and Gordy gets a belly to back suplex. Gordy hooks a chinlock which takes the crowd out of it for a bit. Boo! Just continue to punch each other in the face until someone drops. Gordy releases and gets a slam. Another one is escaped and Doc gets his own slam. They head to the floor and start exchanging right hands. Back in the ring Gordy misses a clothesline which lets Doc get a crossbody for two. More punching from Doc and he connects with a dropkick that sends Gordy to the floor. Gordy back in the ring and he goes to the eyes. Williams comes out of the corner with a forearm. Gordy has had enough so he starts to walk. Williams gives chase as they brawl in the aisle and this ends in a double count-out at 6:26. Bullshit chant from the crowd for that ending.

Double Count-out at 6:26
-Started hot and got going again before the crappy ending. **1/4

Mike Justice vs. Norman The Lunatic (w/ Teddy Long)

-This is Norman’s debut and he is a mental patient that is released so he can wrestle. He even wrestlers in his psych ward gear. Long has a key that controls Norman, and professes that Norman didn’t do whatever he is accused of doing. Norman rushes Justice to start with clubbing blows followed by a clothesline. Head-butt from Norman. Justice lands one punch, but that’s all as Norman hits the corner splash for the pin at 47 seconds.

Winner: Norman The Lunatic via pin at 47 seconds
-SQUASH as the NWA continues to try to introduce gimmick characters. SQUASH

-Norman gets taken out on a stretcher for his safety and those around him.

-Jim Ross interviews The Freebirds as they will face The Midnight Express in the NWA Tag Team Title Finals later tonight.

-Video package on Brian Pillman!

The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan and Mike Rotunda) vs. The Steiner Brothers (w/ Missy Hyatte)

-I swear they said this was an Australian Rules Tag Match, but no clue what that means. Scott and Sullivan start things off, and Sullivan runs him into the corner. Scott back with a clothesline and he throws a series of punches. All four men in the ring and Rick goes for a pin and the ref rightly points out he isn’t the legal man. Another Coors Light plug from Jim Ross. Back in the ring Scott gets a power slam. Tag to Rotunda and he slows things down a bit. Rotunda wants Rick, so Scott makes the tag as the crowd goes crazy. Rick with a side headlock as Jim Ross thanks all the fans in Stamford, Connecticut for watching. Hey, I see what you did there! They also plug a show in Pittsburgh, which didn’t happen often as WWF had a strangle hold on the city. Sullivan back in and he gets caught with a clothesline out of the corner. Hey, Death Wish 2 follows this show on TBS. Not much happening in the ring, but the crowd is going crazy for Rick. Rotunda and Scott back in and Scott gets rammed into the top buckle. Scott back with a crossbody for two. Crazy bump as Scott is dumped with a release suplex over the top to the floor and he caught the table on the way down. Sullivan throws the stairs at Scott for good measure. ECW! ECW! ECW! Oh wait, still got a few years! That bump legit had me yelling out loud. Rotunda with a dropkick as Ross mention he was a semi-finalist in the National Punt, Pass, and Kick. Pat McAfee won that contest I believe. Rotunda misses a clothesline as he falls on his ass, but hits it on a second try. Tag to Rick, but the ref didn’t see it and the crowd is PISSED! Rotunda misses a dropkick and now the hot tag is made to Rick. He goes crazy with right hands and this crowd is just rocking with him. Double clothesline to Rotunda. Sullivan goes for a chair, but Rick dropkicks him. Steiner tries a splash, but Rotunda gets up the knees. The chair is slid into the ring and Rotunda delivers a suplex on it for the pin at 8:36.

Winners: The Varsity Club via pin at 8:36
-Fun match with a hot crowd, but it seemed weird to defeat The Steiners here. ***

-Jim Cornette cuts a promo to hype the upcoming Title Match against The Freebirds. Cornette sucking up to the crowd is kind of weird! Cornette says he will be here to make sure the 3rd Freebird doesn’t interfere. Uh, I don’t like Jim’s chances against Gordy.

-A message from the North Carolina Governor!

NWA Television Title: Sting (c) vs. “Wild” Bill Irwin

-I am watching this match the morning of Sting’s retirement match which is kind of fitting. Sting starts fast and gets great elevation with a dropkick. Irwin gets a knee in the corner and throws some forearms. He drops Sting on the top rope throat first and runs him into the ropes by the throat on the other side. Back elbow from Irwin as the crowd is not happy with the lack of Sting offense. Sting lands a kick as Irwin sets too early on a backdrop. Sting rakes the back (HOLLYWOOD HOGAN) and gets a suplex for two. Irwin lands some shots as we get a loud “Sting” chant. He fights back, but misses the Stinger Splash. Sting actually catches himself and comes off the middle rope with a crossbody, but Irwin catches him and hits a sweet spinebuster that almost looked like a DDT from Sting. Irwin is dumb and goes for his whip in the corner. This time the Stinger Splash hits and Sting gets a roll-up for the pin at 3:28.

Winner and Still NWA Television Champion: Sting via pin at 3:28
-Weird ending as Sting should have won with something more decisive. *

-Video package hyping Scott “Gator” Hall. It’s like looking at a completely different person as he was more Magnum TA than Razor Ramon at this point.

-Jim Ross is at Ric Flair’s home in Charlotte. I wonder if he still has that home or which ex-wife has it now? That does’t look like the home from Starrcade 93. Ric sporting a gold Laker’s jacket, big sunglasses, and a neck brace just looks cooler than it should, but that’s why he is Ric Flair. Ric says he isn’t worried about money and talks to his accountants and lawyers about if there is life after wrestling. Apparently the answer is no as thirty five years later, he still can’t leave the business. Not judging either, because I don’t know what it’s like to give up something like that. Flair says the injury to his neck is worse than the back from the plane crash. Ross brings up the Champion must defend the Title every 30 days, and Flair has gone past that point. The NWA waived that stipulation since Funk was an NWA judge and caused the injury. Flair says the NWA has made this deal fair for him and have given him an additional 30 days. If he can’t defend by then, he has to forfeit to someone else. Flair will announce on July 1st if he will be able to compete and say he won’t come back unless he is 100%.

NWA World Tag Team Title Tournament Finals: The Freebirds (Jimmy Gavin and Michael Hayes w/ Terry Gordy) vs. The Midnight Express (w/ Jim Cornette)

-Dangerously is out and decks Cornette from behind with a loaded tennis racket. In a cool moment they show the racket was loaded with a horseshoe and chain. The Dynamic Dudes carry Cornette to the back as the bell rings to start the match. Hayes starts with Lane as future WWE backstage interviewers collide! Lane gets a hiptoss and a slam followed by a series of arm drags. Hayes bails and makes a tag to Garvin. Don’t blame him! Eaton with a tag and the Express use some tandem offense for a two count as JR plugs Death Wish 2 following this show. Funny enough, if you want Death Wish in TBS today just watch a Darby Allin match on Wednesday night. I kid! Hayes and Garvin yell at the crowd and garbage starts flying into the ring. Again, Hayes is right at home in an environment like this. Eaton plays to the crowd to get them rolling behind the Express which is weird to see. Garvin back in the ring and he hits Eaton with a couple slams. Hayes in and he pitches Eaton to the floor and into the railing. Back in the ring Hayes chokes away as we are five minutes into this one with not much happening since The Bird went on offense. Eaton gets pitched to the floor again so Hayes plays to the crowd and there’s more garbage thrown at him. Hayes hits an elbow to the face and struts to taunt Lane. Garvin sends Eaton into the railing again and that draws Lane over to protect him. Eaton back in the ring where he gets sent into Garvin’s knee. The Birds with a double back elbow and after a snap mare, Garvin hooks a reverse chinlock. Eaton fights back and gets the tag to Lane. He uses his karate, but misses an elbow in the corner. Hayes back in, but Lane plants him with a DDT. Both men make a tag and Eaton runs wild over both Birds. Everyone starts hitting everyone. Double backdrop to Garvin! A forearm from Lane sends Hayes to the floor. Gordy gets knocked off the apron. Flapjack to Gavin gets two. Gordy in and he powerbombs Eaton behind the ref’s back and that gives The Birds the Tag Titles at 9:09.

Winners and New NWA Tag Team Champions: The Freebirds via pin at 9:09
-Not much to this one other than the Birds drawing a lot of heat from the crowd. It was just a solid tag match that seemed to drag when The Birds were stalling. **1/4

Terry Funk vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat

-This is a battle of #10 (Funk) and #2 (Dragon) in the World Title Rankings. Lockup to start and they jockey for position on the ropes. Nick Patrick separates and we have another go. First chop from Funk and then he connects with several more. Steamboat fires back and Funk powers up as he takes them. Lockup again and they slap each other in the face though Funk threw the first slap. Funk gets knocked to the floor and stares down the crowd. The crowd has thinned out some as you can see where people left early. Double Chop by Steamboat followed by two dropkicks and Funk is back on the floor. They trade blows back in the ring and Funk wins this exchange. He throws Steamboat between the ropes to the floor and Funk follows. He lands an elbow to the back, so Dragon fires off some more chops. Funk get sent back first into the railing and then back into the ring. Funk gets top position after a trip and unloads with right hands. Funk rubs his boot on Dragon’s face and then gets a sweet looking neckbreaker for two. Steamboat responds with chops, but sets too early on a backdrop and gets caught with a boot to the chest. CLOTHESLINE RIPS STEAMBOAT’S HEAD OFF! Dragon with more chops and sends Funk to the corner where he takes a Flair Bump, but instead of landing on the apron, he falls to the floor. Dragon heads up, so Funk walks the apron and falls to the floor as far away as he can get, but he walks back and Steamboat comes off the top with a chop. Too funny! Dragon carries Funk around the ring and I mean, he walked with him with nearly 360 degrees around the ring and then decided to slam him. Back in the ring, Steamboat throws Funk over the top to the floor which isn’t a DQ. Perhaps that rule wasn’t in effect yet though I guess this is the NWA and not WCW yet. I can’t keep track of when that rules was in effect. Back in the ring here are some chops from Funk followed by a back elbow. Funk sets for the piledriver and hits it as JR is calling this one over. Dragon is out at two and actually starts throwing chops again. The ref gets bumped and having no ref in a match with TERRY FUNK is probably a bad thing. Steamboat gets dumped to the floor and Funk hits a piledriver out there. Ehh, he should have pulled the blue mat up. Steamboat is up and crawls back to the apron. Funk brings him back into the ring with a suplex, but it only gets two as the ref is still recovering. Funk gets another two and then just punches Dragon in the head repeatedly. Effective! Funk heads up, but Steamboat blocks a splash by getting his knees up. The crowd is rocking with them now as The Dragon lands a punch to the gut and then a chop there as well. Gutbuster from Steamboat as he continues to work the ribs/stomach. Dragon up to fly and hits a chop. Enziguiri knocks Funk on top of Ross and Candle’s announce table. Funk grabs the ring mic and decks Steamboat in the head for the DQ at 12:49.

Winner: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat via DQ at 12:49
-Fun match with them just chopping the stuffing out of each other. Didn’t like the ending as Funk was next for Flair and probably should have won even if only by cheating. ***3/4

-Lex Luger is down to chase Funk off with a steel chair. The crowd is happy to see Luger as they start a chant for him. He grabs a mic and says that people are saying he is too cocky and has too much ego. He helps Ricky up and then DESTROYS HIM WITH A CLOTHESLINE! The crowd freaks out as Luger grabs a chair and Steamboat starts to beg off, but that does not good as Luger blasts him in the shoulder. Torture Rack and then Lex goes back to cutting his promo. “There lays your number one contender.” Tell ‘em Lex! JR unleashes the anger on Luger that he would become famous for years later when bitching out HHH.

-Jim and Bob wrap things up to close and they replay Luger beating the fire out of The Dragon.

-Thanks for reading!

The final score: review Good
The 411
Fun show thanks to the hot crowd! The intimate setting worked for this one. There were some solid tag matches and really good Funk/Steamboat match. The bad was short, so no harm there and it was a show that flew by. Definitely worth a watch.