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Leighty’s Retro Review: NWA Clash of the Champions V: St. Valentine’s Massacre

November 17, 2023 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
NWA Clash of the Champions V Image Credit: WWE
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Leighty’s Retro Review: NWA Clash of the Champions V: St. Valentine’s Massacre  

-Continuing on with 1989, we get to our first NWA show of the year. Up to this point the WWF has already had a SNME, a PPV (Royal Rumble), and The Main Event, where the Mega Powers exploded. My friend Kent has been waiting for some NWA reviews, so let’s see how the NWA responds to what the WWF had been offering. Let’s get to it!

-Announce Team: Jim Ross and Magnum TA
-Feb. 15, 1989
-Cleveland Convention Center, Cleveland, Ohio
-Attendance: 5000

The Russian Assassins (w/ Paul Jones) vs. The Midnight Express (w/ James Cornette)

-This would be the Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane version of TME. The Russians, after some digging, are apparently Jack Victory and The Angel of Death. TME are faces here as they are in the middle of their feud with The Original Midnight Express and Paul E Dangerously. Lane starts off with Assassin 1, I think. Lockup and yes, JR tells me this is Russian #1. He shoves Lane on his ass as a USA chant breaks out from the crowd. Always works! Another shove and The Russians give each other props. Another go and Lane uses his KARATE with a chop to the throat and a kick. He tags to Eaton and he hooks an armbar. Russian drops an elbow and gets a slam before tagging #2. He misses an elbow and Lane comes in off a tag with a shoulder to the gut. Hooking clothesline from Lane. Drop toehold by Lane lets Eaton drop an elbow while Cornette torments Paul Jones on the floor. We get an insert promo from Paul E Dangerously and he appreciates how generous Ted Turner is to let the world see Jim Cornette one last time. He hypes up Monday’s Chi Town Rumble PPV and then Dangerously joins the announce team (after some technical issues). Jones and Cornette are ready to trade blows which is the most exciting thing to happen in the match. Lane decks Jones and The Russians rush in to separate everyone. Still no Dangerously on commentary as the audio is off. He finally joins and gives us him game plan for Monday night. The Russians get sent into each other and Cornette blasts one on the floor with his tennis racket to pop the crowd. Weird seeing the fans go crazy for Cornette! We settle back down in the ring with Russian 2 and Lane trading blows. Lane wins the exchange and Assassin bails, where they switch places. Tag to back to #1 and we get a double clothesline. Back to #2 who chokes away and dumps Lane to the floor. Cover, but no count as I have no clue what the ref called there. #1 back in and he hooks a bearhug while the crowd starts another USA chant. Here comes #2 to drop Lane with a suplex and then he hooks a bearhug. Lane is able to create space and breaks, but gets pulled into the wrong corner and The Russians switch off again. Russian 1 gets a two count as Dangerously talks 100 miles an hour to sell the upcoming match. Kind of undercuts any importance this match may have. I mean, not that this really has any. Lane punches his way out of another bearhug, but misses a cannon ball in the corner. Slam for The Russian and he makes the tag to Victory, I mean #2. Lane ducks a clothesline and gets a two count off a crossbody. Here comes #1 and he squirts out an elbow drop followed by a slam. He trips trying to get a Boston Crab and ends up with a Half Crab while kneeling. Eaton breaks it up and then pulls Lane out of the way of a Russian Missile. Lane makes the hot tag and Eaton goes crazy with right hands. The Russians have a meeting of the minds and then Eaton gets a double bulldog. Dangerously takes his leave which means this match is probably about to end. Right on cue The Rock Launcher finishes at 13:15.

Winners: The Midnight Express via pin at 13:15
-This had good heat as the crowd was invested, but it wasn’t anything I would classify as good. *1/2

-Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat gets some interview time and he has his little boy with him. He is glad to be back in the NWA and he has a golden opportunity to show the family way and family unit is the way to go. He is asked why he would fight tonight knowing he has a World Title Match on Monday against Ric Flair. Steamboat notes he needs some tune-up matches and that’s what this is tonight. We throw to footage of Flair and Steamboat having a brawl last week.

Steve Casey vs. “Hacksaw” Butch Reed

-Quite the stache on Mr. Casey! Lockup to start and Reed offers a clean break in the ropes. Reed with an arm drag and he showboats a little bit. Casey ducks a clothesline and hits a dropkick and follows with an arm drag of his own. Casey works the arm for a bit and drops a leg on it. We cut to a couple in the front row and they start making out. Well, I mean Valentine’s Day is near. Reed tries a slam, but Casey holds the arm. Reed is able to get to the ropes to break and we continue to cut to closeups of the crowd. Reed stalls and yells at the crowd as we get more cut aways to the crowd. Back to the “action” as Reed now controls with a standing armbar. Casey gets a reversal and now he gets to hold an armor for a bit, We are nearing 6 minutes into the match and nothing of note is really happening. More crowd shots though! Casey throws some right hands, but apparently that’s too much excitement and he goes back to the armbar. He drops a knee to do some damage, so Reed gets to the bottom rope and rolls to the floor to break. There is a fan in the front row holding 2 rolls of toiler paper and he calls Reed, “a big baby.” Reed slowly gets back into the ring and wants a test of strength. Reed dominates that early and cuts Casey off with a kick to the gut. Warrior/Hogan this is not! Reed gets a reversal and goes back to an armbar, but thankfully Reed goes to the eyes to break. He lands a right hand that sends spit flying. Reed rakes the face with his boots and starts laying the boots to Casey. He dumps Casey to the floor and soaks in the boos. Casey jumps back up on the apron, but Reed drops him throat first across the top rope. Casey starts to fire up in the corner, but eats a double sledge to the back and Reed spices things up with a chinlock. This gives JR time to rundown where the NWA will be traveling in the coming weeks. Casey is able to get to his feet, but Reed goes to the hair to hook the chinlock again. Great! JR informs us this is a battle of the unbeaten as neither man has lost since coming to the NWA. Casey gets to his feet again, but gets dumped to the floor. Reed brings him back in with a suplex, but Casey is out at two. Casey fights back, but Reed grabs the ropes to avoid a dropkick. Hey, there’s another chinlock from Reed! Reed uses the ropes for leverage which pisses off the crowd, but doesn’t do much for the lack of action. Casey finally starts his comeback, and runs Reed into the corner to break. He hits a running elbow in the corner and gets the 10 count punch in the corner, but only goes to eight. Some chops from Casey and then a monkey flip. Dropkick from Casey and then another. He dives at Reed, but gets caught and Reed gets a Gorilla Press Slam. He heads up top and hits The Bomb (flying shoulder) for the pin at 17:38.

Winner: Butch Reed via pin at 17:38
-If you are a fan of chin locks, armbars, and Test of Strength, this is the match for you. No need for 17 plus minutes as this was a drag. Not a fan of this one. DUD

-Ric Flair is out with a bunch of women in black gowns to hype the upcoming PPV Match with Ricky Steamboat. It’s pretty easy to see where they were going with the story as Flair is in a fur coat with a bunch of women, while Steamboat was out with his young son. Flair wants Steamboat to come out and take his pick as he has to be getting bored sitting at home at night. Flair tells Steamboat to walk away from Monday night and do himself a favor. Flair will be getting all the sex after winning Monday Night. The crowd boos Steamboat talking about the family unit as they are clearly behind Flair and his women. Flair tells Steamboat to go home and do the dishes and the fight is on between the two. They are laying into each other with chops and clubbing blows to the back. Flair gets his shirt and pants ripped off, but goes to the eyes and fries up Steamboat with chops in the corner. Steamboat responds as they are determined to have the best match on this show without actually having a sanctioned match. It’s working too! Steamboat with a Gorilla Press Slam and then a backdrop out of the corner. Steamboat heads up and connects with a crossbody to get the visual pin. Hiro Matsuda makes the save and Steamboat gets beaten down a bit before making his own comeback. Flair Flip in the corner and Steamboat goes out after him on the floor and they start brawling through the crowd. THIS IS AWESOME! The chops are just flying as Flair finally retreats and The Dragon heads back to the ring. Steamboat throws what’s left of Ric’s suit to the crowd. Great stuff here and I have a feeling these two are going to do something special on Monday.

”The Total Package” Lex Luger vs. The Blackmailer (w/ Hiro Matsuda)

-Blackmailer is Jack Victory under a mask for the second time tonight. That’s what we are dealing with on this show. Luger is challenging for the US Title on Monday and I guess this is how he prepares. Jim Ross spends the first 60 seconds hyping up Luger vs. Windham which again, shows what it being thought about this match. BM controls with a side headlock, and Luger shoves off. BM tries to run Luger over, but no dice and Luger gives us a pec flex. Now Luger hooks a side headlock and when he gets shoved off, he runs BM down with a shoulder. That sends him to the floor where he is given advice by Matsuda. I assume it was to make sure he met Dangerously and got in good with him on the off chance he has his own promotion in the next five years. Luger no sells a belly to back suplex and catches BM with a backdrop out of the corner. He gets a headlock take-over and gets a two count off of that. BM fights out but gets caught with a power slam and Luger goes back to the side headlock. This goes on for a bit which lets Jim Ross break out any references he can to college football. He has referenced Joe Paterno and Bear Bryant so far. Luger misses a clothesline and ends up on the floor. BM with some generic stomping and then he uses the top rope to choke Luger. Matsuda yells instructions in Japanese. It’s more entertaining when Asuka does it. Tommy Young laying down the law to Matsuda is pretty sweet! We need more referees that don’t take any crap. Luger gets a sunset-flip for two, but BM goes to the eyes to counter. More choking from BM, but he tries a cover and Luger kicks out with power. BM hooks a chinlock, and cuts off a Luger comeback with a knee to the gut. Suplex is blocked and Luger gets one of his own. Luger starts charging up as he no sells every punch and then flexes to pop the crowd. He sends BM on his ass and then connects with a back elbow. Running clothesline next and then he sets BM up on the top rope. Luger brings him down with a superplex as a message to Windham and gets the pin at 12:54.

Winner: Lex Luger via pin at 12:54
-Not good, but better than the previous match. The crowd was way into Luger and you could see the dude was going to be a star. Just a super basic match, which is a fine tune-up for Luger heading into Monday. *1/4

-Rick Steiner gets some promo time backstage and man, was he looking young here. He has words for Rotunda!

NWA United States Tag Team Titles: The Varsity Club (c) (Mike Rotunda and Steve Williams) vs. The Fantastics

-Varsity Club use Freebird rules to defend the titles, so it’s Rotunda and Williams this go around. Tommy Rogers and Rotunda get us started, though Rotunda stalls for the first minute or so. Rotunda out wrestles Rogers to start and gloats to the crowd. More mat wrestling and Rogers hangs with Rotunda this time, so Mike pushes him across the ring. More stalling as we get more shots of people in the crowd. Another go and Rogers gets the advantage, so Rotunda slows things down again. Tag made to Williams and they run into each other as I’m not sure what they were doing there. Tag to Fulton and we get a double dropkick. Fulton swivels his hips like Rick Rude as TA notes he is trying to get Williams off his game. More ugliness as they get their feet tangled trying to run the ropes and Doc falls on his face. He grabs a side headlock to try to cover. Doc ends up falling through the ropes as well as this one is all kind of ugly. Rotunda back in and we get more shots of the crowd. Fulton gets a sunset flip for two, but Rotunda sends him into the top buckle. Tag made to Doc and he misses a series of clotheslines which lets Fulton get a crossbody for two. Tag to Rogers and Doc no sells a dropkick. To the corner where Doc gets a backdrop and Rogers nearly blew knee out on the landing. It looked like he wanted to land on his feet and couldn’t so it just looked bad. Rogers fires back on Rotunda and makes the tag to Fulton. He connects with a knee-lift for two. Fulton gets the 10 count in the corner, but Doc breaks that up and knocks Fulton to the floor. The ref gets distracted which lets Doc drop Fulton throat first on the railing. Back in the ring, Rotunda gets a thumb to the throat which Fulton sells with spit flying out of his mouth. Willams back in as he comes off the top with a double ax for two. Arm-bar as JR lets us know that they wrestle in the NWA. I appreciate the sentiment, but this show is following The Mega Powers exploding on NBC in front of millions. That tag match was better than this one too! Williams slams Fulton down by his hair and gets a Gorilla Press Slam. Running tackle, but Fulton holds the ropes to block the Stampede. Hot tag to Rogers and Doc nearly forgets where to go to feed him. Williams misses an elbow as all four men bowl in the ring. Rogers comes off the top with a crossbody, but the ref was getting Fulton out and that lets Rotunda nail Rogers from behind. Doc gets the cover and win at 13:25.

Winners and Still NWA US Tag Team Champions: The Varsity Club via pin at 13:25
-Woof! They seemed to be on different pages at various times and then add in the stalling and this wasn’t good. The crowd stayed with them, but I was hoping for more. *1/4

Bob Bradley vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (w/ wife and son)

-Quite the tune-up for Dragon! Bradley lays the bad mouth, so Steamboat shoves him across the ring. Bradley misses a punch and Steamboat gets an atomic drop. He uses his martial arts and Bradley bails to the floor. “We Want Flair,” chant from the crowd. JR notes there are still tickets available for the PPV on Monday in the Chicago area. Bradley pulls Dragon to the floor and gets a slam and then sends Steamboat throat first on the railing. Smart! Back in the ring, Bradley gets a back elbow and another slam. Clothesline next, but Dragon is back with a arm-drag into an arm-bar. Bradley shoves off, but sets too early on a backdrop. Steamboat gets a backdrop of his own and another arm-drag. Hip-toss from Dragon into another arm-drag into another arm-bar. Crowd: “We Want Flair.” Steamboat gets a shoulder block, but Bradley drops him with a chop. Sidewalk slam from Bradley! He heads up top, but misses. Steamboat heads up and hits the karate chop. Up on the other side, he hits a cross-body for the win at 6:23.

Winner: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat via pin at 6:23
Steamboat gets a win over a non-contender to prep for Flair on Monday. Nothing match though the pace and crispness was better than any other match on the show so far. *1/2

Rip Morgan vs. Rick Steiner

-Non-Title as Steiner will be defending the TV Title on Monday against Mike Rotunda. Morgan does his War Dance before the match as we get an insert promo from Rotunda. Steiner quickly hits a Steiner-line and Morgan bails to the floor. Back in they lock-up and Morgan buries some knees in the corner. Steiner no sells being run into the buckle, so Morgan drops him with a left hand. Heavy clothesline from Morgan, but he gets caught with a powerslam for two. Steiner backs Morgan into the corner and delivers some right hands. He charges in the opposite corner, but Morgan gets a boot up to block. He hooks a chinlock after getting a two count. To the corner where he lands a few blows and then gets a slam. He comes off the middle rope, but Steiner moves and drops Morgan with a clothesline. Steiner with a slam, but he avoids an elbow. Steiner gets a belly to belly out of nowhere for the pin at 4:40.

Winner: Rick Steiner via pin at 4:40
-This show is limping to the finish here! It was short at least and Steiner got to hit some clothesline and suplexes. *

-Hayes, Sting, and JYD are backstage with Bob Caudle. They are challenging for the World Six Man Titles. They take their leave, and Kevin Sullivan comes in and puts a lock on a gate that traps Sting and friends on a lower level in the arena. Okay then!

NWA Six Man Tag Titles: The Road Warriors (c) and Tenryu (c) vs. The Varsity Club

-We cut to the back where Sting and friends are still trapped, so The Varsity Club hits the ring and the brawl is on to start the match. All six men brawl and The VC clear the ring to many boos from the crowd. We even get some garbage thrown into the ring. Hawk gets a kick on Williams (I think). They zoomed so far out to do the split screen that it was hard to tell. Sullivan hits a clothesline on Animal, but he ignores that and hands out clotheslines to everyone from The VC. Tag to Hawk as we keep cutting to the back as the suit tries countless keys to free our heroes. Tenryu and Rotunda have a go. Chop and dropkick from Tenryu, so Rotunda calls for a time-out. Doc gets the tag, but misses a clothesline. Tenryu gets an enziguiri. Tag to Hawk and he lands a running clothesline in the corner. More fun with the split srcreen! Hey, they finally break out the bolt cutters and our heroes are free. Animal gets caught in the wrong corner and gets dumped to the floor. Rotunda sends him shoulder first into the post and cracks it off the railing. Sullivan tosses Animal over the top to the floor, but the ref didn’t see it, so no DQ. Doc sends Animal shoulder first into the post. Back in the ring, they collide and the ref misses the tag to Hawk. Here come Sting, Hayes, and JYD for the DQ at 5:55.

Draw at 5:55
-It was energetic, though they didn’t deliver on the advertised Title Match. *

-All nine men brawl around the ringside area as JR tells us we will be right back.

-Jim Ross and Magnum wrap things up and plug Monday’s PPV one last time.

-Thanks for reading!

The final score: review Very Bad
The 411
Not a good start to 1989 at all for the NWA. Usually, these early Clashes had some importance, but this one was just days before a PPV and it's like they didn't want to waste anything here. I don't blame them, but it made for a bad show with boring matches in a dimly lit arena. The crowd was way more invested than you would think for a show this bad, but good on them. The best part of the show was the Flair/Steamboat brawl and that's all.