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Leighty’s Retro Review: NWA Clash of The Champions VIII: Fall Brawl ’89

June 9, 2024 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
NWA Clash of The Champions VIII Fall Brawl '89 Ric Flair Sting Image Credit: WWE
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Leighty’s Retro Review: NWA Clash of The Champions VIII: Fall Brawl ’89  

-Yes, Fall Brawl was a Clash branded event before it became the annual September PPV in WCW. We left off after the historic Great American Bash show and the war between Funk and Flair has been rolling on ever since. After this show, I will jump back to the WWF with October’s Saturday Night’s Main Event. We are getting closer and closer to finishing up with 1989 and I will end with my ranking of every PPV match from the year. I never included TV matches in the past because it was in the era where The Clash didn’t mean anything anymore. That’s obviously not the case here, but rules are rules I guess. For now, we roll on with Fall Brawl. Let’s get to it!

-Announce Team: Jim Ross, and Jim Cornette
-Date: Sept 12, 1989
-Carolina Coliseum, Columbia, South Carolina
-Attendance: 2600

-Ross and Cornette discuss rumors that there are issues with Gary Hart and his camp.

-We go to Gordon Solie who has Gary Hart and he says everything is fine with his camp. He wouldn’t be shocked if Flair and Sting were spreading the rumors.

The Samoan Swat Team (w/ Paul E Dangerously) vs. The Road Warriors (w/ Paul Ellering)

-Animal and Fatu start fast by beating on each other. Powerslam from Animal and Samu comes in to get dropped with a clothesline for good measure. It’s a small crowd tonight, but they are hot for this one! Samu hits a headbutt which doesn’t do much, so he bails to the floor. Animal attacks him out there and tosses him back in the ring. Hawk with a slam and a jumping fist. Standing dropkick and then a tag to Animal. Fatu back in as well and they jockey for position. Animal gets a side headlock as Cornette and Ross go over the history of Apter’s Tag Team of the Year Award. Hawk back in with a clothesline for two as Samu makes the save. Hawk misses a shoulder in the corner and goes flying out to the floor after hitting the post. Samu drops Hawk balls first on the railing as Heyman yells into the camera. Somewhere a young Tommy Dreamer is taking notes! Powerslam from Fatu gets a two count! He hooks a bearhug and this crowd is going crazy as they cheer for the hot tag. Hawk punches his way to the corner, but the ref misses the tag. Samu in and he goes to the eyes. Tag back to Fatu and he comes off the top with a chop as Samu held Hawk on his knee. That gets two! Slam from Fatu and he heads up top, but lands on Hawk’s boot on the way down. Hot tag to Animal and Samu gets dropped with an elbow and then a flying shoulder. Fatu breaks up the pin and all four men are in the ring. Hawk and Fatu brawl to the floor. Hawk gets sent into the post, so Fatu grabs Dangerously’s phone. Hawk saves and the phone ends up getting used on Samu. The Doomsday Device finishes at 6:45.

Winners: The Road Warriors via pin at 6:45
-This was a fun opener with a hot crowd. They maximized the time they had and got out before it went longer than needed. The Road Warriors get their revenge to blow the feud off. ***

-The Samoans bitch out Dangerously and leave him alone in the ring with his smashed cellphone.

-Halloween Havoc 89 commercial! I have vivid memories of seeing that commercial as a kid.

The Cuban Assassin vs. The Z Man

-This is Zenk’s debut and he starts fast with a series of dropkicks that send The Cuban to the floor. Mr. Assassin is back in and throws some right hands. Whip to the ropes, but Z Man jumps over and gets another dropkick followed by an armdrag into an armbar. Cuban with a knee to the ribs to break and gets a tackle, but runs into another armdrag. Z-Man works the arm some more as the once hot crowd is a little subdued now. Cuban with another knee to the ribs, but sets too early on a backdrop and Z Man gets a sunset flip for two. Another armdrag, but The Cuban gets in another shot. He follows with a slam, but misses a headbutt from the middle rope. Z-Man charges in the corner, but gets greeted with an elbow. Z-Man ducks a clothesline and hooks a sleeper for the submission at 3:36.

Winner: The Z Man via submission at 3:36
-Well, that was certainly a debut. Not sure a sleeper is the best finisher for Z Man, but here we are. If you like dropkicks and arm drags this was the match for you. *

-Governor Campbell declares this day as Ric Flair Day for all he has done for and meant to The Carolinas. The Governor saying “styling and profiling,” is pretty surreal and kind of cool. Man, I need to tell my wife that she shares her 8th birthday with Ric Flair Day!

Sid Vicious (w/ Teddy Long and Dan Spivey) vs. Ranger Ross

-You should know how this one is going to go! Sid throws Ross to the floor and drops him on the railing. Ross actually lands a pump kick and throws some chops, but who is he kidding? Sid with a DDT and then a Helicopter Throw followed by a Powerbomb for the pin at 1:08.

Winner: Sid Vicious via pin at 1:08
-Destruction as it should be! SQUASH

-Robin goes shopping with Missy Hyatt.

-Gordon Solie îs backstage with The World Tag Team Champions, The Fabulous Freebirds. They are annoyed at the lack of respect they have gotten since winning the Tag Titles.

NWA World Tag Team Titles: The Fabulous Freebirds (c) vs. The Steiner Brothers (w/ Missy Hyatt and Robin Green)

-No Bad Street which sucks! Scott starts with Hayes and Hayes struts to waste as much time as he can. Moonwalk into his corner and then more stalling. Steiner is just patiently waiting and finally, they lock up. Hayes complains about a hair pull and yells at the crowd. Steiner gets an armdrag and a roll-up, but Hayes rolls with it to escape before the ref can make a count. Hayes catches Steiner coming in with a right hand and comes off the top with a crossbody, but Scott rolls through and gets a two count. Clothesline sends Hayes to the floor and Gavin eats one as well. The Birds regroup on the floor and then a tag is made to Garvin. Man, Scott was only 24 years old here. He gets a hiptoss followed by an armdrag as he is dominating this match. Garvin backs Scott into the corner, but gets caught with a release belly to back suplex. No wonder they wanted to give this man the World Title at every turn! Rick gets the tag and rips off Garvin’s head with a Steiner-line and Hayes eats one as well. Just an ass kicking by The Steiners in these opening four minutes. Hayes wants a shot at Rick but makes sure to dance first. Steiner dances as well to taunt Hayes. Hayes tries a leapfrog and gets planted with a powerslam. Garvin off the top and Rick has a powerslam for him as well. Rick pounds away with punches in the corner and then another Steiner-line. Hayes gets a small flurry, but then another Steiner-line. Belly to Belly overhead suplex, but Rick misses a charge in the corner and The Birds finally find an opening after six minutes. Garvin with a DDT, but Scott makes the save. Hayes decks Scott to send him to the floor while Garvin pounds away on Rick. Hayes back in and he pitches Rick to the floor and sends him into the railing. Hayes goes back to dancing! Hayes with a clothesline for a two count. Garvin back in and he lands a kick to the gut and then a running knee to the head for two. Rick gets in a shot and connects with a slingshot suplex. The crowd is begging for a tag and it’s made to Scott! He hits each Bird with a Frankensteiner and then a powerslam to Hayes. Rick sends Garvin to the floor where they fight. Scott “trips” coming off the ropes and Hayes hit a DDT for the upset win at 10:30.

Winners and Still NWA Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Freedbirds via pin at 10:30
-Fun match and Scott looked like the next biggest star in the history of the universe. The crowd was begging for a Title change, but no dice. ***1/4

-After the match, Scott is claiming Robin tripped him while Rick is blaming Missy. The women are blaming each other. This would be paid off obviously!

Norman The Lunatic (w/ Teddy Long) vs. Flyin’ Brian

-Norman attacks before the bell, but Brian catches him with a series of dropkicks and gets a suplex. Nice! Brian hits the springboard clothesline and heads up top. He dives off with a crossbody to the floor! Again, nice! Brian decks Long and grabs the key, but that lets Norman deck him from behind. He tosses Brian in the air and lets him fall on his face. Splash from the middle ropes gets two! Norman hits a splash into the post on the floor. He goes for it again, but Brian moves out of the way. Brian back with chops and they head back into the ring. Brian up top and he connects with a missile dropkick. Slam from Brian to show some power! Then a BACKDROP. DAMN! Brian gets caught trying a crossbody and eats a World’s Strongest Slam for two. Clothesline from Norman gets another two! Pillman gets a crucifix for the pin at 3:30.

Winner: Flyin’ Brian via pin at 3:30
-This was a tremendous sub four minute match as they went all out. Brian looked great here and Norman played the monster well. This was great for the time they were given. ***

”Captain” Mike Rotunda vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams

-Doc chases Rotunda before the bell, but enters the ring second and Rotunda catches him with a boot. Doc turns the tide and gets the military press slam. Football tackle! A second charge gets cut off by a leaping clothesline from Rotunda! Nice! Williams gets tossed to the floor and Rotunda follows him out and throws some heavy blows. Back in the ring Rotunda gets an abdominal stretch and uses the top rope for leverage. Ross and Cornette are just babbling and drooling over the amateur backgrounds of both men. I’m old, so I remember, but anyone else out there remember The Big 8? To make me feel really old, there are people out there now that don’t know The Big East used to have football. Chinlock from Rotunda and he continues to use the ropes for leverage which has the people in the first few rows losing their minds. Now we get a history lesson on The University of South Carolina from JR and Cornette. They gave my Niners DEEBO! They fight in the corner and Rotunda holds to force a break, so he can drill Doc in the eye with a thumb over the ref’s back. That was great! Rotunda with a slam and he decides to head up top, but Doc greets him and slams him down. Doc is feeling it now and punches away in the corner with the crowd counting each blow. Doc misses a charge in the corner, but ducks a clothesline and Rotunda crashes over the top to the floor. Williams brings Rotunda back in with a slam, but Rotunda grabs the top rope. Young kicks the arm away which seems like a dick move by the ref. They roll back and Doc lands on top for the pin at 7:02.

Winner: “Dr. Death” Steve Williams via pin at 7:02
-This was solid and sadly, stopped just as they were hitting another level. The crowd was into this one and Rotunda was game for a fight here. ***

-Lex Luger gets interview time backstage and makes sure to note he is the Total Package every 3-4 seconds or so.

NWA United States Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger (c) vs. “Wildfire” Tommy Rich

-LUGER’S THEME IS STILL A BANGER! Lockup and Luger controls with his power easily, but takes it to the mat and Rich easily counters and forces Luger to escape. To the corner and Rich offers a clean break. To the corner and Luger tries to land a punch, but Rich beats him to the punch. Backdrop followed by a slam and an arm-drag sends Luger to the corner to regroup. Side headlock from Rich, so Luger gets to the ropes and forces a break. Another go and now Luger with a side headlock, but Rich shoots him off which lets Luger build momentum and he drops Rich with a shoulder tackle. Lex with a flex to pop the crowd! Luger misses a clothesline and Rich catches him with an uppercut and then back to the mat after an armdrag into an arm-bar. Rich works the arm, but gets caught with a knee to the gut. Luger misses another clothesline and Rich gets a crossbody for two. Arm-drag that has Luger complaining his hair was pulled. Luger misses a charge in the corner and Rich gets a roll-up for two and then a small package for two. Another armdrag into a arm-bar as Luger is getting frustrated. Every time Luger seems to get an advantage, Rich is there to fight back. He makes his first real mistake though as he misses a move and now Luger can start rolling. He gets two off a powerslam! He throws some heavy blows to the back and starts dropping knees for another two count. JR notes Luger is working on the back to set up the Torture Rack. Rich sling shots in from the apron with a sunset flip for two. Luger misses another clothesline and ends up on the floor. Rich tries to suplex him back in and it goes wrong as Luger nearly gets dropped STRAIGHT ON HIS HEAD. Somehow Luger did’t break his neck and they sell it as Luger getting a pin off it for two. Powerslam from Luger! He calls for The Rack, but Rich slides off. He tries another roll-up but Luger grabs the top rope to stop that noise. They fight up top and Luger gets a superplex to a rather positive reaction from the crowd. Rich kicks out at two! Luger heads up, but Rich moves to avoid a splash. Rich fires up and delivers a back elbow. The crowd is buying a title change here which is all you can ask! Rich drops a fist off the middle ropes and that gets another two count. Thesz Press gets a two count as Luger gets his foot on the ropes. They fight on the floor and Rich goes for a punch, but Luger ducks and Rich hits the post. Rich gets a sleeper on the apron, but Luger drops down to hang Rich on the top rope and he falls back for the pin at 10:36.

Winner: Lex Luger via pin at 10:36
-Wonderful match with a hot crowd that was actually buying Rich as having a chance of pulling the upset. That suplex from the ring apron was ugly, but the rest was very good. I think Luger should have won with The Torture Rack as well instead of what we got, but it’s still a win. ***1/2

-Gary Hart has video of Terry Funk in a hospital bed cutting a promo. The poor man nearly lost his arm due to an out of his mind Ric Flair using a branding iron. He promises to get off this bed and be there Tuesday Night for The Clash on TBS. What a brave man! They should build statues of this man!

-Ric Flair and Sting get promo time backstage. Ric is rocking the famous, black and white butterfly robe.

The Great Muta and “Dirty” Dick Slater (w/ Gary Hart) vs. Ric Flair and Sting

-Sting and Muta start us off and Muta sprays out some red mist just for show. He throws a kick, but Sting backs away. They lockup and Sting backs Muta into the corner. I should mention that Muta is the TV Champion at this point as he won the Title from Sting at The Omni. JR gives us a run down of the versions of The Mist and it seems the yellow mist is the most dangerous and something we have never seen in the US. Sting catches Muta with an armdrag and Slater nearly spills into the ring trying to dive for a tag. Muta backs Sting into the corner, delivers a shoulder and fires away with kicks. Sting reverses a whip to the corner and catches Muta coming out with a backdrop. Tag made to Flair and here’s some chops for Muta! More chops! Muta takes a kick to the ribs and has had enough as he tags out to Slater. Slater throws a chop in the corner which isn’t smart as Flair turns it around and unloads with chops. Slater gets hung up on the top rope and Flair punts him in the ribs. Another go and Slater sends Flair into the corner. He does the flip and in a nice turn, runs the apron to blast Muta and then comes off the top with a punch to Slater. Flair eats a kick from Muta and ends up on the floor. Muta dives out on him, so Sting does the same and that brings out Slater as all four men brawl on the floor. Sweet! Flair and Sting end up standing tall in the middle of the ring as Slater and Muta regroup on the floor. Cornette notes that Hart has Funk’s branding iron. JR: “Where the branding iron is, Funk isn’t far behind.” Sting and Slater have a go in the ring and Sting controls the arm. Muta threatens to come off the top, but Young gets him back. That lets Flair switch places with Sting which is cheating, but we love Flair now, so I guess it’s fine. Back to Sting who lands kick after kick to to the gut and then a snap suplex gets a two count. Sting gets caught in the wrong corner and fights like crazy to get out. He drops Muta with a Gorilla Press Slam and Flair drops an elbow on Muta’s face. Belly to Back Suplex from Flair! He drops a knee and fires off another chop, so Muta goes to the eyes. Smart! HANDSPRING ELBOW! That is still a beautiful thing! Slater in and he just mauls Flair in the corner as the crowd starts rumbling to get Flair going. Flair fights back as they are unloading on each other. Flair sets too early on a backdrop and gets caught with a reverse neckbreaker. They finally go after the damaged neck! Muta in and lands a spinning kick before sending Flair to the floor. Slater bounces Flair’s head off the railing and peppers him with right hands. Back in the ring and Muta drops his power elbow. He works a nerve hold after putting his fingers in his mouth. Cornette and JR debate on why Muta puts his fingers in his mouth. Flair gets an atomic drop to escape and the hot tag is made to Sting. He runs wild and gets Gorilla Press Slam on Muta. All four men brawling again. Sting gets a Stinger Splash in the corner and hooks the Scorpion Deathlock, but Hart breaks that up with a roll of coins. Sting kicks out at two! POWERBOMB from Muta gets another two! Back to Slater as he catapults Sting throat first into the bottom rope. Sting rolls to the floor to regain his breath, but Slater slams him on the floor. Muta sends Sting into the railing, but the camera misses it as they focus on Flair. Speaking of Flair, he attacks Muta on the floor, but gets sent back to his corner. Sleeper from Muta is broken with a jawbreaker. Both men collide in the ring and the race to their respective corners is on! Slater gets the tag first, but Sting backdrops out of a piledriver. The Hotter Tag is made to Flair! CHOPS FOR EVERYONE! Back to all four men in the bring as Sting hits Muta with a standing dropkick. Muta sprays Sting in the face behind the ref’s back and then hits a ball shot on Flair. It seems Sting is now blind as he got the EVIL YELLOW MIST! Flair goes for the figure-four, but Slater blasts him with his cast and now Flair is bleeding. The ref gets knocked down in the chaos and the crowd is losing it. TERRY FUNK IS HERE! He puts a plastic bag over Ric Flair’s head which has people freaking out obviously. I remember freaking out watching it as a kid and my mom assured me it wasn’t real. I didn’t believe here. The branding iron gets bent over Sting’s knee as JR tells us that Muta and Slater were disqualified. No clue on the match time because of that, but what I have found online has it listed as ending at 19:16.

Winners: Ric Flair and Sting via DQ at 19:16
-Fantastic match with a great crowd and they just beat on each other. I can only imagine how great it would have been if Funk had been involved. Slater was fine though and this was just a chapter in the on going feud between these men. ****

-We close with Sting being carried out and EMTS working on Flair to wrap his head and make sure he isn’t feeling the effects of the attempted murder by suffocation. Cornette: “They’ve gone too far.”

-Thanks for reading!

8.0
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Top to bottom this was the best Clash show of the year! We had fun, good matches up and down the card outside of Tom Zenk's debut. The Sid match was a SQUASH, but it's SID WRECKING FOOLS, so it's fine. The last two matches took this show up another level as the stories and work in the ring were still firing on all cylinders after The Great American Bash. Up next for the NWA: Halloween Havoc!
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