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The Chrononaut Chronicles: Clash of the Champions IX

October 27, 2011 | Posted by Joel Thomas
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The Chrononaut Chronicles: Clash of the Champions IX  

Thanks to the infinitely talented Kyle Morton for the logo. Check out his Etsy account, where he does custom artwork and commissions… you’ll be glad you did!

The Chrononaut Chronicles
NWA Clash of the Champions IX: New York Knock Out – November 15, 1989

– To set up tonight’s “I Quit” non-title main event, the opening video recaps a promo from Terry Funk as he states that he no longer cares about taking the World Heavyweight Championship belt from Ric Flair, because all he wants to take now is his pride. In response, the Nature Boy talks about pride, integrity, and guts. One of these legendary NWA World Champions will say “I Quit” at the ninth Clash of the Champions: New York Knock Out!


– LIVE from the RPI Fieldhouse in Troy, New York! Jim Ross is working with Gordon Solie as his color commentator this time out. There’s a new entrance set-up consisting of a flight of stairs with lightbulbs and spotlights on them.

– The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “PS” Hayes & Jimmy Garvin) vs. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal w/Paul Ellering)

The graphic credits The Fabulous Freebirds as World Tag Team Champions, but they don’t have the belts and it isn’t mentioned by the announcers. Their title loss to the Steiner Brothers had been taped on November 1, but wouldn’t air until the 18th, which presented a problem for a live television special. Why didn’t they just wait and do the switch on the Clash? ANYWAY. Michael Hayes starts with Hawk and thinks he’s smart when he bails out of the ring before Hawk can hit him, but Animal military-presses him back in and Hawk blasts him with a big boot. The Road Warriors use their power and no-selling ability as they dominate both Freebirds until Jimmy Garvin avoids a charge in the corner from Animal. The Freebirds isolate Animal from his partner and subdue him with double-teaming until an enraged Hawk comes in to help his fellow Warrior. While referee Tommy Young tries to stop Hawk, Garvin tosses Animal over the top rope. Clearly letting the stress of the situation get to him, Hawk heaves the official aside and hammers the Freebirds as Young calls for the bell and disqualifies the Legion of Doom at 5:18. The old LOD non-finish so that the Roadies can look strong and stand tall in the end without winning or losing. ** The match never really got going and felt disjointed, like most Road Warrior matches that went longer than 60 seconds. The Freebirds were such an underrated heel team at this time, drawing great heat and bumping for all the big babyface teams like the Warriors and the Steiners.

– In a ringside interview conducted by Jim Ross, Terry Funk lists the differences between himself and Ric Flair, but states that they both love professional wrestling and they both refuse to say “I Quit”. Gary Hart warns the Funker not to let him down and Funk assures him he won’t, but adds that he doesn’t need help from Hart or anybody else tonight because he is the best. Subtle-as-a-sledgehammer foreshadowing.

– Bill Apter, editor-in-chief of the Pro Wrestling Illustrated family of magazines, is on-hand with Jim Ross to present Sting with a trophy declaring him the NWA’s Most Popular Wrestler of the Year as voted by the fans. Apter then brings out Ric Flair and awards him a trophy commemorating him as Wrestler of the Decade as voted by the PWI editorial staff. Did Matt Brock and Liz Hunter get to vote?

– Precorded comments on a couch from Woman, formerly known as Robin Green. Since our last Clash, she turned heel on Rick Steiner and revealed herself to be a conniving and manipulative she-devil who knows how to use her feminine wiles (i.e. her boobs and butt) to control men. It’s quite a talent. At Halloween Havoc ’89, she brought in a new masked tag team called Doom and they defeated the Steiner Brothers in controversial fashion. Woman says that every man wants her but can’t have her, and she promises a “large surprise” for Rick Steiner tonight.

– “Wildfire” Tommy Rich & “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert vs. Doom (Doom #1 & #2 w/Woman)

Bob Seger’s “Her Strut” is the appropriate entrance music for Woman as she is escorted by a bunch of white dudes in tuxedos in a scene meant to reference Madonna’s “Material Girl” video. Doom is comprised of two large black masked men who look conspicuously similar to Ron Simmons & Butch Reed, the only two African Americans left on the roster. Apparently their masks are extremely effective, because Ross and Solie act like they don’t know who Doom are. They could have made a killing selling these masks to bank robbers and other criminals who require strict protection of their identities. Simmons–err, Doom #1 effortlessly shoves Eddie Gilbert and celebrates, but Hot Stuff speeds things up so that he and Tommy Rich can take control. Doom slows the pace and pound Gilbert until he can scurry away and make the tag. The crowd goes mild for Wildfire as he slugs away on both members of Doom, but they hit the Powers of Pain finisher (Reed lifts the opponent while Simmons comes off the turnbuckles with a clothesline) and Doom #2 pins Rich at 5:15. ** Pretty basic competitive squash for Doom as their feud with the Steiners raged on. It was silly for everyone to pretend they didn’t know who was under the masks, but Reed & Simmons did their part by changing their movesets to fit the gimmick.

If it weren’t for the Faarooq gladiator gimmick, this would have been the most ridiculous moment of Ron Simmons’ career.

– Jim Cornette hosts an interview segment called “The Louisville Slugger” and brings out his guests, the Steiner Brothers. They officially christen Scott’s previously-unnamed finishing maneuver the “Frankensteiner” and Rick boasts that Scotty can do it to anyone, including the Skyscrapers tonight. When Cornette mentions the feud with Doom and Woman, Rick claims that he had her and he doesn’t want her. Sure bud, that’s what every dude says after he’s been dumped.

– The Dynamic Dudes (Johnny Ace & Shane Douglas) vs. The Midnight Express (“Beautiful” Bobby Eaton & “Sweet” Stan Lane)

Since he was now a babyface and an all-around swell guy, Jim Cornette had started to act as an unofficial advisor to the young team of The Dynamic Dudes, but this did not sit well with the team he officially managed, The Midnight Express. Stan Lane & Bobby Eaton then challenged Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace to a match to settle the matter, with Cornette taking a seat in a neutral corner. Beautiful Bobby pleads with him to stand in their corner while Solie alludes to a love triangle involving Johnny that Sweet Stan lost out on, but I’m not sure if that’s the booze talking or if it was actually part of the storyline. The Midnights had been showing signs of a return to heeldom as they use subtle heel tactics, such as hair-pulling and just general beligerence, and Cornette points it out to the referee. Johnny knocks Bobby out to the floor with a series of dropkicks and then pulls down the top rope as Shane dives over and wipes out Eaton at ringside. The Dudes continue to dazzle back in the ring as Douglas flips out of a superplex attempt and scores a couple of two-counts on Eaton with a rolling cradle and a flying crossbody. The momentum shifts when Ace goes for a flying headscissors on Eaton, but Lane reaches in from the apron and drops Johnny’s throat across the top rope. So that’s what happened to his voice! The Midnights release the Rocket Launcher, but Johnny gets his knees up and makes the room-temperature tag. In theory it was a hot tag, but the crowd meets Shane Douglas with apathy and half-hearted boos as he unloads on the Express. Shane back-suplexes Bobby for a near-fall as Stan makes the save and all four men are in the ring. While referee Nick Patrick is busy trying to separate Ace and Lane, Eaton produces a chain and tries to hit Douglas, but he ducks. Cornette runs in to confiscate the chain and encourages Shane to go after Bobby, but when he does, Cornette waffles him with the tennis racket and Eaton pins Douglas in 9:22. The heel turn for the three old friends is complete as they leave together, laughing at the Dudes. Ross surmises that it was a set-up all along. The babyface run for Cornette and the Midnights was interesting and produced some great matches, but they were at their best as heels. ***½

– The Super Destroyer vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams

The Super Destroyer is a generic masked heel in a bodysuit, so you know it can only be Jack Victory in his fourth Clash appearance under a hood. During the match, Norman (formerly known as the Lunatic, then the Maniac, and then just plain Norman) wanders down to ringside in a Santa suit and gives Jim Ross a teddy bear. JR explains that Steve Williams was attacked over the weekend by the Skyscrapers on the orders of Teddy Long, who was upset when Dr. Death gave Norman a teddy bear. Meanwhile, Doc executes his impressive multiple-rep press slam and clotheslines the Destroyer out of the ring. The masked man lands on a table and Williams throws him back inside before finishing off the Destroyer with the Oklahoma Stampede in 1:41. Santa Norman presents Doc with a teddy bear and they share a thumbs-up and a hug. Very heartwarming. *½

I know what I’m using for my Christmas cards this year!

– The Skyscrapers (“Dangerous” Dan Spivey & Sid Vicious w/Theodore R. Long) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner)

Billed from Metropolis, The Skyscrapers were supposed to be the next dominant power team in the vein of The Road Warriors, as a vehicle to get Sid Vicious over in preparation for his big singles push. Scott Steiner walks out alone as Ross worries that Woman has gotten to Rick Steiner, but the Dogface Gremlin is shown selling popcorn in the audience because he’s a loveable goofball like that. The “Peanut Head” chant makes its Clash debut to torment Teddy Long as Rick steals his hat and mocks him before the bell rings. The first big move of the match is a German release suplex from Rick on Dan Spivey and he clotheslines him over the top rope, but the Dangerous One comes back with a devastating Tombstone for a near-fall as Scotty makes the save. After Rick rallies back with a Steinerline and tags out, Scott snaps off a Frankensteiner on Spivey and plants Sid Vicious with a fallaway powerslam that is just incredible to see. The Skyscrapers regroup and take control of Scott, but he reverses a suplex and makes the tag. Rick powerslams Dangerous Dan and Sid comes in to help his partner, but the Steiners double-clothesline him right back out. A member of Doom runs in out of nowhere and immediately eats a wicked Frankensteiner before rolling out of the ring, all in the span of approximately 12 seconds. Rick slams Spivey with a belly-to-belly suplex while Scott goes outside to punch Doom and referee Tommy Young calls for the bell at 6:08. **½

Sid blindsides Scott at ringside and joins the Doom member in assaulting him while the other Doom member runs in the ring and gets Steinerlined by Rick. Woman sneaks in and hits Rick with her shoe, but the Dogface Gremlin no-sells it and backs her into a corner. Before Rick can do anything to her, Spivey attacks him from behind as a huge 7-foot giant dressed in leather and spandex steps in over the top rope and protects Woman. She leaves with her “large surprise” while Spivey and Doom #1 drill Rick with a spike piledriver and stomp away. Vicious and Doom #2 beat on Scott until the Road Warriors storm the ring and all eight men slug it out as we go to commercial. Although they provided a more physical challenge than teams like the Freebirds and the Midnight Express, the Skyscrapers were not the best opponents for the Steiners because Sid was too fragile to take any of their suplex bumps. Sid might have been the star of the team, but Spivey carried the workload. Woman’s new bodyguard was named Nitron, but he wouldn’t last long. He would resurface in WCW a few years later as Big Sky, although his biggest fame came in Hollywood when he portrayed Sabertooth in the first X-Men movie and assumed the role of Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s Halloween films.

– Jim Ross interviews the Steiners and the Road Warriors with Paul Ellering. Since the Skyscrapers and Doom have apparently forged an alliance, they pledge to watch each other’s backs and take care of business just like they did in Detroit and Chicago, respectively. The four teams were scheduled to compete in the Iron Team round-robin tournament at Starrcade ’89, but Sid Vicious suffered a collapsed lung taking his one bump in the previous match and the Skyscrapers dropped out.

– NWA United States Heavyweight Championship: Flyin’ Brian vs. “Total Package” Lex Luger ©

The commentators push the Iron Man round-robin tournament concept for Starrcade ’89 featuring Lex Luger, Ric Flair, Great Muta, and Sting, as Solie predicts that Muta will have the advantage due to his superior stamina. That’s a pretty big endorsement, but also ensures that Muta has no chance in hell of winning at Starrcade. The championship committee ordered this rematch from Halloween Havoc to take place tonight, as Ross stresses that Flyin’ Brian came very close to winning the PPV bout until the controversial finish. Brian thwarts Luger’s strength advantage with his exceptional speed and agility, causing the Total Package to bail out early on after Pillman fires off a pair of dropkicks. Luger tosses Pillman over the top rope, but Brian skins-the-cat to pull himself back in and decks Lex with a sweet spinkick. Ross and Solie do a tremendous job of putting over the courage and determination of Flyin’ Brian as he lands a beautiful missile dropkick for a near-fall. The next step in Pillman’s playbook is to focus on a specific body part, as he peels the Coors Light pad away from the ringpost and wraps Luger’s left arm around the post. Pillman continues to show his killer instinct as he bashes Luger’s arm against the guardrail and then applies an armbar in the ring. The momentum shifts as Lex gets to show off his power arsenal, planting Brian with a back suplex and a press slam. The US Heavyweight Champion follows up with an Ultimate Warrior-style gorilla press and dumps his challenger out to ringside, bodyslamming him on the floor as Ross notes the simple psychology of Lex working the back to set up the Torture Rack. Luger suplexes Brian back in for a near-fall and Pillman sneaks in a roll-up for a 2.5-count of his own, but Luger powerslams him.

Pillman comes right back with another roll-up for a near-fall and they trade chops and punches. Brian nails Lex with a Hart Attack clothesline off the ropes and hits the flying bodypress off the top, but referee Nick Patrick is too close to the action and he also gets leveled. With the official wiped out, Pillman scores a visual pinfall by rolling Luger up and the Package retreats to the floor. While he’s out there, Luger snatches ring announcer Gary Capetta’s chair and cracks Brian with it when he reaches out through the ropes. Luger crawls back in the ring and covers Pillman for the 1-2-3 to retain his United States Championship in 12:38. Afterward, Luger hammers the unconscious Pillman across the back with chairshots and stretches him in the Torture Rack until Sting finally makes the save in street clothes. Lex and Sting have a heated exchange on the microphone as Lex says he was wondering when Sting would have the guts to face him, while Sting explains that he was overlooking Lex’s attitude adjustment because they used to be friends. However, now Lex has crossed the line, so Sting slaps him and rips off his shirt as Luger flees the scene. **** The match itself was a great one with fast-paced action and solid psychology, although Luger and Pillman both stopped selling the ‘injured’ body parts eventually and they didn’t factor into the finish. The post-match angle with Sting was red-hot. Sting vs. Luger really could have been the NWA/WCW’s version of THE MEGA-POWERS EXPLODE! if marketed properly, because the crowd wanted to see these two go at it like they were Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.

Sting’s casual formal attire. Does the facepaint violate the dress code?

– Pre-recorded comments from Ric Flair as he kisses up to the New York fans and puts over the magnitude of uttering “I Quit” in a match live on national prime-time television.

– I Quit: Terry Funk (w/Gary Hart) vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair

As part of his entrance, Terry Funk is accompanied by manager Gary Hart and two cowboys, while four lovely ladies in evening gowns escort Ric Flair down the aisle. The Nature Boy definitely wins that competition. The Funker gets on the microphone and offers Flair one last opportunity to give up and walk away, but Slick Ric chooses not to leave and chops Funk over the top rope. Flair chops away at Funk inside and outside the ring and chokes him on the mat, but Funk rakes his eyes to seize the advantage. Funk punishes Flair in the aisleway and in the ring as he grabs the mic to ask the “egg-suckin’ dog” if he wants to quit, but Flair responds with an inverted atomic drop. The Funker reasserts himself with a swinging neckbreaker, but his hubris is his downfall as he slaps Flair around until the World Heavyweight Champion grips him by the throat and fires off a series of loud chops. The chopfest continues at ringside and Flair rams Funk’s head against the guardrail, but Funk refuses to surrender and he blindsides Flair when Gary Hart provides a distraction. In a fantastic piece of psychological warfare, Funk pounds away on Flair as he verbally reminds Flair about his bad neck and advises him to retire. Funk traps Flair’s head and neck between his legs, but instead of a piledriver, Funk slaps his own thighs to wrench Flair’s neck as referee Tommy Young holds the mic near Flair’s face. The Nature Boy will not say “I Quit”, so Funk drops him with a piledriver and Flair still refuses to submit. Flair’s selling of the neck intensifies after Funk drags him out of the ring and piledrives him in the aisle. The Funker uses the microphone as a weapon to rap Flair’s forehead and bodyslams him on a ringside table, although it’s 1989 so the table doesn’t break and Flair rolls off onto the floor. Funk then sets the table up vertically against the ring apron in the most dangerous way possible, with the metal legs sticking straight up in the air, and Flair rams him head-first against the table.

Spoiler Alert!

Flair mounts a comeback as he manhandles both Funk and Gary Hart and atomic-drops Funk’s groin on the railing. Jim Ross points out that Flair has yet to target the knee, and like clockwork, Slick Ric goes right to work on Funk’s leg. Funk escapes the ring and hobbles up the aisle, but Flair jumps him from behind and brings him back to the squared circle. The Nature Boy attempts to apply the figure-four, but Terrible Terry gouges his eye and dumps him out to the apron. Funk hooks him up for a suplex back in, but Flair reverses it and suplexes Funk onto the apron. Flair stomps the knee and locks in the figure-four in the middle of the ring as Funk hollers about his leg until he finally yells “I Quit” at 18:38. As a man of his word, Terry Funk accepts his loss and shakes Flair’s hand, but this display of respect infuriates Gary Hart and he cheapshots the already-damaged Funker. Flair attacks Hart in defense of his rival, but The Great Muta and The Dragonmaster run in and pearl-harbor the Nature Boy. Sting charges out to make the save and wraps up Dragonmaster in the Scorpion Deathlock while Flair applies the figure-four on Muta. However, Lex Luger runs in with a chair and whacks Sting across the back as the heels decimate Flair, Funk, and Sting and leave them all laid out in the ring. The most dastardly act of the evening then takes place when Luger takes the chair up to the entrance stage and destroys the trophies Sting and Flair received earlier. ***** The Flair/Funk “I Quit” match is legendary for a reason, chock-full of palpable emotion and gritty physicality between two heated rivals who had been bitterly feuding for six months. This is one of the ultimate examples of the benefits of long-term booking, as the Flair/Steamboat feud in the first half of 1989 segued perfectly into the Flair/Funk feud and built an intense atmosphere into this final blow-off match. I had always remembered this match having blood, but it was actually completely crimson-free. That speaks volumes about the ability of the best workers to create brutality and drama without juicing.

I KNEW those trophies wouldn’t survive the night unscathed.

The 411: Despite a lackluster Northeastern crowd that didn't appreciate the NWA/WCW product as much as the fans south of the Mason-Dixon line, New York Knock Out was a fantastic Clash of the Champions with a legendary main event and a great US Title bout as the standout moments. Tag team competition was heating up, as the Steiner Brothers were already staking their claim as the best team in the world amongst a deep pool of top-rated tandems. As 1989 drew to a close, rumors swirled that Ric Flair would no longer be the focal point of the company. He had a phenomenal year, serving as head of the booking committee while putting on five-star matches with Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk, but the stress was beginning to show. However, a couple of old faces were preparing to return to the NWA/WCW and a reformation of the vaunted Four Horsemen would keep the Nature Boy in the spotlight.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.0   [  Amazing ]  legend

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