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The Name on the Marquee: World Championship Wrestling (1.7.1989)

January 17, 2019 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
Ric Flair Sting WCW
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The Name on the Marquee: World Championship Wrestling (1.7.1989)  

-Hey, a cold open, we haven’t had that in a while! Jim Cornette taunts Paul E. Dangerously at ringside during their match at Starrcade.

-Originally aired January 7, 1989. For those interested in what’s happening behind the scenes, Jim Herd just got appointed executive vice president.

-Your hosts are Tony Schiavone & Jim Ross. It’s a special year-in-review episode to christen the new 7:05 pm start time.

CROCKETT CUP FINALS: LEX LUGER & STING (with Magnum TA) vs. ARN ANDERSON & TULLY BLANCHARD (with JJ Dillon)

-Joined in progress. Stinger splash on Tully appears to set up the finish, but as he’s being rolled over for the scorpion deathlock, Tully manages to tag Arn, who slips in and DDTs Sting for two. Hot tag Luger, who cleans house until he gets caught in a spinebuster, with Sting beaking the tag. Arn lifts Luger for a slam, but Magnum hooks his leg so Luger lands on top for a two-count. Arn hits the roof and goes after Magnum, and Lex sneaks up and rolls up Arn to finish it. There was only one reason they showed this, obviously, as they joined it way too late for us to actually get invested or anything.

-Paul E. Dangerously takes full credit for the resurgence of the NWA’s ratings on TBS. The Original Midnight Express will leave ANY wrestler laying and bloody on the mat, because, Paul E. says, not even ripping your shirt off and flexing like an idiot is enough to save you.

NWA WORLD TITLE: RIC FLAIR (Champion, with JJ Dillon) vs. STING
-From the first Clash of the Champions, and because many experts have deemed it the best match of 1988, we get to see the whole thing!

-We have a 45-minute time limit due to TV constraints, and in case it goes to the time limit, here are the ringside judges: From the NWA Board of Directors, Gary Juster. Former NWA wrestler, Sandy Scott. Former Penthouse Pet of the Year and Sore Thumb of the Group, Patty Mullen. JJ will be in a cage suspended above the ring during the match for good measure.

-Test of strength over a top wristlock to start and Sting wins it and sends Flair to the mat. Sting wants another test of strength and Flair agrees to it. In less than a second, he begins screaming. He breaks away and backs Sting into a corner. A chop just pisses Sting off and he dropkicks Flair out to the floor. Side headlock by Flair when he comes back in. Sting reverses to a hammerlock and then an armbar. Flair backs him into the ropes and goes to work with chops and a shoulderblock. He walks into a press slam and Sting follows with flying headscissors and a hiptoss. He applies a side headlock.

-Flair breaks free, but gets shoulderblocked down. Back to the side headlock. Flair gets free, but Sting knocks him right back down and we go back to the side headlock. Flair uses the tights to roll Sting over and get a two-count. Sting rolls back over and keeps the side headlock going. Flair tries pulling the hair and going for the eyes, and Sting still won’t let go of it. He sends Sting into the ropes and Sting shoulderblocks him and, you know, goes back to the side headlock. I know you have to pace yourself when you know you’re going 45 minutes, but…he’s going back to the side headlock.

-They make their way to the corner and a fisticuffs battle goes Sting’s way. He hiptosses Flair and dropkicks him. Flair tosses him to the floor, but Sting lands on his feet and bounds right back in to unload on Flair. SIDE HEADLOCK! Flair uses the tights to roll Sting and gets a series of two-counts. Sting rolls back over and keeps the side headlock going.

-Flair backs Sting into the ropes and gives him a shot to the ribs. More shots from Flair, but he runs into another press slam. Sting locks in a bearhug and given that this match is Sting’s big break, I’m now trying to figure out if he’s getting blown up or if he’s afraid of doing so. I want to say he’s just afraid.

-Flair collapses and Sting hangs onto the bearhug, using that position to get a couple of near-falls. Sting hammers him and goes for an elbow. He misses, but no-sells it, which makes him look awesome. He charges at Flair, misses, and sells it this time, writhing in a fashion that makes him seem not-so-awesome now. They trade blows and Flair hits an inverted atomic drop and collapses to rest up for a moment.

-Flair takes the brawl to the floor and whips him into the barricade. Back in the ring, Flair Irish whips Sting around to continue working the back. Snapmare by Flair, and a kneedrop gets two. Flair just toys with him, gouging his eyes and punching him in the face. He tosses Sting to the floor. Back into the barricade he goes. Back in the ring, Sting gets his second wind and unloads on Flair until he falls to the floor. Sting tries a splash against the post and Flair ducks it; Sting hurts his arm on the impact.

-Back inside, Flair works the arm until Sting punches him away. Hiptoss and a clothesline. Flair goes outside and gets suplexed back in. Scorpion deathlock is clamped on and Flair makes it to the ropes surprisingly quickly. Sting chokes Flair in the corner. Flair tries another chop and it’s no-sold, with a neat bit of storytelling suggested by Jim Ross. Flair has thrown so many chops at Sting that he’s lost feeling in his chest, so now it’s just wasted effort when Flair throws them.

-Sting goes to the top rope and connects with a bodypress for two. He tries the side headlock again and even Flair is like, “Nah, we’ve done that, dude” and atomic drops him on one leg. Flair alternately rests up and takes shots at the leg. Oh, and a “Woooooo!” just because he hasn’t done it in a while.

-Back suplex by Flair and he’s done playing around. Figure four is locked in and Flair uses the ropes for a little help. Sting fights it and fights it before finally turning it over. Flair gets free and attempts a suplex from the ring apron and onto the concrete. Sting blocks and reverses it. Splash is countered by the raised knees of the Nature Boy. Sting recovers and applies an abdominal stretch. Flair hiptosses out, but misses the follow-through elbow.

-Flair heads to the top rope and Sting slams him in some sort of familiar-looking fashion that I can’t quite place. Sting turns the tables and works Flair’s legs, then applies his own figure four. Flair gets to the ropes and Sting breaks the hold, turning to the crowd to inquire about their knowledge of partying.

-Sting keeps working the leg of Flair. Flair tries to get himself DQed by shoving Tommy Young. Tommy shoves him back and Flair collapses. Sting whips him into the corner and Flair flips over the top and onto the floor in front of the judges. Flair goes into the table, into the post, and into the crowd. He slingshots himself back inside and tries a sunset flip, but Sting blocks it. Inverted atomic drop by Flair, but Sting no-sells it and clothesline him for two. Stinger splash misses spectacularly and Sting tumbles over the top and onto the floor.

-Back in the ring, chops are traded. Sting shoulderblocks Flair. Flair applies a sleeper. Sting lobs him into the turnbuckles to break it. Flair tosses Sting to the floor. Sting sunset flips Flair for two. Sting Irish whips Flair. He Flair flips, runs to the opposite side, comes off the top with a bodypress, and Sting rolls through to get a two-count from it. Chops are no-sold again by Sting. He throws punches and connects with the Stinger splash. Scorpion deathlock is applied, and Flair manages to wait out the last 30 seconds of the match trapped in the hold. The time limit expires and we go to the judges for the official decision.

-Patty Mullen gives the match to Flair. Gary Juster gives the match to Sting. Sandy Scott votes for…a draw. Flair retains and the crowd is deflated. Okay, again, like the U.S. Title match, you dick the fans over in a way that you really don’t need to resort to. One of the judges is a Penthouse Pet and one of the wrestlers is Ric fucking Flair. Sandy Scott casts a vote for Flair, Gary Juster casts a vote for Sting, Patty Mullen casts the deciding vote for Flair and we got close-up shots of Mullen & Flair exchanging smiles and winks. The crowd will still be pissed but at least you have a better finish that way. Anyway, I’ll give a point for what we got. To me, there’s a line between a great match and a classic. This wasn’t a classic to me, but it was damn sure a great match. That side headlock was the line, my friends. Having said that, we got good storytelling with Sting working the back, Flair doing it in retaliation, then realizing “Wait a minute, I’m Ric Flair!” and going to work on the leg. It was also neat to see Sting being resistant to Flair’s usual offense but then being hurt when Flair would deviate a little, suggesting that Sting actually did his homework and prepared for his opponent. Neat little touches like that are usually lacking.

BUNKHOUSE STAMPEDE FINALS

-Joined in thank-you-God-progress. Horsemen attack Luger while Dusty gets worked over by Barbarian. Arn and Tully try to throw Luger out of the cage, and Luger does something completely absurd, kicking both of them away, and then climbing through the ropes and staying right next to the open door, voluntarily putting himself in greater danger of being eliminated. Horsemen go back and keep fighting him there, and all three of them get eliminated in one massive dump, leaving Dusty and Barbarian in there.

-Fans noticeably turn on the match at this point as Paul Jones passes a weapon to Barbarian. Dusty elbows Barbarian and rams him into the cage, and then they both agree to climb up to the top rope for some reason, and two big elbows send Barbarian tumbling to the floor to give Dusty the win. Just a mess, with everyone having to do things that defied logic for anything to happen. Crowd response is…mixed. Jim and Bob yammer to fill time as the crowd begins chanting “REFUND!”

-We get a super-edited Cliff Notes version of Flair vs. Luger from Starrcade.

-Ric Flair gives himself a pat on the back. They threw next-big-thing Sting and golden adonis Lex Luger at him in 1988, and Ric Flair STILL held onto the title belt all the way through the year, by god. He hammers home the point that he has no intention of ever wrestling Lex Luger again. He had his chance.

-Tony Schiavone is here with Lex Luger. Tony rebuilds Lex by reminding us of all of Lex’s career achievements in only three years as a pro. Lex thanks Tony for the “allocades” and promises he’s coming after that belt again at SOME point in 1989.

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (with Jim Cornette) vs. ORIGINAL MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (with Paul E. Dangerously)
-From Starrcade, and it’s the whole match, as they’re just giving away every money moment from this show for free. Midnights storm the ring and clear the Originals before the bell, and Cornette whips his coat off and demands a piece of Paul E. Original Midnights hold him back. Everyone retreats for the ring intros, and then the Midnights go right back to kicking asses. Cornette just UNLOADS with the tennis racquet on Dennis Condrey, and Dangerously is so outraged that he rings the bell himself, trying to stop the match. Condrey reluctantly goes back in and walks right into an inverted atomic drop. Cornette takes another shot at Randy Rose, and Dangerously throws another tantrum and rings the bell again.

-We get the awaited Condrey/Eaton battle in the ring, and Condrey lights into his ex-partner with hard shots, but Eaton wallops back and comes off the top for good measure. Bulldog by Eaton, and Condrey has just had enough and tags out. Randy Rose avoids a corner charge and Eaton goes crotch-first into the turnbuckles. Condrey pretty much begs to tag in when he sees that and goes on a full assault. Ring is cut in half and Rose applies a front face lock to prevent the tag. Condrey chokes Eaton over the rope and the Original Midnights try to finish it, but the rocket launcher misses and Stan Lane unleashes all his fury on everybody. Paul E. heads in to attempt some outside interference but Jim Cornette blocks it and knocks Dangerously out of the ring. Teddy Long turns around and finds Paul E.’s dropped phone in the ring and interrogates Randy Rose in the middle of the ring, and he gets distracted by the argument and the Midnights sneak up and double-goozle him to get the three-count. Original Midnights destroy Midnight 2.0 after the bell and turn their attention to Cornette, but the Midnights revive and rescue their manager, and everyone will live to fight another day.

-Jim Cornette closes out the show with a good fired up promo promising the beating of Paul E’s life is coming in 1989.

8.0
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Well, they covered all the right points in this recap, plus the Bunkhouse Stampede so you can take a piss break without pausing. Good selection of stuff this week.
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