Written By: Matt Peddycord
NWA Chi-Town Rumble
February 20, 1989
Written By: Matt Peddycord
Your hosts are Jim Ross and Magnum TA!
Michael Hayes vs. The Russian Assassin (w/Paul Jones)
This was back when Michael Hayes was still a fan favorite and hadn’t turned on mega-face Lex Luger yet. Russian Assassin is Jack Victory under a mask, by the way. We JIP to Assassin leveling Hayes with a Russian sickle for two. Some choking leads to a chinlock, but Hayes elbows out and hits a crossbody for two. Another Russian sickle gets two, and we’re back in the chinlock. It’s like Hayes vs. Hayes now. Hayes fights up out of the chinlock and delivers a corner clothesline. He turns away from Assassin though and gets nailed. Paul Jones gets a shot in for two. Hayes blocks a turnbuckle smash for a whole bunch of his own and then goes for the Bulldog, but the Assassin shoves him off. Hayes still manages to counter a suplex. They trade blows, but Assassin misses a corner charge and runs shoulder-first into the ringpost. Ten-count corner punch leads to the DDT out of nowhere by Hayes for 1-2-3. (15:48/7:57 shown) Nice back and forth match, but nothing too amazing. *
Sting vs. Butch Reed (w/Hiro Matsuda)
Again, what’s Matsuda’s deal? He represents the most random people. You would think Sting would be facing one of the Varsity Club guys after what happened only five days earlier at the Clash, but nope. Shoving match to start with Sting gaining control. Sting is just amazingly over with this crowd. We JIP to Reed clubbing away on the Stinger, but he misses an elbow in the corner and Sting goes to work on the arm. Reed forearms Sting off of him and dumps him out to the floor. Reed prevents Sting from returning to the ring with a neck snap on the top-rope. Back in, Reed hits a hotshot and follows up with a double-ax handle for two. Reed stomps and chokes for a bit, along with his buddy Hiro Matsuda. Next up, the chinlock. You know it was inevitable. Reed cheats like crazy, but Sting manages to toss Reed off into the corner. Sting wants a pump splash, but that’s ridiculous and he hits knees. Looks like somebody screwed up on Reed’s clothesline attempt, which sends him flying out to the floor. Sting with a suplex back in gets two, but then he gets pulled out to the floor again to break the momentum. Reed flips him back in the ring by his neck and hits a swinging neckbreaker for 1-2-NO! Oh no, we go back to the chinlock. Luckily, Sting gets out pretty fast with a jawbreaker. Reed misses a clothesline, but Sting does not. Sting works the crowd and then hits a backdrop followed by the awesome jumping elbow drop. Reed knows he’s in trouble, so he throws Sting out again on the floor and then stomps him on the apron. Sting sneaks in a shoulderblock and tries a sunset flip, but Reed comes down on Sting and grabs the ropes for 1-2-NO! Long stops the count and pulls Reed off the ropes to fall back into a pin for 1-2-3. (20:04/16:24 shown) Not a bad match for the Stinger outside of the chinlocks. **
The Original Midnight Express & Paul E. Dangerously vs. The Midnight Express & Jim Cornette – Loser Leaves the NWA
Well, not exactly the Original Midnight Express. Dennis Condrey bailed on the NWA again at the last minute and now Jack Victory (in his second match of the night) is subbing in his place. We’ve still got Randy Rose though! In the pre-match interview, Dangerously tried to pass it off as a psychological advantage for his team saying that Cornette knows Condrey too well and that would only help him, so he brings in the totally random Jack Victory. What a hot feud this was and it’s a shame Condrey didn’t stick around to see it blown off properly due to his issues with Crocketts. Lane and Rose start it off trading hammerlocks. Rose heads up top and gets slammed down and clotheslined out to the floor. Back in, Lane busts out some KARATE, so Rose hurries over and tags in Victory. Lane tags in Eaton for a drop-toe hold/elbow drop combination that even Cornette joins in for at the end. Blind tag to Lane sets up a slingshot back elbow. I love it. We go to Eaton vs. Rose. Eaton fights out of a corner and lets Cornette get an open shot on Rose. Another tag to Lane is followed by more KARATE. Rose punches back and grabs Lane for Dangerously’s chance at an open shot. Paul E turns away to yell at the crowd, allowing Lane to turn the tables on the whole deal and cause Dangerously to nail Rose without paying any attention! Uh oh! Rose gets pissed at Paul E, but that just gets Rose rolled up for two. Rose gets knocked out to the floor, but then brings Eaton out on the apron for the chest-first guardrail bump! Right there’s your turning point. Rose tosses Eaton back in for a slam and then tags in Paul E for the first time in the match. Paul E stomps and mocks until Eaton takes a swing and then scurries over to Randy Rose for a tag. Man, he was a great heel manager. Cornette WANTS a tag and NEEDS Paul E to get his butt in the ring. Paul E says “Nuh uh”, so Cornette charges after him. Paul E hops off the apron to allow Rose to nail Cornette from behind. Rose slams Cornette around and now he brings in Paul E. He stomps away and hits a big KO punch, but Cornette kicks out at two. Eaton encourages Cornette from the apron while Paul E is smashing his face into the turnbuckle. Cornette regroups as Paul E works the crowd and then spins Paul E around for a barrage of punches. What he doesn’t realize is, he’s punching Paul E into the wrong corner as Randy Rose tags in and wallops Cornette with a clothesline. Jack Victory tags in and punches away on Cornette until Eaton runs in and bulldogs Victory off him. HOT TAG TO LANE! He kicks on Victory in a corner, but then Dangerously knees him in the back as he comes off the ropes. Of course it’s a no-sell, but it allows Victory to nail him from behind because you know, he’s a wrestler and stuff. Rose tags in and hits a standing powerslam for two. Clothesline puts Lane out on the floor for Victory to get in some pounding. Rose comes down on Lane and slides back in for a possible countout win, but it doesn’t go down. Back in, Rose hits a side slam for two. Lane backdrops out of a piledriver attempt, but still can’t make the tag. Rose applies a chinlock for the first rest hold of the match. He mocks Lane and tags in Victory, who then runs into a boot in the corner. HOT TAG TO EATON! He heads up top and connects with a missile dropkick! Oh crap! You never see him do that! Eaton grabs Victory’s arm and slaps Dangerously with it to make him the new legal man in the match. He yanks Dangerously in by his sweatshirt and goes over to make the HOT TAG TO CORNETTE! Haha. Cornette delivers a KO punch and a clothesline for 1-2-NO! Rose breaks it up with an elbow drop. Cornette manages to sneak around Rose and tag Stan Lane. That leads to one big melee. Rose goes for a flying splash, but Lane moves out of the way and covers for 1-2-NO! Victory makes the save. Dangerously dumps Cornette and helps out his team momentarily until heel miscommunication occurs and his team bump heads. Cornette trips up Paul E while Eaton and Lane finish off Rose with a FLAPJACK. (15:51) Not quite as good without Condrey, but the Cornette/Dangerously stuff made up for it I believe. ***½
NWA World Television Champion Rick Steiner (w/Scott Steiner) vs. Mike Rotunda
In a pre-match interview, Scott Steiner makes his NWA debut and explains why his brother Rick is well…the way he is. Apparently, Rick was involved in a car accident a few years back and he hasn’t been quite the same since. When Rick left the Varsity Club, he created this imaginary friend named Alex because he had no one else to talk to. Now Scott is here because of Rick’s worsening condition. This is a rematch from Starrcade which was way too clipped, but this one is basically in full. They trade fireman’s carry takeovers to start. This leads to a shoving match and then Rotunda gets sent out on the floor during a waistlock. JIP to a Steiner headlock. Rotunda escapes but then gets decked with a Steinerline. Another JIP to Rotunda wanting a handshake to screw with Steiner. Alex says don’t do it, so Rick calls Rotunda a bad man. Rotunda still manages to apply the abdominal stretch near the ropes to cheat up a storm. Scott lets Teddy Long know what is happening, and eventually Rotunda gets caught. Rick reverses into an Oklahoma roll, but he’s in the ropes. Rotunda takes a breather and comes back in with a cheapshot. Rotunda tries a crossbody out of the corner, but Steiner rolls through for 1-2-NO! Rotunda powers Steiner to the mat into an elevated armbar. Steiner comes back with a backdrop for two. Steiner wants a flying splash, but Rotunda rolls away and throws Steiner out for a good shoulder posting. Back in, Steiner surprises Rotunda with a powerslam. He hesitates to cover though and only gets two. Oh man, Kevin Sullivan is out here now with a mic in-hand. He mentions something about Rick Steiner’s dog Spike and then laughs all evil-like. That brings Rick out to the floor and gets him all distracted. Back in again, Rick gets dropped with a nice back suplex for two. Rotunda whiffs on a dropkick and takes ten-count corner punches in the corner. Sleeper hold follows, but Rotunda falls back on top and Steiner gets his shoulders counted for the 1-2-3. (16:21/12:35 shown) Good match, but I’m not so big on that finish even if it does show the absentmindedness of Rick’s character. **¾
NWA U.S. Heavyweight Champion Barry Windham (w/Hiro Matsuda) vs. Lex Luger
The feud between these two goes back to ten months ago when Windham turned on Lex and joined the Horsemen, but they never had the feud blown off properly until now. Lex grabs a sleeper in the opening moments to slow down Windham. It gets countered with a back suplex, but Luger NO-SELLS. Press slam from Luger sends Windham rolling out to Matsuda. We JIP to Luger reversing a whip in the corner and countering an inverted atomic drop with a clothesline for a one-count. Back drop from Lex gets two. Luger delivers a powerslam and heads up top and dives off, but misses and eats the canvas. His own momentum rolls him out to the floor, so Windham follows him out for some guardrail action. Windham gives him a suplex back in the ring. They trade blows, but Windham stops that with the Lariat as Lex has been busted open a little bit. More guardrail damage down on the floor ensues, but then Luger avoids a punch up against the ringpost and Windham hits steel with his claw hand. Back in, Windham punches back with his hurt hand and immediately regrets that decision. Oh wow, Windham bladed his HAND folks. That’s dedication. Ross tries to say that the bolt on the ringpost (which there isn’t one) must’ve scraped his hand. Windham still tries the CLAWHOLD, but Luger escapes. They trade blows again, but Windham goes to the eyes and hits a powerslam for two. Windham beats Luger around the ring and sets up for the SUPERPLEX and takes forever to execute it because of his hurt hand. Cover, 1-2-NO! Windham goes for a bridging back suplex, but Luger gets his shoulder up at two and Windham has been pinned. (10:43) It often seemed that Windham wasn’t sure what to do next with Luger. I mean, Windham did a great job selling the hurt hand for the most part and all, but I hate that finish. Especially when you just did the same type of finish where you “outwrestle yourself” in two straight matches like that. If this were 1975, it might’ve been okay. But its not 1975. **½
NWA World Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering) vs. NWA U.S. Tag Team Champions Kevin Sullivan & Steve Williams
After a good heel run, the Road Warriors had basically been turned face again thanks to the crowds and are here for revenge on the Varsity Club. We have a shoulderblock-off between Dr. Death and Animal to start. Since neither man will give an inch, Animal hits a powerslam instead. Hawk tags in, so Williams rolls out. Back in, Dr. Death goes low and press slams Hawk. Doc misses an elbow drop though and gets nailed with a clothesline. Hah, Hawk draws Sullivan with a kick so the Road Warriors can connect with a double-clothesline on Williams. That gets two and Doc scurries over to Sullivan for a tag. Animal gets double-teamed instantly and tossed over the top-rope and to the floor, which was definitely a big deal back then in the NWA. While ref Tommy Young is with Hawk and Doc, Sullivan sneaks in a chairshot on Animal. Back in, Doc works Animal’s arm. He forearms out of an armbar, but Dr. Death trips him up and tags in Sullivan for a DOUBLE STOMP. They do the same thing again with Sullivan as Doc comes in to cut off the tag. Doc delivers a hammerlock slam, but then misses a corner charge. Animal still can’t make the tag though. Doc kills Animal’s arm with a bunch of armbreakers. Animal breaks free, but a double-KO spot occurs and the HOT TAG TO HAWK follows. Big brawl erupts and Hawk ends up being posted down on the floor by Doc. Meanwhile in the ring, Animal is looking for the DOOMSDAY DEVICE on Sullivan, but Doc breaks it up. Then Hawk sneaks up on the top rope and comes down on Sullivan with a clothesline for 1-2-3. (8:27) Decent enough formula match, but nothing too amazing. *½
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair (w/Hiro Matsuda) vs. Ricky Steamboat
Arguably the most consistently great rivalry ever in the NWA and possibly even as far as North American wrestling goes is Flair vs. Steamboat. This is their first televised one-on-one match since Steamboat returned to the NWA back in January. Steamboat works the headlock to wear down Flair to start and gets in as many nearfalls as possible. Steamboat gets the better of a SICKENING chop-fest and gets 1-2-NO! Flair rolls out to slow down the momentum. Back in, he screws with Steamboat by teasing a test of strength and then backs away and calls Steamboat to come to the center of the ring. That’s just awesome enough to get an ovation from the crowd. Flair puts Steamboat in the corner, but he leaps out over Flair and delivers some headscissors takedowns and goes back to the headlock for a CLOSE nearfall. The crowd begins to chant “Steamboat sucks”, which seems truly unfair at this point. Flair chops out to escape, but its Steamboat who chops Flair out to the floor! He regroups a little bit, but then plays possum like only Flair can do until he draws Steamboat over to him and pulls him out to the floor and into the guardrail. Flair now has the advantage and brings Steamboat back in the ring for the rolling knee drop for two. He gets another two. And another. Butterfly suplex follows for another two count. A Flair chop wakes up Steamboat! He whips Flair across for the Flair Flip. Flair runs down the apron and climbs up top for a crossbody block, but Steamboat rolls through for 1-2-NO! Its matches like these where you know JR is loving his job. Steamboat wants a ten-count corner chop, but Flair counters into an atomic drop and hooks on the FIGURE-FOUR! The crowd goes nuts. Flair blatantly grabs the ropes as the crowd turns and begins to SCREAM for Steamboat! Flair even grabs the TOP ROPE and Tommy Young still doesn’t catch him. Steamboat will just not give up or be pinned in this hold. Tommy Young finally catches Flair cheating and calls for the break. The damage is done though as Flair works the knee, but Steamboat chops back. Flair ducks a big double-chop and comes off the ropes to collide with Steamboat to send them both to the floor. They chop at each other on the floor until Steamboat gets sent into the ringpost. Flair gives Steamboat a beautiful stalling suplex back in for 1-2-NO! Another cover, 1-2-NO! One more, 1-2-NO! Flair hits a back suplex for another near-fall and gives Young a tongue lashing because he’s not counting to three. Flair follows up with a backbreaker and puts his feet on the ropes for 1-2-NO! The crowd is becoming irate! Flair tells them to shut up, so Steamboat sneaks up behind with a rollup for 1-2-NO! Steamboat tries a crossbody out of the corner, but Flair ducks out of the way. Headlock sequence leads to a Steamboat butterfly suplex for 1-2-NO! Steamboat counters a hiptoss with a backslide for 1-2-NO! Flair chops back, but so does Steamboat. Flair whips Steamboat into the corner, but Steamboat EXPLODES out with a clothesline. Steamboat goes for it all with the JUDO CHOP and connects! Can he hit the FLYING BODYPRESS? Oh no! He catches Flair, but he nails Tommy Young on the way down as well! While Steamboat tries to help Tommy Young, Flair grabs him by the tights and rolls him up, but there’s no ref. Flair dumps Steamboat, but he catches himself on the apron and climbs to the top unbeknownst to Flair. FLYING BODYPRESS? NO! Flair moves out of the way. Here comes ref Teddy Long out to ringside. Flair goes for the FIGURE-FOUR to finish, but Steamboat pulls him down into an inside cradle as Teddy Long slides in and counts 1-2-3! We’ve got a NEW champion! (23:18) It’s Flair-Steamboat ’89 part 1! If you can’t get into this match, you’re not a wrestling fan. Call yourself what you really are and that’s a sports entertainment fan. There, I said it. *****
Final Thoughts: The card as a whole is much better than it’s counterpart in WrestleWar ’89, which was basically a one match show. Of course Steamboat-Flair is something for all to see. The Midnights blow-off is rather disappointing without Condrey, but it’s still classic Midnight Express action. Steiner-Rotunda was always good and Windham-Luger is worth a look. I’m going with thumbs up for Chi-Town Rumble.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.