Written By: Matt Peddycord
NWA Clash of the Champions VI: Ragin’ Cajun
April 2, 1989
New Orleans, LA
Another mediocre Wrestlemania means another historic Clash of the Champions.
Your hosts are Jim Ross and Michael PS Hayes! It’s like watching UWF again, only not!
The Midnight Express (w/Jim Cornette) vs. The Samoan Swat Team (w/Paul E. Dangerously)
Paul E’s original Midnight Express duo might be gone from the NWA, but that doesn’t mean him and his hatred for Jim Cornette has to leave just yet. The SST consists of Fatu (modern-day Rikishi or ‘Kishi) and Samu (modern-day Samu). These two cousins would go on to become the Headshrinkers in the WWF where they would find tag team gold. Quick start with Lane ducking on one of Samu’s crossbody attempts and putting Samu down with one of his own. Fatu gets a tag, but he’s quickly double-teamed as Eaton tags in for a drop-toehold/elbow drop combo. Eaton hits a missile dropkick and tags out. Lane comes in for a chinlock to slow things down. Meanwhile on the floor, Cornette wallops Samu with his tennis racket when he tries to interfere! The Midnights nail Fatu with a double-back elbow in the ring. They work the arm for a bit, but Fatu fights back and tags in Samu. Lane catches him with a sunset flip for two, and then the Samoans run into each other by accident. The tide turns for a moment as Samu counters Lane off a headlock with a back suplex. Lane comes back with a dropkick and the Midnights trade turns with another headlock on Fatu. That leads to the leapfrog-backbreaker double-team move. Lane with a jackknife rollup gets 1-2-NO! Samu gets a blind tag and nails Eaton from behind. Reverse kick gets two on Eaton, and we go to the nerve hold. Choking and clawing follows once Bobby breaks free of the hold. He fights out of the corner though and makes the tag to Lane. He goes KARATE KRAZY on the SST. The Midnights ram the SST’s heads together, but that doesn’t bother them too much. Dangerously trips up Lane as he comes off the ropes, so Cornette sees fit to WHACK Fatu in the back with his tennis racket as he comes off the ropes. After some Samoan double-teaming, Samu goes back to the nerve hold. Eaton comes in every so often and that turns the ref’s attention away from the match to getting Eaton out of the ring to allow the Samoan double-headbutts and chops. Samu goes for it all with a flying headbutt, but Lane moves. Eaton gets the hot tag and hits Samu with the Swinging Neckbreaker after some more heel miscommunication for 1-2-NO! Lane gets rid of Fatu and the Midnights deliver the ROCKET LAUNCHER! Eaton has the cover, but Paul E tosses in his HUGE phone as Fatu blasts Eaton in the back of the head with it while the ref was with Lane. Samu covers for 1-2-3. (20:32) It’s a wonder the SST were a team as long as they were with all the miscommunication problems. Solid, but uneventful. **
The Great Muta (w/Gary Hart) vs. Steven Casey
This would be Muta’s first match on a major NWA show. I guess you could call these shows major. Anyways, he hadn’t been in the NWA for very long at this point. He’s still being billed as the son of the Great Kabuki here. Casey is just an above-average jobber who looks like a cross between Stan Lane and Michael Hayes. Good look, but just a tad trashy. Casey makes the mistake of interrupting Muta’s pre-match meditation and pays for it with GREEN MIST~! Casey thinks he has Muta with an armbar, but he gets backed into a corner for a mule kick. Muta tosses Casey out and heads up top, but then Gary Hart throws him back in for a missile dropkick. They trade wristlocks, but Muta comes out of that and goes after the leg. He applies a spinning toe hold and goes from that to an Indian deathlock. Muta works the Oriental nerve hold (you knew it was coming.), but Casey comes out fighting with a clothesline. His offensive flurry ends rather quickly as Muta avoids a dropkick and then enziguri kicks Casey out. He follows that up with a pescado and then gives Casey a handspring back elbow as he’s leaned up against the guardrail! Awesome. Back in, Muta hits the backbreaker and puts Casey away with the MOONSAULT. (8:11) Great exhibition for Muta. **½
Junkyard Dog vs. Butch Reed (w/Hiro Matsuda)
You’ve got to hand it to the NWA for at least trying to give the New Orleans crowd their old-school Mid-South fix, but JYD was just useless after he left the WWF. Wow, they’ve even got Teddy Long refereeing this match. I don’t think Hiro Matsuda has ever looked more out of place. Oh wait, he managed Ric Flair. Nevermind. JYD hits all his moves (punches, headbutts on all fours) and Reed bails a couple times. Reed finally goes to the eyes and punches and chokes on JYD. Reed grabs a chinlock so JYD can rest. He comes back with a backdrop, but then we get a double-KO because they were just going too fast-paced right there. JYD nails Reed coming off the top, but misses with a diving headbutt. Reed heads up again, but this time he connects with the FLYING SHOULDERBLOCK. Cover, 1-2-NO! JYD has his foot on the bottom rope. Matsuda is up on the apron, so of course Reed runs into him. JYD covers for the lame 1-2-3. (9:56) I’m guessing that was just to send the crowd home happy, not that JYD actually deserved the win. CRAP
Bob Orton Jr. (w/Gary Hart) vs. Dick Murdoch
In between wristlocks and armbars, the director pans over to various retired wrestlers in attendance like Pat O’Connor, Dory Funk Jr., Gene Kiniski, Lou Thesz, Sam Muchnick and Buddy Rogers. It’s the only match of the night where everyone on-camera was involved in wrestling prior to Watergate. In other words, dinosaurs are everywhere! The action finally picks up once Murdoch hits a dropkick and then knocks down Orton off a SUPERPLEX attempt. Orton charges in the corner and eats an elbow as Murdoch calls for the BRAINBUSTER. He lifts Orton up, but Gary Hart trips up Murdoch and holds his feet down for Orton to get the 1-2-3. (9:48) Yes, that was the same finish to the Warrior/Rude match that was happening over in PPV land. This would lead to their bullrope match at Wrestle War, by the way. ½*
NWA World Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering) vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Mike Rotunda (w/Kevin Sullivan)
Rotunda had just lost the NWA World TV belt to Sting a day before on the syndies and now he’s getting a shot at the tag titles. Hawk and Rotunda start things off here. Hawk dropkicks Rotunda to the floor early on in the match. Back in, Animal puts the heels back on the floor with press slams. Hawk and Doc tag and we’ve got a slugfest. Hawk wins that and puts Williams down with a clothesline. Doc comes back with a clothesline of his own and tags in Rotunda for an elbow drop. Animal tags back in and flips out of a double-atomic drop and floors the Varsity Club with a double-clothesline. He charges at Doc up against the ropes, but misses and falls out to the floor. Williams follows him out and SLAMS him on the concrete! The Varsity Club double-team him back in the ring before Doc hits the bearhug. Ref Teddy Long doesn’t see a tag from the Road Warriors, so Doc sneaks in a belly-to-belly suplex and then Rotunda applies an abdominal stretch naturally near his corner to get that extra leverage from the Doc. Animal hiptosses out, but he’s dumped again for Sullivan to whack him with a chair in the face. Back in, Doc hits a spinebuster for 1-2-NO! Rotunda tags in and gets caught with a clothesline, but Doc walks over and cuts off the tag to Hawk. Doc goes for a three-point stance on Animal, but he’s nailed with a clothesline instead! HOT TAG TO HAWK! Big pier-six brawl erupts and during the excitement, Animal shoves Teddy Long aside. Doc gets thrown out as the Road Warriors give Rotunda the DOOMSDAY DEVICE! It’s SO over! But wait, Teddy refuses to count because of his mistreatment. Instead, Doc runs in and rolls up Hawk as Long counts 123! (11:40) No, not one hundred and twenty-three. Long counted SO fast, there was just no need for me to include the hyphens. That was ridiculous, but you talk about some heel heat. WOW. Of course, the Road Warriors vow revenge on the Varsity Club and Teddy Long. This also marked the end of Teddy Long’s career as a referee and began his new career as the heel manager of the Skyscrapers to kick start their feud by summertime. The Road Warriors would never again hold the tag team titles in WCW or the NWA for that matter. **½
Ranger Ross vs. The Iron Sheik (w/Rip Morgan)
Ranger Ross descends from the rafters like he’s Sting or something. Hmm, I wonder what Sheik would have to say about Ranger Ross these days? Sheik attacks from behind while everybody boos his rendition of the Iranian national anthem. They trade abdominal stretches, but then Sheik turns around into a superkick, which cues Rip Morgan to come in and wallop Ross with his Iranian flagpole for the DQ. (1:56) Who’s going to make the save? It’s Junkyard Dog. After some headbutts on Sheiky baby, the black guys stand tall in the ring. CRAP
Bob Caudle is standing by with not World Champion Ric Flair! He’s winning back the gold tonight! WOO!
NWA U.S. Tag Team Champions Rick Steiner & Eddie Gilbert (w/Missy Hyatt) vs. Kevin Sullivan & Danny Spivey
Steiner does a great job with his child-like character and just kind of wonders around the ring with his belt on backwards. Spivey brutalizes Gilbert early on using his power and size to dominate. Sullivan gets a tag and draws Steiner in while Spivey posts Gilbert down on the floor. Back in, Sullivan hits the DOUBLE STOMP and tags in Spivey for a running lariat. Tree of Woe follows, but Gilbert moves out of the way on the second charge from Sullivan. HOT TAG TO STEINER! Steinerline for Spivey! Powerslam for Spivey! BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX for Spivey! Cover, 1-2-NO! Steiner and Spivey fall out to the floor. Meanwhile, Missy tosses Gilbert her loaded Gucci bag and distracts Tommy Young while Sullivan takes the over-priced handbag to the face. Gilbert cradles him up for the 1-2-3. (3:51) The Varsity Club do an extended beatdown on Gilbert. Another feud that gets wrapped up at Wrestle War. This was good, just short. *
NWA World Champion Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair – 2/3 Falls
It doesn’t get any better than this match right here, people. Being the first NWA World Champion to ever defend the title in the Superdome, Terry Funk replaces Michael Hayes and joins Jim Ross for color commentary. To set the stage, Flair ALWAYS regains the title in the big rematch. Harley Race, Kerry Von Erich, Dusty Rhodes, Ron Garvin – they have all fallen to Flair when he was back in the title hunt. The “Can Steamboat do it?” factor is at full tilt.
First Fall: Flair starts to woo, so Steamboat slaps him for it. Steamboat rides Flair on the mat, but Flair finds the corner. Flair shoves back, Steamboat slaps him again. Steamboat grabs a headlock. Flair grabs the knee to try and escape with a shin breaker, so Steamboat squeezes harder. Flair escapes into an overhead wristlock and forces Steamboat to the mat, but Steamboat powers his way up and puts Flair on his back. Flair calls for the ref as he takes a walk on the floor to complain about hair pulling, but Tommy Young didn’t see NOTHING. Back in, Flair delivers a shoulderblock, but Steamboat comes back with a hiptoss and takes Flair down with a headlock for 1-2-NO! Flair rolls over onto his stomach and tries a few times to turn Steamboat over for a few near-falls. Since Flair can’t get out of the hold right now, he might as well do what he can to pin Steamboat. Flair backs Steamboat into the corner for the break and cheapshots him with a shoulderblock and a couple sick chops. That fires Steamboat up and he chops Flair back into a corner. Hiptoss leads to a flying headscissors from Steamboat. After a dropkick, Flair wanders back around into the headlock for another close near-fall. Steamboat really goes to work on Flair’s neck with forearms and knee drops. He’s using the “control the head, control the body” psychology to perfection here. Flair backs Steamboat into the corner once again to free himself from a front headlock and elbows Steamboat in the ribs. They trade some more chops and then Steamboat puts Flair down with a backdrop. Dropkick gets two. Flair knows he’s in trouble, so he begs away and baits Steamboat in the corner for a low kick. Flair misses a forearm shot, so Steamboat sneaks in a rollup for 1-2-NO! Steamboat connects with a clothesline and returns to the headlock for ANOTHER near-fall. Steamboat puts Flair in the corner for some more HARD chops to set up the Flair Flop. Cover, 1-2-NO! Steamboat grabs the headlock again, but Flair quickly counters with an inverted atomic drop. Flair regroups and makes the mistake of not capitalizing, which allows Steamboat to fire back with another chop for 1-2-NO! A pair of shoulderblocks from Steamboat get him a pair of near-falls. Double-chop gets ANOTHER near-fall. Flair realizes he’s in trouble again and bails to the floor. Back in, Flair cheapshots Steamboat, which surprises no one. Man, they are REALLY hammering on each other in there. Steamboat wins a brutalizing chopfest for another near-fall. He gives Flair a suplex from the apron and goes for a splash, but Flair brings up the knees. Wooooo. Flair snapmares Steamboat for a double-stomp and then follows up with a butterfly suplex for 1-2-NO! Flair tries again and again and again to gain the fall, but he just can’t keep Steamboat’s shoulders down! Steamboat kips up out a knucklelock pinning situation and chops Flair back into the corner. Steamboat hiptosses Flair again, but whiffs on a dropkick. It’s FIGURE-FOUR TIME! No! Steamboat reverses into an inside cradle for 1-2-NO! Flair shifts his weight and gets 1-2-3! (19:45) Ironically enough, that was the very same finish that led to Terry Funk’s loss against Ric Flair at the Great American Bash. Already, this is five-star perfection. Flair – 1 Steamboat – 0
Second Fall: Flair struts around in celebration, but it’s not over yet. Steamboat shoves off a headlock and catches Flair with a press slam to set up a flying judo chop for 1-2-NO! Steamboat returns to the headlock, but Flair counters with a back suplex. He follows that up with the Rolling Knee Drop. Flair wants another one, but Steamboat moves and goes after the knee with elbow drops! I mean, he almost wears himself out with all the elbow drops. That leads to a figure-four! He does it correctly too by placing the straight leg over the injured knee and everything! Steamboat chops Flair down while he’s still in the hold for two, but then Flair grabs the bottom rope for the break. Steamboat brings Flair to the center of the ring to try the figure-four again, but Flair kicks him off. That doesn’t stop Steamboat though as he grabs a Boston crab instead! Flair finally gets to the bottom rope for the break. Steamboat makes the mistake of letting Flair get to his feet though. When Steamboat starts chopping, Flair grounds Steamboat with a headlock and gets a near-fall! This leads to the bridge-up into a backslide sequence in Steamboat’s favor for 1-2-NO! Flair bails after that and capitalizes by dragging Steamboat out to the floor for some guardrail action. Back in, Flair works Steamboat over on the apron and then gives him a stalling suplex back in for 1-2-NO! Flair applies an abdominal stretch into an Oklahoma roll for 1-2-NO! He tries everything possible to get the second straight fall, but Steamboat just won’t keep his shoulders down on the mat. He even puts his feet on the second rope, but nothing works. Flair gets distracted by the crowd and berates them for protesting, and that’s all the time Steamboat needs to come back with chops. Steamboat then flips out of a back suplex and rolls up Flair for 1-2-NO! Jackknife rollup gets another near-fall, but then Steamboat telegraphs a backdrop and gets kicked in the mouth and chopped down REAL hard for 1-2-NO! Flair heads up top and gets caught and crotched by Steamboat. A SUPERPLEX IS COMING UP! Steamboat starts hammering on the lower back and lifts Flair up in a double-chicken wing for the submission! Flair has given up for the first time in his career, says JR. (34:14) There’s still one more fall left! Flair – 1 Steamboat – 1
Third Fall: Steamboat goes for the kill early with an abdominal stretch, but Flair thumbs out of that and flops down again. Can’t say I blame him since they’ve only been going non-stop for 35 minutes. Steamboat doesn’t see Flair coming and gets clipped from behind. Doesn’t do much yet though because Steamboat’s still chopping. That gets two. Flair cowers away and then takes a backdrop. He chops back when Steamboat starts pounding on his lower back again and catches delivers a shin breaker to set up the FIGURE-FOUR. Steamboat quickly gets to the ropes and then the ref pisses off Flair when he untangles the hold. They get into a shoving match, but it’s soon resolved. Steamboat chops some more and whips Flair across for the Flair Corner Flip, but Steamboat double-chops him as he runs down the apron! Flair drops to his knees and begs, but that’s just a set-up for his cheap corner pin. Steamboat will not die! Steamboat lands on his feet off a crossbody attempt out of the corner, but then charges into a boot. He reverses a cross-corner whip, but Flair moves and Steamboat hooks his leg on the top-rope! Flair jerks him down out of the corner and goes to work. He lands a knee-drop ON the knee, jerks on it a little bit, and THEN applies the FIGURE-FOUR! Oh man, center of the ring and everything. After a while, Flair gets a few near-falls out of it. The crowd starts to get behind Steamboat though and he reverses the hold over into the ropes for the break. That doesn’t stop Flair from destroying Steamboat’s knee, as he slams it on the apron a couple times. Steamboat still fights back with chops though. Cross-corner whip sets up a Flair Corner Flip and this time it actually works for Flair as he comes off the top with a crossbody for 1-2-NO! Steamboat goes for a slam, but his knee gives way and Flair gets two. Steamboat ducks on a back elbow and fires back with a jumping headbutt. He tries to get the feeling back in his leg on his way to the top-rope and comes off for a FLYING BODYPRESS for 1-2-NO! Steamboat goes for a jumping elbow drop, but Flair moves. Flair ducks low off a whip though and takes a swinging neckbreaker for two, but still manages to toss Steamboat to the floor. Both men grab a breather, but its Steamboat coming back in with a sunset flip. Flair fights it HARD, but Steamboat gets him to fall for 1-2-NO! Steamboat then runs into a sleeper hold at 50 MINUTES INTO THIS MATCH! That’s gotta suck. Not just a sleeper hold, but he climbs up on Steamboat’s back and makes him carry his weight. That’s unbelievable stamina. As logic would have it, Steamboat does go down, but the crowd revives him and Flair gets sent face-first into the top turnbuckle to cause the break. Flair stumbles out to the floor, but then sneaks back in and clips Steamboat. It’s not enough to throw Steamboat off his game though, as he comes back with an enziguri for 1-2-NO! He heads up top for a splash, but lands on nothing but canvas. Flair works on the knee that just hit the mat and then shoves Steamboat around. Man, that’s some blatant disrespect. As he has during this whole match, Steamboat chops back when he’s in trouble. He puts Flair in the corner for the ten-count corner chop and Flair tries for the inverted atomic drop to counter, but Steamboat avoids and drops Flair with a clothesline for 1-2-NO! He got his foot on the bottom rope. Steamboat then ducks low off a whip and takes a back suplex. Flair heads up top and gets slammed down this time to set up another double-chicken wing! Steamboat can’t hold him up though and collapses, so Tommy Young counts Flair’s shoulders down for 1-2-3. (55:30) Steamboat – 2 Flair – 1. Flair had his foot under the bottom rope, but Tommy Young missed that part. The controversial finish leads to the second and final rematch for Flair at Wrestle War. If he can’t win it there, he’ll “never get another title shot again.” Arguably the best match ever in North American wrestling. Without a doubt though, this was the climax to the Flair/Steamboat series. *****
Final Thoughts: The main event is historic in every sense of the word (well, as far as professional wrestling goes. I wouldn’t put it up there with the signing of the Declaration of Independence or anything.), and the World tag titles match is certainly memorable. I’d choose this show over Wrestle War. It’s basically the same show anyway, and more important stuff happened here than just Flair/Steamboat. Thumbs up for CotC #6.