Written By: Matt Peddycord
NWA Clash of the Champions IX: New York Knockout
November 15, 1989
Terry Funk doesn’t want Flair’s NWA belt, he just wants to take his pride! You know, knock that guy down a peg or two.
Your hosts are Jim Ross and Gordon Solie.
NWA World Tag Team Champions The Freebirds vs. The Road Warriors (w/Paul Ellering)
LOD is opening the show twice in a row here. What is up with that? The Steiners had already beaten the Freebirds for the belts back on November 1, but their win wouldn’t air on TV until the Saturday after this show. Hayes tries to leave early on, but Animal immediately throws him back in the ring. A “Freebirds suck!” chant bring them to the floor to jaw with the crowd. Once it gets into a regular match, the Road Warriors NO-SELL everything until Hawk tosses the ref away and his team gets DQ’ed. (5:18) Lame little match. ½*
Interview with Terry Funk & Gary Hart: Despite their differences, Funk puts Flair over as a tough sonuvagun. Before they go, Hart tells Funk he better not let Texas down tonight!
Bill Apter presents Sting with the PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year award, while Flair receives the PWI Wrestler of the Decade award.
Doom (w/Woman) vs. Eddie Gilbert & Tommy Rich
Before the match, Woman says she has a large surprise for Rick Steiner. Now I know why they never let Woman talk during her Horsemen days in the mid-90s. Doom #1/Ron Simmons starts off overpowering, but Eddie outquicks him and tags in Rich. Doom #2/Butch Reed tags in and runs into an armbar. They run the ropes, but that goes nowhere. Doom #2 comes back with a side slam and a suplex on Gilbert. Rich gets a hot tag and goes for the THESZ PRESS on Reed, but he gets caught while Simmons comes off the middle-rope for a Doomsday Device for the 1-2-3. (5:15) If the surprise was supposed to be a good match, well then I’m disappointed. Loved the finish though. *
Jim Cornette interviews Rick & Scott Steiner: Scott finally comes up with the name for his finisher. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s called the Frankensteiner.
The Midnight Express vs. The Dynamic Dudes
Cornette’s pissed that the Midnights signed a match against his protégé tag team known as the Dynamic Dudes, so he’s in a neutral corner tonight. Johnny Ace tries to extend a handshake to Stan Lane, but he’s not shaking hands tonight. Eaton and Douglas start the match with some feeling-out process stuff. Douglas messes up a Midnight Express double-team, but gets caught in an armbar from Lane for a while. Tag to Ace, who goes dropkick crazy on Lane. Eaton tags in and takes a baseball slide out to the floor. While Eaton walks around the ring to regroup, Shane charges and delivers a NO HANDS PLANCHA to Eaton! Douglas tags in and won’t stop with the armdrag into the armbar spot. Eaton has enough of that and places Douglas into the corner for a superplex, but Douglas FLIPS OUT and rolls Eaton up for 1-2-NO! Crossbody out of the corner gets 1-2-NO! Great series of moves there. Ace gets cornered in the dark side of town. He fights out and monkey-flips Eaton out of the corner, but then Lane helps out by punching Ace during a flying headscissors attempt! And the crowd goes wild. Lane gets a tag and brutalizes Ace in the corner with kicks. Russian Legsweep sets up the ROCKET LAUNCHER, but Eaton hits knees. Tag to Douglas, and it breaks down into a huge brawl. Eaton pulls out a chain, but Jim Cornette gets in the ring while the ref’s back is turned and takes the chain away from Eaton. He tells Douglas to go after Bobby, but then he nails Douglas in the back with the tennis racket to show where his loyalty truly lies. The blind ref finally turns around and counts as Bobby covers for 1-2-3. (9:22) The Midnight Express and Jim Cornette walk out together in harmony. All is right with the world. This was supposed to give the Dynamic Dudes some love, but it just made the Midnights as popular as ever because everyone HATED the Dudes gimmick. Douglas looked amazing here, by the way. ***½
“Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs. The Super Destroyer
Williams was on his way to a US title win over Luger in February, but it never happened once Sting was injured and the whole upper card had to be fixed. Super Destroyer is Jack Victory, just so you know. Santa Norman comes out to give candy to the children. Destroyer does his best Pearl Harbor job, but Doc comes back with the multiple rep press slam and the OKLAHOMA STAMPEDE gets the three-count. (1:41) Afterwards, Doc and Norman celebrate with a teddy bear. ½*
Rick & Scott Steiner vs. The Skyscrapers (w/Theodore R. Long)
This is one of those dream matches back in the day. Spivey tries to block a German suplex by grabbing the ropes, but Rick gets him over anyway. Steinerline puts Spivey on the floor and the crowd erupts. Back in, Spivey hits a Tombstone Piledriver for 1-2-NO! Tag to Scott, who EXPLODES into the ring for a FRANKENSTEINER on Spivey and a fallaway slam on Sid! That was awesome. The heels regroup and Sid tags. Scott gets cornered in the ‘Scrapers corner for a tag to Spivey. They try their dropkick into a clothesline combo, but Spivey misses the dropkick, so Sid just runs Scott down with the clothesline. Big boot puts Scott down, but Scott counters a suplex into one of his own. Rick gets a hot tag and looks to put Spivey away. Meanwhile, one of the Doom guys comes down and runs right into a FRANKENSTEINER to put him on the floor. Insane! Now both Doom members are here and ref Tommy Young calls for the bell to DQ the ‘Scrapers. (6:08) Surprisingly solid little power match. Mostly thanks to Sid standing on the apron for 90% of the match. It breaks down into Steiners/LOD vs. Doom/Skyscrapers battle royal, setting up the Starrcade Iron Team round-robin tournament. Of course, the Skyscrapers would get injured here and the Samoan Swat Team would take their place. ***¼
NWA U.S. Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger vs. Brian Pillman
This is a rematch from the Havoc PPV. Not sure why Pillman deserved the rematch since Luger didn’t cheat to win or anything, but I’m not complaining. Collar-and-elbow tie-up to start, but Pillman frustrates Lex with dropkicks and puts him on the floor. Back in, Luger cheapshots Pillman in the corner. Pillman fires back and Luger rolls out again to keep Pillman from controlling the pace for too long. Back in again, Luger just cannot get the upper hand on Pillman. He flips out of a back suplex onto his feet. When Pillman looks to have gone out over the top rope to the floor, Pillman skins-the-cat back into the ring. Luger turns around into a spin kick and cowers away to a corner. Call it lazy or whatever you want to call it, but I disagree. It’s great psychology and Luger is making Pillman look like a million bucks here. Sometimes stalling is a good thing in wrestling. He makes Pillman look credible and he’s only been in the NWA for five months! Pillman catches Luger with a boot off a corner charge and delivers a Missile Dropkick for 1-2-NO! Next up, Pillman goes after the arm (which isn’t exactly Luger’s weak point) by yanking it on the top rope and then posting it real good. Back in, Luger fights back with a back suplex. Luger presses Pillman up over his head (he’s not selling the arm though) and acts like he’s going to dump him on the floor, but he thinks otherwise and slams him to the mat. He presses Pillman up again and drops him straight to the mat. But Pillman fires back, so Luger pulls him out to the floor. Luger gives him a slam on the concrete and then delivers a suplex back in for 1-2-NO! Luger argues with the ref, so Pillman sneaks a rollup for 1-2-NO! Luger comes right back with a powerslam and calls for the TORTURE RACK, but Pillman rolls him up again for 1-2-NO! Pillman wins a chopfest and hits a clothesline. He heads up for the FLYING BODYPRESS but the ref Nick Patrick gets hit as well as Luger. I feel like I’ve seen that spot before. Pillman gets several rollups which would’ve or could’ve been three-counts on Lex. While Pillman checks on the ref, Luger crawls out and grabs a chair. When Pillman goes over to grab him, Luger whacks him in the face with the chair, covers Pillman just as Nick Patrick wakes up, and counts 1-2-3. (12:28) Once again, Lex makes his opponent at the Clash look as good or better than he did. Luger was on a ROLL in ’89 and this match was proof positive of that fact. ****
Interview with Ric Flair: He cuts one of his most memorable promos by putting over Funk and then saying that if he says that he quits in this match, he quits for real.
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk (w/Gary Hart) – non-title “I Quit” match
Six months of back and forth intense feuding has led to this match. This feud WILL end tonight. It has no choice. Before the bell, Funk gives Flair a chance to leave before he gets seriously hurt. Of course, Flair doesn’t budge and chops Funk to the floor. Back in, Flair has more chops for Funk. He tries to stay away from Flair as much as possible. Funk meets Flair back in the ring and gets choked, so Funk goes to the eyes and kicks Flair out to the apron. A STIFF chop from Flair stuns Funk for a moment, but he maintains the advantage and dumps Flair to the floor. Funk pounds away and grabs the mic to ask Flair if he’s ready to quit, but Flair chops him back. There’s your answer, Terry. Funk brings Flair back in the ring and mounts him in the corner for some punching. Does that egg-sucking dog Flair want to give it up? No way. Flair says nothing and atomic drops Funk out of the corner. Funk delivers a swinging neckbreaker on the formerly injured neck. That’s the story of the match. How much can Flair’s neck sustain if Funk decides to go after the injury? That’s been the story of this feud for the past six months. They go to the floor again with Flair taking Funk around the ring with chops. Back in the ring, Flair slaps and chokes Funk to make him quit, but Funk doesn’t say a word. Flair gets distracted by Gary Hart, so Funk nails him from behind. Funk hits another swinging neckbreaker and then reminds Flair of the plane crash and Wrestle War. Funk sets Flair up for a PILEDRIVER and gives Flair a chance to say “I Quit” before he does it. Awesome! Flair says nothing, so he takes the PILEDRIVER. Funk tries to make him say it, but Flair just won’t do it. They go to the floor again. This time, for a PILEDRIVER! Flair STILL will not say it. Funk just doesn’t understand this. Funk sets a ringside table against the apron, but Flair chops back and slams Funk’s face into the table. Flair sets up the table on the floor and then slides Funk across it right into a chair. Haha. Ouch! Atomic drop on the guardrail does Funk NO good, then Flair chops him down. Back in, Flair hits the Rolling Knee Drop. He goes after the leg and everybody in the building knows what is coming. Funk tries to leave, but Flair bull-rushes him down the aisle and brings him back in the ring with a suplex. FIGURE-FOUR attempt is blocked with an eye gouge. Flair chops back after a suplex on the APRON. He kicks the knee and Funk collapses for the FIGURE-FOUR! Will he quit?! Funk says “Never!” Thirty seconds later, Funk says “I quit!”. (18:33) Gary Hart is livid! Funk said he would shake Flair’s hand even though it was against Hart’s wishes, and he does. Gary Hart decks poor Terry Funk and that was all the excuse Flair needed to run across the ring and nail Gary Hart. Funk instantly becomes a babyface because of the next five minutes even after six months of belittling and nearly ending the hero Ric Flair’s career. Great Muta and the Dragon Master come down to save their boss and beat the heck out of Flair. Out comes Sting in Flair’s defense. Figure-Four to Muta, and the Scorpion Deathlock to Dragon Master. Now Lex Luger runs in the ring with a steel chair and nails Sting in the back! Flair goes over to punch Luger’s lights out, but Muta grabs the chair and blasts him in the back. Meanwhile, Gary Hart is punishing Funk’s knee with his own branding iron. On Luger’s way back to the dressing room, Luger bashes both Flair and Sting’s trophies with the steel chair. Freakin’ awesome. Funk and Flair only did like four moves a person too! For all you naysayers who care WAY too much about move set, watch this match and see if you don’t get into it. I can’t praise this match enough. These two guys busted their butts and the intensity level was off the charts. On par with the Magnum/Blanchard “I Quit” match in ’85 and in some ways better by them being able to brawl around ringside and all the chaos at the end to set up the Starrcade Iron Man tournament. Excellent booking by Jim Ross, but the payoff just wasn’t as great as it should’ve have been I believe. *****
Final Thoughts: A standout Clash show and that’s no joke. Another one with four ***+ matches! So check it out.