The ebb and flow of the wrestling business is normally focused on the popularity and not the in-ring product itself. There have been periods in wrestling that are markedly better between the ropes, but the money and ratings don’t necessarily back that up.
Get ready for that era for poor Jim Crockett Promotions and the dying days of the national power that was the NWA.
PAY PER VIEW NUMBER 20- NWA CHI-TOWN RUMBLE 1989
Written on 1/4/2015
THE FIRST THING YOU SEE: Weird synth music and squares zoom in with the wrestlers competing on the show. The title card pops up and the music makes me think Thomas Dolby is producing this show. The UIC Pavilion is shown as Jim Ross and Magnum TA run down the card match by match. They start by slowing pitching the upcoming Michael Hayes vs Russian Assassin match. They REALLY preview every match. That is what a preshow is for.
-We cut to a special look at the PPV. I’m watching a music video basically showing Starrcade 1988 clips. What an incredibly Raw-ish way to start the show. Did Luger need ten minutes to poop or something?
-JR and TA again send it to Bob Fucking Caudle, who is with Michael Hayes. Hayes screams his promos. Yeah, he isn’t blacker than anybody. He pimps the entire show as well. Pimp your own match, dummy!
-FINALLY! I thought I was going to have to perform a sexual favor to hear Badstreet USA on one of these! Hayes struts out. The Assassin is already in the ring and I think SNL alumni Garrett Morris is the ref. Hayes’ dancing makes Fandango look like Justin Timberlake. Paul Jones is STILL managing.
MATCH NUMBER ONE: Michael Hayes vs Russian Assassin w/Paul Jones
-Magnum on commentary sounds like a retired QB. I mean that as a compliment so far.
-This side headlock is approaching its second minute.
-Hayes hits some sloppy ass clotheslines. One hits. One misses. He then taunts on the second rope to the crowd, then jumps off with a double axe handle.
-Hayes debuted at the age of 17? Was he wrestling during the Civil war? Based on his views, he wouldn’t have survived.
-The Assassin’s outfit makes him look like a background character in Nacho Libre.
-Hayes does a stomp to get the crowd behind him…while on offense with an armbar slapped on.
-The Assassin on offense is incredibly yawn inducing. The ref’s slow, quiet counts aren’t much better.
-Hayes hits a running cross body. I think a balloon exploded inside of him.
-I just noticed Hayes’ gear is exactly the same as George Steele’s.
-The Assassin is the LVP of the PPV so far. He is so boring and uncoordinated.
-Hayes starts to comeback, but his bulldog is thwarted. Why is this getting so much time?
-JR calls Assassin’s style “European and methodical.” He is trying.
-Assassin puts his head down. Unless it is cocaine, Hayes will drop you!
WINNER: Michael Hayes in 15:48 with a DDT.
FINAL WORD: I want to bill Jim Crockett for those 15 minutes and 48 seconds I will never get back.
-After the replay, Bob Caudle is backstage with Ricky Steamboat and his family. Little Richie really wants that microphone. He probably knows he won’t ever get it again. Steamboat says he isn’t OJ Simpson going after Jim Brown. Yeah, but your wife is sure trying to look like Nicole. Ouch. If this promo were entertaining, I would have avoided that joke.
-Back live and Sting is taking his jacket off. Teddy Long is the ref. Seriously? No fanfare at all for Sting?
MATCH NUMBER TWO: Sting vs Butch Reed w/Hiro Matsuda
-Hey, I’m glad someone found Butch Reed in time to win the IC…whoops.
-Sting is wearing bright pink tights with a blue scorpion on it. That is one classic look.
-How happy was Butch to get rid of that blonde hair?
-Leapfrogs and backflips and dropkicks, oh my! How underrated was Sting back in the day?
-It is fun to hear such strong talk about leaping ability, speed and agility regarding Sting and then you close your eyes and see him wrestling with his shirt on in TNA.
-At least Sting wrenches his side headlock.
-Hiro Matsuda is worthless, right? Oh, he trained Hulk Hogan? So I’m correct.
-The camera keeps randomly cutting to stupid kids in the crowd. Knock it off, Dunn!
-As Reed takes over on offense, I can see the camera guy direct the crowd to put their thumbs down.
-Hiro chokes Sting for a loooooong time behind the ref’s back.
-We all shat on Randy Orton in 2006 and 2007 for using restholds way too much. It was the heel go-to move in 1989.
-Sting starts to come back. He goes for the Vader/Swagger Bomb and Reed gets his knees up.
-Serious miscommunicastion with Sting ducking a clothesline and Reed bailing to the floor when Sting hits the ropes to attack.
-Reed gives Sting a wedgie during a headlock. Does that give you leverage?
-Sting gets the advantage back, beats his chest and the crowd wakes up.
-Butch is caught holding the ropes on a sunset flip attempt. Teddy Long doing his job!
WINNER: Sting in 20:06 after a sunset flip
-A brawl after the match ends with an awfully dubbed Sting theme and Reed getting knocked out of the ring.
FINAL WORD: Sting can dance with a lot of people, but Butch Reed definitely isn’t his best partner.
-Bob Caudle is backstage with Paul E. Dangerously, Randy Rode and Jack Victory instead of Dennis Condrey. Paul says Victory is there because of “strategy” but Condrey probably just no-showed the event. That said, another good Heyman promo I can say I’ve seen.
-Midnight Express song plays and Paul’s group enters. Even if I didn’t do the research, I would be able to tell that Victory was also the Russian Assassin from earlier. Heyman’s warm up punches are hilarious.
-The actual Express cut a promo and Cornette outshines Heyman this round. Yet again, it is only 1989. His all red outfit is hideous, though. I will give him MVP before he gets in the ring and ruins it.
-The babyface Express enter and the dubbing theme ruins the crowd noise. Corny actually calls for Paul to fight him, who naturally backs out.
MATCH NUMBER THREE: 6 MAN TAG MATCH WHERE LOSER OF THE FALL IS GONE FROM NWA- The Original Midnight Express and Paul Heyman vs The Midnight Express and Jim Cornette
-Rose and Lane start. It looks like a Blue Collar Comedy Tour version of one guy is wrestling the regular version of the same guy.
-A double elbow on Victory is joined by Cornette, which gets a big pop. It looked good. His strut looked even better.
-Heyman accidentally punches Rose and begs for his life. Typical Paul E.
-After Eaton is thrown into the guardrail, Paul tags in, kicks Eaton until he recovers and then bails.
-Corny tags in, chases after Paul, then gets slammed by Rose. Naturally, Paul tags in after that.
-Watching Cornette and Heyman wrestle reminds me of my matches in sixth grade with my stuffed ALF.
-Jack Victory’s fucking gut. That is all.
-Lane takes the heat. Victory sloppily jumps him on the floor. He is STILL the LVP.
-JR talks about the crowd hanging from the rafters. Thanks to Rich’s Ricky Morton impression, I start laughing.
-Eaton gets the hot tag. He hits a great missile dropkick and tags Paul E. forcefully. Corny takes over and the action breaks down soon after. Tommy Young can’t get control.
-The flapjack will do it every time.
WINNERS: Stan Lane pins Randy Rose in 15:51 after a flapjack.
FINAL WORD: A good blowoff that proves how great the real Midnight Express are, babyface or heel.
-We immediately cut to Caudle with Ric Flair and Hiro Matsuda. Hiro totally doesn’t fit while Flair WOOs and cuts his typical great promo.
-Back in the ring and intros are missing again. Even for the upcoming title match? Is this the VHS edit?
MATCH NUMBER FOUR: TV TITLE MATCH- Rick Steiner (Champion) w/Scott Steiner vs Mike Rotunda
-SCOTT STEINER PPV DEBUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He has his mullet and bulging muscles!!!!! I’m swooning.
-Scott Steiner is also wearing acid wash jeans. My enjoyment of looking at Scott Steiner is interrupted by a fan with his own Alex hand puppet.
-Oh yeah, some amateur wrestling happens as well.
-Rotunda avoids a Steinerline. It looked like it would have ended his life.
-Rick does hit the Steinerline and the crowd barks. I love seeing stupid ass Rick again.
-Rotunda cheats in an abdominal stretch. Scott keeps telling Teddy. I’m sad he doesn’t swear while doing it.
-I’m glad I understand Rick’s character now so I can understand why he wears two different boots.
-Interesting spot: Steiner puts his feet up as Rotunda leaps over him in a criss-cross spot. I’ve never seen that before.
-Rick misses a big splash from the top rope.
-After taking a beating on the floor, Rick sort of comes up bleeding.
-After a nearfall from a powerslam, Kevin Sullivan enters and mentions how beautiful Steiner’s dog is backstage. Poor, simple guy. That said, fuck that dog!
-Rotunda takes the advantage back after Rick is confused about his dog. That sounds ridiculous.
-Rick latches the sleeper on. Both men are laying on the mat. What a perfect, dumb way to lose.
WINNER: Mike Rotunda in 16:21 to win the TV Title after Rick Steiner’s shoulders were on the mat during a sleeper hold.
FINAL WORD: More overbooked than their previous encounter, but equal rating from me just because I got to gush over Scott Steiner.
-LOD cuts a promo backstage. It is rare that they are still the champs. It is also strange that they are babyfaces again. Their turn was one, big failed experiement. They cut a typical, Chicago pride yelling promo. Ellering talks and I start to think he might be overrated.
-It cuts to Barry Windham and Lex Luger in the ring. The bell rings. No build? What?
MATCH NUMBER FIVE: US TITLE MATCH- Barry Windham (Champion) w/Hiro Matsuda vs Lex Luger
-Magnum talks about Luger becoming a student of the game. Yeah, Parcheesi maybe.
-Less than one minute into the match and Luger no sells a belly to back suplex.
-Lex hits an impressive military press.
-The President of the Chicago White Sox is shown in the crowd. He looked like a pedophile.
-Lex has a weird counter of an armlock followed by a great clothesline. Every other move by Lex is crap.
-Windham is bumping like Mr. Perfect and Dolph Ziggler combined for Luger.
-A funny looking top rope dive by Luger misses and Barry takes over.
-JR talks about Windham outgrowing the wide receiver position and Luger being a former offensive lineman. I think JR jerks off to football cards.
-Lex has a cut above his right eye. If this ends in another stoppage, I may be done.
-Barry accidentally punches the ring post with his claw hand, which comes up bleeding. Is that a blade job on a hand?
-Their former partnership is finally mentioned. The story being told is totally off, which doesn’t make this match feel as special as it should be.
-The crowd stirs when Barry puts Lex on the top for his superplex. That is the power of a great finish back in the day. Barry hits it to a big pop and a very close two count that the crowd really believed.
-Windham hits a belly to belly with a bridge. Guess who actually gets their shoulder up?
WINNER: Lex Luger in 10:42 to win the US Title after getting his shoulder up on a belly to back suplex with a bridge.
-Post match, Windham pildrives Lex on his newly won belt.
-The hero can never celebrate or win outright in a good way.
FINAL WORD: Another good match that had its easy story tarnished in some way by ridiculous booking.
-Caudle interviews Rotunda backstage. He definitely didn’t pass promo ability onto his sons. He continually repeats himself and cuts a very sloppy promo.
-JR and TA recap the show thus far. A quick cut and the teams for our next match are in the ring. This show has such a bad flow in this version.
MATCH NUMBER SIX: NWA TAG TITLE MATCH-The Road Warriors (Champions) w/Paul Ellering vs The Varsity Club
-Sullivan and Animal start with stubby chops and clotheslines. The pace is very quick, though.
-LOUD LOD chants as Dr. Death and Animal play the unstoppable/immovable game until Animal hits a big powerslam.
-Paul Ellering is dressed like that guy on the sunblock bottles.
-Military press by Williams is awesome. Clothesline by Hawk is awesome. Front and back LOD double clothesline is awesome. Call this match the LEGO Movie so far because everything is awesome.
-Sullivan hits Animal in the arm with a chair behind the ref’s back. Doc follows that up with a weird karate kick. He can’t even spell karate.
-Extensive arm work on Animal builds towards the hot tag plus Doc yells and acts crazy to draw heat as he catches Animal at the perfect time for every tease.
-PWI plug about LOD winning Team of the Year five times.
-A double clothesline leads to Hawk getting the hot tag. He goes bananas and a brawl breaks out. It is a total mess. Williams tries to pin Animal after a cheap shot and this is falling apart like a guy with one hand eating corn on the cob.
WINNERS: Hawk pinned Kevin Sullivan in 8:26 after a top rope clothesline.
-Caudle is backstage with Lex Luger, bandaged and toweled. He somehow looks silly. He cuts a simple promo, which probably means it is his best ever.
-JR and TA preview the main event and set up a video package. Steamboat’s return is shown as JR talks over it. Man, I wish WWE’s video package people were around back then.
-The segment from Clash of the Champions 5 between Flair and Steamboat plays as Flair, with five women, insults family. Flair is stripped of his clothes and tried to fight back. It looks like a normal night at the Hilton for him. A visual three count after Steamboat’s cross body is shown.
-2001 theme plays and I think Steamboat is in the ring already? Flair, accompanied by Matsuda, enters to a big pop. Wearing a sweet red robe and sugar babies at his side, Flair looks like a million bucks.
-Steamboat IS in the ring already. This has such an aggravating presentation. Flair is given roses by someone that isn’t his wife.
-I’m fucking amped. This is the only one of their trilogy I haven’t seen.
MATCH NUMBER SEVEN: NWA TITLE MATCH- Ric Flair (Champion) w/Hiro Matsuda vs Ricky Steamboat
-There is a brief “Steamboat Sucks” chant. Windham had some loud supporters earlier, too. Chicago has always been rebellious.
-The psychology is already off the charts with tackles countered with headlocks and drop downs and quick pins.
-Bears running back Brad Muster is shown. JR says he wears a Flair shirt under his pads. Michael Cole tells worse lies.
-Flair’s first chop is disgustingly loud. It pisses Ricky off.
-More chops and Steamboat legit knocks Flair down with one.
-The crowd buys into a simple headlock for a pin and close two count. This has been a master class four minutes in.
-Every two count on Flair is so close. A big double handed chop by Steamboat would have got me.
-There hasn’t been anything close to a botch or a flub.
-I miss the Big Gold Belt.
-God, Ricky Steamboat is making Kofi Kingston look like Great Khali. He is the MVP (finally).
-Every time Flair gets on offense, Ricky storms back quickly and sends Flair out of the ring.
-PWI gets another name drop. Did they almost buy the company instead of Turner?
-Ricky kicks out of a double arm suplex at one. Easy, Lesnar.
-Flair takes a second for a quick, cool WOOOO. The crowd has been doing it the whole match.
-Flair hits the corner spot perfectly and immediately goes to the top rope and SUCCEEDS! His cross body hits, but gets reversed into a great two count. All time record for Flair from the top: 4 for 11.
-The crowd is going insane, all on their feet. The Figure Four is locked in and a Steamboat chant starts. I can’t write fast enough.
-Flair is caught using the ropes and Young forces a break after a long stretch.
-After some back and forth slugs, Flair cross body blocks Steamboat and both men are sent over the top rope.
-Flair hits suplexes and a backbreaker to wear Steamboat out. Flair has his feet on the ropes for a pin attempt for over 20 seconds.
-I’m almost done recapping moves. Just stop reading this and go watch this match. It makes the WrestleMania 3 Steamboat match look like Queen Sharmell vs Jenna Morasca.
-There is NO ONE sitting down.
-Young gets caught up in Ricky’s cross body. Tedd Long is out to help.
-Figure Four attempt countered!
WINNER: Ricky Steamboat in 23:08 to win the title with a small package.
-The crowd pops huge and the WCW era Steamboat theme plays, which is okay with me.
FINAL WORD: My God, believe every bit of the hype.
-JR and TA recap the title before Caudle interviews Steamboat. The boys in the back douse him with champagne and Ricky chugs out of a bottle. Everyone encourages a speech and I want to shout “Don’t ruin it!!!!” Steamboat has too much champagne in his eyes, which hurts the promo even more. Michael Hayes is too much with booze as usual. All things considered, it was a good promo covered in alcohol.
-JR and TA sign off and the credits rolls with synth playing.
THE LAST IMAGE: Ricky Steamboat with the NWA Title and his family.
THE WRAP UP
FINAL MVP of PPV: I feel bad that only one guy can win this, but it is Ricky Steamboat all the way. He vaulted into my all-time top five after this match.
FINAL LVP of PPV: Two matches were definitely too much Jack Victory for me.
MY FAVORITE MATCH: Ricky Steamboat vs Ric Flair
MY LEAST FAVORITE MATCH: Michael Hayes vs The Russian Assassin
WWE HALL OF FAMERS IN ACTION: 5 (Barry Windham, Hawk, Animal, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair)
DEARLY DEPARTED IN ACTION: 2 (Hawk, Steve Williams)
FINAL THOUGHT: There were typical Dusty booking decisions, but most of the in-ring action was solid and the main event was one of the greatest matches of all time. On that basis alone, MULLET RECOMMENDS
NEXT TIME: Donald Trump is still an awful casino operator, so he begs his friend, Vince McMahon, to return for WrestleMania V.