We continue our series looking at the history of Clash of Champions, taking in with Part 8 Clash of Champions VIII: Fall Brawl, held on September 12, 1989, at Carolina Coliseum in Columbia, South Carolina in front of 2,600 fans. The show drew a 4.7 on TBS.
Coming out of a steamy Great American Bash Summer tour of 1989 and into the Fall it would be curious to see if they were able to keep the momentum going.
The show kicks off with a recap of the chaotic end of the GAB when Sting came to the aid of his longtime rival Ric Flair after being attacked by Terry Funk and The Great Muta, that would set up tonight’s main event.
Jim Ross is joined by new commentator Jim Cornette for tonight’s show.
The first match of the night is the continuation of the feud between The Samoan Swat Team (Fatu & Samu) w/Paul E. Dangerously vs. The Road Warriors w/Paul Ellering.
While the WWE Network is amazing, the one major drawback is the music rights not being able to be obtained for obvious financial reasons. So, if you didn’t see this event in its original form you missed on the SST’s amazing original entrance theme from the Halloween movies!
This is what you would expect from these two great teams, “a high impact match” as Ross called it. Back and forth action as both teams really go at it, no wasted motions here.
Hawk misses a spear into the corner and falls all the way to the concrete floor where he’s attacked by both members of the SST. Animal is then being held inside the ring by Samu as Fatu brings in Paul E’s giant mobile phone but is bumped out by a returning Hawk! Ellering then throws the phone comes back in the ring as Hawk nails Fatu to set him up for the deadly Doomsday Device finisher and the big win for the Road Warriors!
After the match the SST are not happy with Paul E and blame him for the loss, leaving him all alone in the ring.
Real cool promo for the first ever Halloween Havoc aired. It’s too bad the WWE hasn’t resurrected this event. Seems like it would be something they could’ve had some fun with.
The second match of the card was the debut of Tom “The Z-Man” Zenk taking on The Cuban Assassin. Zenk was always a good talent in the ring but was probably too “pretty” to ever become a major star. During this time and many years to follow when a “new” guy would show up in NWA or WWF the announcers would make it like this was their first ever wrestling match and would drop “We don’t much about him.” The match itself was basically to showcase Zenk, he strangely won with a sleeper after about three minutes.
The third match of the card is Sid Vicious w/Teddy Long & Dangerous Danny Spivey vs. Ranger Ross. Sid had just joined the NWA in June so he’s pretty new here and says what you want about him, but I was a big fan during this time. He was paired with Spivey as The Skyscrapers before some Mark Callous (The Undertaker) guy took his place later this year. Sid had such a great look and delivered a monstrous power bomb to Ross for a real quick win.
We switch gears as Missy Hyatt and Robin Green (Woman/Nancy Benoit) go out shopping. They both had been associated with The Steiner Brothers. Green, however, seemed to be taking advantage of the naive Rick Steiner taking his credit card for a whirl.
The Steiner Brothers are up next to take on The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael P.S. Hayes & Jimmy Garvin) for the NWA World Tag-Team Championships. Ross has been making a point to push the young guns that are taking over the roster such a Scott Steiner, Sid, Zenk, Pillman etc.
This was The Steiners first ever shot at the titles and they were extremely over with the crowd. The Freebirds controlled most of the match with cheating tactics and outside attacks. Rick is being pummeled until he makes the desperate hot tag to Scotty who comes and hits consecutive Frankensteiners on the Birds. Nowadays the hurricanrana is about as unique as a clothesline but in ‘89 it was eye-popping to see someone pull off such a move. Scotty is thrown into the ropes but either trips or was tripped by someone outside the ring. Hayes then hits him with a DDT to keep the titles on Badstreet USA.
After the match The Steiners are arguing with the girls, Scotty is saying Robin tripped him while Rick is saying Missy did it. Ross and Cornette are trying to look at replays but the camera angles are inconclusive. This, of course, led up to Robin Green becoming the evil Woman and the rest is history.
“Flyin” Brian Pillman is up next to take on Norman the Lunatic w/Theodore Long. Pillman is accompanied to the ring by a gaggle of University of South Carolina Cheerleaders so that’s always a good thing. This actually was a pretty neat matchup as they both were newcomers to NWA, but had a history when they both were in Canada in Stampede Wrestling. Pillman showed his strength on a couple occasions slamming the much bigger Norman. Pillman misses a clothesline by Norman and wraps him in a crucifix to the mat and the winning fall. Had Pillman stayed healthy there’s no telling where he would’ve ended up. He had all the tools inside the ring and then once his personality came to the forefront, his mic skills were exceptional. Once again, the rest is history with him as well.
The sixth match of the night was The Varsity Club clash between Dr Death Steve Williams and. Mike Rotunda. Williams has gone from face to heel to face in about a year and this was the culmination of a feud between this former tag-team. Rotunda tries for a clothesline but flies over the top rope. Rotunda tries to hold onto the rope but the ref kicks his hand off and Williams is able to roll up Rotunda for the win.
Next up Gordon Solie is interviewing Lex Luger about his match tonight. This probably was one of Luger’s best promos as he mentions his own name about a dozen times and how great he is.
Luger is set to take on “Wildfire” Tommy Rich for the U.S. Heavyweight Championship. Not sure if I just missed the Tommy Rich Project in his early days but he didn’t do much for me. Know of all his accolades, but by 1989 he seemed kinda out of his element, to me anyways. Cornette made a point to build up Rich as the underdog and his “fire” will not let him quit. Actually, a pretty good match. Luger attempted the Torture Rack but Rich slipped out and attempted a pin to no avail. Rich puts Luger in a sleeper with champ on the outside apron but Luger drops Rich on the top rope and covers him to retain.
Terry Funk is in the hospital talking about how Ric Flair put him in the hospital for attacking him with a branding iron and now his arm is infected. Funk, however, vows to be at the Clash.
It’s main event time as World Television Champion the Great Muta is joined by Dick Slater (subbing for the “injured” Funk) vs Sting & Flair. No matter how many times and how long ago it’s been The Great Muta will forever be cool. Sting and Muta had been in a magnificent feud for the TV title and they start this match out. Some guys were just natural rivals and had great chemistry immediately and that was the case for these two right from the jump.
Flair gets into the ring and Cornette points out that this was the first time Muta and Flair were in the ring at the same time. Later, Flair is on the outside as Muta splashes down onto him over the top followed by Sting to Muta, who does the same in a crazy sequence. Slater follows them outside for an all-out brawl as the crowd explodes!
As the match proceeds, Slater and Flair are on the outside as Sting hits the Stinger Splash on Muta and slaps on the Scorpion Deathlock. Hart meanwhile nails a roll of coins to the back of Sting as the referee is distracted. Muta is unable to get the pinfall, however. Sting finally makes the tag to Flair as he cleans house. All four get in the ring again, Muta sprays the dangerous yellow mist right into Sting’s face and Slater hits Flair with the cast busting open the champ!
Then in what has to be one of the most controversial and chaotic angles in history, Funk runs in and slaps a plastic bag over the head of Flair suffocating him! Slater and Muta nail Sting in the leg with that branding iron. It’s nuts as Ross and Cornette are going wild.
They come and are nearly out of time, Pillman apparently gave Flair CPR and the paramedics are attending to him. For some reason seeing the credits roll over the scene was a real nice touch and made the event seem “real.”
Once again, a really good show, 1989 was one of the strongest years for NWA/WCW and here we are in September and it has not lost any steam. Definitely, a must-watch as the company builds to Halloween Havoc ‘89!
You can read all previous ‘Styles Clash: Clash of the Champions Revisited’ here.