We continue our series looking at the history of Clash of Champions, taking in part with Part 9 Clash of Champions IX: New York Knockout, held on November 15, 1989, at the Houston Field House in Troy, New York in front of 4,000 fans and drew a 4.9 rating on TBS.
Halloween Havoc 1989 had just taken place over two weeks ago and the long brutal feud between Ric Flair and Terry Funk is set to culminate tonight with an “I Quit” match.
The first match of the night between The Fabulous Freebirds (Jimmy Garvin & Michael Hayes) vs. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) is a bit confusing. The graphic on the screen said the Birds were tag-team champions but they had “lost” them on November 1 to The Steiner Brothers but it hadn’t aired yet on TV, so it was a “nothing to see here” approach by commentators Jim Ross and for tonight The Dean of Wrestling, Gordon Solie.
This was a really quick match (5:18) The Birds double teamed Animal which brought in an inpatient Hawk but he was stopped by referee Tommy Young to which Hawk flung Young aside to help his LOD brother out. Young called for the bell and DQ’d the Road Warriors just as things were starting to get cooking. The Road Warriors attacked Hayes after the match and that was that.
Ross interviews Funk and Gary Hart about not quitting tonight. Hart seemed to press Funk here as he better not quit and embarrasses the Funk family’s legacy.
Back from commercial and Ross is with Pro Wrestling Illustrated Editor, Bill Apter to present Sting as the NWA’s Most Popular Wrestler trophy as well as Ric Flair with The Wrestler of the Decade.
Next up we have Robin Green sitting in a hotel room type setting as she has gone full heel and wants to be known now as simply Woman, the new manager of her new mysteriously masked tag-team; Doom. Solie dropped in the line of the night with, “I tell you something Jim, She’s an evil person, but she sure is pretty.”
The second match of the night was Doom vs. “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert & “Wildfire” Tommy Rich.
Great entrance as Doom walked down some massive steps followed by Woman was escorted down the steps by some fellas in tuxedos. We would learn that Doom was, of course, Ron Simmons and Butch Reed but for tonight they are Doom #1 and #2. Rich and Gilbert control the beginning of the match but are quickly engulfed by the much bigger Doom competitors. Gilbert is tied up with referee Young as Doom executes a somewhat Doomsday Device shoulder block tag-team manoeuvre for the pretty easy victory.
The “Louisville Slugger” Jim Cornette is out to interview The Steiner Brothers about what his new finisher (hurricanrana) should be called. They officially tab it “The Frankensteiner.” Kinda random segment.
The Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace) are out next skateboards in hand to take on The Midnight Express (Stan Lane & Bobby Eaton). Jim Cornette is in a neutral corner as he has helped out The Dudes while officially managing The Midnights during their face run. They seem to be planting seeds of a more heel Midnights with some of their tactics and the N.Y. crowd loves it.
The Dudes get a bad name mostly because of their look and skateboards but you certainly couldn’t criticize their ring work, especially Douglas at this time. Some really great back and forth tag-team action in this one. Midnights attempt their Rocket Launcher finisher but Ace blocks it, tags in Douglas who clears house which leads to all four men in the ring. Eaton gets a hold of a chain but it’s knocked loose from his hand. Cornette then enters the ring and flings the chain away in what looks to be him playing it down the middle but instead, he nails Douglas as Eaton picks up the win and it’s old times again for the Midnight Express as the crowd pops big time for the reunion.
Next up we have The Super Destroyer (Jack Victory) vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams. Norman walks down to the ring dressed as Santa Clause and is passing out candy to the kids.
Douglas press slams and clotheslines Super Destroyer all the way out onto a table then throws him back in the ring for the Oklahoma Slam and the quick victory. Santa and Williams celebrate with a Teddy Bear in the ring. Happy Holidays!
The fifth match of the night is a tag-team tilt between The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scotty) vs. The Skyscrapers (“Dangerous” Dan Spivey & Sid Vicious). Rick is seen in the stands handing out popcorn as Scott walks in by himself. This match pops off right away as Rick gives the much bigger Spivey a German release suplex, a few minutes later Spivey returns the favor with a pretty stiff looking Tombstone. Scotty enters the fray and quickly hits Frankensteiner on Spivey and then a real quick fallaway slam on Sid! The teams trade advantages until it’s an all out brawl as a member of Doom enters the ring and is quickly hit with a Frankensteiner. Sid and Rick are on the outside as the other member of Doom joins them. Woman is in the ring now and hits Rick in the head with a shoe! Rick then corners his former flame in the corner, when suddenly this giant man with black stretch pants comes to her aid. This unknown bodyguard would later be known as Nitron. Doom #1 and Sid hit a spiked piledriver on Rick while Spivey and Doom #2 double-team Scotty until the Road Warriors run-in and it’s pier-six brawl as everyone is swinging on each other. Excellent segment.
Things calm down for Ross to interview The Steiners and The Road Warriors and how they are similar being family from Detroit and Chicago so they should join forces to take on the Skyscrapers and Doom. Unfortunately, this foursome would never take place as Sid suffered a punctured lung somewhere in this match and but it would lead to him being replaced by Mean Mark Callous (Undertaker).
Starrcade was on a Wednesday? Don’t remember that.
The U.S. Heavyweight Championship is up next as Lex Luger puts his title on the line vs. Flyin’ Brian Pillman. Ross always did such a good job on pushing Pillman and making him sound the ultimate underdog and he did just that in this match. These two had some great chemistry in this match as well as their first match at Halloween Havoc. Luger was never better as the cocky heel here in ‘89. A real unique spot as Pillman takes the Coors Light pad off of corner post and wraps Luger’s arm around it to work over the champ. Luger takes control of the match and almost looks like he wants to press slam Pillman into the crowd.
Pillman then goes for broke and hits Luger with a flying bodypress but referee Nick Patrick also get hit so nobody is there to count. Luger then falls to floor and grabs as chair and destroys Pillman over the head with no referee to see it and then crawls onto the Pillman to retain the US strap.
After the match Luger continues to assault Pillman with the chair until Sting comes out to finally confront his former best friend. You could feel the anticipation of this marquee matchup of these two young guns. The crowd was insane wanting to see them go at it once and for all.
We’ve reached the main event as it’s Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk w/Gary Hart in an “I Quit” match. You don’t get much better here with Ross and Solie on commentary and these two in the ring. A feud that has been building nearly all year has reached this fevered pitch.
The early part of the match sees Funk controlling the offense beating on Flair along the apron and nearly onto Solie and Ross. The action moves outside as Funk attempts to Flair to say “I Quit.”
Funk then goes in on Flair reminding him of his bad neck and that he should retire and just quit now. The mic is picking up everything as Flair yells and grunts as he is being decimated. Funk hits a delayed piledriver first in the ring and then delivers another on the outside of the ring on top of a raggedy padded mat. Still, Flair is not quitting. Funk positions a table along the apron table and slams Funk’s head into the table. Flair then tosses Funk right across the table and into a chair. Flair now has the upper hand as he begins to work over Funk’s leg to set up is patented figure-four leglock.
Funk attempts to leave down the entranceway but Flair leaps onto him and drags him back into the ring. After some nasty chops, Flair slaps on the figure-four as Funk is exclaiming that his “leg is breaking” and then finally says “Yes I Quit!”
Hart immediately jumps into the ring and starts berating Funk. Flair says I want a handshake and Funk obliges to which Hart cheapshots Funk. Flair punches Hart, then The Great Muta and The Dragonmaster jump in and attack Flair. All hell has broken loose as Sting comes to the aid of Flair. As Sting has the Scorpion Leglock on The Dragonmaster Luger runs down and cracks Sting in the back, Flair then hits Luger. Muta and Luger join forces to take out Flair. It’s total carnage in the ring. Luger walks out with a chair and breaks the trophies in the back.
What a remarkable ending to a great show. Everything meant something in the top matchups as well as the tag team matches. The Flair-Funk feud is over but now you have any combination of Luger/Muta vs Sting/Flair all set up to close out the exceptional year of 1989 at Starrcade. Once again, a highly recommended show.
You can read all previous ‘Styles Clash: Clash of the Champions Revisited’ here.