- I think this was the final time where WWF and JCP/WCW played "fuck the other over" by putting on a free supercard to go up against a PPV. In this case, the WWF was putting on Wrestlemania V, headlined by the Mega Powers exploding, so WCW retaliates by giving us another Clash of the Champions, this time headlined by a 2 out of 3 Falls ReMatch from Chi-Town Rumble between Flair and Steamboat for the World Heavyweight Title. Wrestlemania did an awesome buyrate for it's time, and the Clash did an average television rating, so the purpose of the product failed, but the quality is what we're worried about here.
- Televised live, on April 2nd, 1989, from the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA (DUH!), and we've got Jim Ross and Michael P.S. Hayes calling the action from ringside. Before we get to the show itself, this version has Jim Ross in a studio setting, highlighting two matches that took place before the show came to air. In one, Sting, the newly crowned Television Champion, squashed Rip Morgan. There's also a match between Lex Luger and Jack Victory. Luger and Michael Hayes apparently have issues, and I'm sure we'll be seeing them go at it for the United States Title at some point. Luger wins, obviously.
After what seems like forever, the SST finally take control of the match on Eaton after a blind tag is made by Samu, and levels Eaton with a clothesline. Samu with a spinning heel kick for a series of two counts, then it's time for the vulcan neck pinch of extreme discomfort. Eaton hits the ropes, and gets yanked down from the apron by Fatu. Irish whip, and Fatu with a back elbow for a two count, then back to the neck pinch. Eaton tries to take Fatu over with a hip toss, but Fatu blocks and nails him with a clothesline for a two count. Samu tags in and pounds away s'more, then chokes. Samu with a rake of the eyes and a reverse crescent kick. Eaton throws a series of desperation rights, then somehow tags out to Lane, who comes in a house of fire. Lane works over both SST members, and it's a pier six brawl. The Midnights ram the heads of the SST together, but they no sell and miss charges to the corner. Irish whip, and Paul E. trips Lane, but Fatu misses a headbutt. Irish whip is reversed, and Cornette trips Fatu! Then Samu nails Lane with a kick to the head, and Fatu covers for a two count. Eaton comes in illegally and slugs it out with Samu, but Fatu works over Lane while that's going on. Double teaming in the corner by the SST, and Fatu with some choking. Irish whip, and Fatu with a powerslam for a two count. Nerve hold applied, again. Double headbutt on Lane gets a series of two counts, even with the use of ropes for leverage. Irish whip, and Samu nails Lane with a reverse kick for another two count. Samu sucker punches Eaton, but that allows the SST to double team again. Irish whip, and Lane with a sunset flip, but Fatu blocks and nails Lane between the eyes. Fatu with a scoop slam, but he misses a headbutt from the second turnbuckle. Eaton gets the hot tag, and he hammers on both SST with rights. Double noggin' knocker is no sold, and they hit Eaton with a double headbutt. It's time for heel miscommunication, and Eaton hits Fatu with a diving forearm. Eaton with a swinging neck breaker on Samu, but that only gets two. Lane sends Fatu out with en enziguri, then they do the Rocket Launcher on Fatu. The referee is distracted, and Samu comes in, nails Eaton with the telephone, and rolls Fatu on top for the three count at 20:30. Wild, but messy finish. ** Decent match for the most part, but just a bit too long for the finish we got. We could've shaved this match down by at least 5-minutes without hurting things. I guess I should be used to it by now, though, with tag matches getting extra time and allowing the face team to actually work over heels for a good portion of the match, rather than the WWF formula of short face control segment, then the heels take over 90% of the match, then finish. Still not an SST fan, though.
Rotunda tags back in and takes Hawk over with a snapmare. Rotunda with an elbow drop, but that only gets a two ocunt. Hawk with a wristlock, and Animal tags in and grabs a headlock. Williams tags back in, and the Varsity Club go for a double back suplex, but Animal flips through, dropkicks both men, then nails them with a clothesline. Animal with a shoulder tackle attempt, but Williams ducks, and Rotunda pulls the ropes down, allowing Animal to spill out of the ring. Williams follows him out, scoops him up, and slams him down, amatuer style. I kind of dug that one. Back in the ring, and Rotunda with a back breaker. Williams tags back in, then comes off the top rope with a fist. Irish whip, and Williams with a clothesline for a two count. Bearhug applied by Williams. Hawk gets the tag, but referee Teddy Long didn't see it, and Williams slams Animal down with a belly-to-belly suplex. Rotunda covers, but it only gets two. Irish whip, and Rotunda traps Animal in the abdominal stretch, and yes, Williams DOES help give Rotunda added momentum. Animal escapes with a hip toss, but Rotunda rams him to the corner. Williams tags back in and clips the knee of Animal with a football tackle. Animal slugs it out with Williams, but gets tossed out of the ring. Sullivan rams a plastic chair onto Animal while the referee is distracted. Irish whip, and Williams with a spinebuster for a two count. Rotunda tags in and hammers away. Irish whip, and Animal comes off the ropes with a powerful clothesline. Williams comes in and plants Animal with a slam. He comes out of the corner with another football tackle. Williams calls for another, but Animal takes his head off with a clothesline this time. Hawk gets the hot tag, and he pounds away on Rotunda. Irish whip, and Hawk with a powerslam, followed by a fist drop. Hawk press slams Rotunda, then nails him with a diving shoulder tackle. Williams runs in and gets into it with Animal. Rotunda and Hawk slug it out, and Animal tosses Long. The LOD go for the Doomsday Device, and Rotunda is killed... but Long won't make the count. Outside the ring, Sullivan wipes out Ellering, drawing Animal to his rescue. Williams runs in, cradles Hawk, and Long makes the FASTEST three count in history at 11:46. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen an arm snap up and down three times faster than I have right now. This would cost Long his job as a referee, but it won't be the last time we see him. *** Not the greatest match, but the team of Williams and Rotunda brought their A game, the Warriors were usually entertaining to watch, and the added drama to end the match was pretty historic, too.
Fall #1: Lockup to start, and they take it into the corner. Flair with a "Woo", and Steamboat retaliates with a slap! They trade waistlocks until Flair takes him down. Steamboat counters, and Flair reaches the ropes for a break. Steamboat with another slap in the corner, this time unprovoked. Lockup, and Steamboat grabs a headlock. Flair goes for the leg, but counters with an overhand wristlock. Flair uses the leg for extra leverage to bring Steamboat to his knees. Steamboat struggles back to his feet to counter the hold and brings Flair to the canvas. Steamboat goes for an armbar, but Flair reaches the ropes and heads outside for a breather. Back in the ring, and they feel each other out. Lockup, and Flair grabs a headlock. Irish whip, and Flair with a shoulder block. Steamboat takes Flair over with arm drag, followed by a side headlock takeover for a two count. Flair counters into a series of pinning combinations for two counts, but Steamboat keeps the headlock applied. Irish whip, and a shoulder block puts Flair down. Steamboat comes off the ropes, and traps Flair in another headlock. Flair takes it into the corner for a break, then drives a shoulder into the midsection. Flair with some nasty chops, and Steamboat retaliates with his own. Steamboat with an arm drag from out of the corner, followed by a flying herad scissors and a dropkick. Steamboat with another side headlock takeover, into a cover for a two count. Steamboat releases the hold, then quickly slaps on some stiff front facelocks. Steamboat drives a series of knees into the back of the neck of Flair, takes him over with a snapmare, then slaps on a chinlock. Steamboat transfers into a front facelock, but Flair backs him to the corner for another break. Flair with an elbow to the ribs, followed by more chops. Whip to the corner, and Steamboat takes Flair over with a back drop, then connects with a dropkick for a two count. Flair begs him off and hides in the corner. Flair boots Steamboat in the midsection, and knocks him down with a short right. Irish whip, and Steamboat surprises Flair with a roll up for a two count. Steamboat with a clothesline, followed by a jumping headlock takeover for another two count. Steamboat slaps on another front facelock, using a hard lunge into the canvas to make it more punishing to the untrained eye. Steamboat with another knee into the neck of Flair.
Steamboat takes Flair into the corner, and unloads with a series of chops. Flair pushes Steamboat off, but takes another chop, and flops, allowing Steamboat to quickly cover for another two count. Flair drops to both knees, and Steamboat wisely slaps the headlock back on, rather than let him take another break. Flair counters this time, connecting with an inverted atomic drop. Steamboat nails Flair with another chop though, and covers for a two count. Steamboat goes back to the headlock, and comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle for a two count. Steamboat with another shoulder tackle for two. Criss-cross sequence, and a double chop across the chest gets yet another two count. Flair rolls out of the ring and flops once again. Jim Ross notes "this is the most important wrestling match today" while Flair takes a walk around the ring. Back in the ring, and Flair pleads with Steamboat, but he can't possibly take that seriously. Lockup, and Flair with a knee to the midsection, followed by a big chop, knocking Steamboat off his feet. Flair with another rush of chops, and they slug it out again. Steamboat takes the advantage with some roundhouses and a double chop for a two count. Nice spot for the referee to go outside the ring for a proper view to make a count. Flair rolls to the apron, but Steamboat brings him back into the ring with a suplex. Steamboat attempts a splash, but Flair gets the knees up in time. Flair works over Steamboat in the corner, then takes him over with a snapmare, and follows with a double stomp to the chest. Flair takes Steamboat over with a double underhook suplex, and covers for a two count. Flair covers again, and gets another two count. Another cover, another two count. Fourth pin attempt, and this time Flair tries to use a 3/4-nelson to pin Steamboat, but he can't keep him down for a three count, no matter how many times he tries. Flair has both wrists pinned down now, but Steamboat powers his way out of the situation with a nip up. They trade boots and chops. Steamboat with a hip toss out of the corner, but he misses a dropkick. Flair goes to the leg, but Steamboat counters with a roll up. Flair counters with his own cradle, and that gets a three count at 19:43, giving Flair a one fall-to-nothing lead. Wow... we're only one fall in, and I'm blown away by this match.
Fall #2: After a one-minute rest period, we return from a commercial break, but not before promoting a concert from some rednecks I've never heard of. They take their time before getting things started, circling the ring for a while. Lockup, and Flair with a headlock. Irish whip, and Flair with a shoulder block. Steamboat catches Flair coming off the ropes with a press slam, then comes off the top rope with a big chop to the head for a two count. Steamboat slaps on a side headlock, then turns it into a front facelock. Flair counters a headlock with a back suplex, but the impact takes it's toll on him, as well. Flair is up first, and comes out of the corner, dropping a knee across the forehead of the Champion. Flair sets Steamboat up again, but he misses the knee drop this time. Streamboat drops a series of elbows across the left knee of Flair, and by series, I mean A LOT, I've lost count at about 14. After all that, Steamboat easily applies the Figure-Four, right in the center of the ring. Flair takes a couple of near falls, but refuses to give up. Every time he sits up, Steamboat knocks him back down. Flair struggles his way to the ropes, forcing a break. Steamboat grabs Flair by the legs and jerks him back to the middle of the ring. Flair kicks him off, but Steamboat is relentless, and quickly slaps on a Boston Crab. Flair once again manages to make it to the ropes to force a break. The referee keeps Steamboat at a distance while Flair tries to make his way back to his feet while hiding in the corner. Steamboat eventually comes back in, dropping a series of chops to the top of the head of Flair. Flair fights back with more chops, then takes Steamboat over with a side headlock. Steamboat counters with a head scissors, but Flair floats over into a pin attempt for another series of two counts. Steamboat bridges up, and takes Flair over with a back slide for another two count.
Flair rolls out of the ring, then drags Steamboat out, and whips him into the security rail. Flair with a slam on the arena floor, then another whip into the railing. Jim Ross questions if Steamboat is counted out, will the title change hands? Flair keeps breaking the count though, so that isn't a concern. Flair snaps Steamboat across the top rope, then continues to punish him while still on the apron. Flair brings Steamboat back into the ring with a suplex, then covers for a two count. Flair slaps on the abdominal stretch, then rolls Steamboat up with the hold for another series of two counts. Flair starts using the ropes for leverage after about eight failed pin attempts. Steamboat makes it back to his feet, and they exchange blows, with Flair coming out on top of that. Flair goes for an atomic drop, but Dragon rolls through and rolls Flair up for a two count. Flair's momentum on the kick out sends Steamboat flying out of the ring. Steamboat comes back in, sweeps the leg, and rolls Flair up for another two count. Irish whip, and Flair punts Steamboat, then knocks him down with a chop for a two count. Flair heads to the top rope, and Steamboat crotches him across the top turnbuckle. Steamboat climbs up and takes Flair over with a super-plex. Steamboat drops a series of chops across the back of Flair, then drives forearms into the lower back. Steamboat slaps on a double chicken wing, and after about twenty seconds, Flair submits at 35:12, taking this match into the third and deciding fall... but first, a one minute breather.
Fall #3: We come back from the commercial, and Steamboat slaps on an abdominal stretch. Flair escapes, but flops to the canvas. Flair recovers though, and clips the knee of Steamboat, then drives a shoulder into the midsection. They trade chops, with Steamboat putting Flair down for a two count. Flair doesn't want anymore, but Steamboat takes it into the corner. Whip to the corner, and Steamboat takes him over with a back drop. Steamboat drops chops across the back again. Steamboat slaps on a headlock, and Flair counters with an atomic drop, putting all the preasure on the knee of Steamboat. Flair gets up first and slaps on the Figure-Four, but Steamboat is too close to the ropes. Flair and the referee have words over it. Flair kicks at the left knee of Steamboat, then takes him into the corner. They trade chops again, with Flair throwing all his weight into them. Irish whip to the corner, and Flair flips onto the apron, and Steamboat levels him with another chop. Flair is technically outside the ring, so the referee starts counting him out. Flair pulls himself back into the ring and begs Steamboat off once again. Flair sweeps the legs and uses the ropes for leverage, but Steamboat keeps kicking out at two. Flair takes it to the corner and works Steamboat over. Whip to the corner, and Steamboat runs into a boot from Flair on a charge attempt. Flair drops an axehandle across the back of Steamboat, then a knee across the worked-over leg. Whip to the corner is reversed, but Steamboat misses a dive, and hooks his leg in the ropes. Flair yanks him down hard, then drops all his weight across the left knee of Steamboat. Flair yanks Steamboat back into the center of the ring, then comes out of the corner, dropping a knee across the leg, and once again applies the Figure-Four.
Steamboat struggles to try and turn the hold over, but has enough in him to get his shoulders up before he can be counted down. Steamboat slaps the canvas to rally the crowd behind him, but Flair keeps putting the preasure on. Steamboat rocks back and forth, before finally turning the hold over, but they're both in the ropes, so the referee forces a break. Flair rams the leg of Steamboat against the side of the ring. Back in the ring, and Steamboat chops in the corner. Whip to the corner, and Flair flips to the apron, climbs the ropes, and comes off with a cross body for a two count! Steamboat drops a chop across the back of the head, but he buckles under the weight of Flair on a slam attempt. Irish whip, and Steamboat with a diving headbutt, followed by a chop across the top of the head. Steamboat heads to the top rope, and a cross body gets another two count. Steamboat comes out of the corner for an elbow, but Flair rolls out of the way. Flair with a series of elbows to the top of the head of Steamboat. Irish whip, and Steamboat surprises Flair with a swinging neck breaker for a two count. Flair dumps Steamboat out of the ring, then collapses to his knees. Steamboat comes back into the ring with a sunset flip, and uses the tights for leverage, but it only gets a two count. Irish whip, and Steamboat with a shoulder tackle. Flair catches Steamboat coming off the ropes in a sleeper hold, hopping onto the back of Steamboat for added leverage. The referee checks the arms, and it goes down all three times, but Steamboat raises the arm as he was about to call for the bell. Steamboat gets slap-canvas-happy to rally the crowd behind him and powers back up to his feet. Steamboat uses his leverage to ram Flair into the buckle, causing Flair to fall out of the ring in the process. Back in the ring, and Flair kicks the back of the knee of Steamboat. Flair grabs the leg, and Steamboat retaliates with an enziguri for a two count. Steamboat heads to the top rope, and misses a diving splash or chop, take your pick. Either way, both men are down, face kissing the canvas. Flair is up first, and grabs at the leg of Steamboat, ramming the knee into the canvas. Steamboat backs up into the corner, but Flair keeps the preasure on, with knees into the leg, among other forms of offense. Steamboat staggers around the ring, but Flair keeps going after him. Steamboat with desperate chops from out of the corner, hanging onto the ropes the entire time to keep himself vertical. Irish whip, and Steamboat with a double chop. Steamboat traps Flair in the corner, and drives some hard chops into the forehead, then floors Flair with a lunging clothesline for a two count. Irish whip, and Flair drives an elbow to the back of the head, followed by a back suplex. Flair drags Steamboat into the center of the ring, then unwisely heads to the top rope. Steamboat recovers and slams Flair off the top rope. Steamboat with the double arm chicken wing, but he can't hold it up, and turns it into a pin attempt. Steamboat rolls his shoulder up and Flair gets his foot on the rope, but the refere makes the three count at 55:47, and awarding the third and decisive fall to the winner, and STILL World Heavyweight Champion, Ricky "the Dragon" Steamboat. ***** One of the greatest matches I have ever seen. I really can't explain it, though, which is unfortunate. Not one moment of the match made me lose interest, everything was performed to perfection, everything flowed perfectly, without ever coming across as awkward, and it just seemed like two men putting everything they have into putting on the best performance humanly possible. There's not one bad thing I could think of from any moment of this match, and the near-hour long time felt nothing close to that length. Just a pure joy to sit down and watch.
Final Thoughts: Flair vs. Steamboat is must-see. Everything else, in a nut-shell, is okay, but the main event alone is worth sitting through the rest of the show. Strongest Recommendation, even if the undercard was mostly shit. Or you can just track down the first DVD of Ric Flair released by WWE. I think that's the set this match was featured on. But wait... we've got ONE MORE MATCH LEFT! Who will will the ultimate trilogy and can their final match possibly out-perform this one?