1/14/89 World Championship Wrestling Saturday Night
Barry Windham w/ James J Dillon vs. “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert
Gilbert gets in Windham’s face. Windham takes over with punches and a suplex. Gilbert comes back with a really cool flying clothesline. Both of these guys are looking really good here at the beginning of 89. Windham takes back over, featuring a really nice headlock takeover. The crowd is super hot for this. Windham is hammering Gilbert with right hands and Gilbert is doing is goofy drunk selling, which I’m not a fan of. Ric Flair is out to look on with Dillon. Ross is just awesome, selling the fact that Flair is concerned over Gilbert taking the title from Windham. This match is a lot of back and forth punching, with Windham on the offensive, but Hot Stuff not giving up. At about 7:00 minutes, Windham throws Gilbert outside and appears to take over, but Gilbert fights back and has a short shine in the ring with a two-count off of an elbow drop. Windham is really good here in my opinion, everything he does is right on point, from the suplexes, to his heel demeanors when arguing with referee Teddy Long. Windham bites Gilbert, before setting Eddie up for his finisher, the superplex. Gilbert initially fights off, but Barry hits the move. However, he eschews the pin in favor of beating on Eddie some more. After Barry misses a knee drop, Gilbert hooks in a figure four leg lock, but can’t finish it, nicely selling the exhaustion. At the 12 minute mark, Flair can’t take anymore and enters the ring, causing a disqualification.
Winner: 13:00, EDDIE GILBERT (Disqualification) *** Very nice match, Windham looked good and so did Gilbert in this one
After the bell, the horsemen take over. Double-teaming on Gilbert in the ring with clotheslines and knee drops. After, JJ cuts a very nice promo, that while short, serves its purpose. He states that the reason for this was Gilbert being annoying and taking TV time, and now his name can be added to all the rest of the people the Horsemen have taken out.
Next is a Dusty Rhodes promo. He is a little all around the map here, as usual. He says he is the NWA and professional wrestling and gets around to saying that he is coming for Barry Windham because his paycheck comes every Wednesday (?) and he needs the US title. He also gets a slight dig in by saying that the 4 Horsemen are now, “Only two, only two” as Anderson and Blanchard had recently left for the WWF at the time.
Michael PS Hayes vs. Paul Lee
Hayes does a lot of strutting and dancing before the match and by the time of the lockup, is nearly out of breath. Lee is quite the character. His skin is nearly transparent and his bleached hair just adds to it. Steven Casey, from the metroplex, is out to watch the match. This match is obviously all Hayes here, doing what he wants. I like how Hayes is playing the character of being happy and a fan favorite, but very close to being unhinged and letting his heel form shine through. After no-selling a couple of Lee shots, Hayes hits the DDT for the W.
Winner: 4:00, MICHAEL HAYES (DDT) * Hayes relied way too much on a headlock in what should have been a showcase for him
Next is an interview with Hayes and his new tag team partner, the Junkyard Dog. JYD starts out very incomprehensibly talking about bones and that they’re going after the US tag titles held by “The Devil” and Steve Dr. Death Williams. Hayes takes over, and does a really nice job. My favorite line being, “Heaven don’t want us and Hell is afraid we’ll take over!” Hayes nicely got over the fact they’re coming after the Varsity Club and that even though Williams is a machine, machines can break and can’t adapt, so Hayes and JYD are coming after them. Weirdly though, he finishes by quoting “Bad to the Bone.” Strange.
Kevin Sullivan and Dr. Death vs. Randy Hogan and Mike Collins
I don’t like Kevin Sullivan. I hate his look, his terrible haircut (shaved sides mullet) and his association with the Varsity Club. Why is he even with these guys? The Varsity Club is in total control of this one. It’s a definite showcase for Dr. Death, as he throws around these guys left and right. Randy Hogan, obviously named for his blonde horseshoe haircut and handlebar moustache, looks like the Huckster from 1996 WWF, but despite his terrible look, does a good job selling Dr. Death’s moves. Sullivan takes over on “Mark Collins”, as JR calls him. Oops. Williams gets back in and finishes Collins off with the Oklahoma Stampede for the pin fall and squirts him with his water bottle before leaving the ring.
Winners: 4:00 KEVIN SULLIVAN AND DR. DEATH (Oklahoma Stampede) *1/4
After the match, the Varsity Club joins JR at the interview station. Sullivan speaks on 1989 being the year of the Varsity Club. He addresses the Road Warriors and states that they’re coming for them. Mike Rotunda gets on the mic and calls Rick Steiner a “kleptomaniac moron” and says Steiner stole his TV championship. He says he is a thief and doesn’t even know it and is going to get back what’s his. During the promo, Dr. Death kept walking in front of the camera like he wasn’t sure where he was or who was talking. What’s the deal there?
The Road Warriors w/ Paul Ellering vs. Dale Laparouse and Mike Jackson
The warriors come out hot, with Hawk getting Laparouse right away with a nice dropkick. After one shot from Animal, doomsday device and it’s over.
Winners: 1:00, THE ROAD WARRIORS (Doomsday Device) NR (too short)
After, the Road Warriors, the world tag team champions get an interview. Animal and Hawk address the Varsity Club and say they will snack on Sullivan, dine on Doc and do away with the challengers. Animal says he’s bringing in Tenryu from Japan for the 6 man championships. An ok promo on the whole, with LOD getting over their disdain for Sullivan and Death.
Next is another promo from the Horsemen, or what’s left of them. Windham and Flair both downplay their actions from earlier. Flair is awesome as usual, talking about how 1989 is the year of the Horsemen. Eddie Gilbert comes out and challenges the Horsemen to a match next week to a match with him and his partner. After some cajoling, Dillon commits to a match for the next week with Gilbert and anyone except Lex Luger. After Gilbert leaves, Flair gives respect to Gilbert for challenging them and being a man. This is something I always loved about Flair; he always gives it up to his opponents. Remember, if you call him a nobody and beat them, all you did was beat a nobody. Flair is a pro at that.
The Original Midnight Express vs. Trent Knight and Bob Emory
Dennis Condrey might be my favorite wrestler. He looks old; he’s got a gut, a mullet and wears the bandana wherever he goes. He’s just an old shitkicker and that’s what I love about him. The OMx control this match from pretty much beginning to end while Dangerously mugs, shouts and laughs at the camera for most of the match. I don’t like that the OMx don’t wear matching attire, they don’t look like a team to me. Dangerously: “You know who gave Dennis Condrey the nickname Loverboy? Jim Cornette’s mama. She had personal experience.” The Express finish it up with a combo of Condrey lifting up Randy Rose and slamming him down in a leg drop onto Knight for the victory. Paul E. calls this the Human Coughdrop. This was alright. As much as I love Condrey, he’s a little past his prime and Rose just doesn’t have a spot in this feud.
Winners: 4:00, THE ORIGINAL MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (Human Coughdrop) *1/2
After the match, Paul E. shows some footage of him hitting Cornette with the phone. He cuts a promo on Cornette, saying that he’s going to run him out of the NWA. “You think it’s over when I leave, I think it’s over when I spit on your career’s grave.” Some nice work there
Larry Zybysko and Al Perez w/ Gary Hart vs. George South and Curtis Thompson
Zybysko is the Western States Champion at the time. Abdullah the Butcher humorously keeps trying to come out and get involved, which I love. Perez is good and I don’t think he ever reached his full potential. George South looks like someone you’d meet at a truck stop or county fair. Perez finishes it off with the “Al-i-copter” airplane spin for the win.
Winners: 3:00. AL PEREZ AND LARRY ZYBYSKO (Al-i-copter) *3/4
After the match, Gary Hart is at the interview station for a promo. The story is that Hart won’t have his guys face Flair for the title because of his association with Flair and Dillon. Now he says that is off the table. This is all to set up a title match at a house show in Florida that is coming up. After that Zbysko says he’s going to be the champ in 1989. We’ll sure see about that.
Dick Murdoch vs. Eddie Sweat
Eddie Sweat, what a name. I wonder how he got that name. JR spends the first part of the match talking about Murdoch’s son who plays for the South Lake Carroll Dragons high school football team, who just went undefeated for 1989. Murdoch is just beating on the sweaty one, pulling up Eddie multiple times before finishing him with a terrible brainbuster.
Winner: 3:00, DICK MURDOCH (Brainbuster) ¾ *
Now, Ric Flair is with Missy Hyatt. Hyatt calls Ric sexier than Don Johnson and Sylvester Stallone combined. They talk about Flair’s match with Luger at Starrcade that just recently happened. Flair calls Luger the golden Adonis, but because he is not Ric Flair he will not face him ever again for the title. Flair was awesome here, in total Nature Boy mode.
Midnight Express vs. Keith Steinborn and Gary Royal
The Express start out hot with Keirn hitting sine fancy kicks and good-looking double-team moves. Bobby hits a real good-looking elbow drop on one of the jobbers. Keirn is a little off, missing slightly on a couple moves. Eaton comes back in and hits the Veg-o-matic to close the match.
Winner: 2:00, THE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (Veg-o-matic) **
Cornette on for an interview. The story he’s telling is that these three are problem children, doing what they want. Cornette was very good here “The game ain’t over til I win.” Gold.
Main Event: Rick Steiner (World TV Champion) vs. Mike Rotunda w/ Kevin Sullivan
As both wrestlers come out, Steiner taunts Rotunda with his newly won TV title. Steiner then goes out and parties with the definition of 1989 (steps cut in hair, pseudo racquetball sunglasses, starter sweatsuit), before getting in the ring to square off. Rotunda starts off with the heat with a huge clothesline before Steiner comes back by throwing Mike out. Steiner caps off the shine by barking at Rotunda, of course. I have never been a huge fan of Rick Steiner; his character to me has always been something close to awful. But I do think that he looks awesome here. He might not be the best wrestler, but the crowd is super into him and that helps overcome that Rotunda is generally boring as usual. Oh gosh, now Steiner is talking to “Alex” aka a face painted on his hand. This is what I’m talking about. Rotunda throws a really nice dropkick at Steiner before slowing it down with some clubbing shots. Sullivan throws a “block of wood” “used for something” according Schiavonne, at Steiner to keep the edge. The crowd is so hot for this it’s crazy. Rotunda goes up-top, but is thrown off by Steiner before getting hit by a shoulder block. Sullivan starts to get involved, chops to the throat of Steiner. At the 9:00 mark, Dr. Death comes out and attacks Steiner to get the DQ.
Winner: 9:00 by DQ RICK STEINER *** It was a very good match, but all of that leading up to a junk finish just isn’t worth it for me.
The beat down is all three of the Varsity Club hitting a stuff piledriver on Steiner and leaving him lay. Sullivan tries to steal Steiner’s dog that he brings with him but is stopped by JYD and Hayes.
Lex Luger and Sting vs. Agent Steele and Bob Holiday
Another squash tag match, here at the end of the show. Steele (a masked man wearing yellow pants with red zigzags on them) and Holiday are on the receiving end of a lot of punishment, especially Luger, who is showing his frustration over Flair’s decision. Luger and Sting are still, even in ’89, a little rough around the edges, and Steele and Holiday aren’t quite good enough to pull out anything from Luger and Sting. In a vacuum, Luger and Sting are wrestling like heels; the jobbers don’t cheat or get an advantage in any way. Sting hits the splash, then locks in the Scorpion Deathlock for the victory
Winners: 5:00, LEX LUGER AND STING (Scorpion Deathlock) *1/4
Luger and Sting meet with Ross. Luger talks on Flair’s ruling. He says that the two best matches from 1988 were July 10th at the Great American Bash and in December at Starrcade. He wants to replicate that with Flair in 1989. He throws it to Sting, who cuts an awful promo on Butch Reed while walking around and saying something about a dog-eat-dog world. A rough ending to the show.
Overall, a pretty good show. The two real matches were good enough to pull up the jobber matches and we got some good promos from Paul E, Cornette, and the Road Warriors.
MVP: Cornette. His promo was awesome and he did some good work during the Midnights’ squash.
LVP: Mike Jackson. The Thriller got clotheslined out of the ring before the bell sounded and didn’t enter again. A nice $30 day for Mr. Jackson
Best Promo: Cornette, as said, very nicely done, building up the upcoming feud ender with the Original Midnights.
Worst Promo: Sting. “Yeah, I know who he is. I know something else. 1988 vs. 1989, it’s a dog-eat dog world Rossy and I’m one who realizes that more than anyone (inaudible as walking away)
Fashion Statement of the night: Agent Steele. Black mask, yellow tights, red zigzags. Nuff said.
Hey, it’s 1989!: The aforementioned fan in the Alabama sweatsuit with the clear plastic glasses and steps in his hair.
That’s Racist (or homophobic): Nothing too much tonight, but there’s going to be some goodness (or badness) coming up in the next few weeks.