DATE: February 20, 1989
VENUE: UIC Pavilion (Chicago, IL)
COMMENTATORS: Jim Ross & Magnum T.A.
VIEWING METHOD: Peacock
Chi-Town Rumble 1989 features a legendary World Championship match as Ric Flair defends against Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat in the main event. Also on the show The Road Warriors defend the World Tag Team Championship against The Varsity Club, Lex Luger defends the U.S. Championship against Barry Windham, and Jim Cornette teams with his Midnight Express to take on Paul E. Dangerously and the Original Midnight Express in a Loser Leaves the NWA Match.
- NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair
- NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: Barry Windham
- NWA WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPION: Rick Steiner
- WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal)
- Michael Hayes vs. Russian Assassin #1 [RECAP]
- Sting vs. Butch Reed [RECAP]
- LOSER LEAVES THE NWA: Jim Cornette & The Midnight Express vs. Paul E. Dangerously & The Original Midnight Express [RECAP]
- Rick Steiner [c] vs. Mike Rotunda for the NWA WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP [RECAP]
- Barry Windham [c] vs. Lex Luger for the NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP [RECAP]
- The Road Warriors [c] vs. The Varsity Club for the WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP [RECAP]
- Ric Flair [c] vs. Ricky Steamboat for the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP [RECAP]
–Jim Ross and Magnum T.A. run down the card and segue into an opening video highlighting the stars and feuds heading into tonight’s show. I’m watching the Peacock version so I assume the song playing in the background isn’t as cool as the one on the original event.
–Bob Caudle interviews Michael Hayes backstage ahead of the opening contest. Hayes is READY TO GO, comparing himself to Pete Rose leading off an MLB All Star Game and hyping tonight’s All-Star card.
“Freebirds” Michael “P.S.” Hayes vs. Russian Assassin #1 [w/ “Number One” Paul Jones]
Assassin grabs a side headlock for what feels like an eternity until Hayes breaks out, countering a leapfrog with a left hook and grabbing a side headlock of his own. Assassin connects with a hip toss, Hayes kicks him away and blocks an atomic drop, connecting with a left and working the crowd between strikes. Hayes slows it back down with a standing armbar, bringing the Assassin to his knees with elbows to the shoulder joint. Assassin rakes the eyes to escape and works Hayes over in the corner, Hayes fights out with a series of rights followed by a back elbow and now we’re back to the armbar once more. Hayes powers Assassin over with a sunset flip for the 1…2…Assassin kicks out and charges, Hayes brings him back to the canvas with an armdrag and slows it back down with yet another armbar. Assassin tosses Hayes out of the ring, Hayes quickly climbs back in and connects with a right hand and chop…and we’re back to the armbar! FINALLY. Assassin takes the starch out of Hayes with a knee to the abdomen and goes on the offensive, choking him in the corner and raking his eyes across the top rope. Assassin connects with a Russian Sickle of sorts and covers but Hayes easily kicks out so Assassin slows it down with a chinlock hoping to wear his opponent out.
Hayes escapes the hold and connects with a crossbody, Assassin kicks out of the lateral press and drops Hayes with another clothesline for the 1…2…Hayes kicks out, Assassin goes back to the rear chinlock. Hayes tries to fight out, Assassin responds with a right hand and a corner whip. Hayes reverses a second corner whip and follows Assassin with a clothesline, Assassin absorbs it and drops Hayes from behind when P.S. turns his back. MEDIOCRE, MICHAEL HAYES. Jones gets involved, hitting Hayes behind the ref’s back, and Assassin covers for the 1…2…Hayes gets his foot on the rope. Hayes blocks the attempted buckle shot attempts, responding with rights and count-a-long buckle shots of his own; Hayes tries to follow with a bulldog but Assassin throws him off. Assassin sends himself into the post, Hayes unloads with rights as the crowd counts along, Assassin rakes the eyes and goes for a backdrop but Hayes counters FROM OUT OF NOWHERE with a DDT for the 1…2…3.
Michael Hayes defeated Russian Assassin #1 via pinfall (15:48)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Michael Hayes was a good choice to open the PPV and get the crowd energized, but unfortunately they decided the best way to do that was to throw him in a 15-minute match with a random tag team scrub. To be fair the match wasn’t bad but there’s no way it should have been that competitive. Paul Jones barely even got involved too which is the most disappointing part of the whole thing. (*1/2)
–Bob Caudle is backstage with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, his wife Bonnie, and little son (and future NXT star) Richie. Steamboat praises Ric Flair for his reign as World Champion but his time has come and says he’s wrestling for the WORKING MAN. I would’ve believed him if he didn’t sound crazy insincere about it.
Sting vs. “Hacksaw” Butch Reed [w/ Hiro Matsuda]
Sting ducks a right and connects with an atomic drop, Reed dropping to the canvas and into the ropes to regroup. Sting and Reed lock up, ending a stalemate as neither man can find an advantage. Hey cool the ref is future Doom manager Theodore R. Long! Reed blocks a hip toss so Sting adjusts with a flip into an armdrag followed by a pair of dropkicks that send Hacksaw to the floor, Reed attempting to kill Sting’s momentum while also getting some advice from Matsuda. Matsuda just bragged about breaking Hulk Hogan’s leg which doesn’t seem helpful in this situation. Sting brings Reed to the canvas with a side headlock takeover, Reed gets to a vertical base and tries to whip Sting off but Sting hangs on showing off his underrated strength. Reed finally escapes, Sting blocks a hip toss and counters into a backslide for the 1…2…Reed kicks out, Sting connects with an armdrag into an armbar to quickly regain offensive control. Reed forces a rope break and bails back to the floor for more instruction from Matsuda. Reed misses a corner elbow and Sting brings him to his knees with a wristlock, biting his hand just for the hell of it. Reed tries to escape with a slam but Sting rolls through and keeps an armbar applied. Sting drops Reed with a tackle, Reed uses Sting’s own momentum to send him crashing out to the floor.
Reed chokes Sting with his boot and sends him back to the floor by dropping his neck across the top rope. Sting, struggling to breath, rolls back in and Reed connects with a double axhandle for the 1…2…Sting kicks out, Reed buries a series of right hands to the jaw. Reed distracts the ref, Matsuda taking advantage by choking Sting across the bottom rope. Reed wears Sting down with a rear chinlock, Sting fights back to his feet but Reed yanks his hair and brings him back to the canvas, Reed wrenching the chinlock in even deeper to cut off more blood flow to the brain. Sting gets back to his feet and tries to escape with elbows, Reed yanks the tights and brings it back to the canvas, Reed using the bottom rope for extra leverage. Sting finally escapes, shoving Reed into the corner and fighting back with a series of right hands and a scoop slam. Sting goes for a Vader Bomb but Reed counters with a pair of knees. Sting dodges a clothesline and Reed sends himself flying to the floor, Sting suplexing him back in from the apron for the 1…2…Reed kicks out. Reed throws Sting to the floor by the tights and brings him back in with a snapmare followed by a neckbreaker for the 1…2…Sting kicks out, Reed goes back to the trusty ol’ chinlock.
Sting gets to his feet and counters his way out with a jawbreaker. Reed rakes the eyes, Stings ducks a pair of clotheslines and levels Reed with one of his own. Sting revs up the crowd and sends Reed into the lights with a backdrop, following up with a leaping elbowdrop. Reed rakes the eyes once more and tosses Sting to the floor to kill the momentum, kicking him as he tries to reenter the ring. Sting leaps back in with a sunset flip but Reed hangs onto the top rope; ref removes him from the ropes so Reed sits on Sting instead, grabbing the middle rope once more but the ref AGAIN forces him off and Sting rolls him up for the 1…2…3!
Sting defeated Butch Reed via pinfall (20:06)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Hey so this didn’t need to be twenty minutes, huh? A decent match bogged down by too much filler and a slower pace, though I really like both participants. Butch Reed does not get enough love nowadays which is a shame. (**)
Sting doesn’t get a chance to celebrate as Reed immediately attacks him after the bell. Sting fights him off and sends Reed packing, standing tall.
–Bob Caudle is standing by with Paul E. Dangerously, “Ravishing” Randy Rose, and…JACK VICTORY? Dangerously says Jack Victory is here on purpose, telling actual Midnight Express member Dennis Condrey to stay home so they can throw Cornette & his Midnight Express off their game as they were preparing for Loverboy Dennis. Well at least they explained it.
-After Dangerously, Rose, & Victory make their entrance we go back to Caudle who’s now standing by with Jim Cornette and The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane). Cornette says there is no power on this earth that could drive himself and The Midnight Express out of the NWA.
LOSER LEAVES THE NWA
Jim Cornette & The Midnight Express (“Beautiful” Bobby Eaton & “Sweet” Stan Lane) vs. Paul E. Dangerously & The Original Midnight Express (“Ravishing” Randy Rose & Jack Victory)
Cornette & The Midnight Express became unlikely babyfaces in 1988/89 NWA, feuding with Dangerously’s supposed “Original” Midnight Express team of Dennis Condrey (Eaton’s partner before Lane) and Randy Rose (Condrey’s original tag team partner and member of The Midnight Express stable that started it all in early-80s Mid-South).
Cornette wants Dangerously right at the start but the Original Midnights protect their manager and it’s Lane & Rose starting off instead. Lane brings Rose to the canvas with a drop toehold and floats over into a side headlock. Rose escapes, Lane takes him down with a football tackle and Dangerously screams foul on the apron. Rose slams Lane, Lane slams Rose off the top buckle and sends him packing with a clothesline to the floor. Victory tags in, Lane takes him down with a drop toehold and eats a double elbow from Eaton AND CORNETTE, popping the crowd. Lane belts Victory with a back elbow and sends him into Eaton’s knee. Eaton and Rose tag in, Eaton dazes Rose with a series of right hands and holds him as Cornette lays into him with a (weak) right hand. It’s the thought that counts. Rose holds Lane for Dangerously but Lane reverses and Dangerously accidentally slaps his own man, insulting the Ravishing one. Whoops. Eaton tags in and knocks Rose to the floor with a pair of right hands, Rose catches Eaton with a punch through the ropes and launches him off the apron into the guardrail.
Rose tags out to Dangerously, who gets in a series of kicks but quickly tags back out to Rose when Eaton starts waking back up. Cornette tags in and yells for Dangerously to get in the ring. Rose attacks the distracted Cornette from behind, Dangerously tags in for real and sends Cornette flying with a right hand for a two-count. Cornette gets a right in, Dangerously rakes the eyes and sends him head-first into the buckles. Cornette fights back, Dangerously tags in Victory but Cornette makes the escape and tags to Lane who lays into the newest Original (?!?) Midnight Express member with karate kicks. Dangerously distracts Lane, Victory buries a knee to the kidneys and tags out to Rose for a scoop powerslam and a two-count. Rose clotheslines Lane, Lane rolls to the apron and gets shoved to the floor. Rose measures Lane and comes off the middle buckle with a flying fist. Back in the ring Rose drills Lane with a sidewalk slam for the 1…2…not yet. Lane counters a piledriver attempt with a backdrop, Rose quickly makes the tag to Victory and holds Lane’s leg to keep the advantage on their side. Victory rakes Lane’s eyes with his boot laces and connects with a back suplex, Rose tags in and covers for the 1…2…Lane kicks out, Rose immediately applies a chinlock.
Victory tags in, Lane catches him charging in with a boot to the face and makes the tag to Eaton who sends Victory into the lights with a backdrop followed by a scoop slam. Eaton comes off the top with a missile dropkick and forces Victory to tag Dangerously! Eaton pulls Dangerously in and connects with a right then makes the tag to Cornette! Dangerously begs off, Cornette belts him with a series of right hands and a clothesline but Rose breaks it up before he can go for the cover. Rose tags in proper, Cornette rolls out of the way and tags in Lane; all four Midnights battle in the ring, Rose misses a splash and Eaton covers for the 1…2…Victory makes the save. Dangerously tosses Cornette out and hops on Lane’s back to knock him down. Victory & Rose drop Eaton with a double back elbow. Eaton reverses a whip and sends Rose into Victory, Eaton & Lane then hit a double flapjack on Rose for the 1…2…3!
Jim Cornette & The Midnight Express defeated Paul E. Dangerously & The Original Midnight Express via pinfall (15:54)
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Jim Cornette having babyface fire and getting cheered by the crowd will never not be weird to me, but it is a testament to his ability that he was able to work both sides of the coin to great success. Match was long but mostly flowed well, with Cornette & Dangerously working as little as possible but always popping the crowd when they finally did battle. I would’ve had Cornette pin Dangerously to send them packing but I guess that wasn’t in the cards. (**1/2)
–Bob Caudle is standing by with “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Hiro Matsuda. Flair tells Steamboat not to be afraid of the butterflies because in an hour or so it’s gut check time. Flair guarantees a successful World Title defense tonight, which bodes well for him I think.
Rick Steiner [c] [w/ Scott Steiner] vs. Mike Rotunda for the NWA WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP
Rick Steiner joined the NWA as a member of The Varsity Club, but was always treated as inferior to Rotunda and other members due to being dumber and more good-natured. He officially broke from the group at the second Clash of the Champions event and his brother Scott joined the company to be by his side…and eventually form arguably the greatest tag team in WCW history. I might be editorializing a bit. Rotunda is looking for revenge on Rick as well as a second reign as Television Champion, having lost the title to his former Varsity Club partner at Starrcade a couple months prior.
Rotunda connects with a fireman’s carry, Steiner retaliates with one of his own. Rotunda applies a full nelson, Steiner escapes and shoves him into the ropes. Rotunda brings Steiner to the canvas with a waistlock, Steiner reverses out and sends Rotunda to the floor. Camera cuts to shots of people with hand puppets, apparently in support of Steiner who has a face drawn on his hand as well. Cool? Rotunda grabs the ropes to avoid a single-leg takedown and cheapshots Steiner, following up with a pair of European uppercuts. Steiner reverses an Irish whip and cocks the Steinerline but Rotunda hangs onto the ropes and bails to the floor. He keeps his head for now. Steiner controls Rotunda with a side headlock, Rotunda finally whips him off but gets dropped with a football tackle. Steiner follows up with a hip toss and a STEINERLINE, earning some barks from the crowd, for the 1…2…rope break.
Rotunda offers a “friendly” handshake but “Alex” (the hand puppet) tells Steiner not to trust him. Rotunda surprises Steiner with an abdominal stretch, using the ropes for leverage as he does while Scott tries his very best to snitch until he’s finally caught. Steiner reverses the stretch and rolls him up but Rotunda is in the ropes so he switches to right hands instead. Rotunda rolls back to the floor to break the momentum and catch his breath (and test my patience). Rotunda cheap shots Steiner with a right hand and connects with a crossbody but Steiner rolls through into a lateral press for the 1…2…not yet. Rotunda muscles Steiner to the canvas and stuns him with a series of cross faces before applying an armbar. MORE GRAPPLIN’, Rotunda drops Steiner with a football tackle, Steiner trips him up when he tries to hop over to send him flying. Accidental monkey flip maybe? Steiner elevates Rotunda with a backdrop and covers for the 1…2…Rotunda gets the shoulder up. Steiner comes off the top but hits nothing but canvas, Rotunda quickly tosses him out to the floor and sends him shoulder-first into the post. Steiner reverses an Irish whip and connects with a powerslam but takes too long barking and Rotunda kicks out of the lateral press.
Kevin Sullivan, the leader of The Varsity Club, gets on the mic and teases something happening to Steiner’s dog Spike, distracting The Dog-Faced Gremlin. Steiner, still distracted, puts on a half-assed side headlock which Rotunda quickly counters into a snap belly-to-back suplex for the 1…2…Steiner kicks out. Steiner dodges a dropkick and hammers down on Rotunda in the corner as the crowd counts along, five minutes remaining in the time limit. Steiner shoots Rotunda into the buckles and grabs a sleeperhold, Rotunda lands on top of him and gets put to sleep but Steiner’s shoulders are on the mat the ref counts for the 1…2…3! HEH?
Mike Rotunda defeated Rick Steiner [c] via pinfall to win the NWA WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP (16:27)
- JON’S THOUGHTS:I’ve seen glimpses of “dumb” Rick Steiner over the years but I didn’t realize it got to a hand puppet level. Fascinating, learn something new every day. This was certainly a Mike Rotunda match but it had its moments and god help me I actually liked the ending of Rotunda passing out on top of Steiner and Steiner forgetting to keep his shoulder up. Gives Rotunda a cheap win and also feeds into the character of Rick Steiner. Scott Steiner was pretty useless though; Kevin Sullivan came out threatening his dog and Scott couldn’t even be bothered to punch him or anything? Do *SOMETHING* my dude. (**)
–Bob Caudle is standing by with hometown boys The Road Warriors & Paul Ellering. Animal guarantees that they will rip Kevin Sullivan’s head off, Ellering says the cards are dealt and it’s time to play the hand.
Barry Windham [c] [w/ Hiro Matsuda] vs. “The Total Package” Lex Luger for the NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Windham and Luger have been feuding off and on since 1988, after the former turned on the latter to join The Four Horsemen, costing he and Luger the World Tag Team Championship in the process. Windham went on to become United States Champion as Luger tried (and failed) to unseat Flair as World’s Heavyweight Champion but now they’re here to lock horns once again.
Windham grabs a side headlock, Luger whips him off and grabs a sleeperhold. Windham counters with a back suplex but Luger gets right back up and connects with an atomic drop followed by a military press slam as the crowd goes NUTS for their hometown hero. Windham rolls to the floor, the camera focusing on whoever was the White Sox manager at the time for an uncomfortable amount of time. Man has dead eyes. Back in the ring Luger dodges an inverted atomic drop and drills him with a clothesline. Luger keeps the offensive going with a backdrop and powerslam. Luger comes off the top with a flying nothing, bouncing off the canvas and falling to the floor after Windham easily dodges. Windham brings Luger to the apron and suplexes him back in, then signals for the Claw with his gloved right hand. Luger dodges the Claw attempt and fights back with rights, Windham putting a stop to it with a measured shot to the midsection and another right that busts Luger open at the eyebrow. Windham goes for another right on the floor but misses Luger and hits nothing but steel.
Windham continues to favor his now-bleeding hand as the match continues, locking in the Claw but having to let go due to the pain. Windham muscles Luger up into a powerslam, covering for the 1…2…Luger kicks out! Windham continues fighting through the pain, hitting the Superplex and dropping an elbow for the 1…2…Luger gets the shoulder up! Windham follows up with a belly-to-back/German suplex for the 1…2…Luger gets his shoulder up…3! NEW CHAMP!
Lex Luger defeated Barry Windham [c] via pinfall to win the NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (10:44)
- JON’S THOUGHTS:Good match until they ran back the TV Title finish for no reason. I guess the only way to win titles on this show is a fluke. I liked Ross & Magnum hyping Luger as a possible superstar of the 90s and how he was adding new moves to his arsenal, and I can never hate Barry Windham (except for the times that I do). Few were better in the 80s. Good match, dumb finish, we’ve got two title matches to go and now I’m nervous about how both of those are going to end. (**3/4)
Windham immediately attacks Luger, congratulating the champ with a Piledriver on his newly-won belt.
–Bob Caudle is standing by with new Television Champion Mike Rotunda. Rotunda says no one will care HOW he won in ten years, just that he won, and vows that the title will stay around his waist for as long as he wants it to.
–Jim Ross & Magnum T.A. kill time talking about what we’ve seen so far.
The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal) [c] [w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering] vs. The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams] for the WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
The Road Warriors are in the midst of their first and only reign as World Tag Team Champions in the territory, having won them in October of 1988. Varsity Club has already won one championship tonight and are looking to end the night 2-0. Kevin Sullivan being the leader of The Varsity Club is so f*cking funny, man. Who let that goth dork roll with the jocks?
Sullivan tries clotheslines but Animal feels no pain and catches him in mid-air with a powerslam for a two-count. Animal quickly escapes the Varsity Club corner as Williams tags in. Williams and Animal run into each other, neither man giving an inch. Animal reverses a whip and connects with a powerslam, Hawk tags in but Dr. Death rolls to the floor to break the momentum a bit. Williams slams Hawk, Hawk dodges an elbow and connects with a clothesline. Animal tags in, Road Warriors hit a double clothesline and Animal covers for the 1…2…not yet. Sullivan tags in and Varsity Club focus on Animal’s left arm, Williams even throwing in a leaping one-foot dropkick out of nowhere for a near-fall. Animal tries to fight out of an armbar but before he can make a tag Williams trips him with a drop toehold, holding him so Sullivan can tag in and attack. Williams tags back in and slams Animal on top of his arm, Ross putting Williams over as one of the greatest wrestlers to ever exist. Boomer Sooner. Williams misses a corner splash but grabs Animal’s ankle to prevent a tag. Animal escapes another armbar and he and Williams drop each other with a double clothesline.
Hawk finally gets the tag, powerslam to Sullivan followed a clothesline to Williams. Hawk belts Sullivan with a flying shoulder tackle for the 1…Williams pulls him off and they battle on the floor while Animal and Sullivan battle in the ring. Williams stops a Doomsday Device attempt and covers Animal (?) while Hawk hits Sullivan with a flying clothesline for the 1…2…3.
The Road Warriors [c] defeated The Varsity Club via pinfall to retain the WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (8:25)
- JON’S THOUGHTS:Not sure why Williams tried to pin Anima considering neither man were legal at the time but okay I guess they had to get to the ending somehow. I liked whenever Hawk and Animal were throwing bombs with Williams but it didn’t happen ENOUGH so the match mostly became about arm work which is…fine, but not for these teams. (*3/4)
–Bob Caudle is in the locker room with the recovering (and NEW) United States Champ Lex Luger. Luger puts over Windham’s reign as champion and calls the match one of the toughest of his career. Luger says a few stitches and a jammed neck is a small price to pay for the United States Heavyweight Championship, which he is very proud to once again hold.
-Ross and Magnum narrate over footage of Ricky Steamboat’s return to the NWA as Eddie Gilbert’s partner, pinning Ric Flair with a flying crossbody. Footage then turns to a stand-off between the two on February 15th in Ohio, Flair surrounded by ladies. Flair mocks Steamboat for being domesticated, Steamboat responds by attacking him, ripping his expensive suit to pieces to embarrass the World Champion. Steamboat pins Flair again with a flying crossbody, albeit visually instead of officially.
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair [c] [w/ Hiro Matsuda] vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat for the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Steamboat tackles Flair and quickly covers for the 1…2…a surprised Flair kicks out and they reset. Flair tries to escape a headlock with a backdrop, but Steamboat lands on his feet and rolls Flair up for the 1…2…champ kicks out again and quickly takes a powder to get his bearings together. Flair chops Steamboat, Steamboat responds with chops of his own and a backdrop out of the corner, forcing the champ to scoot to the corner and beg off. Flair tries a cheap shot, Steamboat catches it so Flair grabs the hair and brings him to the corner. Flair hits another chop, Steamboat chops back and Flair immediately drops, the Dragon’s chops hitting much harder it appears. Flair traps Steamboat in a hammerlock, Steamboat counters with a drop toehold into a side headlock, Flair quickly whips him off but Steamboat slides under his legs and connects with a dropkick. Steamboat brings him back to the canvas with a side headlock, Flair’s shoulders down for the 1…2…champ kicks out but Steamboat keeps the side headlock applied. Flair gets to his feet, Steamboat pushes off the buckles and brings him back to the canvas, Flair shifts his weight into a roll-up but Steamboat kicks out. Flair and Steamboat trade chops once again, Flair’s louder but Steamboat’s stronger, and Steamboat covers for the 1…2…Flair barely kicks out and takes a breather once again to slow the momentum. Flair drops Steamboat with a tackle, Steamboat leapfrogs and connects with a double chop that sends Flair stumbling through the ropes and to the floor. Steamboat teases flight but Flair crawls away so guess not.
Steamboat leaps over Flair and brings him out of the corner with a hip toss followed by a headscissors and dropkick into a side headlock takeover. Flair connects with elbows, Steamboat responds with chops, Flair catches a charging Steamboat with a back elbow. Steamboat fights back and sends Flair to the floor with a double chop, the crowd going wild. Flair struggles to the apron and pulls Steamboat out, bouncing his skull off the guardrail and dropping him with yet another knife-edged chop. Back in the ring Flair drops a knee across the bridge of Steamboat’s nose for the 1…2…shoulder up. Flair tries a couple more times but the Dragon won’t stay down so he switches gears and connects with a beautiful overhead butterfly suplex for the 1…2…Steamboat kicks out once again. Flair gets sent into the buckles and flips over, coming off with a crossbody but STEAMBOAT ROLLS THROUGH INTO A LATERAL PRESS FOR THE 1…2…FLAIR KICKS OUT! Flair stuns Steamboat with an inverted atomic drop and traps him in the Figure Four, holding the ropes for leverage behind the ref’s back and the Chicago crowd trying to bring Steamboat back to life. Steamboat fights like hell through the pain, the ref finally forcing a break when he catches Flair cheating. Flair and Steamboat exchange chops once more, Flair ducks a wild blow and sends himself and the Dragon out to the floor with a crossbody. Both recover and Flair sends Steamboat into the post, rolling him happy to accept a countout victory.
Steamboat refuses to stay down, climbing the apron but Flair is ready for him, bringing him back in with a tremendous delayed vertical suplex for the 1…2…Steamboat’s still in it! Flair tries a couple more times but Steamboat won’t stay down so he connects with a belly-to-back suplex and covers again for the 1…2…NOPE. Flair connects with a backbreaker, covering with his feet on the ropes for the 1…2…Steamboat gets his shoulder up thru each pinfall attempt. Flair gets distracted with the crowd, Steamboat rolls him up for the 1…2…champ kicks out. Steamboat misses a crossbody from the middle buckle, Flair covers but Steamboat bridges out and counters into a suplex for the 1…2…FLAIR’S FOOT IS ON THE ROPE. Steamboat blocks a hip toss and powers Flair over into a backslide for the 1…2…Flair kicks out! Steamboat tackles Flair and heads to the top, hitting a flying chop. Steamboat heads back up and connects with the Flying Crossbody but accidentally hits the ref as well so there’s no one to make the count! Flair cradles Steamboat with a handful of tights but the ref is still out so it doesn’t matter. A second ref comes out, Flair goes for the Figure Four but Steamboat counters into a small package for the 1…2…3!
Ricky Steamboat defeated Ric Flair [c] via pinfall to win the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (23:18)
- JON’S THOUGHTS:An excellent match with a believable surprise finish, giving Steamboat the World Championship I have to believe no one expected him to ever receive. He’s always been excellent but it was never the right place or time for him to get a run, so 1989 must have been a perfect storm for him. An absolute war of a match as the two did everything they could to chop each other into oblivion, never letting up for a second and they had the crowd (and me) on the edge of the seat for every near-fall. There’s a reason the Flair/Steamboat ‘89 series is so beloved. I can’t recommend this one enough. (****3/4)
-Ross and Magnum kill some time discussing the match, then take it to Bob Caudle who’s with the new World Champion in the locker room. Steamboat is almost at a loss for words and gets drowned in champagne from the boys in the locker room (poor Caudle gets drenched too). Steamboat takes a swig and is blinded by the champagne (lol), Caudle finally prods some words out of him. Steamboat hopes to put the NWA back at the top and represent as a World Champion of the people. Steamboat won’t be a closet champion and lets it be known that Flair will have the first shot at him.
- JON’S THOUGHTS: Very cool to see Steamboat as World Champion but man that champagne bath felt disrespectful at one point. They overdid it to the point where he couldn’t see or really talk and poor Bob Caudle got caught in the crossfire too. Oddly malicious, or maybe I’ve just never won anything before so I don’t know what it’s like. Could be that too. Aw man I just made myself sad.
If you’re looking at star ratings then Chi-Town Rumble ‘89 is a one-match show, but it also happens to be a one-match show headlined by one of the greatest World Championship matches in pro wrestling history so I think it warrants praise regardless. The undercard ebbed and flowed and to be honest fell flat for me but not to the point of boredom. More like a “huh okay that was fine” than a “turn this sh*t off”. Props to the production team as well for how they miced the ring, the sound every time someone was slammed onto the canvas was TREMENDOUS and it also heightened the intensity and drama of the chop fest between Flair and Steamboat. At just under 2.5 hours I’d recommend watching the whole thing for the hell of it but at the very least carve out the time for Flair vs. Steamboat it’s SO GOOD.
- FAVORITE MATCH: Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat
- FAVORITE MOMENT: Any time Cornette and Dangerously locked horns, that was a lot of fun. Also Steamboat winning the World Title, that ruled.
RESULTS & RATINGS
- Michael Hayes defeated Russian Assassin #1 via pinfall (15:48) (*1/2)
- Sting defeated Butch Reed via pinfall (20:06) (**)
- LOSER LEAVES THE NWA: Jim Cornette & The Midnight Express defeated Paul E. Dangerously & The Original Midnight Express via pinfall (15:54) (**1/2)
- Mike Rotunda defeated Rick Steiner [c] via pinfall to win the NWA WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP (16:27) (**)
- Lex Luger defeated Barry Windham [c] via pinfall to win the NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (10:44) (**3/4)
- The Road Warriors [c] defeated The Varsity Club via pinfall to retain the WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (8:25) (*3/4)
- Ricky Steamboat defeated Ric Flair [c] via pinfall to win the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (23:18) (****3/4)