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[1989-05-07-NWA-Wrestle War '89] Ricky Steamboat vs Ric Flair


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  • GSR changed the title to [1989-05-07-NWA-Wrestle War '89] Ricky Steamboat vs Ric Flair
  • 5 months later...

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ricky Steamboat vs Ric Flair - WrestleWar '89

I think the thing that has stuck with me most about this match since first seeing it in 2003 was Jim Ross' call. This is the NWA where we wrestle. He really made this feel like a contest. Even though, try to contend pro wrestling is more of a shoot than amateur wrestling was a little much. :)

It has been so long since I watched the Trilogy together and I expected this to be a distant third, but it is not and it feels really unique. This is the most physical of the three matches. This feels more like a Ronnie Garvin match with lots of chops and firefights. Flair is going for big heavy blows early and often. The Dragon returns with slashes of his own. They play off the Double Chickenwing submission with Steamboat going after the arm. Great arm work by Steamboat it is varied and tight. Flair does a great job selling it in and out of the holds. Flair looks to use the Chop to get out of the hold and back in control, but each time Steamboat fires back and overwhelms the Nature Boy. I loved the bit where Flair hiptossed Steamboat and just his body language made the spot feel huge. The crowd reacted as such. It is amazing that with the right characters, a simple hiptoss can feel like a high spot. Flair misses the elbow drop and Steamboat goes back to the arm. Towards the end of the first half of the match, Flair goes to what I believe is his best strategy and that is throw the man out of the ring. The first time Steamboat lands on his feet and furiously comes back in and fires back. The second time, Flair uses a running Steamboat's own momentum against and hurls him over the top rope and he takes a nasty spill. Flair takes advantage of this bu chopping him over the railing and punishing him on the outside. It should be noted Flair has not begged off yet probably because he is turning babyface at the end of the match and wants to look strong. He is wrestling a very physical style and this has been a great hard-hitting match through the first half. 

Flair yields his position as King of the Mountain to come back out against Steamboat on the floor, but the Dragon roars back. Blistering the Nature Boy with chops. Flair Flip and Steamboat catches him running down the apron. Flair's saving grace is Steamboat takes another high risk as the Dragon leaps and Flair moves and Steamboat hits the top rope and falls to the floor. Now Flair in his element. He measures Steamboat and really kicks his ass. Great chops and punches. The kneedrop. Butterfly Suplex. Great pins. Steamboat tries to lunge but gets hotshotted that was an awesome hope spot turned into a cutoff. Steamboat is too close to the ropes to cover as as Flair argues with the ref he puts his shin on Steamboat's throat. Great stuff! Steamboat chops hard and as Flair falls he picks the ankle of the weary Steamboat and pulls him outside and does more damage namely a suplex to the floor. This is an amazing heel Flair performance. They pick up the pace in the ring. Whipping everyone into frenzy and they pay it off with the bump I always remember the out of control crossbody where they both tumble to the floor. PRESS SLAM! Steamboat is feeling it! The Dragon is Breathing Fire! SUPERPLEX! DOUBLE CHICKENWING! GREAT SEQUENCE! High Drama! Flair scrambles for the ropes and forces the break. I love the spot where Steamboat is poised for either a top rope chop or top rope crossbody and Flair falls into the ropes jostling them and causing Steamboat to take a nasty spill hurt his leg. This entire match so much of Flair's offense is set up by Steamboat's mistakes or happenstance. Now Steamboat's leg is hurt for the master of the Figure-4 it is almost too easy. Flair zeroes in on the leg and suplexes him back in. FIGURE-4! Rope break. There is a great sequence where Flair has the foot. He is pounding on the knee as Steamboat is chopping him. It feels like this gargantuan struggle. ENZIGUIRI! The Dragon looks poised for a comeback. Lifts Flair up but his knee gives out and Flair cradles him 1-2-3! Amazing match!

For some reason, I came in thinking this would be #3 but I think this is my #1. The Chi-Town Rumble is the great pure workrate sprint with crazy ending and Steamboat winning the big one, but it does lack the physical edge. The Clash match is the great, lengthy, classic championship match but there are lulls in it and it is a bit messy down the stretch. This has all the tightness of the Rumble match, the psychology of the Clash, but the added physicality of a Flair/Garvin. Gun to my head: WrestleWar, Chi-Town Rumble, Clash. All are ***** and really no matter how you rank it, it doesnt matter they all rock. *****

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  • 3 years later...

To avoid any more shenanigans, we have three judges at ringside to ensure we have a winner if they go to the time limit. Steamboat dominates early by working over Flair's arm in an attempt to set up Flair for the Double Chicken Wing, a hold that caused Flair to give up during their 2/3 falls match. We get a lot of lengthy holds, but Flair keeps it entertaining by being animated and vocal whenever Steamboat would tear away at his arm. Flair's chops aren't doing the job of neutralizing Steamboat, so Flair is forced to change up his game plan. He does this by staggering Steamboat with some stiff forearms, which allow Flair to gain an advantage. Speaking of strikes, the chop battles in this are brutal. The judges keep us up to date with their scoring and Steamboat is on his way to winning this if it goes down to points, Flair knows this and you can see him starting to get desperate. Steamboat carries on cleaning house until Flair is finally able to gain a significant advantage with a happy accident after he stumbles into the ropes and knocks Steamboat to the outside just as he was about to land an aerial move. Steamboat goes all-out on this bump and tweaks his knee on the way down. This is the beginning of the end for Steamboat as he wobbles all over the place and sells his ass off for Flair. This was a clinic that had great psychology and a sense of escalation. The post-match angle is legendary and features Terry Funk doing one of his best-ever promos. This was a thrilling conclusion to Flair's rivalry with Steamboat and a great way to kick-start his new program with Terry Funk. ★★★★½

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