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[1989-07-23-NWA-Great American Bash] Lex Luger vs Ricky Steamboat

Superstar Sleeze

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NWA US Heavyweight Champion “The Total Package” Lex Luger vs Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat

Great American Bash 1989


Backstory: Steamboat lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Ric Flair at Wrestlewar 1989 . Terry Funk was looking to get a shot at Flair after being snubbed and then summarily piledriving Flair on a table. First Funk had to beat Steamboat and this was built as the Main Event of June’s Clash of the Champions. So one day, Luger interrupts a Steamboat/Funk promo and cuts the promo of his life. As much, I love Luger, I always thought his promos sucked the big one due to dry mouth and lack of any rhythm. So after Funk/Steamboat, Luger comes out and destroys Steamboat with a chair to seal his heel turn and set up this match. Now the match is supposed to be No Disqualification with build being Steamboat getting his revenge during this match.


Steamboat has a ridiculous entrance as he is carried to the ring on a plank with the least terrifying looking komodo dragon all the while he looks terrified of falling. Luger’s entrance actually malfunctions as he is on a rotating disk that is supposed to show him doing bodybuilder poses. He tries to spin with his feet and when it wont give so he just turns around and flexes.  So Luger marches to the ring and he will have none of the NO DQ stip. In fact, if Steamboat does not waive it, he is taking his ball and going home. This makes sense because in a No DQ match the champion loses his advantage and in essence the title is held-up. Steamboat just wanting to get his hands on the Total Package accepts Luger’s desired alterations.


First thing I LOVE about this match is that Steamboat leaves his usual armdrags and armbars at the door because HE IS PISSED~! The beginning they establish Luger is stronger and Steamboat is quicker with multiple quick pinfalls. Ross and Caudle work to establish Luger’s heel turn even mentioning that some fans continue to cheer for him even though he mocks them. Steamboat brings the hate with chops, dropkicks and a back body drop. Luger takes a powder and Steamboat continues his onslaught with an atomic drop. In one of Luger’s favorite spots, Luger cuts Steamboat with a kneelift as the Dragon attempted to get back in the ring. Luger is using Steamboat’s intensity against him and is setting up opportunities to create an advantage for himself. He follows that up with a  wicked lariat on Steamboat. But Steamboat will not be denied as he drives Luger’s head into a table on the outside.


Back in Ross informs us that Luger said “A good big man would beat a good little man everytime”. Luger catches Steamboat as he comes off the top rope with a punch to the gut. This continues the theme of Luger being able to turn Steamboat’s reckless abandon against him. Luger immediately follows up with a backbreaker and a Gorrila Press slam, which gets an audible pop. This time Luger established a heat segment with his focus on the lower back. The first act of the match was all about Steamboat’s anger and intensity and Luger looking for a way to stifle him. This introduces three elements:

  • set up for the Torture Rack
  • Will Luger get cocky or will he attack purposefully now that he has grounded Steamboat
  • This whole match the Dragon has been offense how will he react on defense
  • Luger doing extra taunting in order to get a heel reaction


Funny spot as Luger bitches about the count, Steamboat rolls him up quickly and the ref fast counts him. Tommy Young is one cheeky bastard. Luger, in a fit of frustration, rattles off three big lariats. Steamboat does the out on his feet, swinging in their aimlessly, fall on his ass sell job. Got to love Steamboat! Luger connects with a powerslam for two and finally a “Luger Sucks” chants starts. Steamboat catches him with a cross-body to get two in a well-timed hope spot. After trading moves, Luger crashes and burns over the top off a missed lariat (a typical 1989 Luger spot). Steamboat proved resilient, which forced Luger to go for a big bomb. This allowed Steamboat to use his quickness to cause Luger to miss his big bomb. 


Luger falls on top of Steamboat on a bodyslam attempt for a 2 count putting over the fatigue at this point of this grueling contest. Luger eats a Flair press slam off the top and Steamboat gets a second wind a barrage of chops and dropkicks ensue. Steamboat connects with a top rope chop to get a 2 count. Now Steamboat is the one frustrated because he finally hit his big bomb and it only led to a two count. Luger grabs a chair (the same weapon he used on him a month ago), but as the ref blocks him from using it, Steamboat is able to catapult him into the corner with chair meeting Luger’s skull. Steamboat letting his anger get the best of him attacks Luger with chair thus getting DQ’d. Steamboat chases Luger to the back with the chair as that segment ends.


I love this match. Everything makes sense and it is so heated and action-packed. Steamboat does not work any holds and is out to punish Luger. He starts going for big bombs and Luger is able to finally stifle him. Luger works him over nicely and gets the crowd going. Luger gets frustrated and goes for a bomb and misses letting Steamboat back into the match. Then when Steamboat hits his big move and cant get the win the drama kicks into overdrive because it feels as if it is only a matter of time before Steamboat wins. Only for Luger to feel the only way to save his title is the chair. Then Steamboat letting his emotions get the best of him use the chair to inflict more punishment on him. One of my personal favorite matches and all-time classic, definitely check this match out. ****1/2

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