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NWA TV Overload -- December 1989-January 1990


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They were doing some good things in the promotion at the time -- they had just turned the Midnight Express heel again; Flair/Sting was getting a nice, long buildup with Luger and J-Tex waiting in the wings and Cactus Jack debuted. It was a fun time, but sadly, it would mostly come crashing down just a few months later.


Rick & Scott Steiner v Samoan Swat Team - NWA Main Event 12/10/89


I thought I might catch a surprisingly good match here, since you never knew what you were going to get with the SST, but this really stops before it fully gets going, with some clumsy wrestling eventually leading to a quick DQ. Scott plays face in peril, but he doesn't do it long enough for it to mean anything, and the best part of this match is probably the feeling out process, even if it goes on longer than it should. We see glimpses of some of the great Steiners spots like Rick's release belly-to-back suplex and Scott's Frankensteiner, and the face/heel line in the sand is clearly drawn, but it's not long enough to amount to anything, and there's not a satisfying conclusion.


Rick & Scott Steiner v Cactus Jack & Rick Fargo - NWA Saturday Night 12/16/89


This is Mick Foley's national television debut! The storyline was that he'd have a different partner every week, usually a jobber, who would be on the losing end of the deciding fall, and he would snap and destroy his partner after the match. That's what happens here, at least after they get going and Rick decides to stiff the fuck out of Jack early on for no real reason. It wasn't because he was executing a move or even adding to the match, it was just to be an ass, and it had no place in what was supposed to be a jobber squash. It's interesting to see Scott doing a middle rope Angle slam, in 1989, which Jim Ross refers to as a Wolverine slam, interestingly enough. Mick sums this up better than I can in Have A Nice Day, but it's not really obvious from watching that he's hyperventilating, even though he said he was.


Arn Anderson v Mike Rotunda - NWA Power Hour 12/22/89


If this match shows us anything, it's that if you work smart enough, you can get by without doing anything overly exciting and still produce a good match. That's what they show here, as Rotunda is wrestling like he's the bastard offspring of Larry Zbyszko with all the stalling, but he doesn't take it so far that it makes the match boring, and Arn plays off of it well. All the hair and tights-pulling accusations are fun enough, and Rotunda ends up taking control with his typical work -- the rope-hugging abdominal stretch, some great uppercuts and some decent mat work. The middle part of the match sees Mike work over Arn's neck by dropping him neck-first on the guardrail outside, getting in a swinging neckbreaker and repeatedly going back to the well with the reverse chinlock. Arn tries to come back several times, but every time he does, Rotunda cuts him off with a thumb to the eye. They do some really fun nearfalls toward the end with Rotunda kicking out of a spinebuster, Arn kicking out of a schoolboy while Mike pulls his tights, Rotunda falling on top of Arn when he attempts a vertical suplex and finally, a quick inside cradle does the job. Arn is a far better heel than face, and I think this match would have been much better actually had the roles been reversed, but it's still quite good. What the match lacked was more aggression and something outstanding to put it over the top.




Midnight Express v Bobby & Jackie Fulton - NWA Saturday Night 12/23/89


The Midnights are heels again, but you wouldn't know it from this crowd. Cornette, to his credit, does everything he can to try to turn the fans against them, but none of it quite works, even if it does on a smaller scale. The Midnights start off strong on the Fultons, but they quickly fight back and clear the ring, which enrages Cornette at ringside to a point where he wants to come in and _box_ both of them, but Eaton and Lane talk him out of it. The Midnights were great for stuff like this. No one can sell a punch like Bobby Eaton either, as both Fultons' punches leave Bobby staggering, and they finally calm things down and work over Eaton's arm. Of course, no one can throw a punch like Bobby Eaton either, as we'd later find out. The crowd is still booing, and Cornette is yelling at them all and calling them rednecks, but to no avail. The use of blind tags here is really fun, with the faces doing lots of that and catching both Eaton and Lane off guard several times. Lane gets in some great kicks in terms of variety, and Bobby acts as the face in peril, with Eaton getting in two great backbreakers and Cornette sneaking in a tennis racket shot behind the ref. They cut off the hot tag, but Bobby Fulton rallies back with an octopus~!, but gets clotheslined behind the ref's back. Fulton fights back more with a facebuster and a hot tag, and man, can Jackie Fulton throw a great dropkick and even a leg lariat! All four end up in the ring soon enough before Jackie falls victim to a double guzzle. This match was incredibly fun, and they did all of this in 8 minutes!


Sting v Lex Luger - NWA Saturday Night 12/23/89


Characterization goes a long way in filling a void, as we'd see here. Luger has almost no interesting moves, but he plays the crowd so well by yelling at them, begging off from his opponent and sneaking in cheating tactics when he can that it's not as noticeable as it normally would be. And while Lex doesn't have much offense, he apparently decided he wanted to be Terry Funk before this match and decides to do Terry's trademark drunken selling, which is highly entertaining. They work some good nearfalls toward the end with Sting coming back strong after Luger is in control, but Luger ends up holding up a chair when Sting tries the Stinger splash, which both draws a DQ and prompts a big brawl with all the top stars in the promotion running in. While Lex was never a great worker and Sting was at his best when working with a heel who could carry him, it's easy to see why they were the hottest young stars in the company at this time.


Doom & Dan Spivey v Norman the Lunatic, Rick & Scott Steiner - NWA Worldwide 12/23/89


It was so obvious Doom was Ron Simmons and Butch Reed, even when they were masked. I remember seeing them at a TV taping that October in what was their debut and knowing right off the bat who they were, and I was only nine years old. This match is fun, if only because Norman is face in peril, and he's surprisingly good at that role, and he provides all sorts of great comedy spots. Ron Simmons has so much natural aggression and is so fun to watch, and Butch Reed was past his peak but still a good worker at this time as well. The Steiners are really only in at the beginning and the end, but they're fun when they're around. Norman doing a Stone Cold Stunner in 1989 is a funny moment as well in retrospect, but not long after the hot tag, Teddy Long interferes for the DQ. This was fun while it lasted, but it could have been even better with a clean finish, and surely one of them could have laid down for another one of them.


Brian Pillman v Cactus Jack - NWA Worldwide 12/30/89


These two made for a pretty good matchup with each other, although they probably needed more time. They did go all out for the 8 minutes they were in, but they were just getting started when it came time for the match to be over. Watching Pillman apply armbars from different positions while Terry Funk is on commentary explaining the difference in the armbar in different positions is awesome, as he explains it all without even having to think about it. Cactus misses a corner splash and goes sailing shoulder first into the ringpost, but sadly, it's not sold and it doesn't lead to Pillman going back to work on his arm. Since this is a Mick Foley match, it wouldn't be quite right without at least one crazy bump, which happens when Pillman reverses a battery ram attempt into the ringpost by giving Jack a belly-to-back suplex on the floor. They botch a few things, like Cactus' over the top rope clothesline, but Pillman is the one trying to carry things here, laying in some vicious chops and a great spinning elbow off the ropes before finishing up with a crucifix for the win. The post-match angle is great fun, as Sting is scheduled to wrestle next up against "Scrap Iron" Bill Ford, but Cactus destroys him in frustration over losing and refuses to leave the ring. Sting destroys Cactus as a result, and Cactus takes another great bump on the floor before bailing. Entertaining stuff, but not exactly good.


Ric Flair v Eddie Gilbert - NWA Worldwide 01/06/90


It's not that Flair is doing anything wrong here, but he's not really doing all that awe-inspiring either, as he sells properly as a babyface, but he's much more reserved a personality and is far less fun. Eddie Gilbert is the one with the personality here, as this is supposed to be a babyface match, but Gilbert takes on the role of heel. Woman comes out to watch the match, which foreshadows Flair's upcoming heel turn and Flair keeps Gilbert in a side headlock, which Flair works exceptionally well by grinding his head as much as he can and cinching it in. Gilbert is the one stooging, though, as he begs off and celebrates small victories before they are his to celebrate, which eventually costs him the match when he thinks he has Flair pinned and basks in the moment. Gilbert working over Flair's leg and doing the figure four is nice stuff, and the sleeperhold spot is fun enough too, as it gets really great heat. The chops thrown in this match from both are absolutely brutal, and that eventually turns into a slugfest, which Gilbert actually wins before leveling Flair with a clothesline. As a short, throwaway match for Flair, this isn't half bad, but Flair's selling, typically his strongest point, is negated when he's working as a babyface.

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