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Get a sandwich now, folks- this'll be a long one.

WCW Best Of The Clash- All Nighter
by Brendan "Shaddax" Welsh-Balliett

Every so often, WCW really, really, REALLY got something right; hard to believe, but true. And now that they've finally gone down to join the AWA, SMW, ECW, 8 billion indy feds, UWFi, WAR, and perhaps soon FMW in the pantheon of dead promotions, I thought it might be good to look back at some of the good times. Sometime in the mid '90's (late 1993/early 1994, I think), TBS, for whatever reason, was out of programming some night, and thus logically turned to Teddy Turner's personal cheap TV machine, WCW, to fill the hole. The result is this beautiful little tape, five (!) full hours of the best matches in the history of the Clash Of The Champions to that point, shown in their entirety other than the original commercial breaks (with mid '90's commercials this time, of course). It's a repository of some of the best and most historic matches in WCW history; basically, without quite knowing it, they created a really great Clash comp tape. Settle in folks, this'll be a long one.

-No match times here, because of the commercial breaks. I'll guess for you =)

-Quick notes: additional fun can be had with this tape by watching the cheesy mid-90's commercials during the breaks; ah, memories. Also, the tape gimmick is that Heenan, Schiavone, Zybysko and Okerlund are supposedly watching these matches in Schiavone's basement along with other random guests, and hence we get "funny" segments between matches. Sadly, no Dusty to truly make this little gathering complete, and completely bizarre.

1. Ric Flair vs. Sting, Greensboro Coliseum, 4/4/1988 Behold one of the most historic and excellent matches in WCW history to kick off, as in this, the best of the Flair/Sting matches, Flair basically makes Sting's career over the course of the match by making him look like a true superstar. At this point Flair was NWA world champion, the absolute Man in the NWA/WCW; Sting was a young superstar with undeniable charisma, one of the few good things to come out of the Crockett promotions absorption and demolition of the old UWF/Mid-South, the great interpromotional feud of the '80's, which never happened due to the fact that, even back then, WCW was run by idiots. It was really an amazing run of futility when you contemplate it, and it's only because of the great efforts by the wrestlers such as this match, and for the fact that it WASN'T the WWF, that WCW is remembered fondly at all.

- The match? Here we go:

Sitting at ringside are the "judges", including several WCW backstage hands and B-list celebrities (Jason Hervey!). This is one fall to a 45 minute TV time limit, and the crowd from the start is big time behind Sting. Flair busts out the all white robe and purple trunks, while Sting has the black tights with gold scorpion, orange boots, and iridescent face paint. This is for the World Heavyweight Title. Flair is very puffy here, and about as close to truly out of shape as you'll see him; he jiggles his way through much of the match. JJ Dillon, incidentally, is suspended from the ceiling in a shark cage, and your ref is Tommy Young, who I hate. Flair stalls to start, trying to psych Sting out. Arm wringer kip up sequence, but Flair drops the wrist before the takeover reversal, reminding fans of his status as the cagey veteran, and Sting's as the young physically powerful athlete. Standing wrestling sequence through headlocks and top wristlocks establishes Sting as the stronger man. More slow eyeing of each other, and Flair tries the psych out again, refusing the collar and elbow. He accepts the knuckle lock and loses badly. He forces Sting to the corner and chops the hell out of him one time, but Sting no-sells and comes out firing with a big hiptoss and dropkick which sends Flair to the floor. Back inside and Flair loses a standing wrestling sequence, and gets caught running the ropes with a press slam. Flying headscissors and a hiptoss give Sting the side headlock on the ground five minutes in. Things slow down, but Flair and Sting do a series of near falls based on tights pulls and reversals out of, and back into, the headlock, to keep things interesting and meaningful. Ross points out that Flair's one chop actually busted open Sting's chest. Lordallmighty, that's stiff. Commercial.

-Gold's Pretzels! Orange juice! Oil Of Olay!

Back to the action, and this headlock continues on, far past its natural lifespan. Flair breaks in the ropes and Sting follows up with the usual offense. FLAIR FLOP~! But Sting misses a dropkick and Flair throws him outside, but Sting's right back in for the ten punch count in the corner, and Revenge Of The Interminable Headlock. Sting is visibly bleeding from the chest. Ten minutes gone. Flair breaks in the ropes and gets the cheap shot to the ribs, as he begins to use underhanded methods (tights, cheapshots) to counter Sting's superior athleticism. Psychology and storytelling, there. Chops in the corner but Sting punches back and hits a press slam while taunting JJ Dillon. He applies the bearhug, and if you know the way wrestling works, you should know the finish here right now. Jim Ross points out the psychology here, as the scorpion deathlock affects the lower back, which Sting is weakening with the bearhug. A half hour left. Bearhug horizontal now, as Flair goes to the mat, doing his trademark "oh god, oh god, my BACK!" sell the whole way. A bit of storytelling here as well, as Flair's broken back as a result of a 1975 plane crash was common knowledge. Sting gets frustrated though and gives up the bearhug, missing a big elbow drop. Still an impetuous youngster, the story goes, and veteran Flair sees him coming. Sting injures his arm missing an elbow dive into the corner, and Flair flops out. He tries for some offense, but Sting fights him off. This has really been all Sting up till now. That changes though, as storytelling kicks in; Sting goes for the ten punch again, but crafty veteran Flair sees him coming and hits the inverted atomic drop out of the corner, turning the tide of the match. To the outside they go as Flair whips Sting to the fence, and we visit with sponsors.

-GI Joe! Cheese Combos! Wario!

As we return Flair is working Sting over but good in the ring, hard whips to the corner, the kneedrop times two, and some raking to the face, reminding us that he's a dirty cheat at heart. Chop-o-rama in the corner as Flair does the human ginsu act. Outside, Tommy Young stops him from using a chair, which Tony suggests would have "put Sting out of this sport". Off a chairshot. Tony, Tony, Tony, some things never change. Flair keeps up the steady drumbeat of abuse, with chops and elbows. Sting no-sells and knocks Flair to the outside, but the veteran/youngster story resurfaces as Sting tries a stupid Stinger splash towards Flair leaning against the post, who naturally moves, leaving Sting to crash and burn, ricocheting off the post. Back inside, and Flair is relentless, working the arm Sting rammed into the pole. Sting Scorps-up and gets a shorter punch count and a lariat for 2; Flair tries to bail, but Sting suplexes him back in, and gets the scorpion briefly 25 minutes in, but Flair gets the ropes. Crowd, by the way, is hugely into this match and more and more into Sting. Sting does a high impact beatdown on Flair, but he misses a lariat and falls to the floor over the top. More Sting no-selling, and he hits a flying bodypress for 2 ½. But Flair hits the kneebreaker as Sting is Scorping up again, and NOW! WE GO TO SCHOOL! WHOO! Flair turns Sting's knee into gumbo…

-Doublemint! The Chase! Windex!

…And is just relentless in his assault as we return. WHOO! 15 minutes left. Flair gets the figure four, and of course the illegal rope leverage, as he WHOO's away and half the crowd joins him. Ross does a marvelous job of selling the effects of the figure four, both for submissions and disabling an opponent. Sting Scorps up again and gets the reversal, and Flair is selling the knee more that Sting. Back to the knee he goes, and he tries to suplex Sting to the floor, which Ross and Tony sell like instant death (it WAS 1988). Sting reverses Flair back in, but a big splash hits knees. Sting reverses an ab stretch attempt into his own, and the pressure is back on Flair's back/midsection. 10 minutes left, 35 in. Flair S. H. O. C. K. I. N. G. L. Y. gets caught going up top and thrown, which nets Sting 2 ¾. He bangs Flair's nuts into the pole, and completes his own figure four. The yelling, the screaming, the "oh GOD!". Flair makes the ropes and Sting gets punches in the corner, and Flair begs off. Sting is just mauling Flair, who is selling like he's being tortured by a facepainted inquisition. Sting to the knee, and a hard whip triggers the Flair flip, which bumps Flair to the floor. Head to the railing! We go to commercial!

-Castrol Syntec! Campbell's soup! Oral B!

And we come back to more of the same, as Flair is being decimated, beaten literally pillar-to-post. Five minutes left, back in the ring and a Flair sunset flip doesn't work. Flair is getting the absolute ass-whooping of a lifetime. Sting gets the punch count again, Flair tries the inverted atomic drop reversal, and this time Sting blocks it and lariats him out of his boots, dropping him in a heap on the canvas, for 2 ¾. Stinger splash misses and bumps Sting all the way to the floor, giving Flair precious time to not be getting pummeled. Three minutes. Back inside and Sting takes over as a Flair sleeper fails, and he flops for the third time this match. A Sting sunset flip gives Flair a rope-assisted 2, but Tommy Young kicks him off and counts 2 ¾ for Sting. Flair flip in the corner and he actually hits the bodypress, which is of course reversed for 2 ¾. It's amazing here the detail, as Flair suddenly started getting some offense in after Sting blew the rookie attempt at a Stinger splash, giving Flair a breather. Flair chops are no-sold, and the now face paint-less Sting just beats the everloving crap out of Flair, hitting the stinger splash and slapping on the scorpion again with 30 seconds to go. Flair screams and shakes his head to the time limit though, saving his title once the "judges" render a decision of draw. WOW WOW WOW. ****1/4. A true all time classic which holds up shockingly well for a 13 year old match. The only real knock was Sting's repetitive no-selling and offence. An excellent use of psychology, and a powerful storyline of Flair using his experience to capitalize on Sting's mistakes just enough to narrowly turn back his challenge to the title. It's especially great since a discerning fan would notice that, storyline-wise, once Sting could avoid a few key slips he would have a clean shot at beating Flair. That makes Sting a superstar, and it heightens interest in the next Flair-Sting match; will this be the time Sting gets it right, the customer might think? All in all, a great match on its own merits, rendered into a historically important contest by the way it launched the career of Sting into the stratosphere. Possibly the best extant example of a superstar creating a new, money drawing opponent for a decade, by putting a guy over huge in one match. Bravo, Ric Flair.

-Doublemint! Butterfinger! James Bond Weekends!

2. Larry Zed and Double A (The Enforcers) vs. Steamboat And Rhodes Jr. Savannah, Georgia, 1991 This one's for the WCW world tag straps. Barry Windham was supposed to team with Jr., but he has some sort of arm injury here (work, shoot, both, who can say? Ask the Rick. They did do an angle with Larry smashing Windham's hand in a car door, though) and thus bows out in favor of returning ex-NWA champ Steamboat. Ricky comes to the ring with a giant Dragon head on and a robe, as Tony plays his usual idiot, probably the only man in the arena who couldn't figure out the mystery partner's identity. Oh well. Ricky gets a big pop, and the Enforcers go nuts; great sell job for the returnee. Ricky and AA start, and Steamboat get some quick chops before the Enforcers begin the usual cheating regimen in the corner. Very basic heel/face psychology, as the faces control at even strength, while the heels get on top with cheating. Steamer fights out of the corner and all four men brawl. Faces maul the Enforcers inside and out, and the heels stall to regroup. Arn with this great quote: "he's just a man! He's just a man!" THAT is how you put someone over. Zed and Steamer get things going back in, basic mat wrestling back and forth, quick tags from the faces as they go after Larry's arm. Larry makes the tag, and Arn beats up on jr. a bit with punches, as Ricky plays cheerleader. Arn actually HITS the axehandle from the top, but jr. breaks out of the corner with bionic elbows, and Arn bails, straight into a commercial break.

Gameboy! Naked Gun! Nissan!

As we return, Ricky's kicking Arn in the ring, and hits a sunset flip, broken by Larry Zed as Arn makes the quick tag before going over. Enforcers do their cheating-intensive workover on Steamboat. Illegal leverage, eyepokes, all the classics. This is shockingly fast paced for an Enforcers match. Very formula tag, with the Dragon as Ricky SteaMorton here. The Enforcers focus on the lower back with an Anderson bearhug and Boston Crab, with copious leverage based cheating. False tag as AA distracts the ref (a really young looking Nick Patrick). Double knockout spot off a head collision, and Arn recovers first to set the world right by now missing his axehandle from the top, hitting Steamer's boot. Hot tag jr., and he wails away with Rhodes-based offense, many elbows/bulldogs/lariats. Tag Steamer, who hits the cross body from the top for the pin and the titles in around ten minutes. ***. Good formula tag, well executed surprise, nothing blown, nothing really off, and a fun little match with the most elementary, but effective, psychology. Good match. If someone can explain to me where Scott Keith sees a ***** match in this though, I'd love to hear it.

GI Joe! NBA Jam! Castrol Syntec! MENTOS~!

3. Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger, Asheville NC. 9/13/90 Silver robe here for Flair. This is for Luger's US title, which Flair wanted to secure a shot at NWA champ Sting. This was back before Luger began to suck uproariously, and thus I imagine this was good. We shall see. Flair trash talks the shit out of Luger to start, and just buries him with his mouth: "Over you (points to Luger's US title) and into that, baby!". THAT sure wasn't a fair fight. Luger controls with power to start, as the usual Luger/Flair dynamic comes into play: Luger's power and youth vs. Flair's experience and seven million forms of underhanded lowdown cheating. Great psychology off the bat, as Flair kicks Luger quickly on a knucklelock , knowing he can't match power, and showing his edge in intelligence over Mr. Muscles, since HE knew he couldn't match power, but Luger still went for the lock, not suspecting cheating. This doesn't last long, as a press slam bails Flair. Flair tries to control with chops, but Luger no-sells again and hits another press slam, and a lariat bumps Flair over the top. Lariat on the outside, and Flair's getting mauled. He naturally turns to his old standby, cheating, and rakes the eyes for distance, allowing himself space to get back into the ring. Luger no-sells more offense and hits a third press slam, but misses an elbow drop. Ross is selling Flair's back big-time, referencing the 1975 plane crash, which broke Flair's back and ended the career of Johnny Valentine. Flair takes over, chopping away, but gets legally murdered with a lariat out of the corner. Je-sus is Luger selling nothing here. Flair plays possum with a "shoulder injury", and sucker punches Luger when he gets the chance. He finally gets some offense, sending Luger to the outside. Flair assaults a camera man with an absolutely enormous "WHOO!" in between whipping Luger into the barricades. Hey, commercial.

-Doublemint! The Ref! Butterfinger Simpsons!

Flair's still on top as we return, stomping away inside the ring. Luger is actually selling the back. Flair does a quasi-shoot and screams "Turner! Herd! This is for you!" before chopping another layer of Luger's skin off. FLAIR IS GOD. (Basically Flair had been having problems with them, mostly Herd, backstage in reality, the same problems which led to him leaving for the WWF less than a year later) Back outside and it's Flair the brawler, as he pounds Luger with chops and tries a chair, before Nick Patrick grabs it. Back inside an the inevitable happens, mush like the rising of the sun and the turning of the tides, as Flair takes apart Luger's knee the usual way. Luger responds with punches and gets some offense going, but Flair out foxes him with Flair Cheat #166483b: right handed thumb to the eye. Sadly, it really doesn't do much more than slow Luger down, as he gets a backslide for 2. Luger no-sells (there's that phrase again….) some chops and hits punches and a lariat to floor Flair, for 2 ½. Flair oddly resumes offense, and gets a snapmare for 2 ½. Three times. Strange. Flair…shockingly…gets caught up top and thrown, Flair flips out of a whip, but gets lariat'd to the floor. Back inside for another press slam (#4), then a powerslam, and he signals for the rack. Flair responds with #166483b, but gets bearhugged and put on top. Superplex hits, and Flair's back is trashed. 2 count, broken on the ropes. Luger poses. Twerp. More Luger punches, but Flair busts out trusty #166483b, and hits a flying bodypress which sends them both out. Brawling, and then Stan Hansen runs in to kick the absolute shit out of Luger for the DQ in about 20 minutes. Hansen rocks. ****. Your basic standard off-the-rack Flair/Luger match, with the usual psychological breakdown of power versus finesse, and a bit more brawling than usual. Really fun in an old school way with everything crisp and stiff, and all the little psychology and selling touches which make Flair so damn great. The quick shoot bit was an unexpected and funny interlude as well. Basically a skillful minor movement of the great wrestling symphony of Flair/Luger; major flaw was the finish, but it wasn't that bad.

-Charlie Sheen! Twix! Payless shoes!

-These announcer skits are CREEPY TO THE MAX. Drunken Gene molests Chris Cruise, and everyone sits around hating each other while doing the worst job of acting like friends ever. FAST FOREWARD THROUGH THESE.

-Castlevania! Sega Genesis! Hot Pockets!

4. Hollywood Blondes vs. Steamboat and Douglas, 1/13/93, Milwaukee WI. Ah, the short-lived glory days of the Hollywood Blonds, Austin and Pillman, before WCW inexplicably killed them. Must…remain…positive…ok. This is a tag title match, 30 minutes to a fall, for Steamboat and Douglas' "Unified Tag Titles". Notable fact: Shane Douglas is…let's say heavily muscled here. Yeah. Here's the match: Steamboat and Austin start, and Austin gets the advantage until Steamer gets a series of 2 counts off rollups and a crossbody. Brawling sends the Blonds to the outside, as the announcers (Ross and Ventura) exclaim about how a 30 minute time limit is forcing the action. See, all those three minute matches on Raw and Smackdown DO have a logical explanation! Back in the ring the faces work Pillman over with really, really fluid work. Shane in off the top with an axehandle to the arm. Quick tags from Douglas and Ricky, in and out every few seconds. Pillman fakes a knee injury in awesome rudo fashion to try for the advantage, but he gets caught and powerslammed by Douglas for 2 as he attempts a slingshot bodypress into the ring. Austin in and Douglas works his arm. Douglas looks a gajillion times better than he really is here, as Steamer, Austin and Pillman walk him through this. Oops! Lance Storm says that last sentence was eeeee-vil, so forget I wrote that. Steamboat hits a hammerlock slam as the quick tags continue; this is consummate tag team wrestling from the champs, emphasizing their ability as a unit. Austin and Douglas do a pinfall reversal sequence, which gives Douglas a flying ass-block for 2, broken by Pillman. Steamboat and Douglas do tandem offense, with a double armdrag and Steamboat press-slamming Douglas onto Austin, then pressing Pillman into Austin.

- Naked Gun! Combos! McDonald's!

As we return Austin and Pillman take over on Steamboat. Pillman jumps Douglas on the apron, allowing him to throw Steamboat over the top, a DQ at the time. Good, basic tag team psychology. Douglas is described as "so youthful" which is hysterical today. The Blonds work Steamboat over, with Pillman grinding Steamer's face into the mat. Austin with the gut-wrench suplex, and a backdrop suplex to break Steamboat's comeback. Over-shoulder backbreaker from Austin, but some miscommunication from the blonds lets Steamboat hit a springboard chop and a backdrop on Pillman, and finally a hot tag. Douglas plays He-Man and mauls the Blonds with basic offense, including his ludicrous-even-in-'93 belly-to-belly suplex finisher, until Austin nails him with a double axhandle from the top, and puts Pillman on top for 2 ½. Austin grabs a title belt, and waffles Douglas for the DQ. Wow. Crap finish aside, a thoroughly decent tag outing, hitting the bases of a standard formula American tag with excellent work from three prime workers, and Shane Douglas. ***1/4.

-GI Joe! NBA Jam! Botony 500!

5. Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat, 2/3 Falls, New Orleans LA. 4/2/89 YEAH! YEAH! MOTHERF'N YEAH! Welcome to another chapter in the legendary Steamboat and Flair feud, as this would be the middle portion of their three match series in 1989, itself the "middle leg" of their feud, after the late-'70's early '80's Mid-Atlantic battles, and before the coda which was their 1994 two match sequence. Thus, in many ways, this marks the exact middle portion of their feud, and perhaps, as well, the best match they ever had; for my money it's between this and the WrestleWar '89 match. Steamboat had beaten Flair for the NWA world title (his first and only) at Chi-Town Rumble a few months prior to this, and would go on to lose it back to him at WrestleWar '89, in the match which started the legendary Flair/Funk feud after Funk piledrove the exhausted Flair on a table at ringside, post-match, for refusing him a title shot. In many ways these two were made for each other: Flair perhaps a better technician, marginally, Steamboat a slightly superior athlete, but both of them matched almost exactly in style and size, drive and determination. This feud was very much a case of two wrestlers, natural rivals, coming together again and again over the course of their careers because that was the way things had to be; they were the natural measures of each other's greatness, as Funk and Briscoe were in the '70's, Misawa and Kawada in the '90's. Here's the match:

Flair enters first, accompanied by several women in evening dress; the robe is black with silver trim, and he gets pyro. Steamboat enters in a white robe with his wife and young son, who is dressed in a little dragon outfit. Can YOU guess the sociopolitical overtones they were putting on this one? In a bit of foreshadowing, Terry Funk does color here, sounding oddly sane. They feint around the ring, showing familiarity with each other's attempts to gain the first advantage, and a lockup leads to a Flair shove, and a Steamboat slap in response. Ross puts over Funk as being in great shape on commentary, and Funk makes an offhand comment about wondering whether he should have retired or not. What amazing booking that is, to be already dropping hints months in advance. Side headlock and a reversal sequence leads to an amateur sequence, a standoff, and another shove/slap retaliation. Flair tries to counter a headlock with a kneebreaker (playing off his mistake in the first match, in letting Steamboat's knee recover after an initial attack, he here tries to attack the knee immediately) but ends up getting a top wristlock and powering Steamboat down. Ricky powers back up, and Flair rolls to the ropes to escape the resulting armbar. First commercials.

-Doublemint! Windex! Pizza Hut!

Back from commercial, and Flair reenters the ring after stalling on the outside. Tie up in the ropes, and an off-the-ropes-sequence gives Steamboat a hiptoss and a side headlock on the mat. Flair gets a succession of 2 counts off rollups out of the headlock on the mat. Flair powers up, off the ropes and Steamer shoulderblocks him down, off the ropes again and as Flair tries the duck under, Steamboat puts the breaks on and drops into a side headlock on the mat. The hold is broken in a standing position in the ropes, and Flair drives the shoulder into Steamboat's ribs. Now come the chops, but Steamboat chops his way out and hits a hiptoss, followed by a flying headscissors and a dropkick. Another side headlock puts this one back on the mat, as Steamboat mixes his athletic repertoire with technical proficiency to keep Flair off balance, as Ross points out on commentary. Steamboat crossfaces the neck and moves to a front chancery, then drives the knee into Flair's neck. Snapmare gives Steamboat a chinlock, broken quickly in the ropes. Flair gets the elbow in the ribs and a chop, but as in the first match Flair can't get anything working with strikes against Steamboat, who absorbs them and comes right back with his own. Cross-corner whip gives Ricky a back body drop and a drop kick for 2, and Flair begs off. Flair uses the ref as distraction, and hits a kick to the midsection to get some offense rolling. Doesn't work though, as a whip gives Steamboat a baseball slide through Flair's legs into a waistlock and a rollup off the ropes for 2. A lariat and a high headlock takeover put Flair back on the mat. Steamboat returns to the crossfaces and the chancery, as he works the neck a bit, presumably playing off Flair's widely known plane crash injuries. Chops in the corner cause a Flair flop, giving Steamboat a 2 count, followed up with another headlock into a chancery. Flair counters that with an inverted atomic drop (Steamer went to the well once too often…) but Flair can't follow up and Steamboat hits a chop for 2. Headlock broken with a whip off the ropes, and a Steamboat shoulderblock gives him 2. Again a shoulderblock for 2; double chop for 2, and Flair bails to the outside, Flair flopping as he goes. The slow selling is amazing here, as Steamboat has worn Flair down over the first 20 minutes of this contest to the point where simple moves are yielding 2 counts; Flair has to bail to get a rest, and come up with some sort of offense to slow down Steamboat.

-The Chase! Wario! Twix!

Flair is stalling as we return, and he begs off back in the ring. Steamboat sees the obvious rouse coming, and calls Flair back to the middle of the ring; another wrinkle here in the tale of familiarity, as Steamboat knows damn well Flair will cheat any chance he gets, and thus is able to avoid some of it by not falling for Flair's tricks. Flair manages to get something going with chops, but again Steamboat fires back and gets a 2 count. He hits a vertical suplex, but a big splash hits knees, as Steamboat gets caught deviating from his game plan. Flair finally takes the hint, going to the mat and hitting an Aguayo double stomp (!). Double underhook suplex gets 2, TWELVE TIMES, as Flair uses every bit of amateur technique he knows to keep Steamboat down. In pre-kayfabe breaking times this spot has a certain brilliance as well, as it answers the question of how it is that amateur technique doesn't secure pinfalls in professional wrestling, since Steamboat required 2 to escape on each cover attempt, where amateur rules allow only a one count. Hence, were this amateur, Steamboat would be pinned, but professional rules give him time to counter each pinfall attempt. It's a brilliant spot for a more realistic time in wrestling; as well, it dramatizes Flair's desperation. Steamboat powers out from the bottom, and gets a hiptoss, but a dropkick misses. Flair goes for the figure-four early here, without preparatory work, as he did in the first match, but this time Steamboat sees him coming and gets a small package for 2, reversed by Flair for 3. A lucky break for Flair, as he uses his minute technical superiority to secure a one fall lead.

-If I ever see another Doublemint! commercial, I'm going to turn into a gibbering homicidal maniac.

The opponents circle each other as we return, and Flair has a bit of his strut back. Rope running sequence gives Steamboat a press slam, and then a chop from the tope rope for 2 ½. Front chancery again, but Flair slips to the side and backdrops out. He hits the knee drop, and there's the WHOO, as he really starts to get his arrogance back. It bites him in the ass though, as a second knee drop gets canvas, and Steamboat hits a succession of FIFTEEN elbow drops to the knee. That spot is so awesome, since, after all, why stop; if you can hit one, why not 15 from that position? THAT'S psychology. Steamboat follows up with the figure-four, in another little "they know each other" detail, in this context. As well, Steamboat has learned from Flair's mistakes in going for an unprepared figure-four, and this one is well set up by his preceding brutal kneework. Flair makes the ropes. Steamboat pulls him off, and slaps on a Boston crab, working Flair's bad back and worked-over knee. Flair breaks in the ropes again, as Tommy Young violently assaults Steamboat to keep him off Flair. Have I mentioned recently that I hate Tommy Young? Steamboat finally escapes the runt and gets back on Flair with chops in the corner on the ground. Flair again loses a striking contest, but gets a side headlock on the ground, which evolves into a bridging reversal sequence and a Steamboat backslide for 2. Flair gets Steamboat outside and whips him to the rail, slams him, and whips him again. Flair guillotines Steamboat on the way in, and works him over on the apron, leading to a suplex back in for 2.

-WCW Hotline! (Booo!) Naked Gun! Contour beds!

Ab Stretch! Oh. Anyway, flair rolls it back into a pinning predicament for a succession of 2 counts, as the same amateur vs. professional psychology as before comes into play. Flair works Steamboat over, but Steamboat back flips out of a backdrop and gets a rollup for 2. A second rollup for 2. Steamer puts his head down on a backdrop and gets struck down for 2, twice, with a chop. Flair gets caught going up top, and a superplex hits, giving Steamboat an opening to work the back again, which he does with gusto (and punches). He hooks a double chicken wing submission hold and hoists Flair into the air, and Ric fights it and fights it, for about ten seconds, before finally submitting. We're all tied up at one fall apiece. This spot would end up being pivotal in the third match, as Steamboat assaulted Flair's arm in that contest to set up the double chicken wing, knowing that he could secure a submission with this hold.

Castlevania! WCW Magazine! (Booo!) Alabama's Greatest Hits!

Flair counters an ab stretch with an eyepoke (saw the move coming this time) as the third fall commences, but is too exhausted to follow up immediately. He finally drags himself up and chop blocks Steamboat's knee, but Steamer responds with chops for 2 ½. Flair begs off, and Steamboat calls him to his feet, then chops away in the corner, and hits a backdrop off a cross corner whip. He stays on Flair with chops down on the mat, but Flair counters a side headlock with a shinbreaker, and kicks Steamboat to the mat. He gets the figure-four, but the rope break is quick. Flair stays on the knee with kicks, but loses the chopping contest. He tries the Flair flip on a cross corner whip, but Steamboat sees him coming this time and nails the double chop, dumping Flair to the apron. Flair forces himself back into the ring, doing some of the best "I'm worn down to nothing, and running on willpower only" selling ever. He begs off again in the corner, and this time the now overconfident Steamboat gets caught, as he advances on Flair, Flair hits the double leg pickup and attempts the Flair Pin, which gets 2 four times. Flair stays on top with chops, and whips Steamboat corner-to-corner. Steamboat rebounds off the second turnbuckle with a double axe handle, but misses and gets caught with a Flair boot out of the corner. Flair gets his offense rolling again attacking the knee, and Steamer hits his knee on the top turnbuckle charging in after Flair. We're 40 minutes into this thing. Flair takes his knee apart with stomps and kneedrops, jerks on the knee and finally the figure-four, in the dead center of the ring. This hold goes on forever, as Flair and Steamboat chop at each other while in the hold, and Flair gets multiple 2 counts. Finally Steamboat gets the rope break, but Flair pulls him outside and slams the knee into the apron repeatedly. Back in the ring Steamboat fights back with chops and whips Flair, who Flair flips to avoid the charging Steamboat and then hits the flying bodypress off the top; it should be noted that the "Flair goes up top" spot was a million times more effective when he actually hit moves from up there on occasion. The bodypress gets 2 ¾. Steamboat tries a bodyslam, but the knee goes out (psychology, long term selling…) and Flair falls on top for 2 ½. Off the ropes sequence gives Steamboat a diving double chop, and he gets some offense in, culminating in his own flying bodypress for 2 ¾. Big elbow drop misses for Steamboat, and Flair gets a whip, but puts his head down and gets caught with a swinging neckbreaker (back to the neck and back from earlier falls…) for 2. He recovers first, to dump Steamboat to the outside, but is stuck in the ring himself holding the neck. Steamboat comes backing with a sunset flip for 2 ¾. Off the ropes, and Flair gets the sleeper. Then, in an absolutely brilliant bit, Steamboat starts tapping his foot in the old "build the crowd up for the comeback" manner, and Tommy Young does this awesome double take, looking first at the leg and then at Steamboat, as if he can't believe Steamboat still has the energy to fight back. Then Young gets this awesome look on his face as he stares at someone at ringside, as if to say "wow, that's amazing". I now love Tommy Young. Steamboat breaks with a leverage move, driving Flair's head into the top turnbuckle, and sending the challenger to the outside. Flair comes back in and attacks the leg. He picks it up, goes "WHOO!" and promptly gets Owenzuigiri'd into a heap on the mat, for 2 ½. We're 50 minutes in. Steamboat misses the big splash from the top, as Ross mocks Hulk Hogan's workrate. Flair goes back again to the knee, as Terry Funk declares this the Match Of The Year; he's right, too. Amazingly enough, STEAMBOAT begs off of FLAIR for a second, as Flair demolishes him with kicks and chops. Steamboat is doing the best selling ever here. Steamboat finally fires back with his own chops and a double chop off the ropes, and this time Flair begs off. Steamboat hits the 10 punch count, blocks the inverted atomic drop counter, and connects with a lariat for 2, broken in the ropes. Steamboat puts his head down early on a rope whip and gets caught with an elbow in the back of the head, and than a backdrop. Flair goes to the top 54 minutes in, but this time he's caught, and Steamboat throws him off. He goes again for the double arm chicken wing which gave him the second fall, and he falls back with it. Tommy Young counts 3 for Steamboat on the bridge, but Flair's feet were in the ropes, which provided the loophole for the third match at Wrestlewar.

What do you say about a match like that? It's among the best ever, maybe THE best ever, in America at least. It truly had the best of everything, selling, psychology, internal logic, drama, a deep story, historical importance, heat, great announcing (Terry Funk was actually excellent), and in 56 minutes, not a single spot blown or out of place; it's everything you could want. It's easily, for my money, the best example of its style ever, with the only challenger the rematch at Wrestlewar. A thing of beauty, a work of art, a match all fans should see. *****.

-The Chase (AHHHH MAAAAKE IIIT STTTOOOPPPP), Cheesy WCW merch! Singer Tiny Tailor!

-Mean Gene, in a bathrobe, singing "I'm Just A Gigolo".


-Displayed behind them is a poster of Capitol Combat 90: The Return Of Robocop. Why call attention to this? WHY!? I'M BOGGLED.

6. "Flyin'" Brian Pillman vs. "Stunning" Steve Austin, Baton Rouge LA. 11/10/93 Battle of the Hollywood Blonds here, the quasi-blowoff for their breakup. Pillman is already in the ring as Austin enters to his deeply, deeply cool theme music. Pillman jumps Austin to start, and he chases Col. Parker before Austin catches him with a lariat. They brawl around outside, and back in Pillman hits a back body drop and a series of chops to take over. Pilman gets a headscissors off a reversed whip, and Austin begs off. I take it back, the current SCSA really IS the old "Stunning" Steve. Pillman spits on him, then actually blows a kick to the head. How do you DO that? Austin bails and they brawl on the ramp way, with Pillman reversing a piledriver to a backdrop. He tries a splash from the top to the ramp, but Austin catches him with boots up, and then throws him off to the floor below, bouncing off the guardrail. Austin follows him with a leaping forearm and a chop, a works him over a bit outside. Pillman comes back in with a slingshot bodypress for 2, but Austin hits a press slam stun gun as we go to commercial.

WCW merch! The Contour Pillow! National Geographic!

Austin is getting a 2 count on Pillman as we return. He tries to pull Pillman off the ropes, but gets raked in the eyes for his trouble. Pillman levels him with a chop, but Austin stays on top with a rope choke, and then a rope assisted half crab (which Austin denies using, natch). Pillman fights back and wins a striking contest with a springboard back elbow off a cross corner whip. Austin goes up top, but Pillman crotches him by joggling the ropes. Austin blocks the superplex, but gets dropkicked coming off the top, and Pillman gets 2 ½ off it. Pillman puts his head down on a whip and gets caught, but reverses a piledriver attempt with a rana (called by Tony as "form of a victory roll") for 2.pillman gets backdropped in the corner off a charge, but lands on the apron on his feet and comes back in with the same flying bodypress, but this time Austin is expecting it and hits a powerslam for 2 ½. Austin misses the rope running leaping choke on Pillman, whose head and neck are draped over the ropes, and Pillman hits a DDT for 2 ½. Pillman crucifix is reversed to a backdrop, but Austin (yes, Austin) misses a flying double knee drop (!) and Pillman gets a ¾ nelson for 2 ½. Whip in the ropes reversed, but Austin's try for the stungun (what JR calls the hotshot as a tribute to Eddie Gilbert) is botched and Pillman lands on the apron. Pillman tries a third slingshot whatever into the ring, but Col. Parker hooks his feet and Austin gets the three. ***. Not much to say here. The plotline of "we hate each other" overwhelmed the wrestling with forced brawling from two guys who were better suited at the time to the technical end of things, the psychology was minimal, and the flow was bad. And how to you botch a KICK? On the bright side, it was generally fun to watch with an athletic and advanced moveset, especially for 1993, and some good brawling. Slightly above average, but disappointing for who was involved.

7. Cactus Jack vs. Van Hammer, Topeka KS. 1/21/92 We are JIP as Van Hammer gets a 2 out on the ramp way off a small package. I'm assuming this is falls count anywhere, or Texas Death or something. Jack gets hip tossed off the apron in a trademark atrocious bump, and Hammer follows up with a diving lariat off the ramp for 2. They brawl backstage into a parking lot and whack each other with random objects. Missy Hyatt screams a lot. Jack attacks Hammer with a cow skull, which is in the same league as the M2K razor scooter for strangeness among plunder. Choking with some rope on Jack, and they brawl into a cow pen where ABDULLAH ATTACKS~! A fitting location. Abdullah whacks Hammer with a shovel for a Jack 3 count. *. An abbreviated RAW caliber hardcore match, from what was shown. It was, what it was.

-Castrol Syntec! WCW Hotline! Goodwill Games!

8. Samoan Swat Team vs. Road Warriors, Columbia SC. 9/12/89 THIS is what they choose from '89 now? Ok, if they say so. Paul E. is thin and has hair, the Roadies are over and still so roided they can barely move, and Rikishi is thin and non-funky. It seems like a lifetime ago, and in wrestling, it is. Hard to believe four major US promotions have died since this match was first telecast- the AWA, SMW, ECW, WCW. Animal starts the match with Fatu, and quickly dominates with power moves and lariats. Samu and Hawk go at it, and Samu bails, where Animal jumps him and throws him back in. Hawk hits a slam and a fistdrop for 2. Dropkick, and here's Animal. He dominates Fatu with power, and Hawk comes in to do the same. He gets 2 off a lariat, but dings his shoulder on the post.

-Doublemint (AHHHHHHHHH!)! Twix! WCW Magazine!

Hawk is getting pounded as he return, including being crotched on the railing at ringside. He's actually selling not half bad, for him at any rate. False tag out of a bearhug to Animal. Samoans hit Demolition Decapitation, and you can just see Hawk selling less and less. It's not so much selling, as playing dead, really. Fatu flying splash catches boot, and Hawk makes the tag to Animal, who dominates with shoulderblocks and lariats. The Samoans get an advantage with a double team during a brawl, but Hawk blocks the attempted cell phone shot and kills both Samoans dead with lariats 'n such. Doomsday device finishes. Bleeech. Not offensively bad or anything, but not what you'd call good, or entertaining if you didn't happen to be interested in the storyline. *.

-WCW Gear! Butterfinger Simpsons! Alabama's Greatest Hits!

9. Great Muta and Terry Funk vs. Sting and Ric Flair 10/28/89 Halloween Havoc '89 This is the Thunderdome cage match with Bruno Sammartino as ref, which took place between Great American Bash '89 and the Flair/Funk I Quit match at COTC: New York Knock Out, which ended that feud. Sting and Muta had been going back and forth over the TV title at this point, with Muta as champion at the time of this match; Flair and Funk, of course, were locked into a blood feud over the events at Wrestlewar '89, and Flair had just won his return match versus Funk via pinfall at GAB '89. The rules for this match were that it could only end by submission, when one team's attendant at ringside threw in the towel; for Muta and Funk, that's Gary Hart; for Flair and Sting, Ole Anderson. If, at this point, you're thinking "this screams setup for an overbooked screwjob finish" you just might be right. The cage is supposedly electrified at the top, for what that's worth, and is constructed similar to the Hell In A Cell cage in that it encompasses some of the ringside area. Something catches fire at the top of the cage to start, and Muta sprays mist at it to put it out. Yes, that does seem a bit odd to me too, but that's Muta for you. Flair and Funk start, and Funk gets a shoulderblock, but Flair chops him to death, then antagonizes the Muta on the apron. Flair stops Funk's offense with chops and slams, then dumps him over the top to the floor. Flair guillotines him on the ropes as he gets back in, pulls him to his feet, and goes to tag Sting as we hit….

-Commercial! WCW Gear! Wario! James Bond Weekends!

Sting in, and he chucks Funk to the outside, then sticks his head between the metal squares making up the cage. He does the back rake, as Funk throws his drunken punches in his usual demented form of selling. Back inside, and Flair's in, as he and Sting connect on double back elbows. Flair with two cross corner whips, a big chop, and the trademark kneedrop. He once again jumps Muta on the apron, slapping him. All four men jump into the ring, and Sting holds Muta for Flair's chops. Flair works Funk over with punches, and brings Sting in for the big dropkick. Funk finally gets the chance to bring in Muta, as Ross takes amusing shots at the Ultimate Warrior on commentary, referencing the Blade Runners. The NWA's thing about mocking the WWF on commentary in this period may have been amateurish, but it was amusing. Sting mauls the Muta with punches, and press slams him right into Terry Funk. He hits a vertical suplex, then tags in Flair, who attacks the Muta with punches to the top of the head. Flair hits the inverted atomic drop, then chops in the corner, then the kneedrop. Sting comes back in and dumps the Muta, banging his head into the cage. Funk breaks it up, and back in the ring Muta and Funk beat on Sting. Very much a pure brawl at this point, fitting for the stipulations. Muta hits the driving swinging elbow drop, then a leg drop. It's so odd to see Muta clean-shaven and long haired, since these days he's bald and goateed. He looks completely different. Muta dumps Sting, but Flair comes in to just choke the Muta out, two hands around the throat. Muta rakes the eyes to break, as Funk chokes Sting on the outside. Muta takes Flair outside, and now Flair and Funk begin brawling, as back in the ring Muta hits a suplex on Sting. Funk with the kneedrop, Muta with the elbow drop, and now a series of elbow drops all on Sting before Flair breaks it up, bouncing the Muta from the ring. Flair works over Funk with punches and a suplex, as Sting ducks a Muta spinkick coming off the ropes, and hits a kick to the gut and a running facebuster. Funk gets the same. Sting guillotines Muta, Flair hits the atomic drop, and Sting hits the lariat. Sting goes for the scorpion, but Funk breaks it up and attacks Sting. This is the definition of "wild brawl" for 1989, as guys just throw each other out of the ring, hit three or four punches, then roll back in and do it again, with occasional wrestling holds interspersed into the whole. Flair and Funk brawl while climbing the cage with Flair winning, while Sting hits the suplex on Muta back inside the ring. Muta climbs the cage and Sting follows. They brawl there, and Muta gets "shocked" by the cage. Flair is meanwhile kicking Funk in the head. A lot. This match borders on the un-recapable, as the wrestlers are paired on opposite sides of the cage, and the camera switches between them every 2 seconds. Muta and Sting finally end up back in the ring. Funk climbs all the way to the top of the cage, and gets stuck hanging from it as Flair chops him. Think the scene from "Rocky" of Rocky punching frozen beef sides in a warehouse. Sting gets the press slam back in the ring….

-God Damn Doublemint! WCW Hotline! World Of Audubon!

…and drops Muta hard. Flair and Sting end up back in the ring, as Funk is still hanging from the cage, and Muta now crawls under the ring. Was there ever an odder team than Muta and Funk? Sting climbs up after Funk, as Muta and Flair chop the piss out of each other down on the floor. Flair with the backdrop back in the ring, and he gets the figure-four on Muta, but releases it inexplicably to dump Muta outside. Boo! Muta nails Flair from behind as he watches Sting chase Funk with a stiff-ish kick, and gets the Indian deathlock, with bridge, as Funk works Sting's leg over five feet in the air on the cage. Ole Anderson climbs the cage to untie Sting, who Funk tied to the cage, as Flair gets the stuff piledriver from Funk and Muta, playing off his feud-starting neck injury at the hands of Funk. Muta and Funk kill Flair in the ring, until Sting leaps off the side of the cage into the ring with a flying body press on Funk. Awesome. The crowd goes ape shit for that. Muta climbs the cage as Sting chases, while Flair assaults Funk back in the ring, and goes for the knee with shinbreakers and kicks, and a kneedrop. Muta hits a backbreaker back in the ring, gives the throat cut gesture, and tries for the moonsault, but gets caught and crotched, falling to the outside. Flair gets Funk in the figure-four, and Sting hits a flying bodypress from the top onto Funk, TWICE. Sting is really being the man here, I have to say. Muta back in and he gets in Bruno's face, so Bruno pops him one. Ole then nails Gary Hart, who loses his towel, hitting Bruno with it and ending the match, giving the duke to the team of Flair and Sting. Well. A great brawl for 1989, and a great performance by Sting, reminding me why I used to love the guy. A few annoying spots and a lot of "I hit you, you hit me, roll to the floor and repeat" brawling, and a stupid non-finish with an accidental towel throw; still, a lot of fun and really wild, suitable for the stories involved. Good stuff, in the ***1/2 to **** range.

-WCW Gear! Can you tell they don't have much real advertising for this show! THE CLUB~! The pantheon of bad late night ads on this show IS COMPLETE! YES! MUAH HA HAAAAAAA!!!! WHOO~!

-I'd like to say thank goodness for politics, as due to Ric Flair being WCW champ at the time this special was put together, this whole tape is packed with mass Flair goodness. Tremendous.

10. Midnight Express vs. Ric Flair and Barry Windam Chattanooga TN. 12/6/88 See what I mean? HE'S EVERYWHERE. Windham is US champ at this point, while Flair is, natch, World Champ. This is one of those theoretical dream match ups, as Flair and Windham, the top 2 singles wrestlers in the NWA at the time (by holding their respective belts) are matched against the top tag team; things like this are what made the old NWA so kick-ass, as they'd put stuff like this contest together just because it would be a great match. Flair and Eaton start, and Flair breaks out the famous strut. Flair WHOOs on a break in the corner, and Bobby slaps him in the jaw, then scraps with Windham on the apron, then does his own strut. Tremendous. Lockup and Flair gets the chops in the corner, but Eaton comes out firing with his own punches, and a cross corner whip gives him a back body drop. Flair flips out of another cross corner whip, but gets nailed on the apron by Lane. That's what he gets for trying a trademark singles maneuver in a tag environment where it doesn't work because of the extra opponent. Psychology. Lane in with a kick on Flair, and he does a little swivel taunt.

-Naked Gun! WCW Hotline! Pontiac 400!

Flair is abusing Eaton with slaps as we return, and he works away with chops and punches in the corner. Eaton rolls outside, but Windham stun guns him on the railing before Lane runs him off. Flair gets a double axe handle from the apron and a chop in on the outside, before rolling back into the ring. Flair brings Eaton in, tags Windham, and hits a chop and a whip on Eaton, and as Eaton rebounds from the ropes Windham takes his head off with a lariat, for 1. Gutwrench suplex, and a kneedrop, and a sleeper from Windham. Eaton armdrags out, and Flair comes back in with a kick and chops. His lariat off the ropes is blocked with a right hand however, and Eaton fights back on Flair with punches, triggering the Flair flop. Flair makes the tag, but so does Eaton, who takes out Flair and Windham with kicks and backdrops. He executes the dreaded double noggin knocker, and brings Eaton back in for the goozle, a high/low striking combo of a lariat and a chopblock. Flair tries to get back in, but Lane superkicks him back out, and Eaton goes up top. The Alabama Jam connects, and Cornette and JJ Dillon fight on the outside, as Flair sneaks in behind everyone and waffles Eaton with a shoe, rolling Barry on top for the 3 count. Perfectly good little formula tag match, well executed, though it could have been better given the participants. ***.

-WCW Gear! Combos! Heart Condition!

11. Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk, New York, NY. 11/15/89 This is the famous I Quit match, and we are inexplicably JIP after the entrances, but before the match really gets underway. Flair looks daggers at Funk after a struggle in the corner, and the hate is palpable. Lock up, and Flair nails a chop so hard that it sends Funk over the top to the outside. Funk throws a fit and nearly assaults a fan, then cautiously makes his way back into the ring. Flair muscles Funk into the corner, and absolutely chops the shit out of him, like he's trying to knock his skin off. Two cross corner whips and another huge chop, and Funk bails to the outside again, where Flair follows hi, chopping away. He rolls Funk back in, but he bails again out of the other side of the ring. He makes his way back in and the combatants face off, glaring at each other, with fists balled up and ready for action. Funk throws a few jabs, and they lock up again. Side headlock for Funk, shoulderblock off the ropes, and Flair grabs Funk by the ankle and brings him down in a sort of statement: "this will not be a wrestling match, with the usual wrestling moves (like the expected duck under here, for another rope running sequence). This will be a fight, and the rules are different". Flair chokes Funk with two hands around the throat, anger and hate just emanating from everything he does here. It's great storytelling. Funk rakes the eyes to break, and he stomps Flair in the neck out on the apron where Flair rolled to. Funk punches Flair, chops him, and nails a headbutt, all on the apron. Back inside Flair gets the big chop, but Funk puts him down with punches, and throws him to the outside. Funk follows, and bangs his head off the railing, and punches him again and again. Funk gets the mic, says "do you quit?" and bangs Flair in the head with it. H fights through a chop and nails Flair with the mic again, then rolls back inside. Funk with the punches in the corner, and he taunts Flair: "do you, do you, do you wanna quit, Flair? SAY IT! YOU EGG-SUCKING DOG! I SAID SAY IT!" He pounds Flair in the corner with fists and the mic. Flair escapes with the inverted atomic drop, hits a chop, but puts his head down on a whip and gets caught with a swinging neckbeaker. This harkens back most recently to the start of the feud, to Funk piledriving Flair on a table at Wrestlewar '89 and injuring his neck, putting him out for months; but further back than that it brings up memories of Flair's 1975 plane crash, where his back was broken. This is really the definition of deep psychology, as they play off not just the events of their feud but off of real life events 14 years in the past. Funk slaps Flair in the face, but Flair fights to his feet and grabs Funk by the throat, the hate just white hot here. Knee to the gut! Chop! Chop! CHOP! And Funk falls to the floor, Flair chasing him all the way, raining down chops and punches on his enemy. Funk tries to escape over the guard rail, no dice, CHOP. Funk tries to get back in the ring, Flair pulls him back, as if to say "you brought it out here first, but this is MY territory"; head to the guard rail again, CHOP. Back in the ring finally, and Flair demands the mic: "NOW! You say I quit!" SLAP "Come here! You say it, huh!" CHOKE "SAY IT!" Flair goes after Gary Hart, and Funk nails him from behind. Funk with another neckbreaker, and he's selected his target. He gets the mic: "You remember the wreck, Flair? Your neck? Don't you want to quit before I…hurt you?" FOREARM TO THE NECK. That's just so brilliant I can't even do it justice. Funks sets up for a piledriver and howls "ask him before I piledrive him!" That's just the best psychology ever. Tommy Young: "he won't say it (with trepidation in his voice)… not now". Flair: "NO". Flair fights to escape the piledriver, and as we go to commercial Gordon Solie leaves us with this: "five letters, two words. I…quit…."

-WCW Magazine! James Bond Weekends! Revlon!

As we return Funk is pounding Flair's neck, elbows to the top of the head, and he throws him outside. He slams Flair on a ringside table, and positions it leaning on the ring. Flair fights back with chops, and he drives Funk's head into the table. Flair moves the table into a lean against the guardrail as Funk staggers off, but Flair hurls himself onto Funk in a white hot rage, appearing out of no where and driving him into the railing. He grabs Funk, chops him, and hurls him over the table on the other side of the ring. He attacks Gary Hart too, and keeps Funk from rolling back inside to escape the blows. He crotches him on the railing, then chops him off back to the floor. Back inside, Flair screams "NOW!!" and drops the knee across the face of Terry Funk. Funk bails out, then crawls back in to be met with an inverted atomic drop, and then…Flair goes to the leg. He drags Funk over to the ropes and drops his weight on Funk's knee, propped on the first rope. He stays on the target, alternating kicks to the knee with hard, blistering chops and right hands.

-WCW Gear! The Ref! Contour Pillow!

As we return Flair is hitting a shin breaker out in the entranceway, and a suplex back into the ring. "NOW!" Flair hyper extends the knee and goes for the figure-four, but Funk breaks with a rake of the eyes. Flair rolls to the apron, Funk tries to suplex him back in, but Flair reverses and dumps Funk outside onto the apron. Flair slams his knee onto the apron, and back inside it's Funk's fist's against Flair's chops, and Flair wins. Flair gets the figure-four, but Funk won't give: "no, never…never…oh god…my leg…oh god…it's breaking…my leg…AH! AHHHHH! YEAHHHH! YES I QUIT!"

Pure gold. Sadly this version is clipped, which is the only flaw; get the original tape of New York Knock Out for the full version. This is one of the best matches ever in the history of American wrestling, and one of the few I Quit matches ever with a clean finish. Just a perfect brawl with a perfect end, awesome psychology, a deep and rich story, nothing without a meaning, great selling, palpable hatred, perfect execution, perfect everything. None of the stupid spots which dominate '90's brawls like the "we must walk where I want because I hold your hair", or brawling into the crowd or backstage to kill time, or nonsensical table spots for the sake of breaking something. This is the match Cactus Jack/HHH from Royal Rumble 2000 wanted to be. This is what wrestling should always be. *****, Easy. They do the babyface handshake spot after the match, and Flair assaults Gary Hart to protect Funk, when Hart kicks Funk in the knee. Muta runs in to attack Flair (Ross: "the Japanese have attacked Flair! THE JAPANESE HAVE ATTACKED FLAIR!"), Sting runs out to save Flair, and here this tape cuts out, conveniently forgetting that then-WWF wrestler Lex Luger does a run in to demolish Flair and Sting in the full version. Politics, politics.


-WCW Hotline! The Chase! Wario!

Ok, THAT'S the show. And what a show it is, as this one filled about 5 different holes in my collection for all time classics from the old NWA. There's five matches at **** or better by my count, three of them all time classics, and two ***** matches. Only two matches are anything less than good and above average, one of which was clipped, and the average star rating was between ***1/4 and *** ½. That's amazing. More importantly, the tape is really just a whole lot of fun, and I'd recommend it highly for anyone who wants to remember the best of WCW, or just to look back at some of the greatest matches in history.

Highest recommendation. Get it NOW.

Brendan Welsh-Balliett
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