1) Ric Flair vs. Magnum T.A. (World Championship Wrestling, 6/15/85) – 6
2) Lex Luger, Barry Windham, & Sting vs. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, & Barry Windham (Main Event, 4/3/88) - 6
3) Dusty Rhodes vs. Barry Windham (Great American Bash ’88, 7/10/88) – 5
4) Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat (Chi-Town Rumble, 2/20/89) – 8
(These are the first four matches from the second disc. Part 3 containing the other four matches will be up soon.)
First match was as good of a ten minute match as you will ever see. Magnum interrupts Flair’s promo and lays down $1,000 straight cash as a challenge to Flair. In laymans terms, if Flair beats Magnum, he wins the money. Flair accepts and they get after it. Magnum’s facials were splendid and Flair’s backtracking helped accentuate them. Ole and Arn came down and started doing commentary with Tony Schiavone. The ring sounded rickety as hell everytime someone would take a bump. Magnum got cut on the forehead and took a nasty spill to the outside. Late in the match, Magnum slapped on the figure four and Flair was just writhing as the bell rang for a draw. The Anderson and Flair did a gang attack afterwards. Flair came off the ropes with a flying knee into the shoulder. The beatdown continued until Dick Slater and Buzz Sawyer made the save. Great little ten minute match with non-stop action. Pretty much just a sampling of what should’ve been a huge feud with Magnum and Flair. Unfortunately, we know how that turned out. As if anything is apparent with 1980s NWA crowds, it’s the fact that they hang on every single moment of the match. Even before the first lock-up in this one, the crowd was buzzing with anticipation. Luger worked the majority of the match in the “face in peril” role while getting destroyed by the Horsemen. At one point, Luger and Arn were in there and the look on Arn’s face as Luger powered up from the mat was absolutely priceless. Windham got the hot tag and threw some deadly clotheslines. It seemed like Luger was the focal point of the match. Sting and Tully came in as needed for their respective teams. A foreign object shot from Tully got the win for the Horsemen, even though you never saw the object or the fact that JJ Dillon threw something in the ring. This was better the first time I watched it but still a good little six-man.
Rhodes and Windham started off good but fell apart about halfway through. Windham took some hellacious bumps including a wild backdrop on the floor. J.J. Dillon tried to interfere but Dusty knocked him down with an elbow and he landed ass first on the concrete arena floor. Damn, that had to hurt. The point where this fell apart is where Windham applied the claw. Not only did it seem to suck the life out of Dusty but it sucked the life out of the crowd as well. The remainder of the match was Dusty trying to make a comeback from the claw. There was an instance where Dusty fought back up and then just decided to no sell everything. A superplex spot knocked out referee Tommy Young (come to think of it, all the participants in this match, save for Dillon, are in the NHO Hall of Fame) as Dusty finally hit his trademark elbow drop. Ronnie Garvin comes in and for no reason knocks Dusty out cold. Huh? This could’ve been so much better. I know I reviewed Flair/Steamboat back in the beginnings of NHO but I didn’t speak of it in much detail. Much is talked about regarding the 60-minute match at Clash #6 and the final chapter of the series at Wrestle War ’89 but this match had everything that you could come to expect from a Flair/Steamboat match and more. The chops were spine-tingling and chest-numbing, the crowd was hanging on every nearfall, and the ring work was second to none. It’s really weird seeing Hiro Matsuda accompany Flair to the ring, mainly because I had forgotten that he had ever managed the Horsemen. Steamboat is wearing long, dark green tights which I totally dig. Steamboat was flying high off the top with a bevy of strikes and offensive moves. A wild cross-body sent both men tumbling to the outside and landing with a thud. Nice exchange on the outside that ended with Steamboat eating the ringpost. Flair was great a begging off and stalling at the beginning. Matsuda at ringside was merely an afterthough because he didn’t contribute anything to the match, aside from standing there looking like an evil Japanese businessman. Flair locking in the figure-four at the end with Steamboat fighting it was just wonderful and added a great dramatic effect. Steamboat hit a cross-body off the top and knocked down the ref as well. Flair tries the figure four but is cradled by Steamboat for the win. Just a downright fantastic match that is often over-looked.
To be continued ...