Barry Windham v Eddie Gilbert (NWA TV, 1/14/89)
The NWA in 1989 might be one of the best years any company had during that decade, so I'm pretty saddened by the fact Windham was barely around for any of it. Couple weeks before this Gilbert had a match with Flair on TV that I remember being really good. It's total Flair formula. This is much different. Flair formula has Gilbert taking most of the match and Flair doing what he does, begging off, eating the offence you'll always see him eat, etc. Windham works a hierarchy style that establishes him as being much higher on the food chain than Eddie. Both styles are clearly very different, but I'm a big fan of them. Windham's the one taking most of this while Gilbert hangs tough and refuses to die, continually fights back, won't accept Windham's mocking bullshit as long as he can stand up straight. Windham's pretty exceptional as a guy alternating between confident, almost too confident, US champ that knows how good he is and US champ getting frustrated at how things are getting a little too close for comfort. Windham's on top more than I had remembered and I was kinda wishing Gilbert would stay on offence a little while longer at points, but this is still an awesome little TV match at the beginning of an awesome year for the company. I just wish Barry was around for more of it.
Ric Flair & Barry Windham v Eddie Gilbert & Ricky Steamboat (NWA TV, 1/21/89)
A Horsemen mugging after Gilbert's match with Windham sets this up a week later. Steamboat's Gilbert's mystery partner here and Flair, Barry and JJ are not pleased. I've never been as big a fan of this as I feel I should be. It gets plenty of time and has 3 of my all time favourite wrestlers wrestling my all time favourite kind of match (southern style tag), and yet I've never loved it. I think it's a really good match, but it's THESE guys and I can't for the life of me figure out why I don't lose my stack for it. Whatever. Steamboat's on his way to the big belt and a programme with Flair so he's booked really strongly here. Steamboat selling like Steamboat might be what this needed to work its way into my heart, I'm not sure. He's still a ton of fun as the premier ass kicker, though. I haven't seen any of the non-'89 Steamboat/Flair matches in a good few years, so maybe it's just a 1989 thing, but I always liked how Steamboat would crank the intensity way up against Ric. He's coming off a 3 year stint with the WWF here (minus the break in between when he opened a gym or something), and WWF Steamboat is by far the most karate/judo gimmicky Steamboat. But there's no gimmicky stuff here (well, maybe once or twice). He's traded in "karate" kicks for the manly chops and he and Flair really tear each other to bits. Gilbert's a good FIP and Flair and Barry are Flair and Barry, so you know what you're getting with those guys. Wouldn't exactly call this disappointing, but every time I watch it I feel like I'm missing something.
Terry Funk v Eddie Guerrero (NWA TV, 5/20/89)
Man, Funk does a baseball slide spot here that totally ruled. Eddie's half crippled on the floor and Funk gets in the ring and start running back and forth from rope to rope like a fucking stoner running away from a chocolate elephant, and as Eddie manages to claw himself back to his feet Funk just slides feet first straight into his mush and Eddie flies backwards over the railing. This is basically a squash, but Funk gives Eddie some stuff here and there and it's one of the best sub-5 minute semi-competitive squash matches I've seen. Narsty piledriver on the floor too, especially when they show it in slow-mo.
Terry Funk v Ricky Steamboat (Clash of the Champions VII, 6/14/89)
I love this match. Loved it the first time I saw it and I've loved it ever since. Funk is middle-aged and crazy and Steamboat's still thoroughly "fuck WWF judo" and into chopping people in the chest real hard. Funk does an interview on TV a few days before this where he calls Steamboat's kid a pig-nosed half-breed. Steamboat's all Steamboat-like and diplomatic about the situation but he's pretty pissed off all the same. This starts out all hectic and stuff and Funk throws tremendous punches, I mean in general. There's a spot where he backs Steamboat into the corner and clocks him with a dirty slap, so Steamboat does this flurry of slaps that looked way cool. There's a bunch of great Funk-isms on show here, too. He does the out-on-his-feet stagger across the ring apron and winds up falling face first into the ring post spot. I've only ever seen Funk and Jerry Estrada do that spot but it might be my favourite spot in wrestling history. This also has one of my favourite DQs in wrestling history with Funk getting fed up and just plastering Steamboat in the head with a microphone. Post-match has Luger hit the scene and utterly cream Steamboat with a faceline. That's a clothesline to the face. Then he gets on the stick and says "There lays your number one contender." Fuck the world this was the tits.
Terry Funk v Cougar Jay (NWA TV 6/17/89)
Cougar Jay is a name I'm not quite sure what to make of yet, but he takes two really awesome looking bumps through the middle rope in this. Crowd is just ALL over Terry, launching all sort of garbage, verbally assaulting him, the whole nine. Funk's out with a branding iron and getting in everybody's face and looks totally off his head crazy. Love how he eats a flurry of punches from Cougar dude and just shuts his shit down by headbutting him in the nose. Even his piledriver looks like it comes from a crazy person because he's stumbling backwards and he really crumples the guy. Funk ruled so hard in '89.