February 25, 1990
The Dynamic Dudes . . . are in a better match than the Steiner Brothers!
The Midnight Express . . . proves they’re still the number one tag team in the company, even when they’re treated like number two!
Lex Luger . . . shows his worth as a worker by going for nearly forty minutes with the World Champion.
KEVIN SULLIVAN/BUZZ SAWYER vs. JOHNNY ACE/SHANE DOUGLAS
Believe it or not, this is actually really fun. The heels work Shane over, focusing on the midsection, and Shane sells really well. At one point the crowd is going crazy for Sullivan’s bearhug. Sawyer throws some nice suplexes to add to things, and Johnny even does a big dive to the floor. In fact, the only blown spot is Johnny’s head scissors takedown going wrong, which is what opens the door for Buzz to take over and go to the finish, and Johnny’s selling after the vertical suplex is also really good. Sawyer infamously breaks his wrist doing his finishing splash, which really wasn’t necessary, considering how good his suplexes and his powerslam looked. It’s nice to see the Dudes in a watchable match that doesn’t involve the Midnight Express, although you can’t really argue that they were both better off with the paths that their careers took. ***
CACTUS JACK vs. NORMAN THE LUNATIC
The highlight of Mick’s early work is his bumping and selling, and those skills aren’t exactly on display for this match. Well, he does a nice job with Norm’s headbutts, but, it’s more comical than anything else. Cactus does a dropkick off the apron, which would probably have been the best spot of the match, had the camera actually bothered showing it. But, it’s a lot of pedestrian brawling and restholds, with a finish that seems to be intended to play for laughs.
BOBBY EATON/STAN LANE vs. RICKY MORTON/ROBERT GIBSON
It takes some time for the match to pick up, but, everyone involved is able to hold the crowd in the palm of their hands the entire time. Cornette trying to fight Nick Patrick is more suited for a house show than a live PPV, but, damn if the Greensboro fans don’t eat it up. The teased dissension between the heels after they collide, and the spot where Ricky kicks Stan in the ass, leading to a big bump to the floor also gets huge reactions. And then Ricky Morton takes a bad bump to the floor so that the heels can take over, and the match really picks up.
These two teams didn’t invent the formula for tag team matches, but they’ve surely perfected it, and it shows in the little things that they do, like Ricky not immediately being all but dead once he’s in trouble, and the Midnight Express constantly having to cut him off from making the tag. Cornette’s cheap shots with the racket get the crowd all the more worked up. It’s Ricky Morton, so the selling is as good as it gets, even a simple armbar from Stan has Ricky looking as hopeless as possible. The only thing missing was a near fall for the Midnights after one of their big moves. Ricky getting up the knees to prevent the Rocket Launcher is a great way to give him the opening to tag in Robert, and the finish, with the fresh Robert countering the Flapjack into a small package, is pretty much flawless, but it’d have been nice to see Ricky get hit with at least one big move, to give the crowd a scare. ****
HAWK/ANIMAL vs. MEAN MARK CALLOUS/THE MASKED SKYSCRAPER
This wouldn’t have been anything special, even if Spivey hadn’t been hurt. It’s a somewhat fast-paced brawl, that’s just long enough to not be a waste of a PPV match.
BRIAN PILLMAN/THE Z-MAN © vs. MICHAEL HAYES/JIMMY GARVIN (NWA United States Tag Team Titles)
At least the Road Warriors match was short. This just seems to go on forever, with the Freebirds having almost nothing to do other than generic brawling, and dull-as-dirt restholds, while they yell into the camera. They try to structure this like a traditional southern tag, but, Zenk is no Ricky Morton, and the Freebirds definitely are not the Midnights. Even the finish doesn’t quite work. Pillman overshoots Garvin on the flying body press and Garvin sells it like a KO shot instead of being outwrestled.
RICK STEINER/SCOTT STEINER © vs. OLE ANDERSON/ARN ANDERSON (NWA World Tag Team Titles)
I guess it was too much to ask for two good southern tag matches. The scrum at the beginning was fine, and there’s a few nice spots, like Rick surprising Arn with the powerslam when Arn tried the leap frog. But there’s far too much stalling and downtime. It seems like it’s finally going somewhere with Scott’s arm getting worked over, but he tags in Rick way too soon (and maybe even unintentionally) for it to matter. The second round of working over Scott goes better, although it’s still rather short, with the Andersons showing why they’re experts at picking apart an arm. Once Rick gets the hot tag, it’s all downhill, including an awful finish that had nothing as far as any build or anticipation.
RIC FLAIR © vs. LEX LUGER (NWA World Heavyweight Title)
If you ever wondered why Flair is considered one of the all time greats, matches like this are why. For nearly forty minutes, Flair does everything possible to keep the viewer entertained. When Luger is in control Flair is in full pinball mode, bumping every which way he can, and his reactions are priceless. Even an early pin attempt has Flair go flying from Luger’s kickout. When Flair is in control, he shows how much of a vicious streak he’s picked up over his six reigns as champion, and does pretty much everything humanly possible to keep the crowd cheering for Luger. A great example of this is when Luger hurts his arm taking a bump into the turnbuckle. Nobody thinks that Flair is going to win using a hammerlock, but, Flair does such a good job working the hold, including using the ropes, that it heaps that much more sympathy onto Luger. Another good moment is when Luger is trying to make a comeback from Flair’s sleeper, Luger charges toward the corner, and Flair knows what’s coming and lets the hold go, so that Luger is the only one who takes a bump. For those who complain that Flair always does the same things, he doesn’t even touch the leg until the last five minutes to go for the figure four, and that’s what trigger’s Sting’s appearance and Luger’s big comeback.
This match is often used as an example of how Flair could seemingly wrestle a broomstick and put on a great match, but, that’s not being entirely fair to Lex. Yes, he’s the lesser worker here, but his performance is far from being bad. Watch Luger work the sleeper on Flair compared with any hold used by either of the Freebirds in their match, and it’s easy to see who works the hold better. Luger’s only real missteps are the no-sell when Flair tries snapping his throat over the top rope, if it was a chop or punch from Flair, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal. The only other issue with Luger is his attempt to do the figure four. JR’s comment about Luger “not being proficient” at the hold is very kind. The match itself is seemingly tailor-made to showcase the fact that Luger may not be as good as Flair, but, he’s still good, and his being good combined with his power advantage is enough to get him over the hump to beat Flair. Luger certainly doesn’t have the offensive variety that Flair does, but, the match is peppered with smart moments like Flair being unable to get Luger over in a hiptoss, and Luger countering with a backslide for a near fall. During Flair’s big control segment he comes off the top twice in a row and hits Luger with an axehandle, but when Flair tries again when Luger is making his comeback, he’s not so lucky.
The finish is a total copout, although it’s better than the finish that got beaten into the ground during the first Flair/Luger title program, and, it actually works on some level. Luger had Flair trapped in the rack, with no hope for escape, but chose to release the hold and go save Sting from the Andersons. It showed that Luger had genuinely changed his ways, considering he was a heel and breaking trophies only three months before. He could have easily left Sting to the wolves and finally taken the title from Flair. But, when push came to shove, Luger chose friendship and respect over selfishness. ****
Conclusion: The trio of terrible tag matches leaves a bitter taste, but, the Flair/Luger and Midnight Express matches are definitely worth checking out.