NWA Starrcade 1989: Future Shock Review

Starrcade 1989 Logo

Hello everyone and welcome to the Starrcade 1989 review, which is the final Starrcade review of the 1980s. As we approach the halfway point, I am presented with a show that seems fairly hopeless. It is a show of two tournaments, which means all the wrestlers will be worn down from wrestling earlier in the night. Each tournament, one singles and one tag team, was round robin, where a pin or submission was worth 20 points, a countout is worth 15 points, a DQ is worth 10 points, a draw is worth 5 points, and a loss is worth 0 points. The competitors in the singles tournament are Sting, Ric Flair, Lex Luger, and The Great Muta (!!!), while the tag competitors are Doom, The Road Warriors, The Steiner Brothers, and The New Wild Samoans, who are replacing the Skyscrapers due to injury. Both tourneys have talent, but I am not confident they will be able to put on good matches consistently. Anyway, lets get on with the show!

A cheese techno video begins the show, and we are welcomed to the show. The national anthem plays over the speakers, and troops stand in the ring. Why there isn’t a live act is beyond me, but the crowd cheers anyway. Jim Ross welcomes us and hypes the show. He brings in Terry Funk (who I hope is on commentary), kind of tells us about the tournament, and Jim Cornette actually explains the rules. The tag teams are announced and displayed on stage. This brings us directly to our first match, which is…

Doom vs. Steiner Brothers

Doom (w/ Woman & Nitron) vs. The Steiners – Iron Team Tournament Match

            This was the definition of a nothing match. Early on was pretty much just Rick Steiner stalling in-between a plethora of powerslams. Soon enough, Scott launched himself over the top rope with a missed clothesline, and Doom gains control. The heat was largely uninspired and it was anything but special. Doom cheated, hit moves, and cheated a bit more. Once the hot tag was made, the pace was picked up, and some cool stuff was done. By far the best part of the match was when Rick creamed one of the Doom members with a stiff, hellish lariat. Too bad the finish was a complete mess, though. Overall, there is nothing to sink my teeth into or analyze. Stuff happened, points were earned, and time passed.

Rating: **

The four singles wrestlers get the same treatment as the tag teams, which leads us into our second match…

Sting vs. Lex Luger

Sting vs. Lex Luger – Iron Man Tournament Match

(Sindenote: Apparently Terry Funk and Jim Cornette are alternating on commentary, with Funk doing singles, and Cornette doing tags)

The first and last ⅓ of the match was good, but the middle is what drags this down from being good. Early on Sting had tons of energy, and just kept going and going. There was very little stalling or downtime, and everything was hit pretty well. Then Sting locked in an armbar, and the pace slowed to a crawl. It felt like nothing happened of note for about 5 minutes, before Sting hit some offense… and Luger reversed a move and slowed the pace again. The finishing stretch caused this match to pick up pace immensely, yet another finish was ugly as sin. This is not a good trend on this show so far. Also, multiple spots were sloppy or awkward aside from the finish, which stand out even more due to the utterly ruined finish. I mean, this match was all right, but the pace dropping to a crawl midway through, sloppy moments, and the hideous finish unfortunately mar it.

Rating: **½

We go directly to…

Doom vs. Road Warriors

Doom (?) (w/ Woman) vs. The Road Warriors (w/ Paul Ellering) – Iron Team Tournament Match

This is stupid. Doom should have a one-match break, and it should be the Road Warriors vs. The Wild Samoans. What the hell? This tournament structure makes no sense.

Another match where stuff just happens leading to a finish. Neither team had any focus or strategy, which if fine if the action in the match is satisfactory, but it wasn’t. The only moves in this match (and the most prominent moves in the previous two) were punches, shoulder blocks, clotheslines, and powerslams. That’s it. With such little offense, it can’t be sloppy, though, right? WRONG! They managed to mess up a collar and elbow tie up. A freaking collar and elbow tie-up! The only positive is the finish, which was crisp, impactful, and a thing of beauty.  This match was, sloppy, slow, repetitive, and boring, but it had a nice finish.

Rating: *

We go directly into…

Grest Muta vs. Ric Flair

The Great Muta (w/ Gary Hart) vs. Ric Flair (w/ Arn & Ole Anderson) – Iron Man Tournament Match

            The match, for what we got, was the best thing on the show so far by a mile, but it was TWO FUCKING MINUTES! FUCK THE FUCK OFF! The match with the most potential to be good is crippled because of time constraints, but the previous three matches get damn near 15 minutes. WHAT? The action was crisp, fun, fast, and furious, but it couldn’t amount to mush in the short amount of time it got. This is how they end Muta’s undefeated streak. Great. The action was good, but the booking was beyond moronic.

Rating: *¾


Our next match is…

Road Warriors vs. Steiner Brothers

The Steiner Brothers vs. The Road Warriors (w/ Paul Ellering)????????????????? – Iron Team Tournament Match

            The Wild Samoans haven’t even wrestled yet! WTF. I call bullshit on this tournament. This booking has been beyond stupid so far.

This was entertaining, but it’s the type of match I will forget about very quickly. Of course its fun to see four bulls destroy each other with backbreakers, clotheslines, belly to belly suplexes, and more, but when the only real story is that the Road Warriors got the heat, it won’t really stick with me. Most of the spots were fun, but most never really had a chance to stand out among the pack. The one memorable spot was when Scott botched a belly to belly off the top and spiked Hawk on his head. That was brutal. Although the match was fun, the finish was another littered with BS, which had been a plague slowly killing this show. Would a clean finish, or logical booking hurt anyone? Overall, a fun match in a mindless way, yet overall forgettable in the long run.

Rating: **½

The crowd is confused and boos the finish. Good! Don’t take that bullshit guys. Next up is…

Great Muta vs. Sting

The Great Muta (w/ Gary Hart) vs. Sting – Iron Man Tournament Match

            This is the first match I can call remotely “good”. Finally some psychology and story was utilized on this show. Muta was smarter, and quicker, so he was able to escape Sting’s power multiple times. I never said it was classic psychology, but at least there is SOMETHING to analyze. Also, Sting and Muta clearly had good chemistry, and put together multiple great, fast paced sequences. I am so glad Muta is on the show, because he has been a part of the two best parts of the show where wrestling is concerned. He is by far the fasted paced, most athletic, and most fun to watch. It’s a breath of fresh air. The finish was a bit of a downer, but this was the best thing on he show so far by a mile.

Rating: **¾

Finally, there is a break from all of the matches. Cornette recaps the tag tournament and exposes how stupid it is that the Samoans haven’t even wrestled yet. This booking sucks. Finally, the Wild Samoans wrestle in our next match, which is…

Doom vs. Wild Samoans

The New Wild Samoans (w/ Oliver Humperdink) vs. Doom (w/ Woman & Nitron) – Iron Team Tournament Match

            This was all right, but essentially the same as the Steiner vs. Road Warriors match, competent yet forgettable. All the guys in the match looked good enough, although no one stood out. It was fun, though, to see these two teams of large men throw bombs at each other. To their credit, they used their weight well, and everything felt impactful. There was one really cool spot where one of the Samoans and one of the members of Doom had a head-butt off, which was fun. Doom taking the heat wasn’t boring, as they never resorted to rest holds, but there was never any purpose other than to hit some moves before the inevitable babyface comeback. As I said, nothing was bad or offensive, yet this match was also inconsequential and forgettable. For those keeping track, yes this is the second best match of the show. That is scary.

Rating: **¾

We go directly to another match, which is…

Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger

Lex Luger vs. Ric Flair – Iron Man Tournament Match

For a while this match didn’t leave first gear, but after it did, oh did it! The early going was completely uninspired and boring, with excessive stalling, worthless armwork, and at even the slightest chance of compelling action, they did another rest hold. Luger also seemed very uncomfortable being a cowardly heel, and none of his tactics were beyond the most basic spots in a heel notebook. At the last five minutes, though, they sold the necessity of getting a fall well, and did everything to try and get a fall. While it didn’t hold a candle to last year’s classic, it did well enough during the finishing stretch to redeem itself to a certain point. Still not good, but I was not angered by it.

Rating: **½

Next is…

The Steiner Brothers vs. Wild Samoans

The New Wild Samoans (w/ Oliver Humperdink) vs. The Steiner Brothers – Iron Team Tournament Match

I cannot believe this match went 15 minutes, yet Muta vs. Flair didn’t even get 2. The format of this match was ½ stalling, ½ boring heat segment. The Samoans on offense is painfully drab, and they couldn’t do anything compelling for the life of them. It was all chops, and bear hugs. That was ungodly boring. Then, the finish was a total clusterfuck, and no one knew what the hell happened. I loathe this match, and it was insanely boring. A DUD with a -1* finish.

Rating: -½*

Now we move to…

Great Muta vs. Lex Luger

The Great Muta (w/ Gary Hart) vs. Lex Luger – Iron Man Tournament Match

            Another potentially good matched that is damaged by booking. The story of the match was solid, as Luger was forced to wrestle with an injured leg. This allowed Muta an easy opening, and he attacked the leg without reprieve. The legwork wasn’t blow away, but it was pretty good. Unlike the rest of the show for the most part, the offense was focused on something that mattered down the stretch. Luger sold the leg adequately, if inconsistently, but I can live with it. The finish was, big shock, a downer on an otherwise solid match. Again, there isn’t much to say about this match other than it was solid until the finish.

Rating: **¾

We waste no time until…

The Wild Samoans vs. The Road Warriors

The New Wild Samoans (w/ Oliver Humperdink) vs. The Road Warriors (w/ Paul Ellering) – Iron Team Tournament Match

            HAHAHA! The Samoans just got squashed. Like a fly. This match was a joke. The Road Warriors barely sold, the Samoans got, like, two rear chinlocks and a bunch of botched moves, and then the Road Warriors wrecked them. This match sucked, but it was funny bad thanks to the booking and the infinite botched from the Samoans. This has to be a practical joke, because the Samoans just got Punk’d!

Rating: DUD

The Steiners come out to congratulate the Road Warriors for a moment. Finally is our MAIN EVENT!

Sting vs. Ric Flair

Sting vs. Ric Flair – Iron Man Tournament Match

            After this shitfest of a show, I am NOT looking forward to this. I would say we’d be lucky if this is the first match to break 3* due to the rest of the tournament. It may be good, but this show has made me lose all hope.

WE BROKE 3* ‼! THERE IS STILL HOPE IN THE WORLD! In all seriousness, this was a good match, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the other Starrcade main events. Flair, as usual, was great as the prick heel, but he was more aggressive due to the time limit. Sting did not have any of Flair’s usual BS, and went tit for tat. Both guys looked very strong throughout and had some pretty good moments. The thing holding this back, though, was a rather slow middle portion, and Flair’s logic late game. As time ticks away, Flair, instead of going for the kill, slowly woks over Sting’s leg, which is absurdly moronic. That really took me out of the late game, and hurt the finish for me. Otherwise, we finally have our first good match, which is also the last match of the night.

Rating: ***½

The Four Horsemen and Flair all congratulate Sting, who beat Flair fair and square. Gordon Solie is on the stage with the Road Warriors, who say a lot of nothing and put each other, and the town over. Credits roll over Sting’s promo, which is the story of this show. Curtain close.


            We go from the best Starrcade yet last year, to the worst yet this year. One match was over 3*, and most hovered at or below **½. There were botches, slow matches, horrid finishes, and baffling booking. Overall this is an epically bad show that feels completely worthless. It only serves to build to an eventual Sting vs. Flair match down the line. Not one match on this card is worth hunting down. Skip this show knowing that nothing of note occurred anyway.

Rating: *

Since this show was just build for the match between Ric Flair and Sting at the Great American Bash 1990, I though, what the hell, lets review…

Sting vs. Ric Flair GAB

Ric Flair (c.) vs. Sting – NWA World Heavyweight Championship Match – NWA Great American Bash 1990

            Now THIS is a great match. Flair, again, was awesome at being a dispicable prick, but Sting brought the fight right to Flair, and was not intimidated. Flair, now unable to get into the head of the challenger, had one opening, Sting’s injured knee. Flair would use the knee as his opening constantly, and, even though Sting’s selling wasn’t the best, the story didn’t need that. The story of Sting fighting through all adversity, and finally winning did not require him to hobble around and not be able to hit maneuvers. While the action throughout was good to great, with Sting even using the Figure 4 against Flair, the finish is on an entirely different level. The crowd wanted Sting to win, and was behind him all the way. When the Four Horsemen tried to interfere and the Dudes with Attitudes prevented it, the crowd lost it. Then, it was just Flair vs. Sting, one on one. The finishing sequence was molten with nearfalls and drama, and Sting looked like a megastar by the end. This was the best match of Sting’s young career to this point, and another point to bring up while arguing that Flair is the GOAT.

Rating: ****¼

So that was the Starrcade 1989 review, with a special one match review added in too. If you enjoyed, consider liking, commenting, tweeting at me, or following my blog. I intend to review Hell in a Cell when it comes out, and also I will put out a RMR soon for your viewing pleasure. If you wish to keep up to date with me or contact me in any way, my contacts are here or at the sidebar to the left. Other than that, thanks a million for reading, and see you next time!

Top Ten Matches in Starrcade History:

  1. Tully Blanchard vs. Magnum TA – ’85 – *****
  2. Ric Flair vs. Lex Luger – ’88 – ****½
  3. Tully Blanchard vs. Ricky Steamboat – ’84 – ****¼
  4. The Minnesota Wrecking Crew vs. The Rock & Roll Express – ’86 – ****
  5. Greg Valentine vs. Roddy Piper – ’83 – ****
  6. The Original Midnight Express vs. The Midnight Express – ’88 – ****
  7. Ronnie Garvin vs. Ric Flair – ’87 – ****
  8. Harley Race vs. Ric Flair – ’83 – ***¾
  9. The Road Warriors vs. Sting & Dusty Rhodes – ’88 – ***¾

-Terrance Smith


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