Ah, WCW: what can you say about the company that has already been discussed to death over 16 years? Nothing, it seems, so I won’t discuss that here. If you want to read about that trainwreck of a company Bryan Alvarez wrote a phenomenal history of it called The Death of WCW. No, this review will be about the classic match from Clash of the Champions 1989 between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Two absolute legends in their prime fighting for the most prestigious title in the game, the second in a trilogy of classic matches between these two in the same year and arguably the greatest; there’s no way this match couldn’t be a classic. These two greats had so much chemistry together, and they seemed so equal in skill. Regardless who you were rooting for here, you had to be emotionally invested just to see who would come out on top. That’s a sign of truly great wrestling, and outside of some matches in Japan you just don’t get that in wrestling anymore.
There’s nothing pretty or flashy about this match; it’s 55 minutes of ground-and-pound, submission holds, and classic Ric Flair dirty tricks. This is pure, old school wrestling. That can be a little bit of an adjustment to viewers who are so used to the high flying style of modern wrestling, but this is arguably a superior style of professional wrestling. The athletes had to tell a story and captivate an audience without flips and death-defying moves, so it’s even more amazing how great these matches were.
In the end Ricky Steamboat wins by 2 falls and retains his World Heavyweight Championship, solidifying himself as a legend and arguably the greatest in-ring technician of his era. But we can’t discredit Flair any either. The man is known as the greatest of all time in many circles for a reason, and it’s not just because of his memorable promos and endless charisma. Flair could work like no one’s business. He was over the top and a dirty competitor, but he was believable and he made everyone he worked with look great.
This is a match that everyone who likes wrestling at all should watch. Not just as a piece of wrestling history, but as an example of what great wrestling used to be. Not to discount modern wrestling at all; I love modern Japanese wrestling. But this match is, in my opinion, the finest example of professional wrestling ever. Two undeniable legends in their prime going at it; it just doesn’t get much better than this.
This classic gets an obvious 5 stars.