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to do so, there are some reminders at the bottom of the page.
And now, on with the show ...
And now, on with the show ...
When 1988 began, it was clear that The Four Horsemen were the dominant force in the NWA. The only three title belts containing the words "World Champion" were around the waists of their three competitive members. A vacancy left by the departing Lex Luger needed to be filled, but there was no need to hurry. Dealing with Luger and finding a replacement were issues to be dealt with later on. The Horsemen were on top of the world right now, and it was time to celebrate.
Does anyone remember "Ric Flair Day?" In January, Ric Flair's colleagues decided to dedicate an entire TV program episode to the World Champion. Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson and James J Dillon put on their tuxedos and made a point of showing everyone how proud they were to be Flair's exalted buddies. Even though Tag Team Champions Tully and Arn were being pursued by the new tag team of Freebird Michael P.S. Hayes and Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin, they decided to "take the night off." They were more than content to stroll around like kings, drinking champagne and eating caviar. Little did they know that the man who was Garvin & Hayes' partner at Starrcade '87 was in the mood to do some party crashing.
The music blared. The crowd screamed. Headed to the ring was a young muscular man in a gaudy ring jacket and a painted face topped off with a head of spiked blond hair. The match lasted less than a minute, as this wrestler immediately executed a flying splash into the corner followed by an inverted figure-four for the submission victory. This was no ordinary wrestler. This was Sting.
He had recently piled up a long string of victories just like this one. With every match, he grew sharper and more confident. Every ring appearance was shorter than the previous one ... except this time. He stayed in the ring because he had something to say. He used the house microphone to let everyone in the building know that he wanted Ric Flair. But this was not a business day for the Horsemen. So who went to the ring confront him? Tully? Arn? Flair himself? No, it was just Dillon. With a tone of haughtiness, Dillon spoke down to Sting in the same manner as would a waiter ask someone to leave a fancy restaurant. "Why don't you just go home, Sting." Sting was not in a listening mood, and this was NOT Ric Flair. Dillon tried to make his statement more profound by tossing his glass of champaign in Sting's face. Like a stick of dynamite, Sting exploded on Dillon and nailed him to the corner with the "Stinger Splash." He started to apply the Scorpion Death Lock but then fled the ring when the three Horsemen hit the scene. The party was over. The Horsemen, decked out in their finest suits, were left in the ring to tend to their fallen manager. They were totally embarrassed on their very own show.
Much to Sting's delight, Flair demanded that Sting take him on in the ring on the very next program or he would "never wrestle on TV again!" Flair's own bad temper gave Sting the match he wanted all along. When the match occurred, Flair began having second thoughts. Sting did not wrestle like "the rookie" he was a few years before. Thanks to watching hours of videotape for research, Sting was prepared to cope with the skills of Ric Flair. He knew what to expect out of the Nature Boy, but Flair was far less prepared. The Stinger blended overwhelming power with cat-like agility. He had Lex Luger's strength and Barry Windham's versatility. Plus, Sting's youth granted him the kind of endurance that was needed to keep up with "The Man." The match, as expected, ended inconclusively because the other Horsemen were more interested in punishing him for ruining their party than in seeing who was the better man. Nevertheless, Flair was oddly silent at the end of the match. Without any words at all, Ric Flair had reluctantly given Sting the greatest compliment of all. It would last all of 1988 as one of wrestling's best-kept secrets. For more than a year, no one would know that Ric Flair respected Sting.
Even though Sting was giving Ric Flair headaches, Lex Luger also was intent on being a thorn in the side of The Four Horsemen. If you recall, he made his departure from the Horsemen official when he sided against his former partners in a Bunkhouse battle royal. Well, Luger was involved another battle royal early in 1988. This time around, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard organized their attack. They pounced on Luger at the right moment, and for a moment it looked as though they were going remove Lex from the sport entirely. In one of the biggest surprises in Horsemen History, Lex Luger was then rescued by Ole Anderson! Ole had not been heard from since about the time he was kicked out of the Horsemen nearly a year before, and he had been replaced by Lex Luger himself! It was an unusual alliance, but their common hatred for the Horsemen was a strong enough bond. Luger then agreed to team up with Ole for a steel cage match against Tully Blanchard and Ric Flair. The unique combination of muscularity and experience managed to get a win over two Horsemen, but a third was on his way. Arn Anderson entered the cage to help dish out a post-match beating in Horseman fashion. It was not to be, as Dusty Rhodes made an appearance and helped Ole and Lex dispose of all the competition on that night.
The steel cage was the scene of the crime when several of these same men were involved in the main event for The Bunkhouse Stampede, a pay-per-view event featuring a steel cage battle royal. The wrestlers had to force each other either out the door or (can you believe this?) over the top of the cage. Anyway, it was a bloody affair as Blanchard and Anderson had the opportunity to punish Rhodes and Luger throughout the match. Lex, Tully, and Arn all tumbled out the door at the same time. Dusty Rhodes went on to win the match when he sent The Barbarian over the top of the cage with a Bionic Elbow. Elsewhere on the card, Ric Flair defended the NWA World Title against Road Warrior Hawk. Once again, the Horseman strategy of holding onto a title by any means was put to the test. Flair allowed Dillon to cause a disqualification. Hawk was a very disappointed winner, as he once again left the ring without a championship belt.
About a week before that PPV, Barry Windham found himself defending the Western States Title against Tully Blanchard. The match went rather long and the bell rang for a time limit draw -- or did it? Lex Luger ran to ringside and ordered referee Tommy Young to watch some "instant replay" footage on the ringside commentators' monitors. James J Dillon had rung the bell himself! When the match was re-started, Tully ambushed Barry Windham to win the title -- almost! Luger rushed the ring, causing Windham to be disqualified. As Ric Flair and Arn Anderson helped Tully triple-team Luger, Flair helped Windham to his feet and invited him to take a shot on Luger. Without any microphones, fans could still see Flair yell "Do it! Join us!" Instead, Windham immediately fought off the Horsemen to rescue Luger. For nearly a year, Luger had been on bad terms with Barry Windham. Even after Lex left the Horsemen, Windham would not talk to his betrayer. That night, they made amends. Luger finally apologized for their split, and he admitted that Windham was right all along. The Four Horsemen had used Lex to their own means, and they kept him from getting the World Title shot he desired in the first place.
Speaking of World Title shots, it was now time for Sting's. After meeting in a handful of untelevised matches in which Flair managed to get some dishonorable victories, the two squared off for the golden title belt in front of millions on WTBS in the main event of the very first Clash Of The Champions. For this match, the unscrupulous Dillon was suspended over the ring area in a small cage. This was the match that "made" Sting, as he matched up with Flair on a level of competitiveness unheard of for such a young wrestler. The match swung back and forth as each man withstood each other's offence. When Sting finally locked in the Scorpion Death Lock, there was only about 1 minute left in the 45-minute match. Flair held on, but the final decision went to three ringside judges. Seeing as how Sting was in control at the match's end, one judge awarded it to Sting. Another judge voted for Flair. The third and tie-breaking vote .... a draw?!? Fans were confused as they all wondered why judges were used if a draw could be decided. Despite failing to win the title within 45 minutes, Sting definitely had nothing to be ashamed of. His day would come.
Earlier in the card, however, two of his friends fared much better. Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson battled the reunited team of Lex Luger and Barry Windham for the tag team straps, but there was more on the line that just that. It was revenge for Luger. It was a chance for Windham to overcome a slump since losing the Western States Title. Tully and Arn also wanted to show that Luger's departure meant nothing to the Horsemen in the long run. Rather than sit down for this one, Dillon decided to bring his steel chair to the ring apron. (Now we know why he was placed in that cage for Flair's match!) Arn aimed Luger's head at the furniture, but Luger reversed it and put his opponent into it face-first. Luger pinned Anderson to crown new NWA World Tag Team Champions.
Whereas Arn Anderson maturely took this loss in stride, Tully Blanchard had trouble dealing with it. After having retired due to his injuries from an auto accident, Magnum TA was now working as a television commentator. Some of his comments about the new tag team champions got under Tully's skin. In spite of the fact that Magnum's shattered left arm left him defenseless, the cowardly Blanchard confronted his old enemy. Magnum never backed down from a verbal argument, but, before anyone could stop him, Tully let his emotions take over. He reared back and slugged Magnum in the face. He then started to put the boots to the crippled superstar. Dusty Rhodes rushed the scene with a baseball bat and swung wildly to save his friend. Security guards and officials crowded around the wrestlers, but Dusty was still in a rage. Accidentally or not, he struck NWA official Jim Crockett with the bat. He had saved Magnum, but now his professional career was in danger.
The NWA's board of directors, accompanied by James J Dillon (of all people!) met to discuss a punishment for Rhodes' misbehavior. Dillon was praying that his arch-nemesis would be banned from the sport altogether, but the decision was less severe. Rhodes was promptly stripped of the United States Title and sentenced to a three-month suspension. Dillon wanted harsher terms, at least he would enjoy the summer without The American Dream. Or would he? No sooner did the suspension go into effect, an unidentified wrestler submitted a promotional interview to the NWA. It was The Midnight Rider ... the same "mystery man" who was Ric Flair's rival in Florida while Dusty Rhodes was banned from the state in 1982! Dillon was furious, but until he could prove that Rhodes and The Rider were one in the same, nothing could be done. Behind the mask, the Horsemen's most persistent foe was out for revenge.
When Jim Crockett Promotions premiered their NWA Main Event program, they signed a match that was the perfect sequel to the Clash. In a six-man tag match, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, and Ric Flair met Sting, Barry Windham, and Lex Luger. It was a tremendous match in which each member of both teams shined. The fans saw a great series of counter-wrestling between Windham and Flair, as well as between Sting and Blanchard. Arn Anderson led the offence for his team, as he unleashed both his Spinebuster and the DDT on Luger. Still, Luger was never pinned and his tag to Windham soon brought all six men to the ring. In all of the commotion, Dillon slid the ever-useful foreign object to Tully Blanchard. Windham connected with a belly-to-back suplex, but Blanchard pasted him with the weapon during the move in order to secure the pinfall victory. One week later, Windham took on Blanchard in a singles match and used the same foreign object to win! Barry Windham was quickly realizing that playing by the books doesn't always pay off.
On April 20, Windham and Luger were defending their tag team titles against Tully and Arn again. Windham was getting double-teamed by the challengers and the fans chanted for him to make the tag to Luger. Luger was briefly involved, but he was tossed to the floor and had his forehead rammed into the ringpost. Again, Windham fought off two men, but now he found that his partner (on the floor and bleeding) was absent from their corner. Oddly, Dillon sounded as if he was coaching Windham for a few moments. Dillon called out, "I told you he wouldn't be there." When Luger finally crawled onto the ring apron, Windham dragged him to his feet, tagged his lifeless hand -- and slammed him into the ring! Even Blanchard and Anderson were stunned. Windham connected with his lariat clothesline and left Luger to be pinned, losing the tag team belts back to the Horsemen.
While Blanchard and Anderson celebrated their championship in the ring, Windham followed Dillon to one of the locker rooms. The Midnight Rider entered the room as well. The room was filled with Windham's old enemies such as Flair, Ivan Koloff, and The Midnight Express. Facing him, under the mask, was a man who was as much a father to him as his very own. A hush fell over the rowdy scene as Rhodes demanded an explanation. This was the moment which would define Windham's place in the world. Along with these new allies, he pounded Rhodes and tried (unsuccessfully) to reveal his identity to the TV cameras. Windham's choice was clear. Instead of being one-half of the tag team champions, Barry Windham had chosen to become one-fourth of The Four Horsemen!
Just two days later, the roster was gathered together for the third annual Crockett Cup Tag Team Tournament. The previous two months' events had severely altered the tournament. Due to his suspension, Dusty Rhodes could not team up with Nikita Koloff as the defending tournament champions. Obviously, Lex Luger's team with Barry Windham was no longer participating. Furthermore, Ronnie Garvin (scheduled to team up with Sting for the event) was injured due to an altercation with Kevin Sullivan earlier on the card. A Japanese team was unable to make the correct travel arrangements, and their absence resulted in no team filling their slot in the bracket containing the Tag Team Champions, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson. With so much of their competition already out of the way, things looked almost too easy for the Horsemen. However, officials did allow one replacement team, as Sting and Lex Luger chose each other as substitute partners and teamed up for the very first time!
In their first match, Tully and Arn disposed of The Italian Stallion and Kendall Windham (their fellow Horseman's younger brother.) Thanks to the Japanese team's absence, this one win placed them in the semi-finals, where they faced the US Tag Team Champions, Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton, The Fantastics. Two years before this match, Blanchard and Anderson lost to the very same team in the 1986 tournament. History did not repeat itself, as Arn used James J Dillon's shoe as a weapon to pin Rogers. Lo and behold, the Horsemen's final-round opponents were Sting and Luger, who had won three matches to reach this final stage. Lex Luger and Tully Blanchard stepped into the ring, this time as enemies, after having competed as a team in the finals of the 1987 tournament. One more man made a reappearance this year: Magnum TA! It was like deja vu, as Magnum had overseen the Superpowers' victory over the Horsemen at the last tournament. Lightning struck twice when Arn Anderson tried to take a shot at Magnum. With this distraction, Arn fell prey to a pinfall, and the Four Horsemen fell one match short of the million dollar prize again.
On this night, the losing trend applied to World Champion Ric Flair as well. Nikita Koloff was granted a shot at the golden belt, and came very close to winning it. The Nature Boy was accompanied by Barry Windham for this match, but Flair was only able to escape by losing via a disqualification. Koloff, by the way, was inserted into this singles match due to the suspension of his partner Dusty Rhodes ... which brings us to James J Dillon's match at the Crockett Cup. Promoter Jim Crockett promised to suspend Dusty Rhodes for life if Dillon could prove that Rhodes was masquerading as The Midnight Rider. All Dillon had to do was "sign this document." As it turned out, Dillon had been duped into signing for a one-on-one bullrope match against the masked man! Per the agreement, if Dillon could unmask Rhodes ... er, I mean, The Rider, then Rhodes would be history. Needless to say, James J Dillon suffered a heavy beating on that night, and no masks were removed.
Some fans were confused by Barry Windham's decision to join the Four Horsemen because he now had little opportunity to wrestle for either the World Heavyweight or World tag Team Titles. Instead, Windham set his sights on the vacant United States Title (which, ironically, was the same belt the other Horsemen had used to deter Luger from challenging Flair in 1987!) Winning the belt would be no easy task, and there also was the matter of settling his differences with Dusty Rhodes. Windham stepped into the Sam Houston Coliseum on May 13 with the hopes of solving both of these problems. Not only was he an entrant in the tournament for the US Title , but his first-round opponent was The Midnight Rider. To the fans' amazement, Windham obliterated the masked man and pinned him. He then removed the black mask to reveal ... preliminary wrestler Gary "The Itallian Stallion" Sabough??!? In any event, a double-DQ between Al Perez and Lex Luger gave Barry a bye through the second round, so he settled down to watch Tully Blachard (who had received a first-round bye) take on Nikita Koloff. Koloff was victorious over this Horseman, but Windham noticed something. During the match, Nikita seemed to have injured his ribs, thanks to some post-match punishment by Tully. Armed with this knowledge, Barry Windham beat Nikita Koloff in the finals to become the United States Heavyweight Champion . Call it a "team effort" if you like, but The Four Horsemen were now Four Champions!
These gladiators made their way to sunny Miami, Florida for the second Clash Of Champions. In a great scientific matchup, Barry Windham successfully defended his United States Title against Brad Armstrong. The World Tag Team Champions accepted the challenge of Sting and Dusty Rhodes. Not only was Sting his usual charismatic self, but the Florida crowd absolutely revered Rhodes. After about ten minutes, the match degenerated into an uncontrolled brawl. The match was declared a double-DQ, and Barry Windham returned to the ring. He used his dreaded clawhold to split Rhodes' head open while Sting continued to battle the tag champions. However, the most important event of the evening for the Horsemen occurred in the parking lot rather than the ring. In vintage Horsemen fashion, they attacked Lex Luger in an ambush which resulted in a deep gash in Luger's forehead.
In the following weeks, Barry Windham continued to attack Luger and Rhodes by running in on their matches and brutalizing each of them with his clawhold. Whenever things were uncomfortable, the other three Horsemen were there to back him up. On one occasion, though, Rhodes decided to return the favor in one of Windham's matches. This time, the ring was quickly surrounded by men like Nikita Koloff, Luger, and the Garvin Brothers, who all made sure that the Horsemen could not rescue Windham any time soon. Dusty administered a father-like beating to Windham which left the US Champ a tattered mess. This feud between teacher and student was scheduled to come to a head in a pay-per-view event on July 10, which was headlined by Lex Luger's opportunity to win the World Title. One night before the big show, the Horsemen lost another chance to win a championship, as Dusty Rhodes and The Road Warriors defeated Flair, Blanchard, and Anderson for the vacant Six-Man Titles in Chicago.
With all of their belts up for grabs, the Four Horsemen arrived in Baltimore for The Great American Bash. Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson placed their World Tag Titles against the duo of Sting and Nikita Koloff. Dillon's interference helped the champs gain an extended advantage on Koloff. Finally, Sting made the crucial tag and went to town on both opponents. He managed to apply his Scorpion Death Lock on Blanchard in the very center of the ring. Anderson desperately tried to break it up, but Koloff held on to his ankles from the outside. As Tully was screaming for mercy, the bell rang, but only because the time limit had expired. One title had been saved so far. Decked out in a leather cowboy outfit Barry Windham marched to the ring to face The Dream. Although Dusty manhandled the United States Champion at the outset of the match, Windham's clawhold soon brought him to his knees. Remarkably, Rhodes never submitted to this hold and even broke free of it. When Dusty countered an attempt at a superplex, Windham was sent crashing into the referee. "Big Dust" dropped his trademark elbow on Windham, but no one was there to count the pin. Ronnie Garvin stepped in, apparently to revive the referee -- but he punched out Dusty Rhodes instead! Afterward, Barry Windham used the clawhold to pin an unconscious Dusty Rhodes. As a backstage camera revealed, Garvin was paid by Dillon and Gary Hart to turn on his long-time friend. Ironically, Barry Windham had also been Garvin's tag team partner in the past.
As the fans were just trying to deal with Garvin's shocking betrayal, it was now time for the World Title match. Lex Luger versus Ric Flair: the former Horseman versus the current champion. It must have been tempting for Luger to rush into the match like a raging bull, but he managed to control his emotions, and hence, control Flair. His attack included several gorilla-press bodyslams, his trademark running clotheslines, and even a few dropkicks. As usual, Flair countered with his superb ring knowledge. While captured by a bear hug, Flair somehow managed to lure The Total Package into pushing him into the ropes, forcing a break. As soon as Luger was distracted, Flair started to work on the knee. Although Luger leveled him with another clothesline, Flair tricked Luger into going for a kneedrop, further injuring the legs. This was still Luger's night to shine. Even the figure-four leglock could not evoke a submission from Lex Luger. After about twenty minutes, both men tumbled over the top rope to the floor. As the referee tried to pull a steel chair out of Flair's hands, Dillon rammed Luger's face into the ringpost. Luger's blood spread over his face as the two wrestlers returned to the ring. It seems as though the parking lot attack in Miami had left a tender scar in Luger's forehead. In spite of the cut, Luger began unleashing his best moves on Ric Flair. He applied the powerslam, which always was followed by the Torture Rack backbreaker. The crowd went ballistic as Luger hoisted the champion onto his shoulders. Something was about to go terribly wrong. From the floor, an older gentleman was tugging at referee Tommy Young's ankle. It was the ringside physician, who desperately tried to tell Young something over the roar of the fans. Tommy Young ran to Luger and signaled for the bell to ring. Had a new champion been crowned? Not tonight. The ring announcer instead proclaimed that the match had been stopped by members of the Maryland State Althetic Commission, seated at ringside. It was stopped due to blood. Just blood. Blood which had poured from Luger's head due in part to when the Horsemen had attacked him in June. Even before the match, the Four Horsemen had robbed Lex Luger of the NWA World Title.
Throughout the rest of the summer, The Four Horsemen met various combinations of Rhodes, Sting, Luger, Koloff, The Road Warriors, and Steve Williams. There were all sorts of stipulations: cage matches, strap matches, and even barbed wire matches. The Horsemen lost more than half of these matches, but it no longer mattered. The Bash in Baltimore was the critical test of whether or not this collection of Horsemen could retain all of the top titles in one night, which is precisely what they managed to do. With their performances on that one night, Windham, Flair, Blanchard, and Anderson could stake their claim that this was the greatest of all the incarnations of The Four Horsemen. Some say that Ole Anderson was well past his prime even when the Horsemen were formed in 1986. Others point out that Lex Luger had still not fully matured when he left in 1987. By contrast, this collection of Horsemen in 1988 contained four wrestlers all at the peaks of their abilities. With all four men maintaining a solid grip on championship titles, they had finally reached the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, after having attained this peak, there was only one way to go from there: down. Of this elite group, only US Champion Barry Windham wrestled at the third Clash of Champions, where he lost to Sting via DQ, but this was insignificant. Just days later, the unthinkable happened.
Taking a step back, a feud was brewing between The Four Horsemen and, of all people, The Midnight Express, Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane, who were the reigning US Tag Team Champions. Although they had always gotten along in the past, Express manager Jim Cornette had a bone to pick with James J Dillon. Which team was better? The charismatic Cornette was too much of a match for Dillon when it came to verbal warfare, so they ended up taking it to the ring. Not only did the two championship teams start to battle it out in the ring, but the Horsemen resorted to a dressing room attack upon Bobby Eaton. This feud was less about the titles than it was about the managers and their own issues. Perhaps Dillon was so consumed by his personal vendetta with Cornette that he failed to check on the emotional status of Blanchard and Anderson. Bobby Eaton had been a very close friend of Arn's in the past, and Blanchard was getting weary of Dillon after two and a half years. The Midnight Express captured the World Titles on September 10, and the losing Horsemen walked out of the NWA the very next day.
As if the departures of Tully and Arn weren't bad enough, the remaining Horsemen had a new enemy named Bam Bam Bigelow. Bigelow and Dusty Rhodes teamed up against Barry Windham and Ric Flair in a series of tag matches throughout the fall. Although dealing with Rhodes was nothing new to Windham and Flair, Bigelow was overwhelming. Dillon's duo failed against Bigelow and Rhodes in nearly all of these matches. Luckily, their singles titles remained intact, but it was only a matter of time before Bigelow selected a victim. When Barry Windham tried to deal out some unnecessary punishment to Fantastic Bobby Fulton, Bigelow charged the ring. He leveled Barry with a press slam, followed by his trademark top-rope headbutt. The Beast From The East had made his selection!
But before things really got underway between Bigelow and Windham, the managers just could not help but open their big mouths, and James J Dillon was in a verbal war again. No, not with Bigelow's manager, Oliver Humperdink. It was Jim Cornette. Cornette could not resist commenting that his Midnight Express supposedly ran two of the dreaded Four Horsemen out of the territory. Once again, Dillon was unable to match up with the "Louisville Lip", so it was time for the wrestlers to settle this one. At "Season's Beatings" (Clash Of Champions 4), The Midnight Express faced Ric Flair and Barry Windham. It was arguably the finest tag team versus the two top singles competitors. While neither Bobby Eaton nor Stan Lane had much luck against the two champion Horsemen individually, they knew they could defeat anyone once their teamwork came into play. After enduring a lenghtly beatin, Eaton made a tag to Lane. The Express' tandem offence took control. They nailed Windham with their "Double Goozle" maneuver, and Eaton flattened him with a top-rope legdrop. When Dillon tried to intervene, Jim Cornette dragged him off the apron! As fate would have it, Dillon still managed to pass his dress shoe to his men. Using this odd weapon, the Horsemen prevailed in this one.
Well, it was now time for the grand finale. It was December, and The Horsemen were on the verge of being phased out of their top shelf placement in the NWA. Half of them were gone, and the other two were in for the fights of their lives. With their two singles titles on the line, Barry Windham and Ric Flair walked into Starrcade '88 with their backs against the wall. 400-pound Bam Bam Bigelow was the heavy favorite (no pun intended) to dethrone Barry Windham for the United States Title. As expected, Bigelow fascinated the fans (and his foe) by executing a variety of acrobatic moves in the early goings of the match. Using his experience, Barry Windham retreated to the arena floor several times. Eventually, Bigelow was lured to the outside too, where Windham turned it into a slugfest. Amazingly, his punches got the better of his opponent. Back in the ring, Windham manhandled Bigelow with a huge bodyslam, a back suplex, and his patented clothsline. It was unthinkable that Windham could dominate such a big opponent, but he silenced his critics with this one match. After boxing with Bam Bam on the floor one last time, Windham rolled into the ring to gain a countout victory. Not only did he retain his title, but his victory pushed Bigelow off of the title race, apparently for good. Due to what appeared to be overwhelming odds, some may say that this was Barry Windham's greatest victory.
It was time for "The Man" to meet his challenger. Ric Flair agreed to defend his World Title against Lex Luger in a return match from the Bash. In fact, Flair had been defending against Luger in over a dozen matches since then, but this one had an added stipulation. If Flair was disqualified in this match, Luger would be awarded the title via forfeit. This meant that any help from either Windham or Dillon needed to be done as discretely as possible. The match proceeded in much the same way as their previous encounters, as Luger's power moves often came close to KO'ing the champion, but Flair's methodical wear-down holds took their toll on Luger's lower body. It was advertised as a "no time limit" affair, so Flair knew that he could not rely on escaping on account of a draw. With this in mind, he must have given up hope about fifteen minutes into the match. On cue, Dillon climbed onto the ring apron to distract the official. This was the only chance he had, so Flair took it. With Luger's knees draped over the edge of the ring, Ric Flair whacked them with a steel chair. Was it now time for Luger to submit to the figure four? On the contrary, the "Total Package" soon regained the advantage. As he had done in Baltimore, Luger caught Flair with the powerslam and then signaled for "The Rack." He swung Flair's aching body onto his shoulders and began to wrench the champion in half. Suddenly, amidst all of this intensity and added weight, his knees folded up! Flair landed in a heap on top of Luger's chest. The referee immediately went from asking for Luger's submission to counting Luger down for the three count. The championship dreams of the Florida Adonis were dashed again!
Ric Flair had once again surpassed the man called "the future of the NWA." Little did he know that his next nemesis would not be from his future, but from his past!
RIC FLAIR WILL LEARN THE HARD WAY THAT 1989 WAS THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON!!
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