Friday, February 05, 2021

Former NWA Champions Gather at Wrestle War '89


There are four amazing legends in this screen capture, one from broadcasting, the other three are former NWA World Heavyweight Champions.

L-R: Lance Russell, Lou Thesz, Pat O'Connor, and Terry Funk

The three former NWA champs were brought in to be judges in case the NWA World title match between champion Ricky Steamboat and challenger Ric Flair went to a 60-minute draw at the Wrestle War '89 PPV event in Nashville, TN in May of 1989. In the end, the judges weren't needed for a decision as Flair defeated Steamboat by pinfall to win the tile for a record-tying 6th time (as it was figured then.)

One of the greatest NWA title matches of all time, and widely considered the greatest Flair-Steamboat match of all time, it is also remembered for what happened afterward, where Terry Funk jumped Ric Flair after the match to set up a six-month feud between the two. 

It was the second time Lou Thesz was present for a Ric Flair NWA title victory. When Flair won his first world title (from Dusty Rhodes) in 1981 in Kansas City, Thesz was the special referee in the ring assigned by the NWA. 

Lance Russell, longtime legendary host of wrestling in Memphis, TN, had just recently begun work for Ted Turner's new WCW. He was backstage host for the Wrestle War PPV, and would go on to host or co-host NWA Main Event, World Wide Wrestling, and NWA Pro Wrestling, working with Bob Caudle, Paul E. Dangerously, Michael Hayes, and others.

Originally posted on the Domed Globe website on January 18, 2021.