Starrcade: Future Shock
vs. Sting (Dec. 13)
While this wasn’t their most heated encounter, this was one of the rare instances where Flair and Sting were allies. Flair and Sting had such great chemistry at this point that every match was good and the new dynamic of babyface vs. babyface made this special. Just as importantly, this match laid the seeds for one of the greatest turns in NWA/WCW history.
Great American Bash: Glory Days
— vs Terry Funk (July 23)
GAB’89 is considered the greatest PPV of all time. The card was stacked with great matches, but it doesn’t get that acclaim without a memorable main event. Flair and Funk’s hatred is real. Flair was shelved thanks to Funk and Funk wants to humiliate Flair. This gives this showdown that extra edge to take it to the next level.
This match is epic with the threat of Funk pile driving Naitch and ending his career legit throughout the match. This was back when one move could be considered a killer and the fans feared it. Both guys get bloodied to further sell the hate and Flair gets the decisive pin before the mayhem starts. Sure, Muta could have ran in before the pin, but Funk feeds off the loss to get even crazier. And when Sting comes in for the save and we get that geek out moment of Flair and Sting wooing and howling together it was magical.
Clash of the Champions: New York Knockout – I Quit
— vs Terry Funk (Nov. 15)
Maybe the infamous Magnum T.A. vs Tully Blanchard match can lay claim on best I Quit match, but it gets serious competition here. I’d argue it’s better since it’s not contained in a cage and Flair/Funk take full advantage of that freedom. Funk perfected the wild and crazy gimmick and was believably unpredictable with his hatred for Flair the only certainty.
There’s a noticeable difference in this match versus the hardcore ECW style brawl. Every move has a purpose. Both guys are trying to take the other out and finally make them quit. They’re not trying to entertain the crowd, but convey their full hatred for each other. It’s a classic and one of wrestling’s best brawls.
And proving that 1989 was nuclear hot for NWA, the post-match again advances to the next feud with Luger and Muta attacking Sting and The Nature Boy setting up for Future Shock.
Clash of Champions VI: Ragin’ Cajun: 2 out of 3 Falls
— vs Ricky Steamboat (April 2)
And this is how you show up Wrestlemania. Let the two best wrestlers on the planet wrestle for an hour. This match was spectacularly booked. Not just for this show, but the entirety of this series. Ric wins the first fall to even the overall 89 singles match-ups, before Steamboat evens it up. The third fall ends in controversial fashion giving Flair enough vindication to consider that a draw. This puts the 89 series at 2-1-1 in favor of Steamboat.
Wrestle War: Music City Showdown
– vs. Ricky Steamboat (May 7, 1989)
Steamboat was ready to move on to other challengers at this point, but Flair’s complaints about the Ragin’ Cajun third fall wore Steamboat down enough that he agreed to one final match. And this one is probably a 7-star match. Steamboat and Flair built on their previous two high profile matches (not counting the hundreds throughout various house shows) and put on a clinic. This was an epic close to the greatest trilogy of all time made even greater by the immediate fallout.
So that’s a look at why 1989 was Flair’s best year Agree? Disagree? Have a case for another year? Let me know in the comments below.
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