Tony Schivone: "Up next on World Championship Wrestling is an interview conducted recently by Bill Apter, Senoir Editor of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. He spoke with NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair about who is the top contender to his title. This interview was done right after Flair's Starrcade match against Lex Luger. Here is that interview":
BILL APTER: Hello wrestling fans and welcome to a special edition of "Scouting Reports!!!" Today, we are talking to NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair and I want to ask you Ric, now that you have defeated Luger, who do you think is the top contender for your world title?
RIC FLAIR: Well, Willie Apter!!! To be truthful about it, there really is no one left to face!!! I have proven time and again that I am the greatest world's champion in wrestling today!!! I've beaten them all!!! From Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, Kerry Von Eric, Ron Garvin, Wahoo McDaniel, Buddy Rogers, Sting, and just now Lex Luger!!! So, I've vanquished all of my top contenders!!! So, to answer your question, I don't think no one right now is the top contender for the oldest and most prestiges title in the world today, the NWA World Heavyweight Title!!! WHOOOOOOO!!!!
APTER: Well, Ric. There are rumors about your old rival Rick Steamboat returning to the NWA. Any comment on that?
FLAIR: What about Ricky Steamboat?!!! The last time I saw him, he was up North getting beat by a guy that Rocky King could beat (making reference to Steamboat's loss to the Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontiental Title)!!! He was, at one point, a great wrestler but he would be dogmeat for "The Nature Boy" now!!! So the bottom line is, "to be the man, you have to beat the man"!!! And I am the man!!! WHOOOO!!!!
"Flair is looking crisp and sharp tonight," says Jim Ross on World Championship Wrestling. "I don't know," says Tony, "he seems a little bored to me." Indeed, Tony's words were true as Flair won the squash match in under a minute. Flair then screamed out into the audience, "Will someone please bring me a damn opponent?!! You guys in the NWA are killing me!!! WHOOO!!!" Feeling cocky, Flair begins dancing and strutting around the ring when, all of the sudden, the crowd begins to stand up and cheer a muscular figure coming out of the back. He is dressed in long red wrestling tights and white boots. "Tony!! Is that who I think it is?!!!," yells Ross. "It is!! The rumors are true!! Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat has returned to the NWA!!!", proclaims Tony. Ric Flair, at this point, is stunned!!! He can't believe that his old rival is really here. Steamboat climbs into the ring, looks at Flair and says, "Will I do?" Steamboat is smiling at this point. Flair manages to get in a nod and, with that, he charges in and the fight is on!!! A series of chops and punches are exchanged as referee Tommy Young comes in to officiate the unscheduled match. The fans in TBS' studios and the fans watching the program at home are treated to a 30 minute classic which ends with Steamboat countering Flair's figure-four leglock with an inside cradle move and getting the three count!!! Flair is livid by this result!! Steamboat quickly gets out of the ring and signals at Flair, with his fingers, the count of 1-2-3. Steamboat then goes and says, "Flair, you'll be seeing me again soon." Flair stood in the ring with a look of both rage and concern on his face.
The following weekend on World Wide Wrestling, Jim Ross was conducting an interview with Ricky Steamboat about the Flair match:
STEAMBOAT: Well, Mr. Ross, that was a great day for me and I will say that I have signed a match against Flair for February 20 in Chicago. I understand that it will be a pay-per-view and that it will be for the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
As Ross prepared to ask another question, they receive an unexpected guest in the form of Chris "The Crippler" Benoit:
BENOIT: Wait a minute!!! You mean to tell me that this pinapple "Father Knows Best" wannabe gets lucky in one match against Flair and gets a title shot while I have been in the top five in the NWA for the past year?!!! That's bullsh*t!!!
With that, Benoit slugs Steamboat!!! Steamboat answers with a chop and the two trade blows on the interview set!!! Security and other wrestlers come out to seperate the two!!! Benoit was fined $10,000 for his actions. The following day, the NWA released the following statement:
"We at the NWA Board Of Directors find Mr. Benoit's action totally inappropriate and intolarable. However, Mr. Benoit does make a valid point. He has been one of the top contenders to Ric Flair's NWA Title for most of the past year and has yet to receive a title shot. After discussing the matter with Ricky Steamboat, the NWA has reached this decision. On February 5, there is a TBS Clash Of The Champions special to be aired for two hours. We have bought time to extend the program to three hours in order to add a match between Ricky Steamboat and Chris Benoit. The winner of the match will get the world title match against Ric Flair on February 20.
This "Clash" was held in Detroit, MI at The Palace in Aubourn Hills. This featured mostly NWA stars but the WWF and ECW allowed their wrestlers to participate in the event. The NWA treated a packed house to some great undercard action:
Perry Saturn VS. Sting
In this 15 minute thriller, Saturn nearly pulled off an upset as he dominated most of the match against Sting. He even captured Sting in his "Rings Of Saturn" submission hold but Sting managed to get to the ropes!!! Saturn, after the submission attempt, picked Sting up and whipped him into the corner. Saturn charged in but Sting moved out of the way!!! Saturn was stunned as Sting ran to the other corner and executed his "Stinger Splash!!" Sting, uncharacteristically, did not go for the "Scorpion Deathlock"!!! Instead, he rolled up Saturn in a small-package move and got a three count.
"Total Package" Lex Luger VS. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (NWA United States Title Match)
This 10 minute match was a brawl with Luger dominating most of it!!! About 8 minutes into it, Lex goes for "The Human Torture Rack" but Austin slides out of it and gets "The Stone Cold Stunner"!!! Luger, however, had enough presence to roll outside the ring. Austin follows him outside and the fight continues on the floor!!! The ref reaches about 8 when Austin knocks Luger back into the ring!!! Thus, Luger is declared the winner by countout because he was back in before the end of the 10 count. Austin is livid even though he is still the champion!!! He gives the ref the "Stunner" and clobbers Luger with the championship belt!!! Austin goes for more punishment but Magnum TA comes out and bashed Austin in the back with a steel chair!!! Austin leaves but never takes his eyes off of Magnum (who does likewise).
Dusty Rhodes VS. Sabu
Ten minutes into it, Sabu has managed to trap the near 300 pound Rhodes on the top rope. He goes for a "Springboard-Frankensteiner" (springboard-hurracanrana for fans of Mexican wrestling) from the top ropes but Rhodes pushes him off !!! With Sabu laying on the mat, Rhodes goes for a "flying 'bionic' elbow" from the top rope but misses as Sabu gets out of the way!!! Sabu then attempts a moonsault but Rhodes pulls up his knees and buries them into Sabu's stomach. Rhodes quickly gets up and gives Sabu a running lariat clothesline and gets the pin!!!
The Hart Foundation VS. Ole & Arn Anderson VS. The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton/Stan Lane) VS. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes/Terry Gordy) (WWF World Tag Team Title Match/Four Corners Rules)
In this wild bout, anybody can tag anyone at anytime!!! The Harts, on their self-titled "Road To Respect" tour, agreed to put the titles on the line in this type of bout with three of the greatest tag teams of all time. This match saw no one gain a clear cut advantage. The match ends when all eight men get in the ring and a brawl ensues!!! Jim Cornette, the manager of the Midnights, tries to hit Bret with his racquet but nails Stan Lane instead!!! Bret then bounds off of the ropes for his running clothesline and takes the quick pin while the others are brawling in the corners and outside the ring!!! The Harts retain the title!!!
The British Bulldogs VS. The Road Warriors (NWA World Tag Team Title Match)
In this 20 minute battle, the Warriors were bewildered by their smaller but strong opponents!!! They had a tough time adjusting to the style of the Bulldogs!!! The bout broke out into mayhem as the Warriors went for "The Doomsday Device" but The Dynamite Kid kicked Animal in the gut, giving Davey Boy Smith time to get down from Animal's shoulders and lift up the 305 pound muscleman into his powerslam!!! While Davey was doing that, Dynamite caught Hawk with a snap-suplex from the top rope!!! Davey, after completing the powerslam, motioned for Dynamite to come at him!!! Dynamite obliged and Davey lifted him up into the air and threw him at a prone Animal for his flying headbutt!!! Davey kept Hawk and "Precious" Paul Ellering at bay as Dynamite got the three count and new NWA World Tag Team Champions were crowned!!! A rematch was signed and announced for April 1 at the next Clash Of The Champions in New Orleans, LA.
Magnum TA VS. Owen Hart
In this 15 minute thriller saw Owen use Magnum's own hold (the belly to belly suplex) against him!!! Magnum, however, managed to kick out of it!!! Later, Magnum mounted a comeback and used his "B.B.S" to pin Owen for the win. However, fireworks erupted as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin walked to the ring with a steel chair!!! He enters the ring with Magnum standing his ground. Owen, wanting revenge for the loss, nails Magnum with his "insiguri" kick to the head!!! The momentum knocked Magnum forward with SCSA waiting with a swing with the chair!!! It nails Magnum flush in the head!!! Both SCSA and Owen stand over Magnum and laugh!!! Owen, however, makes the mistake of paying too much attention to Magnum as SCSA takes the chair and "splits" Owen between the legs with it!!! Austin, then, puts Owen on the top turnbuckle and goes up with him to deliever a "Stone Cold Stunner" from off of the ropes!!! Austin leaves with a big smile on his face but as he does, he suddenly hears cheers!!! Austin, then, notices a fan pointing at the ring. He turns around and gets a charging Magnum TA (who has now recovered from the chair shot) and the two brawl up the aisle with security trying to break them up!!! Meanwhile, medical personel is checking on Owen. He is stunned (so to speak) but it is confirmed that he will be okay.
The ring announcer is David Penzer:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, the following contest of the evening is for a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at Chi-Town Rumble!!! It is one-fall to a finish!!! (Benoit's music plays at this point) Making his way to the ring, from Edmonton, Alberta Canada, weighing in at 235 pounds, "The Crippler" Chris Benoit!!!"
Benoit, uneffected by the mixed reaction from the crowd at The Palace, has a look of an assasin who's ready to make his kill. He enters the ring quickly and removes his vest. He then goes into a corner and awaits Rick Steamboat.
"His opponent is from Charolette, North Carolina!!! He weighs in at 242 pounds, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat!!!" (Steamboat comes to the ring to a version of "I Can Read Your Mind")
Steamboat makes his way down dressed in his red karate gi with long red tights and white boots. While he does acknowledge the crowd whose cheering him and shakes hands on the way to the ring, his attention has not waiverd from Benoit. He enters the ring and, like Benoit, takes off his gi and headband quickly and goes to the opposite corner to limber up for this match up. The referee calls both men out to the center of the ring and gives both of them their instructions. The ref signals for the bell and we are underway. Both men circle each other for about 10 seconds and then lock up. Benoit pushes Steamboat into the corner and gives a clean break (surprisingly). They lock up again and Steamboat gets in an armdrag takedown. Steamboat is quickly back on his feet while Benoit is up on one knee glaring at Steamboat. The two lock up again and Steamboat gets another armdrag takedown. This time he holds on to the arm but Benoit forces Steamboat into the corner. Benoit breaks by slaping Steamboat in the face!!! Steamboat returns the slap and both men have to be seperated by the referee!!! Both begin to circle each other again for about 3 seconds. Steamboat comes in for another tie up but Benoit gets a quick kick to the gut!!! Benoit pushes Steamboat into the corner and begins a series of quick kicks to the mid-section!!! Benoit then stands Steamboat up and delivers three hard chops to Steamboat's chest!!! The chops sound throughout the arena!!! Steamboat comes back with chops of his own and the two begin to trade off along the ropes and in the corners!!! The crowd is squirming in their seats at these blows!!! They go completely around the ring with these blows!!! Both men's chests are almost beet red by the time they are finished!!! Benoit decides to end the stalemate by grabbing a side headlock!!! Steamboat quickly throws "The Crippler" into the ropes and Benoit comes off with a shoulder tackle!!! Benoit hits the ropes again and Steamboat hits the mat to allow Benoit to go over him!!! When Benoit comes off of the ropes again, Steamboat meets him with a hard chop that almost knocks Benoit out of his boots!!! Steamboat quickly picks up Benoit and whips him into the ropes and delievers a gorilla press slam to Benoit!!! Benoit drags himself to a corner with Steamboat in hot pursuit!!! Steamboat nails him with two more chops then whips Benoit into the opposite corner!!! Steamboat charges in but Benoit puts up a foot to Steamboat's face!!! Steamboat has his back to Benoit now as he is reeling from the blow to the head!!! Benoit takes advantage by grabbing Steamboat by the trunks and throwing him chest first into the corner!!! When Steamboat staggers backwards out of the corner he is met by a waistlock/German suplex from Benoit!!! Benoit bridges into a pin and gets a two count!!! Benoit then throws Steamboat out of the ring onto the floor. Benoit then "baseball slides" into Steamboat's chest, knocking him down!!! Benoit goes back into the ring and, using the top rope as a slingshot, executes a devestating "frog-splash" (a la Eddie Guerrero) onto Steamboat!!! Benoit goes back into the ring to allow the ref to give his 10 count!!! Amazingly, Steamboat is up and back in at the count of 6 but he is hurt!!! Benoit is on top of him immediately!!! He hooks Steamboat in his famous snap-suplex and follows it up with a quick elbowsmash and covers!!! He gets two. Benoit then throws Steamboat into the ropes but Steamboat reverses it and goes for a backdrop. Benoit, however, read the move and caught Steamboat with a kneelift that stands Steamboat up!!! Benoit follows up with a quick, running clothesline!!! Benoit covers again and gets 2 3/4!!! Benoit is up arguing with the ref briefly but goes back to Steamboat!!! Benoit whips Steamboat into the ropes and catches him with a "Spinebuster" and hooks him into his variation of the boston crab!!! Steamboat's neck and spine is being twisted and streched as "The Crippler" is pouring it on!!! After about 2 minutes of suffering, Steamboat makes it to the ropes but much punishment has been inflicted!!! Benoit follows up his crab hold by taking Steamboat to a corner and executing a running powerbomb (Liger-Bomb for fans of Japanese wrestling)!!! Benoit gets a very close count out of it as the ref's hand was about an inch away from the three count!!! Undaunted, Benoit continues his attack as he now has an unusual version of the reverse chinlock on Steamboat. Unusual because he has his right knee planted in the small of the back of Steamboat while pulling up on the chin!!! "Give it up Steamboat!", yells Benoit for attempted verbal intimidation. Steamboat, however, will not give in. After about a minute in this hold, Benoit throws Steamboat into the ropes but Steamboat reverses the whip!!! Steamboat goes for a sidewalk slam but Benoit flips out of it and puts Steamboat in the "Tombstone" piledriver!!! Benoit, sensing victory, heads to the top rope for his patened flying headbutt!!! He flies.......and misses as Steamboat moved out of the way!!! Both men are stunned but Benoit is the fresher (?) of the two!!! Benoit goes in to press his advantage but it turns out to be a trap as Steamboat quickly waistlocks Benoit and gives him a reverse atomic drop!!! With Benoit immobile, Steamboat hits the ropes and nails Benoit with a flying clothesline!!! Steamboat covers and gets a two count!!! Steamboat moves Benoit into a corner and, by the tights, throws Benoit into the corner chest-first!!! As Benoit is turning around, Steamboat (from the opposite direction) catches Benoit with a flying bulldog as he is staggering out of the corner!!! He covers for another two count!!! Steamboat then takes Benoit to the corner and sets him on the top rope and delievers a superplex from the top rope!!! Steamboat slowly covers and gets another two count!!! Steamboat decides it is time to head to the top rope!!! As Benoit is getting to his feet, Steamboat delievers his patened flying bodypress but Benoit uses Steamboat's own momentum to roll over on top for another close count!!! Steamboat gets to his feet and goes for a chop but misses!!! Benoit takes advantage by taking Steamboat down by his left arm and hooking in the "Crippler Crossface"!!! Luckily, Steamboat is near the ropes and manages to get there for a break!!! Benoit, intelligently, holds on to the hold and breaks just before the ref reaches 5 in his count!!! Benoit picks up Steamboat and executes a "Brainbuster" suplex!!! Benoit, surprisingly, does not cover!!! He opts to punish Steamboat some more. He goes for an atomic drop but Steamboat flips out of it and puts his "Double-Arm Chicken Wing" on Benoit!!! Benoit, surprised, is screaming to the top of his voice but manages to get a leg between the ropes for a break!!! Steamboat, uncharacteristically but intelligently, holds on to the hold until the ref reaches 4!! Benoit is in serious pain at this point but lashes out a kick to Steamboat!!! Benoit goes for another "LigerBomb" but Steamboat, in mid move, performs a "Frankensteiner/Roll Up" move for the three count!!! The crowd stands and cheers for Steamboat as he has now earned his shot at Ric Flair and the NWA Title. Still, the fans in Detroit give Benoit a nice ovation for his efforts. As Steamboat was leaving, Benoit pointed at him and gave him a look as if to say, "Okay, Steamboat!!! You've won this time but the "Crippler" will be back!!!"
Twenty minutes into this brutal encounter, Ric Flair has Rick Steamboat in some trouble!!! Flair goes for a back suplex but Steamboat flips out of it!!! Steamboat hooks in his "Double-Arm Chickenwing" submission hold!!! He has it in the center of the ring!!! Flair holds on for about 30 seconds but finally gives up!!! Steamboat has won the NWA World Title!!! Out in the audience, however, was Chris Benoit!!! Observing all of the action!!! As Steamboat was getting ready to leave the ring, he spots Benoit in the crowd!!! Benoit says nothing, he just points and does the "cut-throat" sign and smiles!!! Later that evening, it was announced that Steamboat and Benoit would meet again on April 1 in New Orleans, LA for the NWA World Title in a 30 minute IronMan match!!!
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Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat (left side)
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