If you want an example of how best to book your (relatively) new babyface World Champion like a complete chump, look no further than Sting’s first NWA Championship reign from 1990. It started so well, with a great story that built for months into his winning the title from Ric Flair at the Great American Bash, but after that it went completely sideways. Between the goofy crap with the Black Scorpion – a mysterious man from Sting’s past who was gunning for the new champ – and his first pay-per-view title defense here, the Stinger looked like a guy who was in completely over his head.
Putting the title up against the Four Horsemen’s monster, Sid Vicious, Sting was definitely a bit of an underdog. Between Sid’s physical dominance and the mind games from the Black Scorpion (which were really pretty lame – his “disappearing/reappearing act earlier in the show was laughable, made worse by Paul E. Dangerously acting completely flummoxed by it), it seemed like Sting was being set up for a fall. And Sid was even declared the NWA Champion at first. The monster pinned fellow Horseman Barry Windham, dressed up to look like Sting, to seemingly rob the Stinger of the title. But Sting fought back from whatever scheme they were hatching to storm the ring and pin the big man with a small package to retain his title.
Sting may have overcome the odds here, but the whole thing was so goofy that it really undercut any desire to see the man be a strong, fighting champion.
Best Match: United States Tag Team Championship Match: The Steiner Brothers (c) defeated the Nasty Boys – The Steiners and the Nasty Boys had such great chemistry in the ring, mostly because it’s not hard to believe these four guys were stiffing the hell out of each other to make everything seem a little more real. Their matches are always a lot of fun.
Worst Match: The Freebirds defeated the Renegade Warriors – This is a bit of a cheat, because I only watched the clipped version of the show that’s on the WWE Network (more on that in a moment), but of the matches presented on that version, this is easily the bottom rung. It’s certainly better than I would have thought going into it, though. But why they felt the need to give the Freebirds more than 15 minutes every time out is beyond me.
Clip Show: As mentioned above, the WWE Network version of the show is the Turner Home Video version, which cut out 4 matches from the original pay-per-view airing. Not shown here (and thus, not ranked) includes: Terry Taylor beating “Wild” Bill Irwin; Brad Armstrong defeating J.W. Storm; The Master Blasters defeating the Southern Boys (I actually would’ve liked to see that match, but I understand how it was superfluous); and Junkyard Dog defeating Moondog Rex. I imagine that last match would’ve been the Worst Match of the Night nominee had I been forced to watch it.
Tag Team Chemistry – The Midnight Express and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express have some crazy great chemistry and almost always put on some great matches. With Robert Gibson injured at the hands of the Freebirds, however, Ricky Morton was forced to take on a new partner to face his archenemies at Halloween Havoc. With “Wildfire” Tommy Rich at his side, the new team had another great match against the Midnights and, with the help of a distraction from the Southern Boys, managed to get a win over Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton. The Midnights continue a streak of great matches and it’s a shame the team would be done soon.
Ranking Halloween Havoc 1990
1 – United States Tag Team Championship Match: The Steiner Brothers (c) defeated the Nasty Boys
2 – Tommy Rich and Ricky Morton defeated the Midnight Express
3 – NWA World Championship Match: Sting (c) defeated Sid Vicious
4 – NWA Tag Team Championship Match: Doom (c) battled to a double countout with Ric Flair and Arn Anderson
5 – United States Championship Match: Stan Hansen defeated Lex Luger (c)
6 – The Freebirds defeated the Renegade Warriors
DISCLAIMER* The Top 10 rankings are for discussion purposes only and in no way reflect an official or authoritative list. It is simply my opinion. If you disagree, let me know in the comments. New arrivals to the Top 10 are in bold.
1 – WWF Championship Match: The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan (c) – WrestleMania VI
2 – NWA Tag Team Championship Match: The Steiner Brothers (c) defeated Doom – Clash of the Champions X
3 – World Tag Team Championship 2-out-of-3 Falls Match: The Hart Foundation defeated Demolition (c) – SummerSlam 1990
4 – Steel Cage Match: Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Ole Anderson beat The Great Muta, Buzz Sawyer and the Dragonmaster – Clash of the Champions X
5 – Rock n Roll Express defeated the Midnight Express – WrestleWar 90 Wild Thing
6 – NWA Tag Team Championship Match: The Steiner Brothers (c) defeated Ole and Arn Anderson – WrestleWar 90 Wild Thing
7 – United States Tag Team Championship Match: The Midnight Express (c) defeated the Southern Boys – Great American Bash 1990
8 – United States Championship Match: Lex Luger (c) beat “Nature Boy” Ric Flair by disqualification – Clash of the Champions XII
9 – Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake defeated “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig – WrestleMania VI
10 – United States Tag Team Championship Match: The Steiner Brothers (c) defeated the Nasty Boys – Halloween Havoc 1990
That’s all for this edition! The 1990 Top Ten is winding down, with only four more shows to close out the year. Our next event is the Clash of the Champions next month! Stay tuned!