On April 2nd, 1989 the NWA presented Clash of the Champions VI: Ragin Cajun. The event took place in New Orleans, Louisiana. While the event wasn’t particularly long by pay-per-view standards in the modern era this show was a little over two hours in length. However, one match actually went 60 minutes in length in an astounding two out of three falls.
It would pit the World Champion, Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat against the former champion, the ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair. Before the match took place it featured how only a few months earlier, Steamboat would defeat Flair to capture this same title.
Nature Boy Ric Flair would come to the ring first accompanied by four women that would embody the persona and character that the Nature Boy would often boast about being. Once Flair was in the ring, it would be the wife of Ricky Steamboat, Bonnie and his son Richie accompanying him to the ring. Both Bonnie and Ricky were dressed in white with the world championship across his waist. Jim Ross would share that Steamboat’s motivation was his son that was resting in his arms as he entered the ring.
Ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta would announce first the former champion and his accolades and then the current champion at the time. Terry Funk would join Jim Ross at ringside to commentate for this match. As soon as the bell rings, both men try to get a feel for one another by initially locking up. A slap by Flair turns into a slap by Steamboat. The champion will not allow himself to be intimidated by the former champion.
The Ragin Cajun Two Out of Three Fall Epic
Each man try to get the better of the other in the earlier parts of this match as they apply an amateur wrestling background to gain an advantage. Once Flair is backed into a corner a clean break doesn’t happen as Steamboat once again slap’s Flair across the face.
Steamboat stands in the center of the ring watching Flair in the corner who then charges in and proceeds to try and lock up. However, Steamboat maintains a side headlock which leads to a hammerlock by Flair bringing the champion down to one knee. Funk believes that Flair is trying to weaken a body part early in this match. Steamboat eventually counters the hammerlock with one of his own taking Flair down.
This leads to the challenger retreating to the floor to recover. Flair proceeds to complain that Steamboat grabbed his hair. Flair then makes his way in the ring and then tries to seize up the champion. The two men then lock up again with Flair pressed against the ropes. Steamboat counters it with an arm drag and then a side headlock while on the match.
The Nature boy counters them into pinning perdicaments that Steamboat is able to roll out of. Steamboat then continues to wrench on the side of Flair’s head and then takes him down with a shoulder tackle. He certainly outsmarts Flair by dropping down again and slapping in another side headlock.
Flair backs Steamboat into the corner and then throws in a massive chop on the champion. The champion then begins to counter with chops of his own. He then hits a flying headscissors and then a dropkick. Steamboat then goes after him again with another side headlock. The champion begins to drive a forearm under the chin of the challenger including a knee to the back of Flair’s neck.
Once again Flair backs Steamboat into the turnbuckle. He then drops down and doesn’t break clean leading to another chop. But the champion recovers and hits Flair with a chop of his own. He then hits a back body drop on Flair followed by a dropkick.
After a pinfall attempt by Steamboat, Flair is begging for a break. Manages to get a break in the process. Flair then was playing coy drawing the champion into him. It leads to Flair getting the advantage. A clothesline by Steamboat leads to a side headlock on the challenger once again. Once again, Steamboat locks in another front facelock on Flair. The whole intention is to force the challenger to use energy to get out.
The champion then backs Flair into the corner and fires in a knife-edge chop. It leads to Flair to fight his way out and collapse leading to a pinfall attempt by the champion. An inverted atomic drop by the challenger slows down the champion. Flair slowly approaches Steamboat but is caught with a chop and a pinfall attempt. The challenger is then hit with a shoulder tackle once again leading to a pinfall attempt.
The champion is relentless with strikes and pinfall attempts on the Nature Boy. Flair is then on the outside trying to recover on the ringside area. Ric Flair is being counted out but the champion manages to have the count stop as the referee continues to pull him away.
Flair recovers and lays in chop after chop on the champion. Steamboat absorbs these blows and comes back with chops and strikes of his own. Steamboat went for a pinfall attempt but only for a count of two. The champion suplexs the challenger and attempts a splash but Flair gets his knees up. This gives Flair the chance to get the advantage. He then hits a double stomp on the chest of Steamboat.
Once again Flair has the advantage in this match. He then hits a double underhook suplex on Steamboat and tries to make a pinfall attempt on multiple occasions. The Nature boy then tries to manuever the shoulders of the champion down but Steamboat shows great relisilence as he continues to fight each pinning attempt. A knip up by the champion leads to a test of strength between both men. The strikes between both men are endless.
The challenger then tries a figure four leglock but Steamboat counters it into a small package. But Flair reverses it into a small package of his own leading to a pinfall attempt and a win of the first fall.
The Ragin Cajun – Ric Flair leads 1-0
Within the first twenty minutes of the match, Flair has the early advantage between them going into the second fall. Steamboat is now standing in the middle of the ring and calls Flair to come in to him. Fans are clearly cheering on the champion who is now in a defecit going into the second fall. Steamboat begins to go after the challenger with the second fall. He once again uses the same strategy that he used in the first fall.
Flair regains control and tries to systematically break the champion. A knee drop attempt to the head of Steamboat the first time doesn’t the second time. This is gives Steamboat the chance to drop elbow after elbow on the knee of the Nature Boy. It leads to Steamboat locking in the figure four leglock on Flair in the middle of the ring. Each time the challenger drops down his shoulders are called to the mat.
Flair eventually gets to the bottom rope and that leads to a momentary break by Steamboat. However, Steamboat comes back in and locks in a Boston Crab working on the lower back of the challenger. Jim Ross shares of the previous injury Ric Flair suffered in a plane crash several years earlier. Flair then gets to the bottom rope leading to another break.
The referee continues to get between the champion and the battered challenger. But that wouldn’t last long as Steamboat comes charging in on Flair who is resting against the bottom turnbuckle. Steamboat drives in a couple of chops but lets the challenger get back to his feet who then takes down the champion down in a side headlock. Several pinfall attempts by either Steamboat or Flair take place at this point of the match.
As Flair goes to the floor, Steamboat follows him out. The two battle around the ringside area. Flair whips Steamboat into the steel barricade. The Nature Boy then climbs back in the ring but breaks the ten count of Steamboat who is outside the ring. Jim Ross does make an interesting point. What is the ruling if Steamboat is counted out?
While Flair would have won two falls to none the second one was on a count-out, a decision that doesn’t typically determine the winner. Terry Funk believes that is two straight and would thus make him the new champion. As Steamboat attempts to get back in the ring, Flair stops him and drops him throat first across the top rope. The Dragon is resting on the ring apron as Flair proceeds to then pick him up and suplexs him into the ring.
A high vertical suplex followed by a pinfall attempt by Flair only leads to a count of two. Flair then locks in an abdominal stretch and then rolls him into an Oklahoma crossbody ride pinning his shoulders to the mat. The referee makes multiple counts on Steamboat and then uses the ropes for leverage but Steamboat continues to kickout. The referee then notices Flair’s feet on the rope.
Flair drives right hand on Steamboat and then attempts a back suplex. But Steamboat floats over and attempts to roll Flair up after leaning him into the ropes. He makes the pinfall attempt but only for a count of two. As Flair kicks out Steamboat nearly slides out of the ring. Now back in the ring, Steamboat then attempts another pinfall attempt on Flair but he kicks him again.
Flair regains the advantage and once again makes the pinfall attempt. The Nature Boy climbs the turnbuckle and Steamboat catches him with chops and then hits a superplex. The Dragon once again regains control and focuses on the lower back of Flair. Steamboat focuses on the lower back of Flair and then hoists him up for a double chicken wing and then eventually gives up. This evens the match count to one each.
The Ragin Cajun – Ricky Steamboat wins making it 1 fall apiece.
After a brief break, Flair is once again caught in an abdominal stretch and after breaking free of Steamboat he collapses in the center of the ring. As Steamboat attempts to recover Flair attempts a chopblick from his knees. Steamboat delievers harsh chops on Flair and then attempts a pinfall attempt. Flair is begging for mercy and Steamboat is stalking him. With Flair in the corner he is hit with a back body drop. Steamboat then gets caught as Flair drops a knee on the knee on himself.
Flair then locks in a figure four leglock but gets to the ropes. The referee gets pushed and he pushes Flair right back. Flair then continues to pursue the Dragon in the corner. Steamboat is trying to push him off. Flair is hit with chop after chop but the Dragon comes right back doing the exact same thing to the former champion. After being whipped into the corner and flipping up and over he is hit with a clothesline by Steamboat.
Flair pulls himself up in the corner and then drops down begging for mercy. He then sweeps the legs of Steamboat and attempts multiple pinning attempts with his legs on the ropes for added leverage. Flair then hits chop after chop on Steamboat. The Nature Boy continues to work on the knee and leg of the champion. He then attempts to whip the Dragon in the corner and even though Steamboat countered it he misses and gets his leg caught in the top turnbuckle.
Flair continues to attack the wounded champion’s knee. He then measures a knee drop on the champion’s left knee. Ric Flair locks in the figure four in the middle of the ring on Steamboat. The Dragon continues to fight through Flair’s attack. While locked in the hold he tries to pull himself out of the hold. The champion continues to say he won’t quick and even has to fight through pinning attempts.
Steamboat continues to slap the mat in hopes of getting encouragement from the fans. He eventually turns the hold over and gets caught in the ropes between them both. With Flair on the outside he continues to slam Steamboat’s leg across the frame of the ring. Steamboat pulls himself up and throws a chop on the Nature Boy. He then whips Flair into the corner who flips over it charges the opposing corner turnbuckle and jumps off with a crossbody of his own.
He makes a pinfall attempt but only for a count of two. As Steamboat attempts to slam the challenger he falls back and is pinned himself but only for a count of two. The champion then charges back with a big headbutt. He then climbs the top rope as he favors his leg and hits a cross body on Flair and makes a pinfall attempt but only for a count of two. He then tries to hit an elbow but Flair moves causing the champion to move. Steamboat then hits a reverse neckbreaker on Flair and makes a pinfall attempt but only for a count of two.
With Steamboat outside the ring he hits a sunset flip on Flair but only gets a count of two. Flair then locks in a sleeper hold on Steamboat wearing him down. The Dragon appears to be glazed over as he drops in the middle of the ring. As his arm drops twice, he fights off the third attempt to drop his arm to the mat. Steamboat tries to fight through this eventually getting to his feet.
He then charges into the corner forcing Flair to go face first into the turnbuckle. Steamboat has an opening to recover here. Flair comes in the ring and kicks Steamboat in the left knee and Steamboat counters with an enziguiri kick to the back of Flair’s head. He makes a pinfall attempt but Flair kicks out. Ten minutes remain in this match. Steamboat attempts a splash from the top rope and Flair moves.
Terry Funk celebrates the efforts of both men at ringside during this match. Flair eventually gets to his feet as Steamboat appears to ask for a break. With Steamboat in the corner, Flair continues to batter and beat the champion. Flair attacks the left leg of Steamboat continuously but he continues to fight back. Both men are relentlessly battering one another.
With Steamboat dragging his leg he appears to have new life in going after Flair. He climbs the second turnbuckle but Flair attempts an atomic drop but Steamboat hits a clothesline and makes a pinfall attempt on the Nature Boy. Steamboat ducks and Flair drops an elbow on the back of the head of the champion. He then hits a back suplex on the champion. Flair then climbs the top rope and Steamboat catches him and slams him off the top to the mat.
Steamboat then has a double arm chicken wing on Flair again but this time falls back. The finish is unusual. As the referee counts, we are unsure who won initially. From the front vantage point, we see Steamboat lift a shoulder and see Flair slide his foot under the bottom rope. The referee then declares Ricky Steamboat the winner of the match as he raises his hand.
As Steamboat celebrates, Flair says his foot was under the bottom rope to which we then see a review of what took place.
Winner: AND STILL NWA World Champion, Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat
When they replay it, Steamboat’s shoulder is up but they don’t show Flair’s foot under the bottom rope.
After the match, Ricky Steamboat had these words to say;
“I’d like to thank all the fans for all the support they’ve given me and even Ric Flair fans out there and I know he’s got a bunch of them. But as you know I have beaten Ric Flair in Chicago on February the 28th, successfully defended against that man here, both on being national coverage and him giving me a chance at it and me sort of speak in this business returning the favor.
But I’ve got to tell you Ric Flair, like I have said that we must move on. You’ve had a great era as world champion and I’d like to say there are top contenders throughout the world out there right now, that the people from Turner have told me about and I most move on to bigger horizons, brighter horizons. I don’t know but as a champion I must respect these other fellow contenders.”
After Steamboat is shown the replay he can understand why Flair has an issue with this decision. He said he understands that we will likely be hearing from Flair’s lawyers based on this decision. The match itself was given five stars based on the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and voted match of the year in 1989 by the newsletter’s readers. This was The Ragin Cajun Two Out of Three Fall Epic.