Most fans old enough to know better but young enough to not care will reminisce fondly on the WCW/NWA output from 1989. It remains perhaps the finest single calendar year for the legendary Ric Flair thanks to standard-raising battles with Ricky Steamboat and Terry Funk over the organisation's beautiful big gold belt.
It's, in essence, everything there is to love about the industry. The Flair/Steamboat matches are wrestling clinics, almost minimalist in style yet luxurious in substance. Better still is the narrative journey Flair's character in particular takes following the trading of the NWA World Heavyweight Title. The cocksure heel at the beginning of their arc, he's a respectful competitor by the end, reclaiming his lost prize as a babyface only to be viciously decked in the post-match by guest judge Terry Funk to move things immediately forward.
Whilst it was true WWE couldn't compete bell-to-bell with the standard of action, this broad thought process overlooks the utterly woeful goings on below the topline.
Divisive ex-Pizza Hut manager Jim Herd had taken over as Executive Vice President in January, and despite overseeing each of the aforementioned classics, he'd still request 'The Nature Boy' dress up as Spartacus for a radical repackaging in an effort to match the cartoonish competition. It would be another failed effort to join The Ding Dongs, The Dynamic Dudes, Ranger Ross on Herd's vast scrapheap. 1989 was the genesis of his catastrophic reign.