I've recently got the Network, and started watching some old NWA stuff starting with Clash 1 (I'm up to the end of the Flair-Steamboat stuff). A few questions / topics I thought you might enjoy shedding some light on, as I understand you're somewhat a fan of this period... they're a bit rambling so apologies for that.
1. Was the NWA still an overarching umbrella for multiple territories? It seems that Crockett / Turner basically IS the NWA at this point. Was Flair still the visiting champ to World Class etc as he had been in previous years?
Nope. By the time the Clashes had begun, Jim Crockett had bought up all the competition and gone solo as a promoter under the Turner family umbrella. By the end of the year, Turner had bought Crockett out completely. For as much shit as everyone gives Vince for predatory practices (which is valid), Crockett squashed all the people he was supposed to be working with just as viciously. The NWA might have existed in name, but you had to book the champion through Crockett exclusively.
2. Luger's push didn't go very well. If not for the Turner takeover was the plan for him to become a permanent Hogan-like face on top, replacing the territory-touring heel model of Flair? By the end of WrestleWar 89 the announcers are treating Flair like a face, and without the need to make the top guys in each territory look a million bucks not quite winning the belt from Flair, that model seems odd when Hogan is doing such big business for the competition.
The plan was definitely for either Sting or Luger to succeed Flair as the top drawing card, and they of course tried many times to make that happen with little success.
3. Speaking of the Turner situation, I know they had problems with Flair soon after this for him to jump to WWE. But here they aborted Luger's title win for Flair to retain. Was this a pro-Flair attitude or more just a negative Luger one?
Do you mean at Starrcade 88? It was pro-Flair in the sense that they wanted to build to the Steamboat match. There was no issue with Luger aside from them feeling it wasn’t the right time.
4. Was Steamboat always coming back at this point or was this a Turner related decision and/or a panic reaction to Luger's collapsed push? They're some of the all-time greatest matches, but it does seem like a bit of a stop-gap feud - have a few months of awesome bouts with a proven partner for Flair while they figure out what to do, then get the belt back on him.
He was always coming back. Once he was fired from the WWF they wanted to bring him in and make him champion as soon as humanly possible. Original plans called for him to get it at Starrcade 88, in fact, but they couldn’t work out the timing.
Sorry if this is all common knowledge - this era of NWA / WCW is more or less all new to me. Praise be to the WWE Network (and to the PS3 for being so easily convinced it's in America and not the UK).
Glad to help. It’s one of my favorite times to talk about.