(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)
The Great American Bash
July 12, 1992
Albany Civic Center
WCW began their NWA Tag Team Title Tournament at the Clash of the Champions. The first round was contested on TV, as well as one Quarterfinals match. However, the remainder of the tournament would take place at The Great American Bash. That means that most of this show will be tag team matches. (I hope you like tag team wrestling!) In a shocker, the Steiner Brothers lost the only Quarterfinals match on TV to Gordy & Williams (The Miracle Violence Connection). If that weren’t bad enough, the Steiners aren’t booked in a match on this PPV. (I can see why they became frustrated with WCW by the end of 1992.)
The only singles match for this event is Sting defending his WCW Title against Big Van Vader. This feud has been building for months, including a couple of legitimate injuries to Sting. They did an amazing job of making Vader look like a monster and making Sting look sympathetic. Sting has fended off the Dangerous Alliance and even an attempted hit-job by Cactus Jack, but now he has to face Vader.
I have a couple of other notes before I start the review. First, two title changes happened on an Atlanta house show before this event. Brad Armstrong defeated Scotty Flamingo for the Light Heavyweight Title and Gordy & Williams beat the Steiner Brothers for the WCW Tag Team Titles. (There’s another reason for the Steiners to be frustrated.) Watts did these title switches to try and boost house show attendance. The second bit of news is that this PPV was originally supposed to be held in Philadelphia, but a union strike forced WCW to move it to Georgia a month before the event. They had to give out free tickets to fill the building, but you can still see some empty seats.
The show opens with Tony Schiavone listing the remaining teams in the tag tournament. He also talks about the WCW Title Match. Pictures of the wrestlers spin around in front of an American flag. It’s almost dizzying, but they’re not done bombarding the senses. They cut to the arena where fireworks explode over the ring and Tony welcomes everyone to the show. He’s joined by—Magnum T.A.? (That’s a surprise.) Magnum is allowed to talk this time, unlike at Starrcade. He cuts Sting’s promo for him by saying Sting won’t let down his little Stingers. Tony then mentions that Gordy & Williams are already in the semifinals because they beat the Steiners. They show clips of the end of that match before Tony then talks about the Japanese team. He says that Akira Nogami is out with an eye injury so Shinya Hashimoto will replace him. They show clips of Nogami at the eye doctor. (Somewhere, Vince McMahon contemplates making an evil eye doctor gimmick, but he settles on a dentist instead. Wait, who am I kidding? Vince isn’t watching this show.) Magnum then calls the Japanese team shrewd and says they could be a dark horse. (I can’t tell if he’s being complimentary because it looks like it pained him to say the sentence.)
Then, they go to Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura, who looks like he bought his sports coat from Jackson Pollock. They talk about the WCW Title Match. (This still makes the Tony segments seem redundant. Why can’t Ross & Ventura handle all of the analysis?) Ventura says that Sting is the underdog because of Vader’s size.
Next, Eric Bischoff is backstage with Bill Watts. (You can practically hear Eric mutter, “I’ll have your job someday.”) Eric asks Watts to explain the rules for the night. Watts says that the NWA Tournament will have NWA rules and the WCW Title Match will have WCW rules. (In other words, the WCW Title Match will have the stupid top-rope ban.) He explains that it’s like the American and National Leagues having different rules in baseball. Then, he finishes by yelling, “Let’s go hook ‘em up!”
Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Flyin’ Brian
The first thing I notice is they’re not using the elevated ramp for this show. They have separate entrances instead. (I guess one is for the babyfaces and one is for the heels, but both these teams are faces. It reminds me of the Invasion set.) All four men shake hands before the match and the commentators try to say Pillman is at a disadvantage because he’s a light heavyweight, but Steamboat isn’t that much bigger than him.
Pillman and Koloff start the match and Nikita powers him around until Brian surprises him with a roll-up. Liger and Pillman then use frequent tags to control Nikita with arm work until Koloff finally hits a back elbow. Steamboat then takes out both men and returns the favor by working Brian’s arm, but Pillman & Liger begin double teaming him. Momentum shifts back and forth until Liger hits Steamboat with a moonsault, Tombstone, and a somersault senton, but all of them only get two-counts. However, Steamboat & Koloff retake control and Ricky hits Liger with repeated backbreakers and a powerslam. Nikita wears Liger down for a while and cuts off his tag attempts. However, Brian finally tags into the match and cleans house for Liger to hit a missile dropkick and a cartwheel into a clothesline. It’s not enough and Koloff makes a brief comeback, but Brian surprises him and hits a springboard clothesline. Pillman then botches—something off the turnbuckles, but he recovers and tries a sleeper hold instead. Nikita eventually breaks free and Steamboat comes in to trade pin attempts with both Pillman and Liger until the match devolves into a brawl. In the melee, Pillman attempts a flying cross body, but Steamboat reverses it into a pin for the three-count.
This was a pretty solid opener. There were a couple of shaky moments, but it wasn’t enough to ruin the match. They never lost the crowd and there were some exciting spots. Now, if only the rest of this tournament was like this match. I feel like it’s downhill from here.
Winners: Koloff & Steamboat (19:26)
After the match, Jesse says that Steamboat & Koloff got lucky, but Ross says another team wasn’t so lucky. He talks about the Steiners losing their titles in Atlanta and then sends it to Eric Bischoff, who is with Rick & Scott. (The Steiners are wearing some great Zubaz pants!) Eric rubs salt in their wounds by pointing out they’re not competing tonight. Scott responds by comparing himself and Rick to Muhammad Ali and Harley Race. He says that those men weren’t undefeated, but they overcame adversity and came back better. Rick then nearly cuts off his brother to yell about not being scared. (I don’t think anyone mentioned being scared. Is Rick hearing voices?) He also warns Gordy & Williams that it’s not over and then tells the children at home to get parental consent because it won’t be pretty. (I can hear the parents now. “What are you talking about!? Who is Rick Steiner? Go back to watching your rasslin and leave me alone!”)
Hiroshi Hase & Shinya Hashimoto vs. The Fabulous Freebirds
The Japanese team sadly get little reaction. It’s hard to get an American crowd to care about the foreign team and it doesn’t help that there’s been a replacement. The Freebirds get a mild reaction, but you can barely hear it over their music. (Was this dubbed? Usually, the music is only that loud when it’s a dub.) Ross then sells the fact that the Freebirds were preparing for Nogami, so they’ll be at a disadvantage. (I like details like that. That’s missing from a lot of modern commentary.)
Hayes does his usual strutting to start before trading holds with Hase. Michael then sloppily transitions into a pin attempt before tagging Garvin. Hashimoto joins him and threatens some kicks before getting the better of Jimmy on some mat wrestling. The Japanese team then take turns working over Garvin’s arm until Hayes returns. However, Michael doesn’t fare much better. They attack Michael’s midsection with a somersault senton and delayed gutbuster. Hashimoto then hits a bridging fallaway slam before wearing down Hayes for a bit. Hayes finally fights back by ramming them into each other and hitting left hands before tagging Garvin. He cleans house until everyone starts brawling. Then, the Japanese team uses the opening to hit a Savate kick/Northern Lights Suplex combo for the win.
This match was a bit of a styles clash. (No, not AJ.) However, I didn’t think it was that bad. The Japanese team looked good and the match was kept short enough not to overexpose the lack of chemistry. The crowd wasn’t thrilled, but they weren’t dead. They reacted to some stuff and to the finish. I think I might be more positive about this match than most reviewers.
Winners: Hase & Hashimoto (9:16)
Tony is with Bill Watts and Hiro Matsuda and look at what has finally returned! Watts is holding the Big Gold Belt! Tony says there will be a singles tournament to determine a new NWA World Champion on August 6th in Tokyo. Watts says they’re proud to partner with NJPW and brags about how the show at the Sumo Palace sold out immediately. He then presents the NWA Title to Matsuda to take back to Tokyo, but he makes sure to mention they removed Ric Flair’s name from the belt. (He mentions Flair by name, which is surprising.) Then, Watts says that he wants the winner of the tournament to face Sting. (He mentions that Sting has beaten Flair because he has to take a dig at Ric if he’s going to mention him.) Watts also implies that the titles will be unified. (I think he’s getting ahead of himself because that doesn’t happen. Also, he never mentioned the possibility of Vader being in the unification match. That’s rather rude!)
Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham vs. Stunning Steve Austin & Ravishing Rick Rude (w/ Madusa)
During the entrances, we get a look at the new design of the TV Title on Austin’s shoulder. (It looks too much like the WWF’s Intercontinental title for my taste. I prefer the later design of the belt.) They also show a fan with a sign that tells Madusa his hotel room number. (That was odd of WCW to show this. Are they rooting for the guy?) Then, Rude tells all the fat, out of shape, simple-minded sweat hogs to keep the noise down while he takes off his robe.
Austin and Windham begin the match and shove each other around. Barry catches him with an arm drag, but Austin answers with punches, elbows, and a fistful of tights for a two-count. Windham answers by knocking Austin to the apron and then mat wrestling him. Rhodes & Windham pinball Austin around until he tags Rude. Rhodes surprises Rick with a boot and a clothesline before hitting a back suplex. Then, he goes after Rude’s arm, but Rick backs him into a corner. Rhodes answers by reversing a Tombstone, but Austin stops the pin attempt. Both Rhodes and Windham fall victim to double teaming and wear down holds. Madusa even distracts the ref for some shenanigans. They wear down Barry with a piledriver, suplexes, slams, and a few cheap tricks, but Barry shows hope with a surprise roll-up. He also hits an inverted atomic drop and finally tags Rhodes. All four men end up brawling in and out of the ring, so Austin attempts a piledriver on Windham, but Rhodes surprises him with a flying clothesline for the win.
This match was fairly solid and the crowd was more into it because there’s some backstory. However, you can tell they’re having trouble caring about this tournament. The heat segment on Windham was a bit long, but the hot tag to Dustin got a great reaction. The finish also got a good pop, so the match did its job.
Winners: Rhodes & Windham (19:15)
Next, Bischoff is backstage with Vader and Harley Race. Eric lists Vader’s attributes and calls him the uncrowned champion, while Vader flexes. Harley then says it would be a gross misstatement to say that Vader is prepared. He says that Vader is ready! (Aren’t those the same thing?) Vader then threatens to take Sting’s most prized possession and claims he fears no man and feels no pain. (This was rather calm for Vader, but it still had good intensity.) Finally, Harley says that the uncrowned champion will be crowned very shortly and Vader makes scary faces at the camera.
Then, Ventura reiterates that Sting is the underdog in his match before Ross plugs Halloween Havoc. Jesse asks Ross what costume he will wear for Halloween and J.R. says it will be something special in Jesse’s honor, but Jesse doesn’t believe him.
Terry Gordy & Steve Williams vs. Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat
Gordy & Williams come out wearing the WCW Tag Titles and Ross talks about how they beat the Steiners twice. (They have two wins over the Steiners and they got to rest during the first round. Watts couldn’t make it any more obvious that they are his golden boys.)
Gordy & Williams both take turns going to the mat with Steamboat & Koloff. Ricky & Nikita do their best to try and set a good pace with arm drags, shoulder blocks, and dropkicks, but it keeps grinding to a crawl. Williams and Steamboat grapple through some pin attempts and Ricky tries a crucifix, but Williams backs him into the corner. Everyone trades chops, but Gordy & Williams take control with double teaming. However, the ref shocks everyone by actually making a heel leave after a non-tag! (Has that ever happened!?) They tag anyway and Williams wears down Steamboat by—spooning with him?? (That’s the oddest submission I’ve seen!) Steamboat finally fights back with a weak DDT and tags Koloff, but Nikita misses a shoulder block and finds himself in trouble. Gordy & Williams cut off his tag attempts and take turns locking him in holds like the Oriental Twist (STF) and a Boston Crab. Koloff keeps breaking free, but he can’t tag. Then, Williams goes for the Oklahoma Stampede, but Koloff shoves him away and they collide with each other. Nikita finally makes a tag, but the match becomes a brawl. (I feel like too many of these tag matches follow this pattern.) Steamboat hits a flying chop, but Williams catches him on a second one and hits a spinebuster variation of the Stampede for the win.
Good Lord, this match was dull! It dragged on and on and it did not need two long heat segments. I keep hearing about how great Gordy & Williams are supposed to be, but they’re 0-for-2 with me. They killed the crowd dead in this match. They barely even reacted to the finish.
Winners: Gordy & Williams (21:39)
Ross and Ventura talk about the match, while a fan holds up a sign that reads, “Jesse, do your mayoral duty and make Jim Ross a garbage man!” (It’s fitting because Jesse’s WCW commentary is trash and Ross has to carry him! HA! I flipped it on you, Mr. Fan!)
Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham vs. Hiroshi Hase & Shinya Hashimoto
Ross puts over Hase’s amateur background, but I’m sure he wishes Hase played football instead. (Earlier in the show, Jesse said he didn’t understand amateur athletes because he doesn’t know why they’d do it for free. He loves being a contrarian to Ross. I can see why J.R. hated working with him.) The Japanese team get a slightly better reaction, but it’s still fairly tepid. Ross also talks about how the Japanese team had a longer rest than Rhodes & Windham. (Bless Jim Ross. He’s doing his best to make this interesting, but it’s not working.)
Rhodes & Windham both grapple with Hase and Barry tests his strength against both men, which he wins. Then, Dustin trades shoulder blocks with Hashimoto, but he isn’t as lucky as Barry. Hashimoto works the arms of both Barry & Dustin, but Windham returns the favor. The match goes back and forth until the Japanese team hit a sloppy spike piledriver that made me cringe a little. Dustin has to roll to the apron to recover, but thankfully he is fine. When he returns, he falls victim to some double teaming. Windham keeps trying to stop it, but he only prolongs the attack. They wear down Rhodes and Hase hits him with an overhead belly-to-belly, but he misses a flying knee drop. Dustin answers with a lariat and tags Windham, who cleans house with suplexes and a powerslam. Then, Barry locks Hase in an abdominal stretch, but the match becomes a brawl. (There it is again!) In the melee, Windham surprises Hase with a lariat for the win.
This was another slow and dull match. They’re killing the crowd. (I’m sure that Sting and Vader are happy about having to follow this.) I know they’re tired from previous matches, but this was still a boring match. The finish was decent, but it wasn’t enough to save it.
Winners: Rhodes & Windham (14:55)
Tony and Magnum talk about the remaining two matches before welcoming Ron Simmons to the stage. Simmons greets the crowd and says he’s thrilled to be part of WCW. He then says you either kick or get kicked because this is the real deal in wrestling. Then, he says, “The next match, coming up, is the one I’m more important—that I really want to see.” (Oops. That sounded like a Freudian slip.) He says the match is for all the marbles and the king’s jewels because everybody dreams of being champion, including him. He then talks about his road to the championship and says he hasn’t seen any stop, yield, or slow down signs. The only sign he wants to see is a sign that says, “This way to the World Heavyweight Championship.”
WCW Title Match: Big Van Vader (w/ Harley Race) vs. Sting (c)
During Vader’s entrance, you can see Harley turn around and hold open the curtain because Vader couldn’t see out of his mastodon helmet. (It’s not largely noticeable, but if you watch closely, you can tell Vader had trouble.) The crowd comes alive for both entrances and Vader’s helmet ritual, so they’re not completely dead. This match has had a good enough build to warrant great crowd heat, even with this exhausting event.
Sting and Vader get in each other’s faces, but Vader quickly takes control with hard punches, forearms, and clotheslines. Sting has to take a breather, which gets some boos, but he returns on fire. Sting can’t take Vader off his feet until Vader misses a corner charge. Then, Sting hits a back suplex and clotheslines him out of the ring to a huge pop. Vader calls for a test of strength and Sting is hesitant, but he ends up thumbing Vader in the eye. Sting follows up by sending Vader to the apron and impressively suplexes him back inside. Vader bails again and Sting attempts a sunset flip when he returns, but Vader sits on him! He then poses, which causes Ross & Ventura to talk about bodybuilding, which Ross says isn’t doing very good. (Shots fired!) Vader continues his attack with a splash, choke-lift, and even a Scorpion Deathlock! Vader never fully sits down on it, so Sting eventually breaks free. However, Vader continues with clotheslines and a powerslam. Sting finally fights back with a rolling kick and a DDT, but he’s too exhausted to cover. He then knocks Vader to the apron, but Vader goes to the top rope. Sting counters by knocking Vader prone on the ropes and powers him into a Samoan Drop. Sting tries to capitalize with a German suplex, but the ref gets clipped. Then, Sting hits a Stinger Splash and goes for a second one, but he hits his head on the turnbuckle bar and comes up bleeding. A woozy Sting whiffs on some punches, so Vader grabs him and hits the powerbomb for the win.
This was a great match. I love the story they told and the pace they set. There was some good drama. Sting was working through legitimate injuries, so the pace had to be kept a little slow, but they found perfect ways to work it into the story. The injuries were the reason for the title switch, but it’s nice to see Vader get the big win so early. He looked like a killer in this.
Winner: Vader (New Champion) (17:17)
After the match, Nikita Koloff, Ron Simmons, and some officials come to check on Sting and help him out of the ring. Ross says he’s shocked by the outcome and Ventura asks who could possibly beat Vader. Tony and Magnum then talk about the match and Magnum says Sting showed more heart than you could ever ask of an athlete.
Meanwhile, Bischoff is in the locker room with the new champion, Vader, and Harley Race. Eric tells Harley that he has to be shocked, but Race says this is how it was supposed to be and he calls Vader the greatest athlete on Earth. Race also says that they showed every Stinger that the myth is gone and destroyed. Harley then calls Vader the king of athletes and the king of wrestling. Then, Vader says the pain game has been taught and the lesson has been learned. He says he’s standing on top of the world as the champion and then Vader screams and laughs. Bischoff tries to make a joke about the win registering on the Richter Scale, but Vader either ignored him or didn’t hear it because I’m sure he would have smacked him if he did.
Terry Gordy & Steve Williams vs. Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham
I guess that Bill Watts doesn’t like ending his shows with the WCW Title Match. I get that they wanted to give the teams some rest, but they could have added another singles match as a buffer instead of putting the WCW Title in the semi-main event. Before the match, the Steiners make their way to the ring to confront Gordy & Williams, but officials stop them and make them leave. Also, on a side note, Ole Anderson is the ref for this match. (Let’s hope that doesn’t mean another stupid finish.)
All four men take turns grappling with each other, so we’re in for another one of those matches. Rhodes & Windham go after Gordy’s leg early and Windham attempts a Figure Four, but Gordy blocks it. (The crowd is dead again, so Ventura tries to blame it on them being shocked by Vader’s win.) Gordy & Williams try some double teaming, but Barry goes after Gordy’s leg. Williams tags in and trades holds with Rhodes, which kills the crowd even more. (It is so silent that you can hear the ring creaking. Ross even gets sidetracked in talking about football and mentions Steve McMichael. That’s a name we will hear again!) Rhodes does his best to fend off double teaming and the Oriental Twist, but Williams makes a blind tag and hits a flying axehandle. Windham keeps breaking up the holds they put on Dustin until Rhodes finally makes a tag. However, Windham is soon in trouble. (Why must all of Gordy & Williams’ matches have two long heat segments!?) Barry tries to fight back with a back suplex, but they wear him down slowly. Eventually, Windham and Gordy end up colliding and Rhodes tags into the match. He elbows both men, but falls victim to a double team. Williams attempts the Oklahoma Stampede, but Windham dropkicks Dustin on top of him. Then, Williams misses a corner charge and Rhodes tries a bulldog, but Steve shoves him into Gordy. He then nails Rhodes with a lariat for the win.
Gordy & Williams are now 0-for-3 with me. This was another dreadfully dull match. If the wrestlers have to pace themselves so slowly, then they shouldn’t have put three rounds of this tournament on the PPV. This killed the crowd. They couldn’t care less. This was not a good way to end the show.
Winners: Gordy & Williams (New Champions) (21:10)
Tony and Magnum call it a big win, but they’re interrupted by Gordy & Williams celebrating. Williams yells about the Japanese executives being happy and tells his buddy to call the hotline. Gordy then says they told everybody what they were going to do and they did it. He also says it will be a long time before they can find a team that will beat them. Gordy & Williams then leave and Magnum says there was a lot of excitement tonight. (That’s a lie!)
They go back to Ross and Ventura and Ross plugs Halloween Havoc. He stumbles over his words, so Jesse says Jim is at a loss because his heroes lost tonight. (I’m pretty sure Ross is a huge Steve Williams fan, so that’s not true.) Jesse tells Jim to go cry in his soup, so Ross says, “Thanks very much for that advice.” Jim then plugs the remaining Great American Bash tour and the hotline before talking about a possible rematch between Sting and Vader.
– Sting/Vader was incredible.
– The first couple of matches were good.
– It was nice to see Vader get the big win.
– Most of the tag matches were dull and boring.
– No Steiners matches on the show.
– Gordy & Williams bored me.
– Most of the show was dedicated to the tournament.
– No Cactus Jack on this show.
Performer of the Night:
I have to give it to Sting for working through injuries in a match against someone not known for being gentle. They put on a great match and I will give credit to Vader too, but Sting is my pick.
This was not a good show. There were one great match and some decent stuff at the beginning, but the rest of the matches killed both the crowd and the pacing. Sting/Vader is the only thing I would recommend watching. I might have to take back what I said about 1992 being a good year for WCW.
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My next review will return to the WWF for SummerSlam ‘92. Look for my review next Saturday!