The PPV mindset was changing for WCW, as instead of four shows or so a year, we were now seeing them far more frequently. In this case, the Bash took place only three weeks after Beach Blast. Another PPV was scheduled for September called Coastal Crunch but Bill Watts canceled it.
Nikita Koloff and Rick Rude brawled on TV to set up Rude’s next program with Ricky Steamboat being diverted elsewhere.
The Steiners beat Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow for the IWGP tag titles on June 26th in Japan. Then on July 5th they lost the WCW straps to Terry Gordy and Dr. Death at a house show at the Omni.
Also at that July 5th Omni house show was a match where Scotty Flamingo lost his WCW Light Heavyweight title to Brad Armstrong.
Dick Slater debuted right after Beach Blast, along with The Barbarian and together they captured the WCW US tag titles from the Fabulous Freebirds. A few weeks after the Bash PPV, WCW put the titles to rest for good due to wanting to focus on the NWA and WCW World tag titles.
Dan Spivey returned to WCW and was rumored to being built up to feud with Sting.
Paul E. Dangerously hired Cactus Jack to take out Larry Zybysko.
The Great American Bash ’92 July 12th 1992
JR and Jesse Ventura call the action, Tony Schiavone and Magnum TA provide between match analysis.
Akira Nogami is out injured so Shinya Hashimoto will replace him.
Bill Watts explains that the NWA rules allow top rope moves to be attempted. If Sting or Vader do such a thing, they will be DQ’d.
NWA Tag team title quarterfinals: Brian Pillman and Justin Liger vs. Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff
Is Ricky Steamboat’s theme the best one WCW ever used? It feels so epic. The teams shake hands. Koloff starts off in order to use his power to wear down the smaller high fliers. Koloff tosses Pillman around to extenuate this point. Pillman tries to wear down the powerful Lithuanian with a headlock but Koloff powers out. Pillman and Liger start using quick tags and take turns abusing Koloff’s Russian sickle arm. Steamboat tags in and goes after both men aggressively. Both end up sent to the floor from Steamboat’s flurry. Pillman tries to hold his own grappling with Steamboat and having Liger help proves to be enough to take control. This only lasts a second as Koloff tags in and bullies both of the smaller men with his raw strength.
Steamboat tags back in and can’t follow up on his partner’s momentum as Pillman and Liger take turns on The Dragon. Liger hits a series of precise kicks, a moonsault and a tombstone piledriver for a number of near falls. Nikita manages to tag in again and blitzes through Liger, who is outweighed by at least 60 pounds and has far less steroids in his bloodstream. When Steamboat comes back in several minutes later he is once again overwhelmed by Pillman, so he tags Koloff in again – Nikita no sells Liger’s attacks and drives him down. Pillman tries dropkicks but Koloff deflects those too. Finally a flying clothesline and a top rope drop kick rock Koloff, but Steamboat is quick to make the save. Both men tag out and Liger and Steamboat race to the middle of the ring. An enziguiri cracks into The Dragon’s skull and Pillman tags in to wear Steamboat down further with a back suplex. A four-way skirmish breaks out and Pillman launches a flying crossbody onto Steamboat but Ricky’s able to flip the momentum and he lands on Pillman for the hard earned victory. Good, psychologically sound match. Gordy and Doc have a “bye” thanks to already beating the Steiners at the Clash, so they will have a tired duo to work with in the semi-finals.
The Steiners cut a crappy promo on Doc and Gordy – they aren’t giving up and will learn from their recent losses.
NWA Tag team title quarterfinals: Hiroshi Hase and Shinya Hashimoto vs. Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin
Dear God this is going to be a mess. Hayes dances and his flub giggles. Hayes and Hase trade ground work until they reach a stalemate. Garvin and Hashimoto come in and they trade armlocks. Hase tags in and unleashes some hard chops before allowing Shinya to come back in and unleash a plethora of sidekicks. Hayes tags in and tries an armbar but Hashimoto is having none of this and blasts Hayes with some hand thrusts and chops. Hase and Hayes trade a few shots before Hashimoto makes his way back in to bludgeon Hayes with more thrust kicks. Hashimoto executes a bridging overhead powerslam – I don’t think I’ve ever seen that move before. The New Japan duo double team Hayes until they are tossed together and each caught with Hayes’ left hand. This opens the door for Garvin to be tagged in. He takes both men down with a series of clotheslines. A four-way scuffle breaks out but the ref focuses on getting Hayes out of the ring, which allows Hashimoto to kick Garvin into Hase’s bridging suplex for the pin. The Freebirds sold 90% of the match, thus making this watchable.
New Japan rep Hiro Matsuda is given the NWA World title by Bill Watts in order to take it back to Japan for safe keeping until the NWA title tournament can occur. Watts mentions WWF number one contender Ric Flair’s name was taken off the belt.
NWA Tag team Title quarterfinals: Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham vs. Rick Rude and Steve Austin
Austin and Windham start with a stalemate as they have clashed many times recently and know their opponent well. Windham uses his taped fist to establish control. Austin begs off when faced with the prospect of another crack from the fist, so Windham just slaps the taste out of his mouth. Rude and Rhodes tag in and the young babyface holds his own with the nasty minded veteran Rude. Rhodes fights out of a Tombstone and delivers one of his own. Rhodes next wears down Austin with scufflin’ punches and kicks before allowing Windham to deliver a flying clothesline. A Rude cheap shot turns the tide. Rude next delivers a flying dropkick and a piledriver for a near fall. Austin and Rude cut the ring off and take turns exhausting Windham with quick tags. They lock on holds designed to wear Windham down in between peppering in a few high impact moves. After several grinding minutes, Rhodes is finally able to tag in and he goes after both heels full boar with fisticuffs. Yet another four-way brawl breaks out and Rhodes catches Austin with a flying clothesline for the win. The classic tag team formula executed by four good workers makes for a quality-wrestling bout. Windham better rest fast as Hase and Hashimoto are up next in a very short time and he looks rough.
Semi-Finals: Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff vs. WCW tag team champions Terry Gordy and Dr. Death
Both Koloff and Steamboat are selling fatigue. Gordy uses his size advantage to bully Steamboat to the ground quickly. Steamboat manages to arm drag Gordy and that draws in Williams, who fights Steamboat from the bottom as Steamboat wrenches down to try and hold the stronger man down. Both heels corner Steamboat but he fights his way out and tags Koloff. Koloff grounds Williams and Dr, Death continues to try and fight out of the rest holds rather than just sit there. Doc then flips Koloff overhead and he lands right on his head and neck. They trade headlocks on the mat as the crowd tries to figure out what to make of this style of work. JR puts over the All-Japan and UWF titles the heels have won.
Steamboat tries his luck again but the fresher heels quickly take control and start to wear out The Dragon. A double suplex would have finished him but the ref missed the tag while dealing with Koloff. Dr. Death injures Steamboat’s ribs with a knee. Koloff finally makes the tag after Steamboat hits a botched DDT on Gordy. Koloff charges in but is quickly taken down and ground into the mat. Gordy starts to wear on Koloff’s knee and locks him in a modified STF.Doc comes in and locks on a Liontamer as the twenty-minute mark passes by. Doc tries a powerslam but Koloff slips off and shoves him into a turnbuckle. This allows Koloff to tag in the Dragon. Steamboat delivers chops aplenty and chucks the heels together. Koloff knocks Gordy off the apron as Steamboat nails Death with a chop from the top rope. He tries a flying crossbody to finish but Gordy shoves him into Williams who delivers a spinebuster for the win. A very deflating match for the babyfaces as they were just cut off and grounded for much of twenty minutes. The heels are begrudgingly dominant. A bit of a chore to sit through.
Semi-Finals: Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes vs. Hiroshi Hase and Shinya Hashimoto
The Texans use their leverage advantage to control Hase. Hashimoto tags in and Windham suplexes the big man. Rhodes doesn’t have as much luck trying to bully Hashimoto around. Hase tags back in and grapples with both Americans on the mat. Hashimoto wears down Windham with a bodyscissors/armlock combo. Rhodes and Hashimoto start throwing big shots at one another before a spinkick sets up a spike piledriver by the Japanese duo. Rhodes survives but continues to be swamped by offense from Hase and Hashimoto. Windham twice charges in to try and save his partner before Rhodes can finally make the tag for real. This appears to be Windham trying to set up a spot for the Japanese duo to double team Rhodes as Windham argues with the ref, but they don’t catch on to this southern tag wrasslin’ staple. Hase is caught with a lariat for the win quickly after Windham tags in for real. This was fine but the long match after long match booking tonight is leaving me begging for different style of match. A little breathing room would probably help the dead crowd as well.
Ron Simmons cuts a not so good promo talking about his World title desires again. Not exactly an interview that would make you say Simmons should be given a run. In fact with Sting being the franchise, I’d start to think Simmons would be due for a heel turn since he’s obsessive with his title desires.
World Champion Sting vs. Big Van Vader
I can’t see the fans here tonight expecting a title change. Since Vader was a part timer leading up to this and missed the two most recent major shows, this very much feels like Sting is battling the monster of the month and he’ll move on to others afterward. Race is also managing Mr. Hughes and the Super Invader, so it’s not like Vader is in a group of super villains or anything. Smarks on the other hand knew Vader as the man who had held “World” titles on 3 different continents at the same time in 1989 and someone capable of excellent matches to boot. Sting tries to show no fear to start but is battered right into the corner with big hammer blows. Sting tries a clothesline and Vader wonders why this gnat is buzzing around him. A missed charge by Vader opens up for Sting a chance to deliver a back suplex, and a pair of clotheslines. The second clothesline sends Vader over the top rope and to the floor. The crowd explodes! Sting foolishly accepts a test of strength but pokes Vader in the eye when he starts to lose. The blinded beast is rocked with punches and suplexed. Sting attempts a sunset flip but Vader just squashes him with a sitdown splash. Vader poses and JR and Ventura use that as a chance to take shots at Vince McMahon’s WBF.
Vader splashes Sting then just chokes him before throwing him down like a sack of garbage. He locks Sting in the Scorpion Death Lock to add insult to injury. Vader’s execution of the move leaves something to be desired. Sting fights out but Vader just clubs him back down. Sting fires up and manages a DDT but is too exhausted to follow up on that. He catches Vader trying to climb the top rope and scoops him unto his shoulders for a fallaway slam. Vader manages to get up as Sting is still groggy. A back suplex attempts sees Sting accidentally kick the ref. Vader is then German suplexed but the ref was a second late getting there for the count. Vader is wobbly now as fifteen minutes passes by. Sting hits a Stinger splash. A second one misses as Sting’s head bounces off the metal turnbuckle connector. This opens up the chance for Vader to deliver the powerbomb for the shocking win. The fans are actually half shocked/half applauding seeing a title change. Match was awesome! It’ll be interesting to see how Sting adapts to this monster’s dominance.
NWA World tag title finals: WCW tag team champions Terry Gordy and Dr. Death vs. Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes
The faces jog to the ring, showing that they still have something to offer endurance wise. The Steiners come down in their zubaz, but are sent to the back by security. Windham battles Dr. Death to a stalemate in a Greco-Roman stand off. Gordy and Dustin feel things out before Gordy hits a back suplex, which sparks Rhodes to deliver a series of elbows. Windham tags in and locks Gordy in a figure-four. Gordy escapes and tags in Doc who tangles with Windham on the ground. Gordy and Rhodes then tag in and take it to the mat to try and grind out some measure of control.
Doc wears away at Rhodes and then lets Gordy back in for another round of STF torture. The crowd is dead, I assume because the heels are very much arm and leg lock heavy on their offensive, and are being dominant without cheating, so you can’t really boo them for controlling the action. Rhodes survives a powerslam and finally makes the lukewarm tag to Windham.
Windham tears through both heels, hitting a lariat on Gordy and downing Doc with a suplex and a gut wrench suplex. Windham is sent into the turnbuckle and that allows Gordy to tag in and begin grinding away at Windham as the fifteen-minute mark passes. Doc comes in for a facelock and abdominal stretch as this match just keeps on going. Rhodes finally makes the hot tag but his attack lasts about ten seconds before Williams locks him in a front facelock. Rhodes fights his way out but gets cut off again. Doc misses a charge but he’s able to escape a bulldog and clothesline Rhodes down for the win. Another 20 minute plus match and while technically solid, so many LONG matches have tested my patience. Especially when the offensive is largely “restholds.”
Final thoughts: Hindsight being 20/20, the tournament quarterfinals should have probably played out on TV, leaving more room for a diverse card. I’d have to guess this PPV may have set a record for most in ring match time for a three hour PPV.
Far too many matches of great length back to back burnt out the crowd and Williams and Gordy were getting a hard push without really having the heat to go along with it. Having the heels win the WCW prior to this also took away a chance to draw some money with a WCW vs. NWA Tag title unification match with the Miracle Violence Connection facing off with the Steiners.
Up next is the highly regarded Clash of the Champions 20 card that celebrated 20 years of Turner airing wrestling. I’m very excited to see that!