The SmarK Rant for WCW Great American Bash 1991
(Originally written 04.01.14)
Live from Baltimore, MD
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone and a whole lot of bad vibes.
Scaffold match: PN News & Bobby Eaton v. Steve Austin & Terry Taylor
So this kind of sums up all the problems they were having, and the match was hilariously dissected by Steve Austin on his podcast recently, as the people who built it made it too narrow for anyone to pass each other. Hell, I was watching the product weekly at this point and I couldn’t even tell how they ended up with this ridiculous combination for an opener. Would a normal tag match or two singles matches been too much to ask? So let me attempt to describe the “action” here. The guys line up single-file along the scaffold because they can’t go around each other, and Austin crawls around on his hands and knees menacingly while trying not to tumble to his death. The next highspot sees News laying on Taylor after a test of strength before the guys move as fast as humanly possible to the safe zones at the ends of the scaffold and pair off there. And thankfully, Bobby grabs the heel flag (sorry, did I not mention that you have to capture a flag to win the match? Because you totally did.) but Steve Austin sprays him in the face with hairspray. The announcers are remarkably unconcerned about someone walking around blind while 30 feet in the air, as Jim Ross is like “Wow, he’s blinded, that kind of sucks.” And then the match is just over and the babyfaces win at 8:00 for no adequately explored reason. Hell of a way to kick off the PPV! -****
Jim Ross explains that, yeah, Ric Flair is “no longer considered the WCW World champion” but we’ve got a hell of a show anyway! Lex Luger and Barry Windham, folks! How can that not be awesome?
Meanwhile, Paul E. Dangerously and Arn Anderson cut a promo while they take the scaffolding down. Also, they’re now in a mixed tag match against Missy Hyatt and Rick Steiner for some reason.
The announcers continue filling dead air while they take the stupid scaffolding down.
The Diamond Studd v. Tom Zenk
DDP with a mullet, plus bedazzled fanny pack, could not be any more clichéd 90s wrestler unless he was wearing Zubaz. WCW’s crack camera crew shows Zenk standing at the top of the ramp with his harem of cheerleaders, all of them standing there looking bored until it’s time for the entrance, at which point they all excitedly come down to the ring like they were excited the whole time. WCW, ladies and gentlemen. Zenk and Studd quickly brawl to the floor as I should point out that Scott Hall has “Stud” on his tights instead of “Studd”, which would be his name at that point. Because, you know, WCW. They slug it out in the ring and Studd gets an abdominal stretch, and judging by Hall’s physique DDP must have his fanny pack stuffed with steroids for him. Zenk tries a comeback and gets chokeslammed, and this would seem to set up the big finisher they’ve been hyping, but instead Zenk gets a sunset flip for two. Studd keeps punching and kicking, but Zenk hits a superkick and they continue this war on the floor. Back in, Zenk with a missile dropkick and he beats on DDP for some reason, allowing Studd to hit a backdrop suplex for the pin at 7:00. Not exactly a dominant PPV debut for the Diamond Studd. And they were actually TRYING for god knows what reason. How can I bash this show if the wrestlers are gonna make an effort? Some people are so selfish. Hall was probably too drunk to even realize Flair was gone anyway. **
The Great and Powerful Oz v. Ron Simmons
OK, now I’ve got something to work with. No one ever accused Kevin Nash of trying too hard at anything ever. Ironically, back then he was dying his hair to make it MORE grey. So true story, Turner had recently purchased the rights to show Wizard of Oz on TBS, and wanted a wrestling character tie-in to take advantage of the brand. And this is what the combined brain power of Kevin Sullivan and Dusty Rhodes came up with: Kevin Nash in neon green tights. So Mr. Oz puts Ron down with a big boot, but Simmons takes him down with drop toehold and I think Nash tears a quad on it. They’ve found his one weakness: Taking simple bumps! Oz continues staggering around the ring until Simmons clotheslines him to the floor while one poor bastard keeps trying to start a “boring” chant. Oh, buddy, you have no idea what you’re in for later, you should save that. So with Nash having done his highspot for the match, they head back in for a test of strength. JR’s analysis: “It would favor the taller guy, unless the smaller guy is stronger.” So the test of strength favors the stronger guy? Fascinating. Oz with a sideslam for two and the Great Wizard (wearing slacks and sneakers underneath his mysterious robe) gets a cheapshot in. And now it’s time for Nash’s other highspot, the BEARHUG. Simmons thankfully escapes that predicament and comes back with shoulderblocks…which finish at 8:00. See? Nash’s one weakness, the simple bump. And that was that for Oz, never to be seen in the business again. *
Wait, he went on to be World champion? Multiple times? WHAT THE FUCK, WRESTLING?
The WCW Top 10!
This WCW Top Ten and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this WCW Top Ten in error please notify the system manager. This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this WCW Top Ten. Please notify the sender immediately by WCW Top Ten if you have received this WCW Top Ten by mistake and delete this WCW Top Ten from your system. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited. If you’re Ric Flair you’re pretty much fucked already, legally speaking.
10. Johnny B. Badd
9. Ron Simmons
8. Diamond Studd
7. Terrance Taylor
6. Arn Anderson
5. Bobby Eaton
4. Steve Austin
2. Barry Windham
1. Lex Luger
And the World title, of course, is vacant.
Ricky Morton v. Robert Gibson
Some might have argued that the Rockers’ breakup was the most memorable of all-time, but I would argue that…wait, no sorry, I wouldn’t actually argue that. My bad. This was awful and no one wanted to see it. Also, Morton is still wearing the same tights despite the team breaking up, which I call Tito Santana-itis. IT’S A REAL THING. Look it up on Alexandra York’s word processor! Could she access Gopher on that thing, I wonder? They brawl on the ramp to start and Gibson gets a slam in the ring, sending Morton flailing to the floor in terror. Morton gets some advice from the computer, and it turns out to be an e-mail notifying him of late child support payments. Back in, Morton stalls as I ponder whose bright idea it was to take the most effective babyface in the history of tag team wrestling and TURN HIM HEEL. So Gibson slugs away, but Morton sends him into the corner to take over and goes to work on the injured knee. Yup, the dream clash of the Rock N Roll Express is one old dude working the knee on the other old dude. Jim Ross notes that he’s not an orthopedic surgeon, but that could be bad for Gibson’s surgically repaired knee. Whew, I was about to go put a guy wearing a leg brace in a figure-four on his advice, but at least now I can’t sue JR. So this match keeps happening and it’s literally all Ricky Morton working on the damn knee while they lie on the mat. So after ELEVEN MINUTES of that, Gibson tries a comeback, but Morton is still working on that damn knee. Alexandra York is so bored that she’s sexting Dustin Rhodes on her computer and people are literally sitting at ringside and yawning. Finally, Gibson tries another comeback, but Morton dodges a dropkick and…you guessed it…goes back to the knee. People are so bored that they start chanting for CM Punk, which is weird because he would have been in elementary school at the time, but obviously the crowd had enough time to collectively build a time machine and travel forward 20 years to watch good wrestling before returning to be annoyed by this shitty match all over again. And then after literally 15 minutes of Morton working on the damn knee, York distracts the ref and Morton just hits Gibson with the computer for the pin at 16:27. Some dude in the front row is so irritated by that stupid finish that he tosses garbage at the ring. Who booked this shit? DUD
Elimination tag match: The Freebirds & Badstreet v. Dustin Rhodes & The Young Pistols
Dustin’s pre-match promo where he says absolutely nothing is a thing of beauty. Thankfully he got much better at them and evolved beyond yelling “WE’LL SHOW YOU SOMETHING ABOUT ELIMINATION SIX-MAN TAG MATCHES!” while pointing at the camera. Dustin clears the ring with elbows as everyone bumps for the Knight of Nepotism long before he was any good. The Freebirds quickly take over with a cheapshot, giving Jimmy Garvin plenty of time to stall. They literally stand around posing while even the announcers question why Tracy Smothers is stupid enough to let them do it instead of, you know, hitting them. The Pistols bring Badstreet in and Steve Armstrong puts his own masked brother on the floor. Badstreet returns the favor and Garvin gets a cheapshot on Smothers and go to work on him. Hayes with a sleeper as I ponder WCW logic: The Freebirds need a third guy, so instead of getting another Freebird they put Brad Armstrong under a mask. Like, was Buddy Roberts REALLY asking for that much money? And Garvin doesn’t disappoint in sucking, going right to a chinlock. Badstreet comes in with a neckbreaker for two, but Smothers makes the alleged hot tag to Armstrong and it’s BONZO GONZO. Steve tries for Badstreet’s mask, but Hayes DDTs him and gets the pin at 13:47. And then he immediately throws the eliminated Armstrong over the top and gets DQ’d. Er, why? Never mind. I don’t really care. So now it’s just a total mess and Garvin DDTs Smothers for the pin at 15:19. Dustin then eliminates Garvin with a lariat at 15:32 and finishes Badstreet after a decent little sequence with a bulldog at 17:00. Why was this even elimination rules? *1/2
Bounty match: The Yellow Dog v. Johnny B. Badd
The Yellow Dog actually brings a yellow dog to the ring with him, because WCW. Speaking of which, at this point the screen goes black and there’s a disclaimer from the Network that there was technical difficulties and this was the most complete version available. Dammit, we almost lost this match! And someone saved it. WHY? The Dog gets a suspiciously Pillman-like dropkick and chops Badd to the floor, and then a Pillman-like crucifix gets two. I’m starting to suspect that this mysterious yellow-clad figure is not who he represents himself to be. Badd attacks him on the floor and they slug it out in the ring, where the Dog botches a crossbody attempt. Good thing it’s not Brian Pillman because that would be embarrassing for him. Badd goes for the mask with no success, but the Dog comes back with a backdrop suplex. He goes up with a high cross, but Teddy Long runs in for the DQ at 6:00. Yeah. So this happened. *
Meanwhile, Eric Bischoff goes to interview Missy Hyatt in her locker room, which seems a tad inappropriate. So Eric actually goes into the shower, clearly knowing that she would be naked, and he’s all shocked when she freaks out and kicks him out. And yet instead of getting fired for sexual harassment, he was made Executive VP two years later! Only in America.
Lumberjack match: Black Blood v. Big Josh
What is with all the shitty stipulation matches tonight? Josh is of course from the North Woods, although where in the North and which Woods are never specified. You might be thinking “Oh, Billy Jack Haynes v. Matt Borne, this should be decent” but OH HOW WRONG YOU WOULD BE. Black Blood is apparently a literal executioner, carrying a bloody axe to the ring after guillotining someone in France. Do you have to check that thing at the airport? Well, clearly now you would, but I guess it was a simpler time before 9/11. DAMN YOU TERRORISTS, robbing hard-working executioners of the ability to carry their tools. I feel like that’s the reason why the gimmick was dropped, because all things being equal he would have been World champion had the hassle of carrying the giant axe from city to city not overcome him. So anyway, Josh slugs away and the lumberjacks randomly brawl with each other. You know, if House taught me anything, it’s that Black Blood in his urine would indicate kidney shutdown, so perhaps Mr. Blood should see a doctor. Maybe that’s why the gimmick failed? And is Black Blood any relation to Ricky Steamboat? So Blood grabs the axe, apparently wanting to literally decapitate Big Josh to win a wrestling match, but luckily Josh gets a small package after assistance from Dustin Rhodes for the pin at 5:41. Ah, the old beheading trick, oldest heel move in the book. If only Henry VIII’s wives had known that you could small package the executioner to evade beheading, history would look a lot different. I believe his finisher was called the Robespierre, or at least should have been. DUD
El Gigante v. One Man Gang
Kevin Sullivan is working double duty tonight, seconding Gang as well as Oz. He was supposed to also be in Black Blood’s corner but was apparently too busy getting his skullet teased for this. I should note that even Big Josh gets a harem of women to accompany him, whereas Gigante gets four midgets as his posse. Thankfully, Kevin Sullivan beats them up. Gigante uses the WORLD’S LARGEST CLUBBING FOREARMS while poor Gang has to bump for him. Gigante misses a “charge” and “sells” it by staggering around like a drunk guy, allowing Gang to use a wrench to take over. Yes, an actual wrench. Why not just grab Black Blood’s giant bloody axe and use that instead? Unless airport security already made him check it with the baggage. DAMN YOU TERRORISTS! I remember when you could carry an Uzi on with you and then buy ammunition from the Skymall while doing coke with the hooker/stewardess. DAMN YOU TERRORISTS. I may be remembering it wrong, granted. Gang hits a splash and goes up and then stands there waiting for Gigante to remember his mark and slam him off. Line? Oh yeah, it was “WAAAAGH!” Gigante puts the claw on Sullivan, but Gang gets a bunch of powder, or salt, or something according to Tony, which Gigante kicks back in his face for the pin at 6:30. Shit, I bet those fascist airport guards wouldn’t let him carry that bag of blow on the plane with him, either. DAMN YOU TERRORISTS! -** Negative stars are starting to lose all meaning for me.
Russian Chain match: Sting v. Nikita Koloff
This actually was the one match on the show with good heat and backstory to it, so of course they ruin it with one of my least favorite stipulation matches. So yeah, they brawl around the ring and Sting manages two turnbuckles before Koloff clotheslines him and takes over on the floor. Sting runs him into the post, but Koloff wraps the chain around his arm and drops elbows on Sting. We get a dull heat segment and Koloff drags him around for three corners before Sting breaks it up. They do a silly bit where they fight in a bearhug and end up touching two corners at the same time, and then both guys go to the nuts, which kind of an allegory for this fucking show. And then both tumble into the third corner at the same time, because WHAT THE FUCK, but Koloff breaks it up and we’re still at 3 each for some reason. Sting dives in and knocks Koloff into the turnbuckle to give him the win at 11:50. Even by the low standards of the gimmick match this whole thing made no sense. *
WCW World title, cage match: Lex Luger v. Barry Windham
The dead space before the match just allows the crowd to get good and pissed off and chant for Flair, as it was now readily apparent that Ric Flair was not going to show up. Oh, and they spell Windham’s name wrong in the pre-match graphic. Because WCW. And the belt appears to be an old Western States title belt with “World Heavyweight Champion” superimposed via cheap gold plate. Because WCW. And now the hostility really starts from the crowd, as they unload with both barrels because WE WANT FLAIR. Man, that Flair, what a petulant child, leaving like he did just because Jim Herd wanted to cut his pay in half and dress him like a gladiator. So on the bright side, people liked Lex Luger, so at least they’d have a top babyface after this, right? They do the feeling-out and this crowd is just ready to HATE the match like they’re John Cena and Randy Orton. Slugfest and Windham gets a backdrop but the crowd would really rather see Flair. They continue having a match and Windham goes up with a flying elbow that misses, but Luger comes back with the clotheslines for two. The cage has played absolutely no part in the match thus far, by the way. Powerslam sets up the Torture Rack, but Windham manages to use the ropes and counter out, then hits a backdrop suplex as the crowd starts to get into it against their will. They fight to the top and Windham fights him off and follows with a top rope clothesline for two. Back to the top and a missile dropkick gets two. And now one of the great miscalculations in WCW history, as Harley Race and Mr. Hughes head to ringside, and Luger piledrives Windham for the pin and the title at 12:20. This was apparently supposed to be a heel turn for Luger, but fans cheer it anyway. And Luger of course went to be a giant flop as heel champion before leaving for the WWF in 92. Match was pretty decent despite the atmosphere and hostile crowd. But really, a heel turn in a main event where you should send the angry fans home happy? ***
The Real Main Event: Missy Hyatt & Rick Steiner v. Paul E. Dangerously & Arn Anderson
Thankfully, Paul is the one to break out the Zubaz and thus confim that it’s 1991. This was also pretty mind-boggling as the Maryland commission didn’t actually allow mixed gender matches so Missy wasn’t allowed to have any real involvement in the match. And indeed, Murdoch and Slater kidnap her, thus leaving Rick at a disadvantage. Without, you know, Missy Hyatt to depend on. They actually try a match for some reason, with the heels double-teaming Rick for a bit, but he quickly finishes Paul E. with a clothesline at 2:00. Pretty sure half the crowd had emptied out by then anyway. DUD
JR & Tony recap all the carnage to end things. Tony notes that they’ve made a statement tonight. Oh, that they did.
Gotta say, it was bad no doubt, but not the giant flaming car wreck I remember from the 90s. I have actually seen much worse shows and would downgrade this one from Worst Of All-Time like it usually gets. It’s legendarily bad, sure, but the crowd was into some of the stuff and some of the guys were trying at least. It’s at best #2 behind Heroes of Wrestling on the list of most atrocious crapfests ever put on PPV. Now there’s some exuberant praise for you.