Fourth of July Countdown! Great American Bash ’92

(Geez, another one I should have redone because the original rant is complete ass.  Get with the program, 2017 Scott!)   

The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Great American Bash 1992

– Live from Albany, Georgia.

– Your hosts are Tony Schiavone, Magnum TA, Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura.

– Eric Bischoff interviews Bill Watts to start, who defends the “off the top” rule and basically wishes everyone in the NWA tag title tournament good luck.  (Funny that Bill was already on the defensive about his stupid rule changes at this point.) 

– This is very much a special interest show:  It features the NWA World tag team title tournament and a World title match between Sting and Vader, and nothing else.  The first round of the tournament was held at Clash 19 a few weeks previous to this show, and as well Steve Williams and Terry Gordy fought the Steiners in a quarterfinal round match on that same show, which was won by the MVC (Miracle Violence Connection, their Japanese team name.), sending them to the semi-finals on this show.

Opening match: Brian Pillman & Jushin Liger v. Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat.

Good enough choice for an opener, but it has two distinct portions:  The portion involving Ricky Steamboat (which ROCKS) and the portion involving Nikita Koloff (which SUCKS).  I wish I could have seen Ricky Steamboat v. Jushin Liger before Steamboat retired.  Not much to say about this one, back and forth with good action until Pillman tries a flying bodypress and Steamboat rolls through for the pin.  ***  (Oh yeah, it’s 98 Scott all right.) 

– I should mention that Jim Ross had managed to oust Dusty Rhodes as the booker at this point, so everything is clean no matter how boring it may be.

– The Freebirds v. Hiroshi Hase & Shinya Hashimoto.

The tape I’m watching cuts out almost the entirety of this match, but it’s the Freebirds AND Hashimoto in the same match so it’s safe to say it sucked. (Professional wrestling reviewing at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.  Although to be fair this was before the days of Youtube where you could just look something up if you tape cut out.)  The Japanese team shows up later in the night so I guess the ‘Birds jobbed here (yay!), which is good because I hate their guts.

– My tape cuts back in just in time for the intros to…

– Rick Rude & Steve Austin v. Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes.

This would be approaching the zenith of the Windham-Rhodes team.  The Dangerous Alliance was in decline, as Rude spent all his time with Austin and Madusa instead of Paul E.  Decent enough match, everyone was pretty much at the top of their game at this point.  Rude even pulls off a top-rope dropkick!  Interesting note:  Rude is US champion and Austin is TV champion at this point.  Rude lost his belt to Dustin Rhodes and Austin lost his to Barry Windham (albeit briefly and before this match).  Life is funny sometimes, no?  Long headlock sequence in the middle really kills this one.  Hot tag to Dustin, who cleans house.  Austin tries a piledriver on Windham, but Rhodes is the legal man and comes off the top with a clothesline for the pin on Austin.  ***  Lots of goofy graphical effects interject themselves for some reason.  (I saw this one a few years ago on 24/7 or Vintage Collection or something, and it’s pretty badass, like ***1/2 – ***3/4)

– Bischoff interviews the Van They Call Vader and Harley Race, in preparation for Sting.

– Semifinal #1:  Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat v. The Miracle Violence Connection.

Williams & Gordy were in the midst of the monster push of a lifetime here, and had recently beaten the Steiners to win the WCW World tag titles.  Bill Watts just LOVED these two.  (Who didn’t really?  You put Steve Williams and Terry Gordy together and get them to beat the piss out of people, what’s not to love?)  Extended armbar here. The crowd dies here and never really gets back into it for the rest of the night.  Mat wrestling exhibition.  This is why WCW fired Jim Ross as a booker in the first place.  (To be fair, I don’t think Ross ever had THAT much power, since Watts was really the main decision maker.  JR certainly had his ear, though.)  Really long and dull match.  Blame WCW for the onset of 6 match PPVs, as this one goes about 20 minutes plus. Semi-hot ending has Steamboat going for the bodypress, but Gordy pushes him off, into the arms of Dr. Death, who Stampedes him for the academic pin.  **  (Another one I saw later where I short-shrifted the original viewing.  Outside of the dull middle portion, this was a hell of a tag match, again a ***1/2 affair.) 

– Semifinal #2:  Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v. Shinya Hashimoto & Hiroshi Hase.

Man, this is a no-nonsense PPV.  Just bang-bang-bang, one match after another.  (Wrestling is SERIOUS.  No fancy stuff!)  The arena is so dark it looks like Hardcore Heaven.  Dustin v. Shinya is the closest the world ever got to Dustin fighting his father.  (I don’t know what Shinya Hashimoto did to piss me off.)  Bad match which gets marginally better when Hase is in.  Hot tag to Windham about 15 minutes in, who beats up Hase and then nails the lariat for the pin.  *1/2

– Tony & Magnum interview Ron Simmons.

– WCW World title match:  Sting v. Big Van Vader.

Vader still has that goofy helmet.  Setup:  Vader splashed and destroyed Sting in the Omni a few months ago.  Big staredown to start.  This is match #2 in a series of about 40,000, the last of which occurs at Fall Brawl 94 to quietly end one of the longest running feuds in wrestling.  This is like the prologue in a long novel, as Sting has yet to really meet Vader in a meaningful match and doesn’t realize what he’s getting into.  Sting starts out smart, sticking and moving fast, but gets dumb and never recovers.  Vader crushes him.  He even puts Sting in the Scorpion Deathlock at one point.  Vader is mauling Sting like a grizzly, with stiff rights and clotheslines.  Sting makes a comeback, but it takes as much out of him as it does Vader, and Sting isn’t in great shape here to begin with.  Sting hits a fallaway slam, but it takes forever for him to execute and you can tell he’s out of gas and the end is near for him. German suplex (barely) for 2, Stinger splash, and again, but Vader drops down on the second one and Sting slams his head into the ringpost.  He’s bleeding and is a walking dead man and everyone can just feel it.  He takes a couple of big shots at Vader, but he just casually steps aside and Sting falls flat on his face and stays there.  Vader picks him up and powerbombs him, but it’s just a formality because Sting wasn’t getting up to begin with.  The three count is academic.  Vader claims his first WCW World title, and the crowd is in SHOCK.  ****1/4  This is one of the best fucking matches I’ve ever seen.  Vader just absolutely dismantled Sting here, and Sting’s gotta be the biggest company man ever, because he did the mega-job, getting the crap kicked out of him for the cause of putting Vader over BIGTIME.  This is the match that *made* Vader.  (That’s how wrestling used to work, yes.  A big star puts over a guy who they want to be a big star and makes him into a big star too, and then they fight again for EVEN BIGGER MONEY.  Like Chael Sonnen v. Anderson Silva II.  I think Aries-Roode should rip off the finish from the first Silva-Sonnen fight, with Aries beating the hell out of Roode for 15 minutes before getting trapped in a triangle choke.) 

– Bischoff interviews the new champ.

– NWA World tag team title final:  Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v. Steve Williams & Terry Gordy.

Ole Anderson is the referee here, proving if anything that there *is* a job he can do worse than booking.  (High five!  Anyone?) I always thought the NWA tag titles looked better than the WCW ones.  The Steiners come down to ringside, but get chased off by WCW security.  I can appreciate the attempts from Ross & Watts to push mat wrestling, but it’s sooooo boring to sit through it.  Crowd is dead silent throughout after that last match basically ripped out their heart.  Eyebrow-raising moment:  Mongo’s name gets dropped in reference to Steve Williams’ football career.  This is a slow, deliberate match which is 99.99% controlled by the MVC.  Headlock, armbar, submission moves…just about as basic as you get.  Dustin makes a hot tag to Windham, who immediately gets caught in a headlock and becomes the Face in Peril in Rhodes’ place.  Hot tag #2 to Rhodes, who becomes Face In Peril in Windham’s place.  God forbid the crowd should be excited about anything here. Windham never gets hot tag #3, as Williams goes for the Oklahoma Stampede, but Windham comes in and dropkicks Rhodes on top.  (If I were booking it, that’d be the ending right there…underdog win and poetic justice in one.)  Williams easily kicks out, however, ruining the fans’ night by ripping Rhodes’ head off with a clothesline and pinning him to become the first and last NWA World tag team champions, unifying them with the WCW version right out of the gate.  *1/2

The Bottom Line:

Aside from Vader-Sting, this was an utterly pointless waste of time. The MVC were already WCW World champions at this point, there was no need to put the NWA World titles on them as well!  Let a babyface team take them, like the Steiners, and then build to a big unification match. (I was just going to say that!  Thanks, 1998 Scott.)  Instead, we get boring MVC win after win, as they take out everyone and capture all the gold in one night and send the fans home bored and unhappy.  Wrestling is not a sport to watch the better team win with superior athleticism.  In the real world, Williams & Gordy were the best team in the field and would have won with solid mat wrestling, true.  In the wrestling world, however, the better team rarely wins, and even more rarely with mat wrestling.  The Steiners should have won this tournament to set up the big blowoff between them and the MVC that Ross was pushing all night.  It never happened. Wrestling is not the real world, and when it tries to be the results are a dull show like Bash 92.  For Bill Watts/Jim Ross wrestling “purists” however, I’m sure this show is exactly what anti-screwjob factions are screaming for.  If nothing else, I’d like to warn y’all that clean, basic mat wrestling is generally boring as hell.  As an interesting note, Williams & Gordy went on to lose the “Unfied” titles to Windham and Rhodes, the very team they beat to unify it.  (The cat burglar has been caught by the very person who was trying to catch him!) 

Recommended for Sting-Vader, but not really much else unless you’re a big MVC fan.  (Don’t be a hater, 1998 Scott.  There was some SWANK tag team wrestling on this show and I’ll take a three-hour PPV of clean finishes and basic wrestling these days seven days a week and twice on Sunday.  This is another one I wanna YouTu…er, I mean, watch when a legal WWE authorized DVD copy comes out…and see if it the show looks any different to me now.) 

(And thanks for reading along tonight!  We’ll pick this up again tomorrow afternoon.)

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