Rock Star Gary reflects on WCW Great American Bash ’91

Live from Baltimore, MD

Airdate: July 14, 1991

Attendance:  7,000 (5,500 paid)

Hosted by Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone

We’ve reached a turning point for WCW. How bad can it be? Read on!

Read moreRock Star Gary reflects on WCW Great American Bash ’91

Lex Luger heel turn in 1994?

I’ve been going through the Raw shows of 1994 and my question – did they ever consider having Luger turn heel & join the Million Dollar Man? It was obvious from the beginning he wasn’t, but wouldn’t it have been so much better for Luger, who was stuck in the mud as a face? He was like the #5 face by the end of the year, but could’ve been a main event heel & helped the DiBiase’s corporation feel more like a threat. Heel Tatanka was sad.

Take a drink.

And no, Luger was never planned to be a heel. Probably would have helped immensely, but it just wasn’t where they wanted to go with him.

More Luger Flair Goodness

Scott,

Just watched Halloween Havoc 89, on the network. The thing that stood out to the me most was how over Lex was as a heel, and how he could more than handle his end of a match as evidenced by the series of good matches he had throughout 89. I'd argue that this was his peak in the business. Why not have him go over Flair at Starrcade while Sting blows off his feud with Muta. They then could build toward Sting vs Luger and hold off on the Flair turn so that Sting has a credible challenger once he gets the strap as opposed to the Black Scorpion. Seems like this would make both guys in the process. Thoughts?

​I'm sure they would have loved that because they spent the better part of 1990 trying to get Flair to do a job to Luger, but Flair wanted to put Sting over, period.  It seemed like the right call at the time, but in hindsight I actually think that Flair should have just made Luger because Sting was a huge flop and Luger at least was a strong heel, as noted.  ​

Luger or Savage as the third man

Hola Scott,

Just reading the Bischoff shoot piece and he brings up how Sting was going to be the third man if Hogan backed out (nothing new there). But in terms of storyline, wouldn't it have made more sense for either Luger or Savage to be the third man? Both had just jumped ship from the WWF, and thus it kind of made sense that they would align with Hall & Nash. To that point, you can even say they made MORE sense than Hogan (and especially more than Sting).

Why do you think they would have gone with Sting as the second option rather than Luger or Savage? I mean in the end, Hogan was the smart business move, but still. 

Well at least Sting and Hogan both had the advantage of never having been a heel before (in the modern era of both performers, at least) whereas Luger turned all the time and Savage was most famous for being a heel.  I just don't feel like the angle would have worked as well as it did with anyone but Hogan anyway.  

Luger Question

So, I finally broke down (since I have disposable income again) and signed up for the Network <insert 9.99 joke here>. I'm still on my trial but I've been watching a lot of old NWA/WCW PPVs (I have the Great American Bash 1990 on as I type this, Luger-Mean Mark) and this is more of a what if.

But what if Luger had gone to the WWF after his time in Florida circa 1986-1987? How different do you think his career would have been? Would he have been groomed as a replacement for Hogan? Would he have gotten the Savage-like treatment (friend then enemy, title traded between them)? Would he have gotten the Warrior spot at WrestleMania VI? Would he have been a midcard draw/IC Title contender?
​Interesting question.  Luger's circumstances were kind of special in 86 because Crockett pretty much snapped him up instantly following his debut and groomed him to be a Horseman.  Everyone knew he was green as grass and terrible in the ring, but working with Flair and Windham and that crew night after night turned him into a decent worker pretty quickly.  ​Amazing how that works.  
Had he gone to WWF, I think he would have been slotted into something more like the Hercules Hernandez slot — guy with a good body, probably given a goofy gimmick and fed to Hogan for a heel of the month run around the horn. He wasn't showing any particular breakout charisma or star power at that point.  

Sting and Luger – Because WCW?

Extant1979 here. So, if you end up reviewing Nitro, maybe this question gets answered, but I'm into January 1996 now and I thought maybe this could spur some discussion on the BoD. 


Was there an endgame planned for Sting and Lex Luger that just never came to fruition when the nWo came along? Or was it just a week-to-week thing that was allowed to continue to evolve into Sting becoming Crow Sting when the nWo debuted? Was there anything discussed in the the WON archives? 

Pretty much everything from the Nitro era onwards was pretty week-to-week, with Luger seemingly jumping back and forth between heel and face depending on the week and the situation.  There was no endgame I can remember.  

July Classics – Ricky Steamboat vs. Lex Luger – Bash ’89

On the 6/10/89 edition of World Championship Wrestling, Lex Luger complained of being held back, and thought he was worthy of a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship over the likes of Ricky Steamboat or Terry Funk. At Clash VII, Luger made the save for Steamboat when Funk attacked the Steamer with a microphone, but then promptly turned on The Dragon, once again becoming a heel. On World Championship Wrestling, Luger cut a promo saying that he turned on Steamboat because he was tired of making the fans happy, and wanted to prove that he was better. So this match for the United States Championship was signed for Bash ’89.

NOTE: The Network does not have a milestone marker for anything from Bash ’89, and I already posted the link to that show a few days ago, so here’s the Dailymotion version.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xz8iw7_31-89-07-23-lex-luger-vs-ricky-steamboat-great-american-bash_sport

Fwd: Luger


Scott,

I am a huge Luger fan. Always felt he was a bit under appreciated. He was in TWO of my all time favorite tag matches (Luger/Windham vs Arn/Tully, Luger/Sting vs Steiners) was a GOD to me in 1989, and found his tweaner schtick with Jimmy Hart in late '95/early '96 to be just gold.

Anyhow I'm watching various Luger title wins on youtube (and why he never held every title at once is a crime) and it occurs to me

Does ANYONE in the history of pro wrestling do a title celebration quite like Luger? The guy seriously makes like every title win seems like the biggest deal ever. Even the U.S. title.

Little things like that just really seem to be missing from today's world of wrestling.

Abso-smurf-ly.  Bryan's title win had some awesome pomp and circumstance, but Orton and Cena win the things like they're dispensed from a claw machine.  "Hey I got a title belt, neat!"   And Dean Ambrose just had a YEAR LONG title reign ended!   This should be a big deal!   And yet Sheamus barely registers excitement and they go and beat Ambrose right away on Smackdown anyway.  Way to make stars, guys.  
They should all watch that Connor video and approach the art form with the kind of wonder and excitement that the kid did.  The product would be a million times better.  

Lex Luger in 1993

Hey Scott,

I'm watching the RAWs from 1993 on the Network and wondering why the sudden change in character with Lex Luger at the Intrepid body slam thing? Strange that he changed from heel to face with no real explanation. 

That's all I got.

Thanks.

Because they were paying Luger a shit-ton of money for a character that was belly-flopping like Rikishi in a wading pool, and they figured that with Hogan gone they would kill two birds with one stone and get their American hero and return on investment with Luger.  And honestly, if they hadn't fucked it up with the Summerslam delay of the payoff, it would have worked fine.  

Shoot of the Day: Luger v. Brody

Given that we’ve been talking about Andre v. Maeda lately, here’s the most famous shoot in wrestling history (arguably): And the Masked Man article written about it: http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/63888/wrestlings-greatest-shoots-volume-1-bruiser-brody-vs-lex-luger Man, Brody was being a dick here.  I know Meltzer sees it another way but he was best friends with the guy so obviously he would.  Wrestling is built on trusting your opponent and Luger was a young kid who basically got betrayed by a pissed off and hungover Brody, just because Luger was the guy who was getting pushed at that point and Brody didn’t want to do business.  If you watch the video, you can see about 6:30 Luger basically turn to Fonzie in desperation and go “What the hell do I do now?” before fleeing the ring in terror all the way to millions of dollars in JCP.  It actually gets pretty tense to watch once Brody starts no-selling the punches and every fan should see it at least once. 

Another interesting note on Luger vs Flair

Hey Scott,
Don't know if you've ever heard anything about this, but according to www.thehistoryofwwe.com, Lex was supposed to go Flair clean for the title at a house show in Chicago, Illinois on March 23, 1990, which was only a few weeks after "Wrestlewar 90". A film crew had been flown in for the change.
If Sting was indeed pegged to beat Flair the whole time, than this kind of throws a wrench into that plan. If Luger wins the title here, does he turn heel again so soon after turning face and they do Luger- Sting at the Bash 90? Or would Sting have went over Flair in a revenge match without a title on the line and maybe they do Luger- Sting at that years Starrcade?

NWA @ Chicago, IL – UIC Pavilion – March 23, 1990 (6,500)
A film crew, as well as Lance Russell, Chris Cruise, and Dennis Brent were flown to the city to tape what was scheduled to be NWA World Champion Ric Flair losing the title to NWA US Champion Lex Luger; the title change didn't take place because Flair wasn't given ample notice, which was part of his contract; Flair agreed to the title change but only in return for a contract release, which Jim Herd refused; Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Bill Apter was also on hand
Mike Rotunda pinned Cactus Jack; after the bout, Cactus was taken to the hospital for having been tied in the ring ropes too long during the match
Norman pinned Kevin Sullivan
Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson defeated Jimmy Garvin & Steve Casey (sub. for Michael Hayes)
NWA US Tag Team Champions Brian Pillman & Tom Zenk defeated Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane
NWA Tag Team Champions Rick & Scott Steiner defeated NWA TV Champion Arn Anderson & Ole Anderson
The Road Warriors defeated Doom
NWA World Champion Ric Flair pinned NWA US Champion Lex Luger at 20:13 after Ole Anderson interfered and hit Luger with Woman's high heel shoe

They were doing the stupid high heel shoe finish even back then?  Huh.  
I know that once Sting was out they were basically trying to get Flair to drop the title to Luger on a weekly basis.  They endgame was likely always going to be Sting v. Luger with Flair out of the picture, and I imagine they would have had Luger turn heel once he won the title to pull it off.  

Luger as Bash Victim

Hi Scott, hope you are well.
 
Your recent Bash review and the resulting discussions got me thinking about about who, and what, came out of that show taking it on the chin. The fans, WCW, the fans, the World Title, the fans, Flair & Herd, and the fans. But I would argue that there was another victim in all of that, which would send him into a bad headspace which would last far too long. I speak of the guy who got the title itself, Lex Luger.
 
Throughout the 90s, Luger received the reputation for being lazy, untalented, and unmotivated (outside the gym), an assertion I'm not going to argue. However, from 1988 to mid-1991, Luger delivered the goods in a lot of big match situations. He was a part of many good to great matches with numerous different opponents, not all of them world-beaters, which doesn't happen by accident.
 
Flair is the obvious first pick (Bash '88, Starrcade '88, Wrestlewar '90, Capitol Combat '90, Clash XII), but he also had fine matches with Steamboat (Bash '89), Pillman (Havoc '89, Clash IX), Windham (Chi-Town Rumble), Dan Spivey (Wrestlewar '91), good tag matches such as Luger & Windham vs. Tully & Arn (Clash I), Luger & Sting vs. Tully & Arn (Crockett Cup '88), Luger & Sting vs. Steiners (Superbrawl I), and even a solid singles bout with Tommy Rich (Clash VIII)! There were probably some good TV matches during that period as well (the six-man on the WCW DVD comes to mind).
 
During that period, Lex was very over, moved up the ladder, and displayed some patience for his time to come (he didn't flee). Though not highly skilled or a big ring general, Luger certainly gave it the good old college try in his big matches, and found a good heel persona. Admittedly, he was never a great face, but at least he found one side that could work for him.
 
And then, after years of Flair being on top, and Sting having an opportunity that didn't do good business, it was clearly Luger's time to be given a chance. So what happens? Flair, the guy who had been THE man in the company for years, who Luger had jobbed for more than once, refuses to do the same, in effect saying that Luger wasn't worthy. Rather disillusioning I'd say. And Luger must have known that there was no way the fans were going to accept him given the situation. No wonder his motivation went in the toilet.
 
I'm not saying he would have become one of the greats of the decade, but to look at his work before the Bash debacle, and what he did after, it's not hard to see that there was a big change. He got to see the ugly side of business politics, and probably figured there was no point in doing more than necessary, since it was obviously other factors which could make one a top guy. Sometimes, it can only take one big thing at one important time to make a huge difference.
 
Thoughts?
 
Take care,
 
Jon
 

Oh, Bash 91 destroyed him for good, no doubt.  That was supposed to be where Flair put him over once and for all and made him into a superstar, and of course it just didn't happen.  Then the giant limited date contract killed his motivation to improve, and the motorcycle accident was probably the finishing touches.  Ironic that his biggest victory would be what cemented his reputation in the business as an also-ran, but unfortunately that's what it amounts to.  

Lex Luger in the WBF

Hi Scott,
When Lex Luger left WCW in early 1992 why was he used in the WBF instead of the WWF?
Was this Vince thinking that the WBF needed a star name or was it Lex’s decision?
Also if he had debuted in 92 instead of at the 93 Royal Rumble (with either the narcissist gimmick or as a Hogan clone) do you think his WWF carer would have been any different? Might he have had a run with the WWF title in the summer of 92 instead of Flair or Hart?

What is this, Lex Luger day? 
By the way, my Twitter follower count sits at 950-something at the moment, which is weird to me because I didn't think anyone actually cared about my Twitter feed, but if people can get it to 1000 followers by the end of this week (so Friday we'll say), I will finally do a full rant on Money In The Bank 2011 while I'm on vacation next week.  That's the deal, people.
On with the questions.  Luger was used in the WBF because when he left WCW he still had not-insignificant time left on his contract (even though WCW had used up all his actual DATES) and there was a non-compete clause involved as well.  Basically he couldn't legally be a WWF wrestler until 1993, so he was a WBF Superstar instead.  And you'll note that for legal reasons, they never ever referred to him as anything but a bodybuilder until he actually joined the WWF for real.  
Had he debuted in 92 he would have been shoved to the side like every other steroid monkey at the time, so no, his career would not have gone any different in my opinion.  Like really, they fire Warrior and Bulldog and they're gonna push LEX LUGER as their answer to the Zahorian critics?