July PPV Countdown: The Great American Bash 1991

(2012 Scott sez:  You may have heard about this show before.  I was toying with the idea of a redo, but I’m a week away from vacation as it is and I don’t want to completely kill my will to live before I make it through the work week.)  The Netcop Retro Rant for WCW Great American Bash 1991 A word before we get started: Many times over the past few years on RSPW, I and many others have read newer posters state that such-and-such a PPV is the “Worst one ever!” I assure you, whatever a given is, it is not the Worst PPV Ever. nWo Souled Out was extremely bad, but it had a **** ladder match. WWF King of the Ring 1995 was pretty wretched, and certainly the worst WWF PPV, but there was at least one match over **. No, the title of the “The Worst PPV Ever” has always fallen on, and shall always fall on, WCW’s Great American Bash 1991, aka the Flair Protest Show. There is no comparison to anything else, it is, without a doubt, the biggest and most insulting waste of three hours ever to be called a wrestling program. Let this be a lesson to future generations of posters: Don’t watch this show, even to see how bad it could be. It’s just not worth it, no matter how cool your friends say you’ll be. Take up smoking instead. On with the rant. (Sadly, this show’s badness was EASILY eclipsed by Heroes of Wrestling after I wrote this.  EASILY.  I’d probably slot ECW December to Dismember at #2 as well now.)  Live from Baltimore, Maryland, where wrestlers can’t even shave in the morning for fear of the Maryland State Athletic Commission stopping their morning routine due to blood. Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross, with the debuting Eric Bischoff doing interviews. Opening match: PN News & Beautiful Bobby Eaton v. Stunning Steve Austin & Terry Taylor (scaffold match). And they waste no time in tanking the whole f------ show. Who could actually be STUPID enough to start a major PPV with a SCAFFOLD match? The whole dynamic of these things is that all four guys end up crawling around trying not to fall off and kill themselves. That tends to limit the action. I have no idea why it was even signed. (Because Austin and Eaton were sort of feuding over the TV title, and the other guys had nothing better to do, and SCIENCE.) It’s also “capture the flag” rules, meaning no cool 20 foot falls to the mat. I can’t even describe properly how BORING this match is. Crowd is just dead, and I mean DEAD, by the end of this mess. Bobby Eaton grabs the flag and goes back to his corner, and there’s ZERO reaction from the fans, since they’re probably waiting for someone to fall off to end it. Quite possibly the worst opening match in PPV history. -**** I mean it, it was THAT bad. (In all fairness, the Chamber of Horrors match might have been THE worst.  But this was right up there.)  Eric Bischoff interviews Paul E and Arn Anderson. Arn is the ONE guy I would NOT want to be around at that time. The Diamond Studd (w/DDP) v. Tom Zenk. Scott Hall looks very roided up and thick here. (Not that I would want to cast aspersions on the moral fiber of Scott Hall.)  Zenk has good energy for, oh, 5 seconds, and then the Studd puts it in under-drive with the usual kicks and punches. Hey, yo, survey says…this match bites. Crowd drops off like flies. Sooooooooo sloooooooooow. Zenk drags DDP into the ring and beats him up, which enables Studd to get a belly-to-back suplex for the pin. 1/2* This crowd is just merciless tonight in their Flair protest, basically not popping for *anything*.  (I’d say the shitty matches have a lot to do with the state of the crowd as well.)  Oh, well, at least it’s not Kevin Nash. Oz v. Ron Simmons. Oh, f---, it’s Kevin Nash. Oz has Kane’s pyro to bring him out. (They’d already cut the budget on Oz’s entrance to almost nothing after his debut at Superbrawl failed to turn Nash into a giant star.)  This is just after Simmons’ singles push started. He gets one of the few actual pops of the night. Crowd doesn’t bother popping for anything in the match, however, and with good reason. The match is a big, steaming bowl of fresh suck, with lightly seasoned suck sauce, and a side of suck salad. (With suck dressing on the side.)  Lumber, lumber, kick, punch, yawn. Simmons manages to get a reaction by clotheslining Big Sexy the Giant Killer out of the ring. Simmons with three shoulderblocks for the pin. DUD. WCW’s Top 10 this week: 1. Lex Luger 2. Barry Windham 3. Sting 4. Steve Austin 5. Bobby Eaton 6. Arn Anderson 7. El Gigante 8. Diamond Studd 9. Ron Simmons 10. Johnny B. Badd (Sadly I wasn’t doing the WCW Top 10 disclaimer gag at this point because it might have provided me with some entertainment while writing this.)  Robert Gibson v. Ricky Morton. If you’ll recall from Clash XV, Morton turned on Gibson and joined the York Foundation. Morton hasn’t even bothered to change his RnR Express tights or grow an evil goatee. (Or, most importantly, cut his damn hair.  Thankfully Bobby Roode paid attention to that lesson when he turned heel.)  This was WCW’s pathetic attempt to push Morton as a singles wrestler 6 years too late. Crowd is actually pretty pumped for this to start. Morton kills it, of course, by stalling nonstop for the first few minutes. Then he spends the next 20 minutes working on Gibson’s knee. Good psychology, but it’s boring as s--- and that’s the LAST thing this DOA crowd needs right now. It’s so weird watching Fonzie ref down the middle now. I think everyone was expecting a more Rock N Roll Express type of match and we get this s--- instead, a point which JR makes, although in a more diplomatic sense. I guess it wasn’t a technically unsound match or anything, but literally 90% of it is Morton working on the knee. I’m so bored I’m nearly dropping off by the end. Gibson mounts an ill-advised comeback because as he’s crawling back into the ring after a sort-of brawl on the rampway, Morton tags him with the laptop and pins him. Yay. *  (At least they didn’t have Gibson go over.)  The Young Pistols and Dustin Rhodes v. The Freebirds and Bradstreet (six-man elimination). Wanna know how bad the tag situation in 1991 was? (HOW BAD WAS IT?) The ‘Birds have both the US and Six-Man tag titles.  (Oh.  I was hoping for a Match Game joke answer there.)  Brad Armstrong is 5000% better than both Hayes and Garvin combined, so of course we never get to see him here. Instead most of what he does is running around outside and pissing off the faces with his Ultra-Rudo act, which I dig more than anything that WCW produced in this time period. The Freebirds waste copious amounts of time trying to get the crowd to do ANYTHING. No dice. Hayes & Garvin of course proceed to ruin another perfectly good match by somehow managing to drag another team down to their level of crap. (Story of their career.)  Match goes almost to the finish with no eliminations, then suddenly Steve Armstrong, Michael Hayes, Tracy Smothers and Jim Garvin all go in rapid-fire succession, leaving Dustin against Bradstreet. Guess who wins that one. Hint: It was with several atomic elbows and a bulldog. *1/4 Note: We’re now about halfway into the show and my highest rating is *1/4. And that’s just because of Brad Armstrong’s performance. And this was supposed to be the show that started a new era for WCW?  (Well, I mean, it DID, but it wasn’t a very GOOD era…) The Yellow Dog v. Johnny B. Badd. Johnny’s initial push continues here. The Yellow Dog is Brian Pillman in the usual dipshit Dusty angle. (He lost a loser-leaves-town TAG match, for some reason, and came back as the mysterious Yellow Dog, and then proceeded to get his ass kicked by Barry Windham all over again.  It was quite the time for him.)  Johnny was playing it totally gay here. This was basically his first PPV appearance, keep in mind. (Second.)  Nothing match, full of armdrags and the occasional Pillman dropkick. Teddy Long runs in for no good reason and tries to attack Pillman, thus earning a DQ. (Yes, a DQ in this half-assed midcard match.)  The crowd is out of it, as usual tonight. * Pillman was not just half-assing it, he was half-assing the half of an ass he brought with him. Can you blame him, though? Lumberjack match: Black Blood v. Big Josh. Blood is Billy Jack Haynes. (What a f------ nutcase he turned out to be, even by the low standards of pro wrestling’s nutcases.  He makes Jesse Ventura’s conspiracy theory show look like 60 Minutes.  The short version is that he believes Daniel Benoit to actually have been Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son.  Plus he was nearly killed because he was “accidentally” acting as a cocaine mule and decided to steal some for himself.)  This was not a smart idea on WCW’s part, I’ll say that much. (Put this match on in Portland 5 years earlier and it’s literally a main event anywhere in the state.)  Kick and punch and the usual screwy stuff involved with a lumberjack match. And still Black Blood tries to rise above the convoluted booking and actually makes a match out of it. I guess no one told him about Flair. A big brawl ensues, and Dustin Rhodes whacks Black Blood with an axe handle, allowing Josh to get the pin. *3/4 I just can’t give it ** in good conscience. It actually got the crowd going. (Black Blood was an interesting character concept, as I guess he was intended to be a kind of medieval torture master, but Haynes quickly got injured and never returned.)  One Man Gang v. El Gigante. Well, that didn’t last long. Kevin Sullivan gives a long, rambling interview that kills the crowd again. Gigante carries four midgets to the ring. Stupid, stupid, stupid. El Gigante is the worst “mainstream” wrestler, ever. Period. (Great Khali would argue that point.)  One Man Gang beats on him with a cast iron wrench for 5 minutes and he can’t even sell *that* without screwing it up. (He beats on him with A CAST IRON WRENCH and the crowd is BORED with it.  This is how bad this show is!)  The crowd is having a collective nap. I’m surprised they haven’t walked out yet. Gigante can’t wrestle, talk, sell or act. (Apparently he did some poetry before he died that was pretty good, though.)  His whole thing is that he’s really, really tall. OMG actually carries a match (not out of negative stars…oh, lord, no…) and loses it after having his own powder kicked in his face. –** (Because if a CAST IRON WRENCH doesn’t work, lord knows POWDER will.)  Russian Chain Match: Nikita Koloff v. Sting. This was a super-hot feud at the time, so maybe it’ll wake up the crowd. Nikita, however, didn’t do anything worthwhile in his entire 91-92 WCW stint, so don’t count on anything good here. Sting’s entrance finally gets a big pop out of the crowd. As a sidenote, I have yet to watch a Russian chain/Indian strap/Dog Collar style match that really made me say “Wow, I never realized how good that style of match could be.” This is no exception. (John Cena v. Umaga was terrific, but that was a case of working despite the gimmick, rather than because of it.)  The gimmick overwhelms the wrestling, which is basically kicking and punching with the chain, and not very convincingly. Plus, having seen dozens of Sting matches, I can safely say when he’s dogging it, and he’s definitely got it in low gear here. (I’m pretty sure that Flair’s departure had something to do with his bad mood.) You know when WCW is hammering the point of it being a brawl, because there’s always ballshots galore. Four of them in this case. The referee is very lenient with the whole “breaking of momentum” thing, in this case letting them fight extensively in between touching corners. They touch 3, and then Sting Stinger splashes Koloff into the fourth, giving Koloff the win. (That’s exceptionally retarded for a variety of reasons.)  Bad matches happen to good wrestlers, I guess. * WCW World title match: Barry Windham v. Lex Luger. At this point, I feel the need to break into a bit of an essay about this match. I think that those who refer to the Bret Hart fiasco as the sleaziest event in modern wrestling history are overlooking this match. This match was not only a lousy match, but Barry Windham was not even a contender to the title at the time. (They were sure trying hard to get Flair to drop it to him before leaving, though.)  The promised match had been Ric Flair v. Lex Luger, a match which had literally been building for more than a year, and maybe even for three years depending on your point of view on the matter. It was to be Ric Flair dropping the WCW World title, finally, to Lex Luger, after years of being chased by Luger and screwing him out of the title with every means of cheating known to man. Everyone knew it, in much the same way everyone knew Lex Luger was walking out of Detroit as the champion the night he faced Hulk Hogan for the title. But Flair’s contract was almost up in 1991, and they wanted him to job the title to Lex Luger and ride into the sunset as a manager. Or ride into the sunset as a babyface. Or whatever he wanted, just for less pay. But dropping the title to Luger was absolute. Flair refused, and Jim Herd, instead of reasoning with him and offering him big money to do a single job before going to the WWF or wherever, simply fired Flair outright and took the WCW World title back, leaving Flair still the NWA World champion and thus shattering the lineage of the longest lasting World title in history, beyond repair. (Well…it was a bit more complicated than that, but not in any way that makes either guy look better.  After firing Flair, Herd had a change of heart and offered him DOUBLE his original contract to come back, but Flair figured he had the bargaining power and stuck with his plan to jump to the WWF with the belt that didn’t belong to him.  Plus Herd didn’t want Flair to “ride into the sunset”, he wanted to cut his hair and change his look because he didn’t see him as a marketable, so he lowballed him on the new contract and basically told him outright that he’d be doing jobs for midcarders.)   So what did the fans get for their hard-earned money on PPV? Lex Luger v. Barry Windham for the vacant title, in a match where 99% of the audience knew in advance Luger was going to win, if only because he had to. They made the ridiculous decision to push Windham, who had been wrestling exclusively in tag matches with Arn Anderson for 8 months previous, as the #2 contender to the title and somehow deserving a title shot. (You’d think even Nikita Koloff would have made a better challenger.)  As one final slap in the face to the fans, WCW didn’t even have another copy of the World title ready in case someone did what Flair did. They took the old Western States title, slapped a piece of metal over the “Western States” part and wrote “World Champion” or something on it. (That alone propelled this to instantly legendary status.)  It was the most self-parodying and bush league move ever seen from a federation that would grow to make an art form out of f------ up. As Luger and Windham made their entrances and the cage was lowered, the fans now suddenly came alive. Not out of excitement for this garbage, but in defiance of the sudden erasing of their champion, by loudly chanting “WE WANT FLAIR!” at every opportunity. It was the most energy shown by the crowd the entire night. Jim Ross and Tony Sciavone doggedly ignored the howls of protest from the fans, but sleep with the dogs and wake up with the fleas, WCW. You brought it upon yourselves. Ask Vince about it. (Although Vince’s act of treachery against Bret Hart made him a billionaire, so really that’s not a good lesson to take, I guess.)  Barry and Lex went out and half-assed a match that was half-assed to begin with, in sympathy for Flair, although Luger seems to try harder because we all know he doesn’t give a s--- about anyone but himself. The announcers try to build Windham as a babyface, but WE WANT FLAIR! Kind of hard to build him up as a fan favorite when they’re chanting for the biggest heel in the business. The match goes on with no real flow or psychology, and then Harley Race and Mr. Hughes come out as one last way to ruin the whole experience. Race yells at Luger that “now is the time” and Luger suddenly regains all his energy and pins Windham after a single piledriver to win the World title. Luger has now turned heel, for no real reason, after being built as a babyface for months. The fact that Harley Race would involve himself in this speaks volumes. (Yeah, well he also involved himself in that stupid TV special where they revealed the secret of stunt grannies and planted signs, so obviously his moral fiber isn’t what it used to be even by that point.)  Luger carries the belt back to the dressing room to continuous chants for Flair with no real enthusiasm. What a joke. What a sad, pathetic joke and the worst possible way to start off the “new era” of WCW, without Flair. By 1993, the fans would be so loudly and passionately screaming for the man they *really* paid to see that WCW would have no choice but to sign him again. WE WANT FLAIR! (At this point we’re kind of over Flair.)  Paul E. Dangerously & Arn Anderson v. Missy Hyatt & Rick Steiner. Speaking of sad, pathetic jokes, we’ve got about 3 minutes of airtime left at this point and another cage match to go. Everyone comes out and the Hardliners kidnap Missy Hyatt, thus depriving the fans of seeing her beat up Paul E., which was the whole point of having this crappy mixed match to begin with. (Baltimore regulations forbade man-on-woman violence, so that’s why.)  Anderson and Steiner half-ass it for a minute or so, and then Paul E. foolishly tags in, gets clotheslined by Rick, and pinned. And that’s it. End of show. The Bottom Line: It was the worst of times. WCW somehow managed to scrape even more off the bottom of the barrel, sinking lower than 1990’s Black Scorpion fiasco by turfing out their #1 guy and putting on the single worst show in the history of wrestling PPVs. There wasn’t a single redeeming factor about this show, not one match you could point to and say “This is the reason to watch this show.” It was just bad in every possible manner from start to finish. About the best match was the World title one, and when your hottest match tops out around **1/2 it’s time to take a serious look at where your federation is going and who’s running the show. (They did, and apparently Ted Turner had Herd enough.)  Do I recommend watching the show? Yes. Without a doubt. Because that way, the next time someone reviews a show by any federation and calls it the worst PPV ever, you can say “F--- that, I’ve seen WCW Great American Bash 1991” and that should be enough to shut up just about anyone. Later.