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.