Rock Star Gary reflects on the Great American Bash ’87

Taped from several cities

Airdates:  several dates

Attendance:  varied by location

Hosted by Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross with token appearances by Bob Caudle and David Crockett

As you can see, this was not so much a one-night extravaganza as much as a “best of” tour with blockbuster matches. Of course, the most historical portion of the tour was featured prominently to provide everyone with arguably Dusty Rhodes’ greatest idea.

Match 1 (WarGames): “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, the “Enforcer” Arn Anderson, the “Total Package” Lex Luger, & JJ Dillon versus the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, the “Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff, the Road Warriors, & “Precious” Paul Ellering

Highlights:

  • This match took place in Atlanta, GA on 7/4/1987.
  • On one team, you have the Four Horsemen with their manager. On the other, you have the SuperPowers, who won the Crockett Cup, and the Road Warriors along with their manager.
  • For those unaware, here are the rules:
  1. One wrestler from each team wrestles one another for five minutes.
  2. A coin is flipped, and the winner of the coin toss (**the heels**) has another wrestler enter the cage.
  3. Every two minutes, a wrestler from the opposite team enters until it’s 5-on-5.
  4. The match beyond begins with the outcome being either submission or surrender.
  • If a cage match was a stipulation to end a feud, then WarGames became THE stipulation to end a feud once and for all.
  • To set the tone, Rhodes and Arn began the match. Why, you ask? Rhodes was the quintessential babyface that the fans supported while Arn was the workhorse who knew how to sell extremely well.
  • For example, in the first two minutes of this match, Arn not only received a bionic elbow and was basically hunted down to be pummeled but also a low blow that would make any soldier within the Queen’s Guard in England cringe in sympathy pain.
  • Afterward, Rhodes gave Arn a DDT.
  • He then climbed up the turnbuckles taking Arn with him and raked Arn’s face against the top of the cage. OUCH!
  • After Rhodes rammed Arn twice into the cage wall, Arn staggered to the mat while BUSTED OPEN.
  • Smartly, Arn kicked at the nagging ankle injury that he and his fellow Horsemen caused two years ago. Like a cornered rat, Dusty scurried to the other ring to escape the impending torture.
  • As if he was Rhodes’ stalker, Arn followed him and attempted a double axe handle.
  • Pulling himself together like the courageous Laurie Strode, Rhodes hit him in the midsection then rammed him again into the cage.
  • After unsuccessfully trying to escape, Arn attempted a knee drop but missed.
  • Immediately, Rhodes hooked the figure-four leg lock.
  • Remember folks, Arn could not submit as the match beyond had yet to begin.
  • The Horsemen won the coin toss, and Blanchard entered the cage.
  • While Arn held Rhodes’ arms, Blanchard hooked the figure-four on Rhodes.
  • The next period began, and Animal came in ready to kick some ass.
  • After tossing Blanchard into the other ring, Animal demolished Arn with a clothesline.
  • He then went after Blanchard and catapulted him head-first into the cage.
  • Blanchard was BUSTED OPEN!
  • While Rhodes nailed Arn with a bionic elbow, Animal gave Blanchard a flying shoulder block.
  • After Rhodes and Animal tossed Arn and Blanchard into the cage respectively, Flair entered.
  • He and Arn then rammed Animal face-first into the cage.
  • After Animal took Blanchard on a trip to SOUTH Carolina, Flair raked his eyes.
  • Flair then raked Rhodes’ head against the cage ensuring that he was BUSTED OPEN!
  • After Blanchard mounted the second turnbuckle and nailed Animal with an elbow smash, Nikita joined the fray.
  • Both Arn and Flair gave him a cross-corner whip, but Nikita exploded with a double clothesline knocking them down to the mat.
  • He then rammed Blanchard into the cage.
  • Next, Rhodes mounted the second turnbuckle as Nikita gave Blanchard the Russian sickle.
  • After Rhodes delivered a knee drop to Arn, Animal gave Flair a military press slam.
  • Nikita then no-sold Flair’s chops and chased him into the other ring.
  • He then rammed Flair face-first into the cage resulting in a Flair flop.
  • Just before Luger came into the cage, Animal and Rhodes delivered a double dropkick to Arn. Wow! You don’t see that every day.
  • Nonetheless, Luger entered, immediately went after Nikita, and delivered a powerslam.
  • As Luger held Nikita, Flair sent Nikita reeling even further SOUTH.
  • After Luger slammed Nikita, Flair mounted the second turnbuckle and assisted Blanchard with a spike piledriver.
  • As Animal nailed Luger and Arn in the other ring, Flair and Blanchard delivered spike piledriver #2 to Nikita.
  • While the Horsemen ganged up on Rhodes, Animal gave Luger a clothesline.
  • When Hawk came into the ring, he also gave Luger a clothesline.
  • He then picked up Blanchard and gave him Snake Eyes.
  • While holding the second rope, Flair hooked the figure-four leg lock on Rhodes.
  • Before Dillon came in, Hawk gave Arn a hangman’s neckbreaker.
  • When Dillon nailed Hawk with an elbow smash, Hawk nonchalantly no-sold it as if it didn’t hurt.
  • Shortly afterward, Hawk grated Flair’s face into the cage.
  • When Arn rammed Nikita face-first into the cage, Animal and Rhodes double-teamed Dillon.
  • Animal then countered a sleeper by Blanchard by ramming him into the cage.
  • Hawk give Luger a shoulder breaker as As Ellering came in signaling that the match beyond had begun.
  • Immediately, Ellering went after Dillon and gave him an atomic drop.
  • According to Ross, Dillon was BUSTED OPEN shortly afterward.
  • Hawk then exploded with a clothesline taking down Flair.
  • Following that, Nikita leveled Luger with the Russian sickle.
  • The Road Warriors then gave Dillon a double clothesline.
  • After Flair rammed Ellering face-first into the cage, the Road Warriors used Dillon’s head as a battering ram into the cage. OUCH!
  • Hawk then mounted the second turnbuckle as the Road Warriors delivered the Doomsday Device to Dillon injuring his shoulder.
  • Dillon surrendered.

Rating: *****

Summary:  The first ever WarGames delivered in spades. If you’ve never seen this match, you owe it to yourself to do so STAT.

Match 2 (non-title): UWF Western State Heritage champion Barry Windham versus Rick Steiner

Highlights:

  • This came from the same show as the previous match.
  • For those unaware, Windham won the title by winning a tournament in Houston, TX on 6/20. He defeated Black Bart in the final.
  • We’re joined in progress as Windham delivered a dropkick to Rick.
  • After a leapfrog by Windham, Rick delivered a Steinerline.
  • He then followed up with a flying clothesline for 2.
  • After giving Windham a back drop, Rick gave him a belly-to-belly suplex.
  • A back elbow by Rick sent Windham between the ropes down to the concrete floor.
  • Afterward, Rick joined him and rammed him face-first into the ring post.
  • He then made Windham taste the steel railing. It must have tasted like the pork schnitzel & spätzle at Fandangles.
  • To bring Windham back into the ring, Rick suplexed him, but Windham used momentum to float over and get the pin.

Rating: ***

Summary: Unique finish as Rick was very green at this point in his career.

Match 3 for the NWA US title (steel cage): The “Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff (champion) versus the “Total Package” Lex Luger (w/ JJ Dillon)

Highlights:

  • This match took place in Greensboro, NC on 7/11/1987.
  • Nikita was sporting the neck brace here due to the spike piledrivers from the WarGames.
  • Upon working on Nikita’s injured neck, Luger delivered a back elbow and got 2.
  • A subsequent knee drop by Luger got another 2.
  • As Luger held an extended chin lock, the Greensboro faithful chanted “Ni-ki-ta!”
  • Somehow, we’re twenty-five minutes into this match.
  • Regardless, Luger reversed an Irish whip then gave Nikita a swinging neckbreaker.
  • He then ripped the neck brace off Nikita.
  • Afterwards, a clothesline by Luger only got 2.
  • Luger then set up for the piledriver, but Nikita countered with a back drop.
  • Shortly after, Luger hooked a full nelson but Nikita didn’t pass out.
  • A lateral press resulted in a pair of 2 counts for Luger.
  • Nikita then countered a chin lock by backing Luger into the corner.
  • After a back elbow by Nikita, he gave Luger the ten-punch count-along.
  • Luger came back with a cross-corner whip, but the Russian sickle took out not only Luger but also referee Earl Hebner.
  • False pin by Nikita as Hebner was OUT COLD.
  • Dillon then handed Luger a chair over the steel cage.
  • Consequently, Luger HAMMERED Nikita in the back with it then tossed it over the cage back to Dillon.
  • With Nikita OUT COLD, Luger put him in the Torture Rack.
  • Hebner checked on Nikita and awarded the submission to Luger.
  • WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!

Rating: **1/2

Summary:  I’m so glad this was clipped because even the extended chin locks during what was shown dragged the match longer than it should have lasted. Important win for Luger here as he became Horseman #3 with a belt and, by default, the #1 contender to the World title.

Match 4 (Texas death): Steve “Dr. Death” Williams (w/ Magnum T.A.) versus “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch (w/ “Hot Stuff” Eddie Gilbert)

Highlights:

  • This match took place in Atlanta.
  • Just like at the Crockett Cup, Magnum had his right arm in a sling, walked with a cane, and received a huge ovation.
  • Williams was sporting a cast on his left arm for this match.
  • While Gilbert occupied referee Tommy Young’s attention, Murdoch nailed Williams with a foreign object.
  • Murdoch then rammed Williams’ arm into the apron.
  • Williams came back with a series of right hands knocking Murdoch down to the mat.
  • Subsequently, a three-point stance tackle took down Murdoch, but Murdoch side-stepped attempt #2 sending Williams into the ring post.
  • Again, Gilbert occupied Young’s attention so that Murdoch could mount the top turnbuckle.
  • However, when Murdoch came down, Williams nailed him with the cast which is legal here.
  • Murdoch could not answer the ten count.

Rating: *1/2

Summary:  Two brawlers in a brawl with a cast. It writes itself.

After the match, Gilbert charges at Williams but eats cast as well. As Williams grabs Gilbert, Murdoch nails Williams with the end of a chair into the back. OUCH! As Young tries to get the chair away from Murdoch, Magnum gives Williams his metal cane. Williams then hammers Murdoch in the midsection with it causing Murdoch to release the chair and fall out of the ring.

Match 5 (six-man): Michael Hayes, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, & Buddy Roberts versus Ivan Koloff, the “Ragin’ Bull” Manny Fernandez, and Paul Jones

Highlights:

  • This match also took place in Atlanta.
  • Speaking of which, the Atlanta faithful loved the Freebirds. I wonder if Badstreet USA intersects Peachtree Street.
  • Hayes reversed an Irish whip then gave Fernandez a hip toss.
  • Following that, he gave Fernandez a pair of slams.
  • Roberts tagged in, mounted the second turnbuckle, and delivered an elbow to Fernandez’s arm.
  • After a back elbow by Fernandez, he distracted referee Tommy Young so that Jones could put the boots to Roberts.
  • While Jones distracted Young, Ivan mounted the top turnbuckle and gave Roberts a double axe handle.
  • Upon giving Roberts a backbreaker, Ivan delivered a leg drop.
  • Roberts came back with a sunset flip, but Ivan tagged in Jones.
  • After Jones missed a knee drop, Roberts made the hot tag to Gordy.
  • All six men were in the ring.
  • Gordy then gave Jones a back elbow followed by an elbow drop for the pin.

Rating: **1/2

Summary: A hot crowd and a fiery finish made this one better than it had any right to be.

Match 6 ($100,000, barbed wire, ladder, lights-out, non-title) NWA World TV champion Tully Blanchard (w/ JJ Dillon & Dark Journey) versus The “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes (w/ Barry Windham)

Highlights:

  • Was Russo booking back then? Sheesh.
  • This match took place at Charlotte Memorial Stadium on 7/18/1987.
  • A series of bionic elbows from Rhodes knocked Blanchard down to the mat.
  • Due to the barbed wire, he could not escape the ring.
  • Blanchard was the first one to use the barbed wire, but when he tried a second time, Rhodes gave Blanchard a trip to the SOUTH side of town.
  • While BUSTED OPEN, Rhodes cut Blanchard’s arm on the barbed wire.
  • After giving Blanchard a knee to the midsection, Rhodes cut Blanchard’s head on the barbed wire.
  • With Blanchard down and BUSTED OPEN as well, Rhodes grabbed the wooden ladder, climbed, but Blanchard kicked Rhodes in his bad ankle.
  • Blanchard then climbed the ladder, but Rhodes followed him on the other side. A bionic elbow knocked Blanchard down to the mat again.
  • Rhodes then rammed Blanchard face-first into the ladder.
  • After a DDT by Rhodes, he grabbed the ladder again, but Blanchard tackled him before he could reach the money.
  • Upon giving Rhodes an elbow drop, Blanchard climbed the ladder, but Rhodes pulled him down.
  • Blanchard then put on a loaded glove and nailed Rhodes with it. Astutely, referee Tommy Young yelled “NO RULES!”
  • Oddly, Dillon came into the ring and gave Young a back elbow to the head.
  • As Windham came into the ring to handle Dillon, Rhodes kicked the ladder from underneath Blanchard.
  • He then took the loaded glove and nailed Blanchard with it.
  • Ultimately, Rhodes climbed the ladder and retrieved the money.

Rating: **

Summary: Hopefully this feud has finally ended.

Match 7 for the NWA World title (steel cage/title versus one-night w/ Precious): “Nature Boy” Ric Flair (champion w/ JJ Dillon) versus “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious)

Highlights:

  • This match also took place in Greensboro, NC.
  • We’re joined in progress as a series of right hands by Jimmy resulted in both a Flair flop and a 2 count.
  • Flair then countered a reverse chin lock with a shot all the way downstairs.
  • He then mounted the top turnbuckle. However, Jimmy caught him, slammed him, and then got a 2 count.
  • Next, Jimmy applied the figure-four leg lock.
  • Do we have a new champion?
  • No, because Flair grabbed the bottom rope.
  • Showing the effects of WarGames, Dillon wore his right arm in a sling.
  • Nonetheless, Jimmy attempted figure-four #2, but Flair raked his eyes.
  • Flair then tried a vertical suplex, but Jimmy countered with a rollup for 2.
  • Shortly afterward, Flair tried to ram Jimmy into the cage, but Jimmy rammed him instead.
  • After giving Flair a second trip to the cage, Jimmy grated his face against the cage.
  • When Flair tried to escape the cage, Jimmy caught him causing the moon to rise over Greensboro.
  • While at the top of the cage, Jimmy rammed Flair a few times against the steel pole.
  • After Flair fell to the mat, Jimmy got 1, 2, NO!
  • Upon receiving another trip to the cage, Flair was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Ten-punch count-along by Jimmy was followed by a cross-corner whip and back drop.
  • That almost got 3.
  • After a leap frog by Jimmy caused him to land wrong, Flair gave him a kneecrusher.
  • Meanwhile, Ron came to the ring to support his brother.
  • When Flair saw him, he spat and thrusted at him.
  • He then gave Jimmy kneecrusher #2.
  • Upon giving Jimmy a knee drop to the injured knee, Jimmy still wouldn’t submit.
  • Shortly after, a series of shots by Jimmy resulted in Flair flop #2.
  • When Flair tried to escape again, Jimmy tried to climb up after him. Unfortunately, his knee buckled so Jimmy fell down to the mat.
  • Yet again, Flair tried to run, but Jimmy ensured tonight’s moon was FULL.
  • As Flair fell from the top rope, he crotched himself on it. YEE-OUCH!
  • Jimmy crawled over and made the cover.
  • 1-2-NO!
  • Next, he tried the brainbuster, but his knee gave way again.
  • Flair then slapped on the rope-assisted figure-four.
  • In the meantime, an idiotic fan climbed the outside of the cage until Ron stopped him.
  • Jimmy passed out as Young counted his shoulders down.
  • Flair retained and won a night with Precious!

Rating: ***1/2

Summary: You know your formula works when Jimmy Garvin could follow it.

After the match, Precious enters the cage to check on her man. When Flair grabs her, Ron decks Flair. After Flair flop #3, the champion scampers to exit the cage.

Match 8 (title versus title): NWA World tag team champions the Rock’n’Roll Express versus NWA US tag team champions the Midnight Express (w/ Big Bubba Rogers but w/o Jim Cornette)

Highlights:

  • This match also took place in Atlanta.
  • Wait a minute! The Rock’n’Roll Express were the World tag champs again? How’d that happen? Oh. This was actually a non-title match in Spokane doctored to make them the champions as Rick Rude left Jim Crockett Promotions for the WWF.
  • Speaking of the Rock’n’Roll Express, they came to the ring to “Boogie Woogie Dance Hall.”
  • Eaton reversed a cross-corner whip, but Gibson rolled him up for 2.
  • Gibson then gave Eaton a hip toss followed by a flying headscissors.
  • As Lane used the ropes to shield himself, Gibson kicked his tail sending Lane down to the concrete floor.
  • When Lane returned, Gibson reversed an Irish whip then delivered an enziguri.
  • Again, Lane was sent to the concrete floor.
  • Shortly after, Morton gave Eaton a shoulder block, a hip toss, and then a huracanrana.
  • Gibson tagged back in and gave Eaton another hip toss.
  • However, when he attempted flying headscissors #2, Lane nailed him.
  • Lane then tagged in and gave Gibson a backbreaker.
  • While Morton distracted referee Tommy Young, Eaton mounted the top turnbuckle and hammered Gibson. That got 2.
  • Shortly after, a knee to the back by Eaton sent Gibson flying between the ropes to the concrete floor.
  • While Eaton distracted Young, Lane leaped from the apron to nail Gibson.
  • Next, a savate kick by Lane preceded a Midnight Express drop toehold-elbow drop combination for 2.
  • Hot tag Morton.
  • All four men were in the ring as the Rock’n’Roll Express delivered a double dropkick to Eaton. That only got 2 thanks to a save by Lane.
  • While Young was occupied with Lane, Rogers quickly entered the ring and gave Morton a Bubba slam.
  • Eaton made the cover, but Rogers left his sunglasses and hat in the ring.
  • Seeing the evidence in plain sight, Young signaled for the DQ.

Rating: ***1/2

Summary: Cheap finish to a great match. Encore! Encore!

Match 9 (WarGames II): “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, the “Enforcer” Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, & War Machine (w/ JJ Dillon & Dark Journey) versus the “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, the “Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff, the Road Warriors & “Precious” Paul Ellering

Highlights:

  • This match took place in the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL on 7/31/1987.
  • Once again, Rhodes squared off against Arn in the first five-minute period.
  • After a bionic elbow, Rhodes gave Arn Flip, Flop, & Fly sending him down to the mat.
  • He then rammed Arn face-first into the cage.
  • After Arn took Rhodes down by attacking his left leg, Rhodes moved to the other ring.
  • Once Arn followed him, Rhodes delivered a DDT.
  • He then tried to hook a figure-four leg lock, but Arn raked his eyes.
  • Rhodes retaliated by giving Arn a shot straight down the chute.
  • He then grated Arn’s face against the cage.
  • A subsequent vertical suplex by Rhodes was followed by a successful figure-four.
  • The Horsemen won the coin toss again so the War Machine (a.k.a. Ray Traylor) entered the cage.
  • As you would expect, Arn and the War Machine double-teamed Rhodes.
  • Rhodes was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Hawk entered the cage and gave War Machine a dropkick.
  • He followed that by giving Arn a powerslam.
  • Next, he slammed War Machine.
  • After Rhodes gave Arn a lariat, Hawk mounted the second turnbuckle and nailed War Machine.
  • He then gave Arn a hangman’s neckbreaker.
  • Flair then entered the cage.
  • Both Arn and Flair gave Hawk a cross-corner whip, but Hawk exploded with a double clothesline.
  • After a shot down near Havana, Flair rammed Hawk face-first into the cage.
  • Shortly afterward, Arn gave Hawk a piledriver, but Hawk no-sold it then gave War Machine a dropkick.
  • Meanwhile, in the other ring, Flair applied the figure-four leg lock to Rhodes.
  • Nikita entered the cage but fell victim to a piledriver by Arn.
  • He no-sold it!
  • After giving Arn a clothesline, Nikita clotheslined Flair.
  • Upon Nikita ramming Flair into the cage, Rhodes gave Flair the ten-punch count-along.
  • Nikita then gave Arn the ten-punch count-along.
  • Blanchard then joined the match.
  • While Flair and Arn held Rhodes, Blanchard mounted the top turnbuckle and gave him a dropkick.
  • Again, Blanchard mounted the top turnbuckle and gave Hawk an elbow smash.
  • In the other ring, Rhodes slammed War Machine.
  • Animal then entered the cage and tossed both Arn and Blanchard into it.
  • He then repeatedly catapulted Blanchard into the cage.
  • After Animal grated Flair’s face on the cage, Arn rammed him into it.
  • Flair was BUSTED OPEN!
  • Luger then came into the cage.
  • In the meantime, Hawk gave Arn a flying shoulder block.
  • Animal then launched Blanchard over both sets of ropes into the other ring.
  • Next, the Road Warriors gave Luger a double clothesline.
  • Ellering entered the cage to begin the match beyond.
  • He brought a spiked wrist band with him and bludgeoned Flair with it.
  • In the other ring, Animal clotheslined War Machine.
  • Hawk followed suit immediately afterward.
  • Rhodes then gave War Machine a third clothesline.
  • Nikita got his chance and nailed War Machine.
  • Animal then took the spiked wrist band and rammed it into War Machine’s eye.
  • War Machine submitted.

Rating: ****

Summary: Good but not great WarGames. I think the Florida humidity played a factor that slowed them down compared to the original match.

Conclusion:  While technically not a PPV or a single-night spectacular, this show was incredible from top-to-bottom. As a wrestling fan, you owe it to yourself to see this if for any reason than to see the WarGames in its infancy.

See you for WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event XII!

Buyrate: NONE

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