The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Hidden Gems – Great American Bash 86 (Greensboro 07.26.86)
Figure I might as well get this second Bash show done so it’s not hanging over me.
For those who don’t know or don’t remember, this show and the previous supercard in Charlotte were both added as Hidden Gems a couple of months back, the full versions of the shows that were edited down to a 2-hour compilation tape called “Great American Bash 86” back in the day.
Taped from Greensboro, NC
“Mr. Electricity” Steve Regal v. Sam Houston
Just to confirm that we’re in the southern states, someone’s got the stars & bars draped over the railing in the front row. Regal slugs away in the corner to start, but Houston elbows him down for two. Sam works the headlock on the mat, but Regal pulls the tights and rolls him over for two. Meanwhile, Houston stooges him out to the ref, whining and crying like he’s Seth Rollins, so the ref dutifully asks Regal if he did it, and Regal denies it. Well, not much more he can do. Houston misses a charge, perhaps because he’s so shook from having his tights pulled, and Regal takes over with a suplex for two. Time for yonder chinlock, but Houston powers out of it, so Regal pulls the hair and puts him down with a knee to the gut. Well at least he didn’t blubber about it to the ref this time. Be a man, Sam Houston! Regal with a backbreaker for two and back to the chinlock. Sam fights up and Regal puts him down with a clothesline for two. And back to the chinlock. We get some amusing banter from Regal (“Look at him, ref, he’s weak! Ask him!”) and the ref again deals with accusations of trunk-pulling from Houston. Hasn’t he ever heard that snitches get stitches? Houston finally mans up and comes back with a suplex instead of bitching to the ref, and he slugs away in the corner and follows with a monkey flip. Backdrop gets two. Houston yanks him out of the corner and tries the bulldog, but Regal runs him into the corner and pins him with his feet on the ropes at 8:00. And then Houston pisses and moans about THAT, too! He’s kind of a sore loser. So he demands a restart and they slug it out, but Regal runs away and lives to fight another day. Perfectly cromulent opener. **1/2
Denny Brown & The Italian Stallion v. Black Bart & The Barbarian
Despite the introduction of Paul Jones, he’s not there. Brown gets a hiptoss and flying headscissors on Bart to start and the babyfaces double-team him in their corner. Stallion works on the arm and Brown comes in and drops a knee on it, as they cut off the ring and keep Bart from tagging in Barbarian and thus ensuring certain death for them. And then it happens and Barbarian immediately kills Brown with an elbow and goes to work with a press slam. Big boot and backbreaker get two on Brown. Bart comes in with a lariat for two and chokes him out on the mat, but Brown fights back and Bart hits him with a pair of legdrops to put him down again. Bart goes up for one more, but that misses and Stallion actually gets a hot tag and cleans house with dropkicks. But then Bart cuts him off with a suplex and Barbarian puts him away with the diving headbutt at 7:58. Another totally fine match. **1/2
Coal Miner’s Glove match: Manny Fernandez v. Baron Von Raschke
Baron quickly takes Manny down and pounds on him, then drops some elbows and climbs for the glove. Fernandez hauls him down and hits the back elbow, but is unable to get to the glove. To the top for a flying knee and he climbs again, but Baron cuts him off and stomps away. Backbreaker gets two. He climbs for the glove but Fernandez hauls him down and gets another back elbow for two. Blind charge misses and Baron applies the claw, which somehow busts the Bull open. So that goes on for a while as Bull does the Dusty sell on the mat. Baron is able to retrieve the glove off that, but Bull hits him with a bodypress and pins him at 8:24. Not so good here. ½*
Indian Strap Match: Wahoo McDaniel v. Jimmy Garvin
This is a WRESTLING MATCH TO A FINISH, so you know they mean business. I can’t imagine that this will be much different than the match they had on the other Bash show, though. Just so we know we’re in a totally different era, Precious gets heel heat by demanding that fans in the arena refrain from smoking while Garvin is wrestling. Big stall to start and they finally get hooked up, at which point Wahoo whips him like a dog with the strap and some of them sound pretty nasty. Finally Jimmy goes to the eyes and slugs away in the corner, then takes him down with a facelock and makes sure we know HE AIN’T GOING NOWHERE. Shockingly Wahoo does escape from this predicament and heads to the floor, but Garvin uses the power of momentum to yank him into the ringpost and they slug it out on the floor. And Wahoo is bleeding, which I know will come as a shock to all of you. Wahoo just UNLOADS with that damn strap and I would not want to be Garvin there. Aside from the sex with his hot wife. Is it worth taking those straps to the chest for that? I leave it to you, the reader, to decide. Wahoo chops him down and decides to tie him up before hauling him around to the corners, but Precious trips him up to break the momentum. Garvin goes up and Wahoo yanks him down and now both guys are bleeding. So Wahoo hogties him again and hauls him around to three corners, but Precious gets involved again and just straight up hits him in the head until he pushes past her and gets the fourth turnbuckle to win at 8:27. I liked that finish, didn’t have to overthink it. The shots with the strap were BRUTAL and this was a fun match, actually much better than the Charlotte one. ***
Taped Fists match: Ronnie Garvin v. Tully Blanchard
This is another repeat from the other Bash show in Charlotte. Same deal, Wahoo in Garvin’s corner, 10 rounds of 3 minutes each. Tully comes over for some trash talk and Garvin knocks him out cold before the bell even rings, so JJ has to dump cold water on him to wake him up for the match.
Round 1: Garvin immediately punches him out again and Tully stumbles around the ring trying to recover, taking out the ref in the process by accident before finally going down for an 8 count. He fights back in the corner, but Garvin puts him down again and now Tully is busted open and takes another 8 count. Finally he makes it out the round alive, but Ronnie knocks him out at the bell again just to be that way.
Round 2: Garvin is still out cold, so the ref gives him the count and JJ pours smelling salts on him to wake him up. Tully tries to go for the leg a few times, but Garvin just wallops him again and Tully barely escapes the round again.
Round 3: JJ tapes up Tully’s fists a bit more, and Tully sends Garvin into the turnbuckles to take over and stomps him down. Tully fires away in the corner and goes up with a forearm shot from the middle rope, but Garvin slugs him out of the ring and they brawl on the floor. This allows Wahoo to get involved, and that goes pretty badly for Tully, who gets knocked out on the floor.
Round 4: Tully revives and makes it back in the ring, and Garvin just unloads on him as Tully can barely stand up under his own power. So Garvin literally holds him up by the neck and punches him out again, but JJ takes the ref and thus he can’t count. JJ gets into it with Wahoo while Tully loads up the dreaded knuckle dusters and puts Garvin out behind the ref’s back, and now even JJ is bleeding, but Garvin is counted down and out at 11:38. The Charlotte match had way more heat and a much hotter ending, but this was OK and had the benefit of not wearing out its welcome like that one did. **
#1 Contender match: The Rock N Roll Express v. The Andersons
The Andersons immediately overpower the RNR, who have trouble getting something going on them, but Robert gets some dropkicks on Arn and the heels are chased to the floor as a result. Back in the ring, Arn invites Ricky in to test out the nose and gets some shots in the corner to do just that. Ricky takes him down and hits a DDT, and of course Arn hurts his nose in the process and runs away. Ah, irony. Back in the ring, the RNR goes to work on Arn’s knee. Finally Arn goes to the nose to escape Ricky’s leglock, and it’s over to Ole for some mauling in the corner, but Ricky also takes out HIS leg and they go to work on that as well. I love that the crowd is so into it, cheering along with the moves and chanting “Break it” while they work him over, instead of just treating it like wasted time before the big moves. Everyone comes in for a slugfest, but Arn misses a kneedrop and Robert gets the figure-four on him, and of course Ricky gets the figure-four on Ole, for STEREO FIGURE-FOURS. But the ref escorts Ricky out and Ole dives onto Robert and claws his eyes like a true scumbag heel, and the Andersons take over. The target is Robert’s arm and Ole stomps on it, but Robert keeps hitting the knee and brings Ricky back in. He runs wild for a bit, but Ole cuts him off and then kicks him when he’s down for good measure. Ole chokes him out on the apron and gets an elbow for two. Ole distracts the ref and Arn tosses Ricky over the top rope for more heat, and then steals a camera from someone at ringside and chokes him out with the strap from THAT. Back in, Arn gives him the old rope burn and goads Robert so they can dish out more punishment behind the ref’s back, and Ole gets the flying knee to the shoulder off the top and beats him down again. Ricky tries to fight away but gets taken down and beaten in the corner, and Arn comes in with a kneedrop for two. Ricky finally comes back with a flying bodypress for two on Arn, but Ole immediately jumps in and boots Ricky down again to save. Ricky fights back on Arn in the corner, and dodges a blind charge to set up the HOT TAG as the damn building nearly explodes. Robert cleans house and gets a sleeper on Arn as time expires at 20:00. This was FANTASTIC and felt like it was building to another 10-15 minutes of action. ****1/4 And of course it led to a rematch for the tag titles at Starrcade 86 that was also pretty great.
Hair v. Hair: Jimmy Valiant v. Paul Jones
Jones attacks to start and goes to work on the back with knees for two, but Valiant puts him down with a forearm. Jones finds an international object and hits Valiant for two, and of course Jimmy is now bleeding. He makes a comeback, but Paul hits him with the object again to cut him off. Jimmy steals it and destroys him with it, grinding it into his forehead for the double juice, and the elbow and elbow combination seem to finish. However, the Baron takes the ref, and Paul Jones gets the loaded glove from earlier in the show. But Jimmy gets one more shot with the object, and Baron takes the ref AGAIN, at which point Shaska Whatley runs in and knocks out Valiant with a chair and puts Jones on top for the pin at 4:30. So Pez gets his revenge for having his head shaved in Charlotte! The babyfaces all storm the ring and protest this injustice, but Jimmy takes it like a man and tonight it is he who is the Bald Headed Geek. Of course, he would get his revenge another day. ¼*
Magnum TA v. Nikita Koloff
This would be part of their famous best of seven series, and although they don’t announce anything they should be about 2-2 at this point. Magnum quickly chases him out of the ring with a forearm, and they do a dramatic lockup in the ring before Nikita grabs a headlock and Magnum takes him down and works the arm from a hammerlock. Nikita pounds him in the corner to escape and drops him on the top rope to take over. Magnum tries a comeback and Nikita beats him down for two and goes to the chinlock, but Magnum comes back with a bodypress for two and Koloff sends him to the floor on the kickout. They fight on the apron and Magnum bumps to the floor again and some redneck in the front row yells “COME ON MAGNUM, SUCK IT UP, BUDDY!” Oh, and he’s bleeding, of course. The girls in the front row are NOT happy about this. Back in, Nikita gets a backdrop suplex for two and chokes him out for two. Back to the chinlock as Magnum is really gushing now, and Nikita gets a backbreaker for two. Slam gets two. Magnum gets tossed and Uncle Ivan gets his shots in, and then Magnum fights his way back and immediately gets tossed out again, hitting his head on the stairs on the way down. Sunset flip back in gets the pin at 13:38, however. And it’s the deal where he does the move and Nikita grabs for the ropes, so Tommy Young kicks away his hands and Magnum finishes the move. Big pop for the finish, but the match was just kinda there. *1/2 Amazing how Nikita got drastically better working with Flair.
Cage match: The Midnight Express & Jim Cornette v. The Road Warriors & Baby Doll
Pretty clever way to have the Road Warriors win a cage match without getting the tag titles. Cornette demands that the “big fat pig” Baby Doll start the match with him, and he does girl pushups to really demonstrate his fitness. So she obliges and Cornette immediately runs away while the Warriors destroy the Midnights. So Condrey starts proper with Animal and we get a funny spot where Animal no-sells a shoulderblock and Condrey just bounces off, clutching his nose from running into the granite body of Animal. Hawk gets a big boot and follows with a press slam and fistdrop, and Condrey tries to run away but lands in the Warrior corner and gets beat up some more. Over to Bobby, and Hawk kills him as well, so Bobby tries to tag in Cornette and he freaks out and hides on the top rope. So Animal comes in and gets a press slam on Bobby, dropping him on the top turnbuckle. Condrey comes in with a slam on Animal and Cornette finally tags in, but Baby Doll comes in and he runs away again. Eaton throws punches at Hawk and he just stands there and takes it, but Animal tries a splash and hits knee to finally give the TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD some damn heat on the Road Warriors. So they work Animal over in the corner and Bobby just goes up to the top of the cage like it ain’t no thang and drops a knee for two. Condrey with a clothesline for two and Bobby just heads back up to the top of the cage again, but Animal hits him on the way down and it’s hot tag Hawk already. Powerslam and dropkick gets two on Bobby, and everyone brawls, which allows Baby Doll to finally get her hands on Cornette. And one right hand finishes at 9:22. Cornette was great here, the rest were just going through the motions. *1/2 Oh, and Bobby was bleeding at some point in the match that I can’t really determine.
NWA World title, cage match: Ric Flair v. Dusty Rhodes
Flair grabs the headlock to start and tries to take Dusty into the cage, but gets blocked. Dusty takes him down with a wristlock and gets a sleeper, but Flair sends him into the cage to take over. And Dusty is of course bleeding. Flair drops a knee for two and does the cheese grater on the cage as this match is really slow-paced and nearly 10:00 in with nothing much happening as of yet. Flair snaps his neck on the ropes and goes to work on the knee, and Tommy Young is HORRIFIED. “Don’t do that champ! Don’t do that!” Figure-four follows and Dusty fights out of that, so Flair chops away in the corner until Dusty gets a lariat for two. They slug it out and Flair tries to run from the cage like he’s Seth Rollins and Dusty is the Fiend, but Dusty hauls him in and makes the comeback, running Flair into the cage for yet more blood on this show. 1986 was a much different time, that’s for sure. Dusty works on Flair’s leg now and Ric makes a run for it again, but they fight on the top rope and Flair goes down via his crotch. Dusty runs him into the cage again, but accidentally punches the support pole and hurts his hand. That’s his buffet-filling hand! Flair goes up and Dusty slams him off and gets his own figure-four. Flair escapes and Dusty chops him in the corner to set up a Flair Flop, and a backslide gets two. Bionic elbow gets two. Flair runs to the top again and gets a bodypress for two, but Dusty runs him into the cage for two. This match is just going nowhere and not building to anything in particular. And then just like that, Dusty reverses a slam attempt into an inside cradle and wins his third and final World title at 21:10. I mean, COME ON. By 1986 it was clearly just a vanity deal for the bookerman to put himself over the hottest drawing guy in the promotion. He dropped it back basically right away, at least, but this did not need to happen. **
Well, you can’t say this one didn’t have star power, as this was essentially a Wrestlemania-level show in terms of the card. I liked the Charlotte show a lot better, though, given the much better main event. But for Crockett nostalgia, you can’t go wrong with either one and I would have been losing my mind if I got to see this tape back in 1986. I’d give it another solid WATCH IT, just like the Charlotte show.