The SmarK Rant for PWI presents Ringmasters – The Great American Bash 85!

The SmarK Rant for Pro Wrestling Illustrated presents Ringmasters: The Great American Bash 85

Now there’s a mouthful of a title.

This is the companion video to the Lords of the Ring video I reviewed the other day, as PWI’s deal with Jim Crockett also got them a one hour edited version of the 1985 Great American Bash tour show from July 6, which has been saved by the hard working people at

VESTRON VIDEO, BABY!  Sign of quality in cheesy action and horror movies the world over.

Once again, 12 year old me would have been all over this.

Your hosts are Gordon Solie & Bill Apter

Buddy Landell v. Cowboy Ron Bass

Tony Schiavone is doing commentary for this, and this is the crazy stadium show on the grass field with 30-something thousand on hand.  Gordon gives a nice summary of the feud, as JJ Dillon was managing both guys but got obsessed with Buddy as his new top guy and left Bass out in the cold.  They immediately brawl and fight on the floor, ramming each other into the railing and actually ringing the bell with their heads while slamming each other into the timekeeper’s table.  Bass slugs away in the ring and drops an elbow for two, so Buddy bails and runs away and Bass chases him and they get into a slugfest in the ring, which Bass wins.  But Buddy keeps fighting and it’s apparently a time limit draw, with 4:00 shown here. Dillon decides to attack Bass, so Ron puts him in the claw and Buddy makes the save.  This was a really fun few minutes.  1 for 1.

National tag team titles:  Ole & Arn Anderson v. Dick Slater & Buzz Sawyer

Once again I really appreciate how Solie quickly summarizes the issue and preps you for the match.  It’s a big brawl to start and Slater hits Arn with an atomic drop on the field while Buzz steals the tag belt and beats on Ole with it.  We’re clipped to Sawyer hitting Arn with a forearm out of the corner and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA, but we’re clipped again to Slater getting worked over by Ole with a wristlock. Buzz gets a hot tag and powerslams Arn for two, but the ref escorts Slater out and Ole drops an elbow on Buzz and pins him to retain at 3:00 shown.  Well the Andersons do look alike. Slater and Sawyer were off to Mid-South after this.  2 for 2.

Buzz Tyler, Manny Fernandez & Sam Houston v. Konga the Barbarian, Abdullah the Butcher & Superstar Billy Graham

This is an interesting mix.  The babyfaces triple-team Barbarian and Manny comes in with a bodypress out of the corner for two while Tony again repeats the nonsense about Manny being a “Vietnam veteran”.  Maybe if the Army was accepting pre-teens.  We’re clipped to Sam Houston getting his ass kicked as Barbarian drops a leg on him and Abby chokes him out in the corner.  Graham was looking like a crazy homeless guy even in 1985 and yet he’s still somehow alive today even so.  Pretty sure him and Jake Roberts are gonna outlive everyone due to accidentally discovering a mixture of drugs that acts as a natural source of eternal life.  Houston gets a bodypress on Graham to fight back and scores a surprise upset at 4:30 shown.  Nothing much to this one.  2 for 3.

Dog Collar match:  Jimmy Valiant v. Paul Jones

I still can’t believe how long these two were feuding.  They had another match at the NEXT YEAR’S Bash tour!  Jones has Abby in his corner and Valiant has Buzz Tyler, so point for Jones already.  And in fact Abdullah immediately attacks Jimmy and busts him open while the ref is putting the chain on Jones, and we’re clipped to Jones working him over in control.  Over to Jones trying to go up the ropes, but Valiant crotches him with the chain and Jones bails, and we’re clipped to Valiant making the comeback and beating on the bloody Jones, setting up the sleeper.  Abby tries to come in and break it up, so Valiant uses the chain to run Jones into him, and drops the elbow for the pin at 2:05 shown.  I can’t imagine this being any better or worse than any other match between them.  2 for 4.

NWA World tag team champions Ivan Koloff & Krusher Khruschev v. AWA World tag team champions The Road Warriors

So this is a thing.  Only the NWA tag title is up for grabs here.  Gordon’s description of the match, which he likens to the nuclear destruction of World War III, is epic stuff.  Speaking of nuclear, that describes the heat for this one.  We pick it up with Hawk slamming Uncle Ivan off the top rope and hitting him with a clothesline, and the Warriors double-team Ivan and beat on him in the corner.  Hawk gets a press slam and it’s back to Animal for an elbow that gets two.  Clipped again to Krusher laying out Animal from behind and going to work on him with their evil commie offense, thus showing that Joseph McCarthy was RIGHT ALL ALONG.  We cut again to Animal and Krusher clotheslining each other for the double down, but Ivan gets the tag first and puts the boots to Animal.  Hawk gets the hot tag and he’s all hopped up on something, take your pick, and clotheslines both Russians for two.  Everyone is brawling and Animal tries to powerslam Ivan off the middle rope, but Krusher hits him with a chair to break it up and Hawk grabs it and goes nuts with it for the DQ at 6:12 shown.  IT’S PANDA-MONIUM!  I thought pandas were Chinese and not Russian?  Tony was probably confusing his communists here.  Well regardless this was a hell of a brawl.  3 for 5.

US title:  Magnum TA v. Kamala

Kamala was managed by Skandor Akbar so I’m assuming the heel act was on loan from Mid-South at this point.  Kamala attacks and runs TA into the corner, but Magnum hits him with a flying forearm and slugs away in the corner.  We’re clipped to Kamala choking him out on the ropes and biting at a cut before going to the dreaded BOOB CLAW, executing a picture perfect Ugandan Purple Nurple.  Clipped again to Kamala hitting the big fat splash for two, but Magnum kicks out FOR AMERCA, so Kamala splashes his back.  We’re clipped again to Magnum still not dying and fighting back out of the corner, but Kamala misses a blind charge, like he’s charging out of the jungles of Uganda after a chicken or something, and TA comes back with three dropkicks before Akbar runs in for the DQ at 3:07 shown.  And then Magnum slams Kamala and hits the belly to belly anyway.  So why not just have him go over clean here?  It’s not like they weren’t pushing Magnum hard to the top anyway.  3 for 6.

NWA World title:  Ric Flair v. Nikita Koloff

Apter and Solie rage about the RED MENACE and how Russia is after athletic supremacy around the world.  Do we have proof that Stallone didn’t steal the plot of Rocky IV from this?  We get an awesome series of clips building this up, including Koloff hitting a heavy bag with Flair’s face on it and then the Koloffs getting lipped off by David Crockett, leading to Nikita laying him out with a Sickle.  So David Crockett is the special ref here, and yes, this is the show where Flair makes his entrance in a fucking HELICOPTER that lands on the field before rolling out a literal red carpet on the way to the ring.  I should also point out that despite fighting to undermine democracy in a way that wouldn’t be seen again until Trump’s idiot legal team tried to overturn a free and fair election, Nikita gets a pretty damn huge babyface reaction.  Because he was BADASS.  Nikita quickly overpowers Flair and sends him flying, and Flair knows EXACTLY what to do with this guy to make him a star.  We cut to Flair beating on Nikita with chops in the corner and adding a hiptoss, but Koloff just gets ANGRIER.  Cut to Nikita holding a bearhug and then taking Flair down with the Russian Hammer and choking him out, but David Crockett lays down the law and so Nikita goes back to the bearhug.  Flair escapes with an atomic drop and gets a suplex to set up the figure-four.  Nikita rakes the eyes to break free and we cut to Koloff hitting a slam and whipping him into the corner for a Flair Flip to the grass.  Nikita runs him into the post and you don’t need to ask what THAT leads to.  Cut to Nikita working him over for two and he hits the Russian Sickle, but he takes his time making the cover and it only gets two.  Koloff goes back to the bearhug, but Flair claps his ears to escape and fights back with an elbow to the back of the neck, just barely slowing Koloff down.  Rollup gets two.  Flair pounds him down with chops and stops to dance in celebration while bleeding all over the place, and a delayed suplex sets up the elbowdrop for two.  And Koloff again throws him off like a ragdoll.  So Flair beats on him with chops in the corner and slugs away, but Ivan trips him up and Nikita chokes him out on the mat before shoving David Crockett away in disgust.  And then Ivan comes in and attacks Crockett, and the heat is so insane that a fan hits the ring and attacks Ivan, as security tackles him and hauls him off.  Flair keeps going with a bodypress for one as they just press on, and Flair keeps hitting him with chops.  Nikita tries a slam, but Flair grabs the ropes and falls on top, and Crockett fast-counts for Ric to retain at 10:40 shown.  The Koloffs double-team Flair as fans are literally trying to storm the ring, and the Koloffs fight off more babyfaces to get more and more heat and then clothesline Flair to floor to finish him off.  This was INCREDIBLE and I can’t even do it justice here.  What a great piece of pro wrestling awesomeness.  4 for 7 and even that doesn’t sum up what a spectacle this was.

NWA World TV title, cage match:  Tully Blanchard v. Dusty Rhodes

Tully threw FIRE at Dusty in an effort to blind him, but Dusty told the NWA not to punish Tully because he was going to be judge jury and executioner himself.  But in addition to the TV title on the line, Dusty wanted Baby Doll’s services on the line as well.  So we’re joined with Tully running Dusty into the cage to bust him open and going to a chinlock, but Dusty fights back with elbows.  Random story of the day:  I was watching a serial killer documentary on Discovery Plus, the greatest streaming service ever, and it was the Robert Ben Rhoades story, about the guy who was known as the Truck Stop Killer.  Anyway, the guy’s former wife noted that when she first met him, he was always introduce himself as Dusty Rhoades to people.  However, I’m only maybe 18% certain this Dusty left a trail of dead strangled hookers at truck stops across America.  19% tops.  Tully gets a figure-four, but we cut to Dusty making a comeback as Tony notes that he’s moving very slow at this point.  Yeah, “at this point”, sure.  Tully tries to climb out of the cage and Dusty follows him up and beats on him with elbows to put him down, then comes off the top rope with an elbow that misses like a zeppelin crashing to the earth.  OH THE HUMANITY!  Or in Dusty’s case, OH THE HUGE MANATEE!  Tully gets a loaded elbow pad from Baby Doll, but Dusty piledrives him to win the title at 5:39 shown, getting the belt and Baby Doll’s services for 30 days.  Lucky him.  This was every Dusty v. Tully match you’ve ever seen.  4 for 8.

I mean, I wish it WASN’T a clipped version of the show because I bet the full show exists and is sitting in the WWE’s archive waiting to be uploaded to the Network, but this is well worth watching and an epic videocassette cover to boot.  At the very least check out Flair v. Nikita here.  I’m pretty sure I DID rent this one in 1986 and watched it repeatedly, in fact.

This and the other tape were a lot of a fun and I’m really glad there’s people out there preserving this stuff when WWE has no real interest in doing so anymore.