Thursday, 27 September 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Great American Bash 1998

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - poster
June 14, 1998 
Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland

It was the summer of 1998 and World Championship Wrestling were slowly but surely losing their claim to be the undisputed kings of pro wrestling in North America.

Having dominated much of the mid-90s with globally-recognised superstars and a game-changing nWo storyline, the company were beginning to buckle under the pressure of the new attitude ushered in by their rivals, the World Wrestling Federation. 

Still, if the Great American Bash line-up was anything to go by, the company weren't exactly ready to go down without a fight. 

A marquee match-up pitting WCW Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Bret 'The Hitman' Hart against Macho Man Randy Savage & Rowdy Roddy Piper contained more genuine starpower in one bout that some wrestling promotions could put together on an entire card. 

Meanwhile, there was the latest instalment of the white-hot feud between Chris Jericho & Dean Malenko to look forward to, plus what looked to be a number of other stellar performances. 

Would this be enough to help WCW score a major victory in the ongoing Monday Night Wars? 

Let's head to Baltimore to find out:






Let the Summer Time Begin

Our show tonight began with a creepy video interspersing clips of a flying American flag with shots of the stars from our main matches tonight.

It was bizarre to say the least, like something out of a horror film.

Lighting the mood, Tony Schiavone welcomed us with a loud cry of ‘Let the Summer Time Begin!’ before he and colleagues Mike Tenay and Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan began giving us a rundown of tonight’s main matches.

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
Mean Gene Okerlund made an appearance to remind us that after Sting and The Giant had beaten The Outsiders for the tag team titles, Giant had joined nWo Hollywood and Sting was with nWo Wolfpac. Okerlund reminded us that the two would now duke it out tonight to determine which man got to keep the belts and defend them with a partner of his choosing.

More hype from the announcers followed despite a clearly getting restless and entertaining themselves with a Goldberg chant.

Finally, no less than seven minutes into the Pay Per View, we finally got to the action.

Best of Seven Series Final
Chris Benoit vs. Booker T

Chris Benoit and Booker T had been tearing it up in their famous best of seven for weeks now, with the original final actually taking place on Nitro.

That came when Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, trying to recruit fellow Canadian Benoit to the nWo, waffled Booker with a chair behind the referee’s back.

Benoit refused to win like that, informed the referee, and got himself disqualified.

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Chris Benoit and Booker T - Best of Seven Series Final
However, Booker didn’t want a cheap victory either, and thus JJ Dillon had rendered that match null and void and given us a rematch tonight.

And man, what a rematch it was.

Both men had the crowds eating out of the palm of their hand with a nigh-on 20 minuet show-stealer that was captivating from start to finish.

Seriously, I challenge anyone to watch this match and not like it.

In the end, Booker T won with a top rope dropkick m and would now go on to challenge Finlay for the Television Championship later on in the show.
Your Winner: Booker T

If you want to read about the second time Booker and Benoit faced off in a Best of Seven series, see my WWE Survivor Series 2006 review.

Meanwhile, back in 1998, Chavo Guerrero told Lee Marshall that despite Marshall’s insistence to the contrary, uncle Eddie Guerrero did, in fact, want to fight Chavo later on in the show.

Saturn vs. Kanyon

This all dated back to Kanyon, as Mortis, trying and failing to get into the Flock.

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Kanyon faced Perry Saturn
The masked man had then revealed himself at the end of Raven vs. DDP at the previous month’s Slamboree 1998, and been a thorn in Raven’s side ever since.

Raven, however, had decided that he was going to get Saturn to fight his battle for him, thus we had tonight’s contest.

Playing mind games, Kanyon had someone come out dressed as Mortis, and whilst that character was distracting everyone, the real Kanyon popped up behind Saturn, just like something you’d see The Undertaker do.

The resulting match, though it lacked the white-hot crowd of the previous one, was still very good.

Both men traded unique offence to create a highly entertaining bout with a highly bizarre finish.

After Saturn and Kanyon both crashed from the top rope to the outside, two men dressed as Mortis came out, threw the competitors back into the ring, and then started brawling with each other on the outside.

Meanwhile, back in the ring, Kanyon hit the Flatliner to win the match.
Your Winner: Kanyon

Afterwards, one of the Mortisses (Morti?) DDT’d Kanyon then revealed himself to be Raven.

Raven then berated Saturn for losing and sent the Flock on for a beat down, but instead, Saturn cleaned house and took everybody out.

Malenko Gives Up The Gold

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Dean Malenko makes an announcement on Thunder
Prior to our next match, we were reminded that Dean Malenko had, on WCW Thunder, voluntarily surrendered the Cruiserweight title he had won from arch-nemesis Chris Jericho at last month’s Slamboree just to get another match with his rival.

I’m not sure what the logic behind that was as the two were about to face off for The now-vacant belt, but I’m sure there was some logic there somewhere.

Match for the Vacant World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
Chris Jericho vs. Dean Malenko

As well as the aforementioned Slamboree clash, Jericho and Malenko had also produced a stellar outing at Uncensored 1998.

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Chris Jericho faced Dean Malenko for the vacant Cruiserweight title
Here, they looked to make it a trifecta of enjoyable bouts by going all out in a war that surpassed even the two tremendous matches we’d already had on this show.

With Malenko fired up and looking for revenge and Jericho at his most flamboyant and arrogant best, this was as good a match as you could hope for between two of WCW’s most talented performers.

After a great back-and-forth, Jericho got in Malenko’s face and told him he was nothing, just like his late father, Boris Malenko.

Naturally, Dean went berserk, battering Jericho to the outside and nailing him with the worst looking chair shot in the history of pro wrestling.

That resulted in the bell being rung, but the war was far from over.
Your Winner by Disqualification: Chris Jericho

Afterwards, Malenko continued to beat up Jericho, battering him all the way to the back, and then outside the arena to the sidewalk, even slamming him into a mailbox.

At that point, Doug Dillinger stepped in and Jericho was able to make his escape, hilariously stopping traffic and running across the street and off into a random building.

Damn, that was fun.

Uncle Eddie Loves You

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Juventud Guerrera starred in a weird promo clip
Out in the ‘Internet Location,’ Eddie Guerrero pleaded with his nephew Chavo to call the whole match off because nobody in the Guerrero family wanted them to fight and because Uncle Eddie loved Chavo, obviously.

From there, we went to the announcers speculating that Chris Jericho could rightfully claim to be the new Cruiserweight Champion despite the match ending on a DQ.

After that, we got the most bizarre video of the world which saw Juventud Guerrera walking up and down some steps. In between doing that, he sat on the steps, hung out by the gate in this picture, and generally just lurked about.

It was the weirdest and most pointless thing ever.

Juventud Guerrera vs. Reese

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Juventud Guerrera faced Reese of The Flock
I’m writing this review on my phone and autocorrect keeps trying to change Juventud to 'Huge Tits.'

The less said about that the better.

Anyway, the story here was that 7ft Reese had basically been bullying the diminutive Juventud Guerrera, giving us a typical David vs. Goliath match.

As Big Man/Little Man matches go, this certainly wasn’t the worst, and it was pretty entertaining to some degree, but there’s no escaping the fact that this was the one match that finally broke the show’s run of exceptional quality bouts.

In the end, with Lodi occupying the referee’s attention, former Flock member Van Hammer drilled Reese with a chair. Juvi was able to hit a hurricanrana, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Huge Tits

Afterwards, Juventud leapt from the ring into Van Hammer’s arms, and the former heavy metal guitarist carried Juvi to the back like he was a baby.

Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Eddie Guerrero faced Chavo Guerrero
So, after Ultimo Dragon had failed to win him his freedom back in a match with Eddie at Slamboree, Chavo Guerrero has snapped, attacked the Dragon, and basically gone nuts.

It wouldn’t be long before we’d see him with Pepe (the horse’s head on a stick child’s toy) but for now, he was just loco, which is the reason Eddie Guerrero didn’t want to fight him earlier.

Alas, fight him he did, in a match that was decent but not half as good as you might expect from these two.

It’s a shame because both men worked very hard and Chavo pulled off some spots that were truly impressive, but the fact that the crowd really weren’t into it (at one point chanting ‘WE WANT FLAIR!’) really took the shine off things.

After a good effort, Chavo hit a springboard spinny-thing DDT to win the match.
Your Winner: Chavo Guerrero Jr 

Prior to the next match, we were shown clips from Nitro to remind us that Macho Man Randy Savage and Rowdy Roddy Piper hated each other but were going to tag up later to face Hollywood Hogan and Bret Hart, and then face each other immediately afterwards.

Before that, however, there was the little matter of the TV title to be dealt with.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW World TV Champion Finlay vs. Booker T

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Booker T beat Finlay to become TV champion
A deliberate change of pace next, as Finlay spent the majority of the match working over Booker T’s damages knee in all kinds of weird and wonderful ways.

That was basically all this was, and whilst it wasn’t bad in and of itself, it took some getting used to following the faster-paced nature of the previous bouts.

The fact that Finlay spent the whole match in charge (not to mention the fact that Booker T had wrestled eight matches against Chris Benoit just to get here) made the ending predictable, and yes, Booker eventually won the match, but not before completely forgetting that he’d had his leg destroyed, no-selling the whole thing and botching a tombstone piledriver reversal.

Finally, Booker hit a tombstone of his own, itself looking incredibly crappy, and then getting the three count.
Your Winner and NEW WCW Television Champion: Booker T

Afterwards, Stevie Ray came out to celebrate with his brother. I almost expected this to be the night that Stevie turned on Booker, but alas, it was not.

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW United States Champion Goldberg vs. Konnan (w/ Curt Hennig & Rick Rude)

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Curt Hennig (w/ Rick Rude) joined up with nWo Hollywood
So, the story here was that Curt Hennig was originally supposed to face Goldberg but got injured and, in storyline, nominated fellow nWo Wolfpac member Konnan to take his place.

I don’t know if it’s just because so many years have passed or because the nWo thing eventually got so bloated and complicated, but I had no memory whatsoever of Hennig ever being a member of the Wolfpac.

Anyway, you don’t win any prizes for guessing how this match went. It was your typical Goldberg squash in which the champ battered Konnan to put himself at 100-0.

I will say this though, Goldberg was insanely over. All throughout the show, the crowd had been chanting his name, and when the man himself finally came out, the response was arguably even louder than the one white-hit Stone Cold Steve Austin was receiving at the time.
Your Winner and Still Unites States Champion: Super Over Goldberg

Post-match, Hennig and Rick Rude turned on Konnan and revealed that they were nWo Hollywood all along. Now that’s what I remember.

After a serious beat down, Kevin Nash and Lex Luger ran down to make the save.

A cheesy promo video for Bash at the Beach 98 followed, after which it was time for one of two (technically three) main events.

WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart (w/ The Disciple) vs. Macho Man Randy Savage & Rowdy Roddy Piper

WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Bret Hart & Hulk Hogan faced Roddy Piper & Randy Savage
Even with two talented performers like Macho Man Randy Savage and Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart involved, this one came across as lazy and uninspired.

Half the problem was that Bret just didn’t seem interested and was merely going through the motions here whilst Savage was working with a legit knee injury that would eventually sideline him until 1999, thus he wasn’t up to his usual standards.

This bland meh of a match saw the heels beat up on Piper for a while after which Savage took some punishment and gave up to the sharpshooter.

Nobody gave a damn. Not even the wrestlers in the ring.
Your Winners: Hollywood Hogan and Bret Hart

Afterwards, Mean Gene tried to get a word with Piper, who was more interested in helping his fallen partner to his feet. Savage, however, had other ideas and clotheslined Piper.

The next match was on.

Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Macho Man Randy Savage

Short and yet somehow mildly more entertaining than the last match, this saw Savage get some offence in but then cripple himself coming off the top with an elbow drop.

Frustrated at only getting a two count, Savage then beat up Charles Robinson but got a low blow for his troubles and was slapped in a figure four.

Replacement ref Mickie Jay ran in, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Roddy Piper

‘This was brutal,’ said Tony Schiavone afterwards.

Yes it was, Tony. Though not in the way you think.

Singles Match for the WCW Tag Team Titles
Sting vs. The Giant


WCW Great American Bash 1998 Review - Wolfpac Sting faced The Giant
Remember, both men were technically the champs here but since they were both on opposite sides of the nWo fence, this match would determine which one of them got to defend the belts with a new partner.

The Giant came to the ring smoking a cigarette because, you know, he was an evil badass or something.

That match itself was short -stupidly short- and lasted only about six minutes. If this was an undercard bout, fine, but for a main event?

Regardless, Giant and Sting did the best they could with what they had and actually managed to make a fairly entertaining contest out of the short amount of time available to them.

Not an amazing main event by any standards, especially compared to the quality main events WWF were putting on at the time, but decent nonetheless.

In the end, Sting won with a tornado scorpion death drop.
Your Winner: Sting

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was all she wrote.







Whilst the main event wasn’t bad, it’s the undercard that really makes this a worthwhile show.

Benoit/Booker was solid, Kanyon/Saturn was a surprise highlight and Malenko/Jericho was fantastic stuff.

The more I think about it, the more I realise just how different WWF and WCW PPVs were at the time. WCW tore it up in the undercard but then faltered in the main event whilst WWF put on a disappointing undercard leading to an entertaining headline.

But anyway, overall, this is one show that is actually worth watching, and a step in the right direction for WCW, whose last couple of PPVs had sorely disappointed.



1998 events reviewed so far
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1998 
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1998
  3. WWF - In Your House 20: No Way Out of Texas 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl 1998
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1998 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 14 
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1998
  8. WWF - In Your House 21: Unforgiven
  9. WCW Slamboree 1998
  10. WWF - In Your House 22: Over The Edge
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    Retro Pro Wrestling

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