Thursday, 31 January 2019

PPV REVIEW: WCW Great American Bash 1992

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Event poster
July 12, 1992 
Albany Civic Center, Albany, Georgia

Every now and again, I like to step away from reviewing every WWE PPV from Wrestlemania 1 to 30 and look at something a little different.

I've already been covering every WCW PPV from January 1996 onwards, so why not dive back and do a few more?

Today, I thought we'd take a look at WCW Great American Bash 1992, an early instalment of one of the company's best-loved PPVs.

Feel like joining me for this trip down memory lane?

Let's get to it.






Welcome to the Great American Bash

We began our show tonight with Tony Schiavone running down tonight's card as a graphic showed us all the wrestlers involved.

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Jesse 'The Body' Ventura & Jim Ross
First, we looked at the finals of the NWA tag team championship tournament with Schiavone telling us that we'd be seeing the likes of Rick Rude & Stunning Steve Austin and Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes.

When it came to Akira Nogami & Hiroshi Hase, however, Schiavone merely described them as "The Team Representing Japan."

Later, as Schiavone and his broadcast colleague, Magnum T.A. began the usual opening spiel, he told us that Nogami wasn't even here because of an eye injury so Shinya Hashimoto would be taking his place.

Schiavone then sent us to Jim Ross and Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, who were our commentary team for the evening.

On a personal note, I'm excited about this. It's been a long time since I watched a show that had Jesse Ventura commentating.

Bill Watts Explains the Rules

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Eric Bischoff interviews Cowboy Bill Watts
After Ross and Ventura killed some more time, we were next sent to Eric Bischoff -at this point still a lowly microphone-man- who was standing by for an interview with WCW boss, Cowboy Bill Watts.

After threatening to put the audience to sleep with a rambling speech about how the rules were different in various sports, Watts told us that the rules were also different in our two title matches tonight:

In the NWA tag team title matches, the wrestlers could do anything they wanted to off the top rope. In the world title match between Sting and Vader, however, it was forbidden to jump off the top rope onto your opponent.

This alone showed how confusing things could get.

The company was essentially running two sets of titles.

One of the teams involved in the NWA tag team title tournament were already the WCW champions, and though we had a WCW Championship match later tonight, we'd also be told about an NWA Championship match that was taking place elsewhere on a later date.

Anyway, with a total of five minutes of talking out of the way, it was finally onto our opening match.

NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament Quarter Final - Match 1
Jushin 'Thunder' Liger & Flyin' Brian Pillman vs. Nikita Koloff & Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Brian Pillman & Jushin Liger teamed up to face Ricky Steamboat & Nikita Koloff
At a time before these things were common, we got a babyface vs. babyface match to kick things off...and boy did they ever kick things off.

Much as you might expect from a match featuring so much talent in one ring, this was a solid opening contest that really got the fans riled up.

Jushin Liger & Brian Pillman took control in the early going, isolating Nikita Koloff and giving his arm a good going over.

Eventually, however, Koloff bounced Pillman into the ropes and shoulder-barged him using the same arm his opponents had just been working on.

Completely no-selling the damage to his arm, Koloff simply walked off into the corner, letting Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat.

Steamboat and his partner then took their turn to dominate the match, and back and forth we went for the better part of 20 minutes.

Though it wasn't an all-time classic, this was certainly every bit as good as you can imagine.

In the end, Steamboat pinned Pillman to send his team through into the semi-finals.
Your Winners: Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat

Post-match, Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura told us that Steamboat & Koloff would go on to face the Miracle Violence Connection of Dr Death Steve Williams & Terry 'Bam Bam' Gordy

Kids, Get Parental Consent

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Rick & Scott Steiner had strong words for Miracle Violence Connection
No, this wasn't a shill for the WCW Hotline. Mean Gene Okerlund was still with the WWF at this time and thus wasn't telling you to call 1-900-909-9900 ever half hour.

Instead, the warning to get parental consent came from Rick Steiner, who warned us that The Steiner Brothers' rivalry with Miracle Violence Connection was about to get a whole lot uglier.

With Eric Bischoff conducting the interview, Rick was, of course, joined by his brother Scott.

This being at a time when the future Big Poppa Pump could still cut a semi-coherent promo, the younger Steiner told us that despite losing out in the earlier rounds of the tag team tournament, he and Rick would stare defeat right in the eye and live to fight another day.

Though the IWGP Tag Team Champions weren't exactly Ric Flair on the mic, their rambling, old-school face stuff was effective here.

NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament Quarter Final - Match 2
Hiroshi Hase & Shinya Hashimoto vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael P.S. Hayes & Jimmy Jam Garvin)

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - The Fabulous Free Birds
It was time for Bad Street, U.S.A to meet the land of the orient as Hase and Hashimoto clashed with Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin.

Shorter than the opening match, this one also had a completely different style and a completely different feel to it, but that doesn't mean it was any less enjoyable.

Playing the heels, the Japanese duo dominated often, with every Freebird comeback eliciting a response from the crowd that only got louder and louder.

Alas, it wasn't to be Hayes & Garvin's night.

Hase & Hashimoto scored the win and put an end to what was a genuinely enjoyable match.
Your Winners: Hiroshi Hase & Shinya Hashimoto

WCW Great American Bash 1992 -Tony Schiavone with Cowboy Bill Watts and Hiro Matsuda
Away from the ring, Tony Schiavone stood by with Cowboy Bill Watts and Hiro Matsuda.

Showing all the personality of a piece of spinach, Watts muffled his way through a speech in which he told us that he had taken Ric Flair's nameplate from the Big Gold Belt and given said belt to Matsuda.

Matsuda would then take the title to Japan, where the finals of a tournament to crown the new NWA World Heavyweight Champion would be crowned on an already sold-out NJPW show.

NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament Quarter Final - Match 2
Dangerous Alliance (WCW United States Champion Ravishing Rick Rude & WCW Television Champion Stunning Steve Austin w/ Madusa) vs The Natural Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham

"What I'd like to have right now is for all you fat, out of shape, simple-minded sweat-hogs, keep the noise down while I take my robe off and show you what a real sexy man is supposed to look like."

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Rick Rude w/ Steve Austin
Ravishing Rick Rude, ladies and gentlemen, don't you just miss him?

Here, the US Champion teamed up with Stunning Steve Austin in another compelling contest.

The Dangerous Alliance representatives cut Barry Whindam off from his partner and spent two-thirds of the match seriously laying into him.

It was the kind of really good pro wrestling that absolutely makes you suspend disbelief.

The more the bad guys beat down on Whindam, the more you found yourself on the edge of your seat, desperately hoping he'd finally make the hot tag.

In an age when kayfabe is pretty much dead, it makes a welcome change to go back to 1992 and get completely absorbed in a match.

Much to this fan's delight, Dustin Rhodes finally tagged in and went to work on both opponents.

The whole thing then broke down into a four-way brawl until Rhodes came off the top rope with a lariat to the future Stone Cold, pinning Austin for the three count.
Your Winners: Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Eric Bischoff interviews Harley Race & Big Van Vader
Out in the back, Eric Bischoff interviewed Big Van Vader and his manager, seven-time world champion, Harley Race.

Race seemed to forget his words in the early part of his short promo. When he remembered them, he basically told us that Vader was the uncrowned champion and would dethrone Sting later on tonight.

For his part, Vader told us that he feared no man and felt no pain.

It's funny that we've always been taught that one of the main jobs of a pro wrestling manager is to act as a mouthpiece for their charges. Here, however, Vader was easily better on the microphone than his own manager.

Halloween Havoc is Coming

Taking a break before the next match, Ross and Ventura reminded us that Halloween Havoc was coming up in a couple of months, and with that, it was back to the ring.

NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Final - Match 1
Nikita Koloff & Rick 'The Dragon' Steamboat vs. WCW Tag Team Champions Dr Death Steve Williams & Terry 'Bam Bam' Gordy

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat & Nikita Koloff
A notable change of pace came about in our first semi-final match, as all four men spent the majority of this slow, deliberate match down on the canvas.

Though this methodical, submission-based bout would be unlikely to work in today's fast-paced version of pro wrestling, it did prove to be a decent watch here.

Dr Death and Bam Bam Gordy basically dominated the whole thing, stretching Koloff to his limits before Williams flattened Steamboat to put his team in the final.
Your Winners: Steve Williams & Terry Gordy

After some words from Ross and Ventura, it was onto our next match.

NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Final - Match 2
Hiroshi Hase & Shinya Hashimoto vs. The Natural Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Shinya Hashimoto works on Barry Windham
So far, every single one of these matches has been pretty long, so it's no wonder that, as we move into our fourth one, things started to feel a little flat.

Windham & Rhodes, as well as their Japanese opponents still worked hard, but this one just didn't seem to hit home as well as those that had gone before it.

After a lengthy, underwhelming contest, Windham struck with a lariat to put his team into the finals.
Your Winners: Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham

Prior to our next match, Tony Schiavone and Magnum T.A. stood by to interview Ron Simmons.

Looking spiffy in a fancy white jacket, Simmons showed a lot of charisma but made little sense.

The essence of his rambling promo was that he'd had a tough journey to get to where he was and was coming for the world title.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Sting vs. Big Van Vader (w/ Harley Race)

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Vader beat Sting for the WCW title
You know, sometimes I watch the late, great Leon White in action and wonder if anybody actually ever told him that pro wrestling is a work.

The man better known as Big Van Vader brutalised his opponent from pillar-to-post. Not that this was a walk in the park for the man from the Rocky Mountains.

For his part, defending champion Sting looked overcome Vader's brute force and unbridled power using quickness, agility, and a good ol' Stinger Splash.

The result was a match that got better the longer it went on.

Sure, it wasn' a five-star classic, but it was a compelling world title match that this fan certainly enjoyed.

In the end, Sting's quickness was no match for Vader's strength. The challenger powerbombed his way to a three-count and became our new champion.
Your Winner and New WCW Champion: Big Van Vader

Post-match, it turned out that Sting was so hurt that a gaggle of referees, Ron Simmons, Ole Anderson and Nikita Koloff had to come and help him to the back.

I like that, it was a great way of putting over the new champion as such a dominant force.

I also like the fact that Nikita Koloff wore flip-flops to the ring.

Vader is The Man

Backstage, Eric Bischoff spoke with the new champion and his manager, Harley Race.

Race told us that Big Van Vader was The Man in Professional Wrestling, whilst Vader ignored Bischoff's question about granting Sting a rematch and ranted excitedly about what a beast he was.

It was entertaining stuff.

NWA World Tag Team Championship Tournament Final
WCW Tag Team Champions Dr Death Steve Williams & Terry 'Bam Bam' Gordy vs. Dustin Rhodes & Barry Windham

WCW Great American Bash 1992 - Miracle Violence Connection won the WCW tag team titles
So, this was it then. Our main event of the evening and the final of the tag team tournament.

Like many of the matches that had taken place earlier in the final, this one saw the combatants spend plenty of time on the mat in a proper old-school grapple.

Though that did lend for a different pace than modern audiences may be used to today, it still created a decent -albeit hardly exhilarating- match.

After dominating the bulk of the contest, Williams & Gordy picked up the win when Dr Death turned Dustin Rhodes inside out with a clothesline.

Speaking of Dr Death, how's this for a bit of foreshadowing?

At one point in the match, JR was telling us about how strong Williams was and how he'd been so powerful in every sport he'd played.

"Just ask Steve McMichael of the Chicago Bears how strong Dr Death is," said Ross, a good few years before our boy Mongo would begin wrestling for WCW himself.
Your Winners and New NWA Tag Team Champions: Steve Williams & Terry Gordy

Post-match, Dr Death rambled some nonsense To Magnum T.A. and Tony Schiavone. Terry Gordy then took to the mic to cut a much more coherent and charismatic promo in which he basically gloated about how good he and Williams were.






Don't be surprised if you watch Great American Bash 1992 and hate it. Unlike today's trend of having shorter, fast-paced, high impact matches, this one was back-to-back with one long, 20-minute bout after another.

The majority of those bouts were full of grappling, chain wrestling and basically hanging around on the mat.

While there are certainly a lot of people who would find that boring, this fan found it a refreshing change from the modern WWE product.

Don't get me wrong, I won't be in any hurry to watch this show again, and outside of Vader/Sting there was nothing that really stood out as being worth tracking down, but as old-school wrestling shows go, this one wasn't bad.


Other WCW Great American Bash reviews 


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