PPV REVIEW: WCW / NWA The Great American Bash 1989 - The Glory Days

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 - The Glory Days
July 23, 1989 
Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland.

By 1989, The Great American Bash had been an NWA staple for a number of years, but tonight's was the first such event to be promoted by World Championship Wrestling.

It was also the first NWA/WCW event that actually looked like a WCW event, featuring the brand's trademark blue and yellow ropes and an improved production quality which set the event apart from the usually dark and gritty setting of your average National Wrestling Alliance show. 

Would the show also feature the questionable booking, bad gimmicks and other Wrestlecap-worthy WCWisms that the company would also be known for?

Or would The Glory Days prove that World Championship Wrestling could indeed produce an excellent night of professional wrestling?

Let's head down to Baltimore, Maryland to find out.

Wrestling is Not Peaceful

Tonight’s show opened with a comically bad introduction which basically told us that while Baltimore, Maryland was peaceful, the action of World Championship Wrestling was anything but.

Then, after a welcome from our announcers Jim Ross and Bob Caudle, it was onto our opening match.

Triple Crown King of The Hill Battle Royal Finals
Ft. Dr Death Steve Williams, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Mike Rotunda, Sid Vicious, Dangerous Dan Spivey, Scott Hall, Brian Pillman and more.

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 - Sid Vicious
Tonight’s match began with all of the combatants carrying their own crown to the ring. The match was billed as the ‘Triple Crown’ finals but really it was like 14 crowns.

Neither Ross nor Caudle cared to explain what the Triple Crown actually was, but they did at least tell us that the King of the Hill finals was thus called because every man in here had previously won a battle royal and now would compete in a kind of ‘ champion of champions’ final battle royal, and not because it had anything to do with propane.

The match itself wasn’t very interesting except for the fact that it marked the first PPV appearance of many major stars of the 1990s like Ron Simmons, Brian Pillman, Sid Vicious, and Scott Hall.

After ten minutes or so, Sid Vicious was the last man standing in the first ring and his Skyscrapers partner Dan Spivey was the only man still standing in the second ring.

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 - Teddy 'Peanut Head' Long, Playa
This was supposed to mean that the two faced each other in a singles match, but instead Teddy Long appeared and said that wasn’t going to happen. The two were going to share the $50,000 prize money.
Your Winners: The Skyscrapers

Backstage, Teddy Long sweated profusely as he told Gordon Sollie everything he’d just said in the ring about The Skyscrapers sharing the prize. 

He then promised that Sid and Spivey would take on all comers in tag team matches.

You can write your own joke about that one, playa.

Wild Bill Irwin vs. Flyin’ Brian Pillman

It took less than 90 seconds for Jim Ross to start telling us about Pillman’s football career.

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 - Brian Pillman vs. Wild Bill Irwin
Fortunately, Caudle was there to get him talking about wrestling again in what proved to be a fun contest.

This was pretty much textbook stuff. Energetic babyface Pillman flew around looking impressive in the early going, then he got beat up by the big, burley heel Bill Irwin for a bit before making his big comeback and flying off the top rope with a match-winning crossbody.

It was basic stuff, but it worked and was enjoyable.
Your Winner: Brian Pillman

Out in the back, Paul E. Dangerously gave a compelling interview to Gordon Sollie about his upcoming tuxedo match with Jim Cornette.

In a great call back, Dangerously told us that he had been a photographer at Starrcade ‘86 and had seen Cornette fall from the scaffold and destroy his knee.

Tonight, Paul didn’t care about winning the match. He only cared about attacking that same knee and taking Cornette out of commission once and for all.

Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace) vs. The Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Dangerous Dan Spivey w/ Theodore Long)

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 - The Dynamic Dudes With a Really Unimpressed Fan
Making their way to the ring from "The City of Sunshine,” Shane Douglas and Johnny Ace plucked some chubby young kid in a Ghostbusters t-shirt out of the crowd and tried to play frisbee with him, but the kid clearly looked like he was hating every moment of it. It was -you have to believe me- hysterically funny.

Then, before the match began, Jim Ross decided to take a shot at the WWF by saying that despite Sid & Spivey being big dudes, they were also athletic and didn’t need to rely on gimmicks like ‘snakes or pets' because they were real wrestlers.

Remember that, we'll come back to it later. 

The match itself wasn’t anything to laugh about though.

It was several different kinds of bad. Sloppy, mistimed and making the Dynamic Dudes look like it was their first day of wrestling school, this was painful to watch.

The only good thing about was how insanely over Sid Vicious was. The crowd loved him. Just him though, not The Skyscrapers team. Every time Dangerous Dan Spivey got in the ring the crowds chanted ‘We Want Sid! We want Sid!”

And these guys were supposed to be the heels.

In the end, Spivey dropped Johnny Ace on his head with an awful half-assed powerbomb and won the match for his team.
Your Winners: The Skyscrapers

Backstage, Jim Cornette offered an impassioned response to Paul E.’s earlier promo, insisting that he didn’t care if Dangerously did break his legs -he would crawl on his hands and knees to land a fist upside Dangerously’s head.

This was excellent stuff from Cornette.

Managers Tuxedo Match
Paul E. Dangerously vs. Jim Cornette

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 - Jim Cornette talks to Gordon Sollie
Cornette and Dangerously were great managers and amazing talkers, but they weren’t wrestlers and had no need to compete in a match like this.

Remarkably, it wasn’t as sloppy as the Skyscrapers/Dynamic Dudes match, but that’s only because they didn’t do anything apart from punch one another and occasionally choke each other out with their cummerbunds.

It wasn’t awfully bad or anything, but it wasn’t very entertaining and would have been much better if both men had just been given microphones and allowed to argue for a while.

To the surprise of no one, babyface Jim Cornette stripped Paul E. down to his blue undies and sent him scurrying off to the back.
Your Winner: Jim Cornette

Backstage, Garry Hart told Gordon Sollie that The Great Muta was busy meditating so that he could ‘channel the mystical powers of the Orient into his being’ to help him defeat Sting for the TV title.

They was coming up soon, but first, this: 

Texas Tornado Tag Team Match
The Varsity Club (Games Master Kevin Sullivan & Captain Mike Rotunda) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner w/ Missy Hyatt)

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 - The Steiner Brothers beat The Varsity Club
Yes, Mike Rotunda had been promoted to captain since the last time we saw him at Chi-Town Rumble. It wouldn’t be too long before we’d see him become a fully-fledged sailboat captain.

Meanwhile, Rick Steiner had begun coming to the ring with an actual dog. Also, he and his brother Scott were now accompanied by Missy Hyatt who, Pete be honest, was a beautiful woman.

This match was actually a lot of fun, but was sadly too short for this writer’s tastes.

The ‘Texas Tornado’ rules meant that the winner would get to take Kerry Von Erich home.

No, that’s not true. They meant that all four men would compete at the same time in an anything goes brawl which gave Rick Steiner and Kevin Sullivan the opportunity to throw tables and chairs at each other with delightful abandon.

Sadly, it all ended much too soon when Scott Steiner came off the ropes with a flying clothesline and both he and Rick covered Sullivan for the win.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 - Sting gives a promo
Out in the back, Sting gave a short interview to Gordon Sollie in which he claimed he was too pumped up to sit still, let alone talk.

The Stinger was joined by Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert who was still at loggerheads Garry Hart since they had clashed back at WrestleWar ‘89.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World TV Champion Sting (w/ Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert) vs. The Great Muta (w/ Garry Muta)

Easily the best thing on the card up to this point, this was a tremendous, fast-paced and exciting match hampered only by the finish.

After an excellent battle, Muta went to spray mist in the champion’s face, only to get referee Nick Patrick instead.

Patrick rolled to the outside, selling the mist like it had been a fireball.

Sting then lifted Muta and dropped him with a suplex. Both men had their shoulders down but Muta got his up before the referee had counted three and Sting may or may not have had his up.

Patrick and stand-in official Tommy Young then debated who had actually won the match while Muta and Garry Hart escaped with the actual title.
Your Winner: Who Knows?

As Tommy Young explained to Sting what had happened, the crowd greeted the finish with a very loud ‘BULLS**T’ chant.

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 - Lex Luger gave a baffling promo which made no sense
The Total Package Speaks

Backstage with Sollie, United States Champion Lex Luger gave a confident yet confusing interview about his upcoming match with Ricky Steamboat.

Luger flubbed things so badly that Sollie basically had to translate for him afterwards, telling us that what Luger had been trying (but ultimately failing) to say, was that he would refuse to defend the title unless the No Disqualification rule attached to the match was scrapped.

I think. That was very confusing.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA United States Champion The Total Package Lex Luger vs. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 - Ricky Steamboat carried a dragon to the ring minutes after Jim Ross called pet gimmicks stupid
Remember earlier, when Jim Ross had mocked the World Wrestling Federation for using ‘snakes’ and other pets?

Remember how he had insisted that the National Wrestling Alliance stars were real wrestlers who didn’t need to resort to such cheap gimmicks?

Yeah, well this match started with Ricky Steamboat being carried on a platform like Macho King and Queen Sherri at Wrestlemania 7

In his hands, he carried a huge Komodo Dragon that wore a studded leather jacket. Steamboat raised the enormous reptile in the air and pointed it at the crowd.

Ross, naturally, said nothing.

Steamboat then got in the ring with his wife and son and the crowd, who had been on the side of the heels for most of the evening, booed loudly and started chanting for Luger.

That was pretty funny.

All jokes aside, this was a terrific match that has got to be up there as one of the best Lex Luger matches you’re ever going to see.

Though it could have perhaps gone a little longer, the fact that it was kept to a reasonable length helped to ensure it didn’t drag on and remained solid from start to finish.

Before things kicked off, Steamboat had agreed to waive the No DQ rule, so naturally he got disqualified when he lost his cool and started beating up Luger with a chair.
Your Winner via DQ: Ricky Steamboat

Afterwards, Steamboat continued to attack Luger with the chair and chased him all the way to the back with it.

Cocaine is One Hell of a Drug

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 -  Flying Steve Williams
As the cage was set into place for our upcoming War Games match, we got backstage promos from the two teams competing in that match.

First, The Fabulous Freebirds shouted REALLY LOUDLY and excitedly while their partners The Samoan Swat Team rubbed on one another and bit each other’s fingers.

Though they said nothing beyond the standard ‘we’re the best and we’re going to beat up the other team.’ This was a very enjoyable promo just because of how wild and over the top it was.

I’m obviously not saying everyone was coked-up to the eyeballs back in the 1980s, but you know, I’m also not saying that they weren’t, either.

Offering a retort, the babyface promo started with The Midnight Express before Dr. Death Steve Williams -you know, the big, tough, ass-kicking bad ass?- came flying into view with a big shit-eating grin on his face and his arms outstretched pretending that he could fly like Superman.

I honestly can’t tell you how funny that was, or why it should be that I haven’t laughed this much watching a pro wrestling show ever.

Anyway, Dr Death introduced their partners, The Road Warrriors, and again nothing of note beyond ‘we’re gonna kick your ass’ was said, but it was so gloriously angry and over the top that you couldn’t help but enjoy it.

In between those two promos, Jim Ross told us that the heel team had won the coin toss and would thus get the advantage going into War Games. 

What a shock.

War Games
NWA World Tag Team Champions The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael ‘P.S’ Hayes, Jimmy Garvin, and Terry ‘Bam Bam’ Gordy) & The Wild Samoans (Samu & Fatu w/ Paul E. Dangerously) vs. The Midnight Express (Sweet Stan Lane & Beautiful Bobby Eaton w/ Jim Cornette), The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal w/ Paul Ellering) and Dr Death Steve Williams

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 -  Fabulous Freebirds and Samoan Swat Team
The Road Warriors were bad asses, so they came to the ring on Harley Davidsons, but apparently, they weren’t bad ass enough to ride their own bikes. Instead, two other dudes actually drove them while Hawk and Animal sat on the back.


As for the match itself... While this writer isn’t as big a fan of the War Games concept as many other long-fine fans, even I have to admit that this was a solid, intense, and hard-hitting brawl.

At no point during the match did you ever forget that these two sides absolutely hated each other and wanted to tear each other limb from limb, adding a violent urgency to the match that was both refreshing and compelling.

After a good effort, Hawk got Jimmy Garvin up in a hangman for the match-winning submission.
Your Winers: The Road Warrriors, The Midnight Express, and Steve Williams

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 -  Gordon Sollie speaks to Nature Boy Ric Flair
Prior to our main event, World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair was in a sombre mood as he spoke to Gordon Sollie about how Funk had injured him and almost ended his career.

Tonight, Flair said that while he may not be 100% physically, mentally and emotionally he was 120% and was still going to beat Funk.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk (w/ Garry Hart)

This was another excellent match.

Challenger Funk made his way to the ring with a full police escort while the babyface champion came out smiling from ear to ear with a bevvy of beautiful women on each arm.

Once they locked up, the match proved to be every bit as good as you might hope it would be, if not better.

A wild, bloody brawl in which the hatred between both men was very much evident, this was utterly captivating from start to finish.

Speaking of the finish, that came about with a simple inside cradle which gave Flair the win. It came from nowhere but only added to what had been a very exciting match.
Your Winner and Still NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

WCW / NWA Great American Bash 1989 -  Ric Flair covered in blood and Muta mist
Afterwards, The Great Muta ran out and sprayed mist in the face of the Nature Boy and then joined Funk in an attack.

As the two beat down on the champ, the crowd chanted for Sting. Happy to oblige them, The Stinger came to Flair’s rescue and what we got next was another wild brawl which went all over the arena and was every bit as exciting as the match itself.

Finally, having seen off their rivals, Sting stood by Flair as the champ cut an impassioned promo promising that his feud Funk was not over.

As the show came to a close, Jim Ross told us that the TV title was being held up due to the dumb finish of the Sting/Muta match.

The dumb finish aside, that Sting/Muta contest was still very good indeed.

In fact, everything from the Texas Tornado tag team match onwards got progressively better throughout the show, culminating in a fantastic and bloody main event showdown between Funk and Flair.

Skip the battle royal, watch the Dudes/Skyscrapers match only for the hilarity of that kid who didn’t want to be there and to see how over Sid was, and what you’ve got left is a very good show indeed, and certainly one of the NWA/WCW’s best efforts.

Post a Comment