PPV REVIEW: WCW Great American Bash 1991

July 14, 1991, 
Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland.

By the time Great American Bash 1991 rolled around, the truly unthinkable had happened:

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - Event Poster

Nature Boy Ric Flair had left WCW. 

Flair had been at loggerheads with then-WCW president Jim Herd for some time. Despite the fact that Flair had been the company's franchise player for years, Herd saw zero drawing power in Nature Boy and looked to not only reduce his pay but also his role in the company.

Herd wanted Flair to become a completely different character (though he did deny wanting him to become Spartacus) Naitch wanted to keep on Naitchin', and since neither could agree on a direction for Flair in WCW, Big Bad Jim simply booted him out of the company with the big gold belt in tow. 

Despite being officially stripped of the title, Flair also had a legitimate claim to keep the title belt due to a $25,000 deposit he'd paid for it which WCW had never returned. 

We all know what happened next:

Flair took the title to the WWF and was promoted as 'The Real World's Champion' while, back in WCW, plans for The Great American Bash 1991 were left in dissaray.

Flair was originally scheduled to face Luger for the title, but he had been replaced by Barry Windham, meaning plans for a six-man cage match involving Windham also had to be changed.

Fans were famously unhappy -to say the least- about the changes and positively livid about Nature Boy's departure from the company.

Would WCW put on a great show to win favor with their hostile fans and change their mind about recent developments?

OF course not, this was WCW, and this was a disaster. 

Welcome to the Great American Bash

Our opening video tonight was actually better than a lot of WCW’s usual videos, probably because it eschewed the usual cheap graphics and cheesy animations in favor of having a cameraman give us a fan’s-eye view of walking from the parking lot and into the arena.

Once there, the cameraman bought two tickets, which seems unfair. WCW was supposed to be bankrolled by a billionaire and yet the cameramen have to pay their own way into the show? 

I’d be calling my union rep if I were this guy.

Anyway, our cameraman next took us into the arena where fireworks went off, the event’s logo flashed up on screen and your friend and mine? Garry Michael Capetta welcomed us to tonight’s event.

There was to be no greeting from the announcers yet as we went immediately into the introduction of PN News and Bobby Eaton.

Man, I wonder what poor Bobby did to deserve that.

Scaffold Match
PN News & Bobby Eaton vs. Terry Taylor & WCW TV Champion Stunning Steve Austin

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - Terry Taylor & Steve Austin vs. Bobby Eaton & PN News in a scaffold match

There’s no nice way to say this:

This was the dumbest piece of crap I’ve ever seen in my life.

Honestly, if I ever write a “Top 5 Worst PPV Openers Ever” list, this match will take all five spots because of how ridiculously bad it was.

Unlike the classic scaffold matches at Starrcade '86 and Starrcade '87, this one featured the rule that you could win by either hurling your opponents off the scaffold or capturing their flag and taking it back to your side, a rule which immediately telegraphed how this was going to end.

Meanwhile, the actual platform between the two teams’ scaffold towers was so narrow that nobody could actually do anything and it was impossible to get all four competitors on it at the same time.

This meant we got several very long minutes of the competitors taking it in turns to walk into the middle of the platform, nervously stare each other down and stroke each other’s hands like they were going to attempt a lockup that never happened.

Eventually, all four men ended up in the heel’s “base.” With Terry Taylor and Steve Austin busy attacking PN News, Bobby Eaton simply freed the heel’s flag and sauntered over to the face side like he was out for a Sunday stroll.

That was apparently enough to win the match, but the bell didn’t ring and there was no announcement as Bobby turned back around and went back to the heel side where Steve Austin threw some powder that he’d picked up from Lady Blossom.

It made zero difference.

In the next instance, all four men began climbing down the scaffold as GMC declared Eaton and News the winners, an announcement which was met by silence from the baffled crowd.

I’ve always said that Adrian Adonis vs. Uncle Elmer at Wrestlemania 2 is the worst match I’ve ever seen in life and is the benchmark against which all other bad matches are measured, but honestly, I think this might be even worse.

What an absolutely horrible, boring, and confusing way to start a show.
Your Winners: Bobby Eaton & PN News

Post-match, Bobby and PN continued to brawl with Taylor and Austin. It was the first time the crowd had popped since the start, though some were clearly booing.

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone called the show

Even Jim Ross seemed lost for words to describe what we’d just seen as he and broadcast colleague Tony “I Just Dyed My Hair Blonde” Schiavone welcomed us to the show proper.

Schiavone told us that WCW had made a second offer to Ric Flair to coerce him back to the company but the Nature Boy had refused. As such, Tony insisted that despite this being the seventh Great American Bash, it was actually the first because it was a new era here in World Championship Wrestling.

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - Eric Bischoff interviews Paul E. Dangerously and Arn Anderson

He and Ross then sent it over to Eric Bischoff, who was here making his PPV debut as he interviewed Paul E. Dangerously and Arn Anderson.

The duo would be teaming up tonight to face Rick Steiner and Missy Hyatt in a cage match.

Say what you want about that booking, this promo was excellent. Both Arn and Paul E. were gold on the mic as they promised to destroy their upcoming opponents.

Something tells me that promo might prove to be one of the best things on this whole show.

Killing time, we went back to Ross and Schiavone who put over the rest of the card before finally, more than six minutes after the scaffold match ended, sending us back to ringside for another contest.

Tom Zenk vs. The Diamond Studd (w/ The Diamond Studd)

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - DDP introduces The Diamond Studd

Prior to the match, Diamond Dallas Page picked a lady from the crowd to come in and rip off The Diamond Studd’s entrance gear because Scott Hall was, according to Dallas, all “twisted steel and sex appeal.

Studd also had some weird mark on the back of his trunks. It’s impossible to tell if it was part of the design or if Hall had diarrhea.

Tom Zenk responded by coming to the ring with his own entourage of beauties, but he largely ignored them and leapt over the top rope, knocking Studd on his backside with an impressive flying clothesline.

That got the match off to a hot start, with a fun brawl on the outside and Zenk doing his best to fly around and take out his opponent.

Countering all this, the future Razor Ramon countered with punches, kicks, and an abdominal stretch.

Zenk battled back and was the most entertaining thing in the match, even dragging Page into the ring for a beat down, but in the ensuing chaos, Studd suplexed Zenk for the win.

This match was better than most other reviewers would tell you it was, but it wasn’t exactly anything that demands repeat viewing or anything.
Your Winner: The Diamond Studd

Before the next contest, JR and Schiavone told us that while we’d only really seen Oz at Superbrawl and Clash of the Champions 15, we’d seen a lot of Ron Simmons because the former Doom member was on a roll and working his way up the rankings.

The two would meet next.

Oz (w/ The Great Wizard) vs. Ron Simmons

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - The Grand Wizard accompanied Oz to the ring

With The Great Wizard (Kevin Sullivan) in tow, Oz shuffled lifeless lifelessly to the ring with his shoulders slung low looking for all the world like he was going through a bout of depression.

After being saddled with such a goofy gimmick, who could blame him?

Meanwhile, Big Ron hadn’t even made it to the ring before JR started telling us all about Simmons’ football career.

The match itself was…well…it was total garbage, that’s what it was.

Not necessarily sloppy or incompetent, just merely slow and mind-numbingly tedious.

Even the crowd thought so. The audience greeted this match with a deathly silence that was broken only by the sound of one single fan yelling “boring! Boring! At the top of his lungs.

The worst part was that it seemed to last forever.


I’m not the kind of guy to needlessly rag on Kevin Nash. I honestly think the guy did the best he could with what he had, but even as a fan of Big Daddy Cool, I can’t deny that this felt like an endless trudge that was almost painful to watch.

Thankfully, Simmons put us all out our collective misery and tackled Oz for the win in just shy of eight long and agonising minutes.
Your Winner: Ron Simmons

To be fair, that still wasn’t as bad as the opening cage match.

More ‘tween-match banter from Jim and Tony followed in which they put over the upcoming match between Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson before Schiavone ran down the WCW Top 10.

It put Barry Windham and Lex Luger at one and two which made sense given they’d be competing for the vacant world title later.

Robert Gibson vs. Richard Morton (w/ Alexandra York)

Now going by the name ‘Richard,’ Ricky Morton had turned heel at Clash 15 by joining the York Foundation and then beating up his Rock ‘n’ Roll Express partner, Robert Gibson when Gibson came to ask him WTF was going on.

The two had made for an exciting tag team, but when they actually faced off one on one, none of that excitement was there.

Sure, things started pretty hot as Gibson met Morton in the entranceway for a crowd-popping brawl.

It even looked to be the best match on the card as the two traded holds while JR sold us the story that the two knew each other so well it was hard for either man to outdo the other.

That was good stuff.

Then, Morton began working Gibson’s recently injured leg for at least ten minutes.

I’m not exaggerating either.

The majority of this match was just Morton working Gibson’s leg while the crowd told him that he sucked.

This went on for so long (the match ran the better part of 20 minutes!) that at one point I simply tuned out and started messing around on my phone while I waited for it to end.

When I tuned back in, Gibson was still getting his ass kicked and eventually lost when Alexandra York distracted referee Bill Alfonso so that Morton could hit his former partner with her laptop for the win.
Your Winner: Richard Morton

My goodness, this show is the worst.

Out in the back, The Young Pistols and Dustin Rhodes gave an interview to Eric Bischoff.

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - Eric Bischoff interviews The Young Pistols and Dustin Rhodes

The ‘Pistols helpfully explained the rules of an elimination match for us but told us they weren’t here for a wrestling match, they were here for a fight.

Meanwhile, poor Dustin delivered an embarrassing impression of Papa Dusty as he also put over tonight’s six man.

Six-Man Elimination Match
WCW Six Man Tag Team Champions The Fabulous Freebirds (Bad Street and US Tag Team Champions Michael ‘P.S.’ Hayes & Jimmy Jam Garvin) vs. Dustin Rhodes and The Young Pistols (Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong)

Hey, you know what we’ve not seen enough of?

The Freebirds vs. The Young Pistols.

Seriously, I feel like these two teams have faced each other so many times that I‘ve lost count:

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - Michael Hayes puts a hurting on his opponent

Still, I probably shouldn’t complain because, whether they going at it in a straight tag team match like they did back at Clash of the Champions XI or spicing things up by making it a six-man like they did both here and at Suoerbrawl 1, both teams normally delivered.

Indeed, this was the best thing on the show so far by a country mile.

Ok, so the bar was set pretty low and anything even remotely half-decent would have looked like a classic compared to the likes of Oz/Simmons, but it would be unfair to say that this was enjoyable only because everything else sucked.

The truth is that, despite an abundance of stalling from the heels in the early going, this was a legitimately solid match with some fun spots and good action.

The only weird part was when Tracy Smothers made a blind tag to Steve Armstrong, who climbed to the top rope and just perched there for a solid minute while Jimmy Garvin staggered around in front of him looking dazed from the match but also completely confused as to why Armstrong wouldn’t leap off the ropes and attack him.

Instead, Steve waited until brother Brad “Bad Street” Armstrong was in the ring so that he could tag him with a drop kick.

The match continued without an elimination until they all happened more or less at once towards the finish.

A Freebirds Double DDT sent Steve Armstrong packing then, seconds later, Michael Hayes was disqualified for hurling Tracy Smothers over the top rope.

Almost immediately after, Tracy Smothers also fell prey to a double DDT courtesy of Bad Street and Garvin, an elimination which was quickly followed by Dustin sending Jimmy Jam to the dressing room courtesy of a clothesline.

This left just Dustin and Bad Street to wrap things up. The former caught the later with his patented bulldog finisher (kicking Big Daddy Dink mid-move in a cool spot) and, three seconds later, the son of WCW’s top Booker was the sole survivor.
Your Winner: Dustin Rhodes

I don’t care how bad this show sucks now, at least that was an enjoyable watch.

Bounty Match
Yellow Dog (w/ Man’s Best Friend) vs. Johnny B. Badd (w/ Theodore Long)

(Yellow Dog’s mask is on the line)

Brian Pillman had lost a Loser Leaves WCW tag match against Barry Windham and Arn Anderson back at the last Clash of Champions but had come back under a mask as The Yellow Dog.

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - The Yellow Dog ready for battle

Billed from ‘The Kennel Club,’ Dog came to the ring with a Labrador in tow, with Capetta telling us that the dog was ‘Man’s Best Friend.’

If you didn’t get why the cute little pupper was there, Jim Ross killed off whatever thin slice of subtlety the character had by yelling “and he comes to the ring with an actual yellow dog!”

Thanks Jim, I didn’t quite get that.

Meanwhile, Johnny B. Badd was out to claim a bounty that would be awarded to anyone who could remove the mask and prove that Yellow Dog was Brian Pilman.

The former boxer was supposed to have a big, flamboyant entrance where he stood with his arms out stretched wearing an elaborate robe while pyro went off behind him but, this being WCW, the wrong theme music played.

As a result, Badd just sort of stood there for the longest time while his manager, Theodore Long clearly yelled at somebody to get it right.

That ruined Johnny’s big entrance, but it di d nothing to ruin what was a pretty decent match.

In what felt like the shortest contest on the card, the two men worked well together to deliver a good performance which was fun while it lasted but immediately forgettable once it was over.

Speaking of which, the whole thing ended when Long ran and tried to unmask Pillman, resulting in a DQ.
Your Winner via DQ: Yellow Dog

Post match, Dog clotheslined Long but got punched over the top rope by Johnny B.

Backstage, Eric Bischoff tried to get an interview with Missy Hyatt. Venturing into her locker room, he excitedly busted in on her while she showered, only to have the First Lady of WCW scream and throw stuff at him until he left.

I can’t help but feel like this was Missy’s karma for walking in on Stan Hansen in the shower like she’d done twice earlier in the year.

Lumberjack Match
Big Josh vs. Black Blood

Big Josh came out with a bevy of beautiful women which seemed ill-fitting with his character.

Meanwhile, Black Blood was billed as hailing from “a little town in France,” because apparently nobody had bothered to ask him what that town might be.

He was also advertised as being accompanied by Kevin Sullivan, but Sullivan was nowhere to be found.

All of this was far more interesting than the match itself which, though not necessarily horrible, was pretty tedious and uneventful.

In fact, there was a point when all the lumberjacks began brawling on the outside and it was far more entertaining than anything that happened in the ring.

Towards the finish, Black Blood (Billy Jack Haynes in an executioner mask) picked up his ax, but before he could do anything with it, lumberjack Dustin Rhodes hit him in his injured knee with an ax handle.

That allowed Josh to get the roll-up and the three count.

I should probably mention that both Dustin and Big Josh were supposed to be the babyfaces here.
Your Winner: Big Josh

Before then next match between One Man Gang and El Gigante, Jim Ross told us that Gigante had improved both his English and his wrestling ability.

History would make a liar out of Good Ol’ JR.

Battle of the Giants
One Man Gang (w/ Kevin Sullivan) vs. El Gigante

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - Eric Bischoff interviews Kevin Sullivan and The One Man Gang

As One Man Gang and his manager, Kevin Sullivan made their way to the ring, they were stopped by Eric Bischoff for an interview.

The bat-sh*t crazy Sullivan proceeded to ramble on about a Lady with a Third-Eye who helped them build a death wagon which was now apparently waiting outside for El Gigante.

Alrighty then.

From there, Gigante came to the ring with a gaggle of dwarves for reasons which can only be explained by WCW being WCW.

I won’t lie, it was so absurdly ridiculous that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

The resulting match was just about as bad as you’re probably imagining it was.

Comprised almost entirely of really slow punches and kicks, the end came when Sullivan handed OMG some cocaine (ok, maybe it was just “Mysterious White Powder”) which Gigante then kicked in his opponent’s face so that he could take him down for the three count.

That’s all I’m going to say about this one because, after watching Great American Bash ‘91 for two hours now, I’ve completely run out of creative ways to say “this sucked.”
Your Winner: El Gigante

Before then next match, Jim and Tony sent us to a video package highlighting the feud between Nikita Koloff and Sting, which could basically be summed as Koloff getting the better of his rival every time they interacted.

Honestly, I’m still confused about how this feud started with Koloff attacking Luger and then transitioned to him hating Sting without -as far as I can tell- ever having any kind of major blow-off with Lex at a high profile event.

I mean yeah, I know how the Sting feud started, but from watching PPVs and Clash shows alone, it really felt like the Luger feud was just forgotten about.

Russian Chain Match
Nikita Koloff vs. Sting

This could have been a really good match but it wasn’t.

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - Sting vs. Nikita Koloff in a steel cage

Don’t get me wrong, it was a decent effort and surely one of the more superior matches on the card, but as I said in the earlier six-man, it didn’t take much to be a stand-out match on such a crap event.

In a variation of a strap match that used a long metal chain, the two went at it with a certain intensity but just didn’t seem to gel very well.

The result was a match that was sloppy in some places and kind of dull in others.

Towards the end, both men managed to touch three corners at the same time.

As they did so, Jim Ross told us that he’d never seen such a thing before despite it being a standard part of every strap match ever.

Referee Randy Anderson allowed them to continue fighting with their three count in tact since -according to Schiavone- neither man had technically broken the momentum of the other.

Then, Sting dove at Nikita in the fourth former, presumably looking to take out his rival while simultaneously winning the match.

Instead, Koloff touched the fourth corner fourth and continued his run of getting the better of his nemesis.
Your Winner: Nikita Koloff

Post match, Sting pulled the chain between Koloff’s legs and almost literally broke his balls.

This was followed by a video package that did its damndest to make the Lex Luger/Barry Windham title cage match sound like the most epic encounter in the universe.

Cage Match for the Vacant World Championship World Heavyweight Championship
WCW US Champion Lex Luger vs. Barry Windham

WCW Great American Bash 1991 Review - The World Heavyweight Championship

The match began with the cameras panning the crowd as they all visibility chanted “we want Flair!”

I get that they couldn’t stop the crowds chanting for Nature Boy, but why draw such obvious attention to it?

The chants continued for a large portion of the match which was a shame really because both men worked hard to deliver a solid, old-school main event.

By the end, it even seemed like Windham and Luger had even won the crowd over with a strong showing, but any good will they’d earned quickly evaporated when Luger joined forces with Harley Race and Mr. Hughes at the finish.

It’s not that any of them actually did anything particularly heelish. As far as I could tell, Luger won clean in the middle of the ring with a piledriver, so the resulting reaction was less hatred towards Luger for turning heel and more a mixture of confusion and apathy.
Your Winner and New WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Lex Luger

Post match, Luger celebrated with Race and then stormed off. It still wasn’t immediately clear that Luger had turned or, if it was, it was just about the lamest heel turn in history.

The crowds booed anyway, but then they probably would have done regardless of the outcome simply because Luger wasn’t the Nature Boy.

Afterward, even JR admitted that the whole thing was confusing.

Mixed Gender Tag Team Cage Match
Arn Anderson & Paul E. Dangerously vs. Rick Steiner & Missy Hyatt

Imagine having a steel cage match for your vacant world title involving a top star like Luger on your shoe and then booking a novelty mixed-gender match as your main event.

Imagine then having one of the combatants, arguably the most over in the whole match, taken out before the bell even rang.

That’s exactly what happened here as Dick Murdoch and Dick Slater came down before the match and kidnapped Missy Hyatt, carrying her to the back.

Hilariously, an over-eager fan tried to stop The Hard Liners and nearly got his head taken off by one of the dicks.

Apparently, this was all done because, in classic WCW fashion, the company had booked the match, promoted the hell out of it, and then learned almost right before the show that inter-gender matches were banned by the Maryland State Athletic Commission.

Fair enough, but it left GAB ‘91 with a less than stellar main event.

Don’t get me wrong, Anderson and Rick Steiner were good wrestlers, but do I want to see them main event?

Not really.

I would have watched this because at least Missy was hot but now, meh.

Not that it mattered.

By the time the actual match started, there was only four minutes left on the show anyway.

During those four minutes, Anderson tried to attack Steiner, but the Dog-Faced Gremlin got the better of him, took out both Double A and Paul E. with a pair of Steinerlines and won the match.

He then stormed off without bothering to celebrate because, let’s face it:

There was nothing worth celebrating on this show.
Your Winners: Rick Steiner & Missy Hyatt

“Fans, as we look out at the Baltimore Arena tonight, I’m glad there are no more matches left,” said Jim Ross as he and Schiavone signed off.

You know what, Jim?

I couldn’t agree more.

There are people out there who will tell you that The Great American Bash ‘91 was the worst Pay Per View of all time.

Those people have clearly never seen the absolute steaming pile of garbage that was the 1999 Heroes of Wrestling PPV, but you can’t blame them for being so critical of this event.

I rarely agree with the general consensus among diehard internet fans, but there’s no possible way I can defend this show.

From the abomination of the opening scaffold match to the bait-and-switch and pointless four minutes of the main event via a string of boring, lifeless matches, GAB ‘91 absolutely f**king sucked.

Sure, the six man was decent and I personally enjoyed the world title match until the finish, but neither match is really worth repeat viewing and certainly could save this show from going down in history as one of the worst of all time.

Clearly, World Championship Wrestling needed Ric Flair more than anyone ever realized.

Other 1991 pro wrestling reviews: 
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