Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Showing posts with label Four Horsemen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Four Horsemen. Show all posts

Thursday, 1 April 2021

EVENT REVIEW: NWA The Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review
July 16, 1988 
Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina

What we're about to review today isn't the 1988 Great American Bash PPV event that featured Luger vs. Flair for the title.

Rather, it's an event recorded from The Great American Bash tour that was filmed and uploaded in its original form onto the WWE Network, meaning no announcers, no exciting opening video packages, just raw footage of the matches as they took place.

If you want to read about the PPV, you'll find that Great American Bash 1988 review here.

Otherwise, let's head down to Greensboro for a night of NWA action.

Rip Morgan & NWA Western States Heritage Champion Larry Zybysko vs. Bugsy McGraw & White Lightning Tim Horner

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Larry Zybysko
No fancy intros or special introductions for what is essentially a recording of a house show.

Instead, we got a cold open with Bugsy McGraw and future Smoky Mountain Wrestling star ‘White Lightning’ Tim Horner making their way to the ring.

There, they were met by Western States Heritage Champion Larry Zybysko and Rip Morgan, the latter of whom broke out the traditional New Zealand Haka while McGraw bounced around the ring like a loon.

To be honest, yours truly didn’t have high hopes for this match but it turned out to be a great deal of fun.

Teddy Long was our referee and he apparently enjoyed himself so much that he’d become a life long fan of tag team matches.

Not that you could blame him.

All four men worked hard to deliver a short, explosive opening contest which ended after Tim Horner finally got the hot tag from McGraw and cleaned house.

Lightning by name, Lightning by nature, Horner scored a flash pinfall over Morgan in seven minutes ten seconds, the official time given to us by a young, moustachioed ring announcer by the name of Tony Schiavone.
Your Winners: Bugsy McGraw & Tim Horner

With two rings set up for our main event War Games match, Ronnie Garvin demanded that his next match take place in the ring other than the one officially designated to him.

There was no reason for it, but Garvin had just turned heel a week earlier at the actual Great American Bash ‘88 PPV so this was a good way to show fans that he was now a Grade A d**k.

Ron Garvin (w/ Garry Hart) vs. The Italian Stallion

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Rugged Ronnie Garvin
For further d**kishness, Garvin demanded that he be announced as a former world champion and then feigned an ankle injury in the first ten seconds of the match.

Of course, this was just to lure in The Italian Stallion so that he could punch him out with his famous ‘Hands of Stone’ before sitting on The Stallion’s chest and beating him in what Schiavone told us was 35 seconds.
Your Winner: Ronnie Garvin

Post-match, Garry Hart lambasted the crowd for daring to boo his man and called them hypocrites.

Dick Murdoch vs. Gary Royal

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Dick Murdoch
There will be modern-day fans who dislike this match for being little more than forearm shots and a headlock, but personally this long-time wrestling fan enjoyed it immensely.

After letting Gary Royal put him in a headlock for the first minute of the match, Dirty Dick Murdoch soon gained the advantage and simply bullied his opponent for the next five minutes.

He threw him in the corner and hit him with forearms, argued with Teddy Long (the only official for all three matches so far), took Royal to the outside and did the same again.

The action was slow and methodical but it really presented Murdoch as a brute and a bully and was far more entertaining than some folks would give it credit for.

At the end of six minutes and 59 seconds (thanks, Tony), Murdoch dropped Royal on his noggin and pinned him with a wicked sh*t-eating grin on his face.
Your Winner: Dick Murdoch

Moving on

Non-Title Match
NWA Florida State Champion Rick Steiner vs. Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin (w/ Precious)

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - Jimmy Garvin & Precious
I’m not saying pro wrestling isn’t legit or anything, but it certainly seemed like Tony Schiavone was making up the match times as he went along.

He called this one in five minutes, twenty-five seconds even though it lasted less than three.

Rick Steiner attacked from the opening bell, Ronnie Garvin made a comeback. Kevin Sullivan came down to help his Varsity Club teammate, Garvin saw him off and got a pin from out of nowhere.

It was barely even a match.
Your Winner: Jimmy Garvin

Can you believe that was our fourth match on this card and we’re barely past 25 minutes?

The New Zealand Sheepherders (Luke Williams & Butch Miller w/ Rip Morgan) vs. The Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Greensboro Tour Review - New Zealand Sheepherders vs. Rock 'n' Roll Express
Unfortunately, we didn’t get another Haka from the New Zealanders which would have been cool. Instead, we got them pointing at the New Zealand flag a lot and calling the Americans scum bags before Ricky Morton invited them to kiss some Rock & Roll ass.

With the pre-match banter out of the way, both teams engaged in what was easily the best -and the longest- match on the card so far.

Ok, so it wasn’t nearly as long as Tony Schiavone made it out to be (I’m starting to wonder if Schiavone’s watch was dodgy), but it was still a good 14 minutes of old-school tag team action that had the crowds roaring at every possible turn.

Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson were -as usual- insanely over with the NWA audience while Luke & Butch were reviled in equal measure.

That meant that everything they did got a huge ovation, all of which made for seriously engaging viewing.

After battling against the odds (with Rip Morgan running plenty of blatant interference), the Rock & Roll Express picked up the predictable, but nonetheless satisfying, victory.
Your Winners: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express

Up next, Garry Hart led another man into battle.

Al Perez (w/ Garry Hart) vs. Brad Armstrong

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Al Perez vs. Brad Armstrong
You know, I’ve never noticed before how much Al Perez looks like he could have been Seth Rollins’ older brother.

Here, he took on Road Dogg’s actual brother Brad Armstrong In a weird match that was clearly designed to give the fans a breather after the excitement of the Sheepherders/R&R Express match.

Things went incredibly quiet as Armstrong took control in the early going, even though his simple approach of working over Perez’s arm was effective.

Outside shenanigans courtesy of Mr. Hart later turned the tables and put Perez in control, at which point the fans really came alive for the first time in the match.

After more decent yet unspectacular action, Hart grabbed Armstrong’s leg on a suplex attempt allowing Perez to fall ontop of just opponent for the Uno, dos,tres.

Bunkhouse Handicap Match
NWA United States Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton, Sweet Stan Lane and Jim Cornette) vs. The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers)

NWA Great American Bash 1988 -Jim Cornette
Anything goes according to our man Schiavone, but referee Tommy Young makes both teams go to their corner and enforces tags because logic.

The Fantastics wanted Jim Cornette to start the match but, naturally, the cowardly manager was having none of it.

What followed was a fun match with a hot crowd and a simple story that added a touch of humour to an otherwise basic tag match.

When they were getting their butts kicked, The Midnight Express continually reached to their partner Jim Cornette hoping that he’d tag in, but he flat out refused. This irritated Sweet Stan Lane and Beautiful Bobby Eaton so much that they threatened to punch him.

Naturally, James E. then wanted to tag in when his men were in control and even wanted to score the match-winning pin despite Beautiful Bobby having it all taken care of.

This ended up costing the Midnights the match as the Fantastics kicked out, fought back, and, when Cornette accidentally threw powder in Bobby’s face, they beat him up and won the match.
Your Winners: The Fantastics

This fan honestly expected Sweet Stan and Beautiful Bobby to turn on Cornette after the match, but no such luck.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World Television Champion Mike Rotunda (w/ Rick Steiner and ‘Games Master’ Kevin Sullivan) vs. Sting

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Mike Rotunda vs. Sting
was easily the most popular dude on the roster so far on this show and was also the only guy to get actual entrance music.

Unfortunately, that popularity alone wasn’t to secure him a title victory despite putting on a valiant effort against Mike Rotunda.

Early in the match, Rotunda’s team mates Rick Steiner and Kevin Sullivan got involved but Sting whooped their butts so referee Tommy Young let it slide.

Then, after a decent match, they got involved again only this time Young had decided that enough was quite clearly enough and threw the match out.
Your Winner via DQ: Sting (Mike Rotunda retains)

Post-match, Rotunda and Steiner began pushing and shoving one another until Kevin Sullivan broke them up.

Skywalker Match
The Russian Assassin & Ivan Koloff (w/ Paul Jones) vs. The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal w/ Paul Ellering)

NWA Great American Bash 1988 - Scaffold match
Skywalker match = scaffold match.

We were getting into main event territory now which meant that everyone got music, but if you were expecting a bit of Iron Man for The Road Warriors you’d be disappointed. Generic Rock Theme #1234 was the order of the day here, at least on the Network.

As far as match quality goes, this was certainly one of the better scaffold matches the NWA had presented.

It was certainly better than the Road Warriors outing against The Midnight Express back at Starrcade 1986 and better than the second scaffold match we saw back at Starrcade 1987 between the Midnights and The Rock & Roll Express.

This was mostly thanks to the efforts of Ivan Koloff, who had no problem tripping himself up on the platform and pretending to almost lose his balance umpteen times. It was a masterful  job that saved this from being just another ‘dudes stay on the edges of the platform where it’s safe and punch each other until eventually dropping to the ring.’

To be fair, that’s precisely what Road Warrior Hawk and The Russian Assassin did, but at least Koloff made things interesting in his pairing with Animal.

Alas, making things interesting wasn’t enough to win the match.

He and the Assassin both took unremarkable bumps back to the canvas to lose the match.
Your Winners: The Road Warriors

Afterwards, Hawk, Animal, and Paul Ellering all beat up on Paul Jones

War Games
The Four Horsemen (NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair, Barry Windham, NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, and James J. Dillon) vs. Lex Luger, Dusty Rhodes, Paul Ellering, Dr. Death Steve Williams, and Nikita Koloff

This was a solid match well worthy of main event status and, despite getting pretty chaotic once the ring filled up, remained compelling from start to finish.

Dusty Rhodes and Arn Anderson kicked things off and both bladed within about two minutes because of course, why wouldn’t they?

From there, more bodies entered at regular intervals to create a wildly entertaining brawl that raged on all the way through to The Match Beyond where Rhodes finally put James J. Dillon in  a figure four to win the match.
Your Winners: Dusty Rhodes, Lex Luger, Nikita Koloff, Steve Williams, and Paul Ellering

Post-match, the triumphant heels walked off into the sunset while the Four Horsemen checked on their fallen comrade.

For the most part, the Greensboro stop on the Great American Bash 1988 tour was better than it perhaps looks on paper. While only a few bouts really stood out as anything special (Sheepherders vs. Rock & Roll Express, Fantastics vs. Midnights and the main event War Games match), everything else was at least decent enough to make watching this show an enjoyable experience.

Personally, I would have liked WWE to have brought in some guys to record a commentary track in order to enhance the overall presentation of this event, but that’s a small niggle that takes nothing away from what was generally an OK show all-round.

Other 1988 events:
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Thursday, 25 June 2020

Top 10 WCW Themes

As regular readers of Retro Pro Wrestling will know, we've spent the past few years reviewing every WCW PPV from 1996 onwards and are now getting through those ill-fated final months in the company's history.

Throughout all of that, we've heard many, many theme tunes. The good, the bad, and the so-bad-its-amazing (American Males, we're looking at you), but these -ladies and gentlemen- these are the best WCW themes to ever appear on our TV screens:

10. Hollywood Blondes / Steve Austin 

It's doubtful that there's a wrestling fan in the world who isn't familiar with the shattering glass and crunching guitar riff that makes up Stone Cold Steve's iconic WWF/WWE theme. Years before he began storming his way to ringside to the sound of that Jim Johnson classic, however, he and Brian Pillman swaggered their way to WCW rings with this scathing metal jam as their soundtrack.

Though some argue that the menacing sneer of guitars wasn't entirely suited to the Hollywood Blondes in the way that  Glass Shatters was suited to the Texas Rattlesnake, it was still a damn fine track all the same.

And yes, we'd remiss if we didn't mention the fact this got recycled many times over the years, being used for guys like Marty Jannetty, Greg Valentine, and whoever else was being trotted out to flesh out the midcard on Nitro. 

Still, even that can't take away how magnificent this theme really is.

9. Raven

Diamond Dallas Page's Self High-Five theme may have been WCW's most popular Nirvana rip-off, but let's be honest, the Jimmy Hart Version of Come as You Are was way more bad ass. 

Maybe it's the way that the main riff sounds somehow crisper yet heavier than the Kurt Cobain classic, or maybe it's that scorching solo. Whatever it is, there's something about this one that makes it a must-pick for any list of the best WCW themes ever.

8. Lance Storm

Confession time: The only reason I decided to write this piece was so that I'd have a chance to rave about how awesome Lance Storm's theme music was. 

Though most of his WCW run was squandered in disappointing feuds with Hugh Morrus General Rection and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, there was always something especially cool about hearing that kick ass guitar riff just before Lance delivered his trademark line, "If I could be serious for a minute."

Obviously, this was even better when he had Major Gunns by his side.

By the way, as an honourable mention, Chris Jericho's Pearl Jam rip-off theme could have easily made this list, but in the end, other themes stood out as being just far too iconic to leave off.

7. Eddie Guerrero

There really was nobody else quite like Eddie Guerrero. Unfortunately, the theme for his WCW babyface run, "Generic Rock Track #1837" didn't really reflect that. 

Then he turned heel, was gifted this glorious theme tune, and had kicked off the best part of his WCW career. 

The greatest thing about this theme isn't just that the sleazy bass and scintillating guitars sound so damn good together, it's that there's some intangible quality to this track that perfectly encapsulates all of his Latino swagger and unbridled cool.

After Eddie left, Jimmy Hart remade this theme for Chavo Guerrero and added a gorgeous guitar solo to it. That version was technically better than even this one, but since Eddie's version was the more memorable and iconic of the two, it gets the nod here.

6. Ravishing Rick Rude

There was a lot of notable things about WCW Slam Jam - The Music Vol 1, not least of which being the fact that we never technically got a volume 2. 

This was the album that gave us the famous babyface themes for Sting and The Steiner Brothers. It also that weird song about why Ricky Steamboat was such a great guy for being faithful to his wife.

However, none of those jams compared to this most 90s-sounding ode to the 6'2" of twisted steel and sex appeal known as Ravishing Rick Rude.

A total earworm in the very best sense of the word, when I first heard this album, I spent weeks afterwards singing that ever-so catchy refrain.

Now that we're revisiting the song for this, there's no doubt it'll be stuck in my head again for weeks.

Altogether now..

"He's simply ravishing, he's happening, he knows that he's cool // All the girls go crazy, they don't know what to do. // He'll steal your girl, break her heart and leave you a fool. // He's simply ravishing, dazzling ravishing Rude."

5. Sting

There were really two strong contenders for the number five spot. The classic Goldberg theme that has become as much a part of his whole presentation as his tattoo and Jackhammer, and this, the song Sting used after he started doing The Crow cosplay and hanging out in the rafters.

If you ask me, both tunes have a similar vibe to them, but there's something about Sting's haunting epic that sends chills down the spine in a way that Goldberg's theme never did. 

4. Hulk Hogan 

Again, there's a lot of options here. Do we go with that sweet hip-hop track Konnan recorded that was used for the Filthy Animals? Give some love to the rap-hating West Texas Rednecks? Or shout out Chris Jericho's Pearl Jam rip-off?

We could have done any, but in the end it comes down to this - the best track from the otherwise terrible Hulk Hogan and The Wrestling Boot Band album.

Though it's certainly not as famous as Real American, with its huge riff and a memorable hook, American Made is arguably the better of Hulk Hogan's two main babyface themes.

3. Harlem Heat

Some themes deserve to be a on a top-ten list like this because they sound amazing. Some deserve to be here because they're iconic. Harlem Heat's WCW theme is both. 

One of the few WCW themes to be still used today whenever Booker T puts in an appearance, this classic is both memorable and utterly enjoyable.

2. The Four Horsemen

I mean seriously, just listen to that lead guitar. Doesn't it just give you chills?

Though it wasn't used as much as say Ric Flair's classic theme or the individual themes of its members, The Four Horsemen isn't just one of the best WCW themes, it's one of the best things to come out of WCW, period.

An absolute gem of a track, it was really difficult not to put this right at the number one spot.

Alas, that honor had to go...

1. New World Order

The following announcement has been paid for by the New World Order:

This is hands down the best WCW theme ever.

Earlier, I mentioned that Harlem Heat got onto this list by virtue of being both awesome and iconic

The nWo theme (also known as the porno music) soundtracked the biggest boom in WCW's history, one that just so happened to give us the most exciting time ever to be a wrestling fan.

Plus, as a mashup of multiple Jimi Hendrix, it gave us some scorching riffage that was just...too...sweeeeeeeeeeeeet.

Disagree with these picks? Let us know in the comments below or dive into the discussion on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page. 

Alternatively, check out some of our other wrestling theme reviews below:

Thursday, 17 May 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Fall Brawl 1997

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - Event Poster
September 14, 1997
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The long-term success of the New World Order angle meant a lot of positive benefits for World Championship Wrestling. 

For one thing, it meant a remarkable change in fortunes and unprecedented profit. For another, it meant that for the first time in the company's short history, they could legitimately claim to be the number one pro wrestling company in North America, if not the world.

It also meant that they didn't really need to put too much effort in creating compelling storylines and matches; simply pit someone from the nWo against someone from WCW and you had a feud all lined up.

Thus it was that, for the second year in a row, we got some variation of World Championship Wrestling vs. The New World Order in the company's flagship match - War Games.

At Fall Brawl 1996, it had been three of the nWo's biggest stars - Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall teaming up with a fake Sting to battle Lex Luger and half of the Four Horsemen, with the briefest of cameos from the genuine Stinger.

This year, only Nash remained to do battle once more for the renegade faction, with B-Level players Konnan, Buff Bagwell and Syxx joining him for a match against all four members of the current incarnation of The Four Horsemen.

Yet just because it worked once, we were about to find out that WCW vs. NWO in War Games wasn't guaranteed to work again, and the lack of star power may well have been a factor.

Here's what went down when WCW presented Fall Brawl 1997...

It's War Games, And It's Personal 

Our show tonight began with a recap of the August 25th episode of Nitro, where Arn Anderson retired and Curt Hennig became an official member of the Four Horsemen.

That led to the infamous Four Horsemen parody by the nWo, which in turn led to Rowdy Roddy Piper (who was now in an authority figure role similar to the one he'd held in the WWF prior to Wrestlemania 12) booking nWo vs. The Four Horsemen in War Games.

The video took us to the arena, where Tony Schiavone welcomed us to the show and intrigued us to his broadcast colleagues Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and -for the first time in forever- not The American Dream Dusty Rhodes but Iron Mike Tenay.

The announcers talked up tonight's main event before turning their attention to ringside for our opening contest.

World Championship Wrestling World Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Eddie Guerrero 

The last time we saw Chris Jericho on PPV, it was at the previous month's Road Wild 1997, where he unsuccessfully challenged Alex Wright for the Cruiserweight Championship.

Since then, Jericho had won the title and came to the ring to defend it tonight accompanied by Break The Walls Down, which was impressive considering that theme wasn't written for another two years.

I'm kidding of course, Jericho came down to his Pearl Jam rip off theme that WWE Network dubbed over.

Meanwhile, his opponent Eddie Guerrero had recently turned heel and sauntered to the ring wearing a brilliant scowl and accompanied by a theme song that sounded like a cross between Bad Street USA and Don't Step to Ron.

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - Chris Jericho defended the Cruiserweight Champion against Eddie Guerrero
But hey, the entrances were hardly the talking point of the match.

No, Sir, that honour went to the action itself, which was nothing short of fantastic.

One of those matches that you could use to show non-fans why you like pro wrestling, Jericho/Guerrero was every bit as good as you might expect it to be, if not better.

After a great effort, Eddie picked up the win with a beautiful frog splash, ending what Tenay told us was the one-month reign of Chris Jericho.
Your Winner and New WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Eddie Guerrero 

Backstage, Jeff Jarrett spoke to an interviewer from not about his upcoming match with Dean Malenko tonight, but a different match against Curt Hennig on Friday.

The interviewer did then ask about Malenko, but we cut back to the ring before we could find out what Double J had to say.

Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray w/ Jacqueline) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner w/ Ted Dibiase) 

With Larry Zybysko now taking Mike Tenay's place on commentary, we got one of those rare matches that pitted two teams of actual legitimate brothers against one another.

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - The Steiner Brothers faced Harlem Heat
I'll be honest with you, I've never been as big a fan of Harlem Heat as lots of other people, but I have to give them their due here - they worked hard against Rick and Scott Steiner and delivered a good -if not great - match that at least had the live crowd fully hyped and popping for just about every move.

After some good action, The Steiners got the win and the crowd just about lost their minds.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers 

Moving swiftly on...

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW World TV Champion Alex Wright vs. Ultimo Dragon 

For the second PPV in a row, Alex Wright successfully defended a title.

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - Alex Wright defended the TV title against Ultimo Dragon
This time, it was against Ultimo Dragon in what has to be considered one of the best of his career.

The crowd were not into it even half as much as they were for Steiners vs. Harlem Heat, but that was a shame because Alex Wright vs. Ultimo Dragon was tremendous.

I've said it before that because of the dumb Dancing German Guy gimmick and lack of any meaningful storylines, Alex Wright was grossly underrated.

Actually watch his matches such as this career-defining performance, his outing against Chris Jericho at Road Wild or his highly enjoyable bout against Dean Malenko at Clash of the Champions 32 and you'll see a guy who would really go.

Not only could he go, he could also win, picking up the victory via -fittingly- a German Suplex.
Your Winner and Still WCW TV Champion: Alex Wright 

Out in the back, Mean Gene Okerlund told us to call the hotline for an exclusive interview with Arn Anderson, but as he did so, Konnan, Buff Bagwell, and Syxx, and Kevin Nash all stormed past him, barged into a locker room, and then barged out again.

When Gene went to investigate, we found Curt Hennig lying on the floor in that room, the implication being that the New World Order had gone in and beaten him up.

Match to Decide the Number One Contender to the US Title
Jeff Jarrett (w/ Queen Debra) vs. Dean Malenko 

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record today, this was yet another fantastic match.

Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate, just proper, old-school professional wrestling at its very best is exactly what Jeff Jarrett and Dean Malenko delivered in a bout that deserved to rival anything else on the card for Match of the Night honours.

After a long and very enjoyable battle, Jarrett made Malenko submit to the Figure Four, earning himself a shot at the US title currently held by his arch nemesis, and husband of his valet Debra, Steve McMichael.
Your Winner and New Number One Contender to the US Title: Jeff Jarrett

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - The NWO cut a backstage promo about their War Games match with The Four Horsemen
In one of those edgy, black and white promos that was the staple of their presentation, the nWo War Games team (Nash, Syxx, Bagwell, Konnan) cut a long and tiresome promo in which they none-too-subtly bragged about attacking Curt Hennig before claiming, over and over again, that they wanted to end The Four Horsemen once and for all.

Wrath & Mortis (w/ James Vanderberg) vs. The Faces of Fear (Meng & Barbarian) 

Yes, Wrath and Mortis were still a thing at this stage.

Meanwhile, after The Dungeon of Doom had effectively ended following Kevin Sullivan's retirement at Bash at the Beach 1997, Meng and Barbarian had apparently lost Jimmy Hart but gained some shiny new red pants.

The match itself was a little underwhelming compared to the awesome card we'd had so far, but that doesn't mean it was a bad match.

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - Wrath & Mortis beat the Faces of Fear
Far from it.

With Barbarian taking the bulk of the abuse and Meng being just the personification of brutality in his inevitable hot Tag moment, The Faces of Fear worked well with James Vanderberg's men to create a decent hard-hitting big man match.

Towards the finish, Meng got both Vanderberg and Mortis in the Tongan Death Grip, but that allowed Wrath to come up from behind and slam his opponent down for the one, two, three.
Your Winners: Wrath & Mortis 

Out in the back, Chris Benoit, WCW US Champion Steve 'Mongo' McMichael, and Nature Boy Ric Flair were interviewed by Mean Gene Okerlund.

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 Review - 3/4s of the Four Horsemen cut a backstage promo about their War Games match with the NWO
Benoit had choice words for everyone in the nWo War Games team, including this zinger:

'Nash, you've been so many different characters that nobody knows what you're about.' 

Mongo followed that by promising an apocalypse for the New World Order, and Flair styled and profiled whilst declaiming that he had more heart and determination than Nash.

Nobody will ever list this as their favourite promo, but it was short and effective, with perfectly acceptable performances from all involved.

Scott Norton vs. The Giant 

Honestly, I groaned when this was revealed to be the next match. I mean, Giant vs. Scott Norton? There was. I way this could be good, right?

Well, no, there wasn't, but at least it was short, and at least both men did their best to make it entertaining, with a violent brawl on the outside proving to be legitimately enjoyable.

Still, when The Giant choke slammed Norton for the win, it came as a big relief.
Your Winner: The Giant 

From there, it was straight onto our next match.

Diamond Dallas Page & Lex Luger vs. Macho Man Randy Savage & WCW World Tag Team Champion Scott Hall (w/ Miss. Elizabeth) 

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 - Randy Savage and Scott Hall faced Lex Luger and Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page and Lex Luger had originally been in the WCW War Games team until the nWo attack on the Four Horsemen prompted a change in the card.

That left DDP to once again get his hands on Macho Man Randy Savage after the two had a terrefic match at Spring Stampede 1997,  with Luger and Scott Hall thrown into the mix to make this a tag match.

On an unrelated note, Elizabeth looked incredible here, what a truly beautiful woman she was.

The action in this one was merely a build up to the bizarre ending, which started when Hall and Savage took out the referee (just as the announcers had suggested they might in the previous Giant/Norton match) and then took out their opponents.

The nWo beat down was so intense that it prompted Larry Zybysko -who had been having a feud of his own with Hall- to come down to the ring and square off with his nemesis.

Hall mockingly backed off from Larry, straight into a prone Lex Luger, who wrapped Hall up for a pin.

Zybysko, using some hitherto unknown authority possessed by retired-wrestlers-cum-commentators, then made the three count, and this one was over, apparently.
Your Winners via Larry Zybysko pin: Lex Luger and Diamond Dallas Page 

Our main event was next, which gave Mean Gene just one last chance to shill the hotline - don't forget - kids, get your parents permissions.

A Slim Jim commercial aired, and then it was on to a match that Michael Buffer told us would be unlike any other match (apart from all the other War Games matches, of course).

War Games
The Four Horsemen (Nature Boy Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, and WCW United States Champion Steve 'Mongo' McMichael) vs. New World Order (Kevin Nash, Syxx, Buff Bagwell, and Konnan) 

WCW Fall Brawl 1997 - Curt Hennig betrayed the Four Horsemen and joined the nWo
Like the previous match, this one was all about the finish.

Unlike the previous match, everything leading up to the finish was mind-numbingly tedious.

That finish see Curt Hennig come to the ring and -predictably - revealing that he wasn't hurt at all, and hadn't been attacked by the nWo.

Instead, he was with the boys in black and white, and helped Nash, Bagwell, Syxx and Konnan to handcuff Benoit and Mongo to the cage and basically destroy the Horsemen until Mongo volunteered to surrender so that Hennig wouldn't slam the cage door on Flair's head.
Your Winners: New World Order 

Naturally, Hennig slammed the door on Flair anyway, and this one was over.

Apart from a very boring main event and a weird finish to the Hall/Savage vs. DDP/Luger match, this was a fantastic show with lots to enjoy.

That said, even the main event -poor as it was- had a genuinely exciting finish.

All in all, one of the best PPV shows of 1997, and one of WCW's best of the past few years.

1997 events reviewed so far:
  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell
  10. WCW - Slamboree 1997
  11. WWF - King of the Ring 1997
  12. WCW - Great American Bash 1997 
  13. WWF - In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede 
  14. WCW - Bash at the Beach 1997 
  15. WWF - Summerslam 1997
  16. WCW - Road Wild 1997
  17. WWF - In Your House 17: Ground Zero
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Thursday, 15 February 2018

PPV REVIEW: WCW Slamboree 1997

May 18, 1997
Independence Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina.

One of the negative aspects of reviewing pro wrestling shows that took place at the height of the 90s boom period is that you don't experience quite the same level of excitement as you did when you originally lived through it. 

Sure, we can talk over and over again about what a great time 1997 was to be a fan -and it was, trust me, I lived it- but you don't really feel it the way you used to.

Thankfully, WCW Slamboree 1997 looked set to change that by presenting a stacked card that combined all the best elements of the companies product at the time, from adrenalin charged cruiserweight matches and top international talent to legendary gimmicks like The Four Horsemen and the New World Order.

Was all that enough to create a show that really stood the test of time and delivered the same level of excitement 20 years later?

Some Footballers Are Here 

Tonight's opening video focussed on the rivalry between Steve 'Mongo' McMichael and Reggie White, and tonight's main event, which saw Kevin Greene team up with the man he faced a year earlier, Ric Flair, and Rowdy Roddy Piper to take on Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Syxx.

That took us to Tony Schiavone, The American Dream Dusty Rhodes, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan, who also gave plenty of attention to the two matches featuring football players.

World Championship Wrestling World Television Championship
WCW Television Champion Ultimo Dragon (w/ Sonny Onoo) vs. Steven Regal 

WCW Slamboree 1997 - Steven Regal bt. Ultimo Dragon for the TV title
Apparently, Steven Regal no longer wanted to be called a lord, because his nobility should be taken as a given, or something to that effect.

Here, he challenged Ultimo (not Ultimate) Dragon for the Television Championship which Dragon won from Prince Iaukea on the Monday Nitro following last month's Spring Stampede 1997.

As opening matches go, they don't come much better than this one.

With a red hot crowd firmly into every single move, Regal played the babyface role against the defending champion in an absolute belter of a match.

The action went back and forth several times before spilling to the outside, where Dragon nailed the challenger with the Asaii Moonsault.

From there, Sonny Onoo got a couple of shots on Regal before 'accidentally' nailing Ultimo Dragon with a round-house kick.

As the announcers debated whether or not Onoo had intended to kick his own man or not, Regal slapped on the Regal Stretch and won his fourth television championship.
Your Winner and New Television Champion: Steven Regal 

Post match, Regal celebrated whilst Onoo addressed the camera, claiming that he could break Champions just as easy as he could make them.

Women's Grudge Match
Luna Vachon vs. Madusa 

Here, Luna Vachon was billed as hailing from 'The Other Side of Darkness,' which I'm assuming was somewhere near 'The Outer Reaches Of Your Mind,' just left of Parts Unknown.

By the way, isn't the other side of darkness just, you know, light?

Anyway, Luna went after Madusa in a reasonably fun, yet short and instantly forgettable match.

The two put on a good show for the time they were allotted before Madusa nailed her rival with a truly beautiful bridging German Suplex for the three count.

Weirdly, Madusa slapped Luna's ass as the ref counted three.
Your Winner: Madusa 

Out in the entrance way, Mean Gene Okerlund urged us to call the WCW Hotline to find out who might be leaving WCW before he was rudely interrupted by Macho Man Randy Savage and Elizabeth.

Savage and DDP Want to Kill Each Other 

The nWo power couple stormed to ringside, where Savage, in his usual manic style, put over his fellow stablemates and claimed that Diamond Dallas Page wanted no part of him.

Page argued otherwise, coming through the crowd wielding the same damaged crutch that Savage had previously used to attack DDP with.

Savage bailed, but after consorting with his nWo colleagues, charged into the ring, quickly followed by VincentEric Bischoff, and Buff Bagwell.

Page took out all three, but was felled by a kidney shot courtesy of Scott Norton.

The New World Order then attacked, only for The Giant to come out for the big save.

Talk about intense, that was a terrific angle that really made you want to see Page and Savage tear into each other one more time.

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Yuji Yasuraoka

I'm not the biggest fan of Japanese wrestling, so I hadn't heard of Yuji Yasuraoka before watching this show, but apparently, he tagged with Lance Storm in WAR and retired after a short career to become a motorcycle mechanic.

Here, he went up against Rey Mysterio Jr. in a match that went a little too long and dragged in some parts but was very good in others.

Naturally, Mysterio picked up the win, moving one step closer to another shot against Syxx for the Cruiserweight title.
Your Winner: Rey Mysterio Jr.

Wasting no time, we went straight to our next match.

Mortis (w/ James Vanderberg) vs. Glacier 

This rematch from Uncensored 1997 didn't last long before Wrath came out and destroyed Glacier, leading to the disqualification.
Your Winner via DQ: Glacier 

Afterwards, Wrath and Mortis spent about three decades beating down on Glacier until a 'fan' (later revealed to be karate champion Ernest Miller) came out for the save.

This was boring as hell.

Mean Gene shilled the Hotline some more before it was on to our next match.

World Championship Wrestling United States Heavyweight Championship
WCW United States Champion Dean Malenko vs. Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra McMichael) 

WCW Slamboree 1997 - Jeff Jarrett (w/ Debra) faced Dean Malenko
As with most matches on the card so far, this one was given plenty of time to deliver and deliver it did.

Trading hold after hold and counter after counter, both Jeff Jarrett and champion Dean Malenko put on a very good performance in a match which only got better the longer it went on.

After an epic battle, Steve 'Mongo' McMichael came to ringside to tend to Jarrett, who was writhing in agony at ringside.

Mongo took his wife by the hand and escorted her backstage, but not before throwing Double J back in the ring, where he quickly succumbed to Malenko's Texas Cloverleaf.
Your Winner and Still United States Champion: Dean Malenko 

Let's keep going...

Death Match
Meng vs. Chris Benoit (w/ Woman) 

WCW Slamboree 1997 - Meng (w/ Jimmy Hart) faced Chris Benoit in a death match
The rules here were non-existent. No pinfalls, no DQ, no count out, the match continues until one man can no longer continue.

If you were expecting such a stipulation to result in an ECW style, weapon-filled brawl to rival Chris Benoit's epic matches with Kevin Sullivan, you may be disappointed.

This wasn't that kind of match, but it was very good; a solid outing from two hard-hitters who basically just beat the crap out of each other until it was time to go home.

At that point, Meng grabbed Benoit in the Tongan Death Grip and won the match.
Your Winner: Meng 

Afterwards, Woman and a bunch of officials checked in on Benoit, who was totally out of it.

A promo for next month's Great American Bash followed before we went back to ringside for our next match.

The Dungeon of Doom (Konnan and Hugh Morrus w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) 

WCW Slamboree 1997 - The Steiner Brothers faced Konnan & Hugh Morrus
By this point, I'm starting to think that there isn't a bad match on this card.

Sure, Dungeon of Doom vs. The Steiners wasn't the highlight of the night, but it was still a very fun tag bout which certainly deserved a place on this show.

After several minutes of enjoyable action, Scott Steiner planted Hugh Morrus with the Frankensteiner. Rick made the cover, and that was that.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers 

Afterwards, Konnan turned on his partner and beat him up, much to the confusion and frustration of Jimmy Hart.

Battle of the Super Bowl Champions
Steve 'Mongo' McMichael (w/ Debra McMichael) vs. Reggie White (w/ Some Guy) 

WCW Slamboree 1997 - Debra McMichael, Steve McMichael, Jeff JarrettThe best thing I can say about this is that it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Sure, Reggie White's offence looked like garbage, but when it was left to Mongo to control the match, it was actually reasonably entertaining for a while.

In fact, if they'd just made this about five minutes or so shorter, I would have told you I'd enjoyed the whole thing. Instead, it went on too long and I quickly lost interest.

Mongo won when one of Reggie's team mates stopped him from using the metal briefcase on Reggie, so Jeff Jarrett came out and give him another one, because apparently they just carried a whole bunch of them around with them.

A three count later, and this one was over.
Your Winner: Steve 'Mongo' McMichael 

The Four Horsemen members celebrated before we cut to Michael Buffer for our main event, or what Buffer called our 'Super Match of the Evening.' 

Anything Goes Six Man Match
The NWO Wolfpac (WCW Tag Team Champions Scott Hall & Kevin Nash, and WCW Cruiserweight Champion Syxx) vs. Kevin Greene, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and The Nature Boy Ric Flair

WCW Slamboree 1997 - Ric Flair teamed with Roddy Piper & Kevin Greene to face the nWo Wolfpac
With a white hot crowd solidly behind him, hometown hero Ric Flair wrestled his first match of 1997 in a genuinely enthralling main event.

Teaming with Rowdy Roddy Piper and pro footballer Kevin Greene, Flair led his men into battle against Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Syxx, and the results were brilliant.

Things were kept relatively simple, but that worked perfectly for this one.

After a veg enjoyable contest, referee Randy Anderson took a tumble, causing former nWo referee Nick Patrick to come out.

Flair slapped Hall in figure four, Piper put Nash to sleep, and Greene hit Syxx with a running shoulder breaker.

Patrick counted to three, and this one was over.
Your Winners: Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Kevin Greene

So, did WCW Slamboree 1997 stand the test of time? Was it enough to rekindle that passion and excitement that we all felt back in the late-90s pro wrestling boom? 

Close enough. 

This was a very fun show from start to finish and one of the best PPVs of 1997 up to that point. There was barely a bad match on the card, whilst the variety of styles and the perfect blend of all the things that made WCW such a hot commodity in the 1990s took centre stage. 

I feel like I haven't said this in a long time, but this one was definitely worth watching. 

1997 events reviewed so far:

  1. WWF - Royal Rumble 1997
  2. WCW - Souled Out 1997
  3. WWF - In Your House 13: Final Four 
  4. WCW - Superbrawl VII 
  5. WCW - Uncensored 1997 
  6. WWF - Wrestlemania 13
  7. WCW Spring Stampede 1997
  8. WWF - In Your House 14: Revenge of The Taker
  9. WWF - In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell

Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

WCW The Great American Bash 1996

WCW Great American Bash 1996 - Event Poster
June 16, 1996
Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, MD

The summer of 1996 was an interesting time for professional wrestling, particularly when it came to the burgeoning intensity of the rivalry between World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation. 

By June, the latter were using their King of the Ring PPV to begin launching a bona fide star out of ex-WCW mainstay Steve Austin, ultimately creating the Stone Cold character that would shape and define The Attitude Era.

Meanwhile, the former were using two of the WWF's biggest stars, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash in a storyline that would ultimately position them as the number one wrestling company in the world. 

Tonight, at the tenth instalment of their 'Great American Bash event, WCW would not only take that storyline, but their entire rivalry with WWF, to the next level. 

Did that make for an enjoyable show? Let's head to the Baltimore Arena to find out, shall we?

Everybody's Pumped Up For The Bash 

Our show tonight began with a cavalcade of madness, not all of it of the Macho kind.

WCW Great American Bash 1996 - Ric Flair, Miss. Elizabeth, Arn Anderson, and Woman of the Four Horsemen
In the first of a series of crazy-hyper promos, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan tried desperately and failed miserably to convince us that he wasn't worried about the possibility of Macho Man Randy Savage getting his hands on him later on in the show.

Savage, meanwhile, was only concerned about his boys Kevin Greene and Steve 'Mongo' McMichael, and how the NFL stars were going to beat up Nature Boy Ric Flair and Arn Anderson.

As for the two key members of The Four Horsemen, they vowed to take no prisoners when they battled Green and  Mongo.

Finally, TV and co-Tag Team Champion Lex Luger promised to add a third title to his collection by beating The Giant, whilst The Giant himself was obviously having none of it.

All of these promos were shot in shaky-wobbly camera mode, apparently to convince us that this was going to be a wild and crazy show, or something.

WCW Great American Bash 1996 - Tony Schiavone & Dusty Rhodes hosted the event
After Tony Schiavone welcomed us to the show, Sgt. Craig Pittman came out with the American flag whilst the Star Spangled Banner played.

This finally took us to our usual intro from Tony Schiavone and The American Dream Dusty Rhodes. Heenan was absent from commentary tonight as he was coaching The Four Horsemen in their match later.

Lots of pre-match rambling followed, including Schiavone paying his respects to the recently departed Dick Murdoch, before we finally got to the ring for our opening match.

There Must Be a Winner
Fire & Ice (Scott 'Flash' Norton & Ice Train) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) 

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - The Steiner Brothers faced Fire & Ice in the opening match
For the majority of this fairly average opening match, the vague stipulation that here must be a winner didn't have any bearing on the contest itself, nor was it ever explained quite why it was necessary.

There was no wild brawling outside of the ring, no use of weapons, just a big standard tag match that -admittedly- did get interesting once all four men started brawling towards the finish.

It was at this point that both teams began trading a series of close calls and near falls to create an exciting sequence which ultimately resulted in a win for Rick and Scott.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers 

Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund reminded us that we could chat to WCW wrestlers like Lord Steven Regal on Compuserve before welcoming his first guests of the evening, The Mouth of The South Jimmy Hart and The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Mean Gene interviews Jimmy Hart & The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan
The two Dungeon of Doom members largely ignored Okerlund as they talked about the rivalry between them and The Four Horsemen.

In a typically old school promo, Sullivan threatened to do all kinds of evil things to Chris Benoit in their upcoming Falls Count Anywhere match, mainly to send a message to his Horsemen buddies, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson.

With that, it was on to our next match:

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship
WCW US Champion Konnan vs. El Gato 

For those wondering, challenger El Gato was former Badd Company / Orient Express star Pat Tanaka in a cat mask.

Here, he went up against Konnan in an enjoyable, though hardly spectacular outing which saw both men go back and forth with some pretty sweet -and some admittedly sloppy- looking offence.

Eventually, Konnan landed the win to keep hold of the title he would eventually lose to Ric Flair at WCW Bash At The Beach 1996 one month later.
Your Winner and Still WCW United States Champion: Konnan 

WCW - The Great American Bash 1996 - Sting cut a promo on Steven Regal, calling Regal gay
Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Sting about his upcoming match against Lord Steven Regal.

In one of those moments that leaves you looking at the screen in disbelief saying 'seriously??' Sting spent the whole interview suggesting that Regal was gay, even going so far as promising to 'straighten him out.'

Honestly, there's no way they'd get away with something like that today.

After one of the 12,000 Glacier vignettes that would air that year, it was onto our next match.

Lord of The Ring
WCW Lord of The Ring Diamond Dallas Page vs. Marcus Alexander Bagwell 

Credit where it's due, both men worked their asses off here to provide us with an entertaining match.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Diamond Dallas Page faced Marcus Alexander Bagwell
With reigning Lord of The Ring Diamond Dallas Page going for cheap, cowardly heel heat at every opportunity and Marcus Bagwell flying about the place and pandering to the crowd, they both did a great job in setting up a simple good guy/bad guy dynamic that was pure textbook.

Textbook, however, doesn't always equal interesting, and that was certainly the case here.

Apart from the occasional flashes of brilliance, even a solid effort from both men couldn't stop this one from coming across as average at best.

In the end, Page cheated his way to a victory, retaining a Lord of The Ring ring that nobody cared about.
Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page 

Out in the back, our buddy Mean Gene was standing by with WCW Champion The Giant and his manager, Jimmy Hart.

Hart skirted around the question of whether or not he had any kind of vested interest in Lex Luger's career, before taking a step back to allow The Giant to do all the talking.

And talk he did.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Mean Gene interviewed Jimmy Hart & The Giant
With a lisp.


The Giant's promo was basically solid, as he boasted about his superiority over his challenger and vowed to annihilate him later on in the ring, but it was all done with a curious lisp that was as disturbing as it was distracting.

Otherwise, it was good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff, we got much more of that next:

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.  

I feel like I've reviewed a few Dean Malenko/Rey Mysterio matches already this year, including the strong effort they had at Clash of the Champions XXXIII, but I don't know that I've enjoyed any of them as much as I enjoyed this, their first meeting here at The Great American Bash.

By all accounts, Mysterio was still a relative newcomer to World Championship Wrestling by this stage, but his years of prior experience helped him look like a star against the reigning champion.

Not that Malenko was any kind of slouch.

Playing the aggressor for the bulk of the contest and working over his opponent's arm, The Ice Man displayed that rarest of qualities in which he actually looked every bit the fighting champion he was supposed to be here.

Combined with Rey's dazzling comebacks, this made for what was by light years certainly the best match on the show up to this point.

Malenko retained his title by plastering the challenger to the mat with a powerbomb and using the ropes for leverage on the pin fall.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko 

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Mean Gene interviewed Lex Luger about his world title match against The Giant
Backstage, Mean Gene reminded us to call 1-900-909-9900 to hear all the latest backstage gossip before welcoming a sombre looking Lex Luger.

The tag team and TV Champion admitted that he was only doing the interview out of respect for WCW, but that his mind was really elsewhere - namely in the ring ready to take on The Giant.

After flubbing his lines a bit and finding himself unable to say the word 'pride,' Luger spoke of dethroning The Giant in their main event match later on in the show.

Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. John Tenta 

Having recently returned to the babyface locker room after a spell as the Dungeon of Doom's Shark, John Tenta looked to extract revenge on his former teammate Big Bubba for the recent hatchet job Bubba did on Tenta's hair.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Big Bubba faced Big John Tenta
The result was a match that turned out to be far better than most were probably expecting. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a classic by any stretch, but it was definitely an enjoyable big man outing which ended when Tenta caught Bubba coming off the ropes and squashed him for a three count.
Your Winner: John Tenta 

Post-match, Tenta held a pair of scissors about a small country's length away from  Bubba's beard, and Bubba sold it as though he'd been violently face raped.

As the former Big Bossman scurried off, trying to convince us that his beard had been cut off, Tenta ranted in the ring that this was far from over.

Mean Gene Interviews The Football Players, Baby

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Mongo McMichael, Kevin Greene and Macho Man Randy Savage were insane in this promo
Asked about a strategy, McMichael said he and Greene didn't need one, whilst Greene himself basically yelled the word 'BABY' over and over again with the odd few syllables in between.

Their wrestling coach Randy Savage then came on the scene, ranting and raving in typical Macho Madness fashion, and before you knew it, this one was over.

Everybody in this promo (with the possible exception of Deborah McMichael and Tara Greene) was clearly off their tits on drugs here.

Falls Count Anywhere
The Crippler Chris Benoit vs. The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan 

They brawled in the stands, they brawled in the bathroom, and they brawled in the stands some more.

Everywhere they brawled, Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan were absolutely awesome together.

From start to finish, this wild, out of control brawl was about as fun as wrestling ever gets.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Kevin Sullivan beat up Chris Benoit in the bathroom
Whilst the earlier Cruiserweight Championship match may have been the best bout from a pure wrestling standpoint, this intense street fight was the most enjoyable for the sheer insanity of it.

Things ended when Benoit set up a table on the top rope, got backdropped onto it, then recovered and suplexed Sullivan off it in one of the highlights of the entire event.

A three count later and this one was over.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit 

Afterwards, Benoit continued to attack Sullivan until Arn Anderson, who had been siding with The Taskmaster during this feud, came down and hurled The Crippler across the ring.

This turned out to be a ruse however, and both Benoit and Anderson laid the boots into Sullivan until Dungeon of Doom members came to the rescue.

The Horsemen Are Strong 

Backstage, Mean Gene was doing that creepy-old-guy thing he always did when Woman and Miss. Elizabeth were around. Before he could interview them, however, a sweaty Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit came on the scene, followed by The Nature Boy Ric Flair.
WCW The Great American Bash - Mean Gene interviewed The Four Horsemen

Anderson yelled about how few people could cut it as a member of The Four Horsemen, but that tonight, Chris Benoit had proved well and truly that he could.

Benoit, happy to be back in the fold, added that he had put Kevin Sullivan in his place tonight, and taught him just what happens when you mess with The Horsemen.

Chiming in towards the end of Typical Loud Angry Wrestling Promo #158, The Nature Boy insisted that he and Anderson were more than ready for tonight's match with Kevin Greene and Mongo McMichael.

Special Challenge Match
Lord Steven Regal (w/ Chives) vs. WCW Tag Team Champion Sting 

Apparently Regal had 'backhanded' Sting on a recent WCW show. To hear the commentators talking about it, this was the most heinous thing to have ever happened, meaning Sting was out for revenge against the Blackpool native in a 'special challenge' match.

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 - Steven Regal was awesome in his match against Sting
The match itself was, quite frankly, magnificent. It was mostly Steven Regal being awesome, working the crowd into a seething mass of hatred and making several thousand people hungry to see him get his ass kicked.

Not that they would get to see it.

Regal spent the majority of the contest large and in charge, taking The Stinger apart with a succession of submission moves and trash talking the entire time.

It was awesome to watch, though less so towards the finish when Sting suddenly stopped feeling pain, made a quick comeback and wrapped this one up with a Scorpion Death Lock.
Your Winner: Sting 

Wasting no time in getting back to the ring, it was time for the hotly anticipated Footballers vs. Wrestlers match.

Legends of The World of Wrestling vs. Legends of The Gridiron
The Four Horsemen (The Nature Boy Ric Flair & The Enforcer Arn Anderson w/ Miss. Elizabeth, Woman, and Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan) vs. Kevin Greene & Steve 'Mongo' McMichael (w/ Tara Greene, Deborah McMichael, and Macho Man Randy Savage 

There's no two ways about it, this match was incredibly good fun.

No, it wasn't a mat wrestling classic, but then it was never supposed to be.

This was all about the spectacle of seeing two huge football players step into the squared circle, and to give them their due, Mongo and Greene played their roles to perfection.

They were big, they were manic, and that was all they needed to be.

Mongo and Greene kept things simple, Flair and Anderson bumped into the place and made the two footballers look like bona fide wrestling stars.

WCW - The Great American Bash 1996 - Deborah McMichael (w/ Woman & Elizabeth) betrayed Kevin Greene
Meanwhile, on the outside, Woman and Elizabeth chased the two footballers' wives off to the back, only to return towards the finish with Deborah, who had changed out of her football-themed attire and was now wearing a long, flowing dress.

In her hand, she carried a briefcase which she presented to her husband. Mongo opened it to reveal a Four Horsemen t-shirt and a butt-load of cash then closed it again and knocked out his partner with it.

Flair made the pin, and Steve 'Mongo' McMichael was now a member of The Four Horsemen.
Your Winners: Ric Flair & Arn Anderson

Afterwards, Mongo joined his new teammates in beating down his former wrestling coach, Macho Man Randy Savage, before the now complete Horsemen stable congratulated each other on a job well done.

The Hostile Take Over: 'They' Confront Eric Bischoff 

Our show tonight finds us in the earliest stages of the New World Order angle.

Scott Hall and Kevin Nash had already debuted on Nitro, but were still being referred to only as 'They.'

On a recent episode of Nitro, 'They' had issued a challenge to WCW for a match, and now it was the responsibility of Eric Bischoff, as Big Boss of WCW, to respond to that challenge.

Inviting Them out onto the stage, Bischoff first sought to get his way out of a lawsuit by asking both men whether or not they worked for the WWF.

They answered in the negative, leaving Bischoff free to continue the year's hottest angle by accepting Their challenge to a match, albeit on his terms.

The match, said Eric, would take place at next month's Bash at the Beach on July 7th, though the three men who would be representing WCW would not be revealed until the following night's Nitro.

When Bischoff refused to be drawn any further on this, Hall got angry and punched him in the stomach. Then, in one of the most memorable moments of the whole nWo angle, Nash powerbomed the boss through the stage.

It was a short, compelling, and utterly convincing angle which, though simple in its execution, made you sit up and take note:

This was no ordinary wrestling angle, this was something big.

As a stunned Tony Schiavone left the broadcast booth to join EMTs and WCW officials in tending to Eric, our pal Dusty gave a sombre promo to camera, declaring his disbelief at what a cruel, terrible world we lived in.

Between The Destruction of Eric Bischoff and Steve McMichael's dastardly turn, Dusty was inconsolable. So distraught was he in fact, that he failed to recognise that Michael Buffer was to be our ring announcer for tonight's main event.

World Championship Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship
WCW World Heavyweight Champion The Giant (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Lex Luger  

WCW - The Great American Bash 1996 - The Giant yelled at the camera after beating Lex Luger
Whilst both Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart getting distracted by the Eric Bischoff saga was a nice touch -Luger even going so far as to check on him en route to the ring- it was about the only part of this match that was.

Everything else, from bell to bell, was miserable and almost unwatchable.

After several minutes of pure crap, The Giant hit his clothesline to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still WCW Champion: The Giant 

And that was all she wrote for one of the better PPVs of 1996.

And so it was that we were one step closer to Bash at the Beach 1996, one step closer to the heel turn that would change professional wrestling forever, and one step closer to the true formation of the New World Order. 

That being said, The Great American Bash was -unlike many other PPVs that would come later in the year- not predominantly focussed on the whole invasion thing. 

Here, we had lots of great wrestling from WCW's finest, including a rip-roaring match between Rey Mysterio and Dean Malenko, a great wrestling match between Sting and Steven Regal, and a highly entertaining novelty match in the wrestlers vs. footballers gimmick. 

To this writer, all of that proves one thing: 

That whilst it may have been the nWo that helped catapult WCW into the stratasphere, it wasn't the only thing they had going for them. Solid, in-ring action which at times totally outshone the competition was one of the company's best assets, and a tool they used to great effect in retaining fans long after the novelty value of Hall and Nash had worn off.

Admittedly, I've reviewed WCW's 1996 PPVs in a bit of a random order. If you haven't already, you haven't already, you can catch up with other reviews here: 

Next time, we'll go ahead and review WCW World War 3. To be among the first to read that review when it is published, join me on the Retro Pro Wrestling Facebook page, or follow me on twitter at @Retropwrestling. Until then, thanks for reading.

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.