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 wcw. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wcw. Show all posts

Thursday, 22 April 2021

PPV REVIEW: WCW / NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Event Poster
February 20, 1989 
UIC Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois

The 1989 Chi-Town Rumble was the only such NWA event with this name, yet just because it was a one-off doesn't mean it wasn't important.

After all, when people talk about Nature Boy Ric Flair's greatest opponents, Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat's name inevitably comes close to the top -if not right at the very top- of that list.

The reason for that is simple:

The two had some incredible matches together, the first of which took place right here on this very card.

Steamboat had not long since returned to the NWA after a several-year stint in the World Wrestling Federation, and immediately made Flair his target.

Still, we'll get to all that later.  

For now, let's head to Chicago, Illinois for the first, last, and only, NWA Chi-Town Rumble. 




It’s a Cold and Snowy Night In Chicago

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Jim Ross & Magnum TA
We began tonight’s proceedings with a relatively simple introduction, featuring clips of the NWA’s star performers doing their thing presented in a wonderfully 80s format.

Coming live to an arena that was presented more like the kind of major wrestling shows we’d get in the 90s rather than the dark, dingy and cluttered 80s events, our announcers Jim Ross and Magnum TA then welcomed us to a cold and snowy night in Chicago for the Chi-Town Rumble.

The duo ran down every match on tonight’s card before sending us to a second video package showing us what to expect from the show.

This wasn’t a recap of the main feuds or storylines. It featured nothing that might make you get emotionally invested in what you were about to watch. Rather, it served as a highlight reel, showcasing tonight’s performers slamming and bumping around the ring interspersed with multiple shots of Road Warrior Hawk poking his tongue out.

It was OK for what it was, but let’s be honest, it can’t have accomplished much. Fans had already bought the show. They already had some idea of what to expect.

Anyway, when it was over, Ross and Magnum sent us backstage for our first promo of the evening.

It’s Showtime!

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Michael 'P.S' Hayes gave an insane promo to Bob Caudle
Out in the back, Bob Caudle asked Michael P.S Hayes about his upcoming match against The Russian Assassin.

Hayes had apparently decided that he didn’t want to talk about that. In fact, he didn’t want to talk much at all. He much preferred to yell, REALLY LOUDLY AND EXCITEDLY, about the show’s upcoming title matches, none of which he was involved in.

He then wrapped things up with a very basic ‘oh and of course I’m gonna kick this guy’s butt’ kind of message before shouting some more about it being showtime and making his way to the ring.

Well, alright then.

Michael P.S Hayes vs. The Russian Assassin (w/ Paul Jones)

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Paul Jones with The Russian Assassin
Michael Hayes has red, white, and blue literally running through his veins,” said JR.

I’m not sure, but I think that’s maybe something Hayes might want to see a doctor about.

The match itself was a slow, simple affair which may not be all that appealing when viewed through the filter of modern pro wrestling, but which kept the fans suitably entertained and remains a decent watch if you view in the context of the period.

After trading the advantage several times, The Russian Assassin shot Michael Hayes into the ropes only for the Freebird to plant him with a sweet DDT for the one, the two, and the three.
Your Winner: Michael P.S Hayes

Post match, Hayes did a lap of the ring, hi-fiving fans as Bad Street USA blared through the PA.

He’s a Family Man

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat was a family man
One of my favourite moments on the WCW Slam Jam album is the track about what a great guy Ricky Steamboat was because he didn’t cheat on his wife.

Tonight, he played up that Family Man gimmick as he gave an interview to Bob Caudle with his wife and child by his side.

To be fair, the family man thing worked to establish how different he was from the limousine-riding, jet-flying playboy that was his arch-rival Nature Boy Ric Flair, but it did little to help his promo ability.

The dragon stumbled his way through a monotone promo that was so dull I’ve forgotten anything he said even though I only just watched it. What’s more, he was upstaged by his infant son who kept grabbing Caudle’s microphone and bringing it to his face. It was so funny that I don’t know how anyone in the promo kept a straight face.

Sting vs. Hacksaw Butch Reed (w/ Hiro Matsuda)

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Sting vs. Butch Reed
Sting started his career as a tag team wrestler,”
said Jim Ross. “But it’s fair to say he has far surpassed his partners by now.”

Man, talk about the ultimate burn.

This match won’t be included in any Best of Sting compilations, but it was still good for what it was - a lengthy battle in which Butch Reed was forced to use dastardly heel tactics to compete with the strength, speed, and agility of Sting.

Those heel tactics clearly didn’t endear Reed to referee Teddy Long.

After admonishing Hacksaw several times throughout this reasonably entertaining contest, Long refused to break Sting’s pin attempt when Reed grabbed the ropes.

Instead, he moved Reed’s hand off the rope, counted the fall, and that was that.
Your Winner: Sting

Afterward, the two continued to brawl. This was not over yet.

Paul E. Dangerously is Smart

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Paul E. Dangerously with The Original Midnight Express
Backstage, Paul E. Dangerously told Bob Caudle that he’d sent Dennis Condrey on vacation and temporarily replaced him with Jack Victory.

This meant that Jim Cornette’s Midnight Express would be going up against someone they knew nothing about, giving Heyman’s original Midnights a greater chance of victory.

Offering a retort, Jim Cornette and his team insisted that they would still emerge victorious. 

Both managers were, as always, great.

Losing Team Must Leave the NWA
The Original Midnight Express (Randy Rose, Jack Victory, and Paul E. Dangerously) vs. The Midnight Express (Stan Lane, Bobby Eaton, and Jim Cornette)

Cornette and Dangerously may have been great managers but they were not good wrestlers, and I doubt this match would have been any worse without the two of them flailing about the place.

Although Cornette’s Midnights had been part of many really good matches, this sadly wasn’t one of them.

Not out right terrible or anything but just kind of there.

To the shock of no one at all, Cornette, Stan Lane, and Bobby Eaton won, sending the other team packing.
Your Winners: The Midnight Express

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Ric Flair cuts a promo on his opponent, Ricky Steamboat
Out in the back, Ric Flair styled and profiled his way through a compelling promo about how he was going to beat Ricky Steamboat later. 

Woo.

All the while, Flair’s manager Hiro Matsuda looked on.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA TV Champion Rick Steiner (w/ Scott Steiner) vs. Mike Rotunda

This was not all that good.

Notable for being the first PPV of appearance of Scott Steiner it was largely a lifeless affair between the former Varsity Club team mates and college athletes.

Things did get interesting towards the end, but it’s hard to say whether that’s a good thing or not.

Rick Steiner was in control until Kevin Sullivan came down and insinuated that it would be awful if anything were to happen to Steiner’s dog.

That confused and distracted the Dog Faced Gremlin, but not enough for Rotunda to get the win. Instead, the match continued with the champion regaining control, putting a sleeper hold on Rotunda and dropping to the mat.

Being the simpleton he was portrayed to be, Steiner lay flat back on the mat while holding Rotunda on top of him. Noticing that the champion’s shoulders were technically on the mat, Teddy Long counted to three and Mike Rotunda regained the title he’d just lost back at Starrcade ‘88.
Your Winner and new TV Champion: Mike Rotunda

Naturally, the beffudled Steiner Brothers protested the decision while Rotunda’s Varsity Club team mates Kevin Sullivan and Steve Williams helped him high tail out of there.

The Road Warriors are On Their Way

Out in the back, World Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors and Paul Ellering told Bob Caudle they they were going to destroy the Varsity Club in a typically SHOUTY BIG MAN promo.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA US Champion Barry Windham (w/ Hiro Matsuda) vs. Lex Luger

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Barry Windham prepares to Superplex Lex Luger
This was a much better match, not so much for any of the actual action but because it told a sensible story and had a hot crowd.

At first, this was just a typical battle of the big men before Barry Windham went to punch Lex Luger outside the ring. Luger moved and Windham struck the ring post, doing major damage to the hand he used for his patented claw.

From there, the champion’s every effort was thwarted by his own injury.

The only dumb point was the finish. It was one of those German suplex deals were both men have their shoulders to the mat and one lifts theirs up first. In this case, it was Luger, earning himself a new title shot.

There was nothing especially wrong with that, but it came from out of nowhere and was far too similar to the ending of the last match for this fan’s liking.
Your Winner and New US Champion: Lex Luger

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Mike Rotunda is angry about being the TV champion
Out in the back, Mike Rotunda gave an intense interview to Bob Caudle.

The WWE Network name for this segment tells us that Rotunda celebrated his victory.

Really, the future tax man just seemed annoyed that Rick Steiner would even dare to exist, let alone hold the TV title for a few months.

Speaking of titles, after a few words from Ross and Magnum TA, it was back to ringside for our next match.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors (w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan & Dr. Death Steve Williams)

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Kevin Sullivan hurts Road Warrior Animal
If you like your wrestling matches to have non-straight-forward finishes, this was clearly the show for you.

After several minutes of reasonable match that was everything you’d probably expect it to be, Dr Death pinned Animal while Hawk came off the ropes and drilled Sullivan with a flying clothesline and pinned him.

With a member of each team making the cover, the referee counted to three so both teams thought they’d won. Ultimately, the ref gave the match to Hawk and Animal.

It was a dumb way to end the match.
Your Winners and still Tag Team Champions: The Road Warriors

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Bob Caudle interviews a banged up Lex Luger
Backstage, a somber and beat-up Lex Luger talked about how badly he and Barry Windham had hurt one another in the last match.

Finally, a video reminded us of the time Ricky Steamboat had returned to the NWA after a spell in the WWF.

Having done so, The Dragon set about upstaging Ric Flair on TV and then stripped him down to his undies and beaten him up a week later.

The two would meet next.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair (w/ Hiro Matsuda) vs. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat.

NWA Chi-Town Rumble 1989 - Ricky Steamboat wins the World Heavyweight Championship
For what it’s worth, this was Steamboat’s first PPV appearance since Wrestlemania 4 and his first appearance on a major NWA event since we last saw him at Starrcade 1984.

Tonight, he wrestled Ric Flair in a compelling match that was every bit as good as you might have heard.

Though perhaps the weakest of their three performances from 1989, Steamboat/Flair 1 was still a tremendous match from start to finish, telling the story of The Dragon out-wrestling Flair but the defending champion always finding a way to get even.

After lots of exciting back-and-forth action, countless gripping near falls and an unnecessary ref bump, Flair went for his second figure four of the match only for Steamboat to roll him up and win the big gold belt.
Your Winner and new NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Ricky Steamboat

After a brief in-ring celebration, The Dragon made his way backstage where the other babyfaces doused him in champagne while he tried to cut a promo.

It was pretty funny that Steamboat was pretty charismatic when the promo started but then when he got champagne poured on him it was like it stung his eyes. He could barely open them and struggled to speak as he got the point across that he was going to offer Flair a rematch for the gold.






And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the first and only Chi-Town Rumble, a show that started well, started to get dull, and then picked up with that awesome Steamboat/Flair match.

Honestly, most of the card isn’t worth watching, but put this on and skip ahead to that main event for some truly classic pro wrestling.



Other 1989 pro wrestling events:
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

PPV REVIEW: WCW Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Event Poster
December 26, 1988 
Norfolk Scope, Norfolk, Virginia

It had been five long years since Ric Flair had defeated Harley Race in the main event of the first ever Starccade back in 1983. 

That event had been historically important for being the first ever Starrcade event, but this, Starrcade 1988: True Gritt was equally as important for being the first Starrcade promoted under the WCW banner.

Once again, Flair was in the main event competing for the title (as he had been for all of the previous installments) only this time, his opponent was The Total Package Lex Luger.

Flair and Luger had a number of memorable matches during the late 80s/early 90s, but this, this match here tonight, is widely regarded as the best of the bunch. 

With that being said then, let's not waste any more time as we head down to Norfolk, Virginia for a little True Gritt.







Welcome to Starrcade: True Gritt

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Tony Schiavone & Magnum TA - The Mustache Men Ride Again!
We began tonight’s event with a typically 80s-style introduction featuring clips of tonight’s stars with sound bites of various wrestlers talking about their big feuds.

Ric Flair, for example, wanted Lex Luger to shut his mouth here tonight at Starrcade...Wooo!

We then went live to the arena where fans were hyped to see the National Wrestling Alliance even though this was technically now a World Championship Wrestling show.

Tony ‘The Mustache’ Schiavone then welcomed us to the show and introduced his broadcast partner for the evening, Magnum T.A.

Magnum talked about how happy he was to be part of the event even though he couldn’t compete while Tony reminded us that ‘all five NWA titles’ would be decided on the show.

From there, we went to commentators Jim Ross and Bob Caudle who were, to quote Ross, ‘pumped’ for the action.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Tag Team Championship
NWA US Tag Team Champions The Fantastics (Tommy Rogers & Bobby Fulton) vs. The ‘Games Master’ Kevin Sullivan & Dr. Death Steve Williams

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Kevin Sullivan & Dr. Death vs. The Fantastics
Built as a battle of speed (The Fantastics) versus power (Steve Williams & Kevin Sullivan), this lengthy tag team match started well, with Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton having the full support of the crowd behind them.

The longer it went on though (and it did go on for ages), the more it started to drag and the more this fan in particular started to lose interest.

Sullivan snd Williams cut Rogers off from his corner and worked him over for a while until the inevitable hot tag that saw the crowds come alive.

Admittedly, this was the most exciting part of the match, though unfortunately for The Fantastics, a spirited comeback wasn’t enough.

Sullivan and Williams overpowered their opponents and, when Williams made the cover, referee Teddy Long awardees them the match despite Rogers kicking out at the last possible moment.
Your Winners and new United States Tag Team Champions: Steve Williams & Kevin Sullivan

Post match, the obligatory match recap went down before Schiavone and Magnum T.A ran down the rest of tonight’s card.

The Original Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey & Randy Rose w/ Paul E. Dangerously) vs. The Midnight Express (Sweet Stan Lane & Beautiful Bobby Eaton w/ Jim Cornette)

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Jim Cornette
For those keeping track at home, this was the first appearance of Paul E. Dangerously on an NWA/WCW PPV.

The future ECW leader has arrived in the NWA with the original Midnight Express of Loverboy Dennis Condrey and Ravishing Randy Rose, immediately going after the then-current version of the team in Sweet Stan Lane, Beautiful Bobby Eaton and their manager, Jim Cornette.

That had basically turned Cornette’s side into babyfaces who were out tonight to prove that they were the better incarnation of the Midnight Express.

This was a solid and entertaining match though again it was very long. That may not be a bad thing in itself, but you do have to wonder who was sat backstage saying ‘you know what we need immediately after a long, 20-minute tag match? Another long, 20-minute tag match!’

To be fair, this was the better of the two, with the outside shenanigans of Jim Cornette (who had grown an all-new sense of confidence and bravado since turning face) and Paul E. adding to the fun.

Sweet Stan and Beautiful Bobby dominated the first portion of the match until Eaton got beaten up by the original Midnights for a while.

This continued for ages until finally, Dennis Condrey blasted his rival over the head with Dangerously’s epic 80’s cellphone and made the cover.

Teddy Long saw the phone and decided he was having none of it.

In the resulting argument, Lane and Eaton got the better of their rivals and won the match.
Your Winners: The Midnight Express (Jim Cornette’s version)

Afterwards, Condrey, Rose, and Dangerously beat up on their enemies until Eaton recovered and started swinging Cornette’s tennis racket like he was Pete Sampras.

The Varsity Club Celebrate

Backstage, The Varsity Club gloated to Magnum TA about how they’d traded a ‘moron’ like Rick Steiner for the superior Dr. Death Steve Williams and this has led them to gold tonight.

Williams and Sullivan boasted about their big win earlier before Mike Rotunda promised to finish off Steiner once and for all when they met for the TV title later on in the broadcast.

The Russian Assassins (Russian Assassin #1 & Russian Assassin #2 w/ Paul Jones) vs. Ivan Koloff & The Junkyard Dog

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Teddy Long checks over The Russian Assassins
If the Assassins lose, they must unmask and Paul Jones must retire.

Though the crowd were clearly into Junkyard Dog and the somewhat recently turned Ivan Koloff, there’s no escaping the fact that this was easily the worst match on the card so far.

OK, so it wasn’t awful or anything, but it was sloppy in parts and fairly uninspiring.

The end came when JYD hit one of the Assassins with an atomic drop. The masked man wandered right into a Russian Sickle from Koloff and was covered for the pin, but Paul Jones slipped an International Object inside the other Assassin’s mask. The man with the loaded mask then broke up the cover by head butting the back of Koloff’s noggin and that was that.
Your Winners: The Assassins

As a shark cage was slowly lowered in readiness for our next contest, Jim Ross and Bob Caudle recapped all the action thus far.

National Wrestling Alliance World Television Championship
NWA World Television Champion Mike Rotunda (w/ Kevin Sullivan) vs. Rick Steiner

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Mike Rotunda vs. Rick Steiner
Kevin Sullivan must be suspended in a shark cage

Mike Rotunda had held the TV title most of 1988, capturing the gold way back in January of that year, but tonight his reign would come to an end after a long and reasonably good match with his former friend turned down, Rick Steiner.

Early on, announcer Jim Ross suggested that the best way for Rotunda to win was to take advantage of Steiner’s less than stellar intellect and confuse him. Although Rotunda chose not to take such an approach, confusion would play a role in the finish.

Steiner planted his opponent with a suplex only for Dr. Death (who had appeared at ringside) to ring the bell, confusing both Steiner and Rotunda.

Referee Tommy Young came out to confer with Teddy Long about what had actually happened, and in the resulting confusion, Steiner got the better of his nemesis and pinned him to bring his year-long reign to a close.

There will no doubt be people watching today who dislike this match, but I think as long as you don’t watch it through the filter of the modern product, it was a good effort.
Your Winner and new NWA World Television Champion: Rick Steiner

After more post-match analysis from Magnum and Tony, it was onto our next title match.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA US Champion Barry Windham (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (w/ Sir Oliver Humperdink)

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Bam Bam Bigelow faced Barry Windham
After the amateur influence of our previous match we got a change of pace next as Bam Bam Bigelow took on Barry Windham in a battle of the big men.

Make no mistake about it though, this was more than your average power battle. It was a hot match with a lovely crowd and two men who were more agile and talented than their large stature would have you believe.

Bigelow was excellent here as the fan favourite, but reigning champion Windham was no slouch either. Together, they worked hard to deliver a great match that was made all the more special thanks to Jim Ross’ emotionally-charged commentary.

After over 15 minutes, both men toppled to the outside and the match was declared over when Windham was the only man to beat the ten count.
Your Winner via count out and still US Champion: Barry Windham

Ok, so it was a disappointing finish, but everything before that was good stuff indeed.

Every Dog Has His Day

Out in the back, Rick Steiner played up his ‘I’m a bit slow’ gimmick in an interview with Magnum TA.

Every dog has his day, said Steiner, and today was the day for the Dog Faced Gremlin.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA Tag Team Champions The Road Warriors (Road Warrior Hawk & Road Warrior Animal w/ Paul Ellering) vs. Sting & Dusty Rhodes

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Road Warrior Animal breaks Dusty Rhodes' face
The Road Warriors
were technically playing the roles of heels here after attacking both Dusty Rhodes and Sting on WCW programming but it wasn’t really all that effective as they still had an audible fan base in the crowd.

The match was intense and as hard-hitting as you might expect any match involving Hawk & Animal to be, but it wasn’t anything special.

If you’re a fan of the Road Warriors and their demolish-everything approach to pro wrestling then you’ll probably like this one, otherwise you’re not going to miss much here.

The end came when Sting had Animal pinned only for Paul Ellering to break up the fall, leading to a disqualification.
Your Winners via DQ: Sting & Dusty Rhodes (Road Warriors retain)

Finally, after a few more words from Schiavone and Magnum T.A, it was onto our main event.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Lex Luger

WCW / NWA Starrcade 1988 - True Gritt - Ric Flair and JJ Dillon
If Ric Flair gets disqualified he loss the title

If you’d told me once upon a time ago that I’d happily sit through a 30 minute Lex Luger match and actually enjoy it, I would have called you crazy. Yet here we are, 30 minutes after the opening bell rung on the Starrcade ‘88 main event and I have to admit, I enjoyed every moment of it.

Sure, you could argue that this was basically every Ric Flair main event you’ve ever seen, and you’d have a valid point, but this was still good enough to be completely enthralling and was made all the more impressive that there was nary a rest hold in sight.

After coming incredibly close to capturing the gold on numerous occasions, Lex Luger’s legs gave out from under him (the result of much Flair offence). The champ landed on top of the challenger and , using the ropes for leverage, scored the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

Afterwards, Luger argued with Tommy Young about Flair having his foot on the ropes but the official insisted that since he hadn’t seen it, there was little he could do about it.

Lex Luger is Done

Finally, we went backstage where Ric Flair gave an impassioned interview to Magnum T.A in which he claimed that Lex Luger was done and wouldn’t get another title shot. This would obviously prove to be nonsense, as The Total Package would be challenging Flair for years to come.

All that was left then was for the announcers to recap tonight’s action and put over a then-unnamed pay per view that was set to take place in February 1989.

That PPV would turn out to be the Chi-Town Rumble ‘89 which we’ll review in a few weeks here on Retro Pro Wrestling.







Starrcade ‘88: True Gritt was a pay per view which ran just shy of three hours and yet featured just seven matches, meaning each one got significant time.

Each one was different in its own right and each one had something to enjoy about it, with only the Road Warriors vs. Sting & Dusty Rhodes match failing to impress this fan.

Highlight of the night went to Flair and Luger, though if you like old school pro wrestling you should find much to enjoy about this one.

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
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.



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Friday, 29 January 2021

PPV REVIEW: NWA - The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom)

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Event Poster
July 10, 1988
Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland

Over the years, The Great American Bash would go on to become one of World Championship Wrestling's flagship Pay Per Views, a mainstay of their events calendar that was held every single year until their demise in 2001.

It would also prove to be a show with an interesting history.

Though the 1988 Great American Bash wasn't the first event of its kind, it was significant in other ways, being the last National Wrestling Alliance PPV as well as the last NWA event presented by Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP). 

In 1988, JCP was on the verge of bankruptcy and was purchased by Ted Turner. Thus, World Championship Wrestling was born and the next PPV, Starrcade 1988 was produced by WCW though still considered to be an NWA event. 

Anyway, that brief history lesson aside, let's head to Baltimore, Maryland to see what went down at The Great American Bash 1988.







The Price of Freedom

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone called the action
Tonight's show began with a simple, old-school opening which presented us with the marquee matches over some typically 80s music.

We then cut direct to the arena where tag team champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard awaited their opponents' arrival, all without any of the usual introduction that we'd normally get from the announce team.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Sting & Nikita Koloff

The most surprising thing here was that, since we last saw him at Bunkhouse Stampede back in January, Nikita Koloff had spouted a full head of hair and was now rocking a major flattop.

He and Sting made their way to the ring accompanied by a thunderous ovation to the live crowd. After the introductions, Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross finally made their presence felt, with Schiavone informing us that the crowd had literally exploded.

That must've been pretty messy.

What certainly wasn't messy was this match.

With the audience lapping up their every move, Sting and Koloff took the fight to their opponents in an intense opener that only dragged part way through when they worked Tully Blanchard's arm for half a year.

That weak spot aside, this was a fun contest with the challengers dominating far more babyfaces usually do in tag team matches.

After a figuratively explosive closing sequence, Sting locked in the Scorpion Death Lock on Tully, but the time limit expired before the champion could surrender.
Time-Limit Draw

After the bell, Nikita and Sting thought they'd won and celebrated with the title belts, only to be disappointed when Garry Michael Capetta announced the draw.

Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone then attempted to hype us up for our next match, only to be interrupted by the sight of Sting and Koloff kicking some horsemen butt.

NWA United States Tag Team Championship
NWA US Tag Team Champions The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers) vs. The Midnight Express (Beautiful Bobby Eaton & Sweet Stan Lane w/ Jim Cornette)

If The Fantastics win, Jim Cornette receives 10 lashes.

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Jim Cornette led The Midnight Express into battle against The Fantastics
Prior to the match, Jim Cornette got on the microphone to introduce his men. Sweet Stan Lane then returned the favor, letting us know that James E. was the man who sold Mike Tyson his first workout video.

OK then. 

Rather than the bell ringing and the action commencing, Cornette was next ordered into a straight jacket and forced into a shark cage that was hoisted high in the air, which was apparently the only way anyone could be sure that Jimmy wouldn't interfere in the match.

Though all this pre-match stuff went on far too long, you really have to give credit where it's due: Cornette sold the whole thing superbly and was absolutely priceless in his role.

Once the bell finally sounded, the match got underway and quickly turned into a very enjoyable tag bout. There was nothing fancy about it nothing out of the ordinary, it was just a solid wrestling match that was fast-paced for the time period and had nary a dull moment in sight.

The end came when Beautifully Bobby Eaton smacked Bobby Fulton in the mush with a chain-wrapped fist.

One three count later, new US tag team champions were crowned.
Your Winners and NEW NWA United States Tag Team Champions: The Midnight Express

Post-match, Fulton and Tommy Rogers protested, trying to convince referee Tommy Young that an international object had come into play. 

Doing his due diligence, Young searched Eaton and found nothing, only to discover that the chain was stuffed down Fulton's tights. The referee's decision stood. The Midnights were the champions, but The Fantastics were -understandably- quite PO'd about it. 

Exacting their revenge, they waited until Cornette's cage had been lowered, dragged him into the ring, and gave him a whipping with Young's belt.

The Tower of Doom is Imminent 

The Tower of Doom concept is perhaps best remembered from its ill-fated use in the main event of WCW Uncensored 1996, when Macho Man Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan from cage to cage, laying waste to everyone in sight in a dimly-lit and generally terribly presented concept.

That, however, was far from the first time it was used. 

Tonight, we'd see the triple-decker cage serve as the setting for a big eight-man clash pitting The Road Warriors, Dr. Death Steve Wiliams, and the Brothers Garvin against The Varsity Club, Al Perez, The Russian Assasin, and Ivan Koloff.

Before we got to the actual match, however, we first had to wait while the cage was put into place.

In the modern age, this would be the point at which we'd be distracted with some backstage promos or video packages. This being the NWA in the late 1980s, however, we instead got nothing more than a hard camera view of the cage being setup, with one briefly funny moment in which we saw security chasing after some nefarious ner-do-weller in the crowd and escorting him out of the arena. 

Tommy Young -whose job was to operate the trapdoor between the top and middle cage- then scaled to the pinnacle of the structure and spent at least four decades trying to figure out how the trapdoor contraption worked. 

Young looked terrified the entire time and would spend the entire contest clinging on for dear life.

Tower of Doom Cage Match
Ron Garvin, Jimmy Garvin, Dr. Death Steve Williams and The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal w/ Paul Ellering) vs. The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan & Mike Rotunda), Ivan Koloff, The Russian Assasin, and Al Perez (w/ Gary Hart and Paul Jones)

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Precious played an important role in the Tower of Doom cage match
OK, so here's how this one worked. 

Two men would start at the top of the cage while everybody else stayed on the ground. Every two minutes, a ladder would sound and a clearly petrified Tommy Young would open the trapdoor, allowing the men to escape down into the second cage while a new man from each team scaled a giant ladder and entered the cage.

The object was to escape down into the third, bottom cage around the ring. There, Precious would be waiting to open the cage, and the first team to get all five men back to the arena floor would be declared the winners. 

The match wasn't great by any stretch, but it was infinitely better than the aforementioned Uncensored '96 debacle and it was at least easy to see what was going on.

Towards the end, it all came down to Jimmy Garvin and Kevin Sullivan. 

With the cage door open, Sullivan actually pushed Garvin out of it, essentially giving his opponent's team the win. 

At first, that seemed like the most nonsensical finish to a match ever, but then the post-match happened, and suddenly everything made sense.
Your Winners: Team Garvin

You see, this whole feud was centered around Sullivan wanting Precious. So, since she'd been in the ring the whole time, he was willing to sacrifice a win to lock himself in the cage with her. 

As he did this, the other wrestlers brawled around ringside (I think fellow varsity club man Rick Steiner also got involved here) until Jimmy Garvin and Road Warrior Hawk scaled the top of the cage, worked their way down, and rescued the blonde beauty. 

As a side note, its interesting that we're almost 90 minutes into this thing and so far there's only been three matches. To be fair, about 20 of those minutes were waiting for the cage to be set up. 

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA US Champion Barry Windham (w/ James J. Dillon) vs. Dusty Rhodes

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Barry Windham (w/ J.J Dillon) defended the US title against Dusty Rhodes
So, Dusty Rhodes had once been Barry Windham's mentor, but then Windham had turned heel and joined The Four Horsemen, leading to tonight's title match. 

Though not very high on action, this was a perfect example of less is more. The challenger received a huge ovation from the live audience for doing simple things like hitting an arm-drag, punching Windham in the face, and dropping the elbow on his head, while the champion used his strength and height advantage to eventually overpower Rhodes.

It was compelling enough to keep you emotionally invested in the match without either man having to overexert themselves.

This was especially the case when Windham clamped the claw on Dusty's head and held it there for the next 18 years. I've seen other reviewers and fans criticize this spot and, admittedly, it did go on a bit long, but personally, this writer found it very entertaining.

Windham slapped on the claw, Dusty went down and almost past out but then got a second wind and threatened to break out of it, only to nearly pass out again. He then got a third wind, a fourth, and so on, until eventually making his big triumphant comeback.

At that point, he threw Windham off the turnbuckles, knocking the referee out in the process. That allowed Ronnie Garvin to come in and turn heel, knocking Dusty's lights out so that Windham could get the cover, the count, and the match.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Barry Windham 

Post-match, Steve Williams ran in to check on Rhodes. 

Meanwhile, out in the back, James J. Dillon handed Ronnie Garvin a whole bunch of money for his role in the previous match. Garvin did his best Scrooge McDuck with the money then wandered off doing the kind of evil cackle you learn on Day 1 of Heel Wrestler School.

Garry Hart was there too and would be Garvin's manager during his heel run.

National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Championship
NWA World Heavyweight Champion 'The Nature Boy' Ric Flair vs. 'The Total Package' Lex Luger

NWA The Great American Bash 1988 (The Price of Freedom) - Ric Flair punishes Lex Luger with a figure four
For the most part, this was a solid main event based around the simple premise that the champion would have to use his cunning and cardiovascular conditioning to get the better of the much more powerful challenger.

Yet while Luger's strength and physical presence were certainly central to the match, he was far from as one-dimension as he'd become later in his career. Honestly, having only really known Luger from his work in the 1990s, it came as a surprise to this writer to see him throwing dropkicks around and hitting a sunset flip over the top rope.

This, combined with the fact that he dominated perhaps 2/3s of the contest made The Total Package look very impressive indeed, though alas simply being impressive wasn't enough for him to win the match, at least not when shenanigans and BS finishes are at play.

After trading the advantage between them, both men got thrown to the outside where Luger had his head introduced to the steel post on two separate occasions, first by Flair, then by Dillon. The move caused Luger to become busted open, though even that wouldn't stop him.

Back in the ring, the challenger regained control and lifted his opponent into the Torture Rack. The referee called for the bell and Luger leaped into the air in triumphant joy, celebrating what he thought was his big title win. 

Unfortunately, Tommy Young had actually called for the bell because the ringside representatives of the Maryland State Athletic Commission had decreed that Lex would have to lose the match because of the blood loss. This was Starrcade '84 all over again
Your Winner via Complete and Total Bullsh*t and STILL World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair

In the ring, Sting, Nikitta Koloff, and others who had joined Luger to celebrate now looked enraged at the stupid decision. It was stupid too. Luger may have been bleeding, but it was a minor cut compared to the proverbial crimson mask we'd seen on previous shows.







All in all then, you could say that The Great American Bash was a decent show dampened by terrible booking. The Luger/Flair main event was very entertaining for its time until the ridiculous finish. I get that it's one way to keep the title on Flair while still making Luger look strong, but there are better and more logical ways to do that.

Elsewhere, the two opening tag team matches were fun, the Rhodes/Windham match was alright for what it was, and the Tower of Doom was interesting purely for the spectacle of it.

Not a must-see show by any stretch, but certainly not one you'll regret watching.



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