Let’s close out Great American Bash. Sadly I don’t expect the overall match quality to be as good in this one as it was in Part One, mainly because we’re now moving into the Bischoff Era, where WCW’s trademark essentially became hot under cards with Main Events that couldn’t live up to what came before them.
The Bash actually took a break from 1992 to 1995, so there are no 93 and 94 Bash events. I’m not sure why they decided to get rid of it, especially as it had traditionally been such a big event for the company prior to it getting side-lined.
Anyway, less chatter, more chuffing wrestling!
Great American Bash 1995
Ric Flair Vs Randy Savage w/ Angelo Poffo
Flair attacked Savage’s dad at Slamboree to instigate a feud between the two. The feud would rage on well into 1996, where it got so hot at a certain point that it played a big part in helping WCW finally make a profit due to them actually having a match that people would want to pay to see on the live events. This match just happens to be happening on Father’s Day too, just to ram home the importance of Savage coming in the search of vengeance.
Savage bumps Flair around to start, battering him from pillar to post and even busting out the top rope axe handle smash to the floor. You know Randy is feeling it when he pulls that one out. Flair is clearly up for it too, as he takes a back body drop on the floor. Flair manages to fling Savage into the ring post and gets his licks in before taking the fight back into the ring. This has been a good hate filled brawl so far. They haven’t bothered doing lock ups that’s for sure.
Flair works some heat on Savage inside the ring, whilst Poffo watches on in support of his son. Poffo is selling the emotion of this all great, as he gets a good mix between being supportive and being worried for his son’s safety. Savage fires back and sends Flair outside, but Flair goes after Poffo whilst out there which leads to Savage coming to his dads aid, which allows Flair a cheap shot to the leg.
Savage sells the leg big and Flair targets it in his usual style back inside. The heat is a bit disappointing actually considering that this was such a heated issue. The fans are paying attention and boo Flair on occasion, but there isn’t the sustained heat for Savage to make a big comeback. Savage is great as an angry babyface fighting form underneath so he can get even with a villain who has done him wrong and Flair is great as a devious heel, so the work and selling is of a high standard.
Poffo fights back tears at one stage when Flair goes to the Figure Four, which is a fantastic sell job on his part. Everyone is playing their roles just right here and it’s adding to the match. The crowd gets more into it whilst Savage sells the Figure Four and they pop when he reverses it. I really think they need to do a finish someday where someone reverses the Figure Four and the reverser manages to make the reversee tap from it.
Savage makes the angry comeback, limping all the way, and manages to get the elbow from the top rope, but he makes the mistake of lifting Flair up at two so that he can deliver more punishment. He grabs the ring bell and tries to do to Flair like he did to Ricky Steamboat back in the 80’s, but the referee takes the bell from him and Flair bails to the floor. Savage tries for another axe handle to the floor, but Flair dodges and he goes flying into the railings with a brutal crash.
Flair goes after Poffo again, with Poffo trying to fight back. Flair knocks Poffo down and takes his cane from him. Whilst the ref tries to help Poffo up, Flair hits Savage with the cane to pick up the dirty three count and continue the feud.
WINNER: RIC FLAIR
This was only the first match in the feud, so it was too early for Flair to eat a pin. Understandable as the finish was though, it was a pretty flat way to end a pay per view event. That being said, the match itself was good and featured some good hate filled scrapping from both men. Savage having it won but letting his rage consume him is certainly something you could see his character doing too, so that worked as a narrative function in the match itself. Good stuff, worth a watch if you’ve never seen it before I think.
Great American Bash 1996
Champ: The Giant w/ Jimmy Hart Vs Lex Luger
Giant had defeated Luger’s buddy Sting at Slamboree, so now Luger is getting his shot. There had also been a long running story that Luger was aligned with the Dungeon of Doom and would betray Sting, but the New World Order angle kind of killed that one off and Luger went back to being a pro-WCW babyface again. Luger was one half of the Tag Champs and was also the TV Champ to boot, so the chances of them giving him a third belt were pretty slim here.
This match happened just after Kevin Nash and Scott Hall put Eric Bischoff through a table, so Luger checks on him during his entrance. Even Giant takes the time to glance over momentarily, which for a heel champ is pretty empathetic. Luger sticks and moves to start and manages to knock Giant out of the ring. Luger continues to throw punches and kicks back inside, with Giant acknowledging them but not fully selling them either because he’s so big.
Jimmy Hart tries hitting Luger with his megaphone, but Sting runs down to chase him off, leaving both men to go at it inside. Giant eventually manages to overpower Luger and methodically works him over. Sadly OSW Review has ruined Lex Luger matches for me now as I can’t watch one without noticing the way he always yelps with the other wrestler beats him up. Seriously, once you see it you can’t un-see it.
Giant was less than a year into the business here, so the stuff he does in the heat is pretty basic, but it works for what they are going for. This one isn’t as good as the match with Sting was as Sting just has a more natural charisma than Luger does, but it’s fine for what it is. It’s mostly just Luger selling and Giant not doing anything overly difficult, which is the best you could probably hope for with these two from this time period.
Luger does finally manage to get Giant down to one knee, and that gets a good reaction from the crowd, but Giant gets back up and goes for a splash in the corner. Luger manages to dodge that and hammers away whilst Giant is propped on the ropes before heaving him up into the Torture Wrack. Sadly for him though Giant is too big and he ends up collapsing, which allows Giant to pounce with a choke slam for the three count.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: THE GIANT
Not the most exciting match in the world but it told a good story and was probably the best you were going to get from these two. There were better matches on this show but I’ll take a clean pin in a WCW pay per view Main Event. Those were in rare supply a lot of the time.
Great American Bash 1997
Falls Count Anywhere
Randy Savage w/ Elizabeth Vs Diamond Dallas Page w/ Kimberly
This was a follow up to the Savage Vs DDP feud. Page had defeated Savage at Spring Stampede in a big upset and become a legitimate star name for WCW in the process, so now it’s time for him to return the favour to set up a rubber match.
Kimberly provides a distraction from the entrance way to allow DDP to attack from the crowd and the fight is on. DDP’s eternally injured ribs were starting to be become a thing here, as he dives out onto Savage and hurts them in the process. I wonder what took longer to heal, DDP’s ribs or Bob Orton’s arm? This one wastes little time going into the crowd, as the ECW/FMW influence was really starting to work its way into the two major companies by this stage, and its good fun frantic action.
One highlight sees the two men fight all the way over to the entrance way where a barbeque set is there (Because this is a summer event and all), which leads to DDP dumping the contents of the grill on top of Savage. The crowd is loving all of the wacky brawling because it hadn’t been overdone by this stage yet, and the guys manage to get a good balance between keeping it fun whilst also making sure that it still comes across as a heated brawl between two men that don’t like one another.
For instance, Savage goes for the age old heat tactic of pulling off the protective wrapping over DDP’s mid-section, and when Mickey Jay the ref tries to stop him he takes him out for good measure. These leads to a funny running gag where Savage keeps destroying refs like he’s Darth Vader force choking generals in the Empire Strikes Back, which finally ends when he goes after Kimberly and Nick Patrick manages to talk him down rather than trying to physically stop him.
Patrick doesn’t survive for long though as Savage clocks him when he tries to stop him doing a piledriver on the floor. Savage goes after a photographer next, which allows DDP to clock him with a chair. Randy Savage, it should be a shock to no one I hope, is an wonderfully convincing unhinged madman. DDP has things well in hand and gets Savage with a Diamond Cutter back inside, but Scott Hall decides to run down and spoil the party by breaking up the pin. Hall and Savage lay DDP out and Savage finishes him off with the elbow drop for the three count.
WINNER: RANDY SAVAGE
This was the typical nWo flat finish, as they had Page do a job without anyone coming down to help him. This would set up a tag match at Bash at the Beach between Hall/Savage and DDP/Hennig. The match itself was a fun anarchic brawl that delivered on the stipulations and kept the feud going as Savage needed Hall’s help to eventually score the win. I’ve yet to see a bad singles match between these two to be honest.
Great American Bash 1998
Winner gets the Tag Belts
The Giant Vs Sting
The story for this one is that Giant and Sting won the tag belts at Slamboree 98, but each of them belongs to a different faction of the nWo , with Giant being a member of Hogan’s “Hollywood” group whilst Sting is in Kevin Nash’s “Wolfpac”. As a result neither man wants to tag with one another, so this match was set up, with the winner getting possession of the tag belts and then earning the right to choose who their partner will be.
Giant pretty much already had one foot out of the door by this stage, and his gimmick reflected that as he became a lazy slacking smoker. Sting had been the morose “Crow” character for quite a while prior to this, so this switch to the Wolfpac allowed him to start showing a bit more personality again. Sting goes for Stinger Splashes right from the off, but Giant gets his boot up on one of them and then goes to work with the usual.
It’s not bad but it does meander a little bit. Giant had a bit more experience by this stage in his career, so expectations as to what he was capable of had naturally increased, so you’d maybe expect a bit more from him in a Main Event setting. You could probably say the same for Sting as well. They tell a simple story of Sting fighting from underneath against the bigger foe and it’s done well for the most part, with the crowd getting into it.
Sting manages to get Giant up for a body slam, which gets a big pop, and tries the Scorpion Deathlock. Giant manages to power out of that, so Sting goes to the Scorpion Death Drop instead for two. Giant tries the choke slam in response, but Sting fights it off and gets another Death Drop for another two count. Stings gets it one more time, this time from the second rope, and that’s enough for the three count.
A hot and responsive crowd improved that one a lot. It was a short match and felt more like something you’d see as a Thunder Main Event rather than a Main Event for a major pay per view event, but it was fine for what it was. Doing the three finishers spot kept Giant looking strong, as Sting had to throw everything he had at him to eventually keep him down, and to be honest keeping it on the short side probably wasn’t the worst idea. It just felt a bit cheap for a big match to be so abrupt.
Great American Bash 1999
Champ: Kevin Nash Vs Randy Savage w/ Gorgeous George, Madusa and Miss Madness
Nash had defeated DDP to win the belt at Slamboree, but Randy Savage had attacked him in the process to set this one up. The feud had quite a few weird turns, as Nash had a contortionist pop out of a bag to pour gunk on Savage, which led to Savage attacking Nash and putting lipstick on him. Things escalated a bit when Nash drenched Savage and his ladies in sewage, so the ladies responded by locking Nash in a limo so that someone in a white hummer could crash into it. Believe it or not, the driver of the hummer was supposed to be Carmen Electra, but that one ended up falling through so they just kind of forgot about it and moved on.
This was actually the era where I first started properly watching WCW as they got an hour every Friday on Channel 5 here in the UK for Worldwide. At the time I sadly didn’t have any cable or satellite channels, so my wrestling diet consisted of WCW on Channel 5 and Sunday Night Heat on Channel 4. I also had to rely on Match of the Day for my football fix too. These days with the internet you can pretty much find anything if you want to watch it, but 20 years ago in the days of dial-up internet and no cable you were pretty short of options sadly.
Nash is selling his ribs as a result of the hummer attack, but he still goes after Savage right from the bell. A side slam causes him to keel over in pain though, which allows Savage to fight his way back into the match. Nash is actually not too bad at selling when he can be arsed to do it properly, and he does a good job of here of getting his injury across. Savage’s Indian Summer of the past couple of years was definitely over by this stage, and it didn’t help that he’d clearly tried to make up for it by bulking up, thus robbing him of some of his mobility.
Considering how frenetic a presence he used to be, especially as a heel, watching him slug away on Nash at half speed is kind of sad. The ladies of course get involved, with Madness (Molly Holly) coming off the top with a missile dropkick in a cool spot. Savage follows with the elbow drop, but Nash actually manages to kick out of it. Wow, Savage must have liked Nash as outside of Warrior and Hogan I’m blanking at other people who he let kick out of that one. Nash makes the comeback and gets the power bomb, which is Sid’s cue to make his return to WCW and lay Nash out for the DQ.
WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: KEVIN NASH
Lousy match to be honest, with Madusa and Madness taking better bumps than anyone actually in the match itself. I know Sid enjoys a cult like popularity on the internet amongst smart fans, but I detest him and think he is an utterly terrible wrestler. Adding him to this feud was hardly a good way to get me jazzed for it.
Great American Bash 2000
Champ: Jeff Jarrett Vs Kevin Nash
Jarrett won back the Title at Slamboree 2000, but then subsequently went on to lose it two more times to Ric Flair and then Nash. When Nash won it from Jarrett he voluntarily gave it up to Flair because Flair had never dropped the belt in the ring, only for Jarrett to then beat Flair to win it back. Flair went off to feud with his son David, which left Nash as Jarrett’s opponent for The Bash. Goldberg had only recently returned as a butt kicking babyface and it had injected a much needed bit of energy into the product. The expectations were that he’d show up here in some form, possibly to help Nash win seeing as Jarrett losing World Title matches was the norm by this stage.
Bischoff had been promising an Earth shattering surprise in the build up to the show, but just before this match he tells Pamela Paulshock that the surprise is off because he’s too busy dealing with Goldberg possibly showing up. Do you think Michael Buffer talks like his announcer voice in real life? Does his wife ask him what he wants for breakfast, only for him to respond “The ongoing battle continues. Who will enter my belly this morning? Will it be egg or will it be bacon? Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, let’s get ready to SCRAMBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLEEEE!”
Heel commissioner Ernest Miller decides to stack the deck against Nash by bringing down The Filthy Animals in official roles. Konnan comes down as the bell ringer, Rey Mysterio Jr as the timekeeper, Disco Inferno as the belt lookerafterer and Juventud Guerrera as the ring announcer. He finishes off by declaring himself as the special referee/enforcer. You can sure tell that Vince Russo was involved with WCW at the time can’t you? He loves this multiple heel officials shtick.
Mark Madden trying to get “Sexecutioner” over as a nickname for Kevin Nash ended in failure I believe. Jarrett has a big elbow pad on his right arm, and considering he didn’t always wear them I’m guessing it was there to hide/protect an injury. People rightly complain about Jarrett being a Main Event World Title guy, but he’s not a bad worker at all, he’s just a step below what a guy in that role would need to be. As a result, this match isn’t bad at all, as Jarrett bumps around and sells for the bigger Nash whilst having all the heels run interference for him.
The fight quickly heads into the crowd, because it’s a Main Event in WCW 2000 where they were desperately trying to take what worked in the WWF in 1998 and make it work for them, with The Animals eventually attacking Nash when the brawl heads back down to ringside. Jarrett targets the leg with a chair back inside, as this was during a period where WCW had “relaxed rules”, which basically meant something was only a DQ if the storyline required it to be or they had to assuage someone’s ego by not having them do a job.
Jarrett continues to the work the leg over, with Nash selling it well for the most part, and eventually hooks on the Figure Four. Nash is in that one for a while but finally makes the ropes, only for Konnan to hit him with ring bell for two. Nash makes the comeback following that and gets a side slam for two, which leads to The Animals trying to come in and get him. He manages to fight them all off and clocks Jarrett with the belt, but Disco attacks the ref before the three count.
All the heels swarm Nash now and that allows Jarrett to roll on top for a fast two count from Miller. That kick out got a bit of a pop at least as Nash is fighting off outrageous odds and is actually doing a decent job at it. Overbooking this way is a pretty cheap way of getting a pop, but I can’t deny that it usually always works provided you do it right, and they’ve been mostly doing it right here. Jarrett tries to break another guitar and continue not to draw a dime, but Nash catches him with a choke slam, only for Miller to “get something in his eye” so that he can’t count.
Nash disposes of him and then preps for the power bomb on Jarrett, managing to get it in the middle of the ring, but Rick Steiner now runs down to attack him, along with Tank Abbott. This was a brief period where Scott Steiner was a babyface, so he runs down to drag Tank to the back, but that still leaves Nash something like 6 on 1 back in the ring. Thus we finally get an appearance by Goldberg in his monster truck, as he rushes down to the ring to send the heels scurrying for a big pop. However, because WCW liked swerving people around this time in order to get people talking, they have him Spear Nash and go heel. Jarrett crawls over for the pin and thus goes away one of WCW’s few last chances of actually righting themselves. That was Bischoff’s surprise by the way.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: JEFF JARRETT
It was a sloppy match but it achieved its aims by throwing ridiculous odds Nash’s way until it got to the point that the fans started to root for him. Aside from that though it felt quite flat to me. The work wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t especially good either. The Goldberg turn also ended up being a bit of a disaster and he was back as a babyface again by August. Ultimately the WCW fans didn’t want to boo Goldberg. They wanted to see him crush heels whilst they cheered along, so having that snatched from them just as he returned only served to drive even more of them away. It’s one of WCW’s more infamous misfires at a time where they really couldn’t afford one.
Solid enough start this week but it went downhill a bit once we got to the dark days of the company. Flair Vs Savage and DDP Vs Savage were good, so maybe check them out if you feel like it.
See you next week for WWF King of the Ring 1993 to 1997