The SmarK Rant for WCW Great American Bash 92 – 07.12.92
By Scott Keith on 2nd July 2021
The SmarK Rant for WCW Great American Bash 92 – 07.12.92
Well after seeing the (cough) stellar job of hype that they did on WCW Saturday Night for this show, I just had to redo it since the last go-around was done something like 20 years ago or more. Plus, let’s be honest, the field of teams for the NWA tournament is pretty good and it’s got one of the all-time great influential main events, and I literally don’t remember anything about the show outside of the one match, so to me that’s worth another look here in the Network era.
Plus, you know, TOURNAMENTS ARE AWESOME.
Live from Albany, GA, drawing 8000 people and a pathetic 0.4 buyrate, one of the lowest in the history of the company. So low in fact that they didn’t even run another Great American Bash show until 1995! Go Bill Watts!
One thing you’ll immediately notice about this show compared to the other PPVs in 1992 leading up to it is that Watts got rid of all the ga-ga. No ramp, no pyro, no entrance set, just wrestling matches and guys coming out of the dressing room with no fanfare. Which is really weird because I’ve watched a lot of Mid-South and it was filled with ga-ga and silly angles and rock music videos.
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura
Bill Watts joins us to talk with Eric Bischoff about the rules tonight, and in the NWA matches tonight there’s none of the top rope rule wackiness, but it does apply to the Sting-Vader match. When you need to actually do a segment explaining the rules for the different matches, it’s too complicated.
NWA World tag title tournament quarterfinals: Brian Pillman & Jushin Liger v. Ricky Steamboat & Nikita Koloff
Everyone is babyface here, which is weird booking. Pillman tries a headlock on Koloff and gets thrown off as a result, so Pillman takes him down and goes to a facelock. Koloff powers out of that as well, so Pillman dropkicks him in the corner and tries to slug on him, but Nikita takes him down with an atomic drop. And then Pillman reverses to a cradle for two and it’s over to Liger. Liger works the arm and the little guys double-team that. Someone would be well served to go heel pretty quick here. Koloff puts Pillman down with an elbow and it’s over to Steamboat, and he runs wild and hauls Liger in for a beating, and then tosses Pillman. And then he throws Liger onto Pillman outside just to be a dick! I’m impressed. Back in, Dragon takes Pillman down and works the arm while JR notes that Gordy & Williams have won the WCW World tag titles from the Steiners, thus rendering the entire tournament pointless. Great job, Bill! Pillman escapes the armbar with a stiff clothesline and Liger comes in for a double dropkick, but the Red Dragons double-team him in their corner. Back to Pillman and Steamboat takes him down with a headlock, but Pillman drops an elbow for two. Nice dropkick gets two and Pillman goes to his own headlock. Liger hits a backbreaker into a moonsault and that gets two as the crowd pops huge. Tombstone gets two. This Liger kid is pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good. Lionsault gets two, but Steamboat drops him with a back suplex and it’s back to Koloff, who boots Liger down and drops elbows on him for two. Koloff slows him down with a chinlock and then cuts off a comeback with a knee to the gut, and Dragon comes in with a backbreaker and then holds it in order to deliver two more. He hits a Bulldog powerslam out of that for two, but Pillman saves.
Back to Koloff for the chinlock, and Liger powers out, so Koloff elbows him down again and Steamboat comes in with a cradle for two. Liger nails him and it’s back to Pillman, and he runs wild with chops and dropkicks on Steamboat for two, but then slows it down again with a headlock. This one feels like it needs another gear. Liger comes in with a missile dropkick and fires off a handspring elbow for two, but Koloff comes in again and this time Liger fires away with kicks and slugs away on Nikita until a shoulderblock puts him down. Koloff sets up the Sickle, but he poses too much and Pillman dropkicks him from behind and gets the tag. He dropkicks Koloff a few times and gets two, but tries a bodypress and gets caught. Liger dropkicks them over for two, so Nikita gets flustered and throws Pillman over the top, which Brian turns into Air Pillman and then goes up with a missile dropkick for two. Nikita with a blind charge that hits boot and Brian goes up with a bulldog that doesn’t really work, and then he goes with a sleeper instead to recover. Koloff escapes with a jawbreaker, but both sides tag and Liger hits Steamboat with the rolling kick for two. Backslide gets two. Blind tag to Pillman, who gets a bodypress on Steamboat for two. They do a pinfall reversal sequence off a bridge and Steamboat gets his own backslide on Pillman for two, but Pillman cuts off a tag attempt with a Saito suplex. Pillman goes up again, but Steamboat falls on the ropes to crotch Pillman. Brian recovers with the flying bodypress, but Steamboat rolls through for the pin at 19:30 to advance. To their credit, I thought this was going to a draw and thankfully they didn’t do the distracting “5 minutes left to time limit” calls that always distract from the match, and as a result the clean pinfall caught me off guard. This was a fucking great opener. I know Meltzer wasn’t a huge fan at the time but I think it’s aged really well. Probably because the dominant style has become hugely influenced by guys like Pillman and Liger and so it’s much easier to watch nowadays. **** I know it wouldn’t have happened, but they should have tried offering Liger a SHITLOAD of money to stay and sell some masks as the face of the light heavyweight division.
Meanwhile, the Steiner Brothers chat with Eric about being spectators tonight, and Rick promises it ain’t gonna be pretty when they come back.
NWA World tag title tournament, quarterfinals: Hiroshi Hase & Shinya Hashimoto v. The Freebirds
Well this is a bit of a style clash. Crowd is at least really hot for the Freebirds but this is gonna die fast. Hase works a headlock on Hayes and flips out of a headscissors, but Hayes takes him down for two as the Birds are apparently going to try wrestling tonight. Good luck with that. Over to Garvin and Hashimoto, and Hashimoto has always been one of the guys in my wrestling blind spot, as I’ve never really had much opportunity to watch his stuff. The NJ team double-teams Garvin’s arm and Hase just beats on him with chops and it’s over to Hash for some shots on Hayes as yes, the crowd is completely dead now. Hase with a senton on Hayes for two and they trade more chops before Hashimoto comes in with a kick for two. Bridging fallaway slam gets two. Hashimoto with the chinlock while JR and Jesse veer into discussions about what a “polecat” is and which of them might be one. The Japan team double-teams Hayes, but Michael slugs them down and makes the hot tag to Garvin. The Freebirds run wild, but Garvin walks into a northern lights suplex from Hase and gets pinned at 9:20. Yeah this was a bit of a trainwreck. *1/2
Bill Watts joins us again, with the Big Gold Belt this time, announcing that he’s taking Ric Flair’s name off the belt and sending it back to Japan to crown a new champion. And then he points out that Sting beat Ric Flair for the title at one point, just to rub some salt in the wound. The crowd does NOT like that. And then he’s already saying that they’re going to do a unification match with the WCW champion once they crown an NWA champion! SO WHAT THE FUCK IS THE POINT OF THE NWA CHAMPION THEN? This promotion is so bipolar at this point.
NWA World tag title tournament, quarterfinals: Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v. Rick Rude & Steve Austin
Thankfully Austin now has the new WCW TV title instead of the six-man belt he had been carrying around for the past month. I never liked that belt, it always looked like a generic indie belt instead of a top singles belt. Amazingly, Barry’s “La Grange” ripoff has survived the Network music nazis intact. Jesse sums this up as “two Texicans against two champions”. Austin powers Windham into the corner off the lockup, but Barry takes him down with an armdrag and they trade cradles for two. Austin tries a leapfrog and Barry slugs him down with his taped fist to block it, and Jesse is OUTRAGED. “His hand was injured something like eight months ago, Ross!” He also accuses head referee Ole Anderson of being on the take, which to be fair is totally plausible. Austin tries another takedown and Windham bitchslaps him this time, sending him running to the floor to regroup. Back in, it’s over to Rude. “I love Rude, he reminds me of me” notes Jesse. “I don’t know, Jesse, Rude’s a pretty good looking guy,” replies JR, and then Jesse snaps back with “So am I! I’ve done 7 movies, how many have you done?” That was always the problem with this announce team, as Jesse and JR never had the fun interplay that Jesse and Tony had and it always seemed to have an undercurrent of bitterness on Jesse’s part for some reason. Rude tries a tombstone on Dustin and Rhodes reverses to his own for two, but Austin saves. Dustin works the arm, but tries a splash and lands on Rude’s knees. So Austin comes in and puts the boots to the ribs, then hits a clothesline out of the corner for two. But then Dustin puts the boots to Austin and gets an abdominal stretch. Austin hiptosses out but Dustin goes right back to it and then Windham comes off the top with a clothesline for two. Rude comes in and works on the back right away and puts Windham down with a back suplex for two, but Austin tries a superplex and Barry sends him flying back with a headbutt as Austin is just taking all the bumps tonight. Madusa takes the ref and Rude comes off the top with a dropkick for two, but of course he didn’t need to distract the ref because those are legal tonight. Rude with a piledriver for two, but Dustin saves. Austin back in with a delayed suplex for two and he goes to the chinlock. The Dangerous Alliance cuts off the ring and Rude puts the boots to Windham in the corner and stops to pose. He goes to the facelock and Windham backdrops out of it, but Austin cuts off the tag again as Jesse rightly points out that Dustin is standing on the far side of the turnbuckle anyway! Windham fights back on Austin, but walks into a big boot and Austin gets two with his feet on the ropes. Austin with another chinlock and he slugs away on Windham, but Barry cradles for two and they’re both down off a clothesline. Finally Barry fights back on Rude and makes the hot tag to Dustin, and Austin goes flying off the elbows. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and Austin tries a piledriver on Barry, but Dustin comes off the top with a lariat and pins him at 19:12 to advance. Old school heat on Barry here and it was pretty good, although this is another one where Meltzer hated it. ***
Meanwhile, Big Van Vader is pretty sure it’s time.
NWA World tag title tournament, semi-finals: Ricky Steamboat & Nikita Koloff v. Steve Williams & Terry Gordy
Gordy works a headlock on Steamboat to start and the crowd is already dead as this insane overpush of Gordy & Williams continues derailing the promotion. I mean, I like them, but it’s so clear in hindsight that they were actually moving the needle in the wrong direction with record low Omni numbers and record low PPV buyrates and bad TV ratings. Definitely not the team to sacrifice the Steiner Brothers to and put multiple belts on. Say what you will about Vince and his crazy whiplashes of opinion, but after that Omni show bombed so hard he would have torn up the script and rebooked the show here. Doc and Gordy double-team Steamboat in the corner for a bit, but Koloff comes in and goes after Doc’s arm. Back to Gordy as Koloff throws shoulders and they fight to a stalemate, and back to Doc for a chinlock as this really needs to start going somewhere soon. They trade holds on the mat and it’s like watching a boring lay-and-pray UFC fight until finally Nikita escapes and we’re back to Steamboat. And he gets caught in the corner and Doc clotheslines him for two. Steamboat tries a crucifix and Doc runs him into the corner to break, and Gordy slams him a few times. The MVC double-teams him with a shoulderblock for two and Gordy gets a suplex for two as the referee actually disallows a heel tag because he didn’t see it. Odd. Doc with a backbreaker for two and we get more laying on the mat to continue our theme. Koloff gets a hot tag as JR notes that Koloff should be well rested. Everyone is well rested in the match, that’s the whole problem. MVC immediately cuts him off and Doc drops Nikita on the turnbuckle to take it down another notch below the notch of boredom that it had already sunk to. So we’re laying on the mat again and Gordy uses the dreaded Oriental Twist submission hold on the mat to really ramp up the excitement. Williams with a Boston crab and Gordy goes with another Oriental Twist. Doc with a powerslam for two. Steamboat gets a “hot” tag and goes up with the flying chop for the one highspot of the match, but he goes up again and Doc shoves him off and finishes with a half-assed version of the Stampede at 23:02. This was SO FUCKING BORING that it almost killed off my will to even finish the show. DUD Also, what is with the ass-backwards booking of the heels here? They get the free pass through the first round of matches here on PPV and face the team who had to work three times in one night in the finals. And they WIN! I guess that’s supposed to put heat on them but it’s not like they cheated to win or anything, they just got a legitimate good draw and took advantage of it.
Update: I got some lunch, had a Monster energy, and time to get back on the horse.
NWA World tag title tournament, semi-finals: Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes v. Shinya Hashimoto & Hiroshi Hase
Oh god this is gonna be another huge style clash, isn’t it? Dustin starts with Hase and the crowd is immediately dead silent, so Barry comes in and it’s even quieter. Like, maybe if they had spent 5 minutes promoting the Japanese team on TV leading up to the show instead of just referring to “the Japanese contingent” and then pushing them to the SEMI-FINALS, they might have had something a bit more watchable. I mean, I don’t advocate pushing the Freebirds, but at least if they were in there with Rhodes and Windham you could book an actual match and everyone would be over. Hash overpowers Dustin as they are all in NO RUSH out there tonight. Everyone in the ring is quite clearly in no hurry to be anywhere and has got nothing else going on tonight. Hashimoto slowly takes Barry down and works for a cross-armbreaker, but Barry makes the ropes to escape. Back to Dustin and now he goes to work on the arm. Hashimoto comes back with a piledriver and now the Japanese team works on Dustin and Hash drops an elbow, but the ref disallows the tag for a second time tonight. That must have been a Bill Watts thing. Double suplex on Dustin and Hase gets a crab to work the back, but Windham makes the save. Hase tries double knees from the top and misses, and it’s hot tag Windham after like 10 minutes straight of punishment on Dustin. Powerslam on Hase gets two. And Windham hits Hase with the lariat to advance to the finals at 14:59 in a very anti-climactic finish. *1/2 I mean, Hase and Hashimoto might have at least been able to work a good match with Williams & Gordy, but at least the Texicans might have some heat.
Ron Simmons chats with Tony Schiavone & Magnum TA as the writing was already on the wall that this was the guy they were going to roll with on top. Yeah that didn’t work out so well for them either.
WCW World title: Sting v. Big Van Vader
Vader clubs him in the corner to start and Sting has to bail to escape right away. Back in, Sting ties a clothesline and Vader shrugs him off, and then Sting tries a bodypress and Vader swats him down to block that. Vader charges and Sting hits him with a back suplex and finally gets him off his feet with a clothesline to put him on the floor and the crowd explodes for the first time tonight. Vader stops for some advice from Harley Race. That advice? “Don’t pick a fight with Paul Orndorff!” Should have listened to that one. Probably would have saved him a lot of money. Back in, Vader challenges Sting to a test of strength and Sting is of course the world’s dumbest babyface and takes him up on it, but then he pokes Vader in the eye and stomps on his foot to win that battle. Vader bails to the apron and Sting hits him with an enzuigiri on the apron and suplexes him back into the ring for two. And then Vader just CLUBS him down again. Sting fights back with boots and gets a small package this time for two and Vader bails again to think it over and get more advice from Harley. That advice? “Maybe wash your gear once in a while.” Tough but fair. Back in, Sting tries a sunset flip and Vader sits on him to put him down. He stops to pose and Jim Ross gets a VICIOUS bit of off-hand snark, noting “I’ve heard bodybuilding isn’t doing so good right now” while Vader splashes Sting for two. STOP THE DAMN MATCH, VINCE MCMAHON HAS A FAMILY! Vader works on the leg and goes to a version of the Scorpion Deathlock on Sting. Can you imagine a World champion submitting to his own hold like that? Never happen. Vader clubs away on Sting, who sells like he’s punch drunk and falls into the corner, and Vader just blasts him with a clothesline. Powerslam gets two. Sting fights back out of the corner and hits a koppo kick out of nowhere, apparently learning stuff from Japan, and he follows with a DDT but can’t make the cover. Vader decides to go to the top for some reason and Sting boots him down and beats on him in the corner, then tries a fireman’s carry and powers him into a samoan drop for two. It was probably easy in reality but he SOLD the shit out of trying to carry Vader on his back and it was awesome. Sting with an incredible german suplex for two and he follows with the Stinger splash, but accidentally knocks himself out on the turnbuckle and he’s run out of tricks. So Vader gets two off that, and Sting is taking knockout swings and misses completely, falling on his face. So Vader decides to end things with the powerbomb and wins the World title at 17:17 to the shock of the crowd. This was GREAT and I can see what they were trying to do by making Vader into the monster for Ron Simmons to slay, but Simmons just wasn’t the guy and Vader was. And ultimately fans wanted Sting to get revenge, not Simmons. ****1/4 It was a little slow in the middle but the great thing is that not only did this tell a story about Sting not knowing how to beat Vader, but they had more matches and over time Sting DID learn how to beat Vader!
NWA World tag team title: Steve Williams & Terry Gordy v. Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes
Windham trades lockups with Doc and the crowd is SILENT again. They’re not following Vader destroying Sting. No chance. Dustin and Gordy lock up for more nothing and Dustin gets some elbows and starts working on the knee. Windham gets a figure-four and Gordy makes the ropes. Seriously, I’ve seen Bill Watts put on tag team matches before, we knew that he’s familiar with the basic concepts of the shine and leading to the heat, but it’s like they’re just ignoring all the mechanics that make tag team wrestling work and just treating it like “real” wrestling or something. Give me a hope spot! No wonder the crowd is dead silent. Gordy ties up Dustin on the mat and Dustin goes back to the leg in response and the crowd is SO bored. Dustin works a headlock as JR talks about asking Steve McMichael of the Bears about his experiences facing Williams on the football field. Hopefully he didn’t interrupt while standing there drinking coffee. I’ve heard you shouldn’t do that. Doc and Dustin keep feeling out as we’re at 8:00 in and NOTHING IS FUCKING HAPPENING. Gordy takes Dustin down with the Oriental Twist. Hopefully he doesn’t follow with the Wuhan Watusi because Dustin would be FUCKED. Luckily Dustin escapes and gets a sleeper, which is the pick-me-up this match desperately needs, but Doc immediately breaks that up lest any fans have something to cheer for and it’s back to cuddling on the mat. Uh oh, I thought I heard some guy making noise in the fourth row, better cut off the comeback again! Maybe he was just farting, it’s hard to tell. Dustin cradles for two, but Williams smothers him again and the heels continue trapping Dustin in the corner. You know, it’s hard to draw any heat if you won’t actually let the babyface get any comebacks, you twats. Williams with a powerslam for two and he goes to a facelock, but Dustin miraculously makes a hot tag to Windham. Don’t get excited, we’re only 12 minutes in with a long time to go. Windham gets a suplex for two, which is also the number of people cheering, and a gut wrench gets two. That adds up to the number of people who ordered this show. Windham tries a sleeper and that’s enough babyface comeback because Doc runs him into the post to break and we’re back to Mat Wrestling City, population these guys. Gordy with the chinlock and some of the crowd is clapping, probably because they’re too drunk or stupid to know when it’s time to cut bait and beat the traffic. But then the MVC cuts that off again and it’s time for another batch of laying around on the mat as they smother the babyfaces like a fire blanket. Doc with an abdominal stretch to really build up heat. Like you’re already the World champions and you’re about to win the other World titles to unify them, and you can’t even give the babyfaces 5 minutes of offense before gobbling up the entire match for yourselves? Gordy and Windham hit heads for the double down and it’s “hot” tag to Dustin and Doc immediately cuts THAT off as well. Fuck my life. Like, he couldn’t even get some punches in the corner before he got clobbered. And then Williams goes to a facelock on the mat and cuts off another comeback with the Oklahoma Stampede, but Windham dropkicks them over and that gets two. That would have been a fine finish for the underdog win, but NOPE. Dustin tries a bulldog, but Doc clotheslines him and pins him to win the titles at 21:03 and mercifully end this show. * Like, what the actual fuck was that? I’m not going to sit here and blame Gordy and Williams for taking 20 minutes of offense for themselves because for all I know they were told to go out there and do that boring as shit match for the finals, but couldn’t someone read the room and maybe speed things up a bit?
And so Gordy and Williams unify the NWA and WCW tag team titles before anyone even has a chance to care. In fact, they had only won the WCW version a week prior so it’s likely a good chunk of the audience didn’t even know they were champions, and the NWA tag titles had been gone for two years and everyone just kind of thought they were the WCW tag titles under a new name anyway! So this was a completely pointless show that could have set up a big unification match for a later show, but in fact set up nothing and drew no money and threw away the one big draw that the second tag titles might have had. But then considering how badly the NWA World title was handled by WCW later on, maybe it’s best that they never got the chance, I don’t know. Anyway, Sting-Vader is readily available in other forms elsewhere, and this is one of the most definitive thumbs down shows you’re going to find otherwise.