Great American Bash 1990: The New Revolution
Welcome to the 1990 edition of the Great American Bash. After months of waiting, Sting is finally ready to return to the ring and face Ric Flair for the NWA Championship. That's the only real story of note going into this show, so let's get to the action:
Note: This is a review of the commercially released version of the show, which cut the opening four matches of the night. Based on what I've ascertained, none of them were particularly good. Brian Pillman defeated Buddy Landel, Mike Rotunda defeated The Iron Sheik, Doug Furnas defeated Dutch Mantel, and Harley Race defeated Tommy Rich.
NWA United States Tag Team Championship: The Midnight Express (c) vs. The Southern Boys (Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong)
Tracy Smothers would later wrestle in the WWF as the jobber Freddie Joe Floyd and in ECW as part of the Full Blooded Italians. Steve Armstrong is part of the Armstrong wrestling family, the son of Bob Armstrong and brother of Brian Armstrong, better known as the Road Dogg. The Southern Boys have Confederate Flag tights. It was the south and a different time. Southern Boys start fast with double team moves. Cornette yells at a fan to "sit down and wipe that ugly off your face, you pig-faced moron." I found that so funny I had to transcribe it. Armstrong works over Eaton to start. Smothers tags in and levels Eaton with a Superkick. Eaton tags out to Lane, who challenges Smothers to a Karate fight. Smothers gets the better of it and drops both Lane and Eaton with Superkicks. Eaton tags back in and ends up getting Dropkicked to the floor.
Armstrong hits Eaton and Lane with a Crossbody Block from the top rope. The Midnight Express get control after a blind tag, as Lane throws Smothers over the top rope to the floor. He then gets slammed into the guardrail, followed by a shot from Cornette's racket. The Express hit a nice Atomic Drop/Backbreaker combination. They begin a heat segment targeted on Smothers' back. Eaton hits the Alabama Jam and tags out to Lane. Smothers manages a Sunset Flip for two. Eaton tags back in and hits a Superkick followed by a Swinging Neckbreaker. The Express continue the heat segment, tagging in and out quickly. Smothers Sunset Flips both guys and tags out to Armstrong. He decks both members of the Express with jabs. The Southern Boys hit a Spinebuster/Missile Dropkick combination, but the referee is distracted and doesn't count. By the time he turns around, Eaton has thrown Armstrong off the top rope. The Express hit the Rocket Launcher, but Armstrong shocks everyone by kicking out. Shortly thereafter Lane rolls Armstrong into a Small Package for the pin at 18:14.
Result: Midnight Express by pinfall
Rating: ****1/4. Awesome tag team match. The southern tag formula is very simple, and its success depends on the talents of the teams involved. This was near perfect execution of the formula, as the high-flying babyfaces gave everything they had but were ultimately defeated by the superior experience of the cheating heels. Great, great match.
Gordon Solie interviews the Freebirds, who are sporting mascara and sequined outfits tonight. You can understand why southern crowds hated them.
Big Van Vader vs. Tom Zenk
Vader! Definitely a welcome arrival on the scene. This is his first appearance in WCW. He enters in with a big Mastodon-esque headgear on. The thing shoots steam, which is pretty awesome. This is a pure squash as Zenk barely gets in any offense. Vader stiffly beats the crap of out of him and gets the pin after a big Splash at 2:16.
Result: Vader by pinfall
Rating: *. Fun squash. Made Vader look good.
Gordon Solie interviews the Four Horsemen. They promise to put a hurting on the "Dudes with Attitudes" tonight.
NWA Tag Team Championship: The Steiner Brothers (c) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds
The Steiners work both members of the Freebirds over for the first five minutes or so with the typical routine: Suplex, Shoulderblock, Steinerline. The crowd has a lot of fun heckling the Freebirds, who do a very good job of acting pissed off. The Freebirds get the advantage and work a fairly dull heat segment. Punch, punch, punch, resthold. Rick eventually makes the hot tag to Scott, who gets in and bounces both guys around the ring. He hits the Frankensteiner to a huge pop. Garvin manages to hit a DDT while the referee is dealing with Hayes, but Rick sneaks in and hits a Belly-to-Belly Suplex and puts Scott on top for the pin at 13:45.
Result: Steiner Brothers by pinfall
Analysis: ***. Good match. The Steiners were so good and over at this point this was about as bad as they could get. This combination of the Freebirds at this point in time bordered on useless other than their ability to get the crowd riled up.
Paul Orndorff, Junkyard Dog, and El Gigante vs. Arn Anderson, Barry Windham, and Sid Vicious
Sid is wearing a singlet here. That's the only time I can ever remember that. El Gigante is staggeringly huge. He appears to be a solid 18 inches taller than Orndorff or JYD. Sid beats up Orndorff to start and gets cheered for it. Orndorff proceeds to take out all three members of the Horsemen with Knee Lifts and Hiptosses. El Gigante gets in the ring and the Horsemen bail. JYD and Anderson face off and JYD hits him with Headbutts. Windham tags in and gets hit with more Headbutts. JYD no-sells a DDT by Windham. As in, he gets hit with it and then immediately stands back up like nothing happened. Orndorff tags in, goes for a Piledriver, and gets hit with a Double Ax Handle by Anderson. The crowd chants "We want Sid!" and Anderson obliges by tagging him in. The heels work over Orndorff. Orndorff eventually manages to tag in JYD, who gets triple-teamed by the Horsemen and thrown over the top rope for the disqualification at 8:53.
Result: Paul Orndorff, Junkyard Dog, and El Gigante by disqualification
Rating: *. Uninspiring. Not much of any selling from the faces. Thankfully, Gigante never tagged in.
Gordon Solie interviews Lex Luger.
NWA United States Championship: Lex Luger (c) vs. Mean Mark
Paul E. Dangerously is back from his first firing and managing Mean Mark. Once again, Mean Mark is the Undertaker. Luger and Mark do some mat wrestling to start. Not what I expected. That doesn't really go anywhere and they end up slugging it out instead. That's more like it. Luger does some arm work. I guess that weakens the arm Mark uses for the Heart Punch, but that might be being a little generous here. Mark does a Leapfrog and follows it with a Big Boot. Wow. How did WCW not realize what a talent they had in Mark Callaway? A 6'9, 300 pound guy that athletic should have been in the main event. Mark does the Rope Walk Clothesline. Luger fights back but misses a Clothesline and tumbles over the top to the floor. Mark slams him into the (wooden) steps down on the floor. Luger manages a Sunset Flip for two back in the ring. Mark hits more right hands the announcers speculate that his glove may be loaded. Luger no-sells a Vertical Suplex and hits a series of Clotheslines. Luger gets Mark in the Torture Rack, but Mark's foot hits the referee and knocks him out. Dangerously climbs into the ring and blasts Luger with his brick-sized cellphone. Mark covers and Luger kicks out at two. Mark goes for the Heart Punch, but Luger boots him in the face and hits a big Clothesline for the pin at 12:10.
Resul: Lex Luger by pinfall
Analysis: **. Okay match. Would have liked to see some more varied offense by Mark.
Gordon Solie interviews Sting.
NWA Tag Team Championship: Doom (c) vs. The Rock N Roll Express
Typical formula here: Express starts out hot until Morton gets hit with a cheapshot. Doom proceeds to work Morton over, tagging in and out and using their superior size and power to keep control. Reed applies a long chinlock. Lots of forearms and restholds from Doom in thsi match. Surprisingly, the crowd seems to be behind Doom. They've been cheering a lot of heels tonight. Morton finally manages to make a tag to Gibson, who comes in hot and takes out both Reed and Simmons. All four men end up brawling in the ring. Gibson gets hold of Teddy Long, but turns around into a Shoulderblock from Reed for the pin at 15:40.
Result: Doom by pinfall
Analysis: ***1/2. Solid execution of the standard tag match.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Ric Flair (c) vs. Sting
We've been waiting years for this, ever since Sting took Flair to a 45-minute time-limit draw at Clash of the Champions I in 1987. Sting is accompanied to the ring by Junkyard Dog, El Gigante, Paul Orndorff, and the Steiners. They are tasked with preventing the Horsemen from interfering. Ole is handcuffed to El Gigante. Also, there are no disqualifications or count outs here. It's all on the line and the crowd is hot. This is Sting's first match back from his knee injury, and naturally Flair targets the knee. Flair chops Sting early, but he no-sells. Sting hits a big Military Press. Flair tries to bail, but Rick Steiner stops him. Sting hits a Dropkick and Flair rolls to the ramp (it's connected to the ring). Sting Hip Tosses Flair on the ramp and then Clotheslines him back into the ring. Flair gets a thumb to the eye and takes over. Snapmare, Knee Drop, Suplex. Sting just gets right back up after the Suplex. He Clotheslines Flair and goes up top. Crossbody gets two.
Flair kicks Sting in the knee and Sting sells it. Flair goes for the Figure Four but is blocked. Flair targets the knee with kicks. He sells it but then comes back with a Hip Toss and Dropkick attempt. Apparently the knee is fine? Flair hits chops, but Sting stops selling. Military Press by Sting. He gets a Clothesline for a near fall. Sting hits the Stinger Splash and locks in the Scorpion Deathlock. The Horsemen charge the ring but are stopped by the Dudes with Attitudes. Flair gets to the ropes. Flair tries a pin with his feet on the ropes, but Scott Steiner breaks it up. Sting misses a knee in the corner. Flair goes for the Figure Four, but Sting rolls him up for the pin at 16:06.
Result: Sting by pinfall (New NWA World Heavyweight Champion)
Analysis: ***. Decent, but a bit of a disappointment. Flair really never got any heat on Sting here. He no-sold almost all of Flair's offense and ignored the knee whenever he was on offense. Would have much preferred to see Flair work over the knee and Sting actually sell it.
Sting celebrates with all the babyfaces after the match. It's a cathartic moment for the crowd, as Flair had been champion for 15 months at this point.
Overall: Pretty good show, but it could have been better. This is the worst Flair match in quite some time, which really says something about how good he was at this point. The tag matches ranged from excellent to very good and Vader's debut was fun. If the singles matches had been better this would have been a great show.