The Great American Bash 1991
Ric Flair had been the bedrock of Jim Crockett Promotions/WCW for a solid decade in 1991. He had wrestled in the main event of every Starrcade to this point and spent the vast majority of that time period as NWA/WCW Champion. What Hulk Hogan was to the WWF, Ric Flair was to WCW. He was the franchise player. But controversy was brewing behind the scenes. Jim Herd was the Vice President of WCW and exerting substantial control over the creative direction of the company. Herd's style had driven off a number of wrestlers to this point: the Road Warriors, Jim Cornette, Stan Lane, Stan Hansen, Sid. But perhaps his greatest clash was with Ric Flair. Flair was openly disdainful of Herd. Legend has it that Herd proposed to Flair that he shave his head and become known as "Spartacus" in order to "change with the times." Flair’s contract was coming up, and Herd was trying to force him to take a large paycut. Flair was obviously not happy about that. Finally, two weeks before this show, Herd had enough and fired Flair.
This produced a number of problems: First, Flair was WCW's biggest draw. Second, he was the WCW Champion. And third, he was scheduled to wrestle in the main event of this show. Out of spite, Herd refused to return a $25,000 deposit that Flair had put down on the NWA Title. That deposit was designed to prevent a wrestler holding the title from refusing to lose it and keeping it while leaving for another promotion. When Herd refused to pay Flair his money, Flair took the title with him to the WWF. A lawsuit resulted, but what matters for the purpose of this show is that they didn't have Flair, the WCW Title, or a main event.
To rectify this, they replaced the Flair vs. Lex Luger WCW Title Steel Cage Match with a Luger vs. Barry Windham Steel Cage Match for the now vacant WCW Title. And lacking a physical title belt, Dusty Rhodes provided an old belt from Florida Championship Wrestling. And with all that, the stage was set for the Great American Bash...
Oh, it's also notable that this is broadly considered one of the worst pay-per-views in history. I might need beer to get through this.
Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross are on commentary. Eric Bischoff will handle interviews. This is his WCW pay-per-view debut.
Scaffold Match: PN News and Bobby Eaton vs. Steve Austin and Terry Taylor
Okay, so this incarnation of Steve Austin isn't anything like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin: He doesn't drink beer, isn't bald, doesn't wear black boots and black tights, isn't a brawler, doesn't have facial hair. He's a blonde pretty boy who wrestles a technical style. He's also a fantastic performer. It's a shame that Austin's WCW run is largely overshadowed by his time with the WWF. He was excellent in WCW, and would have been a main eventer and world champion if they hadn't had their heads up their asses. But we'll get to that later.
This isn't one of those Scaffold Matches where someone gets thrown off. Instead, the object is to walk across the scaffold and capture the other team's flag. I consider the Scaffold Match the worst gimmick match in wrestling history. It's guaranteed to produce a terrible match and almost guaranteed to get someone hurt. At least Kennel from Hell was safe. PN News is a rapping wrestler. I guess the joke there is that his initials are PNN, like CNN. Austin and Eaton start off and don't really do anything. There are a few punches and some jockeying for position, but that's it. PN News challenges Austin and he backs off. Taylor takes his place. Again, nothing happens. A little bit of punching and jostling. Austin and PN News fight on one end while Eaton and Taylor fight on the other. Then they all go fight on the same end. Eaton gets the heel flag. He's free to walk to the other end and win, but doesn't for some reason. Austin gets a bottle of spray and sprays Eaton's eyes. He does the same to PN News. The crowd doesn't react to any of these. Either they can't see what's going on or don't care. At this point, Eaton and PN News are announced as the winners. Not sure why. Then they all climb down and Eaton and PN News drive the heels out of the ring. No response from the crowd or the announcers to any of this. Jesus, what a piece of shit match that was. Eaton and PN News get the win at 6:19.
Result: Bobby Eaton and PN News by capture
Analysis: Dud. I don't believe in negative stars or I would have dipped into them for that. In the entire time that match went on, nothing happened. Awful concept and terrible execution.
Eric Bischoff interviews Paul E. Dangerously and Arn Anderson.
The Diamond Studd vs. Tom Zenk
The Diamond Studd is Scott Hall. He's accompanied here by Diamond Dallas Page. Zenk runs down the ramp, dives over the top, and Clotheslines both Stud and Page. He hits the ropes, but Page pulls down the rope and Zenk falls to the floor. Stud jumps Zenk from behind and beats him down. Zenk hits the guardrail and falls into the crowd. Back in the ring, Stud runs through some generic offense. Zenk gets back with a Crossbody. Stud comes back with some punches. Studd applies an Abdominal Stretch. He holds it for a really long time. Stud breaks the monotony with a Chokeslam. The crowd is very sleepy during this match. Zenk hits a Superkick. Stud rolls outside and gets whipped into the guardrail. Zenk hits a Missile Dropkick from the top rope. Page gets involved, so Zenk decks him. This allows Studd to come from behind with a Back Suplex into a bridge for the pin at 9:00.
Result: Diamond Studd by pinfall
Analysis: 1/2*. Bad match. Hall was really green here and Zenk didn't do much of anything of interest.
Oz vs. Ron Simmons
Oz is Kevin Nash. Except he's a wizard. Or something like that. I think the story here is that Turner got the rights to show "The Wizard of Oz" and someone decided that they should have a wrestler with that gimmick to promote the movie. Oz is accompanied by his manager, The Great Wizard. A couple lock-ups go nowhere. Oz works a Headlock. They run into each other. They hit the ropes again and Oz hits a big boot. Simmons tries a Drop Toe Hold. Nash botches it. Oz hits a few punches. JR comments on Oz's "simplistic offense." The crowd chants "boring." Simmons Clotheslines Oz over the top rope. That actually got a pop out of the crowd, first of the match. A test of strength spot lasts for two minutes. Simmons gets a throw. Oz drops him with a Clothesline. Holy shit, does this match suck. Side Slam by Oz. That's his first move of the match. The Great Wizard takes a cheap shot on Simmons to no response from the crowd. I'm laughing. Simmons hits a Dropkick. He hits a couple Three Point Stance Charges. Shoulderblock. That's enough for the pin at 7:55.
Result: Ron Simmons by pinfall
Analysis: Dud. Awful, awful match. No flow, no action, no psychology. Nash had no idea what he was doing out there and honestly Simmons wasn't a ton better. By the way, Simmons is wrestling in the main event of the next pay-per-view. After a performance like that, how could he not?
They announce the "WCW Top 10" for this week. For fun, let's look at it:
10) Johnny B. Badd
9) Ron Simmons
8) Diamond Studd
7) El Gigante
6) Arn Anderson
5) Bobby Eaton
4) Steve Austin (WCW World Television Champion)
2) Barry Windham
1) Lex Luger (WCW United States Champion)
What did Windham do to become the #2 contender? Basically have a pulse. Everyone else was booked in matches already.
Eric Bischoff interviews the Young Pistols. They're ready for a fight tonight.
Richard Morton vs. Robert Gibson
That's right, they turned Ricky Morton heel! One of the worst ideas ever. He joined the York Foundation, so he's a corporate sell-out. Except he still has the exact same haircut and tights. They probably could have tried a little harder on this one. They fight up on the rampway to start. Then Morton starts stalling. And stalling. And stalling. Gibson gets Morton in the corner and hits some punches. He ends up getting slammed into the turnbuckle. Morton slams Gibson's knee into the ring post. That's the knee he had surgery on last year. He then works on the leg. And works on it. And works on it. For ten minutes straight. Finally, Gibson hits a desperation DDT and they both go down. Gibson tries a Backdrop, but his knee buckles. He follows that with an Enziguri that knocks Morton over the top onto the ramp. They go back into the ring and Alexandra York slides Morton her laptop. He hits Gibson with it and gets the pin at an excruciatingly long 17:03.
Result: Richard Morton by pinfall
Analysis: 1/2*. For the psychology of working the knee. This match was excruciating to watch. I swear I had a birthday watching this thing.
Yellow Dog vs. Johnny B. Badd
Okay, so Yellow Dog is Brian Pillman under a mask. He lost a "Loser Leaves WCW" match to Barry Windham at the last Clash of the Champions, so he's come back with an absurd gimmick. If Dog loses this match, he has to unmask. If he's revealed to be Brian Pillman, he's banned from WCW forever. Johnny B. Badd is Marc Mero, future WWF Intercontinental Champion and first husband of Sable. He's a Little Richard impersonator in this gimmick. Pillman comes out with a yellow dog. Literally. Is that supposed to be clever? Badd is managed by Teddy Long. He's a heel here, but that didn't last long. Pillman looks at the camera and says, I quote, "Not Johnny B. Badd, Johnny B. Gay!" That's probably the highlight of the show so far. Pillman gets a right hand and knocks Badd to the floor. Pillman gets a Sunset Flip. Some time passes after that without much happening. Eventually, Pillman hits a Dropkick. Pillman stalks Teddy Long but gets cut off with a Clothesline. Back in the ring Pillman misses a Crossbody Block. Johnny hits a Sunset Flip from the top rope for two. Badd applies a Chinlock. He tries to remove Pillman's mask, but he gets Headbutted. Pillman ducks a hook and hits a German Suplex. Pillman hits the ropes and connects with a Spinning Heel Kick. Pillman hits a Crossbody from the top rope. Teddy Long breaks up the pin and Badd is disqualified at 6:00.
Result: Yellow Dog by Disqualification
Analysis: *3/4. It was okay. Badd was still developing. Pillman was fine, but not at the top of his game. The crowd didn't care at all.
Bischoff enters the women's locker room. He finds Missy Hyatt in the shower. She yells at him and he runs out. That wasn't worth the two minutes it took.
Lumberjack Match: Big Josh vs. Black Blood
Big Josh is Matt Osborne, the original Doink the Clown. Here, he's Big Josh, a lumberjack. Black Blood is Billy Jack Hayes in an executioner's outfit. Josh gets thrown to the floor and he gets beat up by the heel lumberjacks. Josh hits chops and a Hip Toss. Then a Dropkick. Blood gets thrown to the floor, but the heels just pick him up and put him back in. Josh hits a Clothesline. He knocks Blood to the floor. The faces throw him back in. They exchange punches in the ring. Josh gets thrown out. The faces protect him, which leads to a scuffle with the heels. That escalates to a brawl. It breaks down and Dustin Rhodes hits Black Blood with an Ax Handle, allowing Josh to get the pin at 5:39.
Result: Big Josh by pinfall
Analysis: *. Boring but short.
Elimination Match: The Young Pistols and Dustin Rhodes vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Jimmy Garvin, and Badstreet)
The Freebirds are the Six Man Tag Champions, but those titles aren't on the line here. Presumably because Dusty is booking and wants to put his son over but doesn't want to put the titles on him. Badstreet is Brad Armstrong. The chants here a combination of "We Want Flair" and "Freebirds Suck." Better than silence, I guess. Dustin quickly clears the ring and the Freebirds regroup. All six men hit the ring and the Freebirds get taken out again. Smothers and Armstrong tag in and out while controlling things. Hayes eventually gets Smothers with a jab and takes over. Hayes and Garvin tag in and out while working on Smothers. Both guys work Sleeper Holds. Badstreet gets in and hits a nice Swinging Neckbreaker. Hayes tags in and tries the DDT. He gets Backdropped and Smothers tags in Armstrong. Armstrong hits everyone with Dropkicks as all six guys hit the ring. Badstreet and Hayes hit a Double DDT on Amstrong and he's eliminated at 13:49. That was an incredibly long time for the first elimination. Smothers charges Hayes and gets Backdropped to the floor. Thus, Hayes is disqualified at 14:04. The heels work on Smothers and eats a Double DDT. He's eliminated at 15:16. Wow, they're dropping fast now. Dustin enters the match and immediately plants Garvin with a Lariat and pins him at 15:24. Badstreet enters and works on Dustin with Clotheslines. Badstreet goes up top, but Dustin catches him with a Lariat. Rhodes follows that with a Bulldog for the win at 17:10.
Result: Young Pistols and Dustin Rhodes by pinfall
Analysis: *1/4. Standard issue Freebirds match. It would have helped to space out the eliminations a little bit.
El Gigante vs. One Man Gang
Sweet Jesus, what did I do to deserve this? El Gigante seriously makes The Great Khali look like Bret Hart. Kevin Sullivan is managing One Man Gag and leads him out on a chain. Definite S&M motif here. Bischoff interviews Sullivan, who spouts some Satanic shit. El Gigante comes out with a group of midgets. Not sure why. Gigante hits some slow, sloppy punches. OMG tries to run, but Gigante throws him back into the ring. OMB bails. They conduct a very slow speed chase around the ring. Gigante hits a Hip Toss. JR sounds genuinely surprised he could execute that. OMG comes off the second rope with a Clothesline. OMG hits Gigante with a wrench while Sullivan distracts the referee. He hits a series of wrench shots while the idiot referee is continually distracted. The next few minutes are nothing but One Man Gang punching Gigante while he crawls around the ring on his knees. One Man Gang goes up top and just kind of stands there until Gigante remembers he's supposed to throw him off. Gigante hits a Suplex. Gang tries to throw powder in Gigante's eyes, but Gigante throws it into Gang's eyes. Gigante hits a Clothesline to the back of the head and that's enough for a pin at 6:13.
Result: El Gigante by pinfall
Analysis: Dud. Gigante was awful. Schiavone claims he "showed a lot of wrestling skill in this match." I totally disagree.
Russian Chain Match: Nikita Koloff vs. Sting
Just to recap, we've had seven matches and the best one has been *3/4. Unfortunately, I'm not expecting things to get a ton better here. Nikita is way over the hill at this point. This is like a Strap Match, where you win by touching all four corners, but they're connected by a chain. Lots of punching and kicking to start. Hard to do much else when you're chained together. They go outside and Sting drops Koloff on the railing. Back in, Sting rams Nikita into the turnbuckle. They go outside again. Sting chokes Koloff with the chain. Sting touches the first two corners before Koloff stops him. They go outside again. Nikita hits Sting with the chain. Nikita loads his fist with the chain and hits Sting in the gut. Sting comes back and slams Koloff into the rail and then the ring post. Back in the ring, Nikita does some chain shots. He chokes Sting with the chain. It's incredible how quiet the crowd is. This feud was hot during the lead-in, but the Flair debacle has the crowd silent all night. Sting takes over with a chain shot. Koloff gets him down and touches the first three turnbuckles. Sting stops him from touching the fourth. Nikita gets a Bearhug. They both touch the first corner while in the hold. And the second. Sting breaks the hold and Nikita hits a low blow. Sting hits a low blow of his own. The referee still hasn't reset the touching. They simultaneously touch the third. The crowd doesn't seem to care. Sting goes for the fourth buckle but Nikita holds him back. Nikita hits Sting with the Russian Sickle Lariat. Minutes have passed without the referee resetting the touching. Sting hits a Stinger Splash, but he knocks Koloff into the fourth turnbuckle and Koloff gets the win at 11:38.
Result: Nikita Koloff by touching
Analysis: *. Slow, boring, no heat. Screwjob finish too.
Post-match, Sting beats down Koloff. More edge that you would expect from the Stinger.
Steel Cage Match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger vs. Barry Windham
I have to point out that this is the first and only title match on the show. No idea how that happened. The "We Want Flair" chants are absolutely thunderous here. By far the loudest the crowd has gotten. They exchange punches for awhile to start things off. They exchange Clotheslines, Shoulderblocks, punches, all the basics. Eventually, Luger goes the top rope and gets thrown off. Nice tribute to Flair. Windham goes up top and hits some kind of one-legged kick. That's definitely different. Obviously a tough situation for these guys to be in, being thrown in there cold with no feud and having to replace Flair. The crowd is hostile, alternating between booing and Flair chants. Naturally, the announcers don't acknowledge any of this. In the high point of the match, Luger tries the Torture Rack but Windham kicks off the cage and escapes it. That's pretty cool. Windham hits a Back Suplex and follows it with a Flying Lariat. Luger no-sells. Windham hits another Lariat, but he can't keep Luger down. Windham goes to the top rope again and hits a Missile Dropkick for a nearfall. They're actually starting to get the crowd into the match now. At this point, Harley Race and Mr. Hughes make their way down the ramp. Race tells Luger "Now's the time." Mr. Hughes distracts Windham and Luger comes from behind with a knee to the back. He picks up Windham and hits a Piledriver for the pin at 12:25.
Result: Lex Luger by pinfall (New WCW World Heavyweight Champion)
Analysis: *3/4. Lifeless match for the most part. Crowd definitely hurt it. Luger's heel turn really came out of nowhere, but that's because they clearly weren't planning it until two weeks prior. Not really any time to foreshadow in that case.
Steel Cage Match: Arn Anderson and Paul E. Dangerously vs. Rick Steiner and Missy Hyatt
Oh right, there's another match. No idea at all why this is going on last. This was originally supposed to be Arn, Windham, and Dangerously vs. Rick, Scott, and Missy Hyatt. Then Windham got moved into the title match and Scott got hurt. So we're left with this. As Steiner is climbing into the cage, Dick Slater and Dick Murdoch grab Missy and drag her to the back. Okay, no loss there. Rick does his usual stuff on Arn for a minute or so. Then Rick hits Paul E. with a Steinerline and pins him at 2:08.
Result: Rick Steiner by pinfall
Analysis Dud. Nothing there.
Overall: I think this is the worst pay-per-view ever. There wasn't a single good match on this show. On top of that, a couple matches were offensively bad (Gigante vs. One Man Gang, Oz vs. Simmons, the Scaffold Match). The Rock N Roll Express match and Freebirds matches were both excruciatingly long and boring. Just a show without any redeeming qualities. Terrible matches, some questionable booking decisions, and a totally dead crowd. I think this is worse than December to Dismember or any of the Russo era shows.