Great American Bash 1992
Sting was on top of the world in the summer of 1992. He ended 1991 on top of WCW by winning the Battlebowl at Starrcade. He followed that by winning his second WCW Championship by defeating Lex Luger at SuperBrawl. Then he led his team to a victory in WarGames over the Dangerous Alliance. Finally, he defeated Cactus Jack at Beach Blast in a Falls Count Anywhere match, ridding himself of a long-time rival. Everything was going the Stinger's way. But little did he know, it was all about to come crashing down.
Harley Race needed a new meal ticket after Lex Luger left WCW. He quickly found it in Big Van Vader, the 400+ pound monster who had been dominating Japan for years. Vader had been in WCW on and off for several years, but was just now coming into his own. Feeling overconfident, Sting agreed to put the WCW Title on the line against Vader at this event. He was making one of the biggest mistakes of his career.
Meanwhile, some real stupidity was playing out in the tag division. WCW had separated from the NWA in early 1991, but there were still remnants of a working relationship. In mid-1992, the NWA decided that they wanted to recognize world tag team champions for the first time. Previous NWA tag team championships had been solely regional titles. For some reason, WCW agreed to host a tournament crowning the champions. Most of the previous Clash of the Champions show was focused around the first round of the tournament, the rest of it would play out on this show. Meanwhile, the Miracle Violence Connection of Terry Gordy and Steve Williams defeated the Steiner Brothers at a house show a few days before this show to win the WCW World Tag Team Championship. This came after they defeated the Steiners in the quarterfinals of the NWA Tag Team Championship Tournament. Thus, Gordy and Williams are trying to unify the titles tonight. Let's get to the action:
Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura are our hosts.
Tag Team Tournament Quarterfinals: Brian Pillman and Jushin Liger vs. Nikita Koloff and Ricky Steamboat
Steamboat and Koloff defeated Joe and Dean Malenko at Clash of the Champions to advance, Pillman and Liger defeated Chris Benoit and Biff Wellington. Pillman and Koloff start. Koloff quickly powers out of a headlock. Koloff knocks Pillman down with a Shoulderblock. Pillman grabs a Facelock, but Koloff lifts him off the mat. Koloff gets an Inverted Atomic Drop. Pillman tags in Liger, who comes off the top rope. This is contested under "NWA Rules," so that isn't a DQ. Pillman quickly tags back in. He and Liger both work on Koloff's arm. Koloff powers out of an Arm Wringer and tags in Steamboat. He drops Pillman with a Dropkick and then attacks Liger unprovoked! Nice heel work from Steamboat. Steamboat works on Pillman's arm. Steamboat catches Pillman on a leap frog and hits an Inverted Atomic Drop, followed by a Clothesline. He goes back to the arm. Pillman counters and tags in Liger. They hit a Double Dropkick. Steamboat quickly tags in Koloff. He slams Liger. Steamboat tags back in and gets Pillman in a Headlock. Pillman gets out and Backdrops Steamboat. Pillman grabs a Headlock and tags in Liger. Liger hits a Backbreaker and a Moonsault from the top rope. Liger Tombstones Steamboat! Steamboat comes back with a Back Suplex and tags out to Koloff. Koloff grabs a Chinlock. Koloff hits a Kitchen Sink knee and tags in Steamboat.
Backbreaker by Steamboat. Another one. A third, then a Running Powerslam. Pillman breaks up a pin. Steamboat and Koloff hit a double back elbow. Koloff applies another Chinlock. Steamboat comes back in and hits a chop from the top rope. Liger kicks Steamboat in the face after he telegraphs a Backdrop and tags in Pillman. Pillman slams Steamboat and applies a Headlock. Liger tags in and hits a Missile Dropkick from the top rope. Koloff tags in and overpowers Liger. Pillman tags in and Dropkicks Koloff. Koloff catches Pillman as he attempts a Crossbody, so Liger Dropkicks Pillman down into a pin on Koloff. Pillman hits a Springboard Flying Clothesline and then a top rope Missile Dropkick. Pillman grabs a Sleeper, but Koloff escapes with a Jawbreaker. Koloff tags in Steamboat. Liger tags in as well, and spikes Steamboat with an Enziguri. Pillman tags back in blind and hits Steamboat with a Diving Shoulderblock. Double KO spot follows. Pillman goes up top, but Steamboat stumbles into the ropes and crotches him. Pier six brawl follows. Pillman hits a Crossbody, but Steamboat rolls through into a cradle for the pin at 19:27.
Result: Ricky Steamboat and Ivan Koloff by pinfall
Analysis: ***3/4. Quality tag match. Koloff was clearly the weak link, but his overpowering presence gave the match some variety. The Liger/Steamboat segments were excellent.
Eric Bischoff interviews the Steiners. They want their rematch against Gordy and Williams.
Tag Team Tournament Quarterfinal: The Fabulous Freebirds vs. Shinya Hashimoto and Hiroshi Hase
The Freebirds defeated El Texano and Silver King in the first round. Hase and his original partner, Akira Nogami, defeated The Headhunters. Nogami is injured, so Hashimoto is his replacement. Hashimoto is the muscle, Hase is the technical wrestler. This is the last Freebirds match of any significance in WCW. Hase starts against Hayes, who works the crowd up with some strutting. The Freebirds control early with Headlocks and arm work. Garvin gets his arm worked on by Hase. Hashimoto tags in and hits some kicks. Garvin tags in Hayes, who works on Hashimoto's arm. Hase tags in and works on Hayes. Heat segment on Hayes follows. Nothing of much note happens. Hase and Hashimoto miss a Double Clothesline and Hayes drops them both with big left hands. He tags in Garvin, who goes house on fire. He slams both Hase and Hashimoto. Hashimoto hits a big kick behind the referee's back, followed by a Northern Lights Suplex by Hase for the pin at 9:17.
Result: Shinya Hashimoto and Hiroshi Hase by pinfall
Analysis: *. Pretty dull and generic tag match.
Schiavone and Magnum TA interview Bill Watts. He explains that there will be a tournament to crown a new NWA Champion in Japan next month featuring wrestlers from WCW and New Japan. Again, there's really no reason for WCW to be involved with the NWA championships at this point. Watts says he wants to see the winner of the tournament face Sting to unify the titles.
Tag Team Tournament Quarterfinal: Rick Rude and Steve Austin vs. Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes
Austin and Rude defeated Marcus Bagwell and Tom Zenk to advance. Windham and Rhodes defeated Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton, who probably deserved to get further. Austin and Windham start. Austin staggers Windham with right hands and gets him down with a Backslide. Austin gets caught with a right hand and knocked out of the ring. Ventura rants about Windham's taped fist. I love how he points out the faces cheating. It's staggeringly common. Austin gets popped by both Windham and Rhodes and rolls out to the floor. Rude tags in. Rhodes tags in and gets Rude from behind. Rhodes get a Back Suplex and works on Rude's arm. Rude gets out and grabs a Chinlock. Rude tries a Tombstone, but Rhodes reverses into his own Tombstone! Rhodes goes for a Splash, but Rude gets his knees up and tags in Austin. Austin hammers Rhodes with punches and kicks. Rhodes gets a Knee Lift and an Abdominal Stretch. Rhodes tags Windham, who comes off the top with a Flying Clothesline. Austin gets a Backdrop and tags in Rude.
Back Suplex by Rude. Austin tags back in and tries a Superplex, but Windham fights out. Windham hits the ropes and Rude yanks him down by his hair. Rude hits a Missile Dropkick from the top rope! Never seen that from him before. Rude Piledrives Windham and Rhodes breaks up the pin. Rude tags in Austin, who comes off the top with a Double Ax Handle. Austin Suplexes Windham. Rude and Austin tag in and out working on Windham. Windham manages a Small Package for a two count and then does a Double KO with Austin. Austin cuts off a tag attempt with a Back Suplex. Windham gets an Inverted Atomic Drop on Rude and does another Double KO. Windham finally manages to tag in Rhodes, who lights up both Rude and Austin with elbows and Dropkicks. Austin tries to Piledrive Windham, but Rhodes comes off the top rope with a Flying Clothesline and gets the pin at 19:17.
Result: Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes by pinfall
Analysis: ***1/4. Solid old-school tag match. Heat segment was a little long, but did a good job building the anticipation of the hot tag.
Bischoff interviews Big Van Vader and Harley Race. Race says Vader is the uncrowned world champion.
Tag Team Tournament Semifinals: Terry Gordy and Steve Williams vs. Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff
Gordy and Williams are the WCW Tag Team Champions, looking to unify the WCW and NWA titles. Gordy and Steamboat start. Gordy grabs a Headlock and holds it for the first few minutes of the match. Williams tags in and Steamboat goes to work on his arm. Koloff and Gordy both tag in. Koloff does arm work on Gordy. Williams tags in and takes over on Koloff. Chinlock goes on for awhile. Gordy and Steamboat tag in. Really not a ton happening here. Lots of and lots of holds. Williams tags in and levels Steamboat with a Clothesline. Steamboat gets up and hits some chops. Gordy tags in and dominates Steamboat. Heat segment on Steamboat ensues. The crowd really doesn't seem to care about Gordy and Williams. Problematic, considering they're being pushed as the top team in the division at this point. After a solid five minutes of getting worked on, Steamboat hits a DDT and tags in Koloff. Koloff gets on the offense for about five seconds before being stopped. Gordy tags in and locks on an STF. Williams tags in and applies the Boston Crab. Williams follows that with a Powerslam and tries the Oklahoma Stampede, but Koloff escapes. Koloff tags in Steamboat. Steamboat hits a Back Suplex on Williams and goes up top. Gordy pushes Steamboat off, where Williams catches him and hits a modified Spinebuster version of the Stampede for the pin at 21:41.
Result: Terry Gordy and Steve Williams by pinfall
Analysis: **. Not a huge fan of that. It was basically a 20 minute squash match. Gordy and Williams really didn't sell much and as a result, it never seemed like Koloff and Steamboat posed any threat to them.
Tag Team Tournament Semifinal: Shinya Hashimoto and Hiroshi Hase vs. Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes
Man, I'm really getting tired of this tournament. I'll be brief in my recap here: Both teams trade arm holds and the advantage for the first ten minutes of the match. Rhodes ends up getting worked over and hit with a Spike Piledriver. Hase goes up top for a Knee Drop, but misses and Rhodes tags out to Windham. They all brawl in the ring and Windham drops Hase with a Lariat for the pin at 14:56.
Result: Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes by pinfall
Analysis: *1/2. Formulaic tag match. Every match on this card has been booked exactly the same.
Tony Schiavone and Magnum TA interview Ron Simmons, who is wearing a nice white suit tonight. He wants to fight the winner of the Sting/Vader match.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship: Sting (c) vs. Big Van Vader
Back in April, Vader attacked Sting and busted up his ribs. We'll see if that plays a role in this match. Vader is out first with Harley Race. He's still wearing his ridiculous Elephant smoke mask. Sting is out second in red, white, and blue. JR points out that Sting has beaten Flair, Sid, and Luger. AKA the WWF's main event. Vader drives Sting into the corner and hits some stiff forearm shots. Sting gets a few shots in, but Vader no-sells. Vader misses a corner charge and Sting Back Suplexes him! Sting Clotheslines Vader to the floor! Vader challenges Sting to a test of strength, which he stupidly accepts. Sting chickens out and thumbs Vader in the eye, then drops him with right hands. Dropkick sends Vader to the apron, and Sting Suplexes him back into the ring. It's impressive for Sting to throw Vader around like that, but I think it would have made more sense to wait longer in the match for it to happen. A spot is better when you build up to it, and it really takes away a lot of Vader's mystique for him to be thrown around that much. Sting gets a cradle for a two count and Vader rolls out to talk to Race. Sting tries a Sunset Flip but gets butt splashed.
JR and Ventura both make snide references to bodybuilding not making money. A shot at Vince McMahon's failing World Bodybuilding Federation. Vader hits a big Splash for a two count. Step Over Toe Hold from Vader. Vader transitions into the Scorpion Deathlock, but Sting powers out. Vader levels Sting with a right hand and then a Clothesline. Front Powerslam from Vader. Sting is getting absolutely dominated now. Sting fights back with punches and some kind of rolling kick. Sting DDTs Vader.
Crowd is hot for the comeback. Sting knocks Vader onto the apron with a Shoulderblock, but seems to hurt himself more than Vader. Vader goes to the top rope, but Sting catches him with a kick to the ribs. Sting gets Vader on his shoulders, holds him there for 30 seconds, and then hits a massive Samoan Drop that shakes the ring. Vader goes for a Back Suplex, but Sting drops out and bumps the referee. Sting hits a German Suplex for two. Delayed count cost Sting there. Sting hits a Stinger Splash, then sends Vader to the other corner. He hits a second Stinger Splash, but slams his head into the turnbuckle in the process. Sting appears to be knocked out, but kicks out of a cover. Vader nails a Powerbomb for
the pin at 17:15.
Result: Big Van Vader by pinfall (New WCW World Heavyweight Champion)
Analysis: ***1/2. Good match. They didn't put Vader over as strongly as I thought they would: Sting controlled a lot of the match and threw Vader around the ring. In the end, Vader won because Sting caught a bad break and hit his head on the ring post. Would have liked to see Vader win in more dominant fashion, but it would become apparent why they did this the way they did in a few weeks.
They replay Sting hitting his head and then referees and Nikita Koloff come out to help him to the back.
Bischoff interviews Vader and Harley Race. Race calls Vader the greatest athlete on the planet and says he killed the myth of Sting tonight.
Tag Team Tournament Finals: Steve Williams and Terry Gordy vs. Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes
The Steiners come out to confront Williams and Gordy but are forced to the back by security. I can honestly say I'm not into Gordy and Williams as a tag team. They're both big, impressive specimens, but they just don't wrestle with much intensity. Leg work early from both teams. Crowd is dead silent. I feel like they pretty much checked out after Sting lost. Rhodes gets trapped in an STF by Gordy. He fights out and locks in a Sleeper Hold, but Williams tags in blind and hits a Double Ax Handle from the top. Rhodes gets worked on for awhile until he manages to tag in Windham. Windham's comeback is shut down and he gets worked on. Double KO leads to a hot tag to Rhodes. His comeback also gets shut down by a Double Ax Handle from Williams. Williams goes for the Oklahoma Stampede, but Windham hits a Dropkick to break it up. Rhodes goes for a Bulldog, but gets slammed and then hit with a Lariat for the pin at 21:11.
Result: Terry Gordy and Steve Williams by pinfall
Analysis: **. Yawn. Again, Williams and Gordy totally dominated their opponents, and not in an especially interesting way. Bill Watts really wanted the belts on his favored team, and so he built this tournament all around them. I'm confused as to why they would put both sets of belts on Gordy and Williams rather than having the Steiners hold one and set up the big match between the two down the line.
Overall: Not a very good show. Sting/Vader was good, as were a few of the earlier tag matches. But most of the tag tournament was boring and heatless. The tag tournament for a set of belts no one cared about took up six of the seven matches on this show, and that's too many. Obviously, this was an improvement on last year's disastrous show, but not by as much as it should have been. This was a major step-down from a series of very good shows.