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Sunday, August 2, 2015

2507 - WCW Great American Bash 1991


The 1991 edition of the Great American Bash is often summed up with three words: WE. WANT. FLAIR.

The first WCW Pay-Per-View event to follow Ric Flair's unceremonious dismissal from World Championship Wrestling, GAB '91 is often referred to as the Flair Protest Show, where the crowd would piss on the entire event, especially the one match for the vacant World Title. While I've certainly heard of this show, I've obviously never seen it due to not having followed WCW (or any wrestling, for that matter) in the early-1990s.

Thanks to the magic of WWE Network, I am able to finally catch this once mythical pay-per-view event... and undoubtably regret doing so... but hey, it's one more show off the bucket list, I suppose.



They open up the show with a SCAFFOLD match. For those who don't know, a SCAFFOLD match is two guys (or in this case, two tag-teams) who fight along a high scaffold and... see, here's the thing. Normally, the goal of a SCAFFOLD match is to kick your opponent off the scaffold and fall down into the ring, which is dangerously stupid but at least you had something to look forward to here. However, in this case, it was a CAPTURE THE FLAG SCAFFOLD match, which meant getting your opponent's flag and tip-toeing over to your side to get the win... this match is just embarrassing to watch and there's probably a good reason why they don't do SCAFFOLD matches anymore.

I normally wouldn't do this, but this interview segment features Paul E. Dangerously and Arn Anderson hyping up their match against Rick Steiner and Missy Myatt. The guy doing the interview? Freshly-dyed Eric Bischoff, who makes his WCW debut here... no wonder Flair hates the guy.

The Diamond Studd (Scott Hall) defeated the Z-Man (Tom Zenk) with, as Jim Ross puts it, "a wrestling hold;" belly to back suplex. This was long before Hall was anything remotely resembling an interesting character or wrestler, so the match comes off as kinda boring.

Ron Simmons (the DAMN! guy) defeated OZ (Kevin Nash). This was long before either man was anything resembling interesting characters, so the match comes off as rather boring... the sad part is that that castle setpiece looks amazing at first glance... until the wind blows and the whole thing is revealed to be a curtain. That's lame, but nowhere near as lame as the entrance music for Oz, which is seemingly the same kind of generic rock tune they use for all their talents. Now, if this was done in the WWF, Jim Johnston, being the musical genius that he is, would've cooked up something brilliant and fitting to the character... but, because it's the land of the hicks - sorry, but it is what it is - we get this generic theme.

Richard Morton defeated Robert Gibson by smashing a computer on his head while the ref was distracted. For anyone wondering, Morton and Gibson formed a notable tag-team in the Rock-N-Roll Express, but Morton turned heel by going corporate via joining the York Foundation (a heel stable headed by Alexandra York, who would eventually be better known as Goldust's manager in WWF) and that's why they're fighting. It should be noted that despite going corporate and being referred to as "Richard" rather than "Ricky", he still has the long hair and RnR tights. This had to be an odd chapter in the RnR lifespan, as they would eventually get back together and do their thing. I guess the best part is that they tried to tell a good story and I can understand where they were going, but I doubt anyone wanted to see these guys fight each other.

The Young Pistols and Dustin Rhodes defeated the Fabulous Freebirds in a six-man tag-team match that... well, this did nothing for me (or for anybody else, it seems). At this point, I'm feeling rather fatigued and bored by this show, as I was expecting a trainwreck of biblical proportions and instead, I'm getting a rather dull and uninspired wrestling show. I'd hate to say that it seems like most of these guys didn't give a shit about putting on a good show, but I can't help but feel that way. This show, thus far, has been the shits.

Yellow Dog (Brian Pillman under a mask) defeated Johnny B. Badd via DQ when Teddy Long interferred in the match... Argh! RAH!!2@(*EOI@KIDR@^&#%&@^$@%@^&$%^&#&^@$%^@^

Big Josh defeated Black Blood (aka Billy Jack Haynes) in a lumberjack match after Dustin Rhodes hit Black Blood with an axe. When a wrestling match with a wrestler called Black Blood fails to intrigue the audience, you've got a problem.

El Gigante (the future Giant Gonzalez) defeated One Man Gang in a match featuring little people and Kevin Sullivan. For anyone who likes to complain about the Great Khali being the most immobile and worthless big man in professional wrestling, I give you El Gigante, who makes Khali look like the second coming of Andre. Oh, for fuck's sake, this was AWFUL. Just a terrible match and even the crowd appears to have had the life sucked out of them.

Nikita Koloff defeated Sting in a Russian Chain match that brings me flashbacks of that one chain match between Rusev and John Cena... I don't mean that in a good way. The finish of the match, where Koloff basically touches the final post by accident, is almost reminiscent of the finish in that one strap match where JBL won the WWE Championship from Eddie Guerrero... oh dear... how sad is it that the only chain match I've seen that I felt was worth watching was the bloody affair between Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine from several years prior?

And so it comes down to this... I guess it's a well-documentated story by now, but for the sake of context, I will attempt to sum up the backstory from what I best gathered.

Ric Flair was your reigning WCW/NWA World Champion and the original main event for the Bash was his title defense against Lex Luger. The narrative was that this would have been the show where Lex Luger finally defeated Ric Flair and won his first World Title, which would've made him the big hero in WCW and possible shed his reputation as being something of a choke artist. Now, due to issues and disputes with president Jim Herd, Flair took his ball (and his belt) over to the WWF and that's how we got the "Real World Champion" story in latter-day 1991 WWF. This, of course, left WCW without a World Champion, without a World Championship belt, and without a main event for the Great American Bash, which was taking place in two weeks.

So in what is seemingly a last minute deal, WCW books a cage match for the vacant WCW World Title between no. 1 contender Lex Luger (who was also the US champ at this point) and Barry Windham, a guy who, at this point in his career, mostly served as a tag-team wrestler for the past couple years, but somehow became the second top contender for the World title. Said World Title, by the way, is represented by an old regional title (some have said it was the Western States Heritage title... or is that a joke that I'm missing?) that was given cheap metal plates saying "World Championship Wrestling" seemingly stuck on there. It looks about as bad as it sounds, especially in upscaled HD form.

For those wondering, WCW would eventually get a proper World Title belt to call their own - which is essentially the title featured in the various WWE video games today - before eventually going back to the "Big Gold Belt" that most people are familiar with in 1994... which had been in used the year prior as the WCW International World Title... or something... I dunno... wrestling is stupid, sometimes.

So we have this cage match - that the crowd shits on by chanting for Flair - and it's perhaps the most dullest cage match they could've put on. There are instances and moments where you get inklings of what could have been a great or even just good match, but it's very sparingly and thus for the most part, the only standout moment of this match is the occasional and visceral chants of WE WANT FLAIR that both Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone would blatantly fail to mention... which is perhaps only slightly better than them breaking into giggles and claiming the crowd was "just having fun, Maggle!"

At some point, Harley Race shows up and tells Luger "NOW IS THE TIME" and then Luger piledrives Windham to win the World Title... Why was NOW the time to piledrive a guy for the win? Did Harley miss his cue or something? And I'm guess Luger sides with Race and is now a villain for the rest of the year before he eventually bails and heads on over to Vince McMahon's failed World Bodybuilding Federation experiment.

In an effort to send the fans home happy, they have Rick Steiner vs. Arn Anderson and Paul E. in the cage match because Missy Hyatt was kidnapped and the match ends almost quickly with Steiner pinnning Paul E... who was a manager and commentator... not a wrestler. I suppose given the choice between pinning the future head of ECW and a guy who had to be in a foul mood since his best friend was given the boot, I would've pinned Paul too.

I want you to think about any bad wrestling show you've seen in the past ten to fifteen years. Think about the absolute worst showing you've come across - whether it's a WWF show, a WWE show, a WCW PPV, an ECW event, a TNA showing, whatever - think about the absolute worst show you've seen in recent memory and I promise you - no, I GUARANTEE YOU - that show you're thinking is BETTER than the 1991 Great American Bash because at least with those shows, you could find SOME semblance of positivity, however faint it might seem. This show didn't even offer that much.

Great American Bash 1991 was a terrible show. There is not one shining moment to be found throughout three hours of programming. From beginning to end, you're given a show with not an ounce of care or thought put into it. There are no good wrestling matches, there are no good wrestling moments, there are no good reasons for this show to even exist. Whatever curiosity piqued my interest in checking this show out despite its horrific reputation does not make up for the soul-draining that was committed. This show was DEATH.

But having said that, I don't regret it.

Why?

Because now I can claim the right to respond to any claim of a recent WWE or TNA event being "the worst ever" with, "Fuck That. I've seen WCW Great American Bash 1991 on the WWE Network."

Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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