Wednesday, July 6, 2022

WCW Great American Bash 1996

The prelude to what would end up being the angle that changed the fortunes of World Championship Wrestling in more ways than one... is just Kevin Nash and Scott Hall beating up Eric Bischoff and powerbombing him through a stage. Now that we got that piece of business out of the way, let's sample this Great American Bash 1996 PPV program, which was probably one of the first WCW VHS tapes I actually bought at a used video store somewhere.

This is a tremendous show, so tremendous that I'm left speechless as to how tremendous this show is. So expect plenty of quick blurbs and if you want more... just watch the damn show because it is GREAT!

The Steiner Brothers defeated Fire & Ice (the team of Scott Norton and Ice Train) in a pretty fun, hard-hitting match with four big fuckers beating the fuck out of each other. Tremendous opening contest.

United States champion KONNAN defeated EL GATO (longtime journeyman wrestler Pat Tanaka under a mask) in a perfectly acceptable wrestling match to retain the title. I have a feeling this is going to be the worst match on the card by default and that's nothing to be ashamed of because this is still a fine piece of business.

Diamond Dallas Page defeated Marcus "Not Quite Buff" Bagwell via Diamond Cutter in another perfectly acceptable match. Honestly, this wasn't too bad and I like how they're trying to build the Diamond Cutter as a move that could come OUTTA NOWHERE... except DDP doesn't peer out of the corner like a creeper, even though he would play the role of a creeper down the road or something... I wish I had forgotten that shit, to be honest.

Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko defeated Rey Mysterio Jr. to retain the title in a superior showcase of grounded wrestling versus quick-paced lucha libre. Oh, and they brought out Mike Tenay to do some additional analysis for this fine spectacle. Good for him.

Big John Tenta defeated Big Bubba Rogers in a slow, plodding match. I apologize to Konnan and El Gato for presuming they would have the worst match on the card because I forgot this was a thing and... yeah. RIP both guys, but this was not a fun time to sit through.

Chris Benoit defeated Kevin Sullivan in a no-holds-barred match that included a trip to the bathroom. Benoit was about to murder this Sullivan fucker (poor choice of words, pal) before Arn came out and stopped the Crippler from doing his Crippling thing.

The Man Called Sting Defeated Lord Steven Regal (a.k.a. William Regal to you dumb kids) in another fine professional wrestling match. Long story short, Regal is the dickish Englishman, Sting is the upright American, America fuck yeah, and all that jazz. I could go for more Sting vs. Regal matches; even in their 60s, they could probably... wait, I don't want to jinx that one.

Ric Flair & Arn Anderson defeated Kevin Green & Steve "Mongo" McMichael when McMichael turned on Greene to become the fourth Horseman. Yes, MONGO is part of the Four Horsemen... and I'm not about to complain about that because I've seen worse. And the guy fits. Hey, if my ex-wife showed up in a fancy dress with a Halliburton full of cash to jump ship, then fuck that Greene dude. ANd then the Horsemen (the other being Benoit) beat up Savage and Green. Then they cut a promo.

And then Eric Bischoff is up on stage to let the Outsiders - Hall and Nash - know that they got a match with three guys at Bash At The Beach next month... and the Outsiders bust ol' Uncle Eric in the gut and powerbomb him through the stage, followed up by a long, protracted segment where medical people are tending to this guy who knows karate and could probably kick these guys' asses in real life... I say this in jest, of course.

If this were the thing that closed the show, it would've been a hell of an ending to a PPV and built up anticipation to the next PPV, which would have some... rammifications of sorts.... but we have a World title match up next and boy, oh boy...

WCW World Champion THE GIANT defeated Lex Luger to retain the title in a televised dark match. No, really, how do you follow up an angle of such import with a main event that feels so shallow in comparison. It's like a wrestling match where you hit a guy with all sorts of crazy moves and gimmicks and then he beats you with a roll-up. It feels so anti-climatic and just "there for the sake of being there," especially since Giant would win the match. Part of me wonders if maybe they let Luger win the title here and then things would've meant more in the coming months. But we'll get to that point later down the road.

And that was The Great American Bash 1996 Edition... couple sour points aside, a damned fine professional wrestling pay per view program and one of the best WCW shows I've come across even without the water of the seeds that would grow into the biggest angle in WCW's short history. Go watch this show. It's good.

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