And the NWA’s magnum opus.
Great American Bash 1989
Date: July 23, 1989
Location: Baltimore Arena, Baltimore Arena
Commentators: Bob Caudle, Tony Schiavone
So here it is. This is considered by many to be the greatest WCW/NWA PPV of all time. This is more of a card where it’s great because of all the combined totals but there are some solid individual matches here too, ranging from what is widely considered to be Luger’s best match ever to a War Games match to Flair vs. Funk for the title. All that being said, this is sadly the clipped version but only the first three matches are clipped so let’s get to it.
Triple Crown King of the Hill Battle Royal
Mike Rotunda, Kevin Sullivan, Bill Irwin, Ranger Ross, Brian Pillman, Scott Hall, Ron Simmons, Eddie Gilbert, Steve Williams, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Sid Vicious, Dan Spivey, Terry Gordy
It’s a battle royal so there isn’t much to say here really. This is clipped and I can’t say I’m complaining that much. When we get to the final two it’s a regular match apparently. No one out yet. Literally as I hit the period key Ross went over into ring two. Simmons goes as well as this is apparently a segregated match. Ross kicks the heck out of Simmons.
There isn’t much to call really as the first ring more or less means nothing at all. Thankfully Ross goes over everyone’s name so I hear the whole roster and they’re correct. Ross puts Simmons out for good. Hall, in a total 70s porn look, along with Gordy go to ring two. And so is Irwin. That should leave nine guys in ring one. We’re clipped to a ton of people in ring two.
Rick Steiner just walks into ring two. Ok with about seven guys going into ring two in less than 15 seconds we’re down to Sid vs. Pillman in ring one. Both Steiners are out as are Gilbert and Gordy among others. They’re FLYING through this. Ok so Scott isn’t out. Steiner that is. Sid wins ring one. We have Spivey, Rotunda and Williams in ring two. Dang this thing has been clipped a ton.
Williams left the Varsity Club so this is a glorified handicap match. Williams beats the tar out of Rotunda and hits a big old powerslam. Rotunda misses a clothesline and puts himself out so we have Williams vs. Spivey now. Williams is in Hogan colors right down to tights and kneepad colors.
He gets clotheslined out so we have Spivey and Sid, partners mind you, as the final two. And they say screw it and split the money. That’s either awesome or awful and I’m not sure which. No rating due to the clipping and the hard to review aspect of these kind of matches. Yes this is a copout.
Ad for the Danger Zone which is a video that the NWA put out. Ok then. Order now and you get a swimsuit calendar. From 1988. And it’s of the men. I’m not making this up.
Teddy Long, the manager of the Skyscrapers, as in the team that just won the match, accepts the check and says bring everyone on. Long has some messed up teeth. He doesn’t have any of his front teeth.
Brian Pillman vs. Bill Irwin
This is again clipped down from ten minutes to about two minutes and forty seconds. Pillman goes from climbing in the ring to hitting a head scissors and sweating badly. Baseball slide takes Irwin down and it’s all Pillman. We hear about how Pillman is going to be great barring a serious injury. That’s all too true. Long chinlock by Irwin as we kind of grind to a stop. There’s another clip as Brian is in big trouble. Ok not big but given that we’ve got about five minutes to work with I have to stretch at times.
Pillman gets thrown to the floor. Irwin misses a charge and all of a sudden is stomping on Pillman after he misses something which might have been a dropkick. Irwin throws him to the other ring…and we cut to Heyman in the back for an interview. I get that this is supposed to be clipped but come on. Pillman won with a cross body. No rating of course as we didn’t even get the ending. I think that’s a problem with my copy rather than the show though.
Paul isn’t concerned with winning his tuxedo match later on. He’s going to take Cornette out instead. Cornette has a bad knee. In other news, the sun came up today.
Dynamic Dudes vs. Skyscrapers
Jason Hervey is here. I hate that man. This was supposed to be clipped but apparently it isn’t which is kind of weird. For some reason Sid is just RIDICULOUSLY popular. Soon after this he would get pushed, so at least they were paying attention. Ross says that these guys in this company are REAL WRESTLERS, not guys with snakes or pets that lay under heat lamps, but really great athletes. Sid Vicious, Shane Douglas, and Dan Spivey are in this match. Ponder that for a minute.
Ross talks about basketball out of boredom I think, which is saying a lot as the match hadn’t started at that point. Johnny vs. Dan to start us off. The power team dominates here but some shenanigans get two off what was supposed to be a cross body but Ace wound up more or less doing a cartwheel. The Sid chant begins again and the pop for when he comes in is ridiculous.
Why does this guy get cheered EVERYWHERE he goes? The fans chant it again and of course they can’t acknowledge it. Powerbomb by Spivey takes down Shane as this is total dominance. Back to Sid for a big old pop. And he grabs…Shane’s back. Not an armbar or anything like that. He just grabbed his back and squeezed on it.
Johnny comes in and hits a top rope clothesline which gets him a grand total of nowhere. The Dudes make their comeback but a double spinebuster takes care of that. Spivey hits one of the worst powerbombs ever, more or less laying him down, to end Johnny. Sweet merciful crap that looked bad.
Rating: D. Boring match with the Dudes continuing to be about as worthless as possible. The Skyscrapers were an odd pairing as no one cared about Spivey but the vast majority of the audience loved Sid. This was about ten minutes of filler but it could have been worse I guess. Sid was always popular no matter how out there he was.
Cornette says his knee is messed up still but he’s going to win anyway. Oddly masculine promo here from Jim.
Jim Cornette vs. Paul E. Dangerously
This is a Tuxedo Match where you have to strip the opponent of the tux in order to win. It’s a men’s evening gown match in other words. This is a BIG feud as Dangerously had tried to copy Cornette’s every trademark but kept losing. All of Dangerously’s guys have been destroyed by Cornette’s so we’re left with this as the final blowoff.
Cornette throws a “punch” but gets powder thrown in his eyes. Paulie goes after the knee with his phone and both guys lose their jackets. Paul gets a punch to the….shoulder? More clothes come off as Jim makes his comeback. He can’t walk though so that doesn’t work that well. To the floor now and more knee shots from Paul. This is almost all Paul here.
Cornette freaking HULKS UP and Paul is in trouble. Caudle: “Let’s see some clothes come off here!” There goes the shirt…and down they both go. Well I’m glad they kept the momentum for that long. Paul goes for more powder, it goes into his face, there go his pants, they’re blue if you’re wondering, and he runs away as Cornette celebrates.
Rating: C+. Just a comedy match and nothing serious at all but it was fun and the right guy won it. Also Heyman being humiliated is always fun to see.
Gary Hart says Muta is ready.
Varsity Club vs. Steiner Brothers
This is under Texas Tornado rules and is Scott’s debut on PPV. Sullivan and Rotunda here as they’re all that’s left. The Steiners bring actual dogs with them. Kevin and Rick fight on the floor as this is of course just a massive brawl. Apparently this is no DQ also as Kevin rams Rick into a table and it’s all fine. Rick busts out a belly to belly in the ring though as Scott just destroys Mike.
Scott gets double teamed as they are flying through this. The evildoers get stereo twos as I’m liking this brawl style here. Rick brings in a chair or something like it and gets blasted in the head with it in a painful looking spot. Kevin picks up Rick for a slam but Scott comes off the top onto Rick’s back for a double splash more or less and the pin on Kevin. Total nonstop action here to coin a phrase.
Rating: B. This was incredibly fun. It was about four and a half minutes long, but this was very similar to the Nasty Boys vs. Cactus Jack/random partner matches in 94 as they just beat the fire out of each other from bell to bell. What more can you really ask for other than it being longer? This was the end of the Varsity Club as Rotunda left before coming back next year as a sailor while Sullivan hooked up with a bunch of crazy characters, one of which was a newcomer named Cactus Jack. You may have heard of him.
Sting respects Muta and is ready. Eddie Gilbert is ready too as he’s chilling with Sting apparently.
TV Title: Sting vs. Great Muta
Ok so more or less, Muta is the best in the world and everyone knows it. Sting is the only person in the company that is popular enough that the fans aren’t going to cheer for Muta for reasons of pure awesomeness. This was for all intents and purposes the feud that made Sting legit in the ring and not just the Goldberg of his era. People knew he could go based on the Flair match, but this is kind of recharging those theories as he needs to drop the TV Title to jump up to the big time. Who better to feud with than the best in the world?
The crowd is split to start. Gilbert is here to cancel out Hart which makes sense. We get an argument over which ring to fight in also. Sting is like screw it and gets a running start to dive over both sets of ropes to get a cross body on Muta. Sting goes after Hart so Muta dives off the top with a shot to the head. They are MOVING out there. It’s so weird to see Sting going this fast.
Moonsault misses so Muta kicks Sting in the head to send him to the floor and adds a pescado and Sting is in trouble. Sting is like screw that too and drills him with a top rope clothesline and a dropkick for two. This is AWESOME if you didn’t get that. Sleeper with a weird hand position by Muta has Sting in trouble again.
After a rope is grabbed Sting hits a big gorilla press but misses his big elbow and here comes Muta again. Back to the chinlock as both guys need air now. We get an abdominal stretch and some good old cheating by grabbing the ropes, even though I can’t see how that would increase the pressure.
Muta throws him to the floor and Sting pops up and is back in before two to pound on Muta some more. Handspring elbow misses and Sting is all fired up. Dropkick puts Muta down as they crank it up again. Ok so that lasted about a second as Muta hit the floor. Sting ducks the Mist and the referee is seeing red. Oh I kill myself sometimes.
Splash misses and Muta hits the longest moonsault I’ve ever seen for two as Young, a replacement referee, comes in and counts two. Sting gets a German out of nowhere for the pin but Muta might have gotten a shoulder up. The title was held up for about a month and a half before Muta won a rematch.
We get Muta celebrating with the title but the substitute referee says Sting is champion so it doesn’t matter. BIG bull crap chant but I’m not sure what they think that about. They’re cheering Sting’s hand being raised so I guess the belt being stolen.
Rating: B+. This was WAY too short as they were flying through this but dang it was fun. Sting and Muta had this insane chemistry together that few got with Sting but Muta certainly did. Muta was awesome because he was great in the ring but Sting had so much charisma that he didn’t know what to do half the time, but his in ring work was rising so rapidly that the fans went nuts ever time he was on camera. Great match and fun.
Luger talks about how the ratings don’t matter because he’s awesome. He had just turned heel a few weeks earlier destroying Steamboat. The idea is that only Luger doesn’t want the US Title match to be No DQ, as in he wants a straight match but Steamboat wants No DQ. Luger is scared but won’t say it.
US Title: Ricky Steamboat vs. Lex Luger
Steamboat brings a komodo dragon with him for no apparent reason. Luger is WAY over even though he’s the heel here as he’s against probably the purest face ever. Luger says either make it a standard match or he’s walking. The promoter comes in and says Steamboat is more or less stuck so he says screw it and goes with what Luger says, giving into the EVIL of the insanely popular guy that looks like a face if there ever was one.
Steamboat gets a fast rollup for two and then another one. Make it three as Steamboat is out moving him to start. We head to the floor and Luger just kills him with a clothesline. BIG chops take Luger back though as Steamboat is all fired up here. In a very funny spot, Luger yells at Young about the speed of the count and gets rolled up with Young rifling off a very fast two. Funny stuff.
They’re going back and forth with Steamboat never quitting but Luger just uses straight up power. Luger is trying as hard as he can to be the heel here but he’s far too popular for it to work. The problem is that he had one moment of evil but other than that he’s the same guy with just a bit more aggression.
Luger misses a clothesline (does he get paid per clothesline or something?) and hits the floor. Ross talks about the similarities between these two which might be a stretch to put it mildly. Steamboat takes over now and cranks it up one more time. Top rope chop puts Luger down again for two. Luger launches him into the other ring and goes to get a chair.
That’s a nice little thing as Luger is a hypocrite. Steamboat saves himself and catapults Luger into the corner while he’s still holding the chair. Steamboat gets the chair and fires the referee out of the ring for the DQ and then just massacres Luger with the chair as he tries to run away.
Rating: B-. I’ve heard people talk about how this is a great match and I really don’t get that. It’s good and it’s entertaining but it’s certainly not one of the best matches I’ve ever seen or even a great match. The storyline was good and all that jazz but this wasn’t a classic or anything close to it really. Good match and even quite good, but not epic or anything.
The Samoans and the Freebirds aren’t worried about the WarGames because they’re going to dominate. Garvin does the talking here which isn’t the best idea in the world to put it mildly. Hayes says they’re awesome too.
The Midnight Express say they have more than enough people watching their backs. Steve Williams is flying around behind them like Superman like Eugene would do. He says he wants Terry Gordy. Their final partners: the Road Warriors. This should be a massacre but a fun one. The Warriors say this is going to be dominance.
War Games: Freebirds/Samoan Swat Team vs. Road Warriors/Midnight Express/Steve Williams
In case you don’t know the rules: two guys start for five minutes and then we have a coin toss (the heels will win) and the winning team gets to send in another man for a two on one advantage. This lasts for two minutes until the losing team gets to tie it up at two. After two minutes the winning team goes up three to two. You alternate every two minutes until everyone is in there and when everyone is in there, it’s first submission wins it. No pins.
Eaton vs. Garvin starts us off. Williams is still in his Hogan attire here which makes me laugh. As JR puts it, it’s Beautiful vs. Gorgeous in WarGames which got a chuckle out of me. Garvin controls early but it’s not like it means anything. The Freebirds beat the Express in a tournament final to win the world tag titles so there’s your explanation for this part of the feud. This is more or less back and forth with nothing really to report on.
Dangerously, the Samoans’ manager, says that Hayes will be next about 10 times. Eaton controls for the most part and works on the back of the mullet-tastic Garvin before throwing on a Boston Crab. After Dangerously shouts about Hayes being in next, Terry Gordy comes in next. That’s another great example of a great heel manager. He didn’t accomplish anything but he lied his head off BECAUSE HE COULD. So simple yet so effective.
Gordy comes in and it goes badly for Eaton to put it mildly. Garvin has a glove and tape or something or his hand so this is mainly punching and stomping. He eats a lot of cage too as Garvin is mostly fine. Apparently Eaton failed in his mission to hurt him. Williams comes in to even things up and in one of the most mind blowing spot I’ve ever seen, he picks up Gordy, who is probably 290 at the least, and gorilla presses him EIGHT times into the cage. Just insane.
After some more choking the heels get us back to about even for Samu to come in as Eaton is more or less dead. Double fishhook on him by Garvin which is painful looking. Everyone is in one ring and they need to spread it out a bit. Eacon somehow gets back up and holds the heels off a bit until Animal ties it up again. Again they’re all in the same ring and it’s WAY too crowded in there.
Ah there we go as he and Samu head to the other ring. Much better. They hate each other because of a big beatdown the Samoans gave the Road Warriors and then they beat up Ellering, the Road Warriors’ manager. The Warriors cost the Samoans a spot in the finals of the tag tournament, which brings us here. Animal just destroys everyone as Fatu will be in next.
All six in the same ring still and it’s just stupid. There’s (Rikishi) Fatu to make it 4-3. The Samoans beat down Animal as Williams and Gordy are in the other ring now to space things out a bit. Eaton and Garvin are still fighting and here comes Stan Lane to even it up at four apiece again. That leaves Hayes and Hawk as the last two. The Samoans eat metal as Lane cleans house.
Dangerously to Hayes: Ok so when you go in you go over here. Hayes: I GOTTA GO IN???” Dangerously: There’s no one left! Hayes: *swears*. Funny stuff. There are 9 people in the match and 9 are in the same ring. Hayes DDTs everyone to take out the faces and then goes off into the other ring to taunt Hawk. The fans want Hawk with one minute left. Hayes drops Eaton with a hard left and here’s the bird man.
Now it’s first submission wins. Hawk cleans house as it is on in a big way. The faces are dominating here as was the custom in WarGames once everyone got in. Dangerously tries to force the phone through the cage and turns around to see a referee with his arms folded looking at him. I need some wawa music there.
Mainly just punching now with nothing of note as far as flow or anything but that’s a good thing here as there isn’t supposed to be anything remotely resembling order. Look at the first name of the match: WAR. Doomsday Device on Gordy is blocked so Hawk kills Garvin with a clothesline and works on his neck, throwing on a hangman (Hawk grabs Garvin for a reverse neckbreaker and lifts him onto his back in a neck crank/choke) which gets the submission to end it.
Rating: B+. Very solid battle in there which was exactly what this was supposed to be. It’s not a classic or one of the best ever but this was quite good for the point of blowing this feud completely off and have all the feuds in there at once. This was effective for what it was supposed to be and the match was as fun as ever. Good match.
Animal gets caught in the cage and the heels beat the living heck out of him for awhile.
Flair says he is ready but doesn’t know if he can do it. We’ll know in about an hour.
NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk
Funk comes out to the theme of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly which is kind of awesome. The idea is a basic revenge angle but the thing is that Funk might be able to do it because he’s just too tough to predict. Flair has the women with him which were always a nice touch. Funk stalls to start us off. Flair chases him to the floor and it’s on early.
Funk goes to the floor and hits the crowd almost immediately so Flair again shows impatience and goes after Funk some more. Funk throws in a chair and Flair is fine with that. Funk chops away with the left hand (his natural hand) which looks odd. He’s middle aged and crazy already here so what does that tell you about him still fighting today? He’s in good shape here though which is odd to see.
Funk stomps the head of Flair as this has been a big brawl so far. He slaps Flair which doesn’t get him punched in the jaw actually which was a bit surprising. Terry works on the neck and Flair is in trouble early on. Flair tries to suplex him to the floor but his knee buckles and both guys go down. BLISTERING chops by Flair which sound great. Somehow we’re only five minutes in.
He goes for the Piledriver (Ross calls it a suplex) and Flair counters to send him to the floor again. Now Flair goes for Funk’s neck to fight fire with more fire which wouldn’t be much of a fight when you think about it but you get the idea. Flair gets a Piledriver as this match is kind of all over the place, but that’s working very well for it here. He makes it two just because he can.
Funk throws punches which get him nowhere as Flair gets a running forearm that he used on occasion to put him right back down. There’s the Figure Four after no knee work so you know that’s not going to be it. Gary Hart throws Funk the branding iron and of course the referee sees it but would rather worry about the guy standing on the apron rather than the crazy man with the iron rod.
Flair is busted open from the shot to the head and there’s the Piledriver from Funk which only gets two as his foot is on the ropes. Naturally Funk wants broken bones to go with the blood he’s got coming out of Funk already so he hits the floor and pulls back the mats. Flair gets out of that as the referee runs away instead of trying to help the death move by Funk. Nice guy that Tommy Young.
A couple of neckbreakers have Flair in real trouble. Make that three. Well if it’s working why change anything? Funk wants Flair to give up (that would be the rematch) and Hart yells at him to just take the pin to get the title. Flair gets the branding iron and cracks it over Terry’s forehead which would likely crack his skull open but why should that stop Terry?
Both guys are busted open now as we hit fifteen minutes. Flair pounds away with about twenty punches in the corner. Running knee in the corner eats turnbuckle though and Funk goes to the spinning toe hold which is more or less Funk’s second finisher. Flair reverses it into one of his own but that is reversed into a cradle which is reversed into a cradle to give Flair the pin to retain.
Rating: A-. Solid match here with a massive brawl the whole way through. Flair fighting the entire time but then changing gears at the very end to surprise Funk with a rollup is perfect and shows that Flair can mix it up with the best of them. Funk was a legit threat to take the title here as if he hurt Flair again he could get the easy pin for the title. This worked and it worked very well.
Post match Muta, another of Hart’s men (he had quite the stable), comes in for the double beatdown as they try to piledrive him on the chair to really but Doug Dillenger, the head of WCW security, breaks it up. Sting runs down for the save, and there’s Halloween Havoc for you.
Overall Rating: B+. This is indeed a very good show, but to compare it to Mania X7 as the best show ever is just laughable really. It’s very good, but it’s simply not in the league for best show ever. I’d watch it again to check more into details of the show, but it’s not an epic show. This was more of a transitional show and more on par with one of today’s modern PPVs as it only really blew off the Varsity Club and to an extent the tag title feud. Again, very good show, but not one of the best ever.
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