A Blast from the Past

A Blast from the Past: Great American Bash 1987, 1990 and 2004

A look at three matches from The Great American Bash; the first is Wargames from 1987, the 2nd is Sting vs Ric Flair from 1990 and the final one is Eddie Guerrero vs JBL from 2004…

-Great American Bash 1987

War Games: Dusty Rhodes/Nikita Koloff/The Road Warriors/Paul Ellering vs. Ric Flair/Arn Anderson/Tully Blanchard/Lex Luger/The esteemed James J. Dillon.

1987, it was the year of Black Monday, Tiffany danced her way through shopping centres and into our hearts, Bon Jovi were Livin’ On a Prayer and Patrick Swayze was Dirty Dancing. It was also an important year in wrestling history. Hulk Hogan lifted the 8000lb, 27 feet tall Andre The Giant, spun him around on the tip of his finger like a basketball, started juggling Andre, Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, the referee and the first 16 rows, slammed the 9000Lb, 28 feet tall Andre (who had boulders for fists, could shoot bullets from his eyes and had a man eating shark for a penis) through the ring, through the surface of the Earth and into the Earth’s core. Andre then of course passed away a couple days later and was replaced on TV for the next 4 years by his twin brother Cecil. 1987 also marked the birth of the War Games match.

Da Mehcan Dweam Dusty Rhodes: 3 time World Champion, the little plumber’s son that came out of the ditch at 8 years old and became so sweet, 265lbs of blue eyes soul that captivated a country. He was the man of the hour, the man with the power, the hit maker, the record breaker, he had style and grace and a lovely space. He could make your back crack, your liver quiver, if you don’t like that mess, you’re at the wrong address. While all the wrestlers in the back were laughing and joking, the Dream was out front cooking and smoking. He wined and dined with Kings and Queens, slept in alleys and dined on pork and beans. He didn’t look the athlete of the day was supposed to look, his belly was just a little big, his heiny was just a little big, but brother he was bad and they knew he was bad. As well as being all of these things and more, Dusty Rhodes had a great mind for the wrestling business and was very creative, granted some of his ideas were bad but he did create some great things, the fruit of his loins, Dustin Rhodes for instance. But perhaps his greatest creation was a concept known as War Games and the very first one was at Great American Bash 1987.

Rules should be well known, so I won’t go over them. If you don’t know the rules search for the ‘War Games rule book’ in Google. Ok I just made that up, but anyway. The sound on my copy of the match isn’t great, but my TV still shakes from the crowd noise. When you can’t hear the commentators talk throughout the match, that’s noise daddy. You simply do not get crowd heat like this on a consistent basis these days. Wrestling has lost its magic I guess. Arn and Dusty start and they’re in for a 5 minute period. Arn gets his ass kicked and stooges for most of the period of course, it is Dusty after all. Dusty is all ‘You can be a wino off the street, you can be a lady of the evening, you can be whatever you wanna be, a doctor, a lawyer or an Indian Chief, but you can’t be the American Dream. There is one American Dream’. Arn gets his ass kicked some more and is busted open after about 2 minutes.

Heels win the coin toss of course and Tully is in next. Dusty kicks his ass too before finally going down to a kick in his ample belly welly. They beat the snot out of The Dream for the remainder of the period.

Animal is in next and dead lifts Tully before Slingshotting him into the cage in what is a feat of strength bettered only by me giving a fat chick called Fatty McFattington a piggy back outside a bar in Derry. True story and yes that was her real name. You literally cannot hear Jim Ross shouting at this point. Tully becomes acquainted with Big Daddy Cage and Mr. Fist some more.

The Man is in next but Animal no sells some chops before the Horsemen take over. Animal and Dusty are now also bleeding.

The recently turned Nikita Koloff is in next to dish out some ass kickings old country way. Nikita is all ‘If he dies, he dies’, Dusty is all ‘That’s hard times’, The Horsemen are all ‘Ah crap’, the crowd is all ‘YEEAAAAAHHHHH’, Jim Ross is all ‘………..’, I’m all ‘What the hell did Jim Ross just say?’

Lex Luger is in and he’s all ‘I DON’T KKKKNNNNNOOOOWWWWWW’. Koloff takes two, count them, TWO Spiked Piledrivers and he is dead (not literally) and Dusty ever the gallant and one hell of a model citizen dives on top of him to protect him, however if Nikita was dead after the Piledrivers, Dusty jumping on top of him gave him the Last Rites, put the final nail in the coffin and put him in the ground.

Crowd is begging for Hawk and he is in to beat the Horsemen like red headed step kids. But wait; there is help on the way, the man, the myth, the legend, the baddest of the bad…James J. Dillon. He tries to beat up Hawk which works about as well as a chocolate fireguard. Although Dusty could eat the fireguard I suppose. Meanwhile Flair is busted open. It’s Ric Flair, what did you expect? Dusty is all ‘The Four Horsemen, they need to ride on another planet cause I reserved the stratosphere for me and you’. Ellering in and NOW the match can begin. You win by making your opponent quit. JJ Dillon gets murderised by The Road Warriors as their teammates keep the rest of the Horsemen at bay. They kill JJ (possibly literally) with the Doomsday Device; JJ lands on his shoulder and gives up.

War Games has produced a number of absolutely fantastic, heated, bloody brawls, this one is my own personal favourite and is one of the true all time classic matches. Just a great brawl involving wrestlers that hated each other in front of a super hot crowd. Dusty Rhodes, we salute you sir. Living on the end of a lightning bolt.

-Great American Bash 1990

WCW Title: Sting vs. Ric Flair (c)

One of the most famous and long term rivalries in wrestling history was Sting vs. Ric Flair and this is probably the most famous match between the two. This also marks the first time Sting won the World Title. He was scheduled to win it earlier than this but blew his knee out and Flair promised he would drop the title to him when Sting returned. Sting was in The Four Horsemen for a period but stupidly challenged Flair for the title and in a tremendous segment the Horsemen turned on Sting and kicked him out of the group. Sting hates Flair, Flair hates Sting, Sting wants belt, Flair has belt. 1990 wasn’t exactly a high point for the promotion especially coming off a great 1989 but here it is: Sting vs. Ric Flair, Great American Bash 1990 for YOUR WCW World Heavyweight Title.

The HA Dudes with Attitude are surrounding the ring to prevent interference from The Horsemen. Dudes with Attitude are reason No. 713b why babyface stables in general stink. Babyfaces shouldn’t need backup. Ole Anderson will also be handcuffed to snigger El Gigante by order of Ric Flair’s bestest friend in the whole wide world, Jim Herd. YOUR commentators are Jim Ross and Bob Caudle, YOUR ring announcer is Gary Michael Cappetta, YOUR referee is Nick Patrick and YOUR Champion is great. Flair chops Sting, you can probably guess what happens next. Sting kicks his ass in the ring, on the aisle, in the concession stand, backstage, outside the arena, on a bridge, in the river, in a bar and back in the ring but Flair scores with the Greco Roman thumb to the eye. Never fails. Sting no sells a Vertical Suplex and kicks Flair’s ass some more.

Ross and Caudle discuss Sting’s knee injury, stupidly jinxing him and Flair goes straight for it. He may as well have just worn a big sign on it saying ‘Hit me’. Flair finally takes control of the match as the HA Dudes with Attitude try to rally the crowd behind Sting. Flair misses a Knee Drop, Sting puts him in the Figure 4. Oh the irony, the vicious and delicious irony. Outside Sting no sells getting whipped into the barricade and Flair begs off again. Flair goes up top. I’ll give you three guesses what happens next, If you said Flair gets slammed off, congratulations, you have won a special prize which is winging it’s way to your door as we speak*, if you said Flair hits a move from the top rope, then you’re an idiot. Flair works on the Bullseye that is the knee. Unfortunately in this game, the loser doesn’t get his Busfare Home. Sting makes a comeback, eventually locking in the Scorpian Deathlock. The Horsemen try to storm the ring with SID in a rather fetching pair of shorts, but are kept at bay by The HA Dudes with Attitude (seriously even the name sucks. Orndorff was way past his prime, JYD was WAY past his prime and had probably the worst match with Flair in history. Yeah it had The Steiners and Sting but…ah it just sucked. End of story) Sting no sells more choppage but hits his knee in the corner after a Stinger Splash attempt, Flair smells blood, attempts the Figure 4 but Sting reverses it into a Small Package for the win to a huge pop to become YOUR new World Champion.

Sting and Lex Luger. They were the two that were earmarked as the guys to lead WCW into the 1990s. Flair wasn’t really feeling putting over Luger because he cared more about what he looked like in an 8X10 than he did about wrestling. Flair favoured Sting instead and in hindsight he made the right choice. Sting would go on to become the top babyface in WCW for most of the next decade. This match isn’t great, I mean it isn’t a stinkfest or anything, but it isn’t the best match the two ever had against each other. It was basically the formulaic, York Notes version of Flair vs. Sting. Sting no sells, Flair begs off, Sting kicks his ass, Flair gets a bit of offense in, wash, rinse, repeat. Still it was Sting winning his first World Title. Things would however get a bit darker for Sting after this. The Black Scorpian was on his way. Ah, good old Ole Anderson.

*Prize may not actually exist.

-Great American Bash 2004

WWE Title. Bullrope Match: JBL vs. Eddie Guerrero (c)

Here it is, the match in which they put the belt on a guy hotshotted into the main event that was jobbing in midcard tag matches against Rikishi and Scotty just a few months earlier, the match that began the near one year title reign of JBL. Everyone was up in arms about it at the time. I don’t quite think they should have put the belt on him and had him main eventing PPVs and from a business standpoint it was a failure, however he developed into a very entertaining wrestler. Great heel, great on the mic and good in the ring. His improvement in ring, for the most part, came from working with Eddie Guerrero and the three main singles matches they had on TV or PPV (Judgment Day, this one and the cage match on Smackdown) were all really good matches. Bradshaw is Bradshaw one week, shows up the next week as JBL, beats up Eddie and it starts from there. JBL trying to keep Mexicans out of America, JBL being to blame for Eddie’s mother’s heart problems, a tremendous hate filled, emotional, bloody match at Judgment Day and now this Bullrope match at Great American Bash 2004.

Bullrope is billed as JBL’s match, Eddie gets a big chant before the match and you can feel the hatred. They finally are connected up, winner has to touch all four corners. Eddie beats him back to the APA to start and chokes him. JBL uses the cowbell on his knee. That works I guess, why trade holds when you could just nail some poor sap with a cowbell? JBL gets two corners but Eddie kicks his ass to break it up. JBL hooks the bottom rope to prevent Eddie touching the corner. JBL knocks his lights out (in more ways than one) and wipes him with the rope. Cowbell upside the grill, which I believe was a move invented by the great Karl Gotch. Outside, JBL goes for a Powerbomb on the table but Eddie sweeps him and beats him back to Justin Hawk.

In a nice spot Eddie uses the rope to pull JBL into the ring post. Eddie gets thrown onto the table and as Cole says ‘almost into my lap’. Yeah you wish, keep that stuff between you and your boyfriend. Eddie kills him (not literally) with a chair in an ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ moment playing off what happened at Judgment Day. JBL is busted open so Eddie nails him with the chair again just because. 3 Amigos (Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms and Ned Nederlander) and he goes to the top as Cole wonders where Eddie is going. Someone get him some Eddie Guerrero tapes. To the surprise of Cole and no one else, Eddie hits the Frog Splash and gets 3 corners but JBL smartly rolls outside.

Eddie kicks his ass some more but gets tossed from the ring apron onto the, according to Cole, ‘almost concrete like’ announce table. Man I’d hate to have him build the foundations of a house for someone if he thinks wood is ‘almost concrete like’. What does that make wood then? Almost marshmallow like? But then he always had trouble with things like that. The ring steps weight ‘1000lbs’, the stage is ‘30feet high’, Triple H is a ‘great wrestler’. JBL Powerbombs Eddie onto the ‘almost concrete like’ announce table which then collapses. So Eddie must weigh a billion pounds then. Back in the ring JBL hits him with the cowbell. Man, if wood is ‘almost concrete like’ think how much damage a cowbell could do to the human body. JBL gets three corners, Eddie again stops it and Low Blows JBL back to Blackjack Bradshaw before whipping him back to The Acolytes. Eddie gets three corners but JBL follows him and also touches the corners. Eddie dives and gets the fourth corner to retain the title…but wait, in a shocking twist, Professor Charles Xavier takes time out from his busy schedule leading the X-Men to point out that JBL touched the fourth corner first, making him YOUR new WWE Champion and starting one of the most criticised title reigns in history.

Stipulations for a Bullrope match like this are pretty goofy but sometimes it can be pulled off well (Vader vs. Sting for instance. Ok that was a strap match, but same thing.) and this was one of those occasions. Not quite as good as the Judgment Day match but still a really good brawl. Shame that Great American Bash 2004 is looked upon in such a negative light because it has two really good matches on the card (Chavo Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio being the other one), granted the rest of the card does absolutely stink big, giant stinkbombs that were shoved up a skunk’s rectum and dipped in horse manure but those two matches are often overlooked. Everyone knows the story about JBL doing the Nazi salute in Germany in the weeks leading up to this causing a lot of controversy. His punishment? The WWE Title. Randy Orton gets suspended allegedly for disciplinary reasons and then gets rewarded by being put in a program with the biggest star in wrestling history. It’s just the way the WWE works.