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wrestling / Video Reviews

The SmarK Retro Repost – Great American Bash ’96

August 10, 2002 | Posted by Scott Keith

– Part One: The Netcop Retro Rant for Great American Bash 96

– Sgt. Craig Pittman presents the American flag to start out.

– Live from Baltimore, Maryland.

– Your hosts are Tony Schiavone and Dusty Rhodes. Tony offers condolences over the death of Dick Murdoch, and Dusty blows it off.

– Opening match: Fire & Ice v. The Steiner Brothers. Fire is current nWo B-teamer Scott Norton, and Ice is the big fat black guy Ice Train. Special stipulation: There must be a winner. I wish that stip was in all matches. Juice Train controls Scott with some power stuff to start. He’s really, really, terrible, btw. Think D-Von Dudley on juice. Norton gets on my nerves by no-selling a bunch of Rick’s stuff. Rick hits a killer clothesline and belly-to-belly for two, however. Scott tags in and hurts his shoulder to become Ricky Morton. Crowd is getting into it for some reason. Scott comes back and nearly does the world a huge favor by breaking Norton’s neck on a backdrop suplex. Oh well, maybe next time. Norton comes back by no-selling some stuff to move into his only useful mode: Offense. You know, there’s a really interesting article at www.ew.com about wrestling, and it says that Scott is 31, which would make Rick 32. That means that the Steiners won their first tag titles when Scott was only 21! The PWI Almanac puts Scott’s age at 37, however, which sounds more sensible. Anyway, Rick gets the hot tag, but Fire & Ice end up hitting their powerbomb splash combo for two. Scott makes the save. They go for a Doomsday Device, but Scott makes the save again. Steiners get the super bulldog but Train makes the save. Scott hits a massively ugly Frankensteiner on Norton for the pin. No resting makes Scott a happy Netcop. **1/2

– Mean Gene interviews Kevin Sullivan, who runs down Brian Pillman.

– US title match: Gonnad v. El Gato. El Gato is of course Spanish for “Pat Tanaka”. This was absolutely the low point for the US title, as Gonnad brought the luchadores into WCW and was given a heatless run as the US champion as his reward. This is also, by the way, exactly the reason why I hate him so much. This is a boring mismatch as Gato controls with some dull submission moves. The first big spot comes as Gato is on the ring apron and Gonnad sunset flips to the floor, thus powerbombing Gato on the floor. He must have injured himself badly on the move, because we go into the ring FAST and Gonnad finishes it with a rollup. *1/4

– Sting has a special message for Steven Regal. He was halfway between hyperactive goofball and long-haired weirdo at this point. He’s wearing pink and black facepaint…is this a secret plot with Bret Hart? TUNE INTO NITRO TO FOUND OUT!

– Blood Runs Cold promo.

– Lord of the Ring match: Diamond Dallas Page v. Marcus “Not Buff” Bagwell. In a hugely ironic moment, Page uses cheap heat tactics to insult the crowd before the match, ala Scott Steiner. Et tu, DDP? Bagwell was in the last vestiges of the American Males period before turning heel. Brawl outside the ring to start, and Bagwell controls when he get into the ring. Bagwell hits a nice pescado (standing slingshot over the top rope to a guy on the floor, for the benefit of someone who e-mailed me about it recently). Bagwell blows a move off the top and DDP takes over. A mean “blows” in the storyline sense, not the “smart” one, btw. Oh no, it’s the ABDOMINAL STRETCH OF SEVERE DISCOMFORT! You can break a nail with that. Tilt-a-whirl slam for two. Bagwell comes back with a both-ways-atomic-drop combo. DDP’s exagerrated selling is ridiculous. Bagwell slingshots into the ring with a clothesline for two. I like Stan Lane’s version better. Bagwell runs into an elbow on a blind charge, and DDP gets a couple of twos with his feet on the ropes. Bagwell comes back again and tries the fisherman’s suplex, but it’s about 7 inches away from the ropes so DDP holds on to block, then applies the Diamond Cutter for the pin. Eh. **

– Giant interview. Pretty cliched stuff.

– WCW Cruiserweight title match: Deano Machino v. Rey Mysterio Jr. This is Rey Jr’s debut. Tenay is doing commentary and notes that this is the first ever meeting between these two. Tony wonders if Rey can live up to the hype. Yeah, whatever happened to that Rey Mysterio guy, anyway? Slow matwork start, then we GO BABY GO! Rey armdrags Dean to the floor, then debuts his springboard dropkick. Beautiful sequence allows Rey to hit a sunset flip, but Dean rolls through and slingshots Rey out of the ring. Rey moves out of the way of a baseball slide. Dean viciously injures Rey’s arm and then goes to work. Rey walks to the top rope and dropkicks out of an armbar, then does a flip out of a powerbomb, only to get clotheslined for two. Malenko continues working on the arm as Tenay mentions Eddy Guerrero beating Jushin Liger to win the Best of the Super J tourney for 1996. Never did get a copy of that show, oddly enough. More vicious working on the arm. Tony begins a grand tradition by talking about the nWo (not called such yet) during a cruiserweight match. Sigh. Fans are getting restless with all the mat work. Malenko turns it up with a butterfly suplex for two, then goes back to the arm, pissing off the fans. Rey finally counters and sends Malenko to the floor, then nails a somersault tope to wake up the crowd. He springboards back in with a dropkick for two. They do a complex pinning reversal sequence that ends with Mysterio getting two. Mysterio gets the rana-rollup for two. Malenko catches him on the top rope, however, but Mysterio hits another rana off the top. Malenko goes for a tilt-a-whirl but Rey falls on top for two. Malenko powerbombs Rey and puts his feet on the ropes for good measure and gets the pin. Now *this* is the character that Dean needs to go back to. **** Great debut for Rey.

– Big Bubba v. John Tenta. Bubba is dressed like a gay biker. The issue here is that Bubba shaved half the hair of Tenta to boot him out of the Dungeon of Doom. Compelling stuff, folks. Yup. Yessiree. You betcha. Bubba was actually halfway motivated at this point. But then, half of sucky is still sucky. Tenta catches Bubba with a powerslam and gets the pin. -**

– Mean Gene interviews Team Football: Steve MacMichael and Kevin Greene, along with wives Debra and whoever Kevin’s wife is. How unbelievably apropos for the bizarre world of wrestling that friggin’ DEBRA would become the biggest star of them all.

– Falls Count Anywhere: Chris Benoit v. Kevin Sullivan. The Horsemen were seemingly falling apart at this point, with Sullivan trying to recruit Arn Anderson for the Dungeon, and Pillman departing for the WWF. So Benoit took over for Pillman against Sullivan. We go fighting into the crowd right away, and fight up the stands. Boy, do you get the idea that these guys don’t like each other? Sullivan drags Benoit up the stairs and they fight into the men’s room. He slams a stall door in Benoit’s face as Tony and Dusty nearly have a coronary. Vicious shots with the door. Dusty is truly in his glory here. Tony: “HEAD FIRST TO THE COMMODE!” Benoit comes back and slams Sullivan into the doors as Dusty reels off his famous catchphrase: “There’s a lady! There’s a lady in the men’s bathroom!” Sullivan dumps a bag of toilet paper on Benoit and then a garbage can gets involved. They fight back to the stairs, and Tony notes that if someone falls, they fall bigtime. As if on cue, Benoit takes a shot to the head and then gets tossed down the stairs. Sullivan kicks him square in the nuts for good measure, then crotches him on the railing. Benoit returns the favor. He retrieves a table from below the ring after a couple of tries, and sets it up in the corner. Sullivan misses a charge to the corner and hits it…and it doesn’t break. Wow, high quality. Benoit puts it on the top rope, but gets backdropped onto it. They fight to the top, and Benoit gets a superplex, for the pin. HUGE pop for that. Benoit slaps Sullivan around, and Arn Anderson runs out to make the save…then turns on Sullivan! Horsemen beatdown ensues and the roof nearly blows off the place. 10 points for effort, plus several million for originality. *****

– Gene the lecher cuddles with Woman and Liz, then interviews the reunited Horsemen. Bobby Heenan managing the Horsemen is just so…right. It’s a shame it was aborted after the nWo thing started. But wait, there’s still only THREE Horsemen, isn’t there?

– Lord Steven Regal v. Sting. Sting and Luger were the tag champions at this point. Regal goes right to work with dickish submission moves after getting kicked out of the ring. Sting comes back so Regal rolls up and badmouths the fans. Regal offers a handshake to Sting with a big goofy grin on his face. Regal’s facial expressions are priceless. They trade some stuff, with Regal retaining control. Regal looks to be wrestling a lot stiffer than usual for some reason, just generally being a jerk. Regal works on the arm and neck, and builds to finally hitting the Regal Stretch. Sting breaks and makes the Superman Comeback, hitting the Stinger Splash and deathlock for the submission. This was pretty much Sting’s last good match. ***3/4

– Ric Flair & Arn Anderson v. Steve MacMichael & Kevin Greene. The Horsemen are “coached” by Heenan, while the football players have Randy Savage. Mongo had been doing color commentary on Nitro before this. Crowd starts a “Mongo sucks” chant. Tony relates a story about Mongo signing with Bear arch-rivals the Packers for the money, a bit of foreshadowing that is nearly unheard of for WCW announcers. Arn and Mongo do a three-point stance, which leads to a drop toehold from Arn when Mongo charges. Smart move. The football players get AA in the corner and stomp him. Greene tags in and spazzes out, while the Horsemen calmly stall. Total mind-games from the Horsemen. Flair tricks Greene into going into the three-point stance, then kicks him in the head. Great stuff. Greene cleans house with shoulderblocks and the Horsemen bail. Savage drags them back. Greene dominates Flair with clotheslines, looking pretty okay. Mongo tags in and dominates Flair, looking less okay. He puts the figure-four on Flair and the place explodes. The wives and the Horsemen women nearly get into a catfight, but they run back to the dressing room. In the aftermath, Mongo gets beat on by the Horsemen and his knee injured. Crowd starts a “weasel” chant for old times’ sake, so he obliges with a cheap shot on Mongo. Mongo chokes out Flair, who retaliates with a ballshot. This is so classic. Horsemen with a double suplex on Mongo for two. Mongo atomic drops Arn into Flair and makes the hot tag to Greene. Greene cleans house, again looking decent. Flair flips right into a big boot from Mongo. Greene celebrates like a goof, so Arn clips him from behind and pounds on his knee. Flair goes for the figure-four and Greene cradles for two. But inevitably Flair does get the move, and Arn lends a helping hand. Benoit hits the ring to attack Savage as Greene fights to escape. Debra returns from the dressing room with the Devilish Women, wearing an evening gown and carrying the infamous Haliburton full of money. Mongo thinks it over for a minute, then takes the money and wallops his partner, allowing Flair to get the pin. Wild, wild, booking and that took more balls than I thought anyone in WCW had. Horsemen Beatdown #2938 proceeds full steam ahead on Randy Savage, with Heenan calling the shots. Mongo is thus officially inducted as the Fourth Horseman. The crowd, who was cheering the heels at the beginning, completely turns on them by the end. Just absolutely brilliant. Match sucked, of course. **

– Then, in the moment that completely turned WCW from an also-ran into the #1 force in sports entertainment, Eric Bischoff brings out the Outsiders, who still aren’t even named at this point. Crowd chants “Diesel” at Nash. Bischoff sets up the six-man at Bash at the Beach, with the Outsiders and a mystery parter against Randy Savage, Sting and Lex Luger. Bischoff refuses to name the WCW team members, however, so Nash powerbombs Bischoff THROUGH A TABLE! This is still so glorious to watch today. Massive heat for Hall and Nash because of this. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the nWo era, as all the old guard of WCW are systemically flushed away and the WWF refugees literally take over, on-screen and off.

– Main event, WCW World title: The Giant v. Lex Luger. Luger is the TV champion and half of the tag champs at this point. The crowd is notably distracted after that last bit. Lex runs right into a big boot to start. Luger comes back with a series of clotheslines, sending Giant to the floor. He hammers away and applies a sleeper, so Jimmy Hart jumps onto the ring apron to try to nail Luger. Sting comes out to stop him and chases him back to the dressing room. Giant escapes and s.l.o.w.l.y works over Lex. Luger makes the comeback and tries the rack, but his back gives way and Giant hits AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATHECHOKESLAM for the pin. *

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