Last week we looked back at one of WCW’s greatest PPV events of all-time, Bash at the Beach ’96. This week Throwback Thursday on WrestlingDVDNetwork.com takes a look at arguably the worst PPV in WCW history (and maybe of all time), the 1991 Great American Bash that took place 25 years ago today, thanks to, you guessed it, the WWE Network.
To be clear, this event didn’t start out a train wreck. However, when Ric Flair and then-Executive V.P. of WCW Jim Herd couldn’t agree on a contract (among other things) Herd fired Flair, refused to pay back the $25,000 deposit for the Big Gold Belt, and lost both. With Flair gone, Windham was taken out of the 6-person Hyatt/Dangerously cage match and paired with Luger for the vacant title.
Context is nearly non-existent on the Network. All prior PPVs are available, but only Clash of the Champions XV: Knocksville USA gives any real insight to this card, and that’s not saying much.
WCW The Great American Bash 1991 (WATCH)
Date: July 14, 1991; Location: Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
Attendance: 7,000; Buyrate: 1.00 (145,000)
Commentators: Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone
Interviews: Eric Bischoff
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: VACANT
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: Lex Luger
WCW World Tag Team Champions: The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott)
WCW Unites States Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “P.S.” Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin)
WCW World Six-Man Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “P.S.” Hayes, Jimmy “Jam” Garvin) & Badstreet
WCW World Television Champion: “Stunning” Steve Austin
A camera walks its way into the building from the street to the ticket counter, ushering us into the arena where pyro and graphics welcome us to Great American Bash ’91. There’s no introduction by the commentators, it’s right to the ring for action.
— “Capture-the-Flag Scaffold Match – The Skywalkers II” (WATCH – 1:17)
P.N. News & “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton vs. “The Computerized Man of the 1990s” Terrence Taylor & “Stunning” Steve Austin (WCW World Television Champion) w/Lady Blossom
This is announced as “The Skywalkers II” but it’s anything but (NWA ran 23-plus “Scaffold Matches” between ’86 and ’88). After some sloppy brawling, Eaton grabs Taylor and Austin’s flag for the win at 6:18. The two teams brawl down the scaffolding, take some less than spectacular bumps, and call it a night. Though the crowd was into it, J.R. and Schiavone are speechless. This would be (big surprise) the last “Scaffold Match” in WCW for over 9 years.
WINNERS are P.N. News & “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton (Captured the Flag, 6:18)
We get a lot of fluff while the scaffolding is be taken down. J.R. and Schiavone discuss Flair turning down WCW’s final offer and try to spin the debacle as a “new era” in WCW. Meanwhile, Eric Bischoff, making his WCW PPV debut, interviews Paul E. Dangerously and Arn Anderson about the mixed-person steel cage main event.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 20:07)
The Diamond Studd w/Diamond Dallas Page vs. “The Z-Man” Tom Zenk
The Diamond Studd (Scott Hall) was the hot new star in WCW. This match isn’t very good. A lot of punching and kicking and not much wrestling, though the crowd is into it. Studd’s “Diamond Death Drop” gets a lot of talk, but we don’t get to see it. Instead, after some DDP interference, Studd hits a belly-to-back suplex with a bridge for the pin at 6:57.
WINNER is The Diamond Studd w/Diamond Dallas Page (Pin, 6:57)
— Singles Match (WATCH – 31:42)
Oz w/The Great Wizard vs. “The All American” Ron Simmons
This marked the third and final televised match for Kevin Nash as “Oz” and Kevin Sullivan as “The Great Wizard”. The crowd is all but dead for this one. Unbelievably, this match draws the first “boring” chants of the night. After some very slow action Simmons hits a couple running football tackles, knocks the Great Wizard down, and hits Oz with the running shoulder block for the pin at 10:56.
WINNER is “The All American” Ron Simmons (Pin, 10:56)
Next up we get the WCW Top Ten: 10) Johnny B. Badd; 9) Ron Simmons; 8) Diamond Studd; 7) El Gigante; 6) Arn Anderson; 5) “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton; 4) WCW World Television Champion “Stunning” Steve Austin; 3) Sting; 2) Barry Windham; 1) WCW U.S. Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 45:21)
Robert Gibson vs. Richard Morton w/Alexandra York
Richard Morton joined the York Foundation (1:30:14) at COTC XV, turning on longtime partner Robert Gibson. This one starts as a fight on the ramp before going into the ring, but that’s as hot as this one gets. Like Flair/Anderson in ’95, fans weren’t all that interested in seeing these old friends fight. The story is Gibson’s knee, but it’s done to the point of being meaningless. After both men miss dropkicks on the ramp York distracts the referee while Morton blasts Gibson with the computer for the pin at 17:24.
WINNER is Richard Morton w/Alexandr York (Pin, 17:24)
Next we get a promo from The Young Pistols and Dustin Rhodes about the upcoming 6-man match.
— “Non-Title 6-Man Tag Team Elimination Match” (WATCH – 1:06:08)
The Young Pistols (Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong) & “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “P.S.” Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin) (WCW United States Tag Team Champions) & Badstreet (WCW World Six-Man Tag Team Champions) w/Big Daddy Dink
This is the best match on the card. The Young Pistols and The Freebirds had been locked in a long feud that included facing off in at SuperBrawl for the vacant WCW U.S. Tag titles, the very match Brad Armstrong debuted as “Badstreet” (“Fantasia” at the time). Despite the titles not being on the line, the crowd is into it. While trying to unmask Badstreet, Steve Armstrong is caught, eliminated by a Hayes/Badstreet double DDT at 13:44. Moments later Hayes DQs himself after sending Tracy over the top rope at 13:54, making it two-on-two. While the referee is distracted, Tracy is wiped out with a Badstreet/Garvin double DDT and pinned at 15:20, leaving Dustin all alone. Seconds later, Dustin eliminates Garvin with a clothesline at 15:29. Badstreet and Rhodes battle until Rhodes hits the running bulldog for the pin at 17:40.
WINNERS are The Young Pistols (Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong) & “The Natural” Dustin Rhodes (Pin, 17:40)
— “Bounty Match for Yellow Dog’s Mask” (WATCH – 1:26:35)
The Yellow Dog w/a yellow dog vs. Johnny B. Badd w/Theodore R. Long
Thin one is all about Yellow Dog being Brian Pillman a la JYD/Stagger Lee. Should Pillman, who lost a “Loser Leaves WCW” match (53:04) at COTC XV, be revealed to be under the mask, “Flyin'” Brian would be banned for life from WCW. This is another decent match that the crowd is into, but it doesn’t have time to develop. Pillman is close to pinning Badd when Teddy Long runs in fors the DQ at 6:10. Badd hits Dog with the big left hand post-match and the two stare each other down.
WINNER is Yellow Dog (Disqualification, 6:10)
Backstage Eric Bischoff attempts to interview Missy Hyatt in her locker room, but she’s in the shower. That’s okay, Bischoff just walks in anyways. Looking like a horny, pre-teen dweeb, Eric goes in the everloving shower! Missy calls him a peeping Tom and throws things as Bischoff flees the locker room, apparently shocked that Missy is upset. Schiavone and J.R. seem to think Bischoff was lucky to get the assignment. Ah, the ’90s… when sexual harassment was awesome.
— “Lumberjack Match” (WATCH – 1:38:48)
Big Josh vs. Blackblood
This is just an awful match. Though Big Josh (the late Matt Borne) looks pretty good despite the terrible circumstances, Blackblood (Billy Jack Haynes) has seen better days. It doesn’t take long for this thing to break down. In the midst of the brawling, which they botch the first time, Dustin Rhodes hits Blackblood in the knee Big Josh’s axe handle. Big Josh rolls Blackblood up in an inside cradle for the pin at 5:40.
WINNER is Big Josh (Pin, 5:40)
Eric Bischoff interviews Kevin Sullivan and One Man Gang as they come to the ring. Lots of ‘Plateau of Fear’, ‘River of the Dead’, and ‘Lady of the Third Eye’ talk.
— “Come as You Are Battle of the Giants” (WATCH – 1:47:56)
One Man Gang w/Kevin Sullivan vs. El Gigante w/midgets
J.R. and Schiavone talk about how improved El Gigante is but he looks as bad as ever. El Gigante’s selling is hilariously terrible, making David Arquette look like Bret Hart. El Gigante kicks powder into Gang’s face and follows up with a clothesline for the pin at 6:14.
WINNER is El Gigante (Pin, 6:14)
J.R. and Schiavone discuss the forthcoming “Russian Chain Match” and a vignette airs.
— “Russian Chain Match” (WATCH – 1:58:43)
“The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff vs. Sting
This one got started at SuperBrawl after Koloff nailed Sting with the chain by mistake. At June’s COTC XV Sting defeated Koloff (34:48) before Koloff, later that night, attacked Sting (1:17:23) as “Stinger” celebrated with a Sting look-alike contest winner. This was expected to be a wild brawl but the brawl never really developed. As far as “Chain Matches” go, this one isn’t that bad. Both men end up touching the corners at the same time, in the end, but Sting pushes Koloff into the last turnbuckle to give Nikita the win at 11:38. After the match the two continue to fight with Sting coming out on top.
WINNER is “The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff (11:38)
A short vignette is shown highlighting both Lex Luger and Barry Windham. As the lopsided cage is being lowered J.R. and Schiavone talk about the match while the first massive chants of “We Want Flair” begin.
— Vacant WCW World Heavyweight Championship – “Steel Cage Match” (WATCH – 2:18:44)
Barry Windham vs. Lex Luger (WCW United States Heavyweight Champion)
A new title belt wasn’t ready so an old Championship Wrestling from Florida strap, with a plate covering the top, is the prize in this one. Lex Luger originally earned this title opportunity after defeating The Great Muta (1:21:03) at June’s COTC XV. The crowd continues to chant for Flair throughout the match. The crowd wants to like this match but aren’t given much to sink their teeth into. Near the end Harley Race and Mr. Hughes come to the ring. Hughes distracts Windham while Race talks to Luger. Luger attacks Windham and hits a piledriver for the win at 12:26.
WINNER and NEW WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Lex Luger w/Harley Race (Pin, 12:46)
— “Steel Cage Mixed Tag Team Match” (WATCH – 2:42:20)
Arn Anderson & Paul E. Dangerously vs. Rick Steiner (WCW World Tag Team Champion) & Missy Hyatt
WCW booked this match not knowing that Maryland forbade mixed gender matches. As a result Dick Murdoch and Dick Slater had to come out and drag Hyatt to the back to explain her not being in the match. Steiner hits Paul E. with a Steiner Line to win this terrible match at 2:09.
WINNERS are Rick Steiner & Missy Hyatt (Pin, 2:09)
After the match J.R. and Schiavone talk about the questions surrounding Harley Race and Lex Luger, and sell the “new era” of WCW once again before the credits roll.
Is this the worst PPV of all-time? If it’s not it most certainly sits near the top of the list. Many people claim the event is terrible from start to finish but that’s not quite the case. And, contrary to popular belief, the crowd is into nearly all of these matches. While there was only one real standout, the 6-man tag, it’s not all bad. The “new era” didn’t save WCW but it did produce a period of fresh, new angles and matches, including the rise of Big Van Vader, Sting’s true ascension to the top, and The Dangerous Alliance. It’s a terrible show, yes, but worth watching if you’ve never seen it.
That’s a wrap on this week’s TBT – thanks for reading! Already a WWE Network subscriber? Then check out the 1991 Great American Bash and let us know what you think below.
Until next week, see ya at ringside!
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