10 Thoughts on a Memory…The Great American Bash 1991 (“We Want Flair!”)

Hello and welcome to another 10 Thoughts on a Memory!  The last time I tackled a much more serious and impactful situation of Orndorff turning on Hulk.  Well, today we go a little serious, but very much on the comedic and carny side of the wrestling business. But first, a backstory so we’re all caught up.

Back in the days of the NWA, the World Champion was chosen by a group of promoters. This champion would go around to all the different territories meeting the top draw in the town.  This was a rigorous schedule to be sure, but it was also pretty much the highest honor in wrestling.  However, to get this honor, and the physical belt, you had to put down a $25,000 deposit, to be paid back, with interest, when you lost the belt.  This had been going on for 60 or so years by this time.

Ric Flair was of course the current champion in the beginning of 1991.  Jim Herd, of Pizza Hut fame, had been put in charge of what was now known as WCW, with absolutely zero wrestling experience.  Such experience leads to ideas like having Flair, the best wrestler of all time, and NWA/WCW flag bearer for 10 or so years, cut his hair, pierce his ears, and become “Spartacus.”  Sound dumb?  Well it did to Flair as well.

Needless to say, Flair refused.  The massive pay cut that Herd wanted Flair to take also just MAY have had something to do with it.  So with no warning, and certainly no foresight, Herd fired Flair without ever taking the belt off of him!  He left himself with no champion, and more importantly no belt.  That’s because Flair asked for his 25,000 dollars back, with interest.  Herd, not knowing the ramifications of your own World Champion showing up on the competition’s television show with your belt, told Flair to go screw himself.

Image result for the great american bash 1991 Jim Herd

That’s just the beginning though, and there will certainly be time for that article.  But for now, let’s focus on the task at hand.  The Great American Bash 1991 is not only widely regarded as one of the worst and most confusing shows ever aired, but it was the beginning of what we are, the “smart fan.”

  1. Of course, our first match is a scaffold match.  Because why start a PPV with something exciting, right?  And to top it off, it has PN News in it!  If you have no idea who PN News is/was, be happy.  Let’s just say he was a morbidly obese “rap master” and leave it at that.  Just to compound your fun, this followed capture the flag rules.  Yes, that capture the flag.  Not, “beat someone up and throw them off of said scaffold, ” (which was kind of cool until Jim Cornette ripped his knee apart) but honest to goodness, they were literally playing capture the flag on PPV!                                                                Image result for the great american bash 1991 PN News and poor Bobby Eaton on the scaffold
  2. We do have the all-powerful Great and Mighty Oz on the card!  Who is this mystery man?  Why it’s Kevin “tear my quad walking” Nash of course.  See, TBS had just acquired the rights to The Wizard of Oz and wanted a character built around it.  Old Kev was thrust into this role, along with his magical wizard Merlin.  I’m not being funny.  They actually had a guy, of whom I have no idea the identity of, dress up as Merlin…  Timeless.
  3. By this point in our vaunted card, the crowd was, to say the least, getting bored.  So they started our theme for the evening.  Which is, drowning everything, and I mean everything, in chants of “We Want Flair!”  They knew he was gone, but they also wanted to voice, and rightfully so, their displeasure at this fact.
  4. The match that should have and could have saved the card was the newly minted Richard “don’t call me Ricky” Morton facing off against his long time tag partner, Robert Gibson.  They had formed one of the hottest acts of the 1980’s, and their matches with the likes of the Midnight Express were absolutely legendary.
  5. The story was plain enough. Richard Morton had turned on Robert and joined up with the York Foundation, who relied on their new-fangled device called a “computer” to calculate strategy.  Ok, it was a freaking word processor, but they were trying.  This should have been a high-flying affair, with the two aforementioned gentlemen being adept at such things.  But, alas, it was Richard Morton working on a body part for 20 minutes.  It was as scintillating as it sounds.
  6. I’m skipping over El Gigante vs. One Man Gang because I’m not into self-torture.  If that’s your cup of tea, put down the whip, order the network, and go watch it.  But just remember, We Want Flair!
  7. Another match that could have saved the card was the newly returned Nikita Koloff vs. Sting.  Two good workers on a good day, and a well-built feud to boot.  But, uh, they decided the only way to end this feud was with a freaking Russian Chain Match.  It was horrible, and they don’t really explain the rules all that succinctly.  I’ve got a nap to get to, so I’m not going to bother looking up what made this match supposedly so menacing.  Also, Nikita won.  Now, usually on PPV, you end feuds by having the face win, and send the crowd home happy.  But oh no, not this night. The social experiment continued, and still, We Want Flair!
  8. Onto our main event.  Allegedly.  There is so much to say about this atrocity that I dare even begin.  See, the original plan for the PPV was to have Lex Luger FINALLY conquer his demons, RIc Flair in this case,  and win the World Title.  That was the advertised match.  But, yeah, no Flair.  So they took tag team wrestler, and former Horsemen Barry Windham, and put him in Flair’s place.  Now, Windham could go when he felt like it, but he was a non-contender and had no business being in a world title match.
  9. Remember above how I said that Flair still had the belt?  Well, he did, and WCW didn’t have one to present to their new champion. So they simply took the old Western States Heritage title they had lying around, and slapped “World Champion” on it.  Because why?  Say it with me, because WCW.  Oh, and We Want Flair!                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Image result for the great american bash 1991 The new “World Title.”
  10. The chants were deafening as we reach the crescendo of this disastrous PPV.  But it was a steel cage match with two decent workers, so it couldn’t be that bad, right?  Well, it was.  Did I mention that We Want Flair?!  Because the fans did, and they weren’t going to be happy unless they got him.  Although, being WCW, they had a fantastic plan to end this atrocity.  Towards the end of the match, Harley Race and Mr. Hughes walked out to ringside.  Yes, that Mr. Hughes of BDSM fame.  (allegedly)  When the time was apparently right, Race yells “Now,” and Luger piledrives Windham and pins him.  This made zero sense on so many levels.  That’s a heel turn first off, and that is NOT going to send the fans home happy.  Also, Luger’s finisher for years was the torture rack, and now he’s using a piledriver?  And just to finish things off, the fans pelt the ring with garbage, all the while chanting We Want Flair!

Image result for Cage Match vs Barry Windham Lex Luger Luger vs. Windham

So there you have it.  Most likely wrestling’s largest social experiment, and to date, one of the worst PPV’s ever.  I highly encourage you, if you have access to the network, to watch this piece of garbage.  No matter how much we complain about Roman Reign’s push, or the direction of the current product, nothing can ever compare to the way WCW treated its fans on this night.

And never forget, WE WANT FLAIR!

 

 

 

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