The SmarK Retro Repost – Great American Bash ’90

[Note: The following is based on the commercial video for Great

American Bash 1990: New Revolution. 4 of the minor matches were cut

from the tape for time considerations.]

The Netcop Retro Rant for Great American Bash 90.

– Live from Baltimore, Maryland.

– Your hosts are Jim Ross and Bob Caudle.

– Opening match, US tag titles: The Midnight Express v. The Southern

Boys. The Southern Boys, Steve Armstrong and Tracy Smothers, would

become better known as the Young Pistols. They had two principle feuds:

This one and with the Freebirds. Guess which one I liked better. I

consider this match required viewing for all new wrestling fans.

If you’ve never seen the *real* Midnight Express in action (ie, Sweet

Stan and Beautiful Bobby) and are wondering why everyone loves them so

much, run out and rent this tape. This is a jaw-droppingly great match.

Just when you thought the Midnights were on the verge of being done for

(okay, they were, but go along with me for the sake of argument) they go

and pull this thing out of their bag of tricks. This is also the match

that turned the ‘Boys from heatless slackjawed yokels into serious title

contenders. That’s no mean feat. Midnights have their own built-in

fanbase here, getting solid babyface reactions a lot of the time. Cool

moment: Stan Lane and Tracy Smothers have a martial arts duel, drawing

super heat from the fans. It’s cool shit like that, out of nowhere, in

the middle of a match, that set the Midnights apart from everyone else.

The sustained heat here is incredible. Smothers plays Ricky Morton, as

the Midnights get to show off all their cool stuff. Cornette and Lane

bolted to form SMW in November of 1990, so this is basically the swan

song for the Midnights and they make it count. Armstrong gets the hot

tag and goes nuts, and the ‘Boys hit their finisher with the ref

distracted. Chaos ensues: The Midnights hit the Rocket Launcher, just

get two. Ref is distracted again, and the ‘Boys do the old switcheroo

(in what is usually a sure-fire match ender) and get a two count.

Smothers is up and ready to finish Eaton, but the ref is distracted with

Armstrong, and Lane nails a bee-yoo-tee-ful savate kick right to the back

of Tracy’s head from the apron, and Eaton cradles him for the pin.

Magnificent. ****1/2 The crowd is nearly breathless after that one.

Cornette called it one of the best Midnight Express matches EVER,

– Gordon Solie interviews the Freebirds. I know it’s not politically

correct to make fun of effeminate males, but they just looked soooooo

faggy in this time period. I mean, really now, mascara and eye shadow?

And the sequined outfits? And people thought Goldust was shameless…

– Big Van Vader v. Tom Zenk. Hey, it’s Tom Zenk, how appropriate after

that last interview. And don’t blink or you’ll miss Vader killing him

in his WCW debut. Steam-spewing helmet and all. Vader didn’t really

make any kind of notable impression in WCW until late 1991. Big splash

for the pin. * Always good to see Vader in the early years, though.

– Solie interviews the Horsemen.

– The Fabulous Freebirds v. The Steiner Brothers. Thank god Zenon is at

the bar tonight so I don’t have to listen to him yelling “Yeah,

Badstreet USA! Crank it!” when the Freebirds come out. The Freebirds

are useful in exactly two areas: Selling the Steiners’ offense and

pissing off the crowd. They excel at both. Steiners pummel the Birds

for 5 or 6 minutes, which is good, but then Jim Garvin gets into the

match, which is very very bad. Hot tag, Frankensteiner, but ref is

otherwise occupied. Garvin DDTs Scott while Rick belly-to-bellys Hayes,

and since the Steiners are the butchest team in the match, Scott gets to

pin Garvin for the win. A better Birds match than usual, thanks

entirely to the Steiners’ godliness at this point in history. ***

– Arn Anderson, Barry Windham & Sid Vicious v. Paul Orndorff, Junkfood

Dog and El Gigante. The lowpoint of the show. This is Gigante’s debut,

so if you ever invent a time machine and need to know when to send the

assassin back to kill him, this is it. Luckily he doesn’t so much as

touch anyone in this match. But the Horsemen still cower every time

they get near, because he’s 7’7″. Welcome to the internal logic of

wrestling, folks. The “Dudes with Attitudes” basically no-sell all of

the Horsemen offense while the fans scream for Sid to get in (poor

souls), until a melee breaks out and Sid tosses JYD over the top rope

for a DQ. *1/2

– Gordon Solie interviews Flexy Lexy.

– US title match: Lex Luger v. Mean Mark (w/ Paul E. Dangerously).

Before the urns, evil brothers, casket matches, 2 WWF titles, costume

changes, deaths, resurrections and Inferno matches, there was only

“Mean” Mark Callous, a two-bit big man who could walk the ropes. WCW

considered him unmarketable and dumped him unceremoniously a month after

this match, figuring it a futile gesture to bother resigning him. This

is the same governing body that thought the Black Scorpion was a good

idea. In November of 1990, Vince McMahon made them look like the idiots

they were by repackaging Mark Callous and debuting him at the Survivor

Series in a gimmick that would literally change the face of wrestling

forever. He seems to do that sort of thing a lot, doesn’t he? And thus

was the Undertaker born of WCW’s usual collective corporate

boneheadedness. As for this match, well, just imagine if Lex Luger and

Undertaker fought tomorrow, then imagine them 8 years younger, and

you’ve about got it. Punch, kick, armbar here. It’s so weird seeing

Mark display actual emotion and move-selling. Given his abilities in

both areas, I can say without fear of contradiction that the Undertaker

is the perfect character for him to play. Luger with 3 clotheslines and

the Rack, but the ref gets bumped and Paul E. whacks Luger with the

phone and revives the ref. Only a two count, then Luger pops up, nails

both Mark and Paul E. with rights, then clotheslines Mean Mark and gets

the pin (?). *1/2 Kind of an anti-climactic move to get the win with,

no? A good looking clothesline from Luger for once, though…

– Solie interviews Sting.

– NWA World tag team title: Doom v. The Rock N Roll Express. How

deeply fitting that the last gasp of greatness for the Midnight Express

should come on the same card as the last gasp of greatness for their

eternal rivals, the Rock N Roll Express. Shakespeare himself couldn’t

have written more perfectly suitable irony. Robert Gibson banged up his

knee shortly after this match and the team degenerated into what you see

stinking up WWF Shotgun on the weekends. By Bash 91, Morton and Gibson

were fighting each other. This, by contrast, is an excellent way to end

the Rock N Roll legacy in the NWA, as they symbolically allow Doom to

step into the “legend” area. Reed & Simmons had become incredibly

improved as a team at this point, in stark contrast to the lumbering

dolts who debuted under masks at Havoc 89. Doom controls this one, with

Ricky Morton playing…uh…well…Ricky Morton. Doom beats on him like

he’s their bitch. The Baltimore crowd is almost ECW-ish, completely

turning on the Rock N Rolls as Doom gets more and more offense in.

Morton does get several near falls in, keeping the pace up. A Reed

chinlock slows it down a bit. Here’s why the top rope rule used to be a

good idea: The heels would toss the face over the top with the ref

distracted, and the face would sell it like he’d been shot. That’s

good, old-school wrestling tactics. The fans would eat it up, too, and

they do just that here. Reed misses a splash and Morton hot-tags

Gibson. Katie, bar the door, it’s a pier-six brawl! Hey, Gordon Solie

is in the building, how can I *not* use his cliches? Chaos ensues, of

course, and Reed hits Gibson with a shoulderblock off the top as Gibson

is beating up poor Teddy Long. Doom retains. Great match! ****

– Solie interviews the runner-up in People’s Online Beautiful People

poll.

– NWA World Title match: Ric Flair v. Sting. You know the setup,

right? Sting is invited to join the Horsemen in 89 so Flair and his

cronies can leech the youth factor from him, but Sting is STUPID enough

to actually challenge Flair for the title *and* trust him not to

retaliate. What a maroon. The Horsemen turn on him like ugly on Dionne

Warwick and destroy his knee, putting him on the shelf for months and

turning Lex Luger into a babyface again in the process. This is the

blowoff match. And how overbooked can you get? No DQ, no countout, The

Dudes with Attitudes are around the ring to keep the Horsemen out, AND

Ole Anderson is handcuffed to El Gigante. They must have gotten Flair

drunk before he agreed to sign *that* lop-sided a deal. I miss Sting.

The real Sting, not the bum who’s been sitting in the rafters and

letting his muscles atrophy for months on end. This was *supposed* to

be the match where Sting was introduced to the world and Flair faded

into the sunset. He would of course go on to win 7 more World titles

after this. Ring psychology: The Horsemen killed Sting’s knee, and

even the marks remembered it, so when kicks him there, they all gasp in

fear. This is like the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of the

Flair-Sting series. Flair works on the knee and goes “Whoo” a lot.

Sting comeback, but Flair destroys the knee and builds to the

figure-four. Crowd is oddly quiet even for the Sting offensive

portions. Sting comeback, and he seems unsure of what the script is.

Kinda weird little segment, actually. Anyway, he gets his shit together

and gives Flair the Stinger splash, which is always a good start, and

puts him in the Scorpion deathlock. Flair escapes as the Horsemen and

Dudes with Attitudes brawl on the rampway. Crowd can sense the ending

is near and start to buzz. Token wrestling sequence (bridge, backslide,

you know the routine) leads to Stinger splash #2, but Flair moves and

Sting crashes into the turnbuckle…knee first. The crowd gasps like

Flair is the villain in a movie serial and Sting is Penelope. Flair

(Nyah-hah-hahhaha…all he needs is a moustache to twirl) goes for the

figure-four, but Our Hero does the done-to-death inside cradle to

reverse it, and gains his first World title in the process. And the

crowd goes BALLISTIC. Wow, they were really saving that sucker up.

*** For a really outstanding Flair-Sting match, see the first Clash of

Champions in 1988, or Clash 27 in 1994 where they unify the two World

titles.

The Bottom Line: Cartoonish main event aside, this was a terrific

effort on WCW’s part to kickstart the Sting title reign. So what the

f*ck happened? WCW went completely into the tank between this show and

the debut of the Dangerous Alliance in late 1991. Still, a commendable

effort all around for this one. Highly recommended.