–Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan are in the booth and they are live from Dayton, Ohio as The Great American Bash returns to pay-per-view for the first time in three years.
–Opening Contest: Alex Wright (38-3-1) pins Brian Pillman (19-3) after countering a sunset flip at 15:26:
Babyface-versus-babyface matches were unusual in the 1990s but WCW was more willing to break the traditional mold relative to other companies, so we get this opener between two guys who have had a tough time beating name talents in recent months. The crowd is solidly behind Pillman, cheering every time he gets the better of Wright in technical sequences and getting louder when he becomes frustrated and starts behaving like a heel. One such spot is when Wright opens the ropes for Pillman to re-enter the ring and Pillman grabs the rookie by the hair and drags him to the arena floor. Some failed high-flying moves follow, with Pillman ending up crashing into the railing on a failed dive and Wright missing a flying body press. Wright finds a way to counter a superplex and hits his reverse flying body press but Pillman kicks out and then goes back to the Hollywood Blondes trick with his knee, luring Wright into trying a top rope dive that eats a dropkick for a close near-fall. Both men trade a few more pin attempts before Pillman tries a sunset flip that Wright sits down on for a victory as WCW is unwilling to stop his unrelenting push in the face of hostile crowd reactions. Afterward, Pillman raises Wright’s hand in the traditional respect spot. This match told a great story, drew in the crowd, and is the match of the year in WCW thus far. Rating: ***¾
–A video package recaps the Dave Sullivan-Diamond Dallas Page feud.
–Gene Okerlund interviews Sullivan, who says he hopes to make “Daddy Sullivan” proud by winning his arm wresting match against Page tonight.
–Arm Wrestling Match: Dave Sullivan beats Diamond Dallas Page (w/the Diamond Doll & Maxx Muscle):
Page does all the usual heel stall spots, insulting the crowd and constantly pulling away after locking hands with his opponent. Muscle tries to give Page some extra leverage with his foot, but referee Nick Patrick puts a stop to that and the crowd pops big when the Doll accidentally bumps Muscle into Page, Sullivan goes over, and then gets a date with the Doll. After the result, Page and Muscle shove each other until Page directs his anger at the Doll for embarrassing him.
–Okerlund interviews Page, who yells about how he wants a do over. Okerlund hilariously asks Muscle what his thoughts are, and the poor guy is too shy to say anything.
–Hacksaw Jim Duggan (21-3) beats Sergeant Craig Pittman (23-0) via disqualification at 8:14:
Duggan is substituting for Marcus Bagwell because Bagwell was recovering from complications suffered from calf implant surgery. Pittman is also wrestling his second match of the night as he showed he was better than Chris Kanyon on the Main Event pre-show. Duggan works up a “USA” chant that is somehow supposed to cause Pittman problems despite him being a former Marine. The match has its moments but goes too long and the inevitable styles clash of Duggan’s brawling and Pittman’s submission background. Pittman somehow blocks the three-point stance clothesline – or refuses to sell it based on how you would wish to view it – and locks in the Code Red but Duggan gets to the ropes. Pittman refuses to break and gets disqualified, thereby ruining his unbeaten streak and having a concrete ceiling placed over his push. Rating: *
–Okerlund interviews the Blue Bloods. Lord Steven Regal makes an Adolf Hitler analogy to how the Nasty Boys have made a major mistake in deciding to defend their titles against the Bloods tonight.
–A recap of why we are getting a Harlem Heat-Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck match on tonight’s pay-per-view is shown.
–Harlem Heat (w/Sister Sherri) (27-3-2) defeat Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck (w/Colonel Robert Parker) (12-4) when Booker T pins Buck after a small package at 8:40:
These teams have the longest win streaks in the tag team division, so the winner does have a claim to being number one contenders for the tag team titles. The crowd chooses to cheer for the Heat in this heel-versus-heel contest, although that dynamic is not used to book the match since the Heat dominate seventy percent of the action. After seven boring minutes of punching and kicking this is finally brought to an end when Booker T small packages Buck, with Parker and Sherri turning the pinning combination in turn (and Sherri nearly misses her cue to do so). Rating: ½*
–Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel joins the commentary team to say that WCW Champion Hulk Hogan will defend his title against Vader in a steel cage match at Bash at the Beach. Bockwinkel forgets the name of the next pay-per-view in his announcement, causing Schiavone to smirk at Heenan during the segment. This botch would cause Bockwinkel to lose his on-screen role.
–Okerlund interviews Ric Flair, who is excited that Vader gets to wrestle Hogan in a cage match because somehow keeping away Randy Savage and the Renegade is needed to help Vader win (who is the babyface here anyway?). He also puts over his match with Savage later in the evening to try to bring the crowd back to life after the awful tag team match we just saw.
–Television Championship Match: The Renegade (w/Jimmy Hart) (2-0) pins Arn Anderson (Champion) (15-9-2) after a Renegade Splash to win the title at 9:07:
WCW was hell bent on making the Renegade their version of the Ultimate Warrior so they decide to end Anderson’s six-month reign as television champion despite the Renegade’s limited appearances or the sounds of silence that blanketed his matches. There were lots of politics behind this match too as Ric Flair preferred Anderson to lose the title to Alex Wright at Slamboree but had those plans scuttled because Hulk Hogan’s on-screen friends needed titles. To his credit, Anderson does his best to make the Renegade look good, but the Renegade’s inexperience shows as both men awkwardly collide on a few spots off the ropes. If WCW wanted to put the Renegade over strong, they would have cut this match to less than five minutes. The longer length just exposed him even further to an audience that was seeing him as a cheap imitation. Rating: *
–Paul Wight is seen staring down the Renegade from the front row as a small fireworks show celebrates his title win. When Jimmy Hart comes close to Wight, Wight tries to grab him.
–A video package recaps the Nasty Boys-Blue Bloods feud.
–Okerlund interviews WCW Tag Team Champions the Nasty Boys, who promise to bash the Blue Bloods brains out. They also paint themselves as patriotic Americans that are defending against the arrogant British heels.
–WCW Tag Team Championship Match: The Nasty Boys (Champions) (29-2-2) defeat the Blue Bloods (11-0-1) when Brian Knobbs pins Earl Robert Eaton after a Jerry Sags flying elbow drop at 14:58:
One of the problems of seeing these teams wrestle twice in the week leading up to this show is that many of the spots are the same, with Lord Steven Regal still doing a nauseous facial expression after taking the Pit Stop and the Nasties winning a wild brawl at the beginning of the contest. Some of the highlights are Knobbs giving Eaton a modified atomic drop on an open chair when both men are fighting on the arena floor and Regal borrowing the elbow drop off the apron spot from Mick Foley. Sadly, this starts hot but has a middle segment that meanders and loses the torrid, fun pace that is established at the beginning. Harlem Heat come out to try to help the Bloods, but after Booker T gives Knobbs the Harlem Hangover he accidentally uses the ropes to exit the ring and Eaton falls off the top rope when he tries to do the Tower of London, allowing the Nasties to retain the titles. With Harlem Heat looming as the next challengers it makes sense that the Nasties would go over. Rating: **
–A video package recaps the United States Championship Tournament. This takes a while because the tournament had sixteen men.
–Okerlund interviews Meng and Colonel Robert Parker. Parker says Sting can have a great body and a lot of friends, but Meng is going to make him a has been.
–Okerlund interviews Sting, who says that he has paid his dues in WCW and he is prepared to deal with Meng as a result.
–United States Championship Tournament Finals: Sting (17-1) defeats Meng (w/Colonel Robert Parker) (20-0-1) after a jumping DDT to win the title at 13:36:
WCW tried very hard to build Meng as a killing machine, at least if one ignores their dumb decision to feed him in a draw to Road Warrior Hawk at Slamboree, but it was still tough to buy him in an upper tier role because of how much the WWF jobbed him out from 1990 through 1992. This is one of Sting’s less heralded matches. It is not a mat classic like his epic three-year war with Vader but it showcases Sting’s ability to be the underdog who never quits as he exchanges strikes with Meng, weathers a series of power moves, and then busts out a jumping DDT after Meng powers out of the Scorpion Deathlock to capture his second U.S. title. The finish also protected Meng, laying the foundation for a possible rematch and the booking fit Meng’s character too as Sting had to use everything but the kitchen sink to vanquish him. Rating: ***
–A video package recaps the Randy Savage-Ric Flair feud.
–Okerlund interviews Randy Savage. Savage pledges to get Flair tonight because he is on fire.
–Ric Flair (3-0) pins Randy Savage (w/Angelo Poffo) (7-0) after hitting him with a cane at 14:41:
Poffo is sporting a cane to sell the leg injury that Flair caused at Slamboree and he sits in a chair at ringside throughout the contest. This becomes a liability, though, as Flair feigns on him to lure Savage into an attack on his knee, thereby allowing the vintage Flair legwork to commence. Savage gets busted open under the eye and does hit his flying elbow smash but pulls Flair up at two so he can use the ring bell and do a Ricky Steamboat-like number on the Nature Boy. Referee Randy Anderson will not allow that, though, and Savage crashes into the guardrail on a flying axe handle effort. Poffo tries to attack Flair, with Flair grabbing the cane and using it to score a cheap win. Savage running into the blow with the cane was worth an extra ¼* as he took that shot like a champ. According to Flair’s book, Savage was supposed to win here but Flair refused to do the job because of how he was used as a vehicle to end the Hulk Hogan-Vader match at Uncensored and then Vader and he lost to Hogan and Savage at Slamboree. Flair believed, rightly in my view, that losing would further destroy his credibility as a heel and would dampen the future drawing power of his feud with the Macho Man. Rating: ***¼
–Schiavone and Heenan begin to do the hard sell for Bash at the Beach. Heenan says it will be the biggest gate in the history of wrestling.
The Last Word: It just feels wrong that the WCW title has not been defended on pay-per-view in four months. Randy Savage and Ric Flair did their usual match, which is guaranteed to crack *** but both men seemed to be holding back since their feud would be continuing at the next pay-per-view anyway. Top to bottom, this was WCW’s best pay-per-view of the year as three matches reached or exceeded *** but the booking choices were suspect. Fans did not care for Alex Wright or the Renegade and both acts went over, with the Renegade’s victory the most telling example of how “too much, too soon” in wrestling can kill a career.
Attendance: 6,000 (5,218 paid, sellout)
Buyrate: 0.51 (est. 90,000 buys)
Up Next: WCW Pro for June 24!
And if you want to read what was happening in the WWF as a companion to this series of WCW reviews, check out my e-book on Amazon. $4.99 for an electronic copy of the e-book or $26 for the paperback copy, which provides more than 800 pages of reviews, statistics, and angle breakdowns of the WWF in 1995!