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Behind the Scenes at the 1987
Great American Bash
May 14, 2004

by Denny Burkholder
Courtesy of WrestleLine.com


Former WCW, World Class and NWA star "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin is among the many pro wrestling stars with their own web presence. He's also among the hordes of wrestling stars using his corner of cyberspace to sell merchandise such as autographed photos and T-shirts.

Pretty standard stuff, really. Except for one item: the Behind the Scenes at the Bash DVD. I noticed this gem on my first perusal of Garvin's web site, and bought it immediately. 

Behind the Scenes at the Bash is a fun, unique look at a bunch of 1980s NWA superstars letting their guard down and having fun in the locker room. The footage was originally shot by Garvin personally, with his own camera. Judging by the atmosphere of the footage - and by one comment Garvin makes to Arn Anderson on the DVD - the original purpose

of the video was to create a memento "for the boys," to document all the good times they had on the road, traveling with Jim Crockett's promotion during the Great American Bash.

As such, there appears to be little to no kayfabing on the DVD. The wrestlers are being themselves, for their own entertainment, never assuming this would be seen by the fans. Remember, this was 1987. Kayfabe was alive and well, and fans were NEVER supposed to see the wrestlers behaving like normal human beings. Especially when you consider the babyfaces and heels were intermingling, the language was foul, and at one point, Garvin extensively documents Road Warriors Animal and Hawk taping their blades into their wristbands so they could get color in that night's match. Hawk and Animal even provided running commentary describing what they were doing, which obviously would have constituted "exposing the business" back then. But only if the "marks" got their hands on the footage. Which, as far as they knew, would never happen.

Today, we know enough about the staged nature of pro wrestling that you won't be surprised by any of the backstage scenes. And make no mistake about it - Jimmy Garvin is not Maxx Payne. This DVD is not, nor was it ever intended to be, an exposition of the seedy underbelly of pro wrestling. What it is is a candid look at some wrestling legends killing time before their matches, making each other laugh and shooting the shit. The whole DVD comes across as very good-natured, almost making it seem as though you're right there backstage with the NWA during one if it's most memorable moments in time.

There is no drug use, unless you count Hawk snorting a few drops of tapwater for laughs. There is no nudity, besides Arn Anderson mooning the camera. There is foul language, which Garvin is careful to warn viewers about in the DVD's introduction.


The most prominent subjects of the Behind the Scenes at the Bash DVD would have to be Steve "Dr. Death" Williams, Road Warrior Hawk, Dusty Rhodes and Jim Cornette. I'll be the first to admit that Steve Williams was quite capable of a great wrestling match, but if he showed half as much charisma in promos as he did in front of Jimmy Garvin's camcorder, I dare say he'd have been a much bigger star than he was. Williams was one of the most animated of all the wrestlers who appeared on the DVD.

Nobody was more animated than Road Warrior Hawk, though. Hawk clearly enjoyed hamming it up in front of the boys, and was only too happy to lead Garvin around backstage as he looked for new people to harass. Dusty Rhodes doesn't go out of his way to get face time on Garvin's DVD, but since he's The American Dream and this was Crockett's promotion in 1987, the boys understandably made it a point to seek out Dusty for a couple of cameos. Dusty didn't shy away from mocking other wrestlers, which seemed to go over well with Hawk and Dr. Death.

Cornette only makes one appearance on the DVD, but it's several minutes long and features some vintage comedic riffing on Jim Crockett, Ronnie Garvin (a favorite target of ridicule backstage) and even himself.

Just about the only big stars from the 1987 NWA that are not on the DVD are the Rock 'N' Roll Express and The Four Horsemen, except for one brief appearance by Arn. Sorry, Ric Flair fans... the Nature Boy doesn't have so much as a tiny cameo.

In roughly 20 to 25 minutes of footage, you'll get to see all the other big names, though - off the top of my head, I recall segments with both of the Road Warriors, Williams, Cornette, Sting, Lex Luger, Nikita Koloff, Barry Windham, Bobby Fulton of the Fantastics, Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton of the Midnight Express, Dick Murdoch, Rhodes, Paul Ellering, Kevin Sullivan, Kendall Windham, Arn Anderson, Jimmy Garvin, Ronnie Garvin, and a very brief glimpse of Larry Zbyszko.


God bless him, Road Warrior Hawk is the MVP of this thing, from start to finish. Poor Ronnie Garvin was just a couple of months away from his only world title reign, and the boys were all over him. Hawk was no different.

"This is a non-kayfabin' mother fucker right here!" Hawk growled as he grabbed Garvin and slammed a forearm across his chest. Hawk then turns his attention to Dr. Death, and the two trade forearms and boots to the midsection as Animal sits in the corner laughing at the whole scene. As the camera turns toward Lex Luger sitting near a sink with a mirror (go figure - Luger, next to the mirror!) Hawk walks into the picture, turns the water on, grabs a few drops and inhales it into his nose for another cheap laugh.

Jimmy films Sting for a bit, who's sitting next to the mirror as well, applying his facepaint. Interesting to note that Sting and Luger are participating in all of the buffoonery, but only when the other wrestlers coax them into it. Otherwise, they're keeping to themselves in the back and laughing, without getting too rowdy. They don't seem arrogant, but they are a bit more laid back.

In another backstage area, Jimmy catches a skinny doctor checking the blood pressure of Dusty Rhodes, and later Bobby Eaton. Hawk is right there with running commentary for Eaton.

"See that doctor?" Hawk asks. "He's a heroin addict. He's dead and nobody told him."

When Nikita Koloff makes his first appearance, he's still speaking in his fake Russian accent, but otherwise he's not necessarily kayfabing. There's a funny scene where Hawk stands next to Nikita as he cuts a promo for Garvin, and begins mimicking Nikita's gravely voice and fake Russian accent as "nephew Nikita." Nikita plays along, as all of the other boys do.


Fans of the Road Warriors will note that it was soon after this time that Paul Ellering left the business to enter dogsled racing in Alaska. On this DVD, you get a cool candid glimpse at Ellering in a remote backstage area, away from all of the hooplah. Ellering sits quietly in a folding chair reading a magazine ("Alaska" on the cover). Garvin gets Ellering to explain that he's studying, because he's traveling to the Yukon in a couple of weeks.

Try as he might, Ellering couldn't totally escape the boys backstage. The first time Garvin approaches Ellering, Dusty Rhodes is standing nearby. Without even flinching, Dusty sees the camcorder and begins venting his spleen on some unidentified wrestlers.

"Are we on the air?" Dusty asked. "I never been around a bigger bunch of babies in all my fuckin' life. They're a bunch of babies. They're a bunch of fuckin' babies. And I'm tired of them so much. Most of the guys are good guys. But I got some primadonnas that are babies. They're baby shit, as far as I'm concerned!"

If you're up on your NWA/WCW history, you'll recall that this was around the time that Dusty Rhodes, as Crockett's booker, started butting heads with everyone from Ric Flair to TBS management. At the end of the year, Dusty walked out. He was brought back for a while, and then he left again in 1989, going to the WWF.

Later on the DVD, we find Dusty in a different backstage area. This time, Hawk is there to add more flavor. Hawk drags Garvin over to the Dream with the idea that he will interview Dusty and translate his unintelligible answers for those who speak English.

Dusty starts off mumbling something I couldn't decipher on three listens. It apparently had something to do with several of the wrestlers taking a really long flight the next day. Hawk, help us out:

"Let me translate that for you: I hear you STUPID FUCKS are flying 12 FUCKIN' HOURS tonight. Right? What do you think of THAT shit? Now say something else. I'll translate."

Dusty [seeing Ronnie Garvin in the distance]: "Ronnie Garvin is..."
Hawk: "...IS A SHMUCK!"
Dusty: "He's a shmuck. He's livin' in the old days."
Hawk: "Hey Ronnie Garvin! Come over here, you shmuck! He won't even come; he's a shmuck. He doesn't even know what 'come' means!"


When we head back into the room with Sting and Luger, we find them - with Hawk, of course - pumping up for their matches by screaming the names of various diseases in their meanest promo voices. They go through five rotations or so, most of them venerial diseases. When Luger and Sting bust out laughing, Hawk finishes the segment with a monologue straight out of a horror novel, in classic Hawk promo voice: "I NEVER EVEN KNEW YOUR NOW-ROTTING FACE!"

This was the most animated we ever see Luger, besides his frighteningly feminine voice when describing the "canary yellow tights" he's wearing that evening. Sting draws the attention of Hawk, Dr. Death and Bobby Fulton while applying his facepaint, as they film him in the mirror making progressively idiotic faces. "That's a pretty fuckin' funny face, don'tcha think?" Sting barks.


Jimmy Garvin makes his only appearance IN FRONT OF the camera when he catches up with Jim Cornette. Cornette proves that his gift for gab isn't just for show, as he immediately warms up to the camcorder's presence and lets loose. On the boss.

"Jimmy Crockett is the president of our company," Cornette starts. "He is the biggest tightwad bastard in the history of all mankind. He's got copper-colored fingers from pinching pennies so tight that he squeaks like a fuckin' mouse."

And with that stunning on-camera debut, he's got our attention. Garvin and other unidentified voices in the background start feeding him softballs, and Cornette knocks each one out of the park. Hey Cornette, whatever happened with that sodomy charge out in San Fransisco, someone ribs from off camera. Cornette corrects him on the location - it was in Los Angeles.

"Although I was born in Los Angeles, I was reared in San Francisco," Cornette jokes. He goes on to discuss his other brushes with the law, such as getting the sodomy charge reduced to tailgating and doing inappropriate things to park statues.

Garvin asks Cornette who his favorite tag team is, "and why are we?" Cornette respond Kurt and Karl Von Brauner, because he likes large bald men in combat boots. We get a bunch of typical Cornette one-liners, followed by Garvin finally appearing on his video in his sequined pants (better believe Cornette got on him for those). The Cornette segment wraps up with Cornette imitating Rodney Dangerfield.


Behind the Scenes at the Bash is an exceptional walk through the locker room for any fan who remembers the 1980s or the Crockett promotion fondly. It's good natured and genuinely amusing. It will not send you away with a worse impression of any of the wrestlers featured. Rather, it lets you in on their secret society for almost a half hour. It makes you one of them, and shows you why wrestlers refer to their peers as their family. They truly behave like one. The best aspect of the Bash DVD is that it we get to see things from a point of view few of us ever get: the wrestler's. They speak to the camera not as an audience, but as one of the boys. They treat the viewer as they treat each other. For that alone, this DVD is fascinating.

The only word of caution: something about the DVD (I'm guessing the sticker label) makes it skip occasionally (I verified that it wasn't just my player), so if you've got a touchy DVD player, take caution.

Otherwise, highly recommended.


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