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TWO OUT OF THREE FALLS
Vince Bashes Some Great History
June 25, 2004

by Mark Coale
Odessa Steps Magazine/OnlineOnslaught.com

 

The first wrestling PPV to come to my current metropolitan area since I moved here three years ago is this weekend. The Smackdown-only show, the resurrected Great American Bash, will be only 11 miles from my house. I’ll be there with bells on, right? Sure, right after chop my right-arm off.

 

As I have said for weeks, if not months, since the WWE first announced this PPV, I wouldn’t watch the show if it were in my backyard and I would have to do is open my blinds. I’ve passed on WWE events before that have come to the Scope, but those were for more logistical reasons (the RAW taping a few months ago would have gotten me home very late and I couldn’t get off work the next day).

 

But, I didn’t have the kind of vitriol for that show that I do for this one. Is it the ticket price? No, especially since you can’t swing a dead cat around town without finding someone giving away tickets. Is it the card? A little, since I’m near the front of the line for the Bradshaw-bashing, but that’s not completely it. Is it the jingoism that the advertising seems to be wrapped in that irks me? Again, a little, but, having lived in a military town for a few years, I’ve grown used to it by now.

 

Surprisingly, most of my emnity seems to be coming from, to borrow a phrase from William Regal, the besmerching of the Great American Bash name. As a longtime NWA/WCW die-hard, attaching the name of the second-biggest PPV show from that promotion (behind Starrcade) and presenting a horrible show fills me with bile.

 

In lieu of discussing the Diva volleyball match or thrilling squash matches of Mordecai and Kenzo Suzuki, let’s instead bask in the glory of history (and probably videotape) for some fantastic memories of the Great American Bash.

 

The first Bash, in 1985, was in Charlotte at a baseball stadium. It includes matches like the Road Warriors vs. The Russians, Magnum TA vs. Kamala, Dusty Rhodes vs. Tully Blanchard and, in the main event, Ric Flair vs. Nikita Koloff.

 

The title match was set-up by a great angle when Nikita, upset by the badgering of (mediocre) announcer David Crockett, gave a “Russian Sickle” clothesline to Crockett that sent smart heel fans jumping for joy. This “heinous act” allowed Flair to be a total face in the match and somehow promoter Jim Crockett Jr named his brother as special guest referee.

 

The thing I remember most about this match, as always mentioned by my friend Justin, is Flair, juicing like there’s no tomorrow, wiping the blood from his face and flicking it at Uncle Ivan Koloff, who was at ringside as Nikita’s manager. Another great moment from the match was Nikita breaking the figure-four by just reaching over and raking Flair’s eyes while still in the hold.

 

The next year, Crockett got ambitious and the Bash became a summer-long, twentysome-odd date tour, with country acts like Joe Ely and David Allan Coe performing after the cards. It was also the tour where Flair defended his belt each show against a different wrestler, including each of the Road Warriors and notably, Ricky Morton, who was feuding with Flair at the time.

 

I saw, along with my friends Jimmy and Kevin, the first Bash card in Philadelphia on June 1, 1986. All I remember is Jim Cornette (my all-time favorite performer) jobbing to Baby Doll (as he would on, I think, every show) and a classic Dusty finish in the main event with Flair and Road Warrior Hawk. I would learn years later, once I became a sheet reader, that the show was almost shut down when Wahoo McDaniel  juiced in his match early on the card and the blade got stuck in his forehead. (Yipes)

 

The first Bash on PPV was the infamous 1988 show with Flair vs. Lex Luger and the “stoppage for blood,” as well as the almost-better-left-unmentioned “Tower of Doom” match.

 

1989 was a much better Bash, with Flair, coming back from a piledriver on a table and being on the shelf, defeating Terry Funk 1990 saw the famous Flair/Sting match where the Stinger won the title after being out for months after tearing his knee up and the great match between the Midnight Express and the Southern Boys.

 

Before this year, 1991 might have been the low-point for the Bash brand. That was the “We Want Flair” show, coming just weeks after WCW executive Jim Herd fired Flair and having a match between Luger and Barry Windham for the vacant WCW title. Not only was the show horrible (remember the capture the flag scaffold match?), but most of the crowd chanted the Nature Boy’s name the entire show.

 

There were Bashes every year until 2000, with the occasional good match to be sure, probably involving a Luchador and/or Chris Benoit. Vince bought WCW before there could be a show in 2001.

 

All of which brings us to the first Great American Bash under the WWE flag. If you could see me writing this, you’d know I’m just shaking my head, either in shame or disbelief. You take your pick. At least Ric Flair won’t be there, to see this name tarnished in the same kind of way Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo did to the Nature Boy himself.

 

And, to any office member in Stamford who might be reading this (HA), if you guys think about reviving the Starrcade name at the end of the year, I have one word for you: DON’T.

E-MAIL MARK 
BROWSE THE 2/3 FALLS ARCHIVE

Mark Coale is the publisher of Odessa Steps Magazine and chronicler of the Tony Kornheiser-themed Affirmation Baby Blog. He recommends Mid-Atlantic Gateway, espeically John Hitchcock’s Front Row, Section D, for more NWA/WCW memories.

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