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OOLD SCHOOL   
Save the Last Bash? 
(Great American Bash 2000 Recap) 
June 24, 2004

by Rick Scaia   
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

[NOTE FROM THE PRESENT DAY: On the eve of the eve of the eve of WWE's ham-handed attempt to resurrect the Great American Bash, I suppose there's no better time to go back in time and relive the last GAB...  conducted under the auspices of WCW, although during a period where WCW was sucking wind horribly, the show was supposed to be a "business as usual" show for the recently-reinstated Vince Russo.  He'd just gotten done, a month before, booking Alleged Actor David Arquette to win the WCW Title.  The Bash was gonna just be another show, with no major surprises.  Of course, leave it to Russo to broadcast a "No Major Surprises" announcement just so he can go and turn Bill Goldberg heel for no readily apparent reason.  It goes without saying that the Goldberg heel turn didn't exactly go over with fans or last all that long... but the attempt certainly made for an interesting night.  Looking forward to Sunday's WWE Great American Bash, I'd settle for anything that turns out this "interesting"....]

 
OO PPV RECAP: WCW Great American Bash 2000 

Originally Published by The Original WrestleLine on June 12, 2000

After smoke-screening the fans by declaring there would be no "big surprise" at the Great American Bash, Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff delivered a main event swerve that left the announcers spouting off about the "most shocking development" in recent memory.

Their bold proclamations may have been a textbook case of over-exaggeration, but this fact cannot be discarded:  that for the first time in his nearly 3-year career, Bill Goldberg is a heel.  He turned on Kevin Nash in the main event, helping Jeff Jarrett win the match and retain his WCW Title.

It was the capper on a night that will probably go down as memorable for its important storyline moments, but which was almost entirely forgettable in terms of bell-to-bell action.  Highlights included both Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan dodging forced retirements with big wins, Sting (or a stunt double) being set ablaze before plunging 25 feet of the Nitro Vision TV, and a heel turn by Chris Kanyon (who helped Mike Awesome defeat Dallas Page).

Segment-by-segment results of the just-completed GAB PPV event:

  • In the opener, Lt. Loco retained his Cruiserweight Title from Disco Inferno.  Both men are solid performers and kept the action moving very nicely for about four minutes.  Then they segued into a sloppily executed schmozz finish with members of the MIA and the Filthy Animals brawling at ringside (both Cpl. Cajun and Juventud Guerrera interfered in the actual match with the ref distracted).  A good enough opener, but too short and with a finish that didn't come off well.  After the too short five minute match, WCW wasted about 4 minutes on a too long convoluted post-match brawl and mini-angle in which "Pops" (Capt. Rection's "dad") was KO'ed by the Animals and then revived by Major Gunns.
     
  • The Kronic took over the #1 tag title contenders position by defeating the Mamalukes in the second match of the evening.  This one was actually given some time to develop, and though there wasn't a whole lot of ebb and flow or crowd interest, I liked the display of power wrestling that both teams were able to put on.  The storyline of the match had Big Vito more interested in protecting and polishing the Hardcore Title (bestowed upon the 'Lukes last week) than in wrestling the tag match.  While Vito was busy at ringside, Johnny the Bull was double teamed and easily pinned in the ring.
     
  • Chris Kanyon was wheeled out onto the stage to watch his friend Dallas Page battle Mike Awesome in an ambulance match...  but as is so often the case in the wacky world of pro wrestling, things were not quite as they seemed.  After an intense brawl between DDP and Awesome, DDP seemed in control and ready to load Awesome into the ambulance following a Diamond Cutter off the top rope.  However, as DDP was overseeing the ambulance trip, Kanyon rose from his wheelchair to attack Page and Diamond Cutter him off the stage.  Awesome was revived, and loaded the beaten (and betrayed) Page into the ambulance for the win.  Kanyon revealed a "New Blood" t-shirt, as the announcers wondered aloud about his motivations after the match.  This one was OK, but not the show-stealer fans might have expected; if anything, it just felt like it was cut a little short before the big finish with Kanyon.
     
  • GI Bro bested "Perfect-Shawn" Stasiak in a Boot Camp Match.  The stipulation of this match was that the first man who couldn't answer a ten count would lose.  Bro was beaten down for the majority of this match, but could always enter the count.  When Stasiak's partner, Chuck Palumbo, interfered, Bro was able to fend him off, too.  In fact, Bro got the win after using Palumbo's flexer to KO Stasiak.  The match featured some good action, but kind of lulled into a one-dimensional brawl after a while; the fans didn't really get into it, and the contest kind of fell flat because of it.  A rarity, this is a match that might have been helped if it had been scaled back (instead of given more time)...  perhaps it's not that the creative team is totally against longer matches, it's just that their judgment and time management is questionable?  I mean, Stasiak is just nowhere near being in position to help keep a crowd enthralled for upwards of 15-20 minutes...
     
  • Shane Douglas prefaced his Tables Match against the Wall by declaring it would be a Best of Five Tables match...  the Wall came out and jumped out to the early advantage by putting Douglas through a pair of tables.  At that point, Douglas began begging off, and lured the Wall back into a trap:  near the entranceway, Douglas had three tables stacked up and a 12 foot ladder in place.  With both men near the top of the ladder, Douglas punched the Wall off the ladder and through the triple stack of tables for the win.  After the match, the Wall made the superman comeback and chokeslammed the referee. Probably what most fans would call a "spot-fest," but entertaining enough for what it was.
     
  • To "level the playing field" in what they determined to be Scott Steiner's "signature match," Russo and Bischoff added Rick Steiner to the Asylum Match for the US Title, making it a handicap match (also featuring scheduled challenger Tank Abbott).  In the end, Rick Steiner was KO'ed (whether it was accidental or intentional was never made clear) by Abbott when he tried to stop Tank from using a chain against Scott.  Scott then made the comeback and cinched in the Steiner Recliner for the submission win.  Other than noting that at least it was short, there is not a whole lot good I can say about this match. -  Hulk Hogan both avoided a forced retirement and inserted himself into the WCW Title picture by defeating Billy Kidman.  Ref Horace Hogan established early that he'd be calling the match right down the middle, frustrating his fellow New Blood-mate Kidman.  But in the end, it wasn't Horace, but rather Torrie Wilson, who proved instrumental in Kidman going down.  Torrie first handed the Hulkster a pair a brass knuckles, and then later low-blowed Kidman to allow Hogan to use the weapon.  Horace -- who had been knocked out by an upset Kidman -- came to in enough time to count the pinfall win.  The crowd was dead early on, but came alive late for this solid brawl.
     
  • Ric Flair made it two-for-two for the Millionaires, also avoiding forced retirement with a win over his son, David.  Things looked back for Ric early, as David and Vince Russo managed to lock him in a pair of handcuffs. But thanks to the help of his son Reid and daughter Ashley, Ric turned the tables, and wound up with Russo in the handcuffs.  The Nature Boy then went on the offensive, and wound up getting David to submit to the Figure Four leglock.  After the match, a livid Vince Russo issued a challenge to Ric, and promised to retire him tomorrow night on Nitro.
     
  • The New Blood came back with a visually shocking triumph in the "Human Torch" match between Vampiro and Sting.  Sting opened the match by announcing that the torch that much be used to light your opponent on fire would be stationed on top of the "Nitro Vision" screen.  After about 5 minutes of flat brawling, Vamp and Sting both ascended to the top of the screen.  They traded blows up on the platform for a couple more minutes, often dropping out of sight briefly when knocked below the scaffolding.  The last time Sting dropped out of sight, he must have been replaced by a stunt double, because when "Sting" got up that time, his entire torso was set on fire by Vampiro.  "Sting" stumbled around on top of the Nitro Vision, and then in a last ditch effort to put out the flames, he leapt the 25 feet from the top of the big screen to the stage below.  Incredible visual, for sure, and the announce crew played it up with the appropriate disbelief/disgust/awe.  "Sting" was continuously blasted with fire extinguishers and covered in towels, keeping the fans from ever getting a good look at the burned and broken man (or, for the more cynical among you, keeping fans from being able to make a positive identification on the stunt man who doubled for Sting).  Not much of a match, but stunt man or not, this probably goes down as the most climactic finish to one of these "set your opponent on fire" rules matches ever.
     
  • Flustered by the Millionaires' Club's wins and the looming threat of Goldberg appearing (despite tons of armed guards), Eric Bischoff announced that the "big surprise" is that there would be no "big surprise."
     
  • However, the New Blood did have a smaller surprise in store for Kevin Nash as he prepared to challenge for Jeff Jarrett's WCW Title:  the Filthy Animals were all appointed to various ringside capacities, and the Cat was named special enforcer referee.  With all that working against him, Nash still managed to dominate early.  But after a quick brawl through the crowd, the heels took control and targeted Nash's knee.  This softened him up for JJ's figure four, but Nash was still able to escape that hold when placed in it.  Eventually, in-ring ref Mickey Jay was bumped, and it was open season on Nash for the Filthy Animals.  Even with the manpower advantage and a crooked ref making the calls, Nash was not to be beaten.  When things looked their worst, Goldberg's monster truck entered the arena, followed by Goldberg himself.  The ring cleared, except for Nash and Jarrett.  When he got into the ring, Goldberg shocked everybody by spearing Kevin Nash, instead of Jeff Jarrett.  Jarrett took advantage and made the pinfall on Nash, retaining his title.  When the match was over, Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo came to the ring from Goldberg's truck, and embraced Goldberg as the announcers declared that there has never been a more surprising, shocking, industry-changing event in sports entertainment.  Their labored hyperbole aside, the turn of Goldberg did go over very well, as fans took little time adopting a "Goldberg Sucks" chant and pelting the ring with garbage.

The final hour or so of the event, with the visually stunning Human Torch finish and the huge Goldberg heel turn, was solidly entertaining despite the fact that both finishes came after matches that are probably not the best that the men involved are capable of.  The contests were flat until the conclusions, but that was OK in these cases because the finishes really were big enough to wipe away the memory of a lackluster match.

However, that really is only half the equation... I will gladly commend WCW on doing a nice job with these storyline elements, even crafting a patented "Shane McMahon High Quality Sports Entertainment Segment" (where extracurriculars and carefully paced spots help mask the lack of a pure "wrestling match" and keep you entertained) out of the father/son battle of the Flairs.  But any show that lacks a stand-out match will be hard to praise as a true Thumbs Up.

The Asylum match stood out as several notches below average, while the boot camp match was over-long and very flat... if tempered by a match or two that stood out as exceptionally good, that'd be OK.  But instead, almost everything else on the card sort of melded together in a hodge-podge of watchable-but-ultimately-forgettable action, with the storyline elements being the only noteworthy developments.  [And it wasn't necessarily for a lack of effort from the workers, either... as outlined above, I think there may be some time management issues stemming from the creative team's judgment.]

To use the metaphor of Scotty "Too Hotty" Taylor, it's as if WCW figured out how to do the fluffery that is "The Worm" to pop the crowd for a few seconds, but hasn't mastered what Scotty has:  the ability to engage a crowd with a high quality wrestling match leading up to the big move.

I'm tempted to give the Great American Bash a "Thumbs Up" anyway, because I really do think it accomplished most of what it needed to... from Day One, the R&B Mantra has been that "wrestling" is not what they do, and storytelling is.  And I think it's something they did very well (at least during the last half of the card) on Sunday night.  But I don't feel right trying to rate a show using somebody else's criteria; and to me, the wrestling is still important.  Not just the EXISTENCE of it on the card, but the right guys being given the right time to do it well enough to make the fans stand up and take notice.  That was definitely missing from the Bash.

What's it all mean?  You guessed it:  a cop-out Thumbs in the Middle.  I have no problem granting that it was a good story-based show, and that it would probably get the most enthusiastic of Thumbs Ups on Vince Russo's rating scheme; I also have no problem conceiving that my old arch-nemesis Herb Kunze would sit down and call this show an easy Thumbs Down on the workrate freak rating scheme.  But the odd mish-mash of opinions and biases that make me Rick Scaia demand that I note the strengths of some elements of the show, the weaknesses of others, and go with the Thumbs in the Middle call.

E-MAIL RICK SCAIA   
BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


  
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