Great American Bash 1990 – Sting’s Moment In The Sun

Great American Bash 1990
Date: July 7, 1990
Location: Baltimore Arena, Baltimore, Maryland
Attendance: 10,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Bob Caudle

I like this doing three shows in a row as I get to see the build up for these big shows like the Bash and then the payoff here. The main event is finally Sting vs. Flair for the title after arguably over two years of buildup. Usually I’d say what else is on here, but other than that match, there’s nothing at all to talk about because it’s a one match show. Let’s get to it.

The opening graphic is the big names of WCW on stars which move onto the American flag. Cool.

Buddy Landell vs. Brian Pillman

Pillman has the Bengals trunks now. His music doesn’t get going until he’s halfway down the ramp. They slap each other around to start and I don’t think I heard a bell. Brian comes back with chops and it’s a slugfest early on. A spinning middle rope cross body gets two for Brian. The fans sound like they’re behind Landell or at least some of them are. Pillman dropkicks him to the floor and Buddy gets a breather. He looks a lot skinnier here than he usually did too.

Landell goes for the arm and uses some very basic cheating (nothing wrong with it being simple) to take Pillman down. Pillman tries the same spinning cross body that he tried earlier but gets caught in a backbreaker for two. Brian tries to speed things up but misses a dropkick. Landell pounds on him some more but gets caught by ten punches in the corner. Pillman rams into the buckle though and it’s chinlockery a go-go. Brian comes back with punches in the corner but charges into a forearm. Landell rolls through a cross body for two. Brian goes to the apron but comes back in with a top rope cross body for the pin.

Rating: D+. Was there a need for this to either A, exist or B, go nine minutes? It wasn’t terrible but I really don’t get why it went on so long. Landell was more or less just a jobber at this point after having his big run in the 80s derailed by drugs. Not bad but it felt like a low level TV main event.

Gordon Solie talks about the show and says nothing of note.

Iron Sheik vs. Mike Rotunda

Uh….sure? Sheik jumps him to start and rips Mike’s jacket off. MY GOODNESS Sheik has a beer belly and a half on him. Mike grabs a fast sunset flip for two. Rotunda speeds things up and sends Sheik to the floor where JR calls him a terrorist. Back in now and they slug it out with Sheik keeping control. The abdominal stretch goes on but Sheik gets caught cheating to break the hold. Rotunda fights back and they slug it out. Sheik throws him to the floor to keep this match going. He suplexes Mike back in and gets pinned by a backslide.

Rating: D. Again, what was the point of this? Nothing of note happened at all and there was no point in having either guy on the card. Does anyone remember Sheik in WCW? I certainly don’t, but somehow he got paid for a full year because WCW forgot to stop his contract from being renewed. And you wonder why they went out of business.

Harley Race says Flair better be ready for Sting tonight because Sting can beat him. As for Tommy Rich, Race’s opponent tonight, he knows he’s a beaten man.

Dutch Mantel vs. Doug Furnas

Furnas is the World’s Strongest Man. My goodness there are a lot of them that are wrestlers. Mantel is a Texas man with a lot of hair on his face. Furnas shoves him to the floor to start and Mantel is annoyed. Back in and Mantel grabs a headlock. Furnas easily gorilla presses him down as Mantel has nothing to slow Furnas down. Mantel slaps him twice and make it three times.

Furnas walks up Mantel in the corner and moonsaults off of him. Mantel heads to the floor to hide as things slow down even more. Cross body by Furnas gets two. The match has been going on over five minutes now and it seems like there’s been all of 30 seconds of action. Mantel gets in some offense but Furnas overpowers him and goes up. A top rope splash misses though and Mantel gets his first real advantage.

Off to a chinlock by Dutch and I don’t think this is going to last much longer. He grabs an arm hold of some sort which doesn’t really do anything. Snap suplex gets two with Furnas throwing Mantel onto the referee. Back to the arm with Mantel just standing there instead of cranking on it at all. Furnas gets up with ease and pounds Dutch against the ropes. Powerslam puts Dutch down and then Furnas starts doing nothing but kicks and punches. Furnas gets behind him and hits a snap belly to belly for the pin.

Rating: F. It was boring, there was zero point to it happening, and it was really slow. I get that this was more of the style back then, but we’re thirty five minutes into the show and this is the best that they can give us so far? This has been a horrible opening part of the show and this is probably the low point.

Cornette talks about the upcoming major matches before talking about the Southern Boys, the Express’ opponents for later tonight. Nothing much here.

Harley Race vs. Tommy Rich

After this I’m pretty sure we get to the real part of the show. Race is in a singlet which I’ve never seen him wear before. Rich runs him over a few times and avoids an elbow. Off to a headlock and Race’s arm is rammed into the post. Race comes back with a piledriver which knocks Rich to the ramp. Rich gets suplexed out there as Race takes over.

Tommy comes back, knocking Race over the top and sending his head into the apron in the process. A middle rope elbow gets two. There’s a belly to belly from Race followed by a swinging neckbreaker. Rich comes back and tries a slam and they tumble to the floor. Back in, Rich tries a top rope cross body but Race rolls through for the surprise pin.

Rating: D. The match was boring and again I have no idea why it exists. We’re 45 minutes into a roughly three hour show and the best match has been a long Brian Pillman vs. Buddy Landell match. What’s the point of these things anyway? Wouldn’t they be better suited spaced out a bit? Unless they hope they’re having the best final two thirds ever, I really don’t understand this.

Mean Mark and Paul E. Dangerously say Flair will win and that Mark will win the US Title from Luger. This is more or less the only big time match that Mark will have in WCW. Mark rips up a Luger t-shirt during this.

US Tag Titles: Midnight Express vs. Southern Boys

The Southern Boys are the challengers and are Steve Armstrong and Tracy Smothers. The Midnights clear the ring almost immediately and the fight heads outside. The Southern Boys get Eaton alone and hit a double backdrop followed by a double shoulder to send him out. Lane is knocked out too and Cornette freaks. He yells at a fan “WHY DON’T YOU SIT DOWN AND WIPE THE UGLY OFF YOUR FACE YOU STUPID PIG FACED MORON?” I love Jim Cornette.

Armstrong and Eaton officially get us going and Eaton gets an early advantage. He gets slammed off the top though and Armstrong speeds things up to take over. It’s not often that speeding things up works on Eaton but it is to a degree here. Smothers comes in and Eaton has just as much luck as he did with Armstrong. Smothers fires off some martial arts shots and Eaton complains.

Eaton gets thrown around a lot and superkicked to his own corner. FINALLY he tags in Lane and it’s time for a karate fight. Lane gets in the first shot and then a few more to a big reaction. Now Armstrong superkicks Lane and then does the same to Eaton. Back to wrestling now with Smothers working on the arm. Lane escapes and tags in Eaton who is taken down with an armdrag as well.

Eaton gets knocked to the floor and Armstrong kicks him down again. The Southern Boys ram their heads together and Cornette freaks out even more. This has not been his day at all. Smothers rolls Bobby up but Bobby made a blind tag, allowing Lane to throw Smothers over the top and ram him into the barricade to take over for the first time. Smother tries to speed things up but Bobby takes his head off with a clothesline.

Off to lane again as the Southern Boys are in trouble. The beating continues and Eaton hits the Alabama Jam. It hurts him too though and it’s back to Lane. Smothers gets two off a sunset flip. The Midnights use their double team moves and a swinging neckbreaker puts Tracy on the floor. Smothers manages to slingshot Eaton to the floor and then rams Lane’s head into the buckle.

Lane comes back with some kung fu fighting, but both Midnights get caught in a single sunset flip. Smothers has some great thinking here and runs over to tag out instead of the improbable tag. Everything breaks down and the Southern Boys hit a sweet double team move resembling a Hart Attack with Armstrong hitting a missile dropkick instead of the clothesline. That gets two and the Midnights take Armstrong down and the Rocket Launcher gets two. The Southern Boys switch and Smothers rolls him up for two. Lane manages to kick Smothers in the head from the apron and Eaton rolls him up to retain.

Rating: A. GREAT match here with the fans absolutely coming unglued to end things. The Southern Boys got a lot better in about the blink of an eye while the Midnights would drop the titles to the Steiners later in the year and then would split, with Lane and Cornette starting up SMW and not being in WCW ever again that I recall. Outstanding match here though, which Cornette called one of the best Express matches ever.

The Fre…..oh my. Uh…..what’s a polite way to say this……the Freebirds look like they’d make a great Survivor Series team with Adrian Street and Rico after he split from Billy and Chuck. There’s mascara, there’s eyeliner, there’s suspenders, there’s long ponytails, and I think I see glitter. They say they can drive anything and they can ride anything with four legs. They get the Steiners tonight.

Z-Man vs. Big Van Vader

This is Vader’s WCW debut and Z-Man is the kind of guy Vader sprinkles on his pizza (ten points for whoever gets that reference). He’s in a more traditional mask here and has the helmet. There’s the bell and Z-Man’s chances are done in about 4 seconds. Vader knocks him around for about two minutes and a splash ends it. Z-Man had absolutely zero offense.

The Horsemen say they have some surprises for Sting and his friends tonight. This incarnation is Windham, Arn and Sid with Ole doing a lot of the talking. You know, because that Arn guy could never do that.

Fabulous Freebirds vs. Steiner Brothers

Make your own jokes about them being called Fabulous after the way they looked earlier. The Birds jump Scott to start and knock Rick to the outside. Scott throws Garvin around and blocks a Hayes DDT. Rick comes in and punches everyone out to the floor. Scott takes them down with a double clothesline as the Steiners take over. Rick vs. Garvin officially starts us off after about a minute.

Garvin gets backdropped and it’s all Rick to start. Hayes comes in and stalls a lot. Rick bites him in a place I don’t want to check for marks and it’s back to Garvin vs. Scott. Garvin tries to go amateur with him and guess how well that goes for him. The Steiners clear the ring and the Freebirds want a time out. The fans get all over the Birds until we get to Hayes vs. Scott.

Hayes punches him a few times but Scott shrugs them off and suplexes both Birds. Both of them get slammed by Rick and the dominance is on. Hayes gets in the first significant offense for the Freebirds by punching Rick to the floor. A double suplex puts Rick down again and it’s off to a chinlock by Jimmy. Garvin hooks three chinlocks inside of two minutes.

He goes up but Rick slams him down and hits something that was supposed to be a bulldog. This match has just died since the Birds took over. There’s the hot tag to Scott and house is cleaned. There’s a Frankensteiner to Hayes but Garvin grabs a DDT on Scott. He isn’t legal though and walks into a belly to belly from Rick and Scott gets the pin.

Rating: C-. It’s not bad but at the same time there’s nothing at all here from the Freebirds that is anything worth seeing. The Steiners are completely awesome and would get the tag titles back in February, winning them from the Freebirds before the Freebirds won them in the first place. Now that’s a story that can only happen in wrestling.

Sign of the times for you: this show is in July. The next PPV is in late October.

Dudes With Attitude vs. Horsemen

It’s Orndorff/JYD/El Gigante (making his debut) vs. Sid/Barry/Arn (TV Champion) and this is more of the Sting’s guys vs. Horsemen war. Arn vs. Paul gets us going. Sid comes in instead so Paul hip tosses everyone. He can’t backslide Sid though, or at least not until the JYD headbutts Sid down. Arn comes in to pound on Paul but he fights out of the corner. El Gigante comes in and everyone named after a Horse runs.

The Horsemen have a huddle but Orndorff pulls him back in for a beating from JYD. Gigante pulls back a fist and Anderson runs very fast as his eyes bug out. Windham comes in and JYD gets down on all fours to headbutt him a few times. Arn punches the Dog a few times and brings Barry back in. Windham DDTs Dog and hey he has a hard head. That’s a new one from him.

A not hot tag brings Orndorff in and he cleans a few rooms. The Dudes were never in any real trouble so there’s no heat on the tag. He loads up the piledriver on Anderson but Barry comes in off the top to break it up. The fans want Sid so he comes in for a chinlock. Everything breaks down and a lot of people are thrown over the top. The Horsemen run from Gigante and somewhere in there the Dudes win via DQ.

Rating: D. There was no point here other than to showcase Gigante. The problem with that is he’s just there for his look rather than anything resembling skill. Very boring match here and the fans didn’t care at all other than wanting the eternally popular Sid. This wouldn’t end anytime soon that I remember.

Lex says he’s tougher than a shirt and he supports Sting.

US Title: Lex Luger vs. Mark Callous

Mark has Dangerously with him. This is Mark’s only important match in WCW. He takes over to start and works on the arm and they actually go to the mat. Lex arm drags him to the corner where Mark complains of a hair pull. Callous is the Undertaker because I’ve done the “who is he” thing too many times. Mark misses a corner charge and a cross body gets two. Time for some arm work and Paul is on the phone to someone named Murray.

Mark jumps over him with a leapfrog but misses a punch. The second attempt works and Callous takes over. This is as slow as it sounds. Mark works on the arm for awhile and then knocks Luger to the outside. Luger gets a quick sunset flip for two. He no sells a suplex and clotheslines Mark down a few times. There’s the Rack but the referee takes a shot to the head.

Dangerously throws in the phone which goes into Luger’s ribs. The fans are a lot more into this than you would expect them to be. Mark crawls over to him and gets a very slow cover for two. Mark calls for the Heart Punch but Luger gets a boot up, knocks Paul down, and wins with a clothesline of all things.

Rating: D+. Nothing to see here but this was a much more normal concept back in the day: having the midcard titles defended against big guys who haven’t really done anything of note yet. Mark would get a lot better after getting the right gimmick in about 5 months. Until then though, he was pretty worthless.

Sting says he’s ready and will have no excuses if he loses.

Tag Titles: Rock N Roll Express vs. Doom

This is more or less the final run for the RNR and they’re challenging here. Simmons vs. Gibson starts us off. JR talks about Gibson signing in the ring, as in sign language. Gibson speeds things up and gets a rollup for one, which makes Simmons tag in Reed. An elbow puts Butch back into the corner and here’s Ricky. Reed knocks Morton down so the Express double teams him down.

The idea of the match here is very simple: when the Express can double team they win, but when it’s one on one they don’t have much luck. Reed knocks both of them to the floor but it’s Gibson taking the worst of it. Back in a sunset flip gets two for Robert as does a slam for Reed. Morton comes in to speed things up and gets two with an O’Connor Roll on Butch. They speed the clock up to say that it’s been ten minutes.

Reed works over Morton with pure power and brings in Simmons. Morton gets a dropkick but Reed comes in to keep things at the status quo. Reed comes in and slows things back down again, which makes perfect sense for Doom. Gibson has had enough and comes in for some cheating but it doesn’t do enough to get him in legally. Back to Simmons as Morton takes a beating like only Ricky Morton can do.

Reed gets two off a big right hand and it’s time for more chinlocking. Doom does their cheating by throwing Morton over the top while the other has the referee distracted. Shoulder block gets two for Ron. Morton slugs it out with Reed which goes horribly and results in a powerslam for two. Morton ducks another shoulder and there’s the hot tag to Gibson. He cleans house and a sunset flip gets no count on Ron as everything breaks down. An enziguri sends Ron into Teddy to bring him inside. Gibson beats him up which is enough of a distraction for Reed to come off the top and kill Gibson with a shoulder to retain.

Rating: B. Doom was awesome at this point and would soon turn face and fight the Horsemen, causing some AWESOME fights. The Express never really went anywhere after this other than to the indies and other companies. Great match though in the traditional formula that the Express perfected long ago.

Flair says he’s going to walk that aisle against Sting tonight.

NWA World Title: Sting vs. Ric Flair

Ton of stips here: No DQ, No Countout, the Dudes With Attitude are at ringside to counter the Horsemen and Ole is handcuffed to El Gigante. Flair chops away but those don’t work on Sting of course. Gorilla press sends Flair to the corner and Rick Steiner laughs at him. Dropkick sends Flair to the outside but Sting follows him out. Back inside Flair gets a quick suplex but Sting is up first.

A top rope cross body gets two on Flair. The champ begs off and heads to the floor to take another breather. Back in and Flair kicks the knee out to get the crowd into a panic. Sting clotheslines him down but an elbow misses. Figure Four is quickly broken up but Flair keeps control. We go outside and are told that’s ten minutes in. It’s more like 5 but whatever. There’s been no clipping either.

Sting comes back in the ring but a dropkick misses. Flair goes after the knee and Sting sells it like he’s been shot. Ric tries to cannonball down onto the knee but misses. It doesn’t mean anything but the knee drop missing does. Sting throws the Figure Four on Flair and the people literally rise up. Flair escapes to the ropes and they go outside. Sting is sent into the barricade but shrugs it off.

Ten corner punches back in the ring have Flair rocked but he kicks Sting in the knee. Flair goes up and there’s the slam off the top. Sting tries to mount an offense but gets kicked in the knee again. Sting keeps avoiding the Figure Four but his counters are getting slower each time. He’s limping badly now too. Flair slaps him in the corner and chops away, which doesn’t go that well.

Sting is all like BRING IT ON NAITCH and hits a backdrop and clothesline for two. The fans are getting way into it here. I don’t think anyone doubts that Sting will win here but it’s about how he’s going to do it rather than will he do it. Another clothesline puts Flair on the apron and a suplex back in gets two. Stinger Splash hits and Flair Flops. Here comes the Scorpion and Ole is panicking. The Horsemen run out but Orndorff, JYD and the Steiners are waiting for them.

Flair FINALLY makes the ropes but the fans mostly missed it due to the outside stuff. It’s good that they didn’t end it there. Sting punches him to the apron but Flair kicks the knee out again. Scott Steiner shoves Flair’s feet off the ropes and Sting gets a backslide for two. The crowd is losing it on these kickouts. For some reason Sting tries a running knee in the corner and for another reason we cut to the crowd as the knee hits the buckle. Flair goes for the Figure Four, but Sting rolls him up for the pin and the title. To say the roof is blown off the place is an understatement.

Rating: B-. The match isn’t great and it’s nowhere near their best, but this was about a moment. Sting was the hottest thing on the planet and had been for about a year and a half, so this was academic. The idea here is that they let it be a big moment instead of some stupid swerve to mess with us. That’s what WWE seems so scared of today: people figuring out the conclusions and changing them rather than letting them go, which is the right idea. A lot of the time it’s about how you get to the ending, not what you get to.

Sting praises Flair and says he’ll do the best he can as champion.

Overall Rating: C+. The first four matches are AWFUL and suck the life out of the show, but if you edit them out (which the home video so thankfully did) you get a pretty awesome show with a huge moment to end things. Sting is officially the king of the NWA, but then things would fall apart because of the brilliance of Ole Anderson and the Black Scorpion mess, but for what this is, it was great.

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