Date: July 7, 1990
Venue: Baltimore Arena (Baltimore, MD)
Commentators: Jim Ross & Bob Caudle
The 1990 edition of The Great American Bash is best remembered for the official crowning of Sting as the top dog in WCW, months after it was initially planned due to a knee injury suffered in January. Have I watched this show a bunch? Yup. Have I recapped this at least twice before? Yup. Is it going to stop me now? Nope.
- NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair
- NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION: “The Total Package” Lex Luger
- NWA WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPION: “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson
- NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Doom (Ron Simmons & “Hacksaw” Butch Reed)
- NWA UNITED STATES TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Midnight Express (“Beautiful” Bobby Eaton & “Sweet” Stan Lane)
- Brian Pillman vs. Buddy Landell (**1/2)
- Mike Rotunda vs. The Iron Sheik (1/4*)
- Doug Furnas vs. Dutch Mantell (**)
- Tommy Rich vs. Harley Race (**1/2)
- The Midnight Express [c] vs. The Southern Boys for the NWA UNITED STATES TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (****1/2)
- Tom Zenk vs. Big Van Vader (SQUASH)
- The Steiner Brothers vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (**3/4)
- El Gigante, Paul Orndorff, & The Junkyard Dog vs. Arn Anderson, Barry Windham, & Sid Vicious (**)
- Lex Luger [c] vs. Mark Callous for the NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (**3/4)
- Doom [c] vs. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express for the NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (***)
- Ric Flair [c] vs. Sting for the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (***1/2)
-Pyro and ballyhoo as Ross and Caudle welcome the home audience…and deal with various audio issues. Are their mics next to the amps or something?
“Flyin” Brian Pillman vs. “Nature Boy” Buddy Landell
Poetic that this show is bookended by the two Nature Boys of WCW. Pillman’s entrance music doesn’t kick in until he’s almost to the ring, but that doesn’t stop him from doing his usual entrance anyway. He’s committed.
Landell backs Pillman in the corner and connects with a series of chops, Pillman absorbs them and they trade right hands. Pillman comes off the buckles with a crossbody but Landell kicks out at two and bails to the corner. Loud pro-Landell contingent in Baltimore tonight. I can’t blame them, he rules. Pillman reverses a corner Irish whip and connects with a pair of dropkicks that send Landell to the floor. Landell isn’t deterred though, showing off his…physique that exists I guess. Pillman with a standing armbar, Landell distracts the ref and reverses into a wristlock by using the hair. Landell backs Pillman into the corner and slaps him, then hides behind the ref so Pillman can’t retaliate. Smart. Landell escapes a wristlock with a thumb to the eye, Pillman attempts a sunset flip but gets stopped with a right hand. Pillman tries a crossbody again but this time Landell catches him and connects with a backbreaker, posing for the crowd to celebrate. Landell dodges a dropkick and repeatedly tries to cover but Pillman escapes every time. Landell blocks a hip toss and LEVELS Pillman with a clothesline for the 1…2…Pillman kicks out once again. Pillman with corner count-a-long rights, they trade chops and Landell takes some of the oomph out of his opponent with an elbow to the back of the head and a reverse chinlock. Pillman escapes, Landell drives a knee to the gut for the 1…2…Pillman kicks out and we’re back to a chinlock. Pillman almost escapes, Landell connects with a vertical suplex that stuns both men. Pillman whips Landell into the corner, Landell catches him with a hard forearm and both men are down once again. Pillman ducks a clothesline and hits a crossbody but Landell rolls through for the 1…2…Pillman kicks out just in time. Pillman tries an O’Connor Roll, Landell holds on and sends Pillman to the ramp. Pillman quickly rebounds while Landell gloats and catches him with a flying crossbody for the 1…2…3!
Brian Pillman defeated Buddy Landell via pinfall with a flying crossbody (9:46)
- A good opening match to kick off this very overstuffed PPV. While doing work over at LegacyofWCW.com I have grown to really appreciate the work of Buddy Landell which I think helped me enjoy this match even more than I have in the past. Landell worked a rip-off gimmick, sure, but he was different enough to be entertaining in his own way. Pillman getting the win is a positive as Ole Anderson really f*cked he and Zenk once he took over as booker (as you will see later in the show). (**1/2)
-INTERVIEW STAGE: Gordon Solie hypes up the rest of the card to come…and then we go back to the ring. Very necessary.
“Captain” Mike Rotunda vs. The Iron Sheik
Rotunda was the “Captain” of The Varsity Club but after a face turn he became the captain of a…yacht I guess? Sheik is very much past his prime at this point but WCW decided to throw money at him anyway. This is a WrestleMania rematch of sorts, as these two were on competing teams during the inaugural edition of the show back in 1985.
Sheik attacks Rotunda with his Iranian flag and chokes him with his entrance jacket/cape/thing. All of Sheik’s muscle from his WWF run has migrated to his gut which is impressively large. Rotunda catches Sheik with a sunset flip for a two-count followed by a scoop slam and dropkick, forcing Sheik to bail to the floor. Sheik backs Rotunda in the corner and they trade chops until Sheik rakes the eyes to take control. Sheik repeatedly tells the crowd to quiet down and hits a gutwrench suplex for the 1…2…Rotunda kicks out. Sheik applies the worst goddamn abdominal stretch in pro wrestling history until Rotunda counters with a hip toss. Rotunda misses an elbowdrop and Sheik is back in control with a belly-to-back suplex for another two-count. Rotunda drops Sheik with a series of rights, Sheik gets to his knees and praises Rotunda as a beg-off tactic. Rotunda counters a suplex with one of his own for the 1…2…Sheik kicks out. Sheik sends Rotunda to the floor and taunts the crowd to get some heat/take a breath because there’s no way he’s not blown up. Sheik suplexes Rotunda back in for the 1…2…Rotunda kicks out once again. Sheik goes for a butterfly suplex, Rotunda counters with a backslide for the 1…2…3!
Mike Rotunda defeated The Iron Sheik via pinfall with a backslide (6:42)
- The Iron Sheik should not have been wrestling singles matches at this point in his career. He still hit a decent suplex but everything else was just real awful and awkward. He couldn’t even bend properly for the backslide due to his giant belly. Yikes. Just yikes. Mike Rotunda is not the most interesting wrestler in the world, but he deserved a lot better than that. (1/4*)
-INTERVIEW STAGE: Solie is joined by Harley Race, who is back in WCW to…wrestle? In 1990? Weird. Race wants revenge on his opponent tonight, Tommy Rich, for beating him for the NWA World Title in the early-80s. I appreciate the continuity. Race says if Flair isn’t on his game tonight then Sting will beat him. Race still hating Flair after all these years is also a nice bit of continuity. Race bringing the thunder!
“The World’s Strongest Man” Doug Furnas vs. “Dirty” Dutch Mantell
Did I accidentally put on an episode of Worldwide or something, what the hell is this doing on PPV? Furnas is apparently the World’s Strongest Man; he is suspiciously jacked I will give him that. Furnas would go onto Japan and make something of himself, including a brief WWF run in 96/97, but here he’s still pretty green.
Furnas shows off his strength early, forcing Mantell to bail to the floor after a shoulderblock. Mantell grabs a side headlock (Ross and Caudle making fun of how hairy he is), Furnas escapes and shows off his agility with a whole lot of leapfrogs before drilling Mantell with a military press slam. Mantell plays mind games with Furnas, slapping him in the corner repeatedly and forcing the ref to interject, avoiding retribution. Furnas responds with count-a-long rights, a backflip out of the corner and a dropkick that sends Mantell scrambling for the safety of the floor once again. Furnas settles into a wristlock, Mantell grabs the hair and whips him off. Furnas ducks a clothesline and hits a crossbody for a two-count, quickly following up with an armdrag into an armbar. Mantell escapes and gets a thumb to the eye of Furnas, taking over on offense using all sorts of dirty tactics (befitting of his nickname). Furnas mounts a mini-comeback but misses a top-rope splash and it’s Mantell back in control, slowing it down with a top wristlock. Audible “BORING” moan from someone in the crowd as Mantell clotheslines Furnas on the floor. Back in the ring Mantell connects with a snap suplex for the 1…2…Furnas kicks out with such force Mantell lands right on top of the ref! DISQUALIFY FURNAS. Mantell rocks an armbar, standing over Furnas and grabbing the tights for leverage (don’t know how well that would actually work, but hey you do you mustache man). Ref finally catches him cheating and forces a break, Mantell argues with the ref and Furnas rolls him up for the 1…2…nope. Furnas mounts a comeback, drilling Mantell with a powerslam and doing what he can to wake the crowd back up. Furnas counters a backdrop with a hard kick to the chest. Furnas leapfrogs Mantell and confuses the man with his super speed, leaving him open for a snap belly-to-belly suplex for the 1…2…3.
Doug Furnas defeated Dutch Mantell via pinfall with a belly-to-belly suplex (11:17)
- A good showcase for Furnas’ strength/speed that was hampered by the match going ELEVEN MINUTES. Not that it was necessarily bad, but it felt padded at points and as much as I love Dutch Mantell in theory it just felt…pointless to go that long as it should have been more of a squash. At least Rotunda/Sheik didn’t go eleven minutes. COULD YOU IMAGINE? (**)
-INTERVIEW STAGE: Solie is standing by with Jim Cornette. Cornette doesn’t think The Southern Boys are tough enough to hang with The Midnight Express.
“Wildfire” Tommy Rich vs. Harley Race
Rich defeated Race for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship back in 1981, making him the youngest champ in NWA history I believe, but lost it back four days later. Race is still mad about it though and wants his revenge. Race is at the very tail-end of his in-ring career at this point but would find new life as a manager a year or so after this match.
Rich hits a couple of shoulderblocks, Race responds with a clothesline but misses an elbowdrop and Rich regains control with a side headlock takeover. Rich reverses a corner Irish whip, sending Race shoulder-first into the post and giving Wildfire a limb to work on. Race escapes and drops Rich with a high knee followed by a piledriver, the impact sending Rich to the ramp. Race doesn’t let up, suplexing Rich on the ramp and dropping him throat-first across the top rope. Rich clotheslines Race to the floor, his head smacking the apron on the way down. Oof, poor guy. Rich doesn’t let up himself, slamming him on the protective mats which have less give than the ramp. Rich suplexes Race back into the ring and follows up with a flying fist drop for the 1…2…Race kicks out. Race belts Rich with a kneelift followed by a belly-to-belly suplex for the 1…2…Rich kicks out relatively easily. Race picks Rich up and DRILLS him with a clothesline that would make Rick Steiner proud, following up with a swinging neckbreaker. Rich mounts a comeback for the unappreciative crowd, sending himself and Race to the floor during a slam attempt. No disqualification called since it was an “accident”. Back in the ring Rich comes off the top with a flying crossbody but Race rolls through and hooks the leg for the 1…2…3!
Harley Race defeated Tommy Rich via pinfall (6:29)
- I think I like this match a little more each time I watch it, mostly out of respect for Race who was still going hard in 1990 despite being all but physically wrecked after decades of non-stop wrestling. These two had themselves quite a slugfest and it’s a lot better than you think it would be, I promise. At the very least you’ll be more into it than the crowd was. (**1/2)
-INTERVIEW STAGE: Solie is standing by with “Mean” Mark Callous and his manager Paul E. Dangerously. Dangerously proclaims that Flair will retain the World Title tonight (nobody asked), then gives Callous a Lex Luger shirt to rip in half for INTIMIDATION. Solie cuts them off mid-rant to go back to the ring.
The Midnight Express (“Beautiful” Bobby Eaton & “Sweet” Stan Lane) [c] [w/ Jim Cornette] vs. The Wild-Eyed Southern Boys (Tracy Smothers & Steve Armstrong) for the NWA UNITED STATES TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
A brawl breaks out right at the bell, Southern Boys with a double backdrop and double shoulderblock to Eaton. Lane gets knocked off the apron, and they take a moment to reset. The Baltimore crowd is pro-Midnight Express and I can’t blame them, a pro-south tag team does not a babyface make in the Northeast. Eaton backs Armstrong in the corner and connects with a pair of straight rights followed by a scoop slam. Eaton heads to the top, Armstrong slams him off. Eaton catches a monkey flip, Armstrong counters with a monkey flip followed by an on-point dropkick. Armstrong takes flight and connects with a flying clothesline, Eaton bails back to the floor to get some advice from Cornette. Smothers tags in, Southern Boys drop him with a double chop and Eaton slows it back down by backing into his corner. Eaton counters a slam with a right hand (crowd pops HUGE for it), but Smothers bounces back and connects with a superkick (“savate kick” in 90s speak). Smothers reverses a corner Irish whip and connects with a backdrop followed by another savate kick and now it’s time for the Express’ martial arts master, Stan Lane, to tag in. WHITE BOY KARATE TIME.
Lane cracks Smothers in the eye with a “karate” backfist and the crowd goes NUTS. Lane does it again and connects with a series of karate kicks, Smothers catches the final blow and lays into him with a series of back fists and thrust kicks. Eaton runs in and eats his third superkick, and the crowd HAS WOKEN THE F*CK UP. Smothers and Lane jockey for position, countering each other’s moves. Smothers grabs a hammerlock, Lane escapes with an eye rake and tags Eaton who falls victim to an armdrag. Smothers connects with a slingshot kick and covers for a one-count, Eaton bails to the floor and gets dropped with a baseball slide. Express hit Smothers with a double back elbow. Smothers evades a corner splash, Armstrong takes flight and takes both Express members down with a flying clothesline. They try to cover both, champs kick out, Express get double noggin knocked and sent back to the floor. Goddamn this match is so fluid. Smothers gets sent over the top while the ref is distracted, Lane throws him into the guardrail and the champs are finally in control.
Smothers climbs back onto the apron, Lane runs into him and Smothers flies back-first into the guardrail. Nice height. Eaton tags in and connects with a backbreaker off Lane’s atomic drop. Smothers fights back, hitting Eaton with a fourth savate kick but can’t make the tag. Eaton slams Smothers and connects with the Alabama Jam, then tags in Lane to keep the pressure going. Smothers counters a backdrop with a sunset flip for the 1…2…Lane kicks out. Eaton tags in and connects with a swinging neckbreaker following a kick from Lane. Crowd is reacting like it’s the Super Bowl, apparently the undercard bored them a lot more than it did me. Fair enough. Express keep the quick tags coming, Smothers takes them both down with a double sunset flip and Armstrong gets the HOT HOT HOT TAG. Armstrong with a series of chops and a double noggin knocker followed by a leaping shoulderblock on Lane. Eaton quickly breaks up the pinfall attempt, Smothers decks him. The Southern Boys hit the Hart Attack/Missile Dropkick combo on Lane, but the ref is too distracted with trying to clear the ring of the non-legal participants and Lane kicks out when he finally goes for the count. BOOOO. Eaton pushes Armstrong off the top turnbuckle and the Express hit the Rocket Launcher for the 1…2…ARMSTRONG GETS HIS SHOULDER UP. Smothers switches with Armstrong and catches Eaton with a surprise inside cradle for the 1…2…Eaton kicks out. Lane kicks Smothers in the back of the head with a savate kick, Eaton hooks him with an inside cradle for the 1…2…3! HELL YEAH!
The Midnight Express [c] defeated The Wild-Eyed Southern Boys to retain the NWA UNITED STATES TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP when Bobby Eaton pinned Tracy Smothers with an inside cradle (18:12)
- One of the best tag team matches I have ever seen in my 20+ years of being a wrestling fan. Tremendously paced, great work from all four men, and the ending sequence was absolute FIRE. The crowd, which had been relatively dormant for the opening matches, woke right the f*ck up for this one and these two teams rewarded their excitement. Can’t say enough great stuff about this match, y’all. Seek it out immediately. Man how honored were we as fans to have The Midnight Express as a team? (****1/2)
-INTERVIEW STAGE: Solie is with The Fabulous Freebirds, makeup and glitter game on-point. They are going to ride all night long and there are two things that The Steiner Brothers can do about it: nothing and LIKE IT. I wish I watched this show when I was in elementary school, that would have been my favorite insult.
“The Z-Man” Tom Zenk vs. Big Van Vader
Zenk had a promising start to his WCW career, including a reign as United States Tag Team Champions alongside Brian Pillman, but once Ole Anderson took the book the starch was taken out of his push. Poor Z-Man. He would get the same treatment, this time from Dusty Rhodes, in 1991 when his singles career looked to be on the rise. This is Vader’s big WCW debut, and he’s still got the full mask covered in lightning bolts (or maybe veins?) plus that cool as f*ck smoking helmet.
Vader wastes no time laying waste to Zenk, with stiff corner strikes and a short-arm clothesline that almost takes his head off. Zenk rolls to the ramp, Vader lifts him back into the ring. Zenk hits a dropkick, Vader no-sells and tosses him to the canvas with a military press slam followed by an elbowdrop. Vader connects with another clothesline and follows up with a splash for the 1…2…3.
Big Van Vader defeated Tom Zenk via pinfall with a splash (2:14)
- A dominant debut for arguably the greatest big man in pro wrestling history, at least in my opinion. Pre-WWF Vader is good sh*t, pal. Too bad Zenk had to be the one to get squashed. They couldn’t have gotten Tim Horner or someone further down the pecking order to do the honors? (SQUASH)
-INTERVIEW STAGE: Solie is joined by Sid Vicious, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson, and Ole Anderson of The Four Horsemen. Windham says Ole has come up with a plan to get rid of El Gigante and that’s what they’re going to do. Ole says they will also ensure that their leader Ric Flair walks out of the main event as World Champion. SHENANIGANS ARE AFOOT.
The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael “P.S.” Hayes & Jimmy “Jam” Garvin)
The Freebirds attack The Steiners so early that no bell is ever run to start the match. They clear Rick from the ring and drop Scott with a double clothesline. Garvin goes for the DDT, Scott counters with a backdrop. Hayes tries a DDT of his own, Scott blocks it. Rick runs in and drops both Freebirds with a pair of Steinerlines. The Freebirds bail from the ring, Scott drills them with a double clothesline. Things settle down into a wrestling match as The Freebirds deal with a “F*GGOT” chant from the crowd. Goddammit Baltimore, I was just on your side two seconds ago. Rick reverses a corner Irish whip and connects with a backdrop followed by a BEAUT of a Steinerline for a two-count. Hayes tags in and slows things down by jaw jacking with the crowd. Rick gets on all fours, backing Hayes into the corner and biting his ass, like a Dog(faced Gremlin). Garvin tags in and wants Scott Steiner, who is happy to oblige. Scott with a hip toss to both Freebirds followed by a pair of dropkicks that clear the ring once again. The Freebirds tease leaving but we aren’t that lucky. Hayes chops Scott and belts him with stiff ass forearms to the back. Hayes goes for a backbreaker, Scott counters with a butterfly bomb. Garvin runs in and eats a tilt-a-whirl slam for his troubles. Freebirds back to the floor for more stalling.
“MICHAEL IS A B*TCH” chant as Hayes re-enters the ring, Rick having tagged in on The Steiners’ side. Hayes tries a leapfrog, Rick counters with a powerslam. Garvin tries to come off the top, Rick slams him off as well. Hayes whips Rick into the ropes, Garvin hits from behind and Hayes sends him to the floor with a left hook. Freebirds suplex Rick on the protective mats, Garvin hits a cheap-shot clothesline while the ref is distracted with Scott. Hayes with a bulldog for the 1…2…Rick gets the shoulder up. Hayes continues riling up the crowd as Garvin settles into a reverse chinlock. Ross tries to make a gay joke comparing Garvin to “Harvey FireSTONE” which is wrong and also stupid. Rick catches Garvin mid-flight with a punch then hits a top-rope faceslam that knocks both of them silly. Hayes tags in but so does Scott, who drills him with a powerslam. Scott presses Hayes into Garvin, Rick runs back in and we’ve got stereo Steinerlines. Scott hits Hayes with the Frankensteiner, Garvin hits Scott with a DDT but the ref doesn’t make the count as he isn’t the legal man. While the ref is distracted Rick hits Hayes with an overhead belly-to-belly and Scott covers for the 1…2…3!
The Steiner Brothers defeated The Fabulous Freebirds when Scott Steiner pinned Michael Hayes (13:36 or so)
- I’m lukewarm on Freebirds matches for the most part, but The Steiners are just so damn entertaining that I ended up enjoying this one. Hayes and Garvin made decent tackling dummies, and I appreciated that they were beaten at their own cheating game in the end. (**3/4)
-Ross and Caudle hype their next PPV, Halloween Havoc, to take place on October 27th, then talk about the upcoming national debut of El Gigante.
The Dudes with Attitudes (The Junkyard Dog, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, & El Gigante) vs. The Horsemen (Barry Windham, Sid Vicious, & “The Enforcer” Arn Anderson)
The Dudes with Attitudes were Sting’s backup in his war with the Horsemen, comprised of the most random of pro wrestlers. PAUL ORNDORFF? JUNKYARD DOG? The f*ck? El Gigante came to America to play for the Atlanta Hawks but suffered a knee injury so he was shuffled into pro wrestling. At 7’7” he’s a sight to see, though he’s almost Manute Bol-level skinny. Crowd f*cking loves him though, don’t get it twisted.
Anderson immediately tags Sid in to deal with Orndorff. Orndorff tries a sunset flip, Sid picks him up by the neck and goozles him before nailing him with a right hand. Crowd goes WILD. Sid misses the legdrop, Orndorff dropkicks him to the floor. Anderson and Windham run in and eat hip tosses and kneelifts; Orndorff tries to do the same to Sid but he’s too big. Orndorff escapes a hip toss attempt and attempts a backslide. Sid keeps the vertical base until JYD headbutts him and Orndorff rolls him up for a two-count. Anderson tags in and whips Orndorff into the heel corner. Orndorff fights his way out with ease, Gigante enters the ring and the Horsemen IMMEDIATELY bail to the floor to avoid dealing with this tall boi. JYD tags in and sends Anderson into the corner, avoiding a right from Gigante and going BUG-EYED out of fear. I love it. Windham tags in, JYD absorbs some rights and drops him with a headbutt followed by the crawling headbutts. Windham gets up in front of Gigante then immediately retreats as well. Anderson tags in, JYD tags him with a series of rights in the corner. Anderson fights back with left hooks and quickly tags Windham back in for a DDT, but JYD no-sells it because he has a thick skull (…okay wrestling doesn’t age well). JYD suplexes Windham which somehow hurts both of them, Anderson tags in but so does Orndorff. Orndorff is all fire as he takes on the Horsemen, including a double noggin knocker on Sid and Windham. Orndorff goes for the Piledriver on Anderson, Windham hits him from behind to stop it. “WE WANT SID” chant from the crowd and Sid happily obliges. Orndorff escapes a chinlock, Sid responds with a powerslam and covers but only gets two, as he took too long playing to the crowd. The Horsemen wear Orndorff down with chinlock and strikes. Orndorff belts Windham with a right hand and tags JYD instead of Gigante (BOOO). JYD double noggin knocks Windham and Anderson, Sid attacks JYD from behind. They toss JYD over the top rope, causing a DQ.
The Dudes with Attitudes defeated The Horsemen via DQ (8:47)
- An entertaining six-man tag team match save for the finish and not delivering on Gigante actually doing any wrestling. I get why, he was barely trained at this point, but don’t tease a thing if you aren’t going to do it, man. My heart can only take so much. Side note how hilarious is it that young star Sting had old veterans backing him up as his “cool” stable? Tremendous. (**)
Gigante tries to get his hands on somebody after the match but the Horsemen want no part of it and quickly bail.
INTERVIEW STAGE: Solie is with “The Total Package” Lex Luger. Luger says it’s harder to tear him apart than a t-shirt, and the time for talking is over…as he continues talking. Luger picks Sting to win the World Title tonight. WHERE IS POOCHY?
“The Total Package” Lex Luger [c] vs. “Mean” Mark Callous [w/ Paul E. Dangerously] for the NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Callous joined WCW in 1989 as a replacement for Sid Vicious in The Skyscrapers, then ventured off into a somewhat successful solo run following the team’s break-up at WrestleWar 1990, picking up Dangerously as his manager along the way. Luger has been United States Champion for what seems like forever this point but had been shifted over to challenge for the World Title after Sting’s injury. Callous is taller and outweighs Luger, putting the champ at a rare disadvantage.
Luger and Callous trade wristlocks to start, ref forcing a reset after they end up in the corner. Luger with a hammerlock, Callous counters with a drop toehold (?!?) into a side headlock, Luger slides out and goes back to the hold till the rope break. Luger takes Callous to the mat, Callous complains of a hair pull which some of the Baltimore crowd surprisingly back him up on. NERDS. Callous misses a corner splash, hitting his elbow on the top turnbuckle, and Luger goes back to a wristlock. Callous and Luger start running, Luger catches him with a crossbody for a two-count and settles into an armbar. WHO ARE THESE IDIOTS WHO SAY LEX LUGER WAS A BAD WRESTLER? I’ll never understand those dummies. Callous tries an armdrag, Luger rolls right on through and keeps it applied.
Callous goes for the Heart Punch, Luger dodges but he doesn’t dodge the big boot. Callous goes to work on Luger’s left shoulder, trying to weaken one of his arms to lessen the potential impact of The Torture Rack. Callous rope walks and comes crashing down on Luger’s shoulderblade. Something OLD SCHOOL about that move, can’t quite place my finger on it. Luger staggers Callous with a series of rights and charges, Callous dodges and Luger sends himself flying out to the floor. Callous rams Luger’s head onto the wooden ring steps and the announce table. Luger catches Callous off-guard with a sunset flip for a two-count. Callous misses another corner splash and trades rights with Luger. Luger tries a backdrop, Callous connects with a suplex and LUGER GETS RIGHT BACK UP AND MOUNTS HIS COMEBACK. Luger belts Callous with a pair of clotheslines and gets him in the Torture Rack! Luger accidentally spins Callous’ legs into the ref, bumping him, and Dangerously hits Luger in the ribs with his giant 90s cell phone. Dangerously revives the ref and Callous drapes an arm over for the 1…2…Luger gets his shoulder up! Luger counters the Heart Punch with a kick, knocks Dangerously off the apron, and drills Callous with another clothesline for the 1…2…3!
Lex Luger [c] defeated Mark Callous via pinfall with a clothesline to retain the NWA UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (12:08)
- Good match and solid title defense for Luger as his reign as United States Champion soldiers on. Callous made a good foil for The Total Package and I’ll admit it was weird seeing Undertaker moves from the man before he was actually The Undertaker…which would happen a mere four months after this event. (**3/4)
-EARLIER TODAY: Solie chats it up with Sting in his locker room. Sting says he’s nervous but says neither he nor Flair will have any excuses if they lose tonight.
Doom (Ron Simmons & “Hacksaw” Butch Reed) [c] [w/ Theodore R. Long] vs. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) for the NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Long predicts victory to the camera while not making eye contact with it at all. That was…off-putting. Man what a style clash this match is on paper, I hope it doesn’t suck. Simmons shows his strength advantage early, throwing Gibson around and driving hard knees to the midsection. Gibson uses his speed to escape a corner splash and a roll-up but Simmons kicks out and both teams reset. Reed tags in and clobbers Gibson with forearms. Gibson escapes a slam attempt and connects with one of his own followed by a running elbow. Morton tags in and gets dropped with a series of shoulderblocks. Gibson tags in and RNR hit both members of Doom with double-team moves. Gibson tries a hip toss, Reed blocks it and connects with a clothesline. Doom connect with a double back elbow, Simmons covers for a two-count. Doom continues their plan of attack, utilizing quick tags and power moves to weaken Gibson. Gibson gets Reed over with a sunset flip but Reed quickly kicks out and connects with a swinging neckbreaker. Gibson counters a backdrop with a kneelift and makes the tag to Morton, who puts Reed in a sleeperhold. Simmons runs in, Morton decks him. Morton with an O’Connor Roll for the 1…2…Simmons breaks it up with a running clothesline from behind. GODDAMN.
Reed drops a pair of elbows on Morton for a two-count. Cappetta announces that ten minutes have gone by in the match, but that’s lie it’s been like eight. Morton takes some punishment then counters a splash from Simmons with a pair of boots. Reed tags in and rakes the eyes, Morton with a corner Irish whip but runs right into a big knee. Reed follows up with an elbowdrop from the middle buckle for the 1…2…Morton kicks out and a frustrated Reed goes into wear down mode with a reverse chinlock. Morton gets Reed over in a backslide with help from Gibson for the 1…2…Reed kicks out and clobbers Morton. Simmons tags in to prevent a tag and catapults Morton throat-first into the bottom rope for the 1…2…Morton gets his foot on the rope. Morton catches Simmons by surprise with an inside cradle for the 1…2…Simmons kicks out and drills Morton with a powerslam for the 1…2…nope. Reed slows things back down with another chinlock as Gibson tries to get the crowd to cheer Morton on. Reed dumps Morton out to the floor and distracts the ref so Simmons and Long can get their cheap shots in. Morton counters a backdrop with an elbow to the back of the head. Simmons tags in and also tries a backdrop, which Morton ALSO counters. Reed quickly tags in and trades rights with Morton, Morton charges and Reed muscles him up into a powerslam.
Morton counters a splash with a pair of knees, Gibson finally gets the tag and buries Simmons’ face into the canvas. Gibson dropkicks Simmons and goes for the cover, Reed breaks it up. Gibson catches Simmons with a sunset flip for the 1…2…Reed breaks it up again and Morton re-enters the fight. Gibson hits Reed with an enzuigiri that sends him into Long. Long ends up in the ring and Gibson drills him with a right hand. Gibson turns into Reed, who belts him with a flying shoulderblock, almost landing on his damn head, for the 1…2…3!
Doom [c] defeated The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express to retain the NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP when Butch Reed pinned Robert Gibson following a flying shoulderblock (15:39)
- Given the size and style differences between these two teams I half-expected something bad but ended up happily surprised. A good match with RNR doing what they do best, being underdogs, while Doom relentlessly clobbered them. RNR gets a lot of credit here, but so do Doom who are one of the best almost forgotten tag teams of 90s wrestling (mostly because they barely made it into the 90s but still). (***)
EARLIER TODAY: Solie talks shop with the World Champ himself, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, inside the then-empty arena. Flair brags about his expensive suit (duh) and if Sting wants to be the man he’s going to have to beat the man. Flair is the man, in case you’re wondering.
–Sting makes his way out for the main event, but has to wait a minute for the pyro to stop going off in front of him. It appears that he was yelling at a production dude about when to go the whole time, which is great. His Dudes with Attitude (Paul Orndorff, JYD, and The Steiner Brothers) are at ringside to make sure the Horsemen don’t interfere, while Flair’s manager Ole Anderson is handcuffed to El Gigante on the entrance ramp.
“The Nature Boy” Ric Flair [c] [w/ Ole Anderson] vs. Sting [w/ The Dudes with Attitude] for the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
The Sting/Flair feud began all the way back in January of 1990 when Sting was booted out of the then-face Four Horsemen for wanting the title shot he won at Starrcade 1989 against Flair. Sting injured his knee later that same night, putting him out of action and putting off his assumed ascension to top until this show.
Sting overpowers Flair early, playing mind games with the champ. Baltimore is READY FOR THIS, and it’s making also READY FOR THIS. Flair chops Sting, Sting no-sells them and tosses the champ to the mat with a military press. Flair rolls to the ramp, Sting no-sells more chops and clotheslines him back into the ring. Flair begs off and goads Sting in for a thumb to the eye. Flair connects with a delayed vertical suplex, but Sting gets right back up and connects with a pair of clotheslines and a flying crossbody from the top for the 1…2…Flair kicks out. Flair goes to work on Sting’s surgically-repaired knee. He goes for the Figure Four, Sting kicks him off and they taunt one another with their goofy yells. Yes I did them both and yes my girlfriend shot me a dirty look for doing that at my television. Flair belts Sting with a series of forearms followed by a chop that sends Sting crashing to the canvas. Flair tosses Sting to the ramp and goes to work while Cappetta announces that ten minutes have gone by. It’s been six minutes dude, get a new stopwatch. Flair dodges a dropkick and goes back to work on the knee with a seated splash as it dangles from the bottom rope. Flair tries it again but Sting moves out of the way. Flair with a snapmare, Sting dodges the kneedrop and locks in the Figure Four! Flair escapes and the action spills to the floor. Flair whips Sting into the guardrail, Sting no-sells it and the champ pleads for mercy. Sting does not give it to him, surprisingly. Flair kicks Sting in the knee and heads to the top, Sting slams him off because OF COURSE HE DOES. Sting blocks a hip toss and counters into a backslide for the 1…2…NOPE. Sting complains of a slow count, Flair drops him with a shot to the knee.
Flair works Sting over while also making time to throw some shade at the various Dudes with varying attitudes at ringside. Flair tries the Figure Four again but Sting once again kicks him away. Sting mounts some offense, Flair stops him with a pair of chops. Flair makes the mistake of slapping Sting, who dares Flair to keep hitting him. Sting tosses Flair with another military press, his knee holding together despite the weight and covers for the 1…2…Flair kicks out once again. Sting sends Flair flying upside down to the apron, then adds insult to injury with a clothesline. Sting suplexes Flair back in and covers for the 1…2…Flair kicks out. Sting hits the Stinger Splash and the crowd gets on their feet as he applies the Scorpion Deathlock, Gigante holding Ole at bay. Out come Arn Anderson, Sid Vicious, and Barry Windham but the Dudes hold them off at the ramp. Flair escapes the Deathlock and tries to cover with his feet on the ropes, but Scott Steiner pushes them off. Flair counters a side headlock into a cover, Sting bridges out and rolls him up with a backslide for the 1…2…FLAIR KICKS OUT JUST IN TIME. Flair tries some chops, Sting no-sells them but misses a corner knee and hits nothing but buckle. Flair goes for the Figure Four, Sting counters with an inside cradle for the 1…2…3! NEW CHAMP!
Sting defeated Ric Flair [c] via pinfall with an inside cradle to win the NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (16:02)
- A historic match and result from the history of WCW as Sting finally ascends to the top of the mountain with a victory over a man that has been casting a shadow over him for over two years. Hell yeah. It’s great to see a story actually pay off well, isn’t it? The match was your usual Ric Flair show, which is good or bad depending on the person you ask but I enjoyed it. He got his sh*t in while doing a great job of putting over Sting as the better man. Great conclusion to a show people should like more, dammit. (***1/2)
Pyro goes off above the ring as the Baltimore crowd goes NUTS and Sting celebrates his win with his Dudes of Questionable Personality Traits. The Dudes then stay in the ring so Sting can walk up the ramp and show off his championship. Where did Gigante and Ole go? More pyro AND A GODDAMN STING FACE IS LOWERED AT THE STAGE ALSO LIT UP BY PYRO. Amazing.
Solie walks over for some post-match comments. Sting puts over Flair as the greatest World Champion of all-time and he has some big shoes to fill going forward. Solie tries to lead him into saying it’s the best moment of his life but Sting talks again about Flair before thanking the audience.
Cut to Ross and Caudle who close the show while Sting returns to the ring for more crowd adulation and pyro.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The Great American Bash 1990 is an underrated show; I’ve looked online and seen some real low-ball reviews of the entire crowd and honestly I’m perplexed. Yeah the first few matches of the undercard were pointless but with the exception of Rotunda/Sheik there wasn’t an actual “bad” match on the show. Midnights/Southern Boys is an all-time classic and Sting’s first World Title win is worth watching from a historical perspective as well as a match quality perspective (definitely better than his World Title “win” at Starrcade 1997, that’s for damn sure). I recommend this show wholeheartedly, warts and all, and I think if you watch the undercard with more of an open mind you will find something to enjoy.
- MATCH OF THE NIGHT: The Midnight Express vs. The Wild-Eyed Southern Boys
- MOMENT OF THE NIGHT: Sting wins his first World Championship, capping off a two year ascension that began against Flair himself at the inaugural Clash of the Champions.