Thursday, August 24, 2023

WCW: Great American Bash 1996 Review - June 16th, 1996

WCW Great American Bash 1996
June 16th, 1996
Baltimore, Maryland 

WCW World Champion: The Giant (since 4/29/96)
WCW US Champion: Konnan (since 1/29/96)
WCW Tag Team Champions: Sting & Lex Luger (since 1/22/96)
WCW TV Champion: Lex Luger (since 3/6/96)
WCW Cruserweight Champion: Dean Malenko (since 5/18/96) 

Tony Schiavone & Dusty Rhodes welcome us to the event and preview all the main stories going on tonight including the major one involving Scott Hall & Kevin Nash being in attendance looking for a fight.

1) The Steiner Brothers vs. Fire & Ice - There Must be A Winner

This was a pretty banging opener between these bulky bastards. The crowd is hot for it, too. Norton isolates Scott and it leads to the hot tag to Rick and things break down. Steiner Bros comeback leads to some good false finishes before the FRANKENSTEINER from Scott ends things. These boy dropping bombs.

Match rating - **1/2

2) Konnan (c) vs. El Gato - US Heavyweight Title Match 

They tried their best here, but a lot of this looked clunky. It definitely didn’t deserve the boring chants that were scattered throughout. Konnan powerbombs Gato to the floor off the apron and Gato gets back in the ring before they can even really start counting for a count out and then they go to the finish. Just fucking weirrrd. This kinda was ass. 

Match rating - *3/4

Backstage, MEAN GENE IS WITH STING. They’re talking about our Lord Steven Regal. It gets real weird and 1996 real fast with Sting talking about how American men are raised different than the “prissies” in England. Meh meh. No good.

3) Diamond Dallas Page vs. Marcus Bagwell

DDP!!! I’m loving seeing the development of this man. Even since last week, he’s improved so much. He also gets more time here, but does well with it. There’s still some things missing, but this is largely solid. He controls a lot of it and it rocks. Unfortunately, they lose me a little near the end so the finish felt a little flat. But DDP wins and yeah!

Match rating - **1/4

Backstage, The Giant is here with Jimmy Hart. The Giant basically just says there’s no way Lex is putting him in the torture rack tonight because HE is the IMMORTAL. The rack is a fantasy. The chokeslam is reality and Luger will know it tonight. 

4) Dean Malenko (c) vs. Rey Misterio Jr. - WCW Cruserweight Title Match 

This is an interesting one. It’s Rey’s WCW debut and they work a 17 minute match largely based around Malenko grounding and working over Rey. On its own, it’s a great match. They pull it off well. Considering the circumstances, this gets a lot of mixed reviews which I understand. However at the same time, I think it discounts how good this match was when standing its own. It’s not GREAT. But the work on Rey is good, the selling is there and the little sparks Rey gets are explosive. I also liked the finish where Malenko flat out catches Rey in a flashy comeback attempt, powerbombs him to the mat and uses the ropes to get the three count to retain the title. 

Match rating - ***1/4

5) John Tenta vs. Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart) 

The big boys really are here to play now. They get five minutes and it’s fine for what it is and allows us a breather after that near 20 min Cruserweight match. Tenta gets the win and tries to chop some of Bubba’s beard off after the match. 

Match rating - *3/4 

6) Chris Benoit vs. Kevin Sullivan (The Taskmaster) - Falls Count Anywhere Match 

It’s horsemen vs dungeon of doom here, but as you know there’s a lot more real life bad blood between these two so the heat here is off charts. Super intense strikes and chops to start as they meet in the entrance way before brawling through the crowd. Sometimes walk and brawl stuff is boring. Here, it was awesome. Snug. Never dull. The hatred was really exuding off these two. They end up in the men’s bathroom before fighting back down the stands and to the ringside area. They break a table out and the finish sees Benoit suplex Sullivan off of it on the top god damn turnbuckle. This was an incredible fight, an amazing brawl. Just fucking awesome stuff. One to study and one to look back on. I loved this shit. 

Match rating - ****

After the match, Benoit continues to slap Sullivan around. Arn Anderson runs down and god damn he pulls Benoit off of him only to join in and THE CROWD GOES FUCKING BONKERS as Anderson & Benoit beat the hell out of Sullivan. This was the icing on the cake after that match. 

And as if it couldn’t get better… backstage, Mean Gene is with Ric Flair and the ladies. Arn Anderson & Chris Benoit walk up. Anderson says there’s a lot of wannabe horsemen, but tonight what we saw was Chris Benoit earning the right to call himself one. THEY ARE LOADED BABY. Benoit spews a little trash talk and says Sullivan has been served. This shit rules. Flair starts going off about the football players they’re gonna beat up tonight and YEAH. IM REVVED UP BUDDY.

7) Sting vs. Lord Steven Regal

Man oh man oh man. This was fucking great. Regal methodically tries to dissect Sting. Working him over on the mat, throwing punches and keeping him in holds. Sting tries and tries. Can’t get a comeback going UNTIL HE DOES AND HE POUNDS ON REGAL WITH FISTS. The crowd explodes. Amazing comeback run and Sting taps Regal out with the scorpion deathlock in just under 17 minutes. That ruled. 

Match rating - ***1/2

8) Ric Flair & Arn Anderson (w/ Bobby Heenan, Miss Elizabeth & Woman) vs. Steve McMichael & Kevin Greene (w/ Macho Man Randy Savage)

"Let's see if he can... implant this gameplan... interact.. his gameplan.." -Dusty Rhodes searching for the word 'implement' and Tony Schiavone not giving a single fuck to help him

This is a pure Anderson/Flair carry job & showcase, as expected. Its two football players who have never wrestled and it goes longer than it probably should've, but honestly I enjoyed it just off the work of Arn & Flair who did everything in their power to make this work. I really think they succeeded in that regard too because this was a ride the whole way. Chris Benoit ends up running down to brawl with Macho Man and things break down. The finish comes in the form of a turn/screw job as Debra comes out with a briefcase full of money and hands it to Mongo and he turns on Kevin Greene and nails him with it. Flair takes the pin. Is Mongo in the horsemen?! What in the god damn fuck.

Match rating - **

9) The Giant (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Lex Luger - WCW World Heavyweight Title Match

Fine main event that doesn't overstay it's welcome after a pretty eventful show. Crowd is hot for Luger. Deck is stacked against him with the size difference and Jimmy Hart. Sting comes down to take out Jimmy Hart and these two go back and forth for a bit. Cool spot where Luger somehow hoists Giant up into the torture rack, Luger collapses with him on top on him and Giant gets the victory. 

Match rating - **

FINAL THOUGHTS: ...this PPV rocked. A breeze to watch. No MOTY contender matches, but I don't even give a fuck about that anymore. I just want to be entertained and not have to suffer through bad wrestling and this was largely good. SO YEAH. ITS WCW WHERE THE BIG BOYS PLAY AND I AM LOVING THIS PROJECT SO FAR.

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