The other day, fellow Swoggle Squad member Tope asked me a very important question about this project. That question was “is it easier for you to write when a show is good or bad?” I told him that doesn’t matter just so long as the show isn’t boring. I did mention, however, that the problem I was beginning to run into as I become more and more familiar with the shows I am watching was bringing heavy preconceived notions into my experience.
Take Great American Bash 1988 as a prime example.
I had this PPV recorded on a green VHS tape (random memory, I know) and I would watch it constantly. I only remember three things about the show, which I will point out when we reach those moments. As a kid, I didn’t know any better. As an adult, I know all three of those thing totally suck.
So, this show is already considered not recommendable by me before I start watching it. Will filling in the gaps help?
PAY PER VIEW NUMBER FIFTEEN-NWA GREAT AMERICAN BASH 1988: THE PRICE OF FREEDOM
Written on 8/1/14
THE FIRST THING YOU SEE: Typical 1980s graphics and song opens the show up with clips of the Horsemen attacking Lex Luger, previewing the main event. Barry Windham vs Dusty Rhodes, the US Tag Title Match and the TOWER OF DOOM are also previewed. It is an effective opener despite the NES music.
-We are live in the Baltimore Arena and worse than usual rock music blares as Sting and Nikita Koloff with hair walk to the ring. Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard are already in the ring.
-Gary Michael Cappetta is the ring announcer. Hell yeah! Nikita’s announcement gets a big pop, but Sting’s is even bigger. Clash of the Champions 1 worked. Arn and Tully are announced to good heat. They looks ready to leave for better money in New York.
-Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross are on commentary, finally introducing the show. Fuck that, it is match time!
MATCH NUMBER ONE: NWA TAG TITLE MATCH- The Horsemen (Champions) w/JJ Dillon vs Nikita Koloff and Sting
-Punches fly and a brawl starts the match. The crowd is nuclear early. Sting gets a quick small package for a good nearfall 40 seconds in.
-HOLY SHIT!!! Sting does another huge dive to the floor like Undertaker on Arn Anderson. We are 70 seconds into this match. The crowd is unglued. Sting is an incredibly early MVP of the PPV. Did he miss his calling as an opening match guy?
-The ref is wearing wrestling boots for some/no reason.
-Nikita’s hair makes his pairing with Sting look perfect.
-JR talks about the Horsemen having a “closed door breakfast” to strategize this morning. That’s a thing?
-Nikita hits two big Sickles. This crowd is absurd!!!! He celebrates instead of going for a pin. Once he finally pins Arn, the Enforcer gets his foot on the rope.
-Sting backflips out of a double hammerlock and hits a double dropkick. I’ll reiterate Sting as the MVP of the PPV. I’m excited for THIS Sting to come to WWE. Can we make that happen?
-Nikita continually slows the pace with an armlock.
-A rolled up piece of paper that was thrown into the ring is still there and it is really bothering me.
-In a funny spot, Tully makes a beeline for a tag into the wrong corner and gets his ears slapped by Nikita.
-Nikita and Sting do the heel fake tag move. That is refreshing to see faces cheat like that in retaliation of heels doing it.
-Technical difficulties occur as if this was a VHS tape I’m currently watching. Do I need to hit my tracking button?
-I’m starting to feel bad for Tully’s arm. Good tag psychology when Arn gets the tag and Nikita retreats to his corner to prevent losing the advantage.
-JR talks about Nikita losing some of his muscle mass. Vince would never had mentioned that during this time period.
-A big clothesline sends Nikita and Tully over the top rope. The stupid DQ rule is discussed and why it doesn’t come into effect here.
-JJ helps Tully get out of Nikita’s pin attempt and gets chases afterwards. Nikita rams his shoulder into the post instead and the tide finally turns after 14 minutes of face domination.
-Nikita starts to no sell a wristlock and Arn sells sheer terror. He responds quickly with a GIANT DDT to a good nearfall and an even better pop.
-Three minutes is announced as being left in the match and the crowd boos because they sense what is coming.
-Sting gets the hot tag and destroys Tully some more. Arn gets a sick facebuster. Sting just can’t stop dropkicking!
-Things start to break down with 30 seconds left. The Scorpion Death Lock is cinched it and the countdown begins….
WINNERS: Time Limit Draw in 20:00 (really 20:06)
-I love it when heels hang on from a submission when the time limit is almost up. The faces celebrate and take the belts. Cappetta announces the decision while Nikita and Sting wear the belts. The graphic shows that the Horsemen are still champs. The faces beat up Arn and Tully a little more before we move on.
FINAL WORD: What a great opening tag match. This crowd is so down for some sweet NWA action.
-JR’s svelte look and Schiavone’s awful moustache preview the next matches, particularly the United States Tag Title match next. If the Midnight Express loses, all three heels get ten lashes from a leather strap. Cornette will be caged above the ring.
-Thankfully, the dubbed Midnight Express theme is back as the cage is lowered for Cornette and the trio enters. Their tights look like Captain EO’s shirt. Cornette introduces his charges and Stan Lane does his classically larger intro for Corny, mentioning that he sold Mike Tyson his first workout video.
-The Fantastics enter looking like Chippendale dancers specifically for the Charlotte Hornets. They hug a bunch of women and shake almost every damn hand in the crowd.
-Why does this match get an extra ten minutes in the time limit?
-The refs start to put Cornette in a straightjacket and JR makes fun of his fear of heights, claustrophobia and tantrum before he is put into the contraption. Cornette tries to bribe the ref with more and more money as they lock the jacket. After offering $50K in a bribe and getting turned down, Cornette says “this guy is a crackpot! He is an honest man!” Then, he yells at the ring attendant to “take care of my jacket, my mother gave me that!!!” Cornette is making a good case for MVP of the PPV already as well.
-The crowd’s jeering before Corny is put into the cage is really lame. A lot of “Mommy’s little baby” and “WAAAA” is shouted. Step up your game, Baltimore! Cornette screams bloody murder right in the camera as the cage starts to rise.
MATCH NUMBER TWO: US TAG TITLE VERSUS TEN LASHES MATCH- The Midnight Express w/Jim Cornette vs The Fantastics (Champions)
-Bobby Fulton has a nice sunset roll up on a slide underneath Bobby Eaton.
-With Fulton vs Eaton, it looks like two pudgy girls wrestling.
-Two headscissors and a hurricanrana by Fulton as the crowd doesn’t seem too invested in the Fantastics.
-“Cornette sucks” chant. Stan Lane’s kicks do not. They are badass.
-I think I just saw the first baseball slide in PPV history.
-Tommy Rogers has some pretty sweet dropkicks.
-The Maryland State Athletic Commission gets a name drop. Remember that.
-Rogers and Eaton have a great back and forth encounter in the corner.
-The State Commission is now shown on screen. Planting the seeds…
-The Fantastics have good teamwork and less impressive strutting.
-Rogers impressively lands on his feet after a back body drop. He rolls up Lane and gets caught from behind by a solid bulldog by Eaton.
-Is than Stan Lane or Hansen with that lariat?!?! Oh, it is Lane because of the jig he did afterwards.
-Fuck yes! Lane hits a sweet kick combination like Daniel Bryan into a sick Roderick Strong-inspiring backbreaker by Eaton. What a wonderful combination.
-Eaton with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He was the original Master of the Backbreaker. The Midnight Express is making a strong case for MVP of the PPV as well. This is probably the best start to a PPV I’ve had so far.
-The Express does the abdominal stretch cheating spot and the crowd makes no noise to alert the ref at all.
-Every hope spot Rogers gets is great. This is state of the art tag wrestling here. As soon as I write that, Eaton hits a perfect Alabama Jam from the top rope.
-Midnight Express goes for a Rocket Launcher and Rogers gets his knees up for a big pop. Fulton gets the hot tag and the crowd cools off.
-Lane catches Fulton through the ropes with a powerslam.
-Tommy Young gets knocked down by a Rogers and Eaton skirmish. Lane passes Eaton a chain and decks Fulton with it.
-What a big pop for the heels!
WINNERS: Bobby Eaton pins Bobby Fulton in 16:21 to win the titles after punching him with a chain.
-Young checks Eaton for the chain the Fantastics are complaining about and Eaton stuffed it into Fulton’s tights. Fucking great touch.
-The Fantastics grab Cornette out of the cage once it lowers, suggestively take Tommy Young’s belt off and lash him anyway.
-Bob Caudle is near the entryway and Cornette complains about the Fantastics trying to murder him as they leave.
FINAL WORD: Tag team wrestling at its finest. Bring me more of that, please.
-JR and Tony talk while idiots make silly mannerisms behind them. THAT SONG plays as the Tower of Doom is lowered minus David Arquette. The crowd stirs and crude looking ladders are leaned against the structure and they don’t look safe. I think a big fight broke out in the crowd because people are running everywhere.
-Precious walks out, noticeably older. She enters the ring and GMC reads the rules. Apparently, in two minute intervals, the trap doors will open and you have to make your way from the top cage all the way to the ring where Precious has the keys to let you out.
-Varsity music brings the Russian Assassin, Ivan Koloff, Al Perez, Mike Rotunda and Kevin Sullivan out, accompanied by Gary Hart and Paul Jones in his stupid cowboy get-up. The babyface team of the Road Warriors with Paul Ellering, the Garvins and Steve Williams follows.
-Poor Tommy Young is the guinea pig who has to climb to the top of the tower. He looks petrified. Wrestling just shouldn’t involve trap doors. Ask the British Bulldog. Seriously, why isn’t this just a War Games match? Silly.
-There is a pulley system for crying out loud! The crowd is getting restless as it takes forever for the match to start because Young is just pulling at this rope.
MATCH NUMBER THREE: TOWER OF DOOM- The Russians, Al Perez, Mike Rotunda and Kevin Sullivan w/Paul Jones and Gary Hart vs The Road Warriors, The Garvins and Steve Williams w/Paul Ellering
-The bell rings and nothing happens. The babyfaces are yelling something from the floor. Finally, an airhorn sounds and Ronnie Garvin and Ivan Koloff climb up into the first mini-cage.
-Williams and Rotunda climb up afterwards and wait to enter as Ronnie and Ivan just punch each other a lot.
-This has to hurt the audience’s neck.
-The horn hits, the trap door is pulled open and everything is incredibly slow as Williams batters the heels and Ronnie successfully makes it out of the top cage.
-The camera shows a fan “amazed” at the action but is really confused about these stupid rules.
-Every time someone is thrown into the top cage, the whole thing shakes. If it happens, I’m yelling JENGA (and now I will try to squeeze two more board game references out.)
-There is talk from Tony and JR about Precious wearing all black being a clue to her allegiance to Sullivan. What the fuck is going on?
-The horn sounds and Animal and Perez can’t get in because other stuff is going on. Williams and Ivan make it to the second level and Ronnie Garvin gets out completely. What an easy night for him. I’ll make him LVP of the PPV just because he didn’t want to suffer like everyone else.
-A person with ADD would crap their eyes out watching this.
-The crowd pops for Animal’s offense on Rotunda and Perez, who I don’t know anything about. Williams uses the cage to help stomp on Ivan.
-Hawk and the Assassin are the next two in as Perez and Animal easily make it to the second level.
-JR is trying to put this over as “athletics” and “a man sport”. He will be the best for good reason, but he can’t even make this any good.
-Ivan is brave enough to take a bodyslam on the second level.
-The horn brings Jimmy Garvin and Sullivan in. Perez and Animal move to the bottom and Hawk and Assassin move to the second level. After beating Perez up a little, Animal finally leaves. Perez does as recouping.
-JR is correct in one thing: the camera work has been good.
-The trap doors open again and Rotunda finally exits the top level. Both Russians make it to the bottom and Hawk gives them a double clothesline. The ring stage makes no sense. It is so anticlimactic.
-With 60 percent of both teams out, the horn blares multiple times as if to say “let’s get this over with!” Williams exits, which leaves Garvin with a handicap against the Varsity Club.
-Rotunda then exits, leaving Garvin and Sullivan in the middle cage beating each other down some more. A brawl erupts on the floor between the escaped participants.
-Precious sells some kind of emotion as these two battle over her, literally and figuratively.
-The horn hits and both men make it to the ring. Sullivan makes a beeline for Precious, but Garvin saves her and hit an ugly looking brainbuster. Precious makes her choice and unlocks the door.
WINNERS: The Road Warriors, the Garvins and Steve Williams when Jimmy Garvin escapes the cage at 19:07
-Sullivan actually pushed Garvin out and locks the cage back to be left alone with Precious. He creepily crawls towards her and everyone has to climb back through the top to rescue her. This is better drama than the actual match.
-After trying to disrobe Precious, Sullivan starts to freaking choke her with his wrist tape. Good lord…this is uncomfortable. Hawk manages to get to Sullivan first from the top down and the crowd explodes. Garvin saves Precious and they hug and kiss.
-I’m so confused. Apparently, Rick Steiner came out at one point and prevented the door from being open. I didn’t see any of it, so I’m going to name him LVP of the PPV just because.
FINAL WORD: This was one of the three things I mentioned at the top that I knew was coming and I wasn’t looking forward to. What a colossal failure of an idea.
-Bob Caudle blabbers in the aisle. He really says nothing of worth. I’m naming him LVP of the PPV now. I liked him as a kid, but he is really the Lord Alfred Hayes of the NWA. He adds nothing.
-Barry Windham enters, wearing all black and leather to heavy boos. His chaps are a little much.
-How many different dubbed songs is NWA Dusty Rhodes going to have? He walks out with a giant towel wrapped around his neck. It makes me think of the animals they fold for you on cruises.
-GMC does the intros and Windham looks like a dominatrix version of the band Nelson. Dusty looks like the living representation of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
MATCH NUMBER FOUR: US TITLE MATCH- Barry Windham (Champion) w/JJ Dillon vs Dusty Rhodes
-Double cowboy boots, Rich.
-One shoulder tackle in and Barry is already bumping his ass off for Dusty.
-Dusty no sells an elbow and hits a sloppy DDT. He climbs to the top and hits a better than expected cross body for an incredibly close nearfall.
-Dusty only gives an effort on offense. JJ eats an elbow and the Dream is in firm control of the match and the hot crowd.
-Windham slugs Dusty on the floor repeatedly and sets up a piledriver, but Dusty backdrop counters on the concret floor.
-Barry does one of my favorite sells in wrestling: spitting to simulate a tooth flying out.
-Dusty slingshots Barry from the ring to the floor. Never seen that before. The story of the match so far: Dusty Rhodes is so much better than Barry Windham.
-Barry clamps on the claw with his black glove. I’m glad his family isn’t cursed like the Von Erichs.
-Dusty’s face and head is renting a timeshare in Barry’s groin during this claw.
-Dusty has sold going in and out of consciousness in this claw twice already. He even climbed the second rope. It is very unbelievable.
-Now it looks like Barry is trying to forcibly make Dusty suck it.
-This fucking claw spot has been off and on for over FIVE MINUTES now.
-While countering a superplex, Dusty throws Barry into Tommy Young. Tommy Young has taken the third most bumps on this show, I think.
-Barry takes a big slam from the top rope and Dusty hits the Bionic Elbow, but there is nobody to count.
-Ronnie Garvin randomly enters the ring in jeans and stands around while Dusty asks him to help. Naturally, he hits Dusty, knocking him out with one punch.
-Sure, reapply that claw!
WINNER: Barry Windham in 15:56 with a claw hold pin
-So, Ronnie Garvin’s night consisted of barely working the Tower of Doom and randomly turning heel on Dusty Rhodes, but telegraphing it by standing around too long. Yeah…LVP of the PPV.
-The last two minutes are basically replayed in full as JR stalls before sending it backstage.
-FINAL WORD: Barry Windham tried, but it just wasn’t very exciting. Not having any of the backstory or follow up on the turn sucks, too. This was the second crappy thing I alluded to because Ronnie Garvin sort of sucks.
-Caudle talks over footage of Gary Hart, JJ Dillon and Ronnie Garvin in the back. Garvin licks, smells and motorboats a lot of cash in a briefcase. He even rubs it on himself. Garvin takes the money and leaves as ring rats stand in the hall, Caudle just talked over this whole, soundless clip. Caudle and Garvin are spitting this LVP of the PPV title back and forth.
-90s era WCW Lex Luger theme!!!! Lex walks out with his ring robe to a good reaction. Tommy Young is refereeing this match as well because he recovers like Wolverine.
-Flair’s music hits and I finally hear somewhat of a heelish reaction for the Nature Boy. He is wearing a sweet gold robe.
MATCH NUMBER FIVE: NWA TITLE MATCH- Lex Luger vs Ric Flair (Champion) w/JJ Dillon
-Lex is wearing yellow trunks and white pads. Flair is wearing exactly the opposite.
-Flair’s first WOO is long, confident and cool.
-Lex hits an arm drag. I wasn’t expecting that.
-Flair’s chops are no sold and Luger hits a giant dropkick. Ric really does bring out the best in people.
-Lex busts out a big leapfrog and an effortless Gorilla Press slam. Don’t tell me, Luger. Flair flops over the guardrail afterwards.
-Flair tries to hit Tommy Young to get himself a DQ and Young runs and hides behind Lex. That is good.
-Another Gorilla Press and then a bearhug. Okay, I was getting worried that Luger would have to be discussed in the MVP of the PPV race.
-The lights in the rafters are getting annoying with this camera angle. Can you tell that I’m trying to think of something to talk about while this bearhug is still applied?
-A suplex and an elbow by Luger as JR critiques him not hooking Flair’s leg. Luger is currently approaching Undertaker level of not selling anything.
-Flair finally gets some leverage after sending Lex into the railing multiple times.
-His chops are making an impact now. The match has gotten a little slow and repetitive now.
-Luger hits a flying clothesline for a two count and the crowd boos. Why? You thought that was seriously it?
-Flair climbs the top rope! Lex shakes it and Flair crotches himself on Space Mountain. Count it! All-time record on PPV for Flair from the top: 2 for 8.
-Luger hits a sunset flip and I don’t know who this is anymore. JR mentions his three years of experience. That is all he will really end with.
-Flair starts to attack Lex’s knee and there is that patented Luger overselling.
-Flair slaps on the Figure Four in the middle of the ring. Of course it gets reversed. It never feels like a match is going to end with it.
-Tony Schiavone doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “momentum” just like he doesn’t understand the meaning of the phrase “greatest night”.
-Lex starts no selling again and hits his third Gorilla Press. He sells his knee and then stupidly misses a knee drop. There might be water on it now. A whole bucket, see!
-Flair climbs to the top again, WOOs and just wastes time until Lex can walk over and Gorilla Press him for the fourth time. All-time record on PPV for Flair from the top: 3 for 8.
-Flair hits an Atomic Drop and Luger blatantly no sells with an immediate clothesline. This is getting ridiculous.
-Lex throws the champ into the corner and he does his flip, just simply falling to the apron and the floor.
-I don’t like hearing JR say the word “perspiration.”
-Both men sloppily tumble over the top rope and Flair loudly yells about his leg being hurt.
-Lex’s head hits the ring post and JJ throws it in a second time for good measure behind Young’s back. Lex comes up barely bleeding. Sigh…here we go…
-JR says that the Maryland State Athletic Commissioner is standing up and trying to get the ref’s attention.
-Lex gets Flair in the Torture Rack and the ref taps Lex on the shoulder. The crowd goes bananas and Luger’s jump for joy is sort of sweet.
-In the immortal words of Dean Ambrose...
WINNER: Ric Flair in 23:13 to retain the title via ref stoppage due to Lex Luger’s cut.
-Sting, Nikita and Steve Williams are celebrating with Luger when the announcement is made and the crowd HATES this bullshit because it isn’t set up well at all.
-Sting’s sunglasses, jeans and no shirt definitely mean that he is the MVP of the PPV.
-Tommy Young seems really sorry.
-Loud “BULLSHIT” chant. JR blames Maryland.
FINAL WORD: Come on, Dusty. Knock this off. Also, you bet your ass this was the third crappy thing.
-The faces leave and a slow motion shot of JJ putting Lex into the post shows how much Luger protected himself. JR and Tony recap the night as a black kid flips the camera the bird. Nice. Credits begin to roll and JR stutters and craps on Maryland some more.
THE LAST IMAGE: The same title card from the start of the show.
THE WRAP UP
FINAL MVP of PPV: I felt like he was robbed at Starrcade 1987, but Sting gets the nod this time. I’m starting to see why he became the guy for this company.
FINAL LVP of PPV: It is so close between two guys, but Ronnie Garvin’s was the booking. Bob Caudle just isn’t very good at the job he was hired for.
MY FAVORITE MATCH: The Midnight Express vs The Fantastics
MY LEAST FAVORITE MATCH: The Tower of Doom
WWE HALL OF FAMERS IN ACTION: 7 (Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Hawk, Animal, Barry Windham, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair)
DEARLY DEPARTED IN ACTION: 3 (Hawk, Steve Williams, Russian Assassin)
FINAL THOUGHT: This is a tough call. Like I though beforehand, once the Tower of Doom starts, the show goes downhill quickly with poor booking. However, the first two matches are great and even the main event has its moments. If you only watch the first hour, you will be in a great mood. For that reason alone, MULLET RECOMMENDS.
NEXT TIME: Things heat up with the inaugural SummerSlam. The Ultimate Warrior wrestling for less than one minute won’t be a crappy thing.