Written By: Matt Peddycord
NWA Great American Bash ’89: The Glory Days
July 23, 1989
Written By: Matt Peddycord
Your hosts are JR & Bob Caudle!
$50,000 Triple Crown Battle Royal Finals
The NWA had held a series of battle royals on house shows and now all the winners of those matches come together to go at it once and for all, with $50 grand being their incentive. That’s one thing I do really miss about wrestling these days is that “going to the pay window” mentality is gone. It’s like, “There’s no title on the line. There’s no reason these two should be fighting.” It’s a very small thing I know, but it makes sense of wrestling in plain ol’ exhibition matches. Anyways, there is two rings set up beside each other and once you get eliminated, you go and fight in the second ring. Once there is a winner declared in both rings, those two have to FIGHT TO THE DEATH. Well, not really, but its pinfall/submission from there. It’s really a who’s who of battle royals when you watch this in 2007. The entrants are Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotunda, “Wild” Bill Irwin, Ron Simmons, Terry Gordy, Brian Pillman, Scott Hall, Ranger Ross, Eddie Gilbert, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Sid Vicious and Dan Spivey. At least half of these guys are making their PPV debuts in this match and would go on to become MAJOR stars in the ’90s. It starts out like a typical battle royal with everyone just going crazy on each other. Ron Simmons and Ranger Ross are the first to get eliminated, which is kind of fishy. Simmons doesn’t seem to mind though as he begins to brutalize Ross in the other ring. As Simmons tries to toss out Ross for good, Ross puts on the brakes and sends Simmons out to the floor. Scott Hall & Terry Gordy leave the first ring next and head over into the second ring with Ross. Irwin gets tossed into the second ring next and pairs off with Ross while the directionless Scott Hall fires away on Gordy. They clip to Spivey giving Ranger Ross TWO powerbombs in the second ring, which I believe is the PPV debut of that move. Once everybody is sent into the second ring, we’re left with Brian Pillman and Sid Vicious in the first ring! Pillman tries to fight back, but Sid lays him out with a clothesline to a BIG crowd pop. The second ring has come down to four men with Dr. Death left alone with four heels in Mike Rotunda, Bill Irwin and Dan Spivey. NOT GOOD. Meanwhile in ring number one, Sid avoids a crossbody block and lets Pillman fly over the top rope to send him to ring number two. Sid stays in the first ring and basks in the cheers of this Baltimore crowd. Dr. Death gets rid of Irwin while Rotunda and Spivey toss Pillman out. After the Doc warms up, Rotunda goes after him while Spivey stands back and watches on as Doc gives Rotunda a nice powerslam. Rotunda reverses a whip and tries to clothesline Doc out, but he whiffs on it and falls out to the floor. Spivey jumps on Doc, but Williams comes back with a cross-corner whip reversal and follows in with a clothesline to set up a possible elimination. Doc levels Spivey with more clotheslines, but he just won’t budge! Doc goes for the kill again, but Rotunda who is still at ringside, trips him up REAL good. That turns his attention away from Spivey long enough to get clotheslined from behind and out to the floor to make Dan Spivey the winner. Dan Spivey and Sid Vicious are tag-team partners known as the Skyscrapers (no relation to the Twin Towers) and therefore don’t want to fight each other, so Teddy Long who is their manager after he was fired for being a crooked referee who screwed the Road Warriors out of their tag titles run, announces that these two will split the $50,000. (around 9:00 shown) It’s cool if nothing else to see a bunch of future stars in their early days. *
“Wild” Bill Irwin vs. Brian Pillman
Irwin might be more infamously remembered as “The Goon” character in the WWF. Not sure of any real problem between these two, but I believe the main objective is to get the young Pillman over. They cut to Pillman making a comeback after Irwin missed a Bossman straddle. Pillman hits a nice clothesline and a diving splash for 1-2-NO! Pillman delivers a Jimmy Snuka jumping headbutt and comes off the top for a Missile Dropkick, but Irwin avoids the contact. Irwin makes him pay with a gutwrench suplex for two, and then throws Pillman into the other ring! Irwin tries to go after him, but ref Nick Patrick pulls him back to cause some arguing. This gives Pillman enough time to regroup and climb to the top rope in the second ring to LEAP back into the other ring for a FLYING CROSSBODY on Irwin for 1-2-3! (10:18/2:48 shown) Well, it did have an awesome finish.
The Skyscrapers (w/Teddy Long) vs. The Dynamic Dudes
They JIP to Sid once again basking in the cheers from the crowd while kneeling down over Shane Douglas. In case you are unaware, the Dynamic Dudes are the skateboarding/surfing blonde goody-goodies better known as Shane Douglas and Johnny Ace. What better team for the Skyscrapers to beat up on than the Dudes? Sid locks on a claw hold on Shane’s right kidney! He finally lets go of the hold and tags in Spivey, which draws BOOS. Spivey hits a nice side slam and a backbreaker on Shane while the crowd chants, “We Want Sid!” Meanwhile, Spivey misses a diving headbutt off the middle rope to set up the HOT TAG TO JOHNNY! He puts Spivey down with a flying clothesline and covers, but Sid saves with a kick in the teeth. All four men get in the ring. Sid and Spivey go for a double running clothesline on Ace, but he ducks and the ‘Scrapers clothesline each other. The Dudes deliver some double-team moves, but the Skyscrapers get the best of Ace while ref Tommy Young is busy getting Douglas out of the ring. Spivey hits a Powerbomb on Ace and it is so over. (10:11/3:16 shown) Another great finish.
Jim Cornette vs. Paul E. Dangerously – Tuxedo Match
The only way to win is rip off your opponent’s tuxedo which will REALLY be a humiliating experience. Cornette and Dangerously have been at each other’s throats ever since Paul E showed up in the NWA and brought with him the original Midnight Express to feud with the Eaton/Lane edition nearly ten months earlier. Since Dennis Condrey had left the NWA before the Chi-Town Rumble in February and ultimately ending the Midnights feud, Paul E took the Samoan Swat Team under his wing since he had no one around to manage. I mean, come on, Randy Rose doesn’t deserve a manager! Dangerously tries to blindside Cornette to start, but gets popped in the mouth instead and has his jacket pulled off. As Cornette turns away to throw the jacket out to the fans, Dangerously whips out some powder and throws it in Cornette’s face! They cut to Dangerously punking Cornette around in the corner. Cornette tries to grab at Dangerously after he’s spat on, but his knee buckles and he falls to the mat. Paul E pounds on the knee down on the floor and then tosses Cornette face-first into the ring post. Back in, Paul E SLAPS Cornette down to the mat and tries for a running elbow drop, but Cornette rolls out of the way! Nevertheless, Dangerously gets back up and continues to pound on Cornette until he NO-SELLS and fires back! Cornette rips Paul E’s shirt, but then we have a double-KO. Paul E pulls out some more powder, but Cornette is wise to it and throws it back in Dangerously’s face! Off come the pants and we have a winner in Jim Cornette. (6:22/4:16 shown) It’s definitely the most famous manager vs. manager match of all-time. From the angle to the pay-off, it’s all great in my eyes. This was just a tremendous effort from non-wrestlers. **½
Rick & Scott Steiner (w/Missy Hyatt) vs. Kevin Sullivan & Mike Rotunda – Texas Tornado Match
This is the Steiner brothers making their PPV debut as a tag team. Also, this is it for the Varsity Club vs. Rick Steiner feud. Once we’ve found a winner, it’s time to move on. This is the PPV debut of the crazy Kevin Sullivan-type booking as well where it’s an insane brawl from start to finish that would be driven into the ground in WCW throughout the ’90s. By the way, the reason the Steiners have Missy Hyatt by their side is because of their association with Eddie Gilbert, who was Missy Hyatt’s husband at the time. I stress “at the time” considering she’s been with seemingly everybody. It starts off BALLS TO THE WALL insane as Rick pairs off with Sullivan down on the floor. The DFG (dog-faced gremlin) NO-SELLS a chairshot and returns the favor on Sullivan! Meanwhile in the ring, Rotunda and Scott attempt to wrestle. Sullivan comes back and crotches Rick on the guardrail before they take turns smashing a table in each other’s faces! Since that had no effect on Rick’s head, Sullivan decides to take him face-first into the ringpost, which always seems to do the trick. Scott gets dumped out by Rotunda as Sullivan brings Rick in the ring for a 2-on-1 situation. Scott regroups and goes after Rotunda again while Rick comes back with a BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX on Sullivan. Both Steiners get near-falls on the Varsity Club, but then Sullivan tosses Rick and keeps him on the floor. Rick finally gets back in and takes a snapmare while Rotunda delivers a jumping leg drop to set up stereo nearfalls for the Varsity Club. Rick tries to come back with a sunset flip, but Sullivan blocks it. Instead of trying to power Sullivan over, Rick puts on the hurting with multiple headbutts to Kevin’s no-no area! Nice. Rick levels Sullivan with the STEINERLINE, but gets dumped out again. The Varsity Club gives Scott a double backdrop. Rick rolls into the ring with a tied-up stretcher to KO somebody with it while Scott appears over on the apron to pull the top rope down as Rotunda comes off the ropes to send him flying out to the floor. Sullivan nails Rick and lifts him up in a slam position as Scott leaps off the top and nails Sullivan in the face to put him down for a 1-2-3! (4:43) Bell-to-bell action to kick off what would become one of the best tag-teams ever in the Steiner Brothers. ***
NWA World Television Champion Sting (w/Eddie Gilbert) vs. The Great Muta (w/Gary Hart)
These final four matches on this card are THE matches Baltimore has come together to see. The story is simple: Muta is undefeated over the past several months and Sting is the MAN to beat. This is most definitely Muta’s biggest challenge in the NWA to date. Muta waits over in the second ring, so Sting LEAPS over BOTH sets of ropes to pounce on Muta. Gah-lee, he was awesome before the knee injury in 1990. Sting chases Gary Hart away, but then gets nailed by Muta off the top with a judo chop! Muta quickly hits the Handspring Back Elbow in the corner and sets up for the MOONSAULT here in the first minute of the match. He comes off the top, but he lands on his feet as Sting rolls out of the way. Sting thinks he’s going to start no-selling, but Muta’s kicks catch up with him and send him out to the floor, so Muta follows him out with a pescado. Muta heads back into the ring to pose for the crowd, but then Sting catches him with a clothesline from the apron and then one from the top rope for two. A standing dropkick from Sting sends Muta out now as Sting leaps over the top rope to meet Muta down on the floor for a little pounding. Back in, Sting goes for a suplex, but Muta slips out of it and hooks on the Oriental Sleeper, which doesn’t appear to be much different than the regular sleeper hold. Sting makes the ropes and hits a press slam, but then misses the leaping elbow drop. Muta shows Sting how it’s done with HIS beautiful version of an elbow drop (yes, it can be beautiful). Muta hooks on a chinlock, but just as Sting starts to rise up out of it, Muta turns it into an abdominal stretch and uses the ropes for leverage! Muta decides to not follow the cliché and let Sting escape with a hiptoss. Instead, he drops Sting down into the OKLAHOMA ROLL for 1-2-NO! Sting gets a second wind, but Muta stops that with a thumb to the eye and kicks away at the Stinger. He goes for another Handspring Back Elbow, but Sting moves out of the way and follows up with clotheslines. Sting delivers the running face slam and then dropkicks Muta out to the floor. Back in, Sting ducks the RED POISON MIST from Muta that hits ref Nick Patrick instead. Stinger Splash misses, so Muta hits the MOONSAULT instead. Tommy Young pulls Nick Patrick out to the floor and counts 1-2-NO! Absolutely no one had kicked out of the moonsault before. Sting ducks a spin kick and drops Muta down with a back suplex bridge for 1-2-3! (8:09) Quite the controversial finish, as both men got a shoulder up at two, therefore Muta is still considered undefeated. The belt would be made vacant as a result, ending Sting’s first major title reign. This was definitely one of Sting’s best matches outside of Flair and Vader. Everything was set up perfectly with Muta’s undefeated streak on the line and Sting having one of his banner years. ****
NWA U.S. Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger vs. Ricky Steamboat
Now THIS is a cool feud. Luger’s pissed at Steamboat because he came in and stole his #1 contenders spot to the NWA World title by basically just showing up in the NWA back in January, so Luger turns heel by joining Terry Funk in beating down Steamboat at Clash VII a month ago. It’s been scheduled to be a no-DQ match, but Luger protests because he’s the champ and doesn’t want a no-DQ match with Steamboat, but he’ll wrestle if the no-DQ clause is dropped. Steamboat decides to let it go because he’s smart and REALLY wants Luger, so here we go. JR brings up a bunch of interesting similarities saying that both men are 3-time NWA U.S. champion, both achieved rookie of the year status, and both won the U.S. title during their rookie years. While it is true for Steamboat, I think JR is getting the Florida Heavyweight title confused with the U.S. title in Luger’s case. Steamboat tries to pick up the early win by getting several nearfalls on Luger with rollups. Steamboat follows up with dropkicks and a backdrop before heading out to the floor. Steamboat connects with an atomic drop and brings Luger back in, but Luger is right there to nail him with a knee coming in the ring. Luger regains his composure and kicks Steamboat out to the floor a beatdown and to try and piss off the crowd. Luger turns around and gets chopped halfway around the ring and even gets his face smashed into the Maryland State Athletic Commission table! Back in, Steamboat tries for the top-rope judo chop, but Luger catches him on the way down. Luger goes to work on Steamboat’s back with backbreakers and press slams. Luger goes for a cover and complains that ref Tommy Young isn’t counting fast enough. He tries for another pinfall, but Luger still isn’t happy with the count. He gets in Tommy’s face about it, allowing Steamboat to grab Luger from behind with a rollup for a FAST 1-2-NO! Haha, I love it. That only makes Luger MAD, as he pops up with a BUNCH of clotheslines! Steamboat does his best punch-drunk oversell while Luger mouths off at the crowd again. Luger delivers a hotshot, but then Steamboat fires back with chops. Tommy Young gets in the way and blocks one of Steamboats blows because he was attempting a closed-fist shot, so Luger ceases the moment and pops Steamboat with a closed-fist shot! It’s the little things that are making this match incredible. Luger shoves Tommy Young back and then gives Steamboat a powerslam for 1-2-NO! Steamboat ducks a clothesline and hits a crossbody block for 1-2-NO! Luger gets right on top of Steamboat and delivers an inverted atomic drop to put Steamboat down so he can yell at the crowd some more. HEEL LUGER IS AWESOME! He turns around and whips Steamboat into the ropes, but he ducks low and gets caught with a swinging neckbreaker. Luger though, slips out of a slam, but then Steamboat ducks another clothesline and lets Luger fall out to the floor! Steamboat brings Luger onto the apron and chops away. What’s smart about that is that Steamboat is causing Luger to exert unnecessary energy by him maintaining a grip on the ropes to prevent from falling! It all seems for naught though, as Luger falls on top of Steamboat on a slam attempt back in the ring for 1-2-NO! Steamboat takes a knee in the corner off a charge, but then slams Luger down off the top. Steamboat connects with a couple running chops and then heads up top for the JUDO CHOP. Will that be all? 1-2-NO! Steamboat confronts Tommy Young with the count while Luger rests up against the ropes. Steamboat charges at Luger, but he takes a backdrop into the other ring! CRAZY! Luger brings a chair into the ring and shoves Tommy Young aside. That allows Steamboat to trip Luger up and catapult him into the corner along with the chair! Now Steamboat has the chair! Tommy Young tries to stop him, but Steamboat shoves him aside as well and BEATS Luger with the chair to give Luger the DQ win! (10:27) Steamboat’s already disqualified, so he uses this opportunity to chase Luger to the back with steel chair in hand. This had the great angle, great feud, great match, great crowd reactions, and was truly non-formulaic. The only problem I have is the finish that technically goes against Steamboat’s character somewhat. But then again, he needed to do something great like this after bringing his wife and kid out to the ring with him for the past six months. ****½
The Freebirds (Michael PS Hayes, Jimmy Garvin & Terry Gordy) & The Samoan Swat Team (w/Paul E. Dangerously) vs. The Road Warriors, The Midnight Express & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams (w/Paul Ellering & Jim Cornette) – Wargames Cage Match
If this Wargames match seems completely random, well you would ALMOST be right. But hey, it’s tradition to have an oversized cage match at the Bash, and I LOVE Wargames matches. The Midnight Express had defeated the SST at the Clash VII to advance to the finals in the NWA World tag titles tourney with some help from the Road Warriors, but lost to the Freebirds in the finals to give them their first NWA World tag titles reign. A month later, the Freebirds and the SST handcuffed the Road Warriors during a cage match on national television and beat the ever living crap out of them. Hawk even did a STRETCHER JOB. We’re talking about the almighty God-like Road Warriors being decimated by the Samoans and the Freebirds. As far as Gordy and Dr. Death (the future MIRACLE VIOLENCE CONNECTION~!) goes, I can’t remember exactly why but they are feuding. Steve Williams dumped the Varsity Club shortly after Wrestle War, so he’s cool now. Garvin and Eaton kick this one off for the first five-minute period. They do some cool back-and-forth stuff. Naturally, the heels win the coin toss and Terry Gordy comes in to make it 2-on-1. The Freebirds freakin’ DOMINATE Eaton, as he gets virtually no offense for the first two-minute period. Obviously the face team figured Bobby Eaton needed a doctor, so they send Dr. Death in next. He kills the Freebirds with clotheslines and then pairs off with Gordy in the other ring to debut the multiple military presses into the cage ceiling. I’m talking EIGHT TIMES! Gordy is OVER 300 pounds here! Garvin remains in control of Eaton as Samu comes in for the heel advantage of 3-on-2. He saves Gordy from the Doc because let’s face it; Garvin is doing a-okay with Eaton right now. Samu decides to help out Garvin anyway, which allows Doc to come back against Gordy. Samu stops that and together, he and Gordy give Dr. Death a suplex. But then out of nowhere, Eaton comes over and starts wailing away on Samu and Gordy! The faces are FIGHTING BACK against these massive three as Animal enters the cage to even the sides. The crowd ERUPTS. Animal goes insane on everybody. He even delivers a DIVING SHOULDERBLOCK over both ropes on Samu! The heels continue to be brutalized as Fatu comes in to make it 4-on-3. The SST corner Animal for some stereo headbutts while the Freebirds control Williams and Eaton. Here comes Stan Lane! He sends EVERYBODY into the cage! I think he seriously wants to see some blood! The SST goes back to pounding on Animal until Michael Hayes enters the cage. He gives everybody DDTs and then goes over to the other ring and taunts Hawk who’s down on the floor. He’s a former US Champion, ya know. The heels are choking away on our heroes until its time for Hawk to enter in for the MATCH BEYOND to begin! Top-rope double clothesline to the SST! Clothesline to Hayes! He hammers away on Gordy and then he and the Doc give him a double clothesline! Garvin gets tossed into the corner like he was a lawn dart! Haha, now Eaton starts giving out DDTs! Hawk now tries what Animal did earlier by delivering the diving shoulderblock over the ropes into Samu! Dangerously attempts to get his phone in the cage, but it won’t fit. Everyone just pounds on each other until Garvin saves Gordy from a DOOMSDAY DEVICE. Since Hawk can’t nail Gordy, he nails Garvin with the TOP-ROPE CLOTHESLINE instead. Animal drops Gordy with a clothesline while Hawk delivers a reverse neckbreaker to Garvin and then follows up with the Hangman’s Neckbreaker submission! Will he give up? Yes he does! (22:18) The faces celebrate, but Animal is the last to leave and gets stuck in the cage with the Freebirds and the SST for an extended beatdown. Hawk, Doc and the Midnights finally break in the cage and make the save. It is SO not over. Fun brawl, but where’s the blood? ***¾
NWA World Champion Ric Flair vs. Terry Funk (w/Gary Hart)
At Wrestle War, just moments after Flair regained his NWA World title for the sixth time, Terry Funk gave Flair a PILEDRIVER ON A TABLE all because Flair denied him a title shot because he wasn’t one of the top 10 contenders in the NWA. This put Flair out of action for several weeks with a neck injury, but now he’s back and he’s not the man to mess with here. Funk bails immediately, but he’s not going to escape Flair that easy. Flair drops his robe and belt and goes right at Funk! Flair gets back in the ring to do a little strutting while Funk throws a tantrum down on the floor. Flair gets tired of waiting, so he BEATS Funk back into the ring. Funk rolls right back out to the floor and tosses chairs around to show how insane he is. Back in, they finally lock up and then Flair chops Funk out to ringside. They brawl down on the floor, but then Funk slows Flair down by sending him face-first into the ringpost. Funk gives Flair a suplex back in for two. Funk goes to work on Flair’s neck to set him up for the Piledriver, but then they both tumble out to the floor as Flair attempts a suplex from the apron! Well that would’ve definitely broken something on Funk considering how close the guardrail is to the ring. They both get up fighting, but end up back in the ring. Funk goes for the PILEDRIVER, but Flair backdrops Funk out to the floor. Man, when was the last time you heard a crowd scream NOOO to a finishing move like that? Flair follows him out and tries to screw Funk’s head off his shoulders! Back in, Flair delivers a pair of rolling knee drops across the neck for two. Since that doesn’t put Funk away, he follows up with not one piledriver, but TWO piledrivers! You can tell Flair doesn’t do a piledriver very often. Funk falls between the ropes out to the floor. Funk tries to crawl back to the dressing room, but Flair is NOT going to allow that. Flair brings him back into the ring and chops Funk down for two. A back suplex sets up the FIGURE-FOUR for Flair! Meanwhile, Gary Hart sneaks Funk’s branding iron into the ring and distracts the ref so Funk can nail Flair in the face with it. That’s one way to get out of that hold. Flair is BUSTED OPEN! Alright, they’re allowing bloodshed this year! Why couldn’t Wargames have been DRENCHED in blood? Funk works the cut and then gives Flair a PILEDRIVER! Luckily for Flair, he’s at the ropes and slips his foot under the bottom rope for two. Funk DRIVES his knee into Flair’s neck for some nastiness and then goes out to the floor to lift up the protective mats around the ring for a PILEDRIVER on the concrete, but Flair backdrops out of that. On a table? Sure! But concrete is out of the question! Funk brings Flair back in for a swinging neckbreaker. How about one more! Funk wants Flair to say that he quits while Gary Hart is pleading for Funk to take the pinfall, showing how obsessed Funk is with destroying Flair. Funk gets a hold of the branding iron again, but Flair fights back and nails Funk with it instead! Now both men are busted open! Flair takes Funk to the ringpost and then brings him in the ring for a ten-count corner punch. Flair charges knee-first in the corner, but Funk moves out of the way! Funk applies the SPINNING TOE-HOLD, but Flair kicks him away and tries for the FIGURE-FOUR! Funk blocks and pulls Flair in for an inside cradle for two, but then Flair counters into an inside cradle of his own for 1-2-3! (17:23) Right after Flair is announced as the winner, the Great Muta appears in the ring and blasts Flair with GREEN POISON MIST! Muta & Funk do a number on the champ, but Sting runs in for the save. It breaks down into a CRAZY brawl as they end the show. The intensity level was most definitely at a fever pitch for this match. It was everything you expect it to be with Flair coming back and getting revenge on that jerk Terry Funk. ****
Final Thoughts: Believe the hype. With FIVE matches at ***+, how can I not recommend this show? This is widely considered the best PPV ever in wrestling history for good reason. You show me the last PPV you’ve seen with this kind of quality action with better stories behind them, and maybe I’ll listen to you. Otherwise, there’s none better. TWO thumbs up for Great American Bash 1989.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.