NWA Great American Bash 1987

Written By: Matt Peddycord

NWA The Great American Bash Tour 1987
July 1-31 1987
Written By:
Matt Peddycord

This is from back in the old days when the Great American Bash was a month-long extravaganza. It wouldn’t be until four months later when the NWA would showcase their first ever PPV, so this was acceptable. This tape was put out by Turner Home Entertainment as a “best of” tape of sorts, featuring some full and some clipped matches from the tour.

Ric Flair, Lex Luger, JJ Dillon, Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson (w/Dark Journey) vs. Animal, Hawk, Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff & Paul Ellering – Wargames Cage Match (7/4 – Atlanta, GA, The Omni)

Possibly Dusty’s best idea yet, this is the first ever Wargames match. The intensity shown in this match will BLOW your mind. As far as the backstory goes, telling that could take a very long time. Let’s just say that the Four Horsemen HATE Dusty’s team and vice versa. There are so many champions in this match as well. Ric Flair is the NWA World Champion, Tully Blanchard is the NWA World TV Champion, Nikita Koloff is the NWA United States Champion, and the Super Powers (Dusty, Hawk and Animal) are the NWA World Six-Man Tag Champions. By the way, Dark Journey was Tully’s black valet for like a month and then she left wrestling forever. She’s not really all that important, but I feel she should be mentioned. Dusty starts off for the first five minutes with Arn. Dusty nails Arn with an elbow and heads over into the other ring, daring Arn to join him. Dusty gives Arn a dropkick of sorts from the top rope and then throws Arn back into the other ring. Dusty gets nailed, but he comes back with left jabs and a low blow and flicks off the Horsemen! He gives Arn a DDT and then sits back in the corner. The cage comes into play as Arn gets his face grated on the CEILING of the cage. Arn knows he’s in trouble so he goes after Dusty’s bad leg. Dusty FEARS what Arn is thinking and slides out over to the other ring to regroup. Dusty nails Arn and takes him face-first into the cage. Yep, the blood has already been spilled in this thing. Now Arn goes low on Dusty and attempts a knee drop, but the American Dream rolls out of the way and applies the Figure-Four! Dusty releases the hold, but continues stomping on Arn’s knee as the Horsemen win the coin toss at the end of the first five-minute period. Tully comes in for the double-team beatdown, but Dusty fights back with STEREO ELBOWS! His offensive flurry doesn’t last long, as the numbers game gets to him and they take advantage of Dusty’s bum knee. In the meantime, Dusty gets busted open without the Horsemen even needing to use the cage! The first two minute period is over and Animal runs in to save his friend. He completely DESTROYS the heels, including an awesome catapulting Tully into the cage multiple times! He doesn’t even stop to take a breather after that and follows up by giving Tully a running shoulder tackle. Meanwhile in the other ring, Dusty is just beating the crap out of Arn. Uh oh, Tully is now busted open! He gets hung out to dry on the ropes while being demolished by Dusty and Animal! Arn tries to save, but he gets dropped with a clothesline from Animal. In comes Ric Flair, who sneak-attacks Animal! He no-sells some chops from the Champ, but then Arn comes up and clips Animal from behind. Flair and Arn then toss Animal face-first into the cage a bunch of times, while Tully chokes Dusty down on the mat. Then out of nowhere, Dusty comes back and clotheslines all three heels to save Animal from getting beat up! Flair attacks Animal again while Arn keeps Dusty in the corner. Then, Flair leaves Animal alone and starts chopping Dusty and grinding his face up against the cage! Here comes Nikita! Flair is all over the place! He’s now over at the door to meet Nikita and pokes him in the eyes to keep control of what’s happening in the match. Flair gets in a little offense, but then Koloff explodes out of the corner with a DOUBLE RUSSIAN SICKLE for Arn & Flair! The Russian is loose! He doesn’t stop and runs over and makes Tully taste the steel! RUSSIAN SICKLE to Tully! Meanwhile, Animal is pressing Flair up into the ceiling and then slams him down to the canvas. The crowd goes insane for this whole match, by the way. Koloff has some fun playing a little ping-pong with Tully between the ropes. That’s cool. Flair tries to save with Tully by chopping on Nikita, but he no-sells and Flair freaks out and escapes to the other ring. He gets tossed into the cage as Lex Luger comes in to make it 4-on-3. Luger goes right after Nikita! Luger, Blanchard and Flair all triple-team Nikita while they try and keep Animal from getting to Nikita. In the other ring, Arn is getting worn down by Dusty until Luger decides to help him out. Meanwhile, Tully and Flair deliver a SPIKE PILEDRIVER on Nikita! Animal saves Dusty while Nikita receives ANOTHER SPIKE PILEDRIVER! Dusty rolls over to the other ring to shield Nikita with his body, but I think that does more harm than good because Flair and Blanchard decide to beat the crap out of him as well. Arn leaves Luger alone with Animal and continues the beatdown of Nikita. Here comes Hawk and none of the Horsemen are there to meet him at the door, allowing him to beat the crap out of every thing that moves. Man, this is a match where it is obvious that JR is satisfied calling it. I miss those kinds of matches. While Hawk is on the rampage, he seems to have forgotten about Flair who’s got Dusty in the FIGURE-FOUR! In comes JJ Dillon as the last member of the Horsemen team to enter Wargames. He stupidly goes right after Hawk, who no-sells an elbow and starts destroying him. Due to the quality of my video, it’s hard to tell if Flair has just now been busted open or what, but he is definitely bleeding now. The final bell sounds as Paul Ellering enters Wargames, which means only one thing; THE MATCH BEYOND HAS BEGUN! SUBMISSION OR SURRENDER! YEA! There is just so much action, it’s impossible to get it all down here, so I’ll try and give you the most important details. Dusty delivers a double noggin knocker on Luger and Arn while Ellering is ripping at JJ Dillon’s face! RUSSIAN SICKLE to Luger! DOOMSDAY DEVICE to JJ Dillon! The Road Warriors stay on JJ Dillon until he finally surrenders to give the Super Powers the win in the first-ever Wargames! (21:14 shown) It’s one of my personal all-time favorite matches. It’s brutally intense and filled with some of the best wrestlers ever in the biz. *****

NWA Western States Heritage Champion Barry Windham vs. Rick Steiner (7/4 – Atlanta, GA, The Omni)

The Western States Heritage belt was a regional title added for reasons I am not aware of at this moment. Rick Steiner is still hanging out with Eddie Gilbert in the UWF and had not been hit by a car at this point in his career that would transform him into the lovable dog-faced gremlin. We JIP with Barry delivering a dropkick to Steiner. I don’t know why they didn’t just show the whole thing because it wasn’t but like altogether five minutes long. Steiner comes back and connects with a pair of Steinerlines for two, and then follows up with a BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX for 1, 2, NO! Steiner gets frustrated and puts Windham out on the floor with a back elbow. He follows him out and takes Windham face-first into the ringpost. Back in, Steiner tries to suplex Windham from the apron. He covers, but for some ridiculous reason, Steiner flips over and Windham shifts his weight on top of Steiner for the three-count. (2:35 shown) What was shown was fun, but the finish was very odd. ½*

NWA U.S. Heavyweight Champion Nikita Koloff vs. Lex Luger (w/JJ Dillon) – Cage Match (7/11 – Greensboro, NC, Greensboro Coliseum)

Magnum TA had dropped the US belt to Nikita Koloff in the summer of 1986 to prepare for his NWA World title win on Thanksgiving Day at Starrcade the previous year. Of course we all know that didn’t work out for Magnum, but that’s a different story that has been discussed in that show’s review. Onto Nikita; with America’s growing love for the Soviet’s leader Gorbachev, Dusty was smart enough to realize that the age of Russian heels was coming to an end. What turned Nikita face was when he saved Dusty from his 4,389,298th caged beatdown from the Four Horsemen. The crowd loved it and Nikita remained a babyface until the end of his NWA run. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, because now we’ve got Nikita Koloff vs. Lex Luger. After Nikita had sustained TWO spike piledrivers during the Wargames match a week earlier, he went into this title defense wearing a neck brace. They start us off with the opening moments of the match, and then they skip over a huge chunk of the match because now Luger is REALLY sweaty. Luger is using his simple strategy to perfection; work on the injured neck. It’s amazing how gifted this man was in the late ‘80s, and equally amazing how lazy he would become by the late ‘90s. Nikita tries to get away by using the stick and move strategy, but Luger keeps coming at him and pounding on his neck. Luger works a chinlock for a good 3 ½ minutes until Nikita finally elbows out, but then he gives Nikita a swinging neckbreaker and pulls off his neck brace! He throws it out over the cage wall and starts stomping Nikita’s neck. Luger picks him up and gives him a clothesline for 1, 2, NO! Luger tries to put Nikita away with a PILEDRIVER, but Nikita backdrops out of it. Nikita isn’t able to capitalize, as Luger quickly puts him in a full-nelson. After about 90 seconds of that, Luger rolls him over for a bunch of near-falls. Nikita tries for another comeback, but all Luger has to do to regain control is go after Nikita’s neck. Luger goes back to the chinlock, but Nikita stands up and backs Luger into the corner after being stuck in that hold for well over a minute. Nikita finally wins a slugfest, but then he poses like a dork and gets nailed again by Luger. Luger sends Nikita in the corner, but he charges out and nails Luger AND the ref with the RUSSIAN SICKLE! Nikita covers, but Earl Hebner is still down! JJ Dillon, who’s wearing a cast on his arm because of Wargames, tosses a chair over the cage wall for Luger while Nikita is busy trying to wake up Hebner. Luger nails Nikita in the back of the head with it and then lifts an unconscious Russian up in the TORTURE RACK to win his first of many US Championships. (13:35 shown) I loved the psychology in this one. I mean, it’s so simple a cave man could figure it out. **

“Dr. Death” Steve Williams (w/Magnum TA) vs. “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdoch (w/Eddie Gilbert) – Texas Death Match (7/4 – Atlanta, GA, The Omni)

Dr. Death has a cast on, so it’s pretty much a guarantee it’s going to be used in the finish since its “first man to go down for the ten-count loses”. Murdoch pulls out a wrench from nowhere and beats Williams down with it. Murdoch works the cast while yelling at Magnum at ringside. Dr. Death comes back by winning a slugfest, but then misses a charge into the corner. Murdoch heads up top, but then gets nailed with Dr. Death’s cast on the way down and is counted out. (3:25 shown) Just a watchable three-minute fist fight. ½*

The Freebirds vs. Ivan Koloff, Manny Fernandez & Paul Jones (7/4 – Atlanta, GA, The Omni)

This is the original Freebirds combination taking on Paul Jones’ Army. Michaels Hayes starts off with a very pudgy Manny Fernandez. They run the ropes for a bit until Hayes sends Fernandez retreating to his corner after a stomp on the forehead. Hayes gets so excited that he struts AND does the moonwalk! Fernandez comes back for more and gets slammed a couple times. Buddy Roberts tags in and works an arm wringer. Fernandez sends Roberts into the ropes so Jones can nail him. Paul Jones causes a distraction for an Ivan/Manny double-team. Roberts comes back with a sunset flip, but Koloff is able to tag in Jones to avoid getting pinned. Jones misses a knee drop, allowing Roberts to get the HOT TAG TO TERRY GORDY! This leads to a six-pier brawl and Gordy delivering a running elbow drop to Jones for the win. (3:17 shown) Nothing special, just another fun short match. ½*

NWA World Television Champion Tully Blanchard (w/Dark Journey & JJ Dillon) vs. Dusty Rhodes (w/Barry Windham) – non-title $100,000 Barbed-Wire Ladder Match (7/18 – Charlotte, NC, Charlotte Memorial Stadium)

To paint a picture for you, the ropes are wrapped in barbed-wire and you have to climb a ladder to reach a sack filled with $100,000 in it. They basically spend most of the match trying to cut each other with the barbed wire while the crowd is screaming NO NO NO the whole time. The ladder comes into play about seven minutes in as Dusty starts to climb up to grab the money. They both make several attempts climbing the ladder, but neither man reach the top for quite some time. Tully puts on an EVIL black glove and nails Dusty right in his bloody forehead. No, I’m not British. Why do you ask? Dillon hops in the ring as Tully starts to climb up the ladder, but he gets jumped by Windham! Dusty knocks Tully off the ladder and nails him with the black glove. He climbs up the ladder and grabs the sack to win the money. (11:00 shown) Very lame match that in no way foreshadows the ladder matches that would come in the next ten years. CRAP

NWA World Champion Ric Flair (w/JJ Dillon) vs. Jimmy Garvin (w/Precious & Ronnie Garvin) – “Title vs. One Night with Precious” Cage Match (7/11 – Greensboro, NC, Greensboro Coliseum)

We JIP to witness Garvin slapping Flair in the corner, which leads to a Flair Flop that gets two for Garvin. Flair looks to make a comeback with a low blow, but then he heads up top and gets slammed down to the mat for two. Garvin decides to hook on a figure-four on Flair, but then Flair gets to the ropes. Garvin goes for it again and Flair kicks him in the teeth instead. Garvin however, flips out of a suplex and rolls Flair up for 1, 2, NO! Flair is right back on top with chops in the corner. Garvin fights out and gives Flair a hiptoss, but then Flair baits him into the corner. Flair tries to take Garvin to the steel, but Garvin counters and sends Flair into it instead. Garvin takes Flair to the steel again, and then proceeds to grind Flair’s face into the cage to get him busted open real good! Garvin covers for 1, 2, NO! David Crockett is on commentary, and that just makes this even MORE boring. Flair tries to escape out over the cage, but Garvin pulls Flair back in his tights (yes, we see Flair butt) and then slams Flair’s head into the cage railing. That gets two for Garvin, so he decides to grind Flair’s face into the cage some more to hopefully get the three-count. Backdrop out of the corner gets two, but then Garvin’s knee buckles off a leapfrog. NOWWWWW. Flair is all over it like only the Nature Boy can be all over an injury. All during this segment, Flair is trash-talking Ronnie Garvin at ringside. After about five minutes of Flair doing his usual to the knee, Jimmy Garvin attempts a comeback by crotching Flair as he walks across the top rope. Garvin falls on top for two. He goes for the BRAINBUSTER, but his knee gives out. Flair applies the FIGURE-FOUR to win the match as some crazy fan tries to climb inside the cage! (15:17 shown) This was your standard ‘80s Flair match. **½

NWA World Tag Team Champions The Rock n Roll Express vs. NWA U.S. Tag Team Champions The Midnight Express (w/Big Bubba Rogers) – Titles vs. Titles (7/4 – Atlanta, GA, The Omni)

I have no clue WHERE Cornette was for this one. Gibson starts off with Eaton in a collar and elbow tie-up. Eaton reverses a cross-corner whip, but then gets caught in a Jack Brisco rollup for 1, 2, NO! Gibson headscissors Eaton right into the Midnight Express corner. Lane tries a blind-tag, but Gibson sees what is happening and backs away. Both men are hesitant to throw a punch, so Gibson surprises Lane by kicking him out to ringside. Lane gets back in and kicks Gibson in the gut and then to the head. Gibson reverses a whip and then sends Lane back out to the floor with an enziguri. Back in, Morton tags in and starts working on Lane’s arm. They do the spot where Lane pulls Morton down by his hair, but he keeps bouncing back up to his feet. Lane tries to catch Morton off guard by running out to the floor and back in, but he gets caught with an arm drag instead. Morton covers for 1, 2, NO! Eaton tags in and Morton does the spot where he climbs up Eaton and jumps off his shoulders to escape a test of strength. That’s freaking cool as crap. Morton gets a headscissors takedown on Eaton and then tags in Gibson. He tries a headscissors, but this time Lane nails him from the apron. The Midnights double-team the CRAP out of Gibson for a good long while. Eventually, Gibson makes the HOT TAG TO MORTON! Double-Noggin Knocker! DOUBLE DROPKICK to Eaton! Morton covers for 1, 2, NO! Stan Lane pulls Morton off of Eaton at two. Eaton shoves Morton into the ropes off a headlock, but then Bubba Rogers sneaks in while the ref’s back is turned and delivers the BOSSMAN SLAM to Morton. The only problem with that was Bubba left his hat and shades lying in the ring. Tommy Young sees it and calls for the DQ to give the Rock n Roll Express the win. (7:15 shown) Typical greatness from one of the best tag-team feuds ever. ***

Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson & The War Machine (w/Dark Journey & JJ Dillon) vs. Animal, Hawk, Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff & Paul Ellering – Wargames Cage Match (7/31 – Miami, FL The Orange Bowl)

Wow, the Orange Bowl is PACKED! In case you didn’t know, the War Machine is Big Bubba Rogers. This is practically the same match as the first Wargames, except the order of entry is a little different. It’s Dusty vs. Arn, then War Machine, Hawk, Flair, Nikita, Tully, Animal, Luger, and then Ellering. Seriously, most all the same spots are done that were done in the first match. There’s nothing wrong with it though, because it is a different crowd. The end comes when the War Machine gets triple-teamed by the Super Powers until he can’t continue any longer to give the Dream Team the win again. (21:24 shown) I wasn’t feeling the hatred in this one like I did in the first match, but it was still a very awesome affair. ****½

Final Thoughts:
If you’re a huge NWA fan like me, you can’t go wrong with this tape. You can’t beat the original Wargames matches and you’ve got a great RnR/Midnights match on here too. What is sucky on here is still okay because it’s mostly shortened down to a watchable length. If you can find this on eBay, (I just looked and it’s there) buy it and keep it forever. Thumbs up for the Great American Bash 1987 Tour Highlights tape!

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