Written By: Matt Peddycord
The current WCW & NWA Champs were as follows:
WCW World Champion: Sting (2/29/1992)
WCW U.S. Champion: Rick Rude (11/19/1991)
WCW World Television Champion: Steve Austin (5/23/1992)
WCW World Light Heavyweight Champion: Brad Armstrong (7/5/1992)
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Dr. Death & Terry Gordy (7/5/1992)
NWA World Tag Team Champions: vacant
WCW U.S. Tag Team Champions: Dick Slater & The Barbarian (6/25/1992)
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jesse Ventura.
In an effort to unify the NWA and WCW world tag team titles, a 16-team tournament including mostly the USA (duh), also Japan, Australia and even a Hungarian team consisting of the Malenko brothers. I guess Bill Watts just assumed they were actually Hungarian since their dad’s wrestling name was Boris. Wait, I thought the name Boris was more Bulgarian than Hungarian. Oh well. Nevertheless, the first round matches were settled at the Clash in mid-June and now we have the quarter, semi and final rounds left to decide who is going to be the next NWA World tag team champions. The one match on the card that’s not a tournament match has been hyped for months and now the payoff is here: Sting versus Vader. Vader had busted Sting’s ribs and bruised his sternum back in April and now he wants to gain some serious revenge for that. Vader is 450 pounds and mean as they come though. Can Sting overcome this huge monster and hold onto his WCW World title belt? I believe it’s about time I shut up so we can find out!
Oh wait. I still have to tell you something. Since this is an “NWA” tournament and there is no “you can’t come off that top-rope!” rule in the NWA, the wrestlers can do whatever they want off the top rope. I mean, Liger is here. It’d just be a sin to have that rule put in place on this show. The rule is in effect however for Sting/Vader, because it’s a WCW sanctioned match. Alright, now I’ll shut up and type.
Brian Pillman & Jushin Liger vs. Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat – NWA World Tag Team Titles Tournament Quarterfinals
Handshakes all around to start. Koloff and Pillman start the match. Koloff naturally overpowers Pillman, but Pillman’s quickness takes over on Koloff. Liger and Pillman take turns twisting on Koloff’s arm for a bit. Liger can’t seem to put Koloff down with shoulderblocks, so he surprises Koloff with a dropkick instead and THEN levels Koloff with the shoulderblock. Back to the arm work. Koloff finally breaks free with a shoulderblock and tags Steamboat. He nails Pillman with a dropkick and gives the light weights a Double Noggin Knocker. Back in, Steamboat grabs a deep armbar on Pillman. Pillman escapes and leapfrogs, but he pulls off one leapfrog too many and gets caught and nailed with an inverted atomic drop. Steamboat goes back to the arm, but Pillman drops him with a clothesline and tags Liger. Oh snap, double dropkick puts Steamboat down. JR’s getting excited just thinking about what these two could do in the ring. Koloff tags in and back elbows Liger into his own corner for a tag to Pillman. Steamboat tags and works a headlock. Pillman fights out and hits a back drop followed by a running elbow drop for 1-2-NO! Liger tags in and connects with a moonsault for 1-2-NO!! Muta or Liger? Who does the moonsault better? That moonsault was almost like he stopped time. He should be on Heroes or something. Liger follows that up with a tombstone piledriver for another near-fall. Running senton bomb gets another two-count. Out of nowhere, Steamboat stops Liger with a back suplex and tags in Koloff. He grabs a chinlock for a while and then tags Steamboat back in the ring. Uh oh, Steamboat delivers a backbreaker, holds onto him for another one, and then lifts Liger up for a running powerslam for 1-2-NO! Awesome. Koloff tags for a double-back elbow and grabs the chinlock once again. Liger fights his way over to Pillman, but Koloff pulls him away just before he gets the tag. Steamboat tags in, but gets kicked after he ducks low off a whip and Liger runs over for a tag to Pillman. He starts off hot on Steamboat and dropkicks Koloff off the apron and then slows it down with a headlock. Hmm. Liger tags in again and hits a front dropkick off the top. He follows that up with a Handspring Clothesline. That was cool. Steamboat chops back and tags Koloff. Liger comes back with kicks and open palm strikes, but Koloff NO-SELLS and hits a shoulderblock. Make that two of them. What is he, the Ultimate Warrior now? Koloff calls for the SICKLE, so Pillman sneaks in and hits him with a dropkick from behind. Pillman tags in and hits another pair of dropkicks for 1-2-NO! Pillman goes for a crossbody off the ropes, but Koloff catches him, so Liger runs in and dropkicks him down. Koloff dumps Pillman, but doesn’t realize Pillman caught himself on the apron. AIR PILLMAN! He heads up top and connects with a Missile Dropkick for 1-2-NO! Pillman grabs a sleeper, but Koloff escapes with a jawbreaker. Hot tag to Steamboat, but Liger catches him with an enziguri. I mean, he nailed him. Cover, 1-2-NO! Liger whiffs on a dropkick and Steamboat gets two off that. Liger blocks an armdrag and counters with a backslide for 1-2-NO! After a blind tag to Pillman, Steamboat gets nailed with a slingshot crossbody for 1-2-NO! Headlock-to-backslide sequence follows as Steamboat gets another near-fall. Steamboat grabs a headlock and reaches out to Koloff for a tag, but Pillman counters with a back suplex. Pillman goes to the top, but Steamboat stumbles into the ropes and causes Pillman to crotch himself. Pillman still manages to regroup and as Koloff beats down Liger, Pillman comes off the top with a crossbody block. Steamboat rolls through for 1-2-3! (19:27) The Liger/Steamboat stuff was “the tops”. Pillman/Steamboat wasn’t bad either, but they didn’t quite gel as much as Liger/Steamboat. Koloff just had no chemistry with these guys. By this point though, he was pretty much done as far as being exciting. I miss ’86-’87 Nikita. ***½
Eric Bischoff interviews the Steiner brothers. They aren’t skeered of you, Gordy and Williams.
The Freebirds vs. Shinya Hashimoto & Hiroshi Hase – NWA World Tag Team Titles Tournament Quarterfinals
Hashimoto is subbing here for Akira Nogami who competed at the Clash, but was recently injured. This is pretty much it for the Freebirds in WCW. They would have one more brief run in the GWF. You can just guess how successful that was. In case you’ve never seen Hashimoto or Hase – the late Hashimoto was a rather large man with a martial arts background, while Hase competed in the Olympics in freestyle wrestling in 1984 for Japan. Hase was involved in the match where the “Muta Scale” originated, which I’m sure most internet wrestling nerds are familiar with by now. If not, try YouTube. Hase retired in 2006 from active competition and now is the chairman over All-Japan. The Freebirds control Hase to start with headlocks and armbars to start. Hashimoto gets a tag and controls Garvin for a bit. Hayes tags in and gets choked for a while. Hase tags in and hits a running senton bomb for two. Hase works over the ribs and then tags Hashimoto for some kicks. The Japanese miss a double clothesline and eat left jabs to set up the HOT TAG TO GARVIN! He goes FOREARM CRAZY, but then gets kicked by Hashimoto into a NORTHERN LIGHTS SUPLEX by Hase for 1-2-3. (9:17) This was a bad weekend for the Freebirds. They lost the US tag titles to Slater and Barbarian on the syndies that weekend and then lose big time in their tournament match. The end is here for the Freebirds. Match was just okay. *½
Rick Rude & Steve Austin (w/Madusa) vs. Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes – NWA World Tag Team Titles Tournament Quarterfinals
Windham and Rhodes just can’t get away from these Dangerous Alliance guys. They beat Anderson and Eaton in the first round and now they have Rude and Austin to contend with here. CRAZY! Windham still has the hand taped and Ventura absolutely must protest every time he sees Windham. Austin tries to get the win early with cheap rollups, so Windham stops that with a right hand. Another closed fist off a headscissors puts Austin on the floor to regroup. Rhodes and Rude tag. They trade rest holds for a bit. Rude wants a tombstone piledriver, but Rhodes reverses into one of his own for 1-2-NO! Rhodes hits knees when he tries a splash off the ropes, as Austin gets a tag. He drills Rhodes with a clothesline for two. Rhodes comes back with a knee to the gut and then punts Austin to the floor. Back in, Rhodes goes to the ab stretch. Windham tags in and hits a Flying Lariat for 1-2-NO! Austin comes back with a backdrop and tags in Rude. The DA go after Windham’s back. Austin wants a superplex, but Windham shoves him off and climbs down for a crossbody block for two. Madusa is up on the apron as Rude yanks Windham down by his pony tail as he comes off the ropes. Rude’s pulling out the old school tactics here. Rude tags in and comes off the top with a missile dropkick (HOLY CRAP!) for 1-2-NO! Uh oh, Rude hits the Piledriver and covers for another near-fall. Windham fights back and crawls underneath Rude’s legs to reach for Dustin, but Austin cuts off the tag. Suplex by Austin gets two. Windham elbows out of a chinlock and lunges at Rhodes, but Austin stops him with a toehold and tags in Rude for a little help. Front headlock from Rude. Windham backdrops out, but Austin tags and kicks Windham out to ringside. Back in, Windham runs into a boot. Austin covers using the ropes for 1-2-NO! Austin grabs a chinlock and uses the top rope AND Rude for leverage, but he still can’t seem to put Windham to sleep. The DA trade off on the chinlock a while longer. Windham gets in a desperation inside cradle for two and then runs into a double-KO. Rude tags in and we get another double-KO spot, which leads to a HOT TAG TO RHODES! He goes BIONIC ELBOW CRAZY! Pier-six erupts! Austin goes for a piledriver on Windham, but Rhodes posts Rude and stops Austin with a Flying Lariat for 1-2-3. (19:17) Suh-nap! The DA are 0-2 in the tournament and that will do it for them. Nothing wrong with an old-school formula tag match every now and then. ***
Bill Watts hands New Japan representative Hiro Matsuda the NWA World title for the 16-man tournament better known as the G1 Climax that will go down in Japan from August 6-12.
Bischoff stands by with Harley Race and Big Van Vader. Vader’s the uncrowned champion, you know. IT’S VADER TIME!
Nikita Koloff & Ricky Steamboat vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy – NWA World Tag Team Titles Tournament Semifinals
Gordy and Williams are also the newly-crowned WCW World tag team champs and look to be the first unified tag champs. These two already had their quarterfinals match back at the Clash by defeating the Steiners. Gordy wears Steamboat down with a headlock to start. Steamboat punches out and hiptosses Gordy over. Tag to Williams, who runs into an armdrag/armbar. Steamboat gets stuck in the wrong corner and Gordy tags. Steamboat escapes over to Koloff and tags. Gordy does the same thing and tags in Williams again. They roll on the mat for a bit and then Gordy tags in and NO-SELLS Koloff’s dropkicks and stuff. Doc tags back in and takes Koloff to the mat for a bodyscissors of sorts, but Koloff escapes into a front headlock. Doc powers up and both guys switch out. Steamboat chops away, but gets forced into the wrong corner again. Doc tags and drills him with clotheslines. Steamboat tries to come back with a crucifix, but Doc stands strong and backs Steamboat into the corner. Steamboat chops back, but it does no good. Gordy tags and catches Steamboat with a clothesline. Double running shoulderblock follows as Doc gets two. Gordy draws Koloff in so he and Doc can execute a double-team suplex for HEY WAIT A MINUTE! Doc isn’t the legal man! Ref Mike Atkins makes Doc leave and calls Gordy to get back in the ring. Doc tags in again anyway and catches Steamboat coming off the ropes for a backbreaker. Doc hooks an ab stretch on the mat and then tags in Gordy, but he gets caught with a DDT. HOT TAG TO KOLOFF! He goes for the running shoulderblock, but Gordy sidesteps and sends Koloff down to the canvas. Doc tags and hooks a body scissors and pulls back on Koloff’s leg! Koloff fights back as Gordy tags in, but misses a knee in the corner. Gordy follows that up with the STF, but Koloff won’t give it up. Williams tags in and grabs a Boston crab. That doesn’t finish off Koloff, so Gordy tags back in and tries the STF again. Doc tags in for a powerslam for 1-2-NO! He goes for the OKLAHOMA STAMPEDE, but Koloff shoves Doc off into the corner and makes the tag to Steamboat! Pier-six erupts just like in the last match. While the ref is busy getting Koloff out of the ring, Gordy shoves Steamboat off the top into Williams for a running spinebuster for the 1-2-3. (21:41) That does it for Steamboat and Koloff. The monster push of Williams and Gordy continues and has put them in the finals. They REALLY dominated that match and made the faces look like lower mid-carders with shallow hope spots. **½
Shinya Hashimoto & Hiroshi Hase vs. Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes – NWA World Tag Team Titles Tournament Semifinals
I’m getting kind of tired of this tournament honestly because the matches are kind of long and rather boring to sit through, so I’m just going to give you a condensed version of this match so I can spend more time on the best match of the show. Both teams take turns controlling the match with arm holds for the first ten minutes. It’s solid mat wrestling, but it’s just not all that exciting. Dustin becomes face-in-peril and takes a SPIKE PILEDRIVER! The hot tag to Windham comes after Hase misses a double knee drop off the top rope. We get another pier-six to set up the finish like we have in basically every match so far, as Windham hits a Lariat out of nowhere on Hase for the 1-2-3. (14:56) Windham and Rhodes meet Doc and Gordy in the finals. Nothing too exciting, just another formula tag match. **
Tony Schiavone meets up with Ron Simmons for an interview. He’s got the winner of this next match.
WCW World Heavyweight Champion Sting vs. Big Van Vader (w/Harley Race)
Ross makes a point to say that Sting has beaten Flair, Luger and Sid. I think we all know what JR means by that. As I said earlier, this is the big revenge match for Vader busting up Sting’s ribs and bruising his sternum in the Omni back in April. Without a doubt, Sting’s biggest challenge ever. Vader stiffs Sting around and NO-SELLS his stick-and-run offense until he misses a charge in the corner. Sting hits a back suplex out of nowhere and clotheslines Vader out to the floor! Vader regroups on the floor with Race and then tempts Sting with a test of strength. Sting accepts the challenge, but wisely thumbs Vader in the eye before he gets nailed and dropkicks Vader out to the apron. Sting gives him a suplex (!) back in for 1-2-NO! Sting charges at Vader, but that’s like running into a truck. Vader quickly telegraphs a backdrop, so Sting takes advantage with a bunch of kicks and gets an inside cradle for 1-2-NO! Vader rolls out for another conference with Race. Back in, Sting tries a sunset flip, but Vader comes down on top of Sting instead. Ha, Vader does a double bicep pose and JR makes an off-handed remark saying that bodybuilding wasn’t doing so good these days. Take THAT, Vince. Vader hits a splash for 1-2-NO! Choke-lift on Sting is followed by a Scorpion Deathlock from Vader, but Sting actually POWERS OUT of the hold. Vader continues the punishment with straight rights and stiff clotheslines. Powerslam gets two. Sting gets a burst of energy and fights out of the corner with right hands. He ducks a clothesline and comes off the ropes with a cannonball-flip kick to Vader! Sting knocks Vader out on the apron, but he’s too spent to follow up. Vader climbs to the top rope, but the DQ-rule is in effect. Sting kicks Vader’s feet out from under him and Vader winds up laying across the corner. Sting gets in as many open field goal kicks as ref Randy Anderson will allow before he lifts Vader up on his shoulders and Samoan drops him down! That took so much out of Sting, so he’s slow to cover. It still gets two. Sting flips out of a back suplex and kicks the ref by accident, but somehow manages a bridging German suplex! Sting has Vader down for the three, but Anderson’s slow to make the count for 1-2-NO! Sting hits the Stinger Splash! He tries another to the back this time, but Vader lowers his head and Sting splashes headfirst into the ringpost. Oh man, Sting’s busted open. He is done. Vader covers him for 1-2-NO!! Sting kicks out!! Vader knows he’s got Sting beat though when Sting swings at him and he falls flat on his face. Vader delivers a POWERBOMB and that will do it for the 1-2-3. (17:15) The Vader era has begun. This was Vader’s first match that really made the WCW fanbase take notice; thanks to the amazing chemistry Sting and Vader had with each other. Vader would dominate the main event scene for the next 18 months in WCW and destroy everybody in his path. Well, all except for one man. I’ll give you one clue as to who I’m talking about: he’s a limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’, wheelin’ dealin’ son of a gun. ****
Bischoff asks Vader about a rematch with Sting, but he avoids the question by talking about the PAIN GAME! Is that anything like playing Monopoly with your parents on a Friday night?
“Dr. Death” Steve Williams & Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy vs. Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes –NWA World Tag Team Titles Tournament Finals
The Steiners come out to ringside before the match, but security makes them leave. Hope you didn’t pay for this show to see the Steiners! Rhodes and Gordy start off going after each others legs. Gordy makes the ropes off a figure-four applied by Windham and tags in Doc. Lots of mat work with these two. Gordy tags back in for some rough housing on Windham. Rhodes tags in and goes back to the leg, but Gordy slides away for a tag. Rhodes applies a headlock, then an armbar, but gets caught in the wrong corner and then gets stuck in a STF or an “Oriental Twist” as JR keeps calling it. Rhodes elbows out and hooks a sleeper, but Doc gets a blind tag and comes off the top on Rhodes for the break. Rhodes escapes a chinlock thanks to a jawbreaker and rolls up Doc for two. Doc cuts off a tag though and tags in Gordy for a Boston crab. Windham breaks that up, but that gets Rhodes caught in a powerslam for 1-2-NO! Rhodes manages to finally make the tag and Windham goes LARIATOOOOO CRAZY on the champs. Suplex on Doc gets two. Gutwrench suplex gets another two. Sleeper is applied, but Doc runs Windham’s face into the top turnbuckle for the break. Gordy tags and grabs a chinlock. Windham escapes with a back suplex, but Doc still gets a tag. Doc ducks low off a whip, but holds onto Windham and tags Gordy. Deep abdominal stretch is applied, but Windham makes the ropes. Double KO spot follows and Rhodes gets the hot tag. He gets nailed from behind with a double ax handle from Doc and then gets stuck in a front headlock. Dustin punches out and then runs into a knee. Doc goes for the OKLAHOMA STAMPEDE, but just before the slam, Windham comes in and dropkicks Rhodes to fall on top of Doc for 1-2-NO! Doc misses a corner charge, but then shoves off the BULLDOG. A running clothesline from Doc turns Dustin inside out while Windham and Gordy brawl on the floor. Cover, 1-2-3. (21:11) Watts stays loyal to his former UWF champs and gives them both the WCW and NWA tag belts over the span of ONE WEEK and puts WCW’s most popular tag team they ever created on the backburner. Don’t get me wrong, because Gordy and Williams are a great tag team. It’s just that, wow, these guys just plowed through everybody WCW had to offer. It also seems counter-productive to me to put both tag titles on one team so soon when you could’ve had a great Steiners/MVC showdown for both belts considering they were actually feuding with each other. I guess Bill just plain didn’t like the Steiner brothers. Match was basically the same thing you saw earlier with Koloff and Steamboat. **½
Final Thoughts: What a downer of a show. There shouldn’t be two things in one show that disappoints the crowd. First off, Sting losing the belt to Vader was a must. That’s okay. It had to happen if you wanted to turn Vader into this unstoppable monster. As for the NWA tag title tournament, it’s filled with way too much heatless mat wrestling and the ending just left me unsatisfied. (That’s what she said.) On the bright side, the opener was pretty exciting and if you just love legit amateur wrestling, this might be the one pro wrestling show you’d want to check out. Williams and Gordy are a great tag team. I recognize that, but I just don’t dig their style. Thumbs down for the Great American Bash ’92. Except for the Sting/Vader match. That’s a must-see. Everything else you can go without watching for the rest of your life.