Retro Review: WCW Great American Bash 1996

Great American Bash 1996 was an interesting time in WCW, especially with 20/20 hindsight. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall had shown up just weeks earlier, and Hulk Hogan hadn't been revealed as the "third man." WCW Nitro was going strong, and this still very much felt like the "old" era of WCW. 

You can see my full podcast review of WCW Great American Bash 1996 at FightfulSelect.com

Kurt Angle Recalls His Gold Medals Getting Stolen, Stephanie McMahon Being Hit By A Baseball

Opening

  • The National Anthem and piddly little fireworks. 
  • Tony and Dusty Rhodes mention the passing of Dick Murdoch.

There Must Be A Winner
Steiner Bros defeated Fire & Ice
2.75/10

  • Rick Steiner was a big, bad son of a bitch. Scott Steiner was a bigger son of a bitch. Scott Norton was an even bigger son of a bitch, and somehow Ice Train is an even bigger son of a bitch.
  •  I liked Fire & Ice as a kid. 
  • A lot of clotheslines, shoulder blocks, axe handles and back elbows early. 
  • Norton hits an ugly ass Samoan drop on Rick Steiner, and takes a T-Bone suplex flat on his face. Wow. That was hideous. Norton looks terrible here. He almost drops Scott flying off the top rope before a powerslam, too.
  • Ice Train with a belly to belly.
  • Norton does a shoulder breaker to Scott Steiner. No way I take that move from Norton after his performance today. He also applies a half assed Fujiwara and another shoulder breaker.
  • I always wondered why Norton didn't do more in WCW since he had a great run in NJPW. I'm seeing why. He messes up a German Suplex from Rick, too. 
  • Rick does a bad ass hybrid back body drop/belly to belly to Ice Train.
  • The match should have ended two times, including with the Steiners finish. The crowd was ready, but Ice Train kept breaking the count.
  • No surprise that Norton takes the Frankensteiner horribly here. He gets pinned, while Ice Train "pins" Rick after a short arm clothesline, but Steiner's shoulder is up and they're in the ropes.
  • Holy wow. Fire & Ice were the total shits. Scott Norton was miserable in this match.

WCW United States Championship
Konnan (c) defeated El Gato
4.25/10

  • Tony and Dusty trying to put El Gato over was kind of funny. It's Pat Tanaka in a goddamn mask. He was 33 and looked 53. They had him beat freaking Kurasawa before this.
  • As a youngster, I wasn't sold on Konnan. There was something about his presentation that I didn't get. I look at him now, and don't know how he wasn't and even bigger star.
  • Konnan's rolls worked really well for him, and kind of hid that he wasn't as acrobatic as some of the other guys from Mexico at the time.
  • Something about this is just a step off. They're trading submission holds but it's just not working. After about the fourth Konnan roll, it's a little much.
  • Gato busts out a sitdown powerbomb out of nowhere. What. Konnan also does a sunset flip powerbomb to the outside. It didn't look the best by today's standards because Tanaka held on too long, but it got the crowd. 
  • A bridging Alabamaslam wins it. This match should have been two minutes. 
  • Funny fact: Konnan beat Tanaka without the mask in a dark match later that week.

Lord of the Ring match
DDP (c) defeated Marcus Alexander Bagwell
6.75/10

  • DDP yells about Cal Ripken, and Marcus Bagwell had won a coin toss with Riggs to get this match. 
  • Man, DDP's motor was special. 
  • Bagwell does a stunner over the ropes, but DDP's body type causes them to fall over the top rope.
  • DDP gets hung up in the ropes TJP/Almas style, and begs Bagwell to not kick him. This was great. So was the plancha Bagwell did!
  • DDP saves a botch by turning a move into a high crotch backbreaker, then does a great cradle suplex. Later he does a Tombstone slam. He's busting out moves I've never seen or rarely seen with regularity here.
  • CHARLIE BROWN! CHARLIE BROWN! DDP CHARLIE BROWNS HIMSELF!
  • Slingshot clothesline into the ring from Bagwell gets two. He does a running headscissors too.
  • Diamond Cutter, pin. Dusty puts over the move hard. 
  • This was really good.

WCW Cruiserweight Championship
Dean Malenko (c) defeated Rey Mysterio
7.5/10

  • I go into these pretty blind. I like to pick something relevant to the time period. So holy shit.
  • It's now 22 years later. More wrestling than ever before. I still couldn't find two more polished wrestlers than this. I would argue that 1996-1998 Mysterio was the best.
  • Mysterio and Malenko slow it down and Rey's arm is worked over. Rey sells it great, Malenko works it great.
  • Mike Tenay joined commentary for this, and it's kind of funny to see him refer to a modern armbar as a "unique armbar."
  • Nobody delivered better belly to back suplexes than Malenko and Eddie Guerrero.
  • It took an hour into the show to refer to the "hostile takeover," and it was a hotline plug.
  • Malenko uses a double wristlock. Get the damp rag. Also uses a surfboard stretch Romero Special that the ref wasn't ready for when Malenko went into the pin.
  • While I appreciate what Malenko is doing on the mat, the camera can't see him applying the hold. 
  • We see the famous springboard somersault senton from Mysterio that catches the lower half of Malenko. A springboard dropkick follows.
  • The referee is having trouble keeping up, and his counts are slow. The crowd loves the match, but would have liked it a lot more if the ref was good.
  • A couple of big flying frankensteiners can't get it done for Mysterio. He's powerbombed and Malenko uses the ropes to get the pin.
  • Really good, but the ref knocked it down a little.

John Tenta defeated Big Bubba Rogers (w/ Jimmy Hart)

2.5/10

  • They're billing Tenta as 500 pounds. Heh. I don't expect great things.
  • Bubba hits the steps HARD. That's about as good as it gets in this one, folks
  • Lots of choking, gouging, and the like in this heatless match. Wild to think they were two extremely over characters in WWF just four years earlier. In 1996, it didn't work. 
  • They're teasing cutting Tenta's hair....more than they already did?
  • Tenta wins with a powerslam after he caught Bubba off the top. 
  • Tenta very dangerously cuts the beard of Bubba. Man, this sucked.

Falls Count Anywhere
Chris Benoit defeated "Taskmaster" Kevin Sullivan (w/ Jimmy Hart)
7/10

  • If I didn't think that I was robbing my paying customers, I'd never review a Benoit match.
  • Eerie how much Kevin Sullivan sounds like a Youtube vlogger I've seen. Only the Youtube vlogger cuts a better promo than Sullivan does here.
  • I have to put over commentary. They're making a run of the mill crowd brawl seem like the wildest thing ever.
  • They get into the men's room! There's a man with his baby watching! A woman comes in and Dusty goes off about it! Security trying hard to control this.
  • Sullivan slams Benoit's head in a door HARD.  
  • They make their way back to the ring, and the crowd is loving it. They dick around with a chair, but end up on a table, on the top rope. 
  • A Benoit superplex takes it. I don't know how his version ever made any sense, considering it folds him up.
  • The majority of this match rating is the crowd going crazy. Arn Anderson comes out and the crowd explodes when he beats down Sullivan. This angle and the crowd take a middle of the road brawl to a 7/10 match.
  • Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, Arn Anderson, Bobby Heenan are cutting a promo backstage with Woman and Miss Elizabeth. Heenan is so natural. 

Sting defeated Steven Regal
5.5/10

  • Sting has started growing out his hair. Throughout the show, the commentators discuss whether or not Regal is a sissy or not. Lol
  • Regal immediately takes a back body drop on the floor. 
  • This really doesn't seem like the kind of match that'd be on PPV these days, but both of these guys are so over.
  • Regal is deceptively athletic. Commentators say that Regal got this match because he feels he's been overlooked by WCW's championship committee and wanted a shot at WCW's franchise. This is such a great way to establish Sting as "the franchise" before NWO come in.
  • I'm not sure why the guy in the front row brought a rubber chicken, but he's threatening Regal with it.
  • Regal is slowly working over Sting. This is very much a "crowd already cares, so let's slow it down" approach.
  • Apparently Sting's hairstyle has been "much talked about, in and out of the locker room area." Ha.
  • Regal worked over Sting for what felt like seven or eight minutes and almost killed themselves on a double underhook superplex.
  • STF is applied, but Sting gets out. He gets a great reaction for simple punches and clotheslines. It's unreal these days.
  • Sting eats knees on the Stinger Splash, but wins with the Scorpion Deathlock. The pop for the finish was insane. This is what WWE wants for Roman Reigns.

The Horsemen (Ric Flair & Arn Anderson w/ Woman & Miss Elizabeth) defeated Kevin Greene & Mongo McMichael (w/ Debra & Randy Savage)
4.5/10

  • I can't believe they paid Michael Buffer to do this shit. What a gigantic waste of money.
  • Funny to see Debra coming to the ring with Mongo and Kevin Greene, because she'd become more famous in wrestling than both of them combined.
  • I was wondering how they'd get around Mongo fighting the Horsemen. Arn just outwrestles him. Well until Mongo stomps the piss out of him. 
  • Kevin Greene knocks Flair out of the ring and mocks the strut, which gets the crowd going. For some reason Savage doesn't get them DQ'd when he attacks Flair and keeps him from powdering.
  • Flair takes a Greene back body drop on his leg and hips per usual. OUCH DUDE.
  • Mongo is no selling the strikes of Flair. Nature Boy is doing everything he can to put over Mongo. 
  • This match is garbage, but Flair and Arn are trying to hold it together with every clothesline that hits. There's a double Figure Four spot from the football players.
  • Greene does a really nice set of chop blocks and body slams. Arn works the leg of Greene, and Macho makes the save. How is this a babyface thing to do? It's two on two!
  • Flair hits the best kneebreaker of anyone in history,
  • Savage gets involved again and Benoit makes the save. Little of this makes sense for Savage. 
  • Debra re-emerges with Elizabeth and Woman with a case. It has a Horsemen shirt and a ton of money. Mongo takes it. and cracks Greene with the case. That's a wrap.
  • Greene had so much potential. Mongo didn't. This match did NOT need to be 21 minutes long. Maybe half that. 
  • The new Horsemen beat down Savage and Greene.
  • You never see anyone with skullets these days. Arn's ruled. Baron Corbin should rock that.

The Outsiders

  • Bischoff has to legally clear up up if Nash & Hall work for WWF or not. They say no, but then refer to the Billionaire Ted skits.
  • Big Mang and the medium sized mang and their surprise buddy are facing 3 of WCW's best at Bash at the Beach.
  • They powerbomb Bischoff off the stage. What a great angle.

WCW World Heavyweight Championship
The Giant (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart) defeated Lex Luger
4/10

  • The Giant cuts a better promo a year in than anyone on this show. Better than Jimmy Hart's 1980s promo.
  • Luger's promo is really bad. He's going for the Jake Roberts method and it doesn't work out. He lists all of his accomplishments, but not his world title reign. Huh?
  • It seems weird that Luger is tied up in a World Title match while he's tag champ and TV champ. It wasn't too much of a gaping hole, but the show sure could have used something important in place of Bubba/Tenta. Without looking at context, Harlem Heat, Nasty Boys, Eddie Guerrero, are really the only interesting names not on this show. The NWO addition was much needed.
  • Buffer's best call is "LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGER."
  • Luger's selling is screaming out "AHHHHHHHHHH!"
  • Giant struggles, but gets Luger up for a Canadian Backbreaker.
  • The Giant gets himself up on the top rope, but Luger can't rack him!
  • Chokeslam. Pin. This sucked.
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