The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Great American Bash ’95

The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Great American Bash ’95

Great WCW ideas #348 – The Renegade

Summer of 1995 was a big chance for WCW. They’d just brought back Ric Flair from retirement and put him into a hot angle with recent new acquisition Randy Savage. Hulk Hogan was off shooting one of his movies so this PPV was an opportunity for those who wanted an alternative to both the WWF and to Hulk Hogan to have a show to take an interest in. I would guess Hogan’s film in question here was one of the straight to video Thunder in Paradise feature length specials. As for the WWF, the leader in sportz entertainment, they were having a bad year. Even compared to some of the stupid shit they did in 1993 and 1994. They’d really pushed the boat out for 1995. Diesel had been their champion all year following an easy win over Bob Backlund at the tail end of 1994. He was pushed regardless of whether anyone cared or whether he was having good matches. Shawn Michaels won the Royal Rumble and turned himself babyface at a weak Wrestlemania almost wrecking Diesel’s babyface title run in the process. Shawn still lost the match but his face turn set up some memorable matches against Jeff Jarrett and Razor Ramon for the IC title in the months that followed. The other capable workers in the WWF were stuck in dead end feuds. Bret Hart found himself going from one pointless feud to another including a series of matches against a pirate that stole his jacket. Owen Hart found himself stuck in the tag team ranks, as did the British Bulldog. Only they didn’t tag as a team but rather as partners for Yokozuna and Lex Luger respectively. So the big pushes got handed out to the truly deserving athletes in the company. So obviously King of the Ring saw Mabel going over Savio Vega in a tournament that featured the Undertaker & Shawn Michaels. Obviously. So around the time of this WCW show the WWF was heading towards a main event at their next PPV of Diesel v Mabel. On that same show they booked Bret Hart to wrestle a dentist and the Undertaker to work a match with his buddy Kama over a melted down bling version of the urn. When we on the IWC always talk about a “WCW level of stupidity” that’s the kind of thing we’re talking about. And yet at one of wrestling lowest ebbs creatively it was the WWF and not WCW that were doing the dumbest things.

Seeing as I didn’t do it I thought I’d remind everyone what happened at Slamboree:

• Notably the first PPV to have commentary on it by Eric Bischoff who was subbing in for the injured Tony Schiavone.

• The Nasty Boys beat Harlem Heat to regain the WCW tag titles. It was billed as their last shot at the gold.

• Kevin Sullivan beat the freshly babyface Ed Leslie in the “Man With No Name” period. His babyface run wouldn’t last.

• Wahoo McDaniel beat Dick Murdoch in a legends match. Murdoch actually brought the effort the last time WCW called on him in 1993 so they probably figured it’d be a good idea to bring him back here and keep the theme of Slamboree being the whole “legends reunion” thing. They even had Solie back on commentary.

• Muta beat Paul Orndorff in defence of the IWGP title.

• Arn Anderson beat Alex Wright in defence of the TV title

• Meng v Hawk went to a double count out. Kind of the idea being to keep pushing Meng as the monster but he didn’t win.

• 1995 HOF inductees were Dusty Rhodes, Antonio Inoki, Terry Funk. Gordon Solie, Angelo Poffo, Wahoo McDaniel and John Studd.

• Sting beat Big Bubba Rogers to get his win back.

• Hogan/Savage beat Flair/Vader when Arn accidentally clocks Flair allowing Hogan to pin him.

• The show is generally regarded as awful and like most WCW in 1995 to be avoided.

June 18th 1995. We’re in Dayton, Ohio.

Hosts are Fat Tony & Bobby Heenan with Scheme Gene on interviews. Heenan defends Flair’s right to slap a Figure Four on Angelo Poffo.

Brian Pillman v Alex Wright

Hey, Pillman still has a job! I can only assume he’s been injured or he’d have been on more shows lately. Wright is starting to get that “we don’t like suck up babyfaces” heat from the guys in the audience. You know the type, John Cena. This is a babyface match. Pillman flips Wright over from the opening lock up but Wright flips back out into an armbar. They do some more countering with the crowd responding more to Pillman’s stuff because he has more character and experience. That and he’s just better. Flying headscissors puts Wright down followed by a dropkick and Pillman goes to the arm. Looks like an arm duel in between spots. Wright flips over Pillman and takes him over with a dropkick then a bodyscissors. There is a suggestion already that they’re working almost the exact same approach to the match, which shows them to be very similar wrestlers. Wright fucks up something or other and Pillman ducks an Enzuigiri. Pillman with an Oriental Crossbow and the crowd has turned on Das Wunderkid. Pillman with a great flying headscissors but Wright swats off a dropkick and puts on the Boston crab, which in itself gets heat. Wright completely fucks up a surfboard. Yikes. He’s really letting the pressure get to him. Wright with a few cheeky roll up’s for near falls so Pillman chops him to a HUGE pop. An elbow to the face follows to another big pop. Pillman with a hammerlock but Wright runs him into the ropes and Pillman gets clattered by those stupid side ringsteps. Who has ringsteps on the side of the ring? Wright invites Pillman back in, which gets him dragged out to the floor and chopped. Chops v European Uppercuts when we get back inside. Pillman sets early and eats canvas but a running splash gets knees. Crowd really has started to hate this kid all of a sudden. Pillman dumps Wright on the ropes guts first. Pillman goes to suplex Wright back into the ring but Wright suplexes him out. Heenan questions the legality of that as Wright baseball slides Pillman and now here comes the huge heat. Pescado wipes Pillman out but there’s no saving the reaction at this juncture. It’s the dancing! No man likes men who dance unless it’s deliberately goofy. Pillman gets a revenge spot where he throws Wright outside and hits him with a tope. Pillman goes for a plancha to follow up but Wright moves and Pillman eats rail. Wright throws Pillman back in to prevent the count out. Wright goes for a high crossbody but Pillman moves. Some serious crashing & burning in this match. Dropkick duel! Pillman goes for a superplex but Wright dumps him off. HIGH CROSSBODY…for 2. Huge impact on that. Pillman sells fatigue and just collapses on two Irish whips. But it’s a sucker move as Wright goes up top Pillman dropkicks him as he comes off. Pillman goes up but Wright throws him off onto the ropes. Ouch. Standing switches leads to a German suplex from the German for 2. Pillman goes for a sunset flip but Wright blocks it into a pin at 15.42. ***1/4. If it weren’t for some of the nerves that plagued Wright in the first half of the match that would have been a classic. As it stands they really went 110% in the second half to get the crowd going. Just a shame about those mistakes. Bags of effort from Pillman. Compare that match to the one with Paul Roma. Quite how WCW didn’t retain Pillman’s services I’ll never know. Sure he was outspoken but he was so gifted in the ring and on the mic.

Arm Wrestling match – Diamond Dallas Page v Evad Sullivan

Page has a date with the Diamond Doll, Kimberly, on the line while Evad has put up his pet rabbit, Ralph, although God knows what DDP wants to do to the rabbit (stew it probably). DDP has beaten a bunch of ham & eggers on route to this match up. Page has also gained a bodyguard called Maxx Muscle. That would be Jeff Warner who used to team with Art Barr in the Pacific Northwest before a few failed gimmicks in WCW (Maximum Overdrive & JW Storm). He did nothing else of note not impressing in WWF try out matches and the last place he worked with Pro Wrestling Iron out in California. Evad is ready because he’s been talking to his rabbit who told him he could do it. Kim is looking freaky hot because she still has her youth. This coincides with Kevin Sullivan changing his gimmick to Taskmaster. DDP tells Evad to save his embarrassment and clear out of the building right now. DDP isn’t happy with the initial grip and throws his cigar at Evad. Never understood gimmicked arm wrestling getting over. It’s so stupid looking. Maxx Muscle tries to add leverage but Nick Patrick is highly impartial so he stops that. Kim “accidentally” bumps Maxx into DDP costing him the contest and she ends up stuck going on a date with Evad. Her facial expressions are quite good. Theatrical as it were.

BACKSTAGE DDP calls it a travesty of justice and he intends to have a long talk with Kim. He says he didn’t lose, right Maxx? Absolutely. Diamond Cutter for Okerlund right there and then could have gotten him over as a big babyface btw. Main event, straight up. Back with Tony & Bobby. Marcus Bagwell is injured so Craig Pittman is taking on Jim Duggan instead.

”Hacksaw” Jim Duggan v Sgt Craig Pittman

So why not the Patriot of Bagwell needed a sub? Or was he injured too? Pittman might be a new name for some of you. He was genuinely in the US Marines and was a champion wrestler in the army. He spent a good long time in WCW but only really got a push around the time of his debut, which was back in 1994. I remember seeing him on TV quite a lot on the jobber shows. His finish is an armbar. Despite defending his country and being a genuine hero WCW obviously booked him as a heel. This starts as a shoving contest that impartial referee Nick Patrick can’t get control over. Duggan looks horrible trying to attempt chaining with Pittman who still can’t make his amateur stuff look realistic in terms of being countered. Duggan hits an ugly hip toss. Pittman chokes away on the ropes. He goes to dive at Duggan but flies over the top. Pittman’s instincts means he lands on his feet despite the speed of exit and then bumps over anyway. Should have stayed on his feet. Pittman takes a few short cuts by jabbing Duggan in the throat and posting his knee. Clearly he’s trying to set up that armbar. Um. So he keeps working at the leg and it’s the right one as well, which is just weird. Duggan swings and connects with a big right hand punch. His selling is actually quite good as he tries to stay off his bad leg, which Pittman wipes out. Pittman with the Funk Spinning Toehold. Duggan kicks him off and Pittman ludicrously oversells again this time falling through the ropes. Duggan hits a slam and a clothesline. Pittman was never going to make it as a pro. Everything he did looked like he knew how to wrestle but couldn’t make it look realistic and keep it fake. Anyway he hooks up the Code Red armbar but Duggan gets right into the ropes. Pittman refuses to break the hold and gets disqualified at 8.13. *-ish. Pittman, although interesting to watch a few times, was always destined to failure because he looked like an amateur trying not to hurt anyone complete with silly overselling. Basically whoever taught him how to be a pro did a lousy job of it.

BACKSTAGE the Blue Bloods get an interview (Regal & Eaton). Regal won’t let Eaton talk because he has an epic promo in mind referencing Hitler and the end of World War II. He talks about the pain and embarrassment of the Nasty Boys will face tonight. Regal goes into talking about the violence inherent in American society and sometimes in a violent society violence is the only logical way to draw attention to yourself. He says the only reason the Nasty Boys are champions are because all the other tag teams in WCW are inferior. Great promo from Regal.

EARLIER – Sherri spits abuse at the Stud Stable. Parker wants a match against Harlem Heat tonight for his boys. This would be the start of the daft love angle between Sherri & Colonel Parker. He even kisses her during his interview so Sherri knocks him on his ass.

Bunkhouse Buck/Dick Slater w/Colonel Rob Parker v Harlem Heat w/Sister Sherri

This would be a heel match, which is pretty strange for mid 90’s WCW. Unusually ahead of it’s time. The problem with heel v heel matches is usually no one in the crowd gives a shit about what happens. Basically these two teams are both in contention for the WCW tag titles so they’re having a match to determine who’s better. Harlem Heat dominate the early going with Slater looking really old. I always hated “where the big boys play”, which is what Tony says during virtually every televised match from this point onwards. Booker brings out the babyface kicking making the Southern gents look like suckas in the process. Stevie is more straightforward with a big boot and a front facelock. Booker comes back in with a dropkick. Slater takes him over but Booker shows he can mat wrestle too as he counters back. Stevie back in for a brawl, which he wins with a chinlock. Booker ends up taking the heat segment instead but because there’s no defined heel/babyface thing no one in the crowd cares. Booker busts out the spinneroonie to get away and Slater stands there talking to Stevie on camera. So they work a bit of heat on Stevie and I have really stopped caring now. Sorry folks! Skip to the end…Booker & Buck do a roll up spot where Parker comes in and turns it in Buck’s favour while the ref is distracted and then Sherri comes in and turns it back the other way for the pin at 8.45. ½*. Desperately dull and completely forgettable. What the hell was that finish? I know they wanted to get Sherri over as a better manager than Parker but having the whole roll up thing go down like that with such a long pause between it starting and the 3 count going down just made it so convoluted. It didn’t help that the camera focused on the action rather than the distraction, which was meant to distract the viewers as well as the referee thus making the finish more realistic.

EARLIER – Nick Bockwinkel tries to announce something but out comes Vader to say he’s sick of him, Eric Bischoff and generally everyone so Hogan comes out to chair shot him. Sting, Duggan and Evad comes out to break it up and drag Hogan off. Hogan sure saved Bockwinkel’s ass there. We catch up to now where Bockwinkel joins the commentary. He discusses the re-match with the title. Bockwinkel says he’s not impressed with Vader and forgets the name of the next PPV before booking a cage match at unsaid show. That’d be Bash at the Beach then.

BACKSTAGE Ric Flair gets an interview. He talks about Vader’s title re-match and how it’s advantage Vader. He says Savage won’t be there to see it because he’s going to end his career tonight. Flair reminds us he took Savage’s wife in ’92. Flair is all worked up and calls himself the greatest wrestler in the world. He’s going to prevail tonight.

TV title – Arn Anderson (c) v The Renegade w/Jimmy Hart

Oh boy, the Renegade. That’d be Rick Williams. He used to be a stripper before taking up wrestling just 3 years before this show. His Indy work was largely awful but he had a similar look to the Ultimate WOYAH~! which was enough for WCW to hire him because the real WOYAH~! was far too expensive. He’s just come in to be one of Hulk Hogan’s new buddies. The idea was that WCW were trying to fool everyone into believing he was the same guy as Jim Hellwig only under a new gimmick like say Bossman changing his name or John Tenta doing the same because their names were copyright. Or Ed Leslie. However the real WOYAH~! conducted an interview with PWI (I think) where he said he had nothing to do with WCW. The result was the Renegade’s push was ended there and then. He lost the belt to DDP and slid down the card until his eventual firing in late 1998 and resultant suicide in February 1999.

He has similar ring attire, face paint and mannerisms to the WOYAH~! I don’t think any fans are fooled but I could be wrong. The booking should be obvious here. Renegade is on a huge push complete with association with Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart. Meanwhile Arn is the dependable guy used to fill in gaps in storyline. He’s effectively a place holder for the TV belt because they knew he’d turn up and get the job done every night until they found someone they wanted to put the title on. Renegade starts fast and clotheslines Arn a lot until he clotheslines him outside, which technically is a DQ. I guess they’d started to ignore that by this point. Tony makes excuses claiming that “the force of the blow” sent Arn over the top so that’s not a DQ. Whatever, Tony, I hope you can’t sleep at night. Renegade overpowers Arn and Arn gives it the facial expressions to sell the power. Arn hooks up the Shades of Wilbur Snyder, which is reversed. Crowd isn’t particularly enthused. Arn wrestles his way out and if anything he’s getting treated like the face. Renegade totally no sells and Enzuigiri and the close up shows him to look absolutely nothing like WOYAH~! Totally different facial structure. No wonder the crowd didn’t buy it. Renegade screws up the sell on a back elbow so Arn improvises into a sleeper, which is reversed. Arn back suplexes out. Renegade goes no selling so Arn levels him with the SPINEBUSTER…for 2. Awesome spinebuster. Crowd is chanting “DDT”. Renegade’s timing is horrible so Arn has been carrying him on his back for the entire match so far. Renegade with a crappy Samoan drop. He really doesn’t get psychology or anything. Kinda worrying. Renegade with a top rope splash for the win and the belt at 9.07. ¾*. Total carry job from Arn but it’s always nice to see that sometimes. The sheer work one man puts into getting another man over. This was another one of these things where WCW just hires a guy and puts a title on him right away without knowing if he’s any good or not.

RINGSIDE – The yet unnamed Giant. He’s like two feet taller than anyone in the crowd. He shouts at Jimmy Hart and threatens to punch him in the eye.

BACKSTAGE the Nasty Boys get interviewed. They’re the tag champs again. They’re also “not scared of nobody”. So…they’re scared of somebody? Double negatives are no your friend. Okerlund reminds them what kind of points they should be hitting on their promo but they can’t take a hint. Knobbs calling Eaton “English” is somewhat confusing as he’s from Alabama.

WCW tag titles – The Nasty Boys (c) v The Blue Bloods

Eaton is now billed from Stoke on Trent although he probably couldn’t find it on a map. At least he’s getting a push. The Nasties break out the leather jacket shots before the brawl spills outside. Those coat shots look fierce. Referee is tolerant of the brawl continuing around the ring and doesn’t count anyone out. Sign in crowd – “Bloody good wallop, sir”. Nasties with the two on one beatings. Tony reminds us that Dusty Rhodes would call that “clubberin”. Regal takes a Pit Stop and breaks out the awesome facial expressions. He really looks a mix of outraged and nauseous. Eaton charges Knobbs but crotches himself. What move was he going for there? The nut attack? Saggs in with a slam. Kneedrop from him too. Saggs gets thrown over the top but the ref doesn’t see it. Don’t worry ref, that’s merely the force of the blow sending him over the top rope. And by mentioning blow and Jerry Saggs in the same sentence you can make your own gags. Knock yourself out, you can go the drugs, sex or being incompetent at wrestling route. Go nuts! Blue Bloods isolate Saggs and Eaton drops a knee off the top for 2. Few minutes of nothing much. Here’s another tag match where they’ve totally lost me during the course of it. Regal is misused when his opponents can’t do anything but brawl. Knobbs gets the tag but out comes Harlem Heat. Booker takes advantage of Sherri’s distractions to hit the Harlem Hangover on Knobbs but leaving the ring he knocks Eaton over. Saggs drops a sledge off the top for 3 at 15.03. ½*. Pass. No fault of the challengers. Sometimes the Nasty Boys just turn up to do their match regardless and it sucks. A replay shows that Saggs move off the top on Eaton was in fact a sledge to the elbow. DEVASTATING!

HISTORY – of the US title tournament. Savage was in the tournament as was Ric Flair. Sting beat Arn Anderson and Paul Orndorff. Savage beat Austin and Flair beat Wright when Savage got Wright disqualified. Then they got counted out for brawling pre-match in the quarter-final, I guess. Ah, no – it’d be the semi-final. This forthcoming match is the other semi-final so whoever wins this wins the US title because there’s no one to face in the final.

BACKSTAGE Parker calls Ohio “stinking and no good” and he’s intent on taking something home from tonight, which will be Meng’s US title. Okerlund brings up Sting’s championship pedigree. Parker insists that Meng is going to take him down hard. Okerlund suggests it’s too hot in the arena for Meng but Parker comes back suggesting Meng knows too many martial arts for Sting to deal with.

SHILL – They plug Bash at the Beach the following month. Hogan suggests that hundreds of thousands will go to the beach for Hulkamania.

BACKSTAGE Sting gets an interview too. He says he also travelled a long way and paid dues to get here. He says he’s won every title in this company and knows what to expect out there.

US title tournament final – Sting v Meng w/Colonel Robert Parker

For the guy who asked me who replaced Gary Michael Cappetta when he left and I couldn’t remember who it was? It’s David Penzer. Although Cappetta didn’t get the can until 1996 officially. Meng kicks at Sting showing off his martial arts skills. Sting isn’t impressed but still backs down because he can’t quite figure Meng out. Meng beats him down in the corner continuing his monster gimmick. Odd how he was always billed as a monster in WCW and yet as Haku in the WWF he tended to be a jobber. Meng goes to nerve holds to choke Sting down. Sting kicks away barely connecting and a dropkick sends Meng into the corner. Parker jumps on the apron to give advice. Meng throws his martial arts jabs and strikes. Sting just kind of lies back in the corner and takes it before raking the eyes. That’s a sign of desperation. He hits a dropkick again but Meng elbows him in the face to send him outside. Meng with a sit out powerbomb for 2. I always liked the sit out powerbomb. It looks mean. Shoulderbreaker gets 2. Heenan compares Meng to Vader and how he manhandled Sting this way. Sting gets tossed outside where Parker puts the boots in. Meng drags him back in for the headbutt. Sting tries a sunset flip but Meng blocks it with a jab to the head. Vader got stripped of this US title they’re fighting over btw because of his violent actions towards Evad Sullivan. I don’t really see what that has to do with anything. Sting goes for a backslide but can’t get it so he opts to hit a back elbow off the ropes instead. Meng is up first and hits the diving headbutt for 2. Meng goes for a back suplex but Sting adjusts and falls on top for 2. Meng starts no selling clotheslines but a flying clothesline knocks him over. WHOO! Facecrusher and Parker is concerned. Cactus Clothesline sends everyone to the floor. The ref tries to position himself for something and Meng looks injured. Sting decides to kill some time beating up his manager instead. Meng is back up and misses a charge into the ring post. Sting hits him with a diving fist drop. SCORPION DEATHLOCK! Sting won both his matches on route to this point with that hold. Meng simply powers out of it. Sting looks stunned so clips the knee to try and set up another. He goes up top with the diving clothesline. Sting goes back up top again with a top rope splash for 2. Jumping DDT gets 3 at 13.36 and Sting claims the US title. **1/2. Only his second US title btw.

HISTORY – the Flair/Savage feud. Savage demanded that Flair come back after he attacked Savage dressed in drag at Uncensored. The board reinstated him and Flair tagged with Vader against Hogan & Savage at Slamboree. Then Flair decimates Angelo Poffo post match to REALLY upset Randy Savage. Savage has spent the following weeks attacking Flair and could barely wait for this match.

BACKSTAGE Randy Savage gets interviewed. It’s Fathers Day. It’s time for revenge. He congratulates the Renegade and says that WCW is on fire. He says he’s inspired by his Dad who he dedicates today to and he’s going to take out Flair tonight.

Main event – Randy Savage v Ric Flair

Rather frustratingly the version of the tape I have just completely cuts up at this point so I have no idea what’s going on. Basically the main event is a brawl all over the shop. Savage has his Dad out there and even considers the ring bell on Flair in a tip of the hat to 1987’s attack on Ricky Steamboat. Savage ends up bleeding from the nose hardway. Angelo Poffo, who had to use a cane after the Figure Four attack at Slamboree, ends up playing into the finish as Flair steals the cane and nails Savage with it for the pin. It was about a 15 minute main event and seemed decent from the reports I’ve read about the show. Again, sorry for the lack of coverage on the main event but that’s life!

The 411 : I know I’m missing out on the main event, which is supposed to be pretty good so maybe that’d make a difference but generally I didn’t enjoy the show. Sting-Meng was ok and Brian Pillman did a great job of having a terrific match with Alex Wright. Logical thing to do would be to team them up so Wright could learn from Pillman and scoop his pop a little. Of course that’d get in the way of all the great plans they had for the tag division. Like for instance giving title reigns to Bunkhouse Buck/Dick Slater and the American Males. Yeah, Scotty Riggs gets a belt but Brian Pillman gets fired. Where’s the fucking justice? Basically if you see a tape for WCW and it has 1995 on it and it’s not Starrcade then don’t bother. That certainly seems to be the theme so far.

 

Final Score:  5.0

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The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Great American Bash ’95

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The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Great American Bash ’95

The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Great American Bash ’95

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The Furious Flashbacks – WCW Great American Bash ’95