Hello everyone and welcome to my review of Great American Bash 1990, featuring the much anticipated meeting between Flair and Sting over the World title, the debuts of Big Van Vader (fuck yeah!) and El Gigante (…), and much more!
Here is the list of champions in the NWA/WCW heading into this show:
- NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair
- NWA United States Heavyweight Champion: Lex Luger
- NWA World TV Champion: Arn Anderson
- NWA World Tag Team Champions: Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed)
- NWA US Tag Team Champions: The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane)
Enjoy the review!
The hosts are Jim Ross & Bob Caudle
Live from Baltimore, Maryland
Flyin’ Brian Pillman vs. Nature Boy Buddy Landel
A chopfest gets us started. Landel tries every dirty tactic possible such as constantly taking Pillman down by the hair behind the ref’s back and not getting caught once (lost art) before Pillman hits a crossbody for two. A quick hiptoss immediately followed by a dropkick dumps Landel to the floor, who says it’s all part of his strategy and then does some purposely awful poses in a hilarious bit. Back in for a Pillman sunset flip, but Landel rakes the eyes and poses some more. The furious Pillman chops away until his emotions get the better of him, allowing Landel to move out of the way of a dropkick and get two. Pillman goes for a hiptoss that Landel blocks, and a clothesline gets two. Another chopfest follows but Landel takes Pillman down into a chinlock to stay ahead of the youngster. A suplex takes Pillman down, who then tries a blind charge but eats an elbow. Pillman finds an opening and goes up for the high crossbody, which connects but Landel rolls through on the mat and nearly steals it. Pillman goes for a roll-up instead only for Landel to grab the ropes, but then Pillman climbs back up real quick behind Landel’s back and catches him by surprise with a second high crossbody, which gets the win this time at 9:29.
- Rating: I really enjoyed this opener. Pillman is always exciting to watch and a very safe choice to put in the opening contest. Buddy Landel made for a great midcard heel to work with the future Loose Cannon, trying everything and anything to cheat and take the younger Pillman off his game. Technically good and very entertaining as well. ***
The Iron Sheik vs. Mike Rotunda
Please let this be short. Sheik chokes away with the flag to start as always, until Mike gets a sunset flip for two and a dropkick dumps Sheiky. Sheik gets back in to work an abdominal stretch that feels longer than the opener alone, before they start doing suplexes to each other. Sheik dumps Rotunda to the floor and goes for a (you guessed it) suplex back inside, but Rotunda grabs a backslide for the win at 6:46.
- Rating: Choking, bad looking suplexes, slow roll-ups, repeat. Moving on. 1/2*
Dirty Dutch Mantel vs. Doug Furnas
Oh boy. I’m starting to feel this will be a loooong undercard. Furnas runs over Mantel with a shoulderblock and then an effortless press slam. Mantel smartly decides that cheating might be an effective way to go against this kid, but then just walks into a dropkick. Oops, never mind then. Furnas goes to work on the arm which allows Mantel to cheapshot him and nail him with a forearm. Furnas slams him out of the corner and goes up only to miss a splash, which allows Mantel to hit a short arm clothesline for two. Mantel dumps Furnas for more punishment on the floor and back in a suplex gets two. Just get to the comeback already, this doesn’t need to be this long. Mantel works the count a couple of times only for Furnas to kick out WITH AUTHORITY BY GAWD and send Mantel flying. Furnas finally explodes with a clothesline and a powerslam to start making the comeback before they mess up something near the ropes. Yeah, this definitely didn’t need ten minutes. Furnas simply hits a belly-to-belly for the win at 11:18.
- Rating: Not bad and it got the point across. Which also would’ve happened, and perhaps even more effectively, had the match been five or six minutes shorter. **
Meanwhile, Jim Cornette thinks the Southern Boys are great and will one day be the US Tag Team Champions. Just… not today. Hah!
Harley Race vs. Tommy Rich
And now, a World title match from ten years earlier. Good lord, they should have named this show The Great American NWA Class Of 81 Reunion Prom or something. Or maybe take out the ‘American’ part, we don’t want Sheik to be left out! Poor Harley is completely lost out there, wearing his WWF ‘King Harley Race’ attire for some reason, which JR eventually points out. Without mentioning the WWF or the gimmick, obviously. Rich sends Race’s arm into the post and goes to work on it, but Race responds with a high knee. Race takes him to the outside for a suplex on the ramp, but then Rich hits one of his own back inside followed by a fistdrop for two. Race takes over but then they botch a Rich slam. He follows that up with a high crossbody, but Race rolls through and that’s all at 6:32.
- Rating: Technically okay aside from that one botch, but no one cared about this match. It was just another match on this card despite all its history, which is a shame. *1/2
Meanwhile, Paul E. Dangerously rants about Lex Luger while Mean Mark rips one of his shirts into pieces. That will get him over, I’m sure.
NWA US Tag Team Championship: The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane)(c)(w/ Jim Cornette) vs. The Southern Boys (Steve Armstrong & Tracy Smothers)
The ME jump the challengers to start but they turn things around on Eaton with a double backdrop followed by a stereo double shoulderblock that sends the champs to the outside to think some strategy. Cornette gets all worked up with the cameraman, telling him “can’t you see I’m occupied, get away from me”. Eaton takes his time getting back in only to get armdragged. And he goes back to the corner to discuss with Lane some more. A lockup goes to the corner, where Eaton claims some hair-pulling behind the ref’s back which distracts him and allows Eaton to cheapshot Armstrong and take over. Eaton slams him and goes up, but Armstrong follows him and slams him off. Armstrong shoots him off the ropes and hits a slow yet great looking monkey flip followed by an impressive dropkick. Armstrong goes up and comes down with a flying clothesline as Eaton takes a breather. Smothers gets the tag and the Boys double chop Eaton, which sends him into the corner for some words with Cornette. Smothers tries a powerslam off a criss cross, but Eaton stops and hits Smothers in his exposed midsection. He tries a powerslam of his own but Smothers lands on his feet and hits Eaton with a palm strike followed by a savate kick. Cornette gets all pissed at ringside, saying “karate is not legal in professional wrestling” which starts a Cornette sucks chant. Awesome! Smothers backdrops Eaton and hits another savate kick, as Cornette begs Eaton to tag out of the match. He obliges and Lane gets in for an actual karate showdown with Smothers. Lane gets the first shots but Smothers catches his leg and fires away, hitting both heels with superkicks as the crowd goes absolutely nuts and Cornette has his eyes wide open, shocked that his boys lost the MR. MIYAGI SHOWDOWN OF DOOM. That was a lot of fun!
The match “restarts” with Smothers wrestling his way out of Lane’s headlock into a wristlock that gets Lane so pissed that he tags Eaton back in. The ME just can’t catch them on anything tonight, what a great story! Poor Eaton also gets outwrestled and eventually kicked to the floor, but Smothers gets caught with a cheapshot by Lane to finally put the ME in the driver seat. Actually forget it as Armstrong comes flying with a high crossbody to both Eaton and Lane to clean the ring yet again. What an awesome match! Smothers rolls up Eaton who manages to make the blind tag during the cover, as Lane comes in and shoves Tracy into the railing on the outside followed by a racket shot from Corny. Smothers gets back in only for Lane to send him into the railing yet again, only this time even harder. The Express go to work on Tracy’s back in the ring, with Eaton hitting a backbreaker for two. Smothers tries to make the comeback but Eaton slams him and follows up with the Alabama Jam. Lane gets the tag and chokes away but Smothers sunset flips him for two. A Lane savate kick + Eaton neckbreaker combo gets two for the champs. The ME toss Smothers over the top to the floor for the ULTIMATE HEEL DICK MOVE, and a Lane double arm suplex gets two back inside. The heels double-team Smothers on the outside some more but Smothers eventually escapes and gets a double sunset flip back in followed by the hot tag to Armstrong as the crowd goes crazy. Armstrong gets double-teamed briefly but he fires away with chops and the double noggin knocker. He hits a flying shoulderblock on Lane only for Eaton to break up the count as it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA. The Boys hit their double-team flying dropkick but the referee misses the count. Meanwhile Armstrong goes up but Eaton shoves him off and the ME hit the Rocket Launcher for… a nearfall. Whaat! Smothers trades places with Armstrong behind everyone’s back and an inside cradle nearly gets it before Lane breaks up the count. The crowd are absolutely losing their minds at this point in the match! Smothers criss crosses but Lane catches him with a superkick right to the back of the head on the apron, allowing Eaton to cradle him for the win to retain at 18:14.
- Rating: Holy cow I might need a vacation after that one. What an absolutely incredible match it was. The Southern Boys being able to outwrestle and outsmart the Midnight Express in every way in the early minutes was fantastic and put the babyfaces over like a million bucks. From there they were off to the races and had the crowd in the palm of their hands, as the action got faster and faster on their way to the finish. An absolute classic bout and one that is well worth your time and attention. Easy match of the year candidate right here. ****1/2
And just when I was saying I need a vacation after that…
THE DEBUT OF BIG VAN VADER – vs. ‘The Z-Man’ Tom Zenk
I think I’ll save that vacation for later, thanks! Vader’s entrance nearly steals the whole show, already bringing a different aura to the room. Zenk smiles on his way to the ring, so please beat him up and take your time doing so, Vader! Vader pounds away in the corner and just completely kills the poor guy. A short arm clothesline sends Zenk to the outside. His brief jobber offense dies faster than his WWF run, as he literally bounces off Vader going for a move and falls on his ass. Vader press slams and drops an elbow. He hasn’t had enough fun yet, so he brings him back up for another short arm clothesline. He follows that up with a giant splash to put poor Z-Man away at 2:16.
- Rating: Short. Sweet. Effective. *1/2
The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes & Jimmy Garvin) vs. The Steiners (Rick & Scott Steiner)
The Freebirds come out with makeup for this match because they’re funny that way. They jump Scott and beat him up to start. Not too long afterwards Scott starts showing life and Hayes bails as usual. Both guys tag off as Garvin walks into a backdrop and then eats a Steinerline from Rick for two. Hayes gets back in once again and he tries to run away once again, but Rick bites him right in the ass and brings him back inside. Scott comes in with quick dropkicks to both heels as they stall some more and the crowd loves it. Hayes tries his luck once more, this time with chops, only for Scott to explode with a butterfly powerbomb and a slam. And Hayes bails. This draws a huge ‘Michael is a bitch’ chant, which gets him all worked up! See, there’s a difference between boring stalling and Freebirds stalling, it doesn’t have to be boring. Back in the Freebirds send Rick over the top rope for the ULTIMATE DICK MOVE, and they follow up with a double suplex on the floor to make Rick your dog-in-peril. Hayes hits a bulldog back in for two. Garvin comes in for a chinlock that does what a chinlock usually does – nothing. Garvin goes up but Rick meets him there and manages to hit a bulldog for the double KO spot. He makes the hot tag to Scott who kills everyone. Powerslam to Hayes, slam to Garvin onto Hayes, he’s cleaning house like a French maid! He delivers the Frankensteiner to a fantastic reaction, only for Garvin to sneak in with a DDT while the ref is distracted. Rick takes down Hayes with a belly-to-belly as well, though, and he puts Scott on top for the win at 13:45.
- Rating: Really fun match, with the crowd obviously playing a huge part by being invested in everything they did. This match is not for everyone due to the Freebirds’ STALLING OF DEATH, but you have to expect that in any Freebirds match. The Steiners are over as fuck as babyfaces and the same deal with the Freebirds as heels, so it simply clicked. Nice comeback from Scotty as well, like always. Good and fun little tag match here. ***1/4
The Four Horsemen (Arn Anderson, Barry Windham & Sid Vicious) vs. The Dudes With Attitudes (El Gigante, Paul Orndorff & The Junkyard Dog)
This is El Gigante’s major wrestling debut. El Gigante who would go to the WWF just a few years after this as Giant Gonzalez. Sigh. Okay, let’s get this out of the way so we can move on to better things. Sid clotheslines Paul to start as the cameras show a dude in the front row with a giant ‘SID RULES’ sign. He misses a legdrop however, and Orndorff backslides him for two. Off to Arn but he doesn’t do much apart from doing a great selljob of Gigante’s presence, and eventually JYD comes in for his usual headbutts on Windham. The former Widowmaker (good lord) catches JYD with a DDT, who no-sells it. Paul tries a piledriver on Arn only for Windham to hit him from behind and prevent that. Sid comes in with a powerslam for two and it’s off to Windham for a suplex for two. The Horsemen beat up Orndorff some more until he gets the hot tag to JYD… only for the heels to throw him over the top for the ULTIMATE HEEL DICK MOVE DQ at 8:53. Gigante comes in and his simple presence clears the ring.
- Rating: So let me get this straight. This match was a thing for the simple and only purpose of getting El Gigante over as a monster, but he doesn’t get tagged once – ONE SINGLE SOLITARY TIME – during the whole match because he couldn’t wrestle at all. Arn Anderson was the clear highlight of this match, doing his best to try and get the big guy over. Apart from that, a complete waste of ten minutes. A giant sack of nothing. 3/4*
NWA United States Heavyweight Championship: Lex Luger(c) vs. Mean Mark Callous(w/ Paul E. Dangerously)
Stone Cold Luger gets another monster pop. They get into a wristlock reversal sequence to start that results in a stalemate as we get a “Paul E sucks” chant. Luger again goes after the arm, Mark drop toeholds him down and works a headlock but Luger reverses and goes back to the wristlock. Mark reaches the ropes to force the break. A lockup goes Luger’s way with an armdrag as Paul gets all worked up on the floor and says “he pulled the hair, he’s a football player, he’s not supposed to wrestle that good” which cracks up the announcers and some fans in the front row! Good stuff so far. Mark pounds away in the corner to turn things around. This was long before he became THE BEST PURE STRIKER IN SPORTZ ENTERTAINMENT, so Luger is able to easily comeback with a crossbody for two. Armdrag and back to working the arm goes Lex. Mark leapfrogs before they sort of botch a clothesline or the heart punch, so Mark hits the big boot instead.
Mean Mark chokes away and now he goes to work on Luger’s arm. Old School follows. Luger tries to fight back only to miss a charge and go flying into the floor. Luger tries to get up back inside, but Mark boots him into the railing and follows him outside. He sends him into the announcer’s table while Paul has the ref distracted. Back inside they go, where Luger gets a sunset flip for two. A slugfest in the corner follows and a Mean Mark delayed suplex is no-sold, which gets a big pop. Mark turns around and eats a couple of big clotheslines as the fans are literally standing and screaming. Luger actually gets the Torture Rack but Mark “accidentally” kicks the ref down and Paul hits Luger with the TELEPHONE SHOT OF DANGEROUS DEATH. Mark crawls over for one… two… false finish! And a great one at that. Mark pounds away some more and hits a bad looking clothesline. Mark sets up for the heart punch but Luger raises his boot, knocks Paul off the apron and clotheslines Mark for the pin to retain at 12:10.
- Rating: Solid work between the two big dudes, with Heyman also playing a huge part on the outside. It was a bit sloppy at times as Mark was still trying to find his footing as a worker, and Luger was probably not the best choice to carry an inexperienced wrestler. But still, the match could’ve been much worse. It was solid enough and fun to watch. Just not as good as Luger’s matches around this time. ***
NWA World Tag Team Championship: Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed)(c)(w/ Theodore Long) vs. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)
Simmons allows Gibson to leave in peace and forfeit the match, but that obviously goes nowhere. Ron beats him up to start until Gibson catches him with a roll-up that gets two. Butch comes in to continue the beating. A clothesline followed by a double-team elbow by Doom get two. Reed throws Gibson over the top for the ULTIMATE HEEL DICK MOVE. Back in Gibson tries to fight back only to walk into a neckbreaker for two. Morton comes in so he can be absolutely destroyed from pillar to post, but unfortunately the crowd do not care about this. It’s honestly a shame because this match could be great. Morton gets to run wild for a little bit until Simmons catches him with a clothesline from the apron, turning the tables as Morton can get to roll around like a clinically dead man. Ricky tries to make a brief comeback but that goes nowhere rather quickly as Reed pounds away. Even Long gets a shot in and Simmons comes in to hit a slam for two. That sets up a flying splash that only meets knees, allowing Morton to make the hot tag to Gibson. He makes the comeback for a little bit until eventually it BREAKS LOOSE IN TULSA, which allows Reed to get a cheapshot to the back of the head for the win to retain at 15:40.
- Rating: This could’ve been so much better. The crowd just didn’t care about most of this match, and it just felt like it went on forever. It’s a shame because the action was solid and the content was there, with the usual heat spot on Morton to set up the hot tag to Gibson, just lacking the crowd participation. Maybe just put this match earlier in the card and have… I don’t know… Sheik vs. Rotunda here in the death slot before the main-event instead or whatever, but what do I know. **3/4
Main-Event – NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Ric Flair(c)(w/ Ole Anderson) vs. Sting(w/ The Dudes With Attitudes & Steiners)
Finally here it is, what everyone came here to see. This is basically a lumberjack match to make sure the Horsemen does not interfere, and Ole Anderson is handcuffed to El Gigante at the top of the ramp. There’s a big fight feel in this one, the fans are literally standing up and screaming even before the bell. Staredown to start as Sting overpowers Flair twice on the lockup. They exchange WOOOOOs, and Sting’s is more popular of course. Shoulderblock by Sting while Flair already begs for Sting to take it easy on him. Flair with a cheapshot in the corner on the clean break and he chops away – the WITH EXTRA MUSTARD kind – but Sting no-sells and gets in Flair’s face before hitting a press slam. Flair bails… but Rick Steiner says not today, champ! That allows Sting to hiptoss Flair followed by a dropkick, only for Flair to bail on the other side of the ring. Sting meets him on the outside and Flair once again chops him, which again do nothing to Sting. Flair begs some more which earns him a hiptoss on the ramp, and a clothesline up and over the ropes puts him back inside the hard way as the crowd is getting loud. Flair gets on his knees and WHAM thumb right in the eye to finally put him in control. Flair with a snapmare takedown into the classic Flair kneedrop. Delayed vertical suplex… is no-sold by Sting which gets a HUGE POP. Sting runs wild with a couple of clotheslines and a high crossbody gets two. Flair bails and surprisingly this time the Steiners don’t have a problem with that. He gets back in to ask for a test of strength… only to kick Sting right in his surgically repaired knee. Classic Flair as now – WOOOOOO – we go to school!
Flair pounds away for a while only for Sting to explode with a clothesline but he misses an elbowdrop. Flair wants the Figure Four but Sting kicks him away with his good leg as we get a stalemate and another WOOOOOOO battle. Sting wins a test of strength and forces Flair to cheapshot him and a nasty chop takes the challenger down. Flair proceeds to toss Sting into the outside, who lands right on his legs. The champ brings him back inside and he goes to work on the knee along with some chops. The vulnerable Sting limps around the ring while Flair follows him with a smirk on his face, what a great heel. Sting manages to get Flair cornered and he just pounds away like there’s no tomorrow. Hiptoss out of the corner and a dropkick, but Flair blocks that and Sting goes right back down. Flair puts Sting’s leg on the ropes and just drops all of his weight on it. He tries it once again only for Sting to block it and Flair to drop on his ass! That only gets Flair more pissed off so he goes for the Flair kneedrop… but misses and injures his own knee! And now Sting locks in his own Figure Four as this crowd is just losing their collective shit. Flair manages to make the ropes and he pulls Sting to the floor for a huge chop followed by a trip to the railing which Sting no-sells. Sting follows Flair back inside the ring, where Flair begs for some mercy only for Sting to pound away. Flair gets in a cheapshot and goes up only to get slammed off, of course. Flair goes for a hiptoss but Sting rolls over and turns it into a backslide for a hot nearfall. Sting complains with the ref for a second, which gives Flair more than enough time to sweep Sting’s bad leg. Flair proceeds to just stomp on Sting’s leg for more punishment, and a few stomps right to the skull just to add some insult to injury. Flair goes for the Figure Four but once again Sting kicks him out with his good leg, but this time Sting is hurt and he can’t run wild allowing Flair to chop away in the corner.
Flair bitchslaps Sting which does nothing but wake up Sting. He proceeds to no-sell the next couple of chops as the crowd goes insane. Sting press slams Flair again and follows it up with a clothesline for two. That was a perfect spot in the match for the leg/knee to give out, but whatever. Flair Flip but Sting meets him on the apron with a clothesline to stop Flair in his tracks. A vertical suplex puts him back inside and gets two. Flair backs away only for Sting to completely ignore him and… STINGER SPLASH! The crowd is going completely nuts as Sting locks in the Scorpion Deathlock. Ole tries to do something but he’s tied up to Gigante and here comes the Horsemen for a fight with the lumberjacks. Meanwhile Flair manages to reach the ropes to force the break but he’s pretty much done. Flair gets a cheapshot on the apron and tries to steal it with his feet on the ropes… but Scott Steiner kicks him away! Roll-up by Sting gets two. Flair rakes the eyes and works the count only for Sting to overpower and bridge his way up into a backslide for a nearfall. Flair chops go nowhere as Sting goes for a high knee in the corner, only for Flair to escape and Sting to hit his knee right on the buckle. Flair goes for the Figure Four but Sting catches him and cradles him for the win and the title at 16:06 as the whole arena goes BATSHIT!
- Rating: This is one for the ages. Not only was the match itself great from bell-to-bell, but the big moment and the atmosphere take this to a whole different level. Sting’s selljob of the leg was a bit shaky at times and that prevents me from rating this match a little bit higher, which I wanted to, but that’s not what people will remember from this match. The first Clash might be a better match, but this one will leave you with a big smile on your face and it’s one of those awesome moments that remind us why we love pro wrestling. Could have been better at times, but boy does this rock! ****
END OF THE SHOW
Final thoughts: You know what, not an easy one to rate. This big moment at the end is what everyone will remember from this show, as it couldn’t have ended at a higher note. And there’s also the even better (technically speaking) tag match between the Midnight Express and the Southern Boys, so there’s more than enough greatness on this card with two ****+ matches. Plus Vader’s debut. But then there’s the Great American NWA Class Of 81 Reunion Prom part of the show, which really drags on and takes this show down a few notches. At the end of the day, I recommend you to watch this show, but don’t watch watch the whole thing – specially if you’re not familiar with the undercard characters, it will REALLY drag for you. Still, the good more than outweighs the filler, so I’ll give this a 6/10. Nothing compared to GAB 1989, in case you want to compare both editions of the event.
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|Sting||4||1||1||+2 for winning a title||8|
|Bobby Eaton||4.5||1||+1 for retaining a title|
+0.5 for winning the fall
|Stan Lane||4.5||1||+1 for retaining a title||6.5|
|Butch Reed||2.75||1||+1 for retaining a title|
+0.5 for winning the fall
|Lex Luger||3||1||+1 for retaining a title||5|
|Ron Simmons||2.75||1||+1 for retaining a title||4.75|
|Scott Steiner||3.25||1||+0.5 for winning the fall||4.75|
|Tracy Smothers||4.5||-1||-0.5 for losing the fall||3|
|Big Van Vader||1.5||1||2.5|
|Ric Flair||4||-1||1||-2 for losing a title||2|
|Michael Hayes||3.25||-1||-0.5 for losing the fall||1.75|
|Robert Gibson||2.75||-1||-0.5 for losing the fall||1.25|
|The Iron Sheik||0.5||-1||-0.5|
That’s all for today, guys. Thank you so much for your time reading. Make sure you don’t miss the following articles, as we’re getting closer and closer to WWF’s SummerSlam. We have an edition of WWF SNME before getting there however, so make sure you don’t miss that either. Until then, stay safe!