Sunday 18 June 2023

WCW The Great American Bash 1996 Review!


Hello and welcome to another edition of Seanomaniac Wrestling Reviews, the only wrestling review series on the internet that gets more heat than Dominik Mysterio! It’s time for WCW’s Great American Bash 1996! Headlined by The Giant defending his WCW World Heavyweight Championship against Lex Luger! Kevin Greene & Steve Mongo McMichaels against Ric Flair & Arn Anderson, we have The Steiner Brothers back on PPV, Rey Mysterio Jr on PPV for the first time and Sting vs Lord Steven Regal! A nice mix of matches here, hard to think we are just one PPV away from history.


Fire & Ice vs The Steiner Brothers

Big meaty men slapping meat! You could not get beefier than this contest right here, it is not going to be a good match but there are going to be some beautiful bumps in here. Scott starts with Ice Train, arm-drag from Scott. Shoulder block by Scott before a clothesline by Ice Train, two for Ice Train. Clubbing blows, Scott lands a hip-toss to Ice & Norton, Steinerlines from Rick and Fire & Ice have to regroup on the floor. Norton wants Rick, clubbing blows and elbows by Norton. Norton misses a clothesline but Norton comes back with another clothesline, Rick ducks a clothesline but eats a shoulder block. Chops by Norton,  Rick is whipped to the buckle and explodes out with a Steinerline.


Belly to belly suplex by Rick for two, Scott comes in and lands a dropkick. Scott ducks a clothesline but a Samoan drop takes down Scott, in comes Ice Train who lands a big slam. Scott is hurt, clutching his arm. Norton lands a cheap-shot on Scott, Ice Train lands a corner clothesline on Scott. Scott lands a belly to belly suplex, Irish whip and a clothesline. Ice Train lands a shot to the ribs, in comes Norton who is hit with a dirty exploder suplex. Norton rolls to the floor, Scott is on the top rope. Norton catches Scott and delivers a powerslam for two, short-arm clothesline. Ice Train comes in and applies the sleeper, Scott lands elbows and shakes off Ice Train before Ice Train lands a clothesline. Tag to Norton, Argentine back-breaker into a Shoulder-breaker by Norton. Fujiwara arm-bar by Norton, Rick hits Norton in the head over and over but Norton will not let go of the arm.


Norton lands a second shoulder-breaker but Rick blind-tagged into the match. Steinerline and a German suplex, powerslam on Ice Train. Everyone is brawling, Ice throws Scott to the floor. Rick is nailed in the back, powerbomb and splash combination with Scott saving Rick from being pinned. Norton clotheslines Scott to the floor. Scott crotches Ice Train on the top rope, Rick plants Norton with a DDT. Ice lands a double axe handle to Rick, Rick no-sells that shit. Steiner Bulldog, Ice Train makes the save. Frankensteiner for the win!


Well there were a few botches in there but a lot of feats of amazing strength too, incredible strength on display from the likes of Norton and The Steiners. Few people here could have been paralyzed but those throws and suplexes were awesome. Odd that two babyface tag teams would start the show but WCW is a little crazy like that sometimes. Chemistry wasn’t great but the beefy bumps made up for it for me.


Winners: The Steiner Brothers over Fire & Ice via Frankensteiner!


(WCW United States Heavyweight Championship Match) Konnan © vs El Gato

Big fan of El Gato and their game capture devices. As for the wrestler, I know nothing of the man but he looks like he is ready to throw down. We also have Konnan who has been very hit and miss and shown heelish tendencies while being here in WCW.


Arm-drags by both men, martial arts kicks by El Gato and a dragon screw too. More kicks and arm-drags, Konnan is very confused by El Gato and his insane abilities. Flying arm-drag by Konnan, El Gato is pulled down by the mask and eats a clothesline. Shoulder block by El Gato, leapfrogs by Konnan but El Gato lands a massive heel kick to the face for two. Throat thrust and El Gato has Konnan in a crucifix, Irish whip and El Gato lands a powerbomb for two. El Gato applies a stretch on the mat, Konnan and El Gato trade holds before Konnan powerbombs El Gato onto the floor after a sunset flip. El Gato did not want to take that bump so it is very slow but the fans still react, El Gato tries a corner head-scissors but an Alabama slam into a jacnkife pin and it’s over.


I feel for Konnan, his style is different and his opponents are still not sure what to do to get the most out of him so despite his major push, we have no idea where any of this is going or building to. The heel turn could have been very beneficial for Konnan but as it is, it’s very awkward.


Winner: Konnan over El Gato via Jacknife Cover!


(Lord of The Ring Match) DDP vs Marcus Bagwell

DDP won the battle bowl lethal lottery thing at Slamboree which was filled with the mid-card so not exactly an impressive feat and DDP follows it up by taking on one half of The American Males in Marcus Bagwell who was last seen on PPV in 1994 I imagine with The Patriot. Bagwell sprints down to the ring, DDP sends Bagwell to the floor. Axe handle on the floor, Bagwell is smacked across the chest before Bagwell dumps DDP to the floor snap-mare style. Right hands by Bagwell, DDP is sent into the guard-rail. In the ring, Bagwell lands knee after knee into the arm. Hammerlock, elbow escape and shoulder block by DDP. Flying forearm by Bagwell, Bagwell applies a submission before DDP escapes.


Bagwell wants a top rope move but DDP crotches Bagwell, Bagwell is tossed to the mat. DDP lands kick after kick, choke from DDP. DDP rakes at the mouth, DDP lands a Regal Plex for a close two. Bagwell is on his knees and fighting back, abdominal stretch by DDP who uses the ropes for leverage. DDP gets caught and Bagwell lands a hip-toss, Bagwell cannot capitalize. DDP lands his tombstone like front-slam for two, DDP kicks away at Bagwell. Bagwell fights back from his knees, a gut punch. Inverted atomic drop and atomic drop by Bagwell, right hands by Bagwell. Clothesline by Bagwell, Irish whip and an elbow. Bagwell is on the apron, slingshot clothesline. Knees in the corner by Bagwell, elbow counter by DDP. Cover with the ropes for leverage for two, Bagwell lands an elbow and a tilt-a-whirl head-scissors. Bagwell looks for a fisherman suplex but DDP holds onto the ropes, lands a punch to the gut and a Diamond Cutter for the win.


Sad to see Bagwell has not evolved since the two years that I saw him last but that’s how it goes sometimes, DDP is continuing to rise the card which is great for him, still not the complete package at this part but the people are reacting to his bumping and his finish is one of the most protected.


Winner: DDP over Marcus Bagwell via Diamond Cutter!


(WCW Cruiserweight Championship Match) Dean Malenko © vs Rey Mysterio Jr.

This is the shit right here, we are going to get a disgustingly fun match so stylistically different from everything in the company and this crowd right here has no idea that their minds are going to be completely blown. Side headlock by Mysterio, hammerlock by Malenko. Wrist-lock by Malenko, Mysterio sweeps the leg for one. Wrist-lock by Mysterio, Malenko flips out but Mysterio kicks off as well. Two kip-ups, crowd applauds. Drop toehold by Malenko, STF.


We go to the ropes, clean break by Malenko. Side headlock by Mysterio, leapfrogs from both. Elbow by Mysterio into a beautiful arm-drag, Malenko is on the floor. Mysterio lands a springboard dropkick, Malenko is on the floor. Test of strength by Malenko, Mysterio tries a sunset flip but Malenko counters for a catapult to the floor. Malenko’s baseball slide does not work as Mysterio is too quick, Malenko catches the arm and kicks the elbow with Mysterio screaming in pain. Malenko stops the arm, hammerlock scoop slam. Shoulder thrust by Malenko, arm-drag into a key-lock. Cross arm-breaker, Mysterio reaches the ropes.


On the guardrail, Malenko kicks Mysterio’s arm hard. Boot by Malenko, Mysterio tries a hurricanrana but Malenko counters and lands a clothesline, cross arm-breaker again by Malenko. Malenko continues torturing the arm and lands another elbow to the arm, hammerlock belly to back suplex. Two for Malenko, another suplex on the arm for two. Irish whip and Mysterio lands a dropkick, Mysterio can’t capitalize so Malenko goes back to the arm. Malenko hammerlocks the arm and falls back Indian Death-Lock style on it, Fujiwara arm-bar by Malenko. Romero special into a German bridge for two, Mysterio was in the ropes.


Knee to the arm, stomp to the arm. Kimura attempt by Malenko, Mysterio escapes but another suplex takes down Mysterio for a close two. Butterfly suplex for two, Mysterio is working hard to not be pinned. Two arm-breakers and a Fujiwara arm-bar, Mysterio escapes the hold and runs Malenko to the floor. Mysterio elbows Malenko down and lands a dropkick, springboard somersault from Mysterio. Ridiculous move by Mysterio, Mysterio throws Malenko to the ring. Springboard dropkick for two, Malenko is up first. Mysterio almost rolls-up Malenko for two, Irish whip reversal by Malenko. Mysterio lands his West Coast Pop for two. Chops by Mysterio, Malenko elevates Mysterio to the apron. Mysterio lands a shoulder, Malenko catches Mysterio. Avalance Gut-Buster is blocked for a super hurricanrana, Mysterio counters a tilt-a-whirl into a splash, two for the challenger. Mysterio whips Malenko to the buckle, super hurricanrana is blocked for a powerbomb and Malenko places the feet on the ropes for the win.


Solid arm-work throughout by Malenko, thought it was a little long in places but when Mysterio was allowed to shine, Mysterio shone brightly. Moves that had the fans freaking out, Mysterio would be one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster after a mere amount of weeks. Malenko is a great base for Mysterio and unselfish in his efforts to allow Mysterio the spotlight when necessary. Some sequences could have been a little tighter and the arm-work a little more interesting but a nice blueprint for what would become more refined and awesome as the months and years passed.


Winner: Dean Malenko over Rey Mysterio via Powerbomb!


Big Bubba W/ Jimmy Hart vs John Tenta

Tenta was kicked out of The Dungeon and Bubba took some of his hair, they start on the floor with Bubba punching Tenta. Very strange for the heel to win a fist-fight to start, Tenta knocks Bubba off the top rope. Bubba meets the steel steps, Bubba begs for mercy. Tenta hip attacks Bubba, Bubba lands an uppercut and grabs something from his pants and nails Tenta in his face. Bubba hits his leg across the back three times, Bubba wants to go a fourth time but lands a beautiful uppercut. Ropes for leverage on the cover for two, Bubba falls on Tenta. Choking and gouging, Tenta is back up though and fights his way back into the match. Bubba whips Tenta to the buckle, Tenta’s foot is sent into the buckle.


Knees into the leg by Bubba, Bubba chokes Tenta with his singlet. Foot choke in the corner, Tenta sends Bubba to the buckle. Tenta misses a splash, belly to back suplex by Bubba. Bubba is on the top rope, Tenta lands a slam for the win as Bubba dives into his arms.


Ugh very slow from the two big men, incredible compared to the prior match. Bubba can have good matches with big men that are stiff and full of big pumps but that did not happen here sadly.


Winner: John Tenta over Big Bubba via Powerslam!


(Falls Count Anywhere Match) Chris Benoit vs Kevin Sullivan W/ Jimmy Hart

Sullivan took out Pillman in his own words so Sullivan wants to take out another Horsemen, Sullivan also left Benoit to get sent through a table by Public Enemy. This match starts in the aisleway, Benoit lands a massive clothesline. Now they go to the ring, Benoit chops and throws right hands at Sullivan. Eye rake by Sullivan to regain control, they are in the crowd. They are brawling now in the crowd, Sullivan lands a nasty shot to the eye. They make their way to the bathroom, Benoit has the bathroom door slammed on his head. Double stomp before Benoit blocks being sent into the urinal but slams the door on Sullivan’s head, eye poke by Sullivan. Benoit is sent into the laundry shoot, kitchen towels are tossed on Benoit.


They choke one another by the entrance to the toilet, trash can to the head. Benoit hits Sullivan with the trash can, they brawl down the steps and back to ringside. Sullivan throws a chair, Benoit places Sullivan groin-first on the guardrail. Benoit wants a table, Sullivan meets the guardrail. Sullivan is into the crowd again, Benoit pulls out the table. Sullivan is smashed in the head, we have the table in the ring. Benoit is whipped onto the table, Sullivan misses a splash. Sullivan elevates Benoit onto the table which is placed on the top rope, Sullivan is met by Benoit with punches. Superplex and this is over!


Love the physicality of this one, this would take a darker turn as time progressed with real-life complications but here at this moment is two tough motherfuckers beating the piss out of one another. Really felt like the two hate one another, good brawling through the crowd which was rare enough so the fans react big time, a meaty finish with a monster superplex and then Anderson turns on Sullivan so the crowd is big-time happy with this moment.


Winner: Chris Benoit over Kevin Sullivan via Superplex!


Lord Steven Regal vs Sting

This is rather odd, Regal who has been mostly a tag team guy since 1994 suddenly challenging Sting right before The Outsiders take over, this feels like the trajectory Regal should have been on after dropping the television championship but it’s two years later than I expected it to happen. Sting comes right out with right hands and chops, Regal is on the floor. Into the guardrail and a back body-drop, Regal begs for mercy and thumbs Sting in the eye. Forearms and uppercuts, Sting is rocked. Snap-mare into a knee drop for two, side headlock by Regal. Sting drops down and lands a Japanese arm-drag, Regal talks trash with the fans. Regal asks for a handshake, Sting refuses. Regal sweeps the leg, Regal uses a cobra clutch before landing big elbows.


Uppercuts by Regal, full-nelson stretch by Regal. Sunset flip by Sting for two, Regal regains control with an elbow. Another stretch by Regal, Sting escapes but eats a lot of elbows. Regal measures and lands a dropkick to the head for two, elbow to the head and Regal talks trash. Knees to the head and an uppercut, Regal has a reverse chin-lock. Sting counters with a belly to back suplex, Regal lands a leg drop to the arm. Sting cannot escape as Regal applies a side headlock on the ground, Regal uses his elbows to the back of Sting’s head. Sting fights back applying an abdominal stretch, Regal makes it to the ropes. Regal lands a huge left to the face, Regal stretches Sting again with a head-scissors hold.


Regal uses Sting hair to pull him down, Sting keeps coming back. Forearms but Sting is not going down, eye poke by Regal. Kicks and uppercuts, butterfly hold from Regal. Sting reverses an Irish whip and lands a dropkick and series of clotheslines for two, top rope butterfly suplex for two by Regal. Regal Stretch! Sting does not tap, Regal lands uppercuts and forearms. A backhand slap is a bad idea, Sting is alive. Right hands and chops by Sting, Regal is being battered down. Stinger Splash is blocked by knees, Regal is back-dropped though. Scorpion Death-Lock in the middle of the ring, Regal has to give up!


I liked this match a lot, Regal is a different style to what Sting is used to and it’s on the second Regal starts nailing his elbows and uppercuts, it is vicious throughout with all the various submissions and it works so well as Sting just eats all of it and comes out with all that fire, crowd erupts for that Scorpion Death-Lock and I love Regal sells it like absolute death, fighting to escape the hold throughout, just really good professional wrestling.


Winner: Sting over Lord Steven Regal via Scorpion Death-Lock!


Ric Flair & Arn Anderson W/ Miss Elizabeth & Woman vs Kevin Greene & Steve Mongo McMichael

Comes totally out of nowhere, we were having Savage wanting to kill this man and now we have ex-professional football players throwing down with The Horsemen? What a risk to put all that pressure on The Horsemen to carry two people who have never worked, Anderson to start with Mongo. Anderson out-wrestlers Mongo and shoves him off like a punk, Mongo works the arm before Anderson trips up Mongo. Anderson tries to wrestle the Mongo style and it does not work as Mongo shoulder blocks the shit out of Anderson. Anderson tricks Mongo into doing it again, drop toehold by Anderson who stomps the shit out of Mongo. Mongo meets the buckle, boot smashes Anderson. Middle rope diving tackle by Mongo, Flair is outraged. In comes Greene and they stomp the shit out of Anderson.


Savage nails Anderson too, Anderson regroups and wants a piece of Greene. Greene is jacked, Greene wants Flair. Flair begins strutting, Flair is on fine form. Flair uses the referee to kick Greene in the head, right hand to the face. Chops and right hands by Flair, Greene shoves off Flair. Shoulder tackle to both Horsemen, Greene struts before Savage throws Flair back in, back body-drop and a clothesline. Tag to Mongo, Anderson is scared off the apron. Mongo lands shoulder block after shoulder block, Mongo is lured into the corner. Boots by Flair, Mongo shakes off the chop. Mongo shakes off the punches and chops Flair, Flair is hip-tossed and Flair begs for mercy.


Back body drop by Mongo, Flair is begging for mercy. Eye poke by Flair, Flair tries going high but Mongo slams Flair off the top rope. Flair is begging for mercy, Mongo puts the figure four on Flair and Greene puts on the figure four on Anderson. Woman rakes the eyes of Mongo, all the wives and valets are out of here. Anderson tags in Flair, Flair chops and tosses Mongo to the floor. Anderson kicks Mongo over and over, Savage tries to make the save. In the ring, Flair lands a knee-drop and Anderson comes in and stomps the gut. Middle rope choke by Anderson, Flair attacks Mongo behind the referee’s back.


Double suplex on Mongo, double choke too. Greene wipes out Anderson with a tackle, Flair & Anderson are beating down Mongo. Mongo atomic drops Anderson into Flair, this is the hot-tag moment. Tag to Greene who takes out the legs of Anderson, scoop slams galore. Back-body-drop, powerslam by Greene. Flair begs for mercy, Flair Flip and Mongo lands a boot to the face. Suplex into the ring, Anderson chop-blocks Greene. Greene is in a bad way, Anderson and Flair are isolating Greene. Shin-breaker by Flair, Flair applies The Figure Four! Benoit comes down and Savage brawls with Benoit before Anderson makes the save. Debra McMichaels is here with Woman & Elizabeth, there is a briefcase here. Mongo nails Kevin Greene with the briefcase and Flair covers for the win, Mongo is a Horsemen.


So this match is very interesting for a number of reasons, the first for me is Bobby Heenan being a manager for the first time in WCW, they have had this man in their company for at least 3 years by this point and Heenan was never used in that capacity and here he is being used only to be out of the position by the next month and Heenan will never be a heel again. The second interesting part is having two non-wrestlers in there with two wrestlers, the confidence and skill of Flair to make anyone look competent is staggering, truly a special wrestler. Mongo being a permanent member of the wrestling roster was also a potential risk but they have faith in Mongo and knowing his current condition makes me very sad. Fun match that had no right being that good with an interesting turn at the end of the match.


Winners: The Horsemen over Mongo & Kevin Greene via Briefcase To The Head!


(WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match) The Giant © W/ Jimmy Hart vs Lex Luger

Luger is a double champion and runs right into the boot of Giant, stomps by Giant. Irish whip and Luger ducks the clothesline, punches and clothesline. Giant lands on his feet, Giant places Luger on his shoulders and back into the ring. Giant tries to step back in the ring but Luger is all over him, Luger has a sleeper on Giant. Sting is here to stop Jimmy Hart getting involved, Sting chases away Jimmy Hart. Giant whips Luger to the buckle, forearm shots to the back. Foot choke in the corner, whip to the opposite buckle and a back-breaker. Back-breaker stretch from Giant, Argentine back-breaker from Giant.


Luger is dropped to the mat, Luger fights back and tries a scoop slam but Giant falls on top of Luger. Massive stomp to the lower back, Giant is executing his game plan very well to stop the rack. Luger comes back with huge clothesline and few forearms, Giant is wobbling. Chop-block from Luger, rights and lefts by Luger. Giant shoves away Luger, Giant misses a corner splash. Luger lands massive shots to the ribs, Luger wants The Torture Rack. Luger is squashed by Giant, the pain in his back was simply too much. Chokeslam by Giant and this match is over.


Not a great main event by any stretch of the imagination, it’s crazy though to see what happens with Giant moving forward, the most unstoppable force possibly ever in WCW, Giant had beaten Savage, Flair, Sting and Luger and to know what comes next is shocking. Luger is over with the fans but not a lot going on in this match to have the fans on the edge of their seats, Sting was far and away the better option for WCW against Giant and that’s why this is a bad main event, Luger can’t keep the fans interested like The Stinger and this leads to a disappointing main event.


Winner: The Giant over Lex Luger via Chokeslam!


That was WCW’s Great American Bash 1996, a glimpse into what WCW would become in the coming years while also showcasing the death of the other side of WCW. This is the final review of WCW for me so I want to take my time here and articulate all  my thoughts about the company as it has taken me about 2 years to get through at least 10 years of WCW content. We shall first look at this PPV as a whole, it starts off with the most meaty of tag team matches, timing is abysmal at times, it is not exactly what I had envisioned with The Steiners returning but two babyface teams go at it and hit hard. Looks like a car wreck at times so a bit tighter and I probably would have been a bit more happy. Konnan vs El Gato is what every Konnan match is here before he found his personality in WCW, some good wrestling but little reaction. It’s not working despite the big push and the fans just do not want to see Konnan.


DDP vs Bagwell is very tame, I stand by my claim that Bagwell despite his youth and inexperience, has not progressed at all since his tag team days. He’s bland and DDP is getting better as a worker but as a heel, still needs a likeable babyface to carry some fire into these matches. There is no fire here, there is no heat and The Diamond Cutter is welcomed not only by the bored reviewer here but also the fans, not a good sign for Bagwell. A sign of the future is Rey Mysterio vs Dean Malenko, a little slow in parts but these two tear it up when it is time to tear it up, Mysterio has been made as a star and the cruiserweight division will go on to earn rave reviews as everyone was insanely talented in the division. Things dip massively with Big Bubba vs John Tenta, it’s not fun nor exciting.


Benoit vs Sullivan is so intense and interesting, I love it much like Finlay vs Regal. These two guys do not like one another and proceed to hammer one another to prove that point to everyone in the building, crowd-brawling was fun before it was worn out later in the 90s and the finish garners a monster reaction. Great match, things continue on the positivity side with Regal vs Sting with Regal showcasing the ability he had and the position he deserved that was ripped from him in 1994. Shame this would probably be the peak for Regal in the company as the main event scene would become too packed and cluttered in the following months and years. Flair & Anderson vs Greene & Mongo overachieves so much, it’s ridiculous. Kudos to Flair & Anderson, they take two people who shouldn’t be able to have even a decent match and they have a very fun match at the end of the night. Main event is very bad, Sting is the only one in there who can garner a reaction against Giant, Luger couldn’t keep the fans interested and it shows.


Now onto how I felt watching WCW from roughly 1986 to 1996, I initially covered WCW by watching The Formation of The NWO to the closure of the company and there were some might highs along the way and some crushing lows too. However, I wanted to see what it was like before, how WCW grew and adapted throughout the years. WCW was a great alternative to the WWF, the presentation was grittier, the angles more realistic and the style was exciting to watch. I could never shake the feeling that the company was always one step behind though and one step away from meltdown. For every Flair vs Funk, Flair vs Steamboat, Sting vs Vader, Dangerous Alliance vs Sting’s Squadron, the company was losing stars or making bone-headed decisions.


The gimmick attached to Starrcade year after year made it difficult to watch whether it was the tournament edition from 1989 or the consecutive Battle Bowls, the company was always shooting itself in the foot. Losing the likes of Sid, Flair, Bulldog, Steamboat and the likes of Sting to injury at key times made progress a difficult goal to attain. Arguably my favourite period was 1992/1993 WCW with Vader and Sting having classics, The Dangerous Alliance and the rise of the likes of Pillman, Austin & Regal. However, a dramatic shift would occur with Hogan joining the company and all the progress would be erased. I do find it sad never seeing how Pillman would have developed, how Austin would have been in The Main Event, how Rude & Steamboat would have done if they had not had injuries that ended their careers and how Sting would have done if they had put him at the top of the mountain but sadly, it was not meant to be when it came to WCW and after watching so many PPVs, I am happy for the highs and I would gladly say that I would do it all over again. Thanks for reading and checking out any of my stupid ramblings about the sport of professional wrestling!



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