Saturday, January 16, 2016

Random Network Reviews: The Great American Bash 1998

The Great American Bash 1998
June 14th, 1998 | Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland | Attendance: 12,810

By this time in history, I was pretty much done with WCW. I’d watch the first hour or Nitro but the WWF was putting on such must see television by this time, eight year old me didn’t care about WCW anymore. However, they were about to move somewhere big by putting the World Title on the white hot Bill Goldberg. Not only that, but they were in the midst of an excellent Best of Seven series between Chris Benoit and Booker T. WCW Pay-Per-Views can sometimes be a chore, so let’s hope for a good one here.

The opening video package showcases multiple feuds while being very low budget. It’s like WCW put all of their money into their guaranteed deals and had the smallest production payroll. The pyro display is nice though. Commentary is Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Mike Tenay. Schiavone says our main event has the four best wrestlers in the world, which is just absurd for at least 75% of those guys at this point.

Best of Seven Series
Booker T vs. Chris Benoit

This is actually the eighth match of the series as the seventh ended in controversy. The winner gets a shot at Finlay for the Television Title later in the show. We open with some good old fashioned WRESTLING. It’s good because they know each other so well after seven matches. Unfortunately, the crowd is pretty quiet throughout this, even though it is solid work. When they start bringing strikes into play, the crowd wakes up a bit. Benoit gets two on a back suplex. I swear, Benoit had one of the best snap suplexes in history and he uses it to get two. After Book counters a back suplex, Benoit moves to a chinlock. Every time Booker looks to get in offense, Benoit has an answer. Booker finally busts out a powerslam and is so slow to follow up, which is appreciated considering he’s been worked over. He misses an ugly top rope attempt next. Benoit goes for the Crippler Crossface, so Booker goes to the ropes. Instead, he moves to his FOURTH chinlock of the match. Not good. An enziguri turns the tide before Booker nails a spinebuster that dumbass Schiavone calls a sidewalk slam. SPINAROONIE! They go up top where Benoit nails a superplex. Benoit never landed right on these and takes them on the back of his head. Benoit goes for the German suplex series, but Booker blocks, only for Benoit to bust out a dragon suplex for two. He hits the diving headbutt but can’t cover instantly. Booker nails a Harlem sidekick to the back of the head, followed by the missile dropkick to win.

Winner: Booker T in 16:17
I’ve only ever heard great things about this series. This was a really good final match but it was a few too many rest holds away from being great. By the standards of a lot of WCW matches though, it was one of the best. I wish the leg work played more into the finish though. ***¾

Kanyon vs. Saturn
Recently, Kanyon ditched the Mortis getup. However, Mortis appears in the entrance, but it is a decoy as Kanyon is behind Saturn and attacks. Commentary tries to say Kanyon revolutionized wrestling with offense. I mean, he was creative but that’s taking it too far. After some high impact Kanyon offense, some of the Flock run out but get stopped in their tracks. They do end up beating him up, leading to Saturn diving out onto everyone. Saturn said he didn’t want any help here so that makes sense. Nick Patrick kicks the Flock out. In an impressive showing, Saturn does a dead lift second rope suplex that I did not expect. Saturn now goes to work, even applying a variation of the cattle mutilation. A chair gets brought into play and Saturn busts out Sabu’s triple jump moonsault for two! Saturn is going all out! He tries a sunset flip that Kanyon counters into a Northern lights suplex. Talk about surprising. They look confused on a slow neckbreaker spot, but that’s been the only misstep. Kanyon tries the Flatliner but Saturn reverses with a half nelson suplex. Saturn tries for the Death Valley Driver, but it’s countered so he nails a superkick. They go up top but both fall outside. Mortis reappears from the crowd, but now there are two of them. They begin to fight for some reason, taking things outside. Commentary says one is to help Kanyon and the other is to help Saturn. Saturn leaps from the second rope, but is caught with the Flatliner to end it.

Winner: Kanyon in 14:45
Well I did not expect that. Saturn was nuts, trying so many different things and couple that with Kanyon’s rather inventive offense and you’ve got a really fun match. What hurt this was that the crowd was rather dead and the multiple Mortis stuff was weird. Besides that though, this is innovative and pretty ahead of its time. ***¾

Kanyon’s celebration is cut short when a Mortis reveals himself to be Raven, who takes him out with an Evenflow on the outside. Raven turns his attention to berating Saturn. Saturn gets pissed at this and goes after Raven. I’m fine with the turn, but it took the focus off of Kanyon.

WCW Cruiserweight Championship
Chris Jericho vs. Dean Malenko

The title is currently vacated. It’s so strange to not only hear Chris Jericho’s WWE debut theme here, but also to hear him billed from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This came about due to the fantastic conspiracy victim angle that Jericho did. Jericho has his Man of 1004 tights on so I don’t see an ARMBAR I’ll be disappointed. Dean Malenko nails a German suplex and is portraying how badly he wants to beat up Jericho well here. Malenko starts to wear Jericho down, but it gets countered with a nice inverted dropkick. Jericho does the HBK corner bump but over does it by hitting his head on the ring post in phony fashion. He busts out a pescado to take Malenko out. It’s Jericho’s turn to wear down Malenko, which he makes entertaining with his giant step walk. He misses the Lionsault, so Malenko goes to short knees. They go up top, where Malenko wants his super gutbuster, but Jericho counters into a super hurricanrana. Malenko blocks a powerbomb but ends up in the Boston Crab. Schiavone correctly tells us that it isn’t the Liontamer. Malenko gets the ropes, so Jericho tries the Liontamer, but Malenko rolls through and tries the Texas Cloverleaf. Jericho makes it to the ropes though. A slap by Jericho ignites a fire in Malenko who tees off on him. He throws Dave Penzer aside outside and hits Jericho with a weak chair shot, resulting in the DQ.

Winner via disqualification: Chris Jericho in 13:51
Consider me surprised, but that’s three straight good matches to open a WCW Pay-Per-View. This would have gotten a higher score if it wasn’t for the lame finish. I mean, I understand it since Dean Malenko snapped, but the weak chair shots hurt the end. ***¾

Chris Jericho and Dean Malenko fight all the way to the outside of the arena and across the street. Malenko even throws Jericho into a mailbox. Jericho runs across the street into traffic and the camera sees him run far away and into a nearby building. When the disqualification is actually announced, Tony Schiavone seems confused as to why that would be the result.

After Eddie Guerrero talks about Chavo in the area, we are taken to what is supposed to be a “closer look” at Juventud Guerra. It doesn’t give us any information as it is just random shots of Juvi in what looks like the set of Desperado, set to generic Spanish music.

Juventud Guerra vs. Reese w/ Lodi
Reese gets no reaction from the fans. Maybe they know that he was the infamous Yeti a few years earlier. Nothing happens because these two can’t do anything. David vs. Goliath battles can work but the big guy has to be able to do some work, which Reese cannot, and the size difference can’t be THIS big. Juvi is like the equivalent of Reese’s leg. The Brain makes jokes about Reese stretching Juvi out to 6 foot 2. Reese goes to the staple of every poor big worker, the bearhug. Van Hammer comes out with a chair to nail Reese. Lodi is distracting the ref for some reason, which looked dumb since Reese was in control. Juvi hits a putrid looking rana to win, even though Reese’s shoulder was up.

Winner: Juventud Guerra in 8:44
There was absolutely no reason for this to go as long as it did. Reese was so bad he couldn’t do anything here. The match sucked and the finish was not good either. ½*

Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero
Due to the fact that they are family, Eddie doesn’t want to fight, so Chavo slaps him. That fires Eddie up, who just lights Chavo up with shots. They do an odd spot where Chavo hits the ring post face first. Eddie kicks the middle rope into Chavo’s crotch as he enters the ring. Heenan is just on fire with the Mexican jokes. Chavo fights back with a moonsault for two. Eddie goes to a brainbuster but instead of covering, he just talks smack to his nephew. A slap leads Chavo to just choke him out. The referee breaks it up before Chavo chases Eddie outside. Being the veteran that he is, Eddie uses this to take Chavo’s leg out. Eddie now wears him down with a figure four, but it makes less sense when he moves to a camel clutch. As the fans chant boring, Eddie tells them to kiss his ass. Chavo sends his uncle outside and dives onto him. He was playing this unhinged role so he throws some signs around from fans. He takes an ugly spill from the top but is able to avoid a Frog Splash. He hits a tornado DDT onto the top rope, before springboarding in for another and winning.

Winner: Chavo Guerrero Jr. in 14:44
The crowd seemed to have no interest in this thing. It was technically very good, but something about it was off to me. Maybe the fact that Eddie went from toying with Chavo to not wanting to fight to toying with him again. I don’t know. Still though, a big win for Chavo and I enjoyed the finish. ***

WCW World Television Championship
Fit Finlay (c) vs. Booker T

Right from the start, some of the leg work from the opener comes into play as Fit Finlay targets it. Booker retaliates with a dive to the outside but his Axe Kick is countered, when Finlay grabs the leg and moves it to a single leg crab. Finlay transitions through to multiple submission variations on the leg. It’s seamless. He goes to the stretch muffler and even slams it on the apron, but Booker starts to rally. However, Finlay again stops that with more leg work. Seriously, this is good stuff. Unfortunately, Finlay stops for no reason to look at the crowd, giving us like a minute of nothing. Booker then hits two Axe kicks and shows zero effect of the leg work. Seriously Book? He then goes to reverse a tombstone but botches it. Finlay runs shoulder first into the corner before eating a deadly looking piledriver to give us a new champion.

Winner and New WCW World Television Champion: Booker T in 13:11
The constant leg work was a bit dull at times, but it was masterful after the opener. Unfortunately, Booker T not selling the leg work in the end hurts this a lot. **½

WCW United States Championship
Goldberg (c) vs. Konnan w/ Curt Hennig and Rick Rude

We are smack dab in the middle of Goldberg at the height of his popularity. He would win the World Title a few weeks later. Here, he is 99-0. The crowd chants “Goldberg” from the instant his music hits until the bell rings. Curt Hennig was “hurt” but was originally supposed to be in this. Goldberg’s first offensive move is ugly as hell, so Konnan just clubs him. Goldberg hits a weak Spear and the Jackhammer for the 1-2-3.

Winner and Still WCW United States Champion: Goldberg in 1:56
Worse than the usual Goldberg stuff. Keeping his stuff short and sweet was fine, but this looked terribly bad. DUD.

Due to his failure, Curt Hennig and Rick Rude beat down Konnan. This leads to him getting saved by Lex Luger and Kevin Nash. Hennig rips his nWo Wolfpac shirt to reveal the black and white one. Oh, WCW and their multiple nWo factions.

Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan w/ the Disciple vs. Macho Man and Roddy Piper
You have to wonder what WCW was smoking when you see some of their booking decisions. Even here, Macho Man and Piper dislike each other and are even going to have a match against each other after this one. Bret Hart doesn’t even get his own entrance as he’s bundled in with Hogan, who reportedly wasn’t pleased with the reactions Bret was getting. You can just see that Bret Hart has no interest in being in WCW. They do some stalling before Piper does his trademark stuff like the eye pokes. He shows good teamwork with Savage, but once Bret Hart gets tagged, he makes things a bit better. Savage, Hogan and Piper look depressingly bad throughout. They do basic tag formula with false tags and dirty heel stuff. Savage is knocked from the top as Piper delivers some awful looking shots to Hogan. Bret is left lying until Hogan is able to take out Savage’s knee. Disciple hits Piper with the belt, as Bret slaps Savage in the Sharpshooter, which leads him to submit.

Winners: Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan in 11:41
Terrible. The only person in this match that had any business wrestling in 1998 was Bret Hart and they booked him the worst of them all. Just, everything about this sucked. The rating isn’t a dud because of Bret, who, even when he’s just cashing checks, is still pretty good. ½*

Macho Man vs. Roddy Piper
Mean Gene goes to stir the pot between these two, but Roddy Piper tries to help up Savage. Savage attacks and nails the elbow, but that only gets two. Pissed off, Savage throws the referee aside. Piper hits a low blow and applies the figure four, making Savage submit twice in less than five minutes.

Winner: Roddy Piper in 1:37
This would be the end of Randy Savage for a while as he needed knee surgery. Awful stuff here again. They should have had a younger guy put him on the shelf for the rub. DUD.

WCW World Tag Team Championship
The Giant vs. Sting

You see, these two guys won the Tag Team Titles but Giant is nWo Hollywood and Sting is in the Wolfpac. The winner here chooses a new partner. Sting should be the top guy in the company right now, not part of the nWo and defending the World Title against Giant would have been a good main event. Imagine if they did Sting/Goldberg on PPV for the World Title? Whatever. If Giant wins, he’s picking the Disciple as his partner so I hope he loses. Giant is smoking a cigarette and blows it in Sting’s face, so he hits him with a Stinger splash. He goes to the well once too often and eats a boot. Giant does basic big man stuff to wear down Sting until the comeback begins. Sting slams him but he’s too big to get the Scorpio Death Lock on. Scorpion Death Drop gets two and Giant can’t hit the Chokeslam because Sting went after the knee earlier. A second death drop gets two again. Sting goes to the top and uses a bigger Scorpion Death Drop to end this.

Winner: Sting in 6:39
Disappointing. I thought this could have been at least decent but it sucked. It was very short, neither guy seemed to really put in any effort and the Tag Title stipulation and booking was dumb. *

Overall: 7/10; Good. The first half of this Pay-Per-View is a surprising treat. I’ve never given out three near four star ratings on a WCW show and I did it in the first three matches here. The Guerrero match is a solid one too. Besides that though, everything else is either mildly disappointing (Booker/Finlay) or just flat out bad. The top of the card in WCW sucked and it showed here. Recommended show turn this off before the US Title match and you’ll be glad though at least the worst stuff is relatively short. Next time on “Random Network Reviews” will beWrestleMania VII!

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