Monday, December 20, 2010

Scott Watches The Great American Bash '89: The Glory Days

Live again from the Baltimo' Arena on July 23, 1989. I'm going to be sad when these shows stop having Jim Ross and Bob Caudle laying down the commentary for me. Caudle was a damn fine commentator on his own, but as a wizened veteran second to Ross, he's outstanding. Never overpowering, only contributes when he has something to add, never sounds like an asshole.

Two-Ring King of the Hill Battle Royal

Everyone comes out wearing or carrying a crown. I guess some guys couldn't fit the shit on their heads. Three new faces for the Mission From God who have yet to compete on shows during the run: Sid Vicious, Scott "Gator" Hall, Brian Pillman. Everything starts fast. The winner of this gets a cool $50,000. The rules are pretty dumb. Terry Gordy holding Dr. Death in a bearhug shows me that Terry Gordy could give a fuck to be in this thing. If I were Terry Gordy I'd want to get the hell out of this place as soon as I could, too, I guess. Get my ass back to Japan with the massage parlors. Ranger Ross gets tossed over to the second ring first, and then Ron Simmons follows, so the two black guys in this match are "out" early, but that means they just get to be in a new battle royal. Shit, Simmons and Ross are probably better off just hanging alone. Simmons and Ross are over there making a mess of things, and then Ross dumps Ron Simmons. Damn. LMAO LMAO LMAO. Hall and Gordy get dumped over with Ranger Ross. And Bill Irwin joins them. So this gets clipped down, thank God, because I've got no desire to watch this crap any longer than I absolutely have to. Sid and Pillman wind up left together in the first ring, and Sid is already as good as he's ever going to get, which is pretty embarrassing.

So Sid wins Ring A, and he'll wait on the winner of Ring B, with Danny Spivey, Dr. Death and Mike Rotunda left. And Dr. Death is doing his run-in-place bit and getting everyone all fired up. Spivey wisely sits back and lets the old rivals and former tag champs go at each other. Rotunda misses a clothesline and eliminates himself, and Spivey jumps in with his shitty punches. But Spivey is so tall he can't fall over the top rope. If I'm looking at Dr. Death and Dan Spivey, I'm picking Dan Spivey to win that fight 0 times out of 5000. So Sid and Spivey wind up left, and their bunk manager Peanuthead cuts a promo about how they won't fight and they'll be splitting the $50K. Good enough for me.

Flyin' Brian Pillman v. Wild Bill Irwin

This is joined in progress as young Brian Pillman is in a precarious situation against ridiculous looking Wild Bill Irwin. Boy is it good to see Pillman what with half my tippy top favorite guys gone from the NWA for a little bit longer. Pillman and the Steiner Brothers. What a year. And Sid. Fuck. Actually I'm going to be all pretending I don't love Sid, but the fact of the damn matter is that as absolutely terrible as Sid is/was/always will be, I love that big goofy bastard. Guys like Flair are right when they say he added nothing but physique and presence, but Sid had monster presence that rivaled that talked-up presence of Bill Goldberg. Sid didn't have Goldberg's pure athletic ability, but Goldberg sucks, too, and people remember HIM fondly. I guess the big difference is that as little as Goldberg thought of pro wrestling, he took it more seriously than Sid is reported to have ever done, plus he didn't have a scissors battle with Arn Anderson or take a shit on himself against the Undertaker. Sid is really that special sort of fuck-up that I think if you were a kid when you first saw him, you kind of have to love in some way. Sid is just such a goober in all areas, so comically hilarious, and yet had the ability to turn on the switch and seem intimidating. Every time Sid showed up somewhere new or came back somewhere old, I was down for it. I love Sid. I can't help it.

Anyway, Brian Pillman. Pillman's dropkicks make the dropkicks I've been watching in the NWA/WCW look ridiculous by comparison. This is quite the battle of curly blonde poofy longhairs. Bill Irwin is just the shits, really. He looks like he should be an asskicker, but he's so not. He does chuck Pillman over to ring B in a neat little spot, but then Pillman leaps from one ring to the other with a crossbody for the win. Bill Irwin has been in two matches so far on the Mission From God and made an ass of himself both times.

The Skyscrapers v. The Dynamic Dudes

We join this in progress, and Sid is gloating over the prone body of Shane!, and I am already down with Sid again. KILL THE FUCKING DYNAMIC DUDES! KILL 'EM! Spivey gets in and the crowd chants, "We Want Sid." How do you ignore that? Nobody gives a holy shit about Dan Spivey or the Dynamic Dudes. This is the Sid Showcase. SID SID SID SID! SIIIIID! A quick, high-pitched reaction accompanies the hot tag of Johnny! but then the crowd dies and even starts booing a little. They want Sid. WE ALL WANT SID! SIIIIID! The terrible Skyscrapers hit each other with the flimsiest double clothesline you could ever imagine. My GOD they're bad. Everyone in this match is SO FUCKING BAD. Spivey "powerbombs" Johnny! and that ends it. Holy fucking cow Dan Spivey is the absolute worst. OR IS HE? This match has a lot of absolute worst, even clipped.

Tuxedo Match: Jim Cornette v. Paul E. Dangerously

And finally, after so long dancing around it, these two are going to get down to business. One ring. Two men. It's time for Jim Cornette and Paul E. Dangerously to put on their tuxedos and start fuckin' (2:13).

Cornette gets white stuff all over his face right away from Dangerously. And after that, they go outside and start tearing at the close of the other man. Cornette is dazed. Dangerously spits. OK, I can't keep this up. It's not even that funny. Or funny at all. Fuck it. BANG!! NEVER SAW IT COMIN'.

And that works too.

Cornette starts making the comeback. Caudle says, I swear to God, "Alright, let's see some clothes start coming off here! I tell ya, if he would KO him, maybe he could just undress him while he's on the mat. Yeah, Jim, take it off!" With Caudle's consistent voice, this is the most bizarre commentary ever. And after I praised him for rarely jumping in much earlier, Caudle is basically ignoring that Jim Ross exists while he begs for these two flabsters to undress one another. Cornette wins and it doesn't offend life, and has enough heat to even be kind of alright.

Texas Tornado Rules: Kevin Sullivan & Mike Rotunda v. The Steiner Brothers

Rick and Sullivan hit the floor, Scott and Rotunda stay inside. Missy Hyatt is skankin' around ringside. This is the sort of match where I think I like Sullivan for about 30 seconds until I notice him refusing to sell weapons shots or do anything that doesn't suck. Sullivan is kind of like a midget Sid with better punches. Varsity Club do a cool bit where they try to pin both Steiners, which is awesome since if one guy kicks out, hey, maybe the other guy doesn't. Sullivan taking Steinerlines is hilarious. Just go down you hobbit. The finish is shit ugly as Sullivan picks up Rick to slam him, then stands there waiting for Scott to jump on them both. But it gives the Steiners the win and gets Sullivan off my screen so hooray.

NWA World Television Title: Sting (c) v. The Great Muta

Sting's got "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert with him for this historic first big meeting between Sting and Muta, which was sort of The Match of the Future at this very point. And it starts out awesome, as they do another jump from one ring to the other spot, as Muta and Gary Hart demand to be in Ring B, so Sting obliges by flat clearing the two sets of ropes with a dive. That is a fucking impressive jump, I don't care what nobody says about nothin'. Then they wind up back in Ring A with Muta flying onto Sting. "THE BATTLE OF THE PAINT!" says JR. Sure, why not? That works for me. Sting tries to shrug off a kick, so Muta kicks him again, then slingshots over to the floor onto Sting. This is great already. This is so crazy far ahead of the curve in American wrestling in 1989. I'm not saying it's the best, but this is go-go-go and these motherfuckers aren't messing around. That leads to some sloppiness -- this is not perfect. But watching nothing but 1988-89 NWA stuff, this is a huge standout. I also like this because it's got SMART MARK cheering for Muta, light chants of "Moo-tah, Moo-tah," which allegedly never happened until 1999 if you listen to some people. Course not! Everyone thought it was real! Just ask Bret Hart. Everyone thought his angles were all real, totally real. People really believed it. "Hot Stuff" has a pimp 49ers cap:

"This has gotta be the toughest challenge Sting has ever faced." So apparently Muta is better than Ric Flair. Muta's red mist misses Sting and hits Patrick. This match is actually half a mess but it kicks fucking ass anyway. Muta hits the moonsault and Tommy Young can only count two. Sting's bridged belly-to-back suplex is counted three, but WHO HAS WON? It's...Sting. He got a shoulder up. But so did Muta. Bullshit call. Moo-tah, Moo-tah.

NWA United States Heavyweight Title: Lex Luger (c) v. Ricky Steamboat

In addition to his damn wife and his fat baby, Ricky has brought that stupid "dragon" with him, too. It's like the worst Ricky Steamboat entrance of all-time. He even gets carried on a board. It's like this time when me and my friends were stupid kids and we all loved the wrestling and fucked around doing "backyard" stuff, and one time I decided we needed pyro so we got some sparklers, because we actually did it in this park where there was a bridge over a creek that we used for an entrance way. I maintain that the bridge entrance was awesome and that we had tons of fucking fun, and nobody ever got put through any tables or hit with any light tubes or anything because we were too chickenshit for all that idiocy, plus these guys had to go to math class and all that, and we weren't juggalos. But the sparklers thing didn't work so well. It was just retarded. And that's what Steamboat being carried on a damn board is. Retarded.

Lex Luger won't defend his title if the no-DQ rules are in effect. That's been what he's been saying all along, so why Steamboat and Gary Juster are surprised is beyond me. But Steamboat will go with it, because he wants Lex that bad. Boy, Luger is pretty awesome as a heel taking the beating from Steamboat early. Luger knows how to look like a reeling muscled-up punk. Steamboat dies on a short little clothesline on the floor. I love Steamboat. FUCK those chops are awesome, and Luger is EATING THEM. Holy Christ, Steamboat is AWESOME in this. This might be his best performance in all of 1989 and that was one bonkers year for him. Three Luger clotheslines leave Steamboat swinging haymakers at nothing and falling over, sort of a stooge Terry Funk move. Now Steamer's holding onto the top rope and chopping back into the match. THIS MATCH IS AWESOME. Steamboat is playing world's most athletic underdog Terry Funk and Luger is playing arrogant roidfreak to the hilt. Sadly a shit swinging neckbreaker from Steamboat hampers things, so 1/7TH STAR OFF THE RATING. I won't front, I used to star rate everything. Then in a twist of fate (?), The Cubs Fan started putting these little donut-looking things in place of my stars, and The Cubs Fan rules, and I never looked at star ratings as little brown dots, and I was like, "He's right. These are silly little brown dots. Fuck this." So I just stopped. I haven't star-rated a match in like six years. The Cubs Fan Knows Best. I'm still dorky enough to do it, I just have stopped for so long that I don't feel it's really worth time trying to figure it out again. I still star rate albums and movies and shit. That makes sense to me. I saw that in newspapers and periodicals of note when I was growing up, and I'm naturally critical and analytical and all that, so it comes kind of naturally, but with wrestling I just want to MARK OUT MOTHERFUCKER, like dickheads used to tell everyone back in the day for saying Nitro sucked.

Steamboat hits Luger with a chair, throws Tommy Young to the floor, the DQ is on, but Steamboat is PISSED. In a great repeat of the Clash spot, this time it's Luger begging not to get chaired and unable to retreat quickly enough. Steamboat is OUT OF HIS MIND. He's chasing Luger down the entranceway, swinging a chair the whole way. Incredible. Awesome. The best Ricky Steamboat ever. 22 OUT OF 10.

War Games: The Fabulous Freebirds & The Samoan Swat Team v. The Midnight Express, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams & The Road Warriors

I'm so glad that WWE never did use War Games. Thank God they didn't ruin this. Jimmy Garvin and Bobby Eaton start this thing off. That'll work. Jimmy Jam has his fists taped, Eaton foolishly does not. They brawl it out pretty evenly for their five-minute period, and the heels have the 2-on-1 advantage coming. Terry Gordy heads in. "Bobby Eaton gettin' punted around like a Rawlings NFL Football." What the fuck, was Rawlings sponsoring them too? Dr. Death evens things, then Samu comes in. Animal comes in after that. War Games is impossible to discuss, for God's sake. Just brawling. Hot crowds, brawling, every babyface being the momentary savior, every heel turning the tide and slowing it down. And it's awesome. War Games is awesome. It took WCW forever and years of shit to really fuck up War Games ever. Hayes is great at ringside talking strategy with Paul E.: "I gotta go?" "You gotta go." "Damn."

I dig that Dr. Death and Gordy are trying to stick together as much as possible. Hayes gets in and drops DDTs on everyone. I love P.S. Hayes to death but that man had a shit DDT. Hayes makes up for it by heading into the empty ring to strut and taunt Hawk, who is still outside. Hawk comes in like a goddamned madman. Good Lord, if I could go back in time and join the NWA Board of Directors and force a Hawk-Terry Gordy series, I would. The full ten doesn't go long, and Hawk cranks Garvin's neck until it's over. The heels lock the doors and Animal is left inside to take a beating. Hawk manages to RIP THE FUCKING DOOR OPEN and everyone scatters. Hawk is your dad.

NWA World Heavyweight Title: Ric Flair (c) v. Terry Funk

And this starts in the entrance way, as it should. Flair is WILD. Flair is JACKED UP. Flair is PUTTING UP THE DUKES. Terry Funk is pissed but wants none of that fight. Funk brought Gary Hart with him, which I find pointless in a smart mark way, but find interesting really because it speaks of Funk's lack of confidence. The whole Funk angle feels like a guy that knows he might have gone too far, and isn't as cocky as he really thinks he is. Flair dropping Terry with a piledriver is great, but not as great as Funk's sell. Funk has to use the branding iron and some Gary Hart interference to come back, and Flair is busted open. Fuck yeah. War Games lacked blood, and I know Ric Flair isn't going to skimp out now. Funk wants to piledrive Flair on the floor. Ross is great: "Oh God. Oh my God. Don't let this--" but Flair backdrops Funk onto the piled up padding.

One of my great thrills of live wrestling was back when I went to tons of IWA Mid-South shows in 2004-05, and Terry Funk did the Christmas 2004 show, and he was in a six-man against Chris Candido and some other people were involved. I rarely got all overly excited, but Terry Funk was the type of guy who before the show came out and said hello to people he'd never met. He had this quiet, humble presence about him. But he knew we were all going, "Holy shit, it's Terry Funk." That was the only rasslin' show I ever did buy front row tickets for. It was great. Candido did his Funk impression and wound up in a garbage can a couple feet away from me. Without trying to be all blubbering about it, Candido was a straight-up class act in his IWA MS comeback, and Funk's one appearance was first-rate class, too. Dusty Rhodes also was at a show I went to, and that was fun, but he didn't hobknob for no money the way Funk did for the handful of people who showed up early.

So I watch these old Terry Funk matches, and I always think of the man shaking MY hand, not the other way around, and shooting the shit for a minute. It was just something you remember as a fan of the wrestling. Gives me some kind of extra enjoyment of Terry Funk. Not that you need anything like that for this match. It's an invigorated Funk and a wild Flair in 1989. Both guys bleed. Flair reverses a cradle to win in about 20 minutes or so, a little less. A great, great match. Great Muta comes in and mists Flair after the match, which leads to Funk and Muta hammering the Nature Boy until, of all folks, Sting runs in to save the day. It's the goddamnedest thing. Just the goddamnedest thing. Flair comes back into it in a complete rage and all four men brawl like hell. "They have spilled their blood, and it will not be the last time this happens."

If you don't like this show, you can kiss my ass.

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