Introduction - The NWA Tag arc comes to a conclusion here at the Great American Bash 1992. Plus Sting vs Vader for the title! I've wanted to review this show for a very long time, so let's get started.
Opening video - Short and to the point, Tony tells us what teams are left in the tournament, and that Sting vs Vader is tonight to dramatic synth music
The commentary teams open up the show - Fine for what it was, they throw to replays of MVC vs Steiners, also explaining that Nogami has been replaced with Shinya Hashimoto which is like if Dolph Ziggler got replaced by John Cena in a Japanese tournament. The only other thing of note is that Jesse Ventura's suit looks like a six year old's tie dye project. Ross and Ventura throw to.
Eric Bischoff interviews Bill Watts - Throwing to them to talk about the rules seems like a major buzzkill. They can go on the top rope in the tag team matches but not in the world championship match
NWA Tag Title Tournament: Round 2
Flyin Brian and Jushin Liger vs Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff - 6.5/10
Weirdly Liger's name key is ""Thunder" Liger". Also weird to think that Nikita Koloff and Jushin Liger are sharing a ring.
Initially Koloff and Pillman tell a fun "big man vs little man" story, but something that irked me was Nikita's selling. The only face he can make is similar to the face a dog makes when you blow air in its face, complete with comical head jerk. The Crusierweights work the arm a lot, and they do a weird "can't knock the big man down spot, but Liger gets it on the second try and Nikita takes a flip bump. Luckily the match gets a lot more competent when Steamboat tags in. He does a Double Noggin Knocker spot, and it's strange to see Liger treated like an 80s heel in an American setting. Koloff and Liger eventually tag in and Liger does an excellent job with him. Steamboat and Pillman spend some time together trading moves, then we get Liger and Steamboat. Steamboat kicking out of some of Liger's big moves really gets the crowd invested. Nikita tags in and works over Liger, Steamboat tags in and gets the Lesnar multiple rib breaker spot in. The fact that Liger is getting a babyface reaction against uber-over babyfaces Steamboat and Koloff is kind of amazing. Eventually Pillman tags in and fires up and they swap roles, with Pillman working heel and Steamboat is the face. Koloff tags in and fires up. Both teams trade hot tags, and Pillman/Steamboat do some fun chain wrestling, including some more dramatic tag team action. They tease an accidental crotching, but Liger runs interference long enough for Pillman to get the crossbody but it gets rolled through for the win.
This was a clunky match that really improved once it got out of first gear
Eric Bischoff interviews the Steiners - Scott cuts a nonsensical, primordial Big Poppa Pump style promo, Rick shouts more coherently about wanting a rematch with the MVC.
NWA Tag Title Tournament Round 2
Shinya Hashimoto and Hiroshi Hase vs The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin - 5/10
Hase and Hayes go move for move, then Garvin and Hashimoto do the same. It's weird to see the Birds working a faster, technical pace. They go pretty even until the Japanese guys start working on Hayes. Hayes eventually fights back and tags in Jimmy but the heels cheating net the win for them. This was a showcase of Hase and Hashimoto as a team and it was pretty good for what it was
Bill Watts and Hiro Matsuda talk about the NWA World Title Tournament - Fine for what it was. At this point WCW has Flair's NWA belt and Watts presents it to Hiro Matsuta to present to the winner of the tourney. Watts hypes a match between the tournament winner and Sting for a winner take all match at some point n the future. Hilarious knowing those belts wouldn't be unified until like 1994.
NWA Tag Title Tournament Round 2
Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham vs Rick Rude and Steve Austin (w/ Madusa) - 5.75/10
The story to start is that Windham being a big hoss stops Austin's technical wrestling dead in its tracks. Rude and Rhodes tag in and Rhodes get the upperhand until Rude gets momentum. Dustin eventually fights back but then Austin tags in and gets the momentum with some stiff kicks. They evenly go counter for counter. Barry tags in and gets momentum, but then Rude tags in and gets momentum. Barry fires back but Medusa distracts the ref so that Rude can go to the top rope, I thought top rope spots were legal in the tag matches tonight? Anyway Barry kicks out which pops the crowd. The heels make a tag the ref doesn't see, and Austin uses the distraction to cheap shot Dustin. I love petty heel shenanigans like that. They work over Barry forever. Barry at least is an expert at selling desperation trying to make tags. Dustin finally makes the hot tag and it breaks down into a four way. Steve sets up Barry for a piledriver but we go to a pointless split screen to show Dustin hit a flying clothesline for the win.
Whereas the fluctuating story worked for Liger/Pillman vs Steamboat/Koloff because of the style clash, it did not work for this match. If they could've cut out the hold for hold stuff and told a much simpler story, faces start out hot, heels get the heat, hot tag, win, it would've made the story seem much more coherent. That said, when it got down to old school heelery and babyface fire, this match really picked up.
Eric Bischoff interviews Harley Race and Vader - Harley looks like Boss Hog from Dukes of Hazard in that suit and it works. Harley cuts a meh promo, Vader cuts a theatrical, awesome promo.
NWA Tag Title Tournament Semi-finals
Ricky Steamboat and Nikita Koloff vs The Miracle Violence Connection - 7.5/10
MVC beat The Steiners in the Omni to win the WCW Tag Titles a week ago. When Steamboat is in the ring with the MVC it's like an amateur contest and when Koloff is in it's a fist fight, unfortunately very early in the match they repeat a spot where the babyface will scramble out of the enemy corner and hit a move when the heel tries to run after them, Fortunately they do a super cool inversion of this when Williams just straight up misses a tackle and barrels through the air. Williams is so good when he's dictating the pace it looks like an amateur wrestling fight, regardless who he's in the ring with. The people love Koloff and Gordy bouncing off each other and Koloff getting the momentum. Eventually after another amateur sequence Koloff tags to Steamboat and Death gets the heat by basically Oklahoma Stampeding Steamboat to counter a Crucifix. Koloff tags in but the MVC get momentum again. Hot tag, but it breaks down in a four-way. Koloff ties the ref up to allow Gordy to interfere and Doc to hit a Stampede spinebuster for the win.
This was the best match so far because they told a consistent story throughout and MVC looked crazy good.
NWA Tag Title Tournament Semi-Final
Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham vs Hiroshi Hase and Shinya Hashimoto - 6.5/10
The story they tell is like a hybrid of their match with Austin/Rude and the MVC vs Steamboat/Koloff matches. Lots of clean wrestling and swings in momentum. Except unlike the Rhodes/Windham vs Austin/Rude match, it was paced well and the heat segment was well defined. The Americans win.
Tony Schiavone and Magnum TA with Ron Simmons - Our announcers wax philosophical on the tag team tourney for a bit and invite Ron Simmons on the stage, who surprise surprise, is over as hell in Georgia. Ron cuts a decent promo, with a few flubs, but his velvety smooth voice makes up for it. You can see why Watts was high on him He wants the World Championship. The only thing I'm not liking about Simmons push so far is that he gets A TON of solo mic time despite not actually being involved in a wrestling capacity, which makes his push super transparent.
WCW World Championship
Sting (c) vs Vader with Harley Race - 9.25/10
Sting squares up to Vader and the people mark out. Sting gets backed into the corner and gets murdered with punches. Sting fires up by Vader immediately fires back. They reset, but Sting looks nervous. He then dodges a big corner splash from Vader, nails a backdrop and clotheslines Vader out, and the people erupt. I really like this story, that Sting is more than capable of taking it to Vader, but Vader can put a stop to it with the slightest thing. Also worth noting is Sting's progressively weaker offense, after a stiff sounding body check, Sting is reduced to punches and rollups, and then after Vader fights back again, Sting is limp, barely kicking out of things. Sting dong basic powering out of a Death Lock by Vader pops the crowd, but I didn't like it. I feel like if a guy who's been kicking your ass all match and is twice your size puts a hold on you, that should be the finish. , Thankfully Vader goes right back to squashing him Sting fires back and hits a fucking Liger rolling kick. Sting also body checks Vader successfully, really adding to the story that Sting is just pulling out random shit and it's working, but the body check takes it out of Sting too. Sting knocks Vader on his belly on the top rope which sets up for a Samoan drop. The white in Sting's facepaint makes it looks like he's anime powering up as he shakes and quivers to hulk up. This gets a two for some reason, Sting teases a German Suplex but gets one, but not before bumping the ref as he takes Vader up. Sting gets a visual pinfall this way but gets two and a half.. Two Stinger splashes, and one in which Sting knocks himself out when he hits his head, and his gigs. I like this in isolation, but Sting banana peeling into the finish after two nearfalls and a visual pinfall just makes Sting look super dumb. If Sting had gotten less, fired up, and THEN that had happened, then you could make the case that Sting was on the cusp but cost himself accidentally. Okay now Sting is punching blind and is hurt. Vader wins with a powerbomb.
This match reminded me a lot of Brock Lesnar vs John Cena at Extreme Rules 2012, where a guy got a firey comeback on the one guy he should NOT be coming back against. But in that match, even though the wrong guy won, you got the vibe that Cena only BARELY won, and that's because Brock was hoisted by his own cockiness. In this match, the right guy won, but we still can't make Sting look weak, and so he got too much, which is somehow more offensive. However, until the Scorpion Deathlock by Vader, this was a GREAT match, and Sting did an expert job of selling and reacting to Vader's offense.
Post-match - Babyfaces and refs help Sting to the back
More with Tony and Magnum - Magnum looks legitimately upset that Sting lost. Beyond that, meh.
Eric Bischoff interviews Vader and Race - AWESOME. Race looks so elated he's about to have a heart attack, and Vader chortles happily and avoids the question of a rematch with Sting.
NWA Tag Team Championship Finals
Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham vs The Miracle Violence Connection - 6/10
The Steiners show up and get taken to the back by security. Thanks for taking the shine off of the main event gents.
One interesting thing we get right away is that the MVC are the ones having to scramble out of the corners like Steamboat and Koloff did in the MVC's last match. I also like the story element that Barry is so big Williams can't take him down and stretch him like he could Steamboat, or even Koloff. Jim Ross mentioned Mongo McMichael and Steve Williams played against each other in college football, and that's a dream wrestling match I had no idea I wanted. We reset after some boring rest holds type stuff, and I don't think a stalemate in the finals of the tournament is something we should be seeing after Sting/Vader. Okay now we get some fun stuff, like Williams hanging on to Rhodes in the corner and Rhodes trying punching out of it. and Gordy grabbing the leg after tagging, and that's a momentum swing. Also Dustin fighting the STF gets people back into it. Jim makes a comment about guys not using the tag rope despite that being a rule. So does that mean that none of the tags tonight are legal or? Anyway, the heels work Dustin's leg forever. He tags out to Barry and Barry hurts his shoulder on a shoulder charge, which no one cares about because that was the finish of the last match. Dustin tags in and fires up but the heels get back in, yawn. Dustin fights out of the corner again, and Barry dropkicks Williams mid Stampede for a 2 They do a wacky spot where Dustin bonks head with Gordy on the apron and Williams hits a clothesline for the win.
This was an anti-climatic finish and so boring that even my favorite tag team couldn't save it from an "above average" rating
This was the most painfully average show I've ever watched, with the bulk of it being taken up by a tournament that lost steam and got more non-sensical psychology wise as it went on. Yeah having a killer main event, plus the prospect of Vader and the MVC in the same promotion is cool but even with those elements in place, you can see the wheels already starting to fall off the wagon, and with that in mind especially, Halloween Havoc looks like misery, so for now we're going to call an end to "NWK reviews WCW in 1992" arc for now, and maybe I'll pick up Havoc and Starrcade for Halloween and Thanksgiving respectively, but that's pretty low on the priority list. Unless you're a Vader superfan, don't watch this show, but if you are, I assume you have access to better matches by now.