JULY — REMEMBERING THE GREAT AMERICAN BASH

Posted July 13th, 2018 by 1Wrestling News Team

This is Sal “Rough Cuts” LaSardo, checking in from Orlando, Florida with this edition of the rough cuts.  July 6th, 1985 in Charlotte, NC,  was a historic day in the world of professional wrestling.  This was the very first Great American Bash presented by Jim Crockett Promotions for the NWA.  The main event was a steel cage match between Dusty Rhodes and Tully Blanchard for the NWA Television Championship which Dusty won.
The purpose the Great American Bash was to promote a series of pay per view quality matches around the country.  Many of the matches had stipulations from cages, dog collar, strap matches, tape fist, hair vs hair, and more..
Also, during the summer when people are traveling the NWA would promote the bashes in cities likely to attract larger crowds.  Arena’s were sold out as part of the summer tour.   There were title changes, new feuds, classic feuds and lively rabid fans that came to the arena and also watched on closed circuit televison where available.  Pay Per View would become available starting with Starrcade 1987 which was held in December.  So, for the first 2 years you had to to be there in person, go to one of the tour stops, watch on closed circuit televsion which was not available everywhere at this time or do what I did which was wait till it was available on VHS for purchase.
Looking back early on, JCP (Jim Crockett Promtions), was trying to get more mainstream with his product and be able to compete in other markets along with the WWF/WWE growing as well.  By this time WWF/WWE had WrestleMania and trying to stay competitive with the caliber of talent the NWA had they needed to do something to get more on the map and the Great American provided that with high caliber gimmick type matches never before done.  In fact, July 4, 1987 in Atlanta, Georgia (The Omni), was the very first War Games concept introduced by Dusty Rhodes.  No other promotion had ever done this before and it got people excited all around the world that were able to witness this one of a kind event.  Two rings enclosed inside of a steel cage with a roof.  Submit or Surrender that is the only way the match would end.  The first WarGames consisted of The Road Warriors (Animal and Hawk), Nikita Koloff, Dusty Rhodes and Paul Ellering defeated The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger, Tully Blanchard and J.J. Dillon; with Dark Journey).  The team of the Road Warriors were successful in making JJ Dillon surrender giving the faces a huge win.
I look back when I was able to see this match and in fact the whole card was pay per view quality up and down but it gets lost with the WarGames match.  The crowd was going crazy from the start.  Cheering the faces and booing when the heels took the man advantage.  Back and forth for nearly 25 minutes.  There was blood, sweat and tears all throughout.  When it was over the fans got there money’s worth and still 30 plus years later it is still my favorite cage match of all time.
For a 5 year period from 1985-1990 the Great American Bash was the NWA signature event of the summer and a perfect set up into the fall that lead to the grand daddy of them all Starrcade.  Starrcade was considered the equalivant of WWE version WrestleMania.
Once Ted Turner bought the NWA from JCP which JCP filed for bankruptcy, WCW attempted to continue with the summer tilt from 1991-2000.  Unfortunately, the Great American Bash did not live up to the expectations as in the previous 5 years under JCP. Wargames was moved to Fall Brawl an annual PPV event, which I feel was a mistake and should have stayed as a part of the Great American Bash its birth place.  Storylines seemed to drag out and go nowhere.  The wrestling was not the same.  It was though the wrestlers were going through the motions and the crowd reactions were getting poor.  It was a sign that Great American Bash had lost its place which was once a prominent thriving series of events under JCP.  The program became less of a pay per view quality and more of a house show and not a true quality that was seen in years prior.  As the decline of the Great American Bash fell upon so did WCW and when WWE bought out WCW they tried to resurrect the Great American Bash by keeping its namesake but it was just another monthly pay per view.  The WWE held 7 bashes but it was not the same without the men who made the bash what it was early on.  Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Flair, Sting, Dusty, Lex, the Road Warriors, etc.  The matches were unique and the feuds were established and to the WWE this was just another pay per view the month before the signature event SummerSlam in August.
Fortunately, for all of us we have wwe network to watch and relive most of the bashes including the first war games.  You can also be fortunate to find online some of the bashes still on VHS if you still have one and CD.
I am often asked what you will remember most about the Bash.  I was 15 when the first one started and had to wait till VHS tape to come out and see them until ppv was available and in fact during that time pay per view was not available in all NY/NJ area where I am from.  I had to travel to go see the show on closed circuit or wait for the tape to be released.  When I did get the chance to see the shows that became available I will remember the Wargames as it took my breath away.  I was in awe of the concept and the amazing in ring talent that was presented to the fans.  The blood, sweat, tears, scars and permanent injuries these men suffered from that match, only to please the paying patron who paid to see these men do what they do best.
Ric Flair and Dusty Rhodes were the main event guys in either championship matches held in cages or Wargames.  JCP focus was on his goto guys and of course night in and night out Flair and Dusty delievered and kept us fans on the edge our seats.  I will never forget Ric winning or losing his World Title or the Horseman trying to break Dusty collectively or individually.
There many incredible matches that made up each of these bashes that lead to the main event’s.  Whether Wahoo McDaniel competed in a strap match or Jimmy Valiant in hair vs hair match.
The fact was under JCP the NWA thrived for a period in time that will be forever apart of wrestling history.  We should never forget what the NWA brought us, nor the benefit of having the Great American Bash as it brought us entertainment that was never done before.  Grant it, WCW continuing the tradition was never the same and WWE was no where near the caliber it once was but the Great American Bash should be remembered by all accounts as a series dedicated to the fans who supported the NWA/WCW/WWE and rightfully so.
For this edition of Rough Cuts this has been Sal LaSardo, from Orlando, Fla.  May all of your matches be a main event.  Your feedback is greatly welcome to salnbandit42@gmail.com

Category: Wrestling.

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