Wrestle Review: Great American Memories
Submitted by Andy Sullivan on 07/04/2020 at 11:27 AM

This past week was week one of what NXT calls the Great American Bash. The original Great American Bash, though, dates back to 1985. Thirty-five years ago, the event debuted under Jim Crockett's National Wrestling Alliance. It started as a concept by the late, great "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes in '85 and became one of the company's staple pay-per-view events in 1988, second only to Starrcade(which itself began as closed-circuit in '83 but moved to ppv in '87).

The first event saw Ric Flair defend his World Championship against Nikita Koloff and Magnum T.A. defend his U.S. Championship against Kamala. Dusty Rhodes became the Television Champion by defeating Tully Blanchard in a steel cage match, also acquiring the services of Baby Doll. The second year, the Great American Bash became a 13-date tour that ran from July 5-August 2, 1986. Dusty Rhodes defeated Ric Flair in a steel cage for his third NWA World Championship July 26 in Greensboro.

The third year was also a touring event, but reduced to three shows. The first show on July 4, 1987, saw the first War Games match as Dusty led Nikita Koloff and the Road Warriors and Paul Ellering against The Four Horsemen(Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Lex Luger and J.J. Dillon). The Horsemen added more gold on the second show when Luger beat Koloff for the U.S. Championship. Luger left the Horsemen in '88 and was replaced by Barry Windham.

From 1989-2000, the Great American Bash was under the WCW banner. In '91, WCW took sole possession as a brand. The previous two years it was NWA/WCW. That year marked the first Bash appearance of Dustin Rhodes. Another Bash debut was 1990 when "Mean" Mark Callous lost to Lex Luger for the U.S. title. You might know "Mean Mark" better as The Undertaker.

Macho Man made his Great American Bash debut in 1995 in the main event against Ric Flair. Three years later, Bret Hart and "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan made their GAB debuts teaming against Roddy Piper and Randy Savage. The final WCW-produced version of the Bash was 20 years ago. In that 2000 event, Jeff Jarrett defended the WCW Championship against Kevin Nash, while Ric Flair defeated....David Flair. Really, WCW? Decisions like that match is one of the myriad of reasons that company would go belly-up a year later.

WWE had the Great American Bash from 2004-2012. Did you remember the main event was the Undertaker in a handicap match with the Dudley Boys? On that same card was JBL defeating the late Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Championship. Championship matches should main event pay-per-view events. Case closed. The Great American Bash would disappear from WWE in 2009. It returned as a one-night event on Smackdown on July 3, 2012. Cody Rhodes would work his final Bash match against Christian. Following that event, the Bash would be retired from WWE. But wait, there's more!

At the end of June, it was announced that NXT would hold their version of the Great American Bash on the July 1 and 8 editions of NXT Wednesday. Not to be outdone, AEW held Fyter Fest on Dynamite on TNT last week. I watched both and, this will break the hearts of the "you must choose one and hate the other" group, I enjoyed them both. Io Shirai defended her title against Sasha Banks on night one. Night two will see NXT Champion battle NXT North American Champion Adam Cole in a title for title battle.

July 2020 marks 35 years almost to the day of the original Great American Bash. I must admit that, even though I watched WCW, I never ordered one of their Bash events. Actually, I think the first time I watched a WCW pay-per-view was when I got WWE Network. Today being Independence Day, I feel it my duty as a wrestling fan-and an American- to cue up at least one classic NWA/WCW Great American Bash. So, it looks like my weekend ppv viewing is decided.

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