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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: NWA The Great American Bash ’88

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Here is our next event in my NWA/WCW timeline, The Great American Bash! Created by booker Dusty Rhodes, The Great American Bash, like our previous pay-per-view Bunkhouse Stampede, wasn’t the first show produced under this name, but was the only one to be broadcast. The other events, again like Bunkhouse Stampede, were simply what I call “glorified house shows”. This is the end of the road for Jim Crockett Promotions as well, selling the company to Turner Broadcasting in November, one month prior to Starrcade, but a relationship with the NWA would remain a little while longer. So it’s the finale of an era for Crockett, but the start of another for the Great American Bash event so let’s get into it and head right to the ring!

Match #1 for the NWA World Tag Team Championships: Sting & Nikita Koloff vs. NWA World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard w/James J. Dillon
After the bell rings, all 4 men pair up and brawl. Sting and Koloff clear the ring to the delight of the crowd. The Horsemen return to the ring for round 2. Anderson and Koloff stumble out and Sting almost steals the match immediately with a small package. Anderson ambushes Sting, but he’s met with a dropkick. Anderson rolls out of the ring, but turns around to meet a plancha from Sting. The crowd’s really digging it. Koloff and Blanchard go to the corners and Sting and Anderson start the structured action. Sting with a hip toss into an arm bar submission. He drags Anderson to his corner and tags in Koloff.

Koloff leads with some stomps and a submission of his own on Anderson’s arm. Anderson works his way to his feet, he powers out of the hold but misses an elbow drop. Koloff is back in control, now working on Double A’s other arm. Anderson is slow to his feet, works Koloff to the corner and lands a left and a few kicks. Koloff reverses Anderson’s Irish whip to the opposite turnbuckle but Anderson moves. Arn looks confident that Koloff collided with the turnbuckle, but Koloff had stopped short. Anderson turns around and is met by a Russian Sickle. Blanchard rushes the ring to prevent a cover and has the same fate. Koloff with a lateral press but Anderson’s foot is on the rope. Tag made to Sting. Anderson is sent to the turnbuckle but Arn gets his knee to Sting’s midsection.

Sting quickly counters a sleeper hold by driving Anderson’s head into the turnbuckle. Sting hits a leg drop on Anderson’s left arm and continues with the submission work. Anderson works his way to his feet and Blanchard illegally enters the ring to double team Sting. The Stinger counters their hold on both his arms with a backflip for positioning and a double hiptoss. The Horsemen stand up to meet Sting’s drop kick that strikes both. After a regroup, Anderson manages a headbutt to the midsection and can mercifully make a legal tag to Blanchard. Tully is whipped for 2 hiptosses before a tag is made to Koloff.

Sting holds Blanchard in place as Nikita lands several kicks and hard rights before back to the mat for an arm submission. Blanchard tries to squirm his way to the ropes but Koloff is in control. Koloff works Blanchard’s shoulders to the mat for several near falls. Tully finally gets his leg on the bottom rope. The hold is broken but he can’t escape Koloff. Tag is made to Sting. Blanchard reverses Sting’s Irish whip but Sting moves. Sting has a near fall after Blanchard’s collision. Tully gets up dazed and stumbles to the wrong corner for a tag. Nikita takes advantage of the blunder with a cheap shot and the crowd loves it.

Tag to Koloff and he powers Blanchard into the turnbuckle. Blanchard tags Anderson with his boot but the ref will not allow it. Blanchard tries to break the submission with a knee to Koloff’s midsection, but no luck. Nikita lifts Blanchard for an atomic drop and follows it up with a hiptoss. He goes right back to work on Blanchard’s shoulder. Blanchard slowly struggles his way to his corner while locked in and he’s able to make the tag. Koloff retreats to his corner and Anderson is frustrated with the lack of opportunity to take liberties. Anderson and Koloff square each other up and lock up. They run the ropes and Koloff executes a drop toe hold. Koloff dials in a half nelson on the mat, barking that he wants the title. Anderson slowly works to his feet reaching for Blanchard but instead he ends up in a standing full nelson.

He kicks Koloff’s knee twice which allows him to make the tag to Blanchard. A run to the ropes and Koloff delivers his Russian Hammer choke hold. Blanchard is surprisingly right back up, but Koloff hits him with a shoulder block. Blanchard is then clotheslined over the top rope to the concrete and Koloff falls over with him. Blanchard makes it back to the apron at a count of 8, but his met with a vertical suplex. JJ Dillon interferes with the pin attempt and Koloff pursues him on the floor. When Koloff rushes him, Dillon moves and Koloff runs into the post. Anderson is on the floor and drives Koloff’s shoulder into the post once again. Koloff is rolled back into the ring, injured. Tag is made to Anderson. Body slam by Anderson followed by several knees to the back.

Anderson with a hammerlock submission as it is announced that there is 5 minutes left in the match. Koloff works his way to his feet with a psychotic look on his face. Anderson is whipped to the ropes. Koloff sets up for a back body drop but Anderson reverses it by catching his head and executing a DDT. Koloff kicks out at 2. Tag is made to Blanchard who comes off the top rope with an axe handle. Blanchard attempts an unsuccessful pin, and then continues the armbar submission. Tag made to Anderson. Snapmare takedown by Anderson. He goes to the 2nd turnbuckle for a splash but Koloff gets his knees up. The 2 men work to their corners slowly and make simultaneous tags.

The crowd has a HUGE pop for Sting. He rushes Blanchard, and whips him to the ropes for a back body drop, followed by a dropkick. Sting with an Irish whip to the turnbuckle and a gorilla press to Blanchard. Anderson rushes Sting and is met with a bulldog. A double atomic drop reversal by Blanchard, then Sting, and the Stinger with another great dropkick. He pulls Blanchard to Anderson’s corner and bashes their heads together. 1 minute remaining and Sting has Anderson in a sleeper hold. Anderson breaks the hold with elbows and tags in Blanchard. Sting stops the momentum of Blanchard’s sunset flip and delivers a right to Tully.

With Anderson still in the ring, Koloff rushes Anderson with a Russian Sickle. Sting with an Irish whip and a Stinger Splash to Blanchard. Sting applies the Scorpian Deathlock to Blanchard and the bell rings 7 seconds later. Sting and Koloff celebrate and grab the tag team belts. There is a discussion in the ring, and it was determined the bell rang because of the time limit and not a submission.
Winners: Time Limit Draw

  • EA’s Take: I’m not sure if Nikita is trying to match Stinger, but it’s really weird seeing him with hair, let alone a flat top. You’ve got the class of the tag team division here in Arn and Tully, the red hot Sting and a bruiser in Koloff. Magnifico! Not to mention Sting with an outside dive? You never see that in this era! This one began after Sting and Dusty challenged for the tag titles, but the newest member of The Horsemen, Barry Windham, would interfere, leading Dusty to focus on Windham and Nikita to step in. The Stinger’s coming off the heels of his famous World Title match against Ric Flair at the first Clash Of The Champions, while Nikita has dropped down the card a little, but is still over like rover. Arn and Tully are looking more and more like The Brain Busters, which we will see in the fall as Double A and Blanchard would give their notices to JCP in September, prior to the sale to Turner. It would put an end to The Horsemen and in the words of Tully, “It was the end of an era”.

Ringside: Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone review what we just saw as Sting & Nikita clear the ring, then preview our next championship match.

Match #2 for the NWA United States Tag Team Championships: The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton & Stan Lane) w/Jim Cornette vs. NWA United States Tag Team Champions The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton & Tommy Rogers)
Cornette grabs the mic and explains to the crowd that he’s not crazy. He introduces his team to a sea of boos. A stipulation of this match is that Cornette must be harnessed in a straight-jacket and hung in a cage as to not interfere. Additionally, should The Midnight Express lose, they face 10 lashes. Cornette pleads with the referee and protests the stipulation. He is consoled with hugs from the Express and begrudgingly obliges. The bell rings, Eaton and Fulton start. They lock up and Fulton grabs a headlock.They run the ropes and Fulton drops Eaton for a quick 2 count. Eaton lands a punch that sounded like a potato. Irish whip into the corner and Fulton delivers two consecutive head scissor takedowns.

Eaton stumbles to the wrong corner for the tag. Fulton lands a heavy right and Eaton regroups in his corner. Cornette is heard screaming from a distance. Eaton and Fulton lock up again and a tag is made to Lane. The crowd is heard chanting “Cornette Sucks”. Lane is in control his combo of kicks makes Fulton falls to the concrete. Back in, Fulton reverses an Irish whip and Lane is run over the turnbuckle and into the post. Tag is made to Rogers and Lane is back in the ring. Rogers lands some high energy dropkicks. Eaton is tagged in but is met with a hip toss. Back to their feet, Eaton hits a knee to Rogers’ midsection and he sets him up on the top turnbuckle. Rogers reverses an attempted vertical suplex and flips Eaton into a pin. He kicks out at 1.

Rogers jumps to the 2nd turnbuckle and hits a cross body and lateral press for another count of 1. The two regroup and are back on their feet. A tag is made to Fulton and the Fantastics hit Eaton with a double back body drop. Lane rushes the ring and they each take a partner. The Fantastics cause some confusion and get Lane to deliver another back body drop on his own tag team partner. The Express regroup on the concrete while the Fantastics strut in the ring. Fulton and Lane get the action going again but a quick tag is made to Rogers. Rogers leapfrogs his tag team partner and lands into an arm submission on Lane. Lane reverses with a knee to the midsection. He attempts a back body drop but Rogers lands on his feet.

When Rogers pushes Lane to the ropes he is unaware the tag was made to Eaton. As Rogers rolls up Lane for a pin, Eaton grabs him from behind with a bulldog. Eaton goes for a pin and gets a 2 count. Lane is tagged back in (wait, wasn’t he the legal man all along?) and wraps Rogers’ neck around the top rope. He levels Rogers with a lariat and tags Eaton back in. Eaton lands a hard elbow following a whip to the ropes. Eaton makes a cover for a 2 count. Rogers is trying to fight the momentum, but Eaton delivers a swinging neckbreaker. Quick sequence of tags back and forth between Lane and Eaton, and Beautiful Bobby finally delivers an impressive backbreaker. Fulton makes the save on the pin attempt. More double team work by the Express and they are in complete control. Eaton delivers a backbreaker on a worn down Rogers.

Eaton with a hammerlock submission. Rogers is finally to his feet. He breaks the hold with elbows and reverses Eaton’s attempted back body drop by dropping Bobby face first on the mat. Both men are down and the ref is counting. Eaton makes it to his corner first. Lane comes in with an abdominal stretch on Rogers and gets extra leverage from Eaton. When Fulton protests what he sees the ref backs him off. Rogers finds himself outside of the ring with Eaton as this happens. Rogers reverses Eaton’s attempt to bash him head first into the post and instead that is given to Bobby. He rolls back into the ring and starts fighting off Lane’s momentum. Rogers is whipped into the ropes but comes back with a beautiful sunset flip for a 2 count.

Lane is quickly up and makes the tag to Eaton. Bobby with a body slam on Rogers followed by a legdrop from the 3rd rope. Fulton breaks up the pinfall attempt and the crowd is getting behind The Fantastics. Another abdominal stretch applied to Rogers followed by leg sweep takedown. Eaton sets up for the team’s Rocket Launcher from the top rope but Rogers gets his knees up. Hot tag made to Fulton who hits a back body drop on Eaton. Stan Lane is back in the ring and Fulton is fending them both off.

He runs the ropes, leaps over both Eaton and the referee but his leg is grabbed by Lane who is standing outside the ring on his comeback. Lane pulls him through middle rope for a body slam on the concrete. Rogers rushes back into the ring and goes after Eaton but collides with the referee on a cross body tackle from the ropes. He throws Eaton into the post. Stan Lane is back in the ring with a foreign object. He rushes Rogers but Rogers hits him with a back body drop. The foreign object (chain) falls to Eaton who wraps it around his first. After Rogers sends Lane back out to the floor, Eaton hits Rogers with the chain. Pinfall victory for the Midnight Express.
Winners and NEW NWA United States Tag Team Champions: The Midnight Express (Eaton/Foreign Object)

  • After The Bell: Cornette is out of the cage but the Fantastics chase him down. They whip Cornette with referee Tommy Young’s belt. The Express pull their manager out and head to the dressing room.
  • EA’s Take: Finally The Midnight Express is used correctly on pay-per-view! After seeing them in scaffold matches for the last couple of NWA events, this was a breath of fresh air to see one of the best tag teams ever ACTUALLY get to wrestle instead of fearing for their lives. Although, having “ten lashes” on the line isn’t exactly something to scoff at. This feud really began in Mid-South in 1984, would run through WCWA and then into the NWA before The Fantastics arrived in JCP in ’88. Like their name says, they were pretty fantastic in the ring and are really one of the forgotten about tag teams in wrestling lure, at least outside of fans that consider themselves historians. Tommy Rogers is pretty undersized which is rare, but he looks much better than when I became more familiar with him during a brief stint with ECW about ten years later. My only real gripe here? It probably should have opened the show, it’s unusual that your secondary tag titles go on directly after your World Tag Titles.

Ringside: Jim Ross & Toy Schiavone review the finish of our last match as the cage is being set up for the next contest.

Match #3 is a Tower Of Doom Match: ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams, Ron Garvin, The Road Warriors (Animal & Hawk) & ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin w/Precious & Paul Ellering vs. Kevin Sullivan, Al Perez, Mike Rotunda, The Russian Assassin & Ivan Koloff w/Gary Hart
A three-level cage is set up. In two minute intervals, doors will open for a new competitor to come into the top level. At these same intervals, trap doors will open for approximately 10 seconds giving competitors a chance to jump down to the next level. The first team who has all five members of their team move through all 3 levels and exit the cage will win. Precious is in the ring and is holder of the key. Ron Garvin and Ivan Koloff will be the first to enter the tower at the smallest level on top. The two lock up and brawl. They use the cage as a weapon and exchange punches and chops. Steve Williams and Mike Rotunda wait outside the door for the first 2 minute horn to sound. All you can really do is brawl in this scenario and they slug it out.

The first horn sounds. The trap door is open and Garvin opens it. Garvin gets down successfully but Koloff is stuck on the first level. This makes it a 2 on 1 against Williams at the top level while Garvin just paces alone on the 2nd level. Despite this, Williams has plenty of offense, bashing the heels’ heads together. The 2nd horn sounds. Williams is headed for the door but Koloff grabs onto him. With no opposition, Garvin easily jumps down to level 1 and walks out of the cage. Road Warrior Animal is now on the top level, double teamed by Rotunda and Al Perez while Koloff and Steve Williams have moved on and do battle on the middle level. Animal is handling the double team well and the crowd is roaring for him. Hawk is waiting in the wings to come in next.

Steve Williams holds on to the cage and delivers stomps to Koloff. The next horn sounds and the doors are open. Al Perez easily makes it to the 2nd level and right behind him is Road Warrior Animal. No one from the 2nd level advanced, so it’s now Williams and Animal against Koloff and Perez on that middle level. Hawk brawls with Rotunda and the Assasin up top. The crowd is really reacting to the Road Warriors. Steve Williams delivers a body slam on Koloff for the first non-brawling move. The final horn sounds and here comes Jimmy Garvin and Kevin Sullivan. Al Perez and Animal make it through the doors to the ring (1st level).

Hawk escapes to the 2nd level to join teammate Steve Williams, and behind him the Assasin joins Koloff to even the field. Jimmy Garvin deals with a 2 on 1 on the top level. Animal makes quick work of Perez in the ring and exits the cage. With no one else in the ring, Perez is able to stumble out as well despite his losing effort to Animal. The horn for the trap door sounds and Rotunda is finally able to make it to the 2nd level. Koloff and the Assasin make it to ring followed by Hawk who will face a 2 on 1 for 2 minutes. Hawk runs the ropes and hits the Russians with a double clothesline. Jimmy Garvin and Kevin Sullivan are still battling on the top level. Williams and Rotunda are squaring up on the middle level.

Despite the 2 on 1, Hawk escapes the cage first. Again, with no opponents to stop them, both Russians stagger out despite Hawk getting the best of them. The next horn sounds. Steve Williams makes it to the ring and walks out. Garvin and Sullivan both make it to level 2, which makes it a 2 on 1 against Garvin as the final 3 men who are left do battle. Garvin bashes their heads together and fights off the mismatch. The horn sounds and the crowd begs Garvin to get down. Sullivan holds Garvin down on the cage allowing Rotunda to jump down to the ring and walk out with ease. The final 2 competitors, Garvin and Sullivan are on level 2.

A brawl breaks out on the floor between the 8 men who have escaped the tower. Garvin with some submission work on Sullivan’s knee, but Kevin fights back. The horn sounds, the door is open and Sullivan is first through the door but Garvin is right behind him. Sullivan goes to Precious who is holding the key and she kicks him away. Garvin does more work with legs and elbows on Sullivan’s knee. Garvin delivers a brain buster. Garvin struggles with the lock on the door for a second, but finally gets the chain off. Sullivan makes a last ditch effort to stop him from behind, but Garvin leaps to the floor.
Winners: ‘Dr. Death’ Steve Williams, Ron Garvin, The Road Warriors & ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin

  • After The Bell: Sullivan locks himself in the cage with Precious and pursues her. With no way in, the winning team must re-climb the ladder and drop through the levels again to save her. Sullivan pulls a rope from his trunks and chokes her until finally Hawk and Jimmy Garvin make it to level 1 take him out.
  • EA’s Take: More gimmick matches here and holy cow, was this structure quite the sight to behold. Not to mention, how forward thinking was this concept in 1988? I prefer this much more than the scaffold matches. It’s primarily brawling on the top two levels of the cage, but you can at least use the ring on the bottom level, so you’re not even close to as limited with what you can do. The time intervals also create some interesting handicap situations, something the WWF did with its Royal Rumble concept back in January. One thing I will say though, that spot where Precious was getting choked at the end…man, people would have a field day with something like that today. It would NEVER fly!

Ringside: Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone go over the action once again, showing us replays of Sullivan stalking Precious and Hawk making the save with Jimmy Garvin. They send us to Bob Caudle in another part of the arena for his thoughts on the Tower Of Doom.

Match #4 for the NWA United States Championship: NWA United States Champion Barry Windham w/James J. Dillon vs. Dusty Rhodes
The two lock up and Rhodes hits a quick arm drag. Windham rushes Rhodes, but Dusty intimidates him with his elbow. There is a side headlock and shoulder tackle from Rhodes. Windham rolls out to the concrete for a regroup. The two criss-cross through the ropes but Windham stops it with an elbow to the back of Rhodes’ head. Back to their feet, the Dream is able to send Windham into the ropes for a gorilla press followed by a DDT. Rhodes heads for the top rope and lands a cross body press. Very close 2 count by Rhodes. Windham once again is out to the floor and this time feigning like he’s walking to the dressing room.

Windham consults with Dillon takes his sweet time to get back in the ring. Finally back, Windham signals Rhodes to slow it down. They lock up and Windham delivers a series of blows in the corner, but it has little effect. Rhodes dances around the ring and returning shots to Windham. Dillon is up on the apron but Rhodes takes care of him with a big elbow. Windham is back on the floor again and barking at the ref who is counting. Windham gingerly returns to the ring and sets up a test of strength. Windham takes advantage of the open torso with some kicks to the midsection and Rhodes tumbles out to the floor. Windham stays on the attack and sends him shoulder first into the steel rail.

Windham sets up for a piledriver on the floor, but Dusty reverses with a back body drop. Rhodes hits a huge clothesline on Windham and proceeds to chase Dillon around the ring. Slowly back to the ring, Windham is able to regain some offense, pummeling Dusty in the corner. Back to the floor again and Rhodes’ head is bashed on the apron. Windham crawls back into the ring as Rhodes gets up. Dusty steps up to the apron. Windham attempts to use the ropes to flip Rhodes back into the ring but Dusty reverses it and sends him over the top and to the floor. Windham stumbles around the outside of the ring as Dillon provides a distraction for the referee.

This allows Windham to attack Rhodes from behind, and deliver a body slam to the big man. Standing elbow drop from Windham and he pulls Rhodes up for his patented claw, digging his fingers into Rhodes’ skull. Rhodes fades as the ref checks on him. Rhodes is on his back and Windham gets a couple of 2 counts. Rhodes uses the crowd’s energy to work his way to his feet, but he’s quickly forced back down. Dusty is up again for attempt number 2 at breaking the hold. He backs his way to the corner and steps up to the 2nd turnbuckle. He teases a big elbow but Windham pulls him back to his knees and taunts the crowd before he can do it.

Rhodes swings his arms around for attempt number 3 to break the hold and finally lands midsection shots as Windham holds on. Finally, Rhodes hits 3 elbows. The hold is broken and Windham is down. Rhodes attempts a figure four, but somehow Windham reaches out and has the claw applied once again. Rhodes backs his way to the 2nd turnbuckle again and he lands some rights. Windham reverses with a shot to Rhodes’ midsection and sets up for a superplex. Rhodes instead shoves him off and the ref is hit.

Rhodes misses a standing elbow and Windham heads for the top rope. Dusty pursues him and sends him flying for a huge body slam from the top rope. Dusty lands an elbow drop but there is no referee to make a cover. Ron Garvin comes down to the ring but surprisingly attacks Rhodes knocking him nearly unconcious. Dillon rolls the referee back into the ring, and Windham applies a claw once again. Rhodes is out cold and his shoulders are down. Windham gets the pinfall victory.
Winner and STILL NWA United States Champion: Barry Windham (Outside Interference)

  • EA’s Take: One thing I love about this era is how genuinely emotional the crowd gets at certain spots. For example, the panic in the crowd with fans trying to get Dusty’s attention. Small things like that are what make me miss the old days! The Dream always knows how to entertain and Jim Ross is too good at calling matches for this one to disappoint. Windham had been saddled with some bad luck in his previous Chairshot Classic appearances and we really see what he can do here when all goes well. I previously mentioned how Barry had jumped Rhodes during a tag title match, but Dusty had also previously been stripped of the US Title and suspended for attacking Jim Crockett. Of course, all kayfabe. Dusty keeps finding ways to stretch out his program with The Horsemen, moving from one member to another and keeping himself away from Flair. Most people complain that he put himself in such spots as the booker, but you can’t argue that he didn’t help guys like Windham and previously, Lex Luger by working with them. My stance is that he was grooming his young talent with his own name value. Surprising heel turn here as well with Ronnie Garvin costing Dusty the match, but it wouldn’t lead to much as he’d leave the company about a month or so later.

Backstage: Ronnie Garvin is shown with Gary Hart & James J. Dillon, celebrating and lathering himself with cash after receiving a briefcase full of it.

Match #5 for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship: NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair w/James J. Dillon vs. Lex Luger
Flair works Luger to the corner, but Luger uses power to shove Flair across the ring. They regroup and lock up again, resulting in a hip toss from Luger. They circle the ring tentatively and lock up. Luger with a big headlock until the ropes break it up. Another lock up and they move toward the turnbuckles. Flair delivers ineffective chops and kicks in the corner. Luger stalks Flair and delivers another hip toss and follows it with a drop kick. Flair rolls out of the ring and paces the concrete. Flair returns to the ring and backs up until they grapple, Flair attempts an shoulder tackle that doesn’t move Luger.

The next run and Luger catches him in a Gorilla press. Flair stumbles over the outside railing and calls for referee Tommy Young. He tries to accost Young, but Young runs and hides behind Luger. Slowly, Flair returns to the ring. After a test of strength, Luger twists Flair’s arm and whips him into another gorilla press slam. Flair is whipped to the ropes again and is caught in Luger’s bearhug. Luger drops Flair’s shoulders to the ring for a 2 count. The bearhug continues, and Flair refuses to give up. Finally they wander to the ropes and the hold is broken. Flair is whipped to the ropes, he puts the brakes on but stumbles out to the apron. Luger pursues Flair and delivers a vertical suplex back into the ring. Luger pins but Flair kicks out at 2.

Luger hits a massive elbow drop, but misses his 2nd attempt. Luger is right back to his feet and Flair begs for mercy in the corner. Luger delivers another hip toss and Flair retreats to the floor. Luger follows and the two brawl on the floor Flair uses the gate as a weapon twice. Luger stumbles back into the ring and Flair takes advantage with a snapmare take down and a knee drop. The Nature Boy drags Luger’s face across the top rope and hits another snapmare/knee combo. Luger kicks out of a pin attempt at 2. Flair uses an armbar, but is warned by Tommy Young about making a cheap shot to Luger’s ribs while doing so.

From his knees Luger fights off Flair’s next pursuit with shots to the midsection. They run the ropes, Luger ducks Flair’s elbow, stops short, and hits a clothesline on the return. Flair kicks out at 2 1/2. Both men back to their feet. Flair with another snapmare take down to Luger and he heads for the top rope. Luger is up before anything happens. He shakes the ropes and Flair falls groin first on the top rope. Luger follows with an enormous hiptoss across the ring to, but he misses the subsequent dropkick when Flair gets up. Flair can’t capitalize on the misfire and he stumbles face first on the mat. Both men are slow to get up. Flair with an Irish whip but Luger bounces off and comes back with a clothesline. Luger uses a lateral press but Flair’s foot is on the ropes. Luger is bumped to the apron, but he comes back with a sunset flip.

Flair fights for the ropes but he goes down for a 2 count. On their feet, and Flair starts working on Luger’s left knee. Multiple kicks from Flair, and he uses the bottom rope for leverage. Flair pulls Luger to the center of the ring and applies the Figure Four, pulling on the bottom rope for leverage when he can. Luger gets the crowd behind him for an attempted reversal, and he succeeds but Flair breaks the hold on the ropes. Flair is right back up and is back to work on that left leg. He pulls Luger to his feet, whips him to the ropes, Luger ducks Flair’s elbow and clotheslines Ric over the top rope. Back in the ring, Flair tries chops in the corner but it energizes Luger.

The Total Package whips Flair to the ropes for another gorilla press slam but he’s still favoring that leg. Luger is the first up, but he misses Flair on an attempted knee drop. Flair heads for the top rope with a “Wooo”, but Luger beats his attempt and delivers a 4th gorilla press slam. At the opposite corner, Luger steps to the 2nd turnbuckle and delivers rights as the crowd counts them off. Flair counters by lifting Luger for an atomic drop, but Lex gets right back up and knocks Flair out with a clothesline. Luger attempts a pin, but they’re too close to the ropes. Luger is up on the turnbuckle again for 10 punches, this time executed successfully.

Luger with an Irish whip and Flair tumbles over the opposite top turnbuckle and out to the floor. Luger gives chase and rolls Flair back in the ring. They run the ropes, and Flair can’t execute a hiptoss. Instead, Luger grabs Flair’s arms and rolls him into a backslide for a 2 count. They run the ropes again, Flair ducks an elbow and leaps awkwardly on Luger. They both get caught on the top rope and both fall to the concrete. Flair is barking about his leg, but when they’re up he’s able to run Luger face first into the post. Flair bluffs like he’s going to use a chair but Tommy Young stops him.

While Young is distracted, JJ Dillon takes a cheap shot at Luger by running his head into the post once again. Luger’s forehead is busted open and he is rolled back into the ring. Flair attempts 10 punches at the turnbuckle but Luger returns the favor with an atomic drop of his own. The Maryland Athletic Commissioner and the company doctor are ringside saying something to the referee. While this happens, Luger whips Flair to the ropes for a huge power slam. The crowd cheers as Luger puts Flair in the torture rack. The ref calls for the bell and the crowd goes wild. Sting and other babyfaces join Luger in the ring to celebrate. The crowd chants “Luger” and cheers, but the ring announcer explains that the commissioner and company doctor stopped the match due to the laceration on Luger’s face.
Winner and STILL NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Ric Flair (Referee Stoppage)

  • EA’s Take: The usual Flair entertainment in this one as he works to make Luger look amazing. There were some fun spots and a lot of people groan when they see/hear Lex’s name, but honestly he was capable of putting on a good performance. It’s not until his later years when he couldn’t care less and was older that he became stale. The NWA had some outdated rules still in these days and the finish is blamed on the Maryland State Athletic Commission, which is completely storyline. We’re squeezing more time out of this rivalry and we’ll see the finale coming up at Starrcade. Overall solid match, hot feud.

EA’s Finisher: Of all my Chairshot Classics to date, top to bottom this is the most enjoyable of them all. There’s not a bad match on the card and even if maybe the Tower Of Doom is not your cup of tea, it’s watchable at worst. The crowd was into absolutely everything, which has been a factor in how a show is perceived in my book forever and I just really enjoy the mix of new stars and veterans alike. With the sale to Turner around the corner, many former NWA stars have spoken on what led to Crockett’s demise, primarily bad finance management. It really was a shame because Flair has stated that Crockett could still be in business today had he stayed within his region and frankly, I think that’s entirely possible, but mismanaging your money also is a killer. Regardless, it was thirty years ago so we are far too late to send warning! Next week, we move on as well with Starrcade ’88!

Top Three To Watch
1 – Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard vs. Sting & Nikita Koloff

2 – The Midnight Express vs. The Fantastics
3 – Barry Windham vs. Dusty Rhodes


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Attitude Of Aggression #275- The Big Four Project Chapter 3: Royal Rumble ’88 & WrestleMania IV

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Attitude of Aggression
Attitude Of Aggression #275- The Big Four Project Chapter 3: Royal Rumble ’88 & WrestleMania IV

The Attitude Of Aggression returns for Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project, a chronological analysis, review, and discussion about WWE’s Big Four PPVs/ Premium Live Events. On this Episode, Dave welcomes back the one and only PC Tunney to discuss two more immensely important events in pro wrestling history, the inaugural Royal Rumble and WrestleMania IV. The 1988 Royal Rumble was different than any other Rumble in history and not just because it was the first. Dave and Tunney break down the fascinating history of the first installment of an event that would evolve into an annual favorite for many in the WWE Universe. From there, the guys recap the surreal events that led to the end of Hulk Hogan’s 4-year reign as WWF Champion and set the stage for, arguably, the most important tournament in WWE History at WrestleMania IV. Macho Madness reached new heights that night. But was Savage the first choice of Vince McMahon to emerge from Atlantic City with the gold that night? We have the whole story for you here on Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project!

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Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #15 – AAW Defining Moment 2018

Harry covers a show that helped to continue Sami Callihan’s 2018 infamy. AAW Defining Moment should be a fun trip down memory lane!

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Apologies for the slight delay getting to this but it’s Harry here once again. And for as verbose as I can be at times, I don’t feel the need to waste any time getting to this one. This is the second part of the double shot for AAW on ‘All In’ weekend in Chicago. 

The WayBack Machine takes us to August 31st, 2018 as we once again arrive at the Logan Square Auditorium (and oh boy does that become important later) for AAW’s Defining Moment 2018.

What I Watched #15

AAW Defining Moment 2018

8/31/2018

Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, IL

Runtime: 3:18:22 (HighSpotsWrestlingNetwork)

Commentary By: Tyler Volz (PBP) and Marty DeRosa (Color)

 

THE RESULTS

  • Match 1: Curt Stallion/Jake Something def. Ace Romero/Colt Cabana, Something pins Cabana @ 8:41
  • Match 2: Shane Strickland pins Darby Allin, top-rope Swerve Stomp @ 13:30
  • Match 3: Jessicka Havoc def. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders, pinning Cruise with a Chokeslam @ 2:52
  • Match 4: OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist) def. Ace Austin/Brian Cage, Dave pins Austin @ 5:55
  • Match 5: AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © pins DJ Z (Shiima Xion), roll-through on CBB with tights @ 13:30
  • Match 6: AR Fox/Myron Reed def. Bandido/Flamita, double cover @ 15:42
  • Match 7: Maxwell Jacob Friedman taps Marko Stunt, Salt of the Earth @ 10:41
  • Match 8: Sami Callihan pins Jimmy Jacobs, Cactus Driver on a bridged guardrail @ 17:52
  • Match 9: AAW Tag Titles- Eddie Kingston/Jeff Cobb © def. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett, Cobb pins Fitchett @ 14:19
  • Match 10: AAW Heavyweight Title- Brody King pins ACH ©, All Seeing Eye (Whiplash) @ 22:46

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Curt Stallion/Jake Something vs. Ace Romero/Colt Cabana

*The match was decent but nothing special. A pretty big win for Something at the end with the three count over Cabana, who has a storied past in Chicago and was one of the biggest names in independent wrestling. That said, I personally don’t love the flukish nature that Something pins Cabana, as I think Something could have used a defining pinfall to really give him a rub going forward. 

Cabana usually makes for a fun watch and I’ve grown to enjoy Ace Romero the more I see him (he especially stands out for Limitless, which I hope to get to one day soon). Jake Something is a huge star in the making and you can see it even early in the run of AAW that he has. Stallion is what Stallion is. Solid opener, but nothing you’ll remember post show. (**½)

Darby Allin vs. Shane Strickland

*Showstealer, plain and simple. Strickland had been with AAW for a while but to the best of my memory, it was more often in a tag team with Keith Lee (funny how that works out with 2022 eyes on it, as Swerve and Keith are the current AEW tag champions at the time of writing). I do believe this is only Darby’s second match in AAW (the prior being a five-ish minute loss to Brody King). Both guys are huge names now and with efforts like this, it’s easy to see how. Darby tries to keep pace with Swerve and is able to do so for a good portion of the contest until Swerve finds that next gear down the stretch and puts Allin down with the Swerve Stomp to a massive (deserved) ovation from the crowd. (****)

Jessicka Havok vs. Palmer Cruise/Steve Manders

*I dislike handicap matches in general. However, unlike certain other writers for this site, I don’t mind intergender wrestling. But the suspension of disbelief gets lost here when you have two dudes the size of Cruise and Manders struggling with Jessicka Havok, who should realistically not being coming in at 100% after taking the Ganso Bomb from Brody King through the chairs the night before. I won’t rate the match due to the Larry Csonka (RIP) Rule of not rating anything shorter than three minutes, but I’m calling this a miss regardless. (X)

OI4K (Dave/Jake Crist) vs. Ace Austin/Brian Cage

*The Brothers Crist come out to ringside to stand next to Havok after said match and call out Brody King and Jimmy Jacobs. They get one of those two men as Jacobs makes his way out, but informs Dave and Jake that neither he nor Brody will be facing them due to having prior obligations, but he did find the perfect opponents for OI4K. As for the opponent, Cage does make for a good size fill-in for Brody King. Ace Austin is a OI4K trainee that hadn’t quite made a name for himself at the time but has since turned into a pretty good wrestler, having just competed for NJPW in Best of the Super Jr’s as well as being Impact Wrestling’s X Division champion for a while.

The match itself was not memorable at all. I will admit to typing this review on a bit of a delay and other than the finish (a Tiger Driver ‘98 by Dave to Austin), I don’t remember anything that happened during the course of the contest. Not the best impression for these four men to leave. (**)

AAW Heritage Title- Trevor Lee © vs. DJ Z

*I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I like DJ Z. I liked him more under his previous identity, but this was him using the Impact Wrestling name for more notoriety with the casual fan. That being said, despite DJZ winning a three way relatively quickly the night before while Trevor was in a war with Ace Romero, I never felt the title was in jeopardy here. For as much as I like DJZ’s run with AAW, this misfortune of his injury just so happened to coincide with Trevor Lee becoming one of the hottest acts on the undercard and there wasn’t anything in the build up to the rematch (despite some good promo work from Z) that made me think that the strap was switching here. 

As for the match itself, they have really good chemistry together and that isn’t a surprise given how many of the same promotions they were working for at the time as well as their history in AAW up to this point. I do think this match does a nice job of setting the stage for a return match as it is DJZ’s offensive attack at the end of the contest that gets reversed into the cradle (with a handful of tights) for the finish. The nature of the victory leads me to believe that the story with these two isn’t over quite yet. (***½)

AR Fox/Myron Reed vs. Bandido/Flamita

*This was similar to the main event the night before, but didn’t have the same crowd investment that match did. Bandido and Flamita once again shine here and it is easy to see why they become semi-regulars in AAW after this weekend. AR Fox and Myron Reed (Team Firefox, as they were referred to by Sarah Shockey) get a massive victory with a double pinfall following stereo 450 splashes. This sets up Fox and Reed for a title match against the winners of WRSTLING vs. Besties later in the night, but honestly, I think that Bandido/Flamita was the better pairing to have go forward to a title shot. Firefox had previously unsuccessfully challenged for the tag belts and if I’m being fully honest, I prefer AR Fox as a singles wrestler over being in a tag team. Good match, but I think the wrong team wins. (***½)

Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Marko Stunt

*Marko had just made a name for himself at GCW’s Lost in New York (a show I have watched) and this was a way for him to break out back in his Midwest home. MJF has been on a hot streak point up to this point (believe he is the current CZW Heavyweight champion, though I don’t think he ever actually defends that title) and MJF would make himself a known commodity the next night opening the ‘All In’ PPV against Matt Cross (in a losing effort)

Easy story to tell with MJF taking the much smaller Stunt lightly and Marko making him pay for it. It is unfortunate that more people didn’t get to see what Stunt is capable of, because his run in the indie scene before he went to AEW was quite special to watch due to his ability to connect with a crowd (no different here). The finish sees MJF take advantage of the arm work that he did early in match and after Marko escapes a fujiwara armbar, MJF is able to catch Marko in ‘Salt of the Earth’, a wakigatame (Marko on stomach as MJF applies a cross-armbreaker) for the the tapout. Very good work and Marko does really well for himself in his debut with another high end US Independent. (***)

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Sami Callihan

*Ooooh, boy. A lot to unwrap with this one. Let’s get the match first, because the drama that it creates leads to the fallout that has to be discussed. It is honestly a pretty standard Sami brawl for the time frame. PWG used to have what was known as the “Sami Sprint”…by which it would be Callihan vs. Opponent and the match would run anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes of hard hitting back and forth action with little in terms of a cohesive story or selling. Pretty much a ‘can you top this?’ kind of situation. This feels like that in a sense because the match features both Sami and Jimmy going into their well of tricks (the crowd brawling, the spike, the guardrail that gets used in the finish) while maintaining the crowd reaction from the prior night’s tag match. Fittingly, the finish is visually impressive as Callihan hits the ‘Cactus Driver’ (pulling piledriver) on a guardrail bridged across two metal folding chairs to secure the three count. (***½)

THE INCIDENT

The bigger story coming out of this is that this match almost costs AAW the Logan Square Auditorium and almost ends even more disastrously personally for Callihan. At one point, Callihan and Jacobs are brawling over by the stage in the venue (traditionally used for concerts) where Callihan buries Jacobs under a portion of the stage. Callihan then starts winging metal sitting chairs (not the standard folding ones you see in most companies because the four legged dinner table type chairs) at Jacobs. A voice comes over the house mic telling Callihan to stop, causing a loud visceral boo from the crowd. Callihan more or less tells said voice to “fuck himself” and hurls more chairs at Jacobs. 

At first, I thought it was Danny Daniels telling Callihan to stop, but it turns out it was actually building management. This becomes important when after the three count goes down, building security surrounds the ring to escort Callihan out of the building as they were pissed at Sami for throwing chairs that the venue used for other events. As I’ve heard the story, Callihan thinks this is part of a storyline and begins to push the security guys until one of them shows Callihan that he is carrying a real pistol and will use it if necessary. Things break down from there with the rest of OI4K getting involved and eventually Sami is escorted to the back (and presumably out of the building).

How much of this is real? How much of this is scripted? How much of this was sensationalized for additional attention? I don’t have the answers for those questions. I do know that cooler heads would prevail and AAW was able to continue running at LSA, however I feel the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It may have been a planned altercation to play off the recklessness of Callihan. It may have been a real reaction from the building to what they perceived as damage to personal property. The old axiom in wrestling is “believe none of what you hear and half of what you see”. Overall, it makes for a great story with a relatively happy ending all considered. But man does it take the wind of the crowd for quite a while. And I will have to check out the follow up AAW shows to see what the fallout truly is.

AAW Tag Titles- Eddie Kingston/Jeff Cobb © vs. Davey Vega/Mat Fitchett

*Trevor Lee’s promo before the match is not one I can do justice. I recommend the show in general, but Trevor’s asshole smarmy heel persona in AAW (Impact Superstar Trevor Lee) is one of the best things going in the company.

Match is good but you’d have to expect that from the four men involved. Kingston and Cobb work surprisingly well as a team and despite being on separate pages for most of the bout, Vega and Fitchett do link up for a few double teams (corner enzuigiri/Kippou kick combo being standout among them) to continue to prove why they are one of the best tag teams in pro wrestling (still are to this day, though not known as the Besties in the World anymore). The finish sees the final stab from Vega to Fitchett as Vega chooses to take Scarlett to the back after she gets knocked off the apron, leaving Fitchett alone to take a one-two combo of the Backfist to the Future from Kingston that staggers him into a Tour of the Islands from Cobb to finish the contest. The ring work is on point, the story is very well told and you can hear the disappointment from the crowd when Vega chooses the hussy over his long-time tag partner. (****)

AAW Heavyweight Title- ACH © vs. Brody King

*Unfortunately, something gets lost during the course of this contest through no direct fault of the participants. As I understand it, Brody King got concussed relatively early in the bout. Credit to ACH for keeping things together as well as he did, but I would be curious to see what they are capable of with both competitors at 100% capacity for the full duration of the match.

As for the match, it does tell a pretty good story. ACH comes in still pretty beat up from the match with Jeff Cobb the night before. However, ACH lets his pride (or perhaps his ego) get the better of him as he once again tries to hang step for step, strike for strike and move for move with a man much bigger than he is. It ends up coming back to bite him at the end as a distraction from Jimmy Jacobs allows Brody King to take a distracted ACH up into the All Seeing Eye (fireman’s carry into a Michinoku Driver) for the three count to crown a new champion. Slightly cheap on the distraction ending but does help get Jimmy some of the heat he lost earlier in the evening back after dropping the contest to Callihan. (***½)

THE FINAL REACTION

Overall, a better show then the day before but not without a couple flaws. Obviously, the big story to come out of this show would be the fact that AAW almost lost Logan Square Auditorium due to the issues in the Callihan-Jacobs match. Thankfully, those would be resolved and to my knowledge, AAW is still running there. But it gets awfully hairy there for a few.

The highs: two four star matches on this show and they come in completely different type contests. Eddie Kingston continues his march of dominance in AAW and cuts one hell of a promo at the end of the show to run down how ACH let him down by losing the title. Marko Stunt has a fun debut and quickly gets the crowd behind him. The lows: that handicap match helped no one and the tag match that followed wasn’t much better. The main event isn’t what it could have been either, but that’s a case of shit happens with the early concussion to King. I will also say that I thought Sarah Shockey did a better job on color commentary yesterday then Marty DeRosa does here.

We’ll call it an 8 overall. As I said, it is a better top to bottom show then Destination Chicago is. And while high on the guest stars (for obvious reasons), you also get a really good look at what the overall AAW roster is all about too. I look forward to coming back to AAW down the road (ironically, upcoming shows are a double shot as well for the ‘Jim Lynam Memorial’ tournament), but I do want to mix in some other odds and ends before I do so.

Best Match/Moment: Shane Strickland vs. Darby Allin

Worst Match/Moment: The Havok handicap. Especially when you consider what Steve Manders would come to mean for AAW, it’s a really inauspicious debut.

Overall Show Score: 8/10

MVP: Eddie Kingston. The key part of a match that tied for best match of the night honors and absolutely shows why he is viewed the way he is when it comes to talking with an amazing promo to close out the show.

 

THE SIGNOFF

So, where does ‘What I Watched’ go from here? I go on vacation in about a week’s time and will be gone for most of August. I spoke to Andrew and what I hope to do is reformat the ‘All In’ report that I did to the new style so you guys have something to tide you over.  As for where I go when I get back from vacation…well, the Peacock WWE Network watch-through that I am working on has reached a show that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen (and if I have, it has been quite a while). Therefore, ‘What I Watched’ #16 will be ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999 to set the tone for a year where all hell breaks loose in two of the three major promotions. Hopefully, you guys enjoy the ‘All In’ redo to hold you over and I’ll be back later in August with Guilty as Charged. I appreciate everyone who has been checking these out and if you’ve missed any, feel free to click on my name at the top of the article to check out my archive. Thanks for reading.


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