10 Best Great American Bash Matches Of All Time

Get hyped for NXT's fortnight special with the best of WCW's staple.

Great American Bash
Source: WCW

In response to AEW’s upcoming two-week Fyter Fest special, WWE recently revealed that NXT will have their own special during that time, The Great American Bash. A famous series of PPVs from World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in the 1980s and 90s, The Great American Bash has been previously revived by WWE in the mid-2000s, but July 1st and July 8th will be the first time it has been an NXT-only branded event.

With the decision to follow up the nostalgic return of In Your House with another love letter to history, and the inclusion of a possible game-changing main event with NXT North American Champion Keith Lee battling NXT Champion Adam Cole for both titles, it brings up the subject of previous classic matches at Great American Bash.

The list of matches below will originate from the WCW period only, to truly tap into the nostalgic element.


NWA The Great American Bash ‘87

WarGames Match:

The Four Horsemen and The War Machine
Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, The Road Warriors (Animal & Hawk) and Paul Ellering

The Four Horsemen in this match consist of Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger, and Tully Blanchard, with JJ Dillon as manager. During 1986 and 1987, The Great American Bash was actually the name of an ongoing tour that occurred throughout July, with this match actually occurring on the 27th night of the tour. However, it was also one of the most famous nights in NWA history, as it featured a five-star rated WarGames match from Dave Meltzer. The original creation from NWA beloved Dusty Rhodes, WarGames would actually occur multiple times at house shows over the next few years, in an attempt to capitalise on the match’s popularity at this event.

The Four Horsemen would partner with The War Machine, who would go on to become Big Boss Man for WWF in 1988, while Dusty Rhodes would lead a team of Koloff, the revered Road Warriors and their manager Paul Ellering.
The company kicked off the tour on July 4th with the inaugural WarGames before culminating with a classic rendition at this event. This match would not only have Flair and Blanchard aggravate Koloff’s kayfabe neck injury in a violent, bloody affair, but also had Animal gain victory for his team after gouging War Machine’s eyes with a spiked armband.

Though the inaugural WarGames on July 4th has the history, this match would be a much more focused version with JJ Dillon in the original replaced by a much stronger option in War Machine. Definitely a classic that would help set the standard for all WarGames matches in the future.


NWA The Great American Bash ‘88

NWA United States Tag Team Titles Match:

The Fantastics (Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers) (c) Vs The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane) w/ Jim Cornette

This event is historical as it was the fourth ever Great American Bash event produced by Jim Crockett Promotions under the NWA banner, and the first to be produced as a PPV. However, it would also be the last PPV produced by JCP, as Ted Turner would buy them in November of 1988 and rename the company World Championship Wrestling. This match shows the tremendous strength of the JCP Tag Team Division at the time, as The Enforcers (Blanchard and Anderson) were the NWA World Tag Team Champions defending against Sting and Nikita Koloff in the previous match. Cornette would be straightjacketed in this match and placed in a cage above the ring, with the added proviso that if The Fantastics retained, they could lash Cornette and his team with a strap.

Cornette does steal the match slightly during the pre-stage, as his histrionics about having to put on the straitjacket and his failed attempts to bribe the referee instantly set a standard. However, the match itself is tag team wrestling at its finest, The Fantastics as valiant babyfaces against the dastardly Express, with commentator Jim Ross subtly pointing out little mistakes from the Express. This was a clever device to show the importance of Cornette and how his absence was impacting upon his clients. The finish itself features dirty antics from Cornette’s men that had the genius inclusion of Eaton hiding a chain he used in Fulton’s tights. An underrated hidden gem from the 80s that deserves to be seen.


NWA The Great American Bash ‘89

NWA United States Title Match:

Lex Luger (c) Vs Ricky Steamboat

In a rare occurrence, two of the best matches from Great American Bash history are actually from the same event, both having grown from the tremendous trilogy between Flair and Steamboat. Steamboat would be attacked by newly-turned heel Luger at a later date, with Luger claiming he deserved a chance at the NWA World Heavyweight Title, not Steamboat. Both matches would be booked for this event, with both living up to the hype.

Luger Vs Steamboat was originally meant to be a No Disqualification match, but Luger would refuse to defend at the event unless the rules were changed, with Steamboat reluctantly accepting. This would set the story for the match, with Luger dominating and cheating throughout, while Steamboat would show the babyface fire that made him so universally adored.

This growing frustration would culminate with Luger bringing a chair in to try and cheat, only for a furious Steamboat, in a rare and out-of-character moment, to attack Luger with the chair himself. A match that not only demonstrated Steamboat’s ability to bring the best out of his opponents, but an intelligently told story that played to both characters’ personalities.


NWA The Great American Bash ‘89

NWA World Heavyweight Title Match:

Ric Flair (c) Vs Terry Funk

After the third and final match between Steamboat and Flat in May at WrestleWar ended with Flair as World Heavyweight Champion, he would turn babyface by showing respect to Steamboat, only to then quickly be attacked by Terry Funk. Despite Funk piledriving him through a table and gaining a neck injury, Flair would return and request a match against Funk, even putting his championship on the line.

This would be a physically violent and bloody battle, building on the intense hatred developed between the two over the previous two months. A rare opportunity to see Flair in a babyface role, this would also count as one of Funk’s best matches, especially as they both demonstrated tremendous storytelling. At one point, Funk would return to his dreaded Piledriver, with a desperate Flair only just avoiding the loss.

In the end, Flair would retain the championship with an NWA-staple, the Inside Cradle, but the story would continue between Funk and Flair afterwards. For those who question the talent of any of these four men, you won’t find much better matches than these two to demonstrate their talent.


NWA The Great American Bash ‘90

NWA United States Tag Team Titles Match:

The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane) C w/ Jim Cornette Vs The Southern Boys (Steve Armstrong and Tracy Smothers)

For the second year running, two tremendous matches featured at The Great American Bash, with the first match including The Midnight Express for the second time. Another tremendous representation of tag team action, the type that FTR proudly claim as their own style, the Express would control the majority of the match.

The pacing of their attack would build to a huge babyface comeback from Armstrong and Smothers, only for Express to steal the victory. However, despite their loss, the Southern Boys were put over as a legitimate threat, in a match that still holds up today and is a must-see for fans of tag team action.


NWA The Great American Bash ‘90

NWA World Heavyweight Title Match:

Ric Flair (c) w/Ole Anderson vs Sting w/The Steiner Brothers, Junkyard Dog, El Gigante, and Paul Orndorff


As previously mentioned, for the second year running, two tremendous matches featured at The Great American Bash. This would include one of the biggest matches of the year, as Ric Flair would defend his NWA Heavyweight Title against the fan favourite Sting.

Having previously survived multiple title defences with the help of his Four Horsemen stablemates, Sting would introduce Dudes With Attitude, a stable of The Steiner Brothers, JYD, El Gigante, and Orndorff, to even the odds. Gigante would even have Ole Anderson handcuffed to him to prevent his interference, with Sid Vicious, Arn Anderson and Barry Windham running in late on.

The fans were molten hot throughout the match, willing Sting on to capture his first ever NWA World Heavyweight Title in a beloved moment.


WCW The Great American Bash ‘92

WCW World Heavyweight Title Match:

Sting (c) Vs Big Van Vader w/Harley Race

Big Van Vader had a fascinating history at The Great American Bash, having debuted in 1990 in a two minute winning effort over Tom Zenk. Due to his engagement in New Japan as their IWGP Heavyweight Champion during this time, it wasn’t until 1992 that Vader began to work for WCW full-time.

In April, he would instantly gain a manager in notorious hard man Harley Race and gain a title shot against then-champion Sting, injuring him with a Vader Bomb that would see Vader disqualified. However, Sting himself would suffer a pair of cracked ribs and a ruptured spleen, leading to a rematch at this event between the two.

The fantastic chemistry between the two, combined with an involving story of valiant Sting trying to comeback against the monster, culminated in an emotional loss for the champion and the start of Vader’s reign as WCW Champion. For anybody who questions why Vader is so inspirational as a heel monster, watch this match and be educated.


WCW The Great American Bash ‘95

Grudge Match:

‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage w/Angelo Poffo Vs Ric Flair

After a hiatus of three years, The Great American Bash would return during Hulk Hogan’s stranglehold of the WCW main event, which coincided with some of WCW’s worst material. With Hogan absent during another attempt to break Hollywood, the main event would feature a grudge match between Savage and the man who attacked his father Angelo Poffo, the villainous Ric Flair.

This match was originally booked as a Semi-Final match for the United States Championship (which would be won by Sting at this event against Meng), but a backstage brawl would lead to both being eliminated. With great pace and strong intensity, this brawl would occur both inside and outside the ring, with the hatred almost animalistic between the two.

The finish itself would leave the feud open for another match, but as an opportunity to see a rare enjoyable match from the terrible wrestling year ’95, it’s a must see.


WCW The Great American Bash ‘96

Cruiserweight Title Match:

Dean Malenko (c) Vs Rey Misterio Jr.


Yet again, WCW would feature two tremendous matches at a Great American Bash, the first would actually be the WCW debut of 21-year-old (and yet still a seven year veteran) Rey Misterio Jr in an instant gamechanger. The two wrestlers would demonstrate differing styles, with Misterio busting out springboard moves that were unprecedented at the time and Malenko, a submission specialist technician.

However, despite the lack of story and knowledge of the debutant, the two crafted an engrossing match that the audience completely brought into, added to by Mike Tenay’s knowledge on commentary to educate those watching at home. Both men would go on to become cornerstones of the burgeoning Cruiserweight Division that would highlight many episodes of WCW Monday Nitro over the next few years.


WCW The Great American Bash ‘96

Falls Count Anywhere Match:

Kevin Sullivan Vs Chris Benoit

The second match from the ‘96 iteration of The Great American Bash is a bit more controversial as a recommendation due to the individuals involved, but regardless of the real life issues between the two men and the tragic end of one of them, it’s still a tremendous match.

A Falls Count Anywhere brawl between Kevin Sullivan and Chris Benoit that would blur the line between reality and kayfabe due to the vicious beatings they’d administer to one another. Their fight would take them through the crowd, into the men’s toilet, and back down the stairs, finally ending in the ring. Wild, stiff, and brutal, Benoit looked tremendous in this match with Sullivan putting him over in a clean victory that got a huge pop from the audience. Unsurprisingly, WWE doesn’t mention this match at all, but if you can look past the individuals involved, you get a quality match.

A range of tremendous matches from the annals of WCW history, with grudge matches, tag matches, cruiserweight specials and championship matches, there’s something for everyone in the lead-up to NXT’s iteration of the event. Will the WWE brand add their own classics to the ones mentioned above this July? Tune in to NXT to find out.

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