Feature: Steve Anderson Looks At The History Of The GAB

Chris Cash

Does anyone else miss the Great American Bash?

No, Iâ<80><99>m not talking about the recent WWE versions. I admire their interest in resurrecting and continuing a twenty-plus year wrestling tradition. Hell, that Bash feelinâ<80><99> started to leave me circa 1991 when Lex Luger and Barry Windham battled over the fugliest world championship belt/shop-class-project-gone-wrong following Ric Flairâ<80><99>s suspension and absconding of the better-looking â<80><9c>Big Gold Belt.â<80>

I canâ<80><99>t help but think that the Bash just isnâ<80><99>t the Bash anymore.

1985 is when it started. Ric Flair was the NWA (not WCW) world champ. Magnum T.A. was the US title-holder. They even had a true inter-promotional match when NWA tag champs Krusher Khruschev and Ivan Koloff battled to a double DQ with AWA tag champs The Road Warriors.

1986 saw the GAB become a summer-long tour of 13 Bashes in Philly, DC, Memphis, Charlotte and many other NWA stronghold cities. Flair headlined 12 out of the bakerâ<80><99>s dozen as champ, defending against Road Warrior Hawk, Road Warrior Animal, Wahoo McDaniel, and Ricky Morton (yeah, I know).

â<80><9c>Natchâ<80> even battled Nikita Koloff in a match known best for Koloffâ<80><99>s â<80><9c>Little Nikitaâ<80> poppinâ<80><99> out of his tights after a Flair suplex. Thankfully, referee Tommy Young was â<80><9c>Johnny-on-the-Spot,â<80> doing the quick â<80><9c>tuckâ<80> after the double take.

Dusty Rhodes would beat Flair for the title on the second-to-the-last Bash on July 26th, 1986, but Flair would get it back on August 2nd.

For me, 1987 was when the Bash became the Bash with â<80><9c>War Games: The Match Beyond,â<80> a steal cage concept dreamed up by Dusty Rhodes. Pun intended. The Horsemen were gonna get what was cominâ<80><99> to them, dadgum it.

The nefarious tandem of Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Lex Luger and manager James J. Dillon lost to the Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff, Dusty Rhodes and Paul Ellering. Dillon was the â<80><9c>weakest linkâ<80> in the first defeat and was replaced in the second War Games match by Ray â<80><9c>The War Machineâ<80> Traylor. Even with the late â<80><9c>Bubba/Bossman/Guardian Angel,â<80> the Horsemen lost yet again.

Donâ<80><99>t get me wrong. I recognize that everything in wrestling has to change. At the very least, wrestling fans can look forward to the Great American Bash yet again. New memories. New traditions. The old â<80><9c>Stars and Stripesâ<80> logo has now been replaced with a â<80><9c>The Fast and the Furiousâ<80> type of theme with cars â<80>” you guessed it â<80>” bashing!

Okay, that is your history lesson for today. Expect more â<80><9c>Bash-relatedâ<80> columns leading up to the big even this week. Start counting down, kids. Me, Iâ<80><99>m a little more focused on â<80><9c>The Dark Knightâ<80> right now.

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