Thursday, July 2, 2015

Wrestling MarketWatch: The Great American Bash

Hot dogs, apple pie, and The Great American Bash. It was wrestling's answer to that old time summer baseball game, complete with fireworks display. Instead of wooden bats hitting baseballs, the cracking came from bones and skulls being bashed. In place of the colorful and vibrant pyro, the "oohs" and "aahhs" emanated from fans in awe of Ric Flair, The Rock N' Roll Express, and Magnum T.A. And batting cages? Steel cages or maybe even War Games were far more impressive. The brainchild of the late, great, Dusty Rhodes, The Great American Bash went from tour, to pay-per-view, and was even the one NWA/WCW event that was revived by WWE.

With so many great memories comes some great memorabilia. As is always the case in Wrestling MarketWatch, we'll take a look at several of those items and their recent selling prices on the secondary market. Prices listed are for unsigned examples.

*Where better to start than the creator of the Bash, "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. There were several NWA-licensed collector cup sets over the years, but one from a chain called Fast Fare were actually branded with The Great American Bash logo. Listed on the cups are tour stops in Atlanta, Washington  D.C., Charlotte, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Greensboro, Chicago, and Dallas. The Dusty cup features artists renderings of two familiar pictures of "The Dream" as well as a facsimile signature. This cup recently sold at auction for $15.

*The final Bash under the WCW banner took place in 2000. Although the event took place in Baltimore, Maryland and included past Bash names such as Ric Flair, Sting, and The Steiner Brothers, it otherwise did not resemble the Bashes of old. The show is available on WWE Network, but that has not hurt the high price of this rarer WCW VHS release. The cover features Sting and Vampiro (who battled in a "Human Torch Match") set to a mix of horrific and patriotic colors. An example of the tape recently sold for $75.

*Also in the realm of VHS collecting is the tape of what many consider to be the worst wrestling pay-per-view event of all-time. 1991 was a transitional period for WCW, especially with the then-recent loss of "Nature Boy" Ric Flair to the World Wrestling Federation. The 1991 Great American Bash greatly suffered from this down period. As any wrestling collector will tell, quality never equals demand. This tape, featuring Lex Luger and Barry Windham on the cover in a great shot, is another that has always been highly desired and remains so despite other ways to view the show these days and it ultimately being a poor event. Recently the VHS sold for $77.

*Many of the early Great American Bash events had some great programs. The gritty wrestling product of Jim Crockett Promotions perfectly transitioned to the printed page. The programs were chock full of action shots, many featuring bloody battles between the stars of the NWA. The 1987 and 1988 Bash programs featured a flag motif on the cover. I prefer the former, as it also features the stars of War Games, but both are equally collectible. The 1988 version recently sold for $25.

*Thanks to the WWF producing their own magazine, Pro Wrestling Illustrated and its sister publications often gave more press to Jim Crockett Promotions in the 1980's. Most issues from the decade can be had for around $10 each, but the December 1985 issue of PWI has always been a bit more in-demand and thus often sells for a higher price. The cover story is a great montage of the action of the 1985 Great American Bash tour. Many fans seem to favorably remember this particular issue from their childhood, and looking at it leaves no question as to why. A copy of this issue also recently sold for $25.

WWE eventually quit using the Bash as an annual pay-per-view event but the name has resurfaced as a special episode of Smackdown in the last few years. With WWE looking to have more Network exclusive events, it wouldn't be the worst idea to revive the Bash yet again, especially in remembrance of "The American Dream." If just one classic, hard fought match is held on the show, you can bet that there will be yet another "Million Dollar Smile" in Heaven.

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