Wednesday, 15 February 2017

WCW BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 PPV REVIEW

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - EVENT POSTER
July 7, 1996,
Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Florida

It was one of the biggest and most historic events in the history of World Championship Wrestling, if not in the history of modern pro wrestling itself. On this night, at the company's annual summer-time show Bash at the Beach, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall would form the nucleus of one of the sport's most formidable factions; the New World Order. 

Yet whilst we all remember what went down in the final moments of the show's historic main event, the rest of Bash at the Beach 1996 seems to have been largely forgotten about.

Is that an indicator as to the quality of the rest of the show, or is it simply that the birth of the nWo was so important that it would have overshadowed even the most stacked of undercards?

Let's find out together as we go back to the summer of 1996 and relive the night that pro wrestling changed forever.

Bash at the Beach: The Hostile Takeover (with a bit of Seal)

Remember that song Crazy by Seal? It was awesome, right? I certainly think so, and so too, apparently, did somebody working in WCW's production department at the time. At least, that's the only reason I can think of as to why they used a rip-off  sound-a-like production theme version of that song as the soundtrack to a neat compilation video highlighting the destruction caused by Kevin Nash and Scott Hall since their arrival to the company.

"Never before in the history of our sport has there been a night like this one!" began Tony Schiavone, what would normally be his stock hyperbole being right on the money for once. 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - COMMENTARY TEAM
For tonight's show, Schiavone would be joined by two legends of the game, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes. The commentary team were also flanked by security guards, though it wasn't made clear whether that was due to a genuine concern on behalf of their welfare, or to play up the idea that those dastardly Outsiders might attack them at any moment.

Whatever it was, the security guards didn't get into the conversation as the trio speculated on who the Third Man may be in tonight's six-man main event, and informed us all that, whoever it was, the energy backstage, was at an all time high. 

With that, it was on to the ring for our first match. 

Psychosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Psychosis took on Rey Mysterio in the opening match
It was at this point that 'Iron' Mike Tenay joined the commentary booth, which in this writer's mind, instantly made this one more enjoyable. 

Like hearing Jim Ross passionately calling an Attitude Era main event, there's just something about hearing Tenay call a cruiserweight match that is oddly comforting to someone who grew up watching wrestling at this time. 

Commentary aside, the in-ring action between two of WCW's top high-fliers was just about as good as you might imagine it to be.

Starting slow by trading predominantly mat-based offense, both men built up an entertaining and often intense opening contest with each high spot coming more dramatic than the last. Fittingly, this fine start to the show ended in spectacular fashion when Rey Mysterio Jr. reversed a top-rop crucifix powerbomb attempt by Pyschosis into a hurricanrana, hooked the leg, and got the three count.
Your Winner: Rey Mysterio Jr. 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Konnan speaks to Mean Gene about his US Title Defence Against Ric Flair
Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund spoke to reigning US Champion Konnan about his upcoming title defense against The Nature Boy Ric Flair. Konnan, who hadn't yet become the gangsta-style figure he'd be better known for in WCW, promised to take out any member of the Four Horsemen that got in his way, and to retain his title no matter what.

Carson City Silver Dollar Match Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. John Tenta

21 years after this event took place, your reviewer still has fond memories of World Championship Wrestling thanks to matches like the previous opening bout, and for others featuring the likes of Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, and Steven Regal.

That said, it's hard to give WCW too much praise when you remember that the company charged people money to watch Big Bubba and John Tenta fight for a sock of silver dollars on a pole.

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Big Bubba (w/ Jimmy Hart) faced John Tenta in a Carson City Silver Dollar Match
The complete opposite of the earlier Mysterio/Pyschosis clash, this was slow, cumbersome and stupid, especially when it became immediately obvious that both Bubba and Tenta were too fat to actually climb the pole.

Instead, both men had to work around their disadvantage, Tenta by attempting to lower the actual pole, and Bubba sending up his manager Jimmy Hart to retrieve the sock full of dollars. Hart did just that, only to find the former Earthquake waiting for him. Tenta grabbed the dollars, nailed the one-time Big Boss Man with them, and scored the win, putting an end to a bout which was as dumb in its premise as it was tedious in its execution.
Your Winner: John Tenta 

Post match, Tenta poured the dollars onto Bubba's head, which I suppose was some sort of consolation prize.

Mean Gene Interviews Team WCW 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Randy Savage, Sting, and Lex Luger faced The Outsiders
Backstage, Okerlund spoke to the three men who would be representing WCW in tonight's Hostile Takeover match: Sting, 'Macho Man' Randy Savage, and 'The Total Package,' Lex Luger. 

You know, it was only during this interview that I actually realised that Hall & Nash were not referred to be name, and hadn't been so throughout the whole broadcast up to this point. 

Instead, the three good guys (who all wore Sting-style face paint as a sign of solidarity) referred to their opponents simply as 'they' and basically promised to send 'them' packing back to where 'they' came from. 

It may have only been a small thing, but it really did make the whole story come across as being more legitimate than it actually was. 

Taped Fist 'Lord of the Ring' MatchDiamond Dallas Page vs. 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan

We're watching tonight's show on the WWE Network, meaning Diamond Dallas Page has a rip-off version of his Smells Like Teen Spirit rip-off for theme music, but that isn't the only interesting thing about page's appearance. 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Diamond Dallas Page faced Jim Duggan in a taped fist match
Here in mid 1996, the man who would go on to be WCW's People's Champion, was still working as a cigar-chomping heel, complete with turquoise tights and arrogant swagger. Not that either appeared to do him much good as he defended the 'Lord of the Ring' award that Page had won at that year's Slamboree

DDP was roundly battered from pillar to post by Hacksaw Jim Duggan, only managing to turn the tables for a brief period by cutting the tape from Duggan's wrist and wrapping him around the ring post. 

Duggan made a comeback, working his usual smash-mouth style in a match which was just about watchable. 

Eventually, Page pulled a Diamond Cutter "From Outta Nowhere" to keep his ring, only to get smashed in the mouth by Duggan after the bell. 
Your Winner: Diamond Dallas Page 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Dungeon of Doom including Kevin Sullivan and WCW Champion The Giant
Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed The Dungeon of Doom members Kevin Sullivan and WCW Heavyweight Champion, The Giant about their rivalry with The Four Horsemen.

Though neither man made the greatest deal of sense, the general gist of their promo was clear: They didn't like the Horsemen and would beat them up in their upcoming match.

Offering a retort, Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson spoke to Lee Marshal out on the entrance way, promising to finish off their adversaries once and for all.

Four Man Dog Collar MatchPublic Enemy (Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. The Nasty Boys 

Before the action could get underway, referees were assigned to ensure that both teams were connected by the dog collars which gave the match its name. Rocco Rock and Jerry Sags were both bound by a chain between their individual dog collars, as were Johnny Grunge and Brian Knobs. 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Public Enemy vs. Nasty Boys terrible split screen
What was then supposed to ensue, was a wild, chaotic brawl, a frenzied, hard-hitting battle that would serve as a violent respite from the traditional 'wrestling' on the show. 

For the most part, that's exactly what this match delivered. At least, I think it is. The majority of the bout was filmed in double screen, with Rock and Sags doing their thing on one screen and Grunge and Knobs duking it out on another. 

The end result was that this ended up being quite difficult to watch. Doing so, you found your eyes darting back from one side of the split screen to the next, not really able to keep up with the action in a way that would allow you to become emotionally invested. 

It came as something of a relief when both teams finished their lengthy walk up the ilse and came back to the ring, were we could finally watch them battle it out on a single screen, but unfortunately the damage had been done by this point, and I can't honestly say I cared much when the Nasties used the chain to clothesline Rocco Rock and pick up the win. 
Your Winners: The Nasty Boys

Afterwards, the carnage continued, with Public Enemy gaining some measure of revenge. 

A Word With Mean Gene 

Backstage, Mean Gene stood by the locker room of The Outsiders, threatening to go 'right to a lawyer' should either of them dare to touch him. Not that this was ever going to be an issue. Neither Hall nor Nash emerged from their dressing room, leaving Okerlund to  basically give us some hype for tonight's main event and speculate on the whereabouts of Eric Bischoff, who had gone AWOL since being attacked by The Outsiders.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship Match
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Dean Malenko vs. Disco Inferno 

On entering the ring, Disco Inferno invited us all to the 'Disco Dance Party' he would be throwing after winning the cruiserweight title. Not that he'd have much chance for getting on down tonight. 

Defending champion Dean Malenko marched to the ring, slapped the snot out of Disco, and proceeded to beat him all the way around the ring. 

Sure, Disco got some offense in there, but this was basically an exhibition to showcase the in-ring prowess of Malenko, and though that didn't make for the greatest match in the world, this one was certainly entertaining enough for what it was. 

Predictably, the champion retained thanks to the Texas Cloverleaf. 
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Dean Malenko 

With no time for a break, it was directly on to our next match.

Steve 'Mongo' McMichael (w/ Deborah) vs. Joe Gomez

According to the commentary team, this was only the third match ever for Mongo McMichael, and boy did it show. His short battle with Joe Gomez consisted mostly of punches, kicks, and chops, with the former Chicago Bears star dominating most of the action. 

Though certainly not the worst match in history, there was nothing about this one to make it must see viewing. Naturally, Mongo picked up the win thanks to the Mongo Spike.
Your Winner: Steve McMichael

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair with Miss Elizabeth and Woman
Backstage, Mean Gene interviewed Ric Flair, who was flanked by Horsemen valets Miss Elizabeth and Woman. Whilst Ric styled, profiled, and boasted about how much he and his stable mates would dominate tonight's show, Okerlund mostly flirted with Woman, pretended not to, then flirted again. Sad as it may sound, the sight of Mean Gene and Woman touching each other up totally distracted from Flair's usual charismatic delivery, though I did manage to pay attention long enough to hear him promise to win the US title

World Championship Wrestling United States Championship Match
WCW U.S Champion Konnan vs. Ric Flair (w. Woman & Miss Elizabeth)

Leave it to the Nature Boy to finally give us an exciting match after a night of so-so outings by his contemporaries. 

Though Flair had plenty of far better matches under his belt, compared to the rest of tonight's card, his U.S title match with Konnan was five-star stuff and -up to this point- definitely deserved match of the night honours. 

Not that Flair did all the work. Reigning champion Konnan was no slouch either, taking it to the challenger with a combination of power-based offense and submission holds. 

Unfortunately for the Mexican star, even his best wasn't good enough to keep Woman and Miss Elizabeth from getting involved. Indeed, just when it looked as though the champion would retain, the latter distracted the referee whilst the former drilled Konnan with her shoe. 

One three count later, and we had ourselves a new United States champion. 
Your Winner and NEW U.S Champion: Ric Flair 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Mean Gene speculates on who the third man is
Backstage, Mean Gene continued to speculate on who the mystery 'Third Man,' might be, even going so far as to suggest that he'd heard a familiar-sounding voice behind the closed door of The Outsider's dressing room, but also insisting that he was unable to place said voice.

As Okerlund went off to ask a few security guards whether they had any idea, it was on to our next match.

The Four Horsemen (Arn Anderson & Chris Benoit) vs. The Dungeon of Doom (Kevin Sullivan & WCW Champion The Giant w/ Jimmy Hart) 

This one turned ugly before it even got t o the ring. As Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson made their entrance, The Giant, Kevin Sullivan, and Jimmy Hart all attacked. This brought out Mongo McMichael, who nailed The Giant with his briefcase.

The man we'd go on to know as Big Show gave chase, leaving Sullivan to take a beating, something which would continue even as The Giant returned and the match got underway properly. 

I say 'match,' let's be honest, it was barely that. Sullivan got his ass handed to him at the hands of both Horsemen, before the giant finally got the tag and won the match for his team. 

Afterwards, Benoit continued to batter on the Taskmaster, forcing Woman to come out and plead with him to stop and, eventually, for The Giant to make the save. 

This was a weird one to watch for a couple of reasons: 

1) it was only half way through the bout that you realised The Giant was the company's top champion, that's how little it was mentioned
2) Kevin Sullivan, at least in this writer's eyes, has always been the conniving, dastardly heel, so putting him in the "babyface in peril" role was an odd choice that elicited absolutely no sympathy whatsoever. 

Just an odd match that this fan in particular was glad to see end. 
Your Winners: The Giant and Kevin Sullivan 

Prior to our main event, we got another look back at the hostile takeover carried out by The Outsiders. This was essentially the same video as we got at the start, albeit slightly extended. When it ended, it was down to Michael Buffer, and our big match. 
Hostile Takeover Match

The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash) vs. Sting, Lex Luger, and 'Macho Man' Randy Savage 

WCW REVIEW - BASH AT THE BEACH 1996 - Scott Hall - Kevin Nash - The Outsiders
In terms of actual in-ring quality, I doubt anybody is going to count this one as a five-star classic, but in terms of storytelling, in terms of set-up, and in terms of execution, you can hardly fault it. 

After refusing to unveil their third man, Hall and Nash (who were referred to by their names only once in the entire match) went on the attack, taking the fight straight to the WCW loyalists. This paid off better than expected. As Nash and Luger brawled in the corner, Sting attempted a Stinger Splash on The Outsider, but inadvertently sent The Total Package crashing to the outside, knocking him unconscious. 

As a stretcher was brought out for Luger, the announcers reminded us over and over again that it was actually Sting who caused Luger's demise, subtly planting the suggestion that maybe -just maybe- the third man may have working from the inside. 

Not that any such suspicions lasted long.

The remainder of the match saw Sting serving as whipping boy for Hall and Nash, before finally making the hot tag to a fired up Macho Man. Sadly for Savage, his comeback wouldn't last long, and he was promptly dropped to the canvas by The Outsiders.

Then, my friends, then it happened. 

Hulk Hogan arrived on the scene, and with one leg-drop to the prone Macho Man, changed the course of World Championship Wrestling, and indeed of the entire mid-late 90s era of professional wrestling. 
No Contest 



With the ring filling with garbage, Hall and Nash moved about the ring, taunting the irate fans by pulling Hogan's signature posing as the man himself cemented his history making heel turn in an interview with Mean Gene. 

Gene Okerlund: Hulk Hogan, excuse me. Excuse me. What in the world are you thinking? 
Hulk Hogan: Mean Gene the first thing you gotta do is to tell these people to shut up if you want to hear what I've gotta say. 
Gene Okerlund: I have been with you for so many years for you to join up with the likes of these two men absoulutely makes me SICK to my stomach! And I think that these people here and a lot of people around the whole wrestling world have had just about enough of this man and this man and you want to put yourself in this group? You've gotta be kidding me 
Hulk Hogan: Well the first thing you've gotta realize brother is that this right here is the future of wrestling. You can call this the New World Order of wrestling brother. These two men came from a great big organization up north and everybody was wondering about who the third man was. Well who knows more about that organization than me brother? 
Gene Okerlund: I've been there and done that. You have made the wrong decision in my opinion. 
HH: Well let me tell you something, I made that orgainization brother! I made the people rich up there. I made the people that ran that organization rich up there. And when it all came to pass, the name Hulk Hogan, the man Hulk Hogan got bigger than the entire organization brother! And then Billionaire Ted amigo, he wanted to talk turkey with Hulk Hogan. Well Billionaire Ted promised me movies brother. Billionaire Ted promised me millions of dollars. And Billionaire Ted promised me world caliber matches. And as far as Billionaire Ted, Eric Bischoff and entire WCW goes, I'm bored brother. That's why I want these two guys here, these so called Outsiders, these are the men I want as my friends. They are the new blood of professional wrestling and not only are we going to take over the whole wrestling business, with Hulk Hogan, the new blood and the monsters with me. We will destroy everything in our path Mean Gene. 
Mean Gene: Look at all of this crap in this ring! This is what's in the future for you if you want to hang around the likes of this man Hall, and this man Nash. 
HH: As far as I'm concerned, all this crap in this ring represents these fans out here. For two years brother! For two years, I held my head high. I did everything for the charities. I did everything for the kids. And the reception I got when came out here, you fans can stick it brother. Because if it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, you people wouldn't be here. If it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis. And if it wasn't for Hulk Hogan, all of these "Johnny come latelys" that you see out here wrestling wouldn't be here. I was selling the world out brother while they were bumming gas to put in their car to get to high school. So the way it is now brother, with Hulk Hogan and the New World Organization of wrestling brother, me and the new blood by my side. Whatcha gonna do when the New World Order runs wild on you? Whatcha gonna do? 
Mean Gene:  Tony, Dusty, Bobby, Dammit let's get back to you!
Tony Schiavone: All right. We have seen the end of Hulkamania. For Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, for Dusty Rhodes, For "Mean" Gene Okerlund, I don't know...I'm Tony Schiavone. Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell! 
And that was all there was to it, one of the most historic pro wrestling events of the 1990s, if not ever, coming to an end with Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall standing tall in a sea of garbage. 

At the start of this review, I questioned whether the fact that most of us only remember the Bash at the Beach main events says anything about the quality of the rest of the card. Having finally sat through the rest of this show, I can safely say that yes, it does. Apart from two notable exceptions (Rey/Juvi and Konnan/Flair), almost everything about this event was either boring, average, or just poor. 

Still, thanks for taking time out of your day for reading. I look forward to catching up with you again for our next review. 

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Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.