Thursday, 12 April 2018

PPV REVIEW - WCW Bash at the Beach 1997

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Event Poster
July 13, 1997 
The Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Florida

The 1997 edition of Bash at the Beach was set to be more than just another Pay Per View. 

This, after all, was the one year anniversary of the night Hulk Hogan turned his back on World Championship Wrestling, in the process kick-starting the company's most successful period in history.

A year on, and everything had changed.

The New World Order, rather than Hulkamania, were running wild, whilst Hogan had fully embraced his inner-heel and was currently more entertaining and refreshing than he had been in years.

Here's what happened when he, and the nWo, returned to Daytona Beach one after Bash at the Beach 1996 to celebrate their first birthday.

The Giant is Coming For Hulk Hogan 

A year after turning his back on WCW, Hollywood Hulk Hogan had been at his most wicked and deplorable as of late, teaming with basketball oddball Dennis Rodman to wage a campaign of destruction against The Giant and Lex Luger.

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan
Naturally, that had only angered the WCW duo, who, in our opening video package, were shown swearing revenge against their nWo rivals.

From this video, we went down to our usual trio of Tony Schiavone, Bobby 'The Brain' Heenan and The American Dream Dusty Rhodes.

The trio were excited not only about our main event, but also about the possibilities for Diamond Dallas Page's mystery partner when he took on Macho Man Randy Savage later on in the show.

With that out of the way, it was on to our opening contest.

Wrath & Mortis (w/ James Vanderberg) vs. Glacier & Ernest Miller 

If you remember, Ernest Miller had been good enough to rescue Glacier from an attack at the hands of Wrath & Mortis back at WCW Slamboree 1997, but then hadn't bothered to do the same when the evil duo again ganged up on Mr. Chilly McFreeze at last month's Great American Bash 97.

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Glacier & Ernest Miller
Still, Glacier had forgiven his karate fighting friend for that little oversight and decided to tag with him tonight to take our his arch rivals once and for all.

As they often did when Glacier and either Wrath or Mortis were involved, WCW brought out Mike Tenay for a spot of commentary for this match. On PPV, Tenay's expertise was usually reserved for the cruiserweight division, but I suppose they thought bringing him out here would lend a much-needed air of credibility to what was basically Mortal Kombat Cosplay Hour.

Legitimate or not, this was a fun opening match.

OK, so it wasn't the kind of all-out classic we'd usually get from the Cruiserweights in this spot, but it was entertaining in a different way and, let's be honest, all pro wrestling is ever supposed to be is entertaining.

Towards the finish, Glacier had Mortis covered, only for James Vanderberg to pull his charge's foot under the rope and wrap a chain around it.

The despicable Vanderberg then got on the apron to cause the distraction and took a swift kick from Glacier for his trouble.

It was more than enough though, Glacier turned around, got kicked in the chest by Mortis' chain-wrapped foot, and saw his undefeated streak flash away in the blink of a three count.
Your Winners: Wrath & Mortis 

Afterwards, Ernest Miller knelt over his fallen friend, raised his fists to the sky and cried to some angry God above as though his partner had been brutally murdered rather than just pinned in a pro wrestling match.

     

Diamond Dallas Page Won't Speak 

Backstage, Diamond Dallas Page was being interviewed by some geek for WCWwrestling.com.

Page wouldn't be drawn into who his mystery partner was going to be and even joked that it would be his dad, who was sat behind him.

For what it's worth, I have no memory of who the mystery partner was, so watching this show feels as exciting as if it were happening for the first time right now.

World Championship Wrestling Cruiserweight Championship
WCW Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho vs. Ultimo Dragon 

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Ultimo Dragon challenged Chris Jericho for the cruiserweight titlWCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Ultimo Dragon challenged Chris Jericho for the cruiserweight title
Having recently defeated the nWo's Syxx for the Cruiserweight Championship, Lionheart Chris Jericho made his first big title defense against Ultimo Dragon in a very enjoyable bout.

Both men were given plenty of time to showcase what they could do together, and the results were even better than you might expect.

After a long and solid bout, Jericho wrapped up Dragon for a three count.
Your Winner and Still WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho 

Afterwards, a handshake and a friendly hug between the two combatants put this one to an end.

Quoth the Raven, Fleetwood Mac

Up next, Mean Gene Okerlund begged us to call 1-900-909-9900 before waking to ringside to find Raven and Stevie Richards sitting there.

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Mean Gene interviewed Raven & Stevie Richards
Gene asked Raven whether he was going to be DDP's partner tonight, to which Raven replied with a bunch of what Okerlund called 'Edgar Allen Poe gibberish' but what was really some thinly disguised song lyrics.

'Have I any dreams I'd like to sell?' asked Raven finally, paraphrasing 'Dreams' by Fleetwood Mac

Okerlund next turned his attentions to a hyperactive Stevie Richards, who Raven decked with a fist to the head for daring to mention that Raven had a big announcement to make the following evening.

The Great Muta & Masahiro Chono vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner)   

The Great Muta and Masahiro Chono were both members of the New World Order here, with Muta even painting the group's logo on his face.

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - The Great Muta & Masa Chono vs. The Steiner Brothers
Apparently, The Steiners had been tricked into facing the men from the Orient, believing that they were signing a contract to face Scott Hall and Kevin Nash for the WCW Tag Team Titles.

If Rick and Scott won tonight, however, they would finally get their shot.

It was with this in mind that The Steiner Brothers went at it with their Japanese opponents in an exciting match that saw unique spots combined with a hot crowd.

This combination gave us our third straight good match of the evening, something of a record for WCW at the time.

The finish came when Scott suplexed Muta off Rick's shoulders for the three count.
Your Winners: The Steiner Brothers 

Post match, Scott yelled into the camera that The Outsiders could no longer hide from them.

Six-Man Lucha Libre Match
Juventud Guerrero, Hector Garza, and Lizmark Jr. vs. La Parka, Psicosis, and Villano IV. 

The last time we saw Hector Garza on an American PPV he was competing in a similar six-man bout at WWF Royal Rumble 1997.

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Psicosis, La Parka, Sonny Onoo
Here, he teamed with WCW mainstay Juventud Guerrera and Lizmark Jr. to take on Villano IV, Psicosis, and La Parka, the latter two of whom were now both under the guidance of Sonny Onoo.

The match itself was mostly a sloppy and disjointed spotfest, and it's only the fact that some of those spots were pretty cool that I'm not completely writing this one off.

Even despite a couple of big moves, this was still the most disappointing match on the card so far, and it was a relief when it ended.

Speaking of the ending, that came when Villano V ran out to discretely take the place of Villano IV, only to prove that he was actually a bit of a wimp compared to the other six men.

Despite only being in the ring for like a minute, Villano V was quickly beaten by a standing moon sault from our man Hector.
Your Winners: Juventud Guerrera, Hector Garza, and Lizmark Jr. 

Moving swiftly on...

Career Match
Kevin Sullivan (w/ Jacquelyn and Jimmy Hart) vs. Chris Benoit 

Call it a 'Loser Retires' match, call it a 'Career vs. Career' match, call it whatever you choose, there was really only one word o describe this match:

Awesome.

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Kevin Sullivan
Over a year since their classic Falls Count Anywhere match at WCW The Great American Bash 1996, Chris Benoit and Kevin Sullivan beat the hell out of each other in a violent and chaotic brawl which certainly rivalled that famous match from 1996.

They brawled in the ring, they brawled around the Bash at the Beach set, and they brawled in the aisle, with Jacqueline and Jimmy Hart getting a few good shots in too.

Not that Sullivan was too impressed with Jackie. In a disturbing case of domestic abuse, The Taskmaster roughed up his female companion on multiple occasions, a move which would ultimately cost him both the match and his career.

With Benoit tied up in the tree of woe, Jacquelyn produced a random wooden chair from beneath the ring and smashed it over Sullivan's head.

Benoit then hit the flying head butt, and Kevin Sullivan's career was over.
Your Winner: Kevin Sullivan 

Post match, Jimmy Hart yelled at Sullivan for letting 'everybody' (presumedly the Dungeon of Doom) down.

Sullivan shoved Hart away, then walked away from the ring one last time with a tear in his eye.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit 

No sooner had Benoit's Four Horsemen music ended than it fired up again for our next match.

World Championship Wrestling United States Heavyweight Championship
WCW US Champion Jeff Jarrett vs. Steve 'Mongo' McMichael (w/ Queen Debra McMichael) 

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Debra & Steve 'Mongo' McMichael
As you might expect, this was not the best match on the card, but thankfully it was kept quite short to avoid sucking the life out of the whole show.

After Jeff Jarrett took control of the bout, Debra got up on the apron to distract the referee whilst Jarrett struck Steve McMichael with the Halliburton to win the match.
Your Winner and Still United States Champion: Jeff Jarrett

Afterwards, Debra revealed that she had been in cahoots with Jarrett. The two embraced then walked off together, leaving poor Mongo oblivious as to the real life damage that his pro wrestling career would have on his marriage.

Up next, Mean Gene, being the judgemental prick that he was, claimed to be appalled by what just happened, but not so appalled that he couldn't stop to shill the WCW Hotline and introduce a commercial for next month's Road Wild PPV.

Rod The Bod and Hollywood Talk About Rod The Bod and Hollywood 

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Dennis Rodman & WCW Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan
From there, we went to one of those artsy, black-and-white nWo promos, this one featuring WCW Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan and his tag team partner for this evening, Dennis Rodman.

In a cringe-worthy promo, the two barely mentioned their opponents tonight, instead focussing on talking about themselves and how great they were.

This was basically five minutes of the two referring to themselves as 'Rod The Bod and Hollywood' over and over again because they were Rod The Bod and Hollywood and they loved Rod The Bod and Hollywood, and also, did I mention, Rod The Bod and Hollywood.

Stupid.

Scott Hall & Macho Man Randy Savage (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Diamond Dallas Page & Curt Hennig 

And so, after much hype, it was Curt Hennig who was revealed to be Diamond Dallas Page's partner.

This would have been even more of a surprise if we hadn't recently seen Hennig on Nitro and if he didn't walk out for his first PPV wrestling match since WWF Summerslam 1993 looking bored and miserable.


Seriously, Hennig looked like he really could not be bothered here.

That said, neither could anybody else.

 The amount of stalling in the opening moments of this match was off the charts, taking the shine off what was otherwise a decent, but not exactly brilliant, tag team match.

After a short while, Hennig turned on Page and wandered off, leaving him to the mercy of the New World Order.

Hall hit the Outsider Edge, Savage hit an elbow drop, and this one was over.
Your Winners: Scott Hall and Randy Savage  

It almost seemed like they were rushing things here because from there we dove right into another match.

Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. The Nature Boy Ric Flair 

WCW Bash At The Beach 1997 - Ric Flair vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper
For months, Rowdy Roddy Piper and The Nature Boy Ric Flair had been on the same page, joining forces with football star Kevin Greene to battle the nWo Wolfpac at WCW Slamboree 1997 before teaming up again to challenge The Outsiders for the tag team titles at last month's Great American Bash.

At that show, Flair got so caught up in brawling with Syxx that he ended up abandoning Piper altogether.

Naturally, The Hot Rod was not best pleased about this situation, and thus we had tonight's match, which was basically the two veterans chopping and kicking and punching each other for much longer than was necessary.

Watching the two trade strikes was fun for about a minute or so, but then it just got massively tedious.

The only thing that added any excitement was the arrival of Chris Benoit and Mongo McMichael. The former distracted the referee whilst the latter drilled Piper with a Tombstone Piledriver. Flair made the cover but Piper kicked out in what was a genuinely exciting moment.

Hot Rod then made Flair feel exactly the way I'd felt watching this match by putting him to sleep for the win.
Your Winner: Rowdy Roddy Piper 

Finally, it was on to our main event.

Lex Luger & The Giant vs. WCW Champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Dennis Rodman (w/ Macho Man Randy Savage) 

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 - Dennis Rodman teamed with Hulk Hogan to face Lex Luger & The Giant
Admittedly, tonight's main event wasn't for everyone.

If you're the kind of fan who values work rate and expert chain wrestling above all else, you'll likely say this one sucked.

If, on the other hand, you can appreciate the match for the entertainment spectacle that it was always meant to be, then hopefully you'll find it as enjoyable as I did.

The action was fairly basic, punctuated by a hilarious spot in which Dennis Rodman, in his first pro wrestling match ever, bust out an arm drag and a simple leapfrog and the announce team went nuts and sold it as though he'd just pulled off a Canadian Destroyer or something.

From there, we got a captivating main event which ended with an appearance from a man obviously fake Sting, who took out The Giant with a chair.

It didn't make any difference though, because Luger picked up Hogan and racked him for the win.
Your Winners: Lex Luger & The Giant 

Afterwards, Luger put Savage and Rodman in the rack too, but the three nWo stars wound up walking away as though they'd won the match.


Despite a few dips (the six Man Lucha libre mess, Jarrett/Mongo, Flair/Piper), the quality of this show was pretty solid from start to finish with plenty of enjoyable moments.

Being the event at which, a year previously, the nWo was born, that monumental occasion was always going to be hanging over tonight's show, but the majority of matches did enough to ensure that Bash at the Beach 1997 compared favourably to its more famous counterpart from 1996.

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