WCW Bash at the Beach 1996

This is a night that every wrestling fan remembers. It’s the night that set professional wrestling on fire, made WCW the top wrestling company in the world, and put them in a position to come closer to defeating Vince McMahon than anyone in history. WCW had already taken the lead in the ratings battle, with June 10 being the last time Raw won the ratings war. WCW wouldn’t give that lead up until April 1998. And what happens tonight is the reason why.

In one corner, we have the invaders. They’re still unnamed, but everyone knows who they are. They’ve promised their third man will make his debut tonight and fight along side him. Their opponents? Sting, Randy Savage, and Lex Luger. Those names were selected from a kayfabe random drawing that also included Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Giant. Who is the third man? That question loomed over WCW at this time. Another WWF defector? An inside man? Could it even be someone in the match? No one could be trusted. Let’s get to the show:

Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, and Dusty Rhodes our are hosts tonight.

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Psychosis

These two had some pretty legendary battles in Mexico and ECW. If you’ve never seen their Mexican Deathmatch from ECW, check it out. Mike Tenay joins the commentary team for this match, so we have a four man booth here. Tenay fills us in on the history between these two. Nice of WCW to admit that wrestling exists elsewhere in the world. Surprisingly, this starts as a mat-based match. Now Tenay is talking about how big a deal masked wrestlers are in Mexico. I seriously think he played a huge role in making the cruiserweight division what it was.

Rope-running sequence ends with a Spinning Heel Kick from Psychosis and then a no-hands Plancha over the top to the floor. Psychosis slams Rey and hits a top rope Guillotine Leg Drop. Then he puts Rey’s throat across the bottom rope and drops a leg. Psychosis locks on a Headscissor. They go to the apron, and Mysterio Monkey Flips Psychosis off into the ring post! Holy shit. Hurricanrana off the apron by Mysterio! Wow. Back to the ring, Springboard Hurricanrana by Mysterio. Mysterio Dropkicks Psychosis’ knee and applies a Step Over Toe Hold. Psychosis comes back with a Drop Toe Hold and a Headscissor submission. Psychosis Hot Shots Mysterio on the top rope and then hits a Reverse DDT.

Psychosis drops Mysterio on the guardrail. Top rope Senton Splash to the floor by Psychosis. That made me cringe, because it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t hurt. Back in the ring, Psychosis hits an Enziguri. It’s also notable that Tenay is actually calling these moves correctly. Camel Clutch by Psychosis. A really exciting sequence I can’t transcribe ends with a Hurricanrana by Mysterio. Springboard Dropkick by Mysterio, then a Flying Hurricanrana off the apron! That’s an incredible move. Back in, Mysterio bounces his body off the top rope for a Moonsault. Springboard Dropkick sends Psychosis to the floor, then Mysterio hits a fucking crazy Springboard Corkscrew Moonsault to the floor! He hit his leg on the guardrail coming down. Psychosis rolls back to the ring and counters a Mysterio Springboard Hurricanrana attempt with a big Powerbomb! Psychosis tries for Splash Mountain off the top rope, but Mysterio busts out one of the greatest counters I’ve ever seen: a Hurricanrana in midair. Amazing finish and Mysterio gets the pin at 15:18.

Analysis: ****3/4. That was fucking amazing. Just insane action from these two. I enjoyed them trying to out-wrestle each other in the beginning, but then the gloves came off and things got completely insane. One of Mysterio’s greatest matches, and one of the best cruiserweight matches ever in the United States. That was the standard by which other WCW cruiserweight matches were judged up until Eddie/Rey at Halloween Havoc 1997. Mysterio would go on to defeat Dean Malenko and win the Cruiserweight Championship the next night on Nitro.

Gene Okerlund interviews Konnan and asks him what happened in this match. Yeah, ask the Mexican guy about the other Mexicans. Konnan stumbles over his promo putting over how great Ric Flair is.

Carson City Silver Dollar Match: John Tenta vs. Big Bubba

Okay, now for something completely different. Why is this a “Carson City Silver Dollar” match? The event is not taking place in Carson City. This match involves a sock full of silver dollars being hung from a ridiculously tall poll that neither of these guys can plausibly climb. As soon as I stop laughing at how ludicrous and stupid this concept is, I’ll recap the match. Okay, I’m ready. It’s really just two big fat guys fighting. These guys aren’t slugs, but they’d both seen better days. That poll is like 25 feet high. Bubba winds up comically long to throw a big punch. Bubba gets up top and is thrown off. Tenta gets on the top and gets Back Suplexed off.

I still can’t stop laughing at how stupid the concept of this match is. Tenta crotches Bubba on the top. Atomic Drop by Tenta onto the turnbuckle. Bubba chokes Tenta with his belt. Bubba takes out a roll of tape and tapes one of Tenta’s wrists to the top rope. This moronic, because he leaves the other arm unsecured. Meaning Tenta can just reach over and untape his hand. Heenan points this out, sounding legitimately annoyed. Why is this match still going? Bubba whips Tenta with his belt. Now Bubba is shaving Tenta’s head. He Headbutts Bubba in the balls, then tears himself lose. Front Spinebuster by Bubba. Bubba finally gets a clue and has Jimmy Hart climb the poll. Tenta slams Bubba, and Tenta takes the dirty sock full of quarters from Hart and smacks Bubba with them. Tenta gets the win at 9:00.

Analysis: Dud. What a hilarious disaster that was. They actually worked hard, but the match concept was so stupid that it didn’t matter. And why the fuck did that go almost 10 minutes? It’s hard to believe the same company that produced that Rey/Psychosis match also gave us that piece of shit match.

Gene Okerlund interviews Team WCW: Sting, Savage, and Luger.

Taped Fist Match: Jim Duggan vs. Diamond Dallas Page

It’s a night of horrible gimmick matches, apparently. Duggan Shoulderblocks DDP to the floor. Page trips Duggan and tapes his legs to the ring post. Repeating a spot from the last match. The referee undoes the tape while Page beats up Duggan. Page cut the tape off Duggan’s hands. Does that make the punch hurt more or less? I guess he can punch harder without breaking his hand when the fist is taped, but the fist with no tape would hurt more. Duggan is kicking Page’s ass right now. Page performs an Armbar Takedown to counter a Suplex attempt. DDP goes up top and gets crotched. Duggan slams DDP’s face into the mat. Duggan Clotheslines Page over the top rope. Diamond Cutter out of nowhere gets the pin for DDP at 5:39.

Analysis: 1/2*. At least it was short.

Hacksaw beats up Page after the match. Stupid, counterproductive booking.

Okerlund interviews Giant, Jimmy Hart, and Kevin Sullivan. Kevin Sullivan is still a little fat bald guy from Boston who doesn’t seem even remotely satanic.

Lee Marshall interviews Anderson and Benoit. Typical great Arn promo.

Dog Collar Match: Public Enemy vs. Nasty Boys

Man, this show has really gone downhill since the opener. These two have been feuding for awhile at this point. This is tornado rules, no tagging. Knobbs is collared to Grunge and Sags to Rocco Rock. I don’t understand why the Public Enemy are heels. And the Nasties faces. They all fight to the floor right away. Lots of weak shots with the chains. Weapons shots too. Those wrestling trashcans make great sounds when someone gets hit with them. They’ve fought to the top of the ramp, where someone gets hit with an inflatable shark. Which wouldn’t hurt at all. Some really weak surfboard shots. Then some really stiff chair shots. Rocco hits a Front Flip Senton off a lifeguard chair. This is horrible. Sags hits Rocco with a Piledriver on the concrete floor, which should end the match and have Rock taken off on a stretcher. Instead, he kicks out at two. More stuff happens, then Rocco puts Sags through a table. Eventually, Knobbs Clotheslines Grunge with the chain and pins him at an excruciating 11:25.

Analysis: Dud. Just horrible garbage wrestling with no meaning or story. A few decent spots, but with a bunch of crap in between. And why do the Nasties go over? They’re old. They’re washed up. Put the new team that the fans like over. Bad all around.

Gene Okerlund tries to get into Razor and Diesel’s locker room, but he’s stopped by security.

WCW Cruiserweight Championship: Dean Malenko (c) vs. Disco Inferno

So Disco Inferno loves to dance. So much that he keeps interrupting Dean Malenko’s matches to dance. And Dean Malenko doesn’t like that. So he’s going to kick Disco’s ass and teach him a lesson. That’s actually a really good, simple, and entertaining wrestling story. Reasonable characters with logical motivations work. Malenko comes down the aisle looking super pissed and just beats the piss out of Disco. Dean is just smacking Disco around. Brainbuster by Malenko! To the shock of everyone, Disco kicks out at two. Malenko locks on a Headscissor, then puts the boots to Disco. Back Suplex by Malenko, then a Leg Grapevine. Malenko is just crushing Disco’s leg here. STF by Malenko. Disco mounts a comeback in the corner and the crowd is actually starting to get into him. Disco levels Malenko with a Clothesline, then hits a Hot Shot! Front Russian Leg Sweep by Disco. Malenko comes back and throws Disco to the floor. He slams Disco into the railing, then applies a Crucifix Submission in the ring. Disco fights to the ropes. Nice Leg Drop by Malenko as he springboards off the middle rope. Disco comes back with a series of elbows in the corner.

Malenko comes off the top with a Double Ax Handle, but Disco blocks it and hits a Neckbreaker. But the inexperienced Disco doesn’t realize Malenko is too close to the ropes. Backdrop by Disco, then a Swinging Neckbreaker. He goes to fix his hair, then realizes he has to make the pin. Springboard Dropkick by Malenko. Great move. Disco rolls up Malenko for a really good near fall. Disco follows that with a huge Lariat for another two count. Malenko blocks a Hip Toss and knocks Disco out with a big Clothesline. Disco grabs the ropes to dodge a Dropkick and then tries a Backslide, but Malenko blocks it and hits a Tiger Driver! Malenko locks on the Texas Cloverleaf for the submission victory at 12:04.

Analysis: ***3/4. What a shockingly good match. Just a simple and perfectly told underdog story, as Malenko came in determined and probably overconfident, toyed with Disco for too long, and ended up having to battle to keep his title. Malenko was perfect as the ice cold veteran who realized that what was supposed to be a show was actually a fight, and Disco actually did a really good job as the plucky and inexperienced underdog. The crowd really got it, and was going crazy by the end. Hidden gem right here. Unfortunately, I don’t think WCW ever really followed up on this. There was actually a really good potential odd-couple storyline of Disco seeking out Malenko as a mentor here, but they didn’t bother with it. Instead, Disco was just a dancing jobber for the next few years.

Steve McMichael vs. Joe Gomez

Who the fuck is Joe Gomez? Actually, his Wikipedia page is incredibly detailed and tells you about every match of any significance he has ever had. Which is not very many. This match should not be happening on pay-per-view. If they need someone to make Mongo look good, they could have used any of 100 other people on their roster. So this should be a squash match, but it actually ends up going on for awhile. And because Mongo is so green, he can’t be on offense the whole time, so it ends up being a bizarrely competitive match. Anyway, Mongo gets the win with a Tombstone at 6:44.

Analysis: Dud. I pretty much said my piece up there. Also, there is no fucking way I would ever let Steve McMichael give me a Tombstone Piledriver.

In the back, Mean Gene interviews Ric Flair. Woman feels up Okerlund, making him very uncomfortable.

WCW United States Championship: Konnan (c) vs. Ric Flair

I really don’t know why Flair is going after the U.S. Title. Konnan’s not in the Dungeon of Doom (yet), so it’s not part of the Horsemen/DoD feud. Flair spends a long time messing with Konnan before locking up. Konnan gets a Dropkick, then slaps Flair. Methodical match, as Konnan works a Headlock. Konnan reverses a corner whip and Backdrops Flair. Surfboard by Konnan. Konnan breaks and Military Presses Flair. Cactus Clothesline sends both guys over. Konnan hits a Diving Clothesline off the apron and knocks down Elizabeth in the process. Konnan goes to the top, but Woman shakes the ropes and he falls off. Knee Drop by Flair. Flair distracts the referee and Woman kicks Konnan in the balls. Dusty: “She kicked him lowwwwwwwwwwwwww!” I loved Dusty on commentary.

Elizabeth gets on the apron to distract the ref so Flair can throw Konnan over the top rope. Flair Suplexes Konnan back into the ring. Konnan breaks Flair’s Chinlock and mounts a comeback. Flair gets thrown to the corner and does the Flair Flip, the Konnan knocks him off the apron with a Springboard Dropkick. New version of an old spot. Flair blocks a Sunset Flip, but Konnan counters the Figure Four with a Small Package. Konnan locks Flair in the Figure Four. Flair makes the ropes and gets Suplexed back into the ring. Flair catches Konnan with a back elbow, then goes to the top and gets thrown off. Bulldog by Konnan, then a Clothesline.

Konnan has Flair beat with a roll-up, but Elizabeth has the referee distracted. Backbreaker by Flair, then Woman weakly hits Konnan with her shoe. Flair wins with the dirty pin at 15:39.

Analysis: **1/2. Decent match. I definitely enjoyed Flair’s antics and the absurd amount of cheating.

Gene is creeping outside The Outsider’s locker room. He says he can hear a third voice, but can’t tell who it is. Also, Eric Bischoff is missing. They’ve been talking about that on commentary all night but I haven’t cared enough to mention it.

Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit vs. Giant and Kevin Sullivan

Giant and Sullivan jump the Horsemen on the ramp. Sullivan smacks Anderson with a chair. Mongo hits Giant with the briefcase, so Giant chases after him backstage. That allows Benoit and Anderson to double team Sullivan. Benoit and Anderson work Sullivan over for a couple minutes. Finally, Giant returns from backstage. Sullivan can’t make the tag as Anderson and Benoit cut the ring in half. They beat on Sullivan for a really long time. Sullivan counters a Piledriver with a horrible Catapault that sends Anderson into Benoit. Sullivan Back Suplexes Anderson and tags in Giant. Sullivan and Benoit fight up the ramp as Giant Chokeslams Anderson and pins him at 7:59.

Analysis: *1/2. Pretty boring.

Benoit beats the crap out of Sullivan for awhile until Woman comes out and begs Benoit to stop. Giant comes back and Benoit takes off. Background: Woman is, at this point, married to Kevin Sullivan in real life. No one knows this. Her and Benoit have only interacted on screen to the extent that they are both in the Horsemen. At some point, Benoit and Nancy have an affair both in real life and in kayfabe. She subsequently divorced Sullivan (in 1997) and became engaged to Benoit. They got married in 2000, and you know the rest.

We get a really poor video package recapping the events of the invasion thus far.

Hostile Takeover Match: Sting, Randy Savage, and Lex Luger vs. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and ?????

Michael Buffer is here for the introductions. No entrance music for Hall and Nash. No third man yet. The announcers finally refer to Hall and Nash by their names, the first time that has happened to date. Okerlund comes out and demands to know who the third man is. Hall and Nash just say that he’s in the arena. Sting, Luger, and Savage enter together. They’ve all painted their faces in solidarity. This feels like a big match. Crowd is on their feet. Hall and Luger start. Hall throws his toothpick in Luger’s face and gets slapped. Forearm by Luger and he decks Nash. Hall gets him from behind, but then Savage comes off the top rope with an Ax Handle. Sting knocks Nash off the apron, but Luger goes down too. Savage slams Hall into the railing. Luger’s out of it and is carted off. So now it’s two on two. That’s a nice tease that Luger is going to be the third man.

Hall slaps Sting. Sting goes wild and beats Hall down. Inverted Atomic Drop, then a Face Slam by Sting. Savage tags in and comes off the top with an Ax Handle, but Hall catches him with a shot to the gut. Snake Eyes by Nash. Savage comes back with a reverse Bulldog. Nash tags in. Dusty repeatedly yells “who be bad now?” It’s a little goofy, but fits the tone of the match. Nash slams Savage but misses an Elbow Drop. Sting tags in and gets pummeled by Nash. Knees to the gut, back elbows in the corner, then a boot choke. Sting lands a Dropkick, but Nash blocks a Sunset Flip and double choke lifts him. Hall tags in and goes to work on Sting. Fall Away Slam by Hall. Tag to Nash, then a Big Boot. Nash is beating Sting down. Sting comes back with a Dropkick to Nash’s knee, but Hall cuts off a tag attempt. Sting has Nash pinned with a cradle, but the referee is distracted. Hall’s still in control. Abdominal Stretch by Hall and Nash grabs him for leverage. Nash tags in and locks in his own Abdominal Stretch. Hall tags in and works Sting over. Hall throws Sting over the top behind the referee’s back. Savage gets a chair and goes after Hall, but the referee holds him back. Big right hands by Hall. Nash tags in and hits a Sidewalk Slam.

Nash telegraphs a Backdrop and Sting kicks him in the face. Sting starts his comeback with a series of punches, then levels Hall and tags in Savage! Savage hits an Ax Handle from the top on Hall, then does a meeting of the minds on Hall and Nash. Savage throws Hall over the top, then hits an Ax Handle from the top to the floor. Back in, Nash low blows Savage. Everybody’s down. HULK HOGAN makes his way down the aisle! But whose side is he on? Hogan tears his shirt as Hall and Nash bail. And then, in one of the greatest moments in the history of professional wrestling, Hogan hits Savage with the Atomic Leg Drop. The crowd is shocked at first, and then the boos rain down. And they don’t stop. More Leg Drops on Savage, then Hogan pins Savage (counted by Hall).

Analysis: ***. Pretty good match, though the angle was much better. Nash and Hall really kicked Savage and Sting’s asses, and Savage’s comeback was really exciting. All of this pales in comparison to what they accomplished by turning Hogan heel.

Hogan, Hall, and Nash pose in the ring. Okerlund makes his way to the ring. Let me transcribe what follows:

Gene: “Hulk Hogan? Excuse me, excuse me. What in the world are you thinking?”

Hogan: “‘Mean’ Gene, the first thing you need to do is to tell these people to shut up if you want to hear what I’ve got to say.”

Gene: “I’ve been with you for so many years. For you to join up with the likes of these two men absolutely makes me sick to my stomach. And I think that these people here, and a lot of other people around the world, have had just about of enough of this man and this man. And you want to put yourself in this group? You’ve gotta be kidding me!”

Hogan: “Well, the first thing you’ve got to 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 right here came from a great big organization up north and everybody was wondering who the third man was. Well who knows more about that organization than me, brother?”

Gene: “I’ve been there. I’ve done that. You have made the wrong decision, in my opinion.”

Hogan: “Well, let me tell you something. I made that organization a monster. I made people rich up there. I made the people that ran that organization rich up there, brother. And when it all came to pass, the name Hulk Hogan, the man Hulk Hogan, got bigger than the whole 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 the whole WCW goes, I’m bored, brother. That’s why these two guys here, the so-called Outsiders, these are the men I want as my friends. They’re the new blood of professional wrestling, brother. And not only are we going to take over the whole wrestling business, with Hulk Hogan, and the new blood, the monsters with me. We will destroy everything in our path, Mean Gene.”

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.”

Hogan: “As far as I’m concerned, all of this crap in the 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 I came out here? You fans can stick it, brother. Because…and if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, you people wouldn’t be here. And if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff would be still selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis. And if it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, all of these “Johnny-come-lately’s” that you see out here wrestling wouldn’t be here. I was selling out the world, 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 organization runs wild on you? Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do?”

And as we play out, Schiavone utters a great line: “For Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, for Dusty Rhodes, Gene Okerlund… I don’t know. I’m Tony Schiavone. Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell. We’re out of here…straight to hell.

Great, great promo. One of the best and most important in the history of professional wrestling. If Hogan bombed that promo, this storyline doesn’t take off like it does. And if Hogan hadn’t turned out to be just as amazing as a heel as he was as a face, this storyline doesn’t go where it did. What a great moment. Perfectly executed by everyone involved.

Overall: Kind of a hard show to grade. Some really great stuff and some really horrible stuff. I guess I’m just going to look at this from the perspective that if I had ordered this show in 1996, I definitely wouldn’t have come out of it disappointed. And watching it now in 2013, I’m not disappointed. We got a couple great matches, a few other decent ones, and one of the hottest and most important angles in wrestling. Hard to complain about that. This was the spark that started the fire. And the fire rose. Stick around kids. Things are getting good.

Grade: A

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WCW Bash at the Beach 1996

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