WCW Bash at the Beach 1996

WCW Bash At The Beach 1996
July 7
Ocean Center – Daytona Beach, FL

The Hostile Takeover video package gets the PPV started. It’s set to the instrumentals of “Crazy” by Seal without the words. Seeing the snippets of the lead-up to this event gives one the goosebumps.

Announcers: Tony Schiavone, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

At the top of the broadcast Tony, Dusty and Bobby discuss the monumental Main Event to come as speculation continues to swirl on who the third man will be joining The Outsiders in the six-man tag-team match against Team WCW. Everyone in the back is talking but no one knows. Eric Bischoff’s whereabouts are also a mystery to begin the evening. Dusty wonders if he’s being held hostage? In the next three hours everyone will find out who the third man is. Bobby says, “Let’s go. Let’s get this over with.” Mike Tenay, wrestling insider, joins the team for the opening bout.

Psychosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

Result/Analysis: Mysterio via pinfall (15:19) after countering Psychosis’ attempt at Splash Mountain into a hurricanrana/frankensteiner from off the top rope. The match was an instant classic and is technically one of the few flawless wrestling matches from start-to-finish that’s ever been seen. Mysterio’s legend came from here and his career just took off like a rocketship. Equally impressive is Psychosis, known to Mexico for his in-ring prowess, and to Mysterio, as their feud had been longstanding in AAA Wrestling. The moves seen here are ones only the professor himself, “Iron” Mike Tenay can properly call. No one had seen anything like this. Your jaw dropped as the match happened live and it will again when you watch it now. After a brief mat wrestling display at the beginning with submission holds the focus, Psychosis and Mysterio throw caution to the wind and electrify the crowd. By night’s end, everyone was talking about the big happening coming out of the Main Event, but lest we not forget how incredible this match is, even today, 25 years since. Psychosis initiates the 12+ minutes of insanity with a suicide tope dive onto Mysterio over the top rope that nearly crushes his neck. He follows that up with a guillotine leg drop, a move Bobby hadn’t heard of, yet Mysterio escapes defeat. A running clothesline sends Rey twirling but that nets a two count, also. With Rey on the apron laid-out, Psychosis comes at him only for Rey to catapult Psychosis into the ring post and follow up with a running hurricanrana onto the floor. Another rana has Mysterio getting a two count before Psychosis clotheslines Rey onto the ropes with the momentum carrying him out onto the floor. From there, Psychosis gets literally psycho and hits a flying seaton senton squarely onto Mysterio’s chest on the floor. OMG. Again Mysterio shows his resiliency though and he hits some springboard combinations, featuring a primo dropkick off the ring apron. Rey follows that up with a springboard asai moonsault which lands his knee into the security railing and the crowd realizes they’re witnessing two men who are experts at their craft. Rey tries a springboard rana off the top rope with Psychosis already back inside the ring but Psychosis counters it mid-air into a powerbomb. OMG again! The finish comes after that. Mysterio is flung into the corner hard and positioned on the top turnbuckle. Psychosis attempts Splash Mountain (a Razor’s Edge variation to create the issue of landing on ones neck) but Mysterio counters into rana and gets the pin. An absolute masterpiece. I can’t say one thing critical in my analysis. Mesmerizing.
Rating: *****

“Mean” Gene Okerlund interviews U.S. Heavyweight Champion Konan. Gene notes the confidence of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. Konan pulls no punches and he makes no excuses. He promises to be ready for Flair, The Horsemen and the women. Konan says he’ll leave tonight with the belt. I hope not. Konan has been the most blah U.S. Champion in WCW history.

Carson City Silver Dollars Match:
Big Bubba (w/ “The Mouth of The South” Jimmy Hart) vs. John Tenta

Result/Analysis: Tenta via pinfall (8:54). The silver dollars hang in a sock strapped to a pole 20 feet high above the ring. Despite their attempts, neither Bubba or Tenta can reach the sock, let alone, scale the pole. Bubba has Hart do the retrieving for him once he has Tenta compromised but Tenta attacks Bubba and powerslams him unbeknownst to Hart. That allows Tenta to take the sock from Hart once he’s down the pole and knock Bubba out to win the match. The crowd backed Tenta to get his revenge so they cheer for the predictable finish. Bubba carries the match, choking and whipping Tenta with his leather belt, uses athletic tape to tie Tenta to the ropes, and actually does a few wrestling moves that stand out. I remembered this match being far worse than it is, which, I’d still classify as entertaining crap. The pole being as high as it was I’m sure was intentional so Hart would factor in. Given that Psychosis and Mysterio set the arena on fire, throwing this match on second, wasn’t going to kill the energy. The face, Tenta, wins to avenge the hair trimming and beard shaving Bubba had done to him over the previous month. As feuds go, however, this one was bad!
Rating: *

Tony, Dusty and Bobby again discuss the main event. Bischoff’s whereabouts remain unknown. No one knows who the third guy is and no one is talking. Tony, to his credit, and he did so cleverly for weeks, kept dropping subtle hints. His latest: “By ten o’clock Eastern Time tonight we will have found out, in the history of our sport, as we know it, for many, many years, may have changed.”

Okerlund interviews Team WCW. “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Lex Luger are wearing face paint like Sting. They’d all been doing this for weeks. Savage tells Gene he doesn’t care who the third man is. That person will get hurt just like The Outsiders will and together they’ll all be taken out. Luger talks the talk and he’s ready to walk the walk representing WCW to the best of his ability. Sting mocks the unknown quantity of this hostile takeover and he’s confident WCW will prevail.

Taped Fist Match for The Lord of The Ring:
Diamond Dallas Page vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan

Result/Analysis: DDP via pinfall (5:41) following The Diamond Cutter. Duggan winning was far-fetched. He made for a good contrast to Page wrestling in a drunken stupor while he oversells everything. Page ties Duggan’s feet to the ring post early on which then allows him to cut off Duggan’s wrist tape with the referee freeing Hacksaw. That’s a smart strategy by Dallas. Duggan slugs back as Page falls all over himself. Pure comedy. Duggan chants USA and hoooooo’s like it’s 1988. Page is so winning the match rendering this exercise pointless. Sure enough, Duggan’s pursuit of DDP around the ring ends with him getting crotched into the ropes to blindly fall into The Diamond Cutter. Duggan tapes his fist post-match to knock out Dallas. What a sore loser. This is your typical filler match. Duggan wrestling on a PPV card in 1996 just felt wrong.
Rating: *1/2

Meanwhile, “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan, The Giant and Jimmy Hart are with Okerlund. Gene suggests Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit may strategize in the tag-team grudge match to keep Sullivan in the ring thinking he’s the weakest link. Sullivan scoffs at that notion. Daytona is his home turf, after all. The Giant affirms The Taskmaster isn’t the weak link as has been suggested but instead, he’s the backbone of The Dungeon of Doom. The Giant credits Sullivan for bringing him into WCW so he could restore his birthright and become the World Heavyweight Champion and end Hulk-A-Mania. The Giant says The Dungeon of Doom are elite. He’s the World Champion and always will be. He says, “The Horsemen will be horse stew when the night is through.”

Lee Marshall has Anderson and Benoit with him for their retort. AA speaks on The Outsiders first, though, and says if they’re lucky enough to survive tonight against Sting, Luger and Savage then maybe they can try The Horsemen on for size. Arn says he and Benoit will take care of Sullivan and chop The Giant in half. They’ll earn that World Title shot and bring the Championship back to where it belongs within The Four Horsemen. Benoit says he’s silent but violent and will leave Sullivan for dead. Well, um, no comment there. Once they win, and take back the World Title, The Four Horsemen will again reign supreme in WCW. Benoit does the slit throat motion to emphasize.

Four-Man Double Chain Dog Collar Tag-Team Match:
Public Enemy [“Flyboy” Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge] vs. Nasty Boys [Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags]

Result/Analysis: The Nasty Boys via pinfall (11:27) when Sags pins Rock. The Bash At The Beach, both literally and figuratively, is seen here. Both teams bring the plunder, and then some. The makeshift beach becomes the setting for most of the brawl. Sags is chained to Rock. Knobs is chained to Grunge. The guys fight until no one can stand. They make use of the beach paraphernalia, be it the sand, a surfboard, the lifeguard stand or a rubber shark to inflict harm. Tables, chairs and garbage cans are the plunder. It’s hard to critique an aimless fight so I won’t attempt to. If there’s ever a Hall of Fame wing for garbage tag teams, both Public Enemy and The Nasty Boys will be inducted. That’s all they were but they served a purpose even so. Listening to Tony, Dusty and Bobby call the match as they make up new words is as entertaining as the action itself. I didn’t hate this but it goes on for far too long. I’m not sure the feud ever really ended, either. Public Enemy puts Sags through a table after the match. That’s the only table that breaks. The crowd was ambivalent. I’d have rather seen Harlem Heat defend the Tag-Team Titles against The Steiner’s.
Rating: **

Okerlund is standing outside the locker room of The Outsiders protected by armed security personnel. He was hoping to speak with one of The Outsiders and get a gauge on their third man but that’s not to be the case. Gene threatens immediate legal action, however, if he’s at all touched. He emphasizes how everyone watching is part of history tonight for witnessing The Hostile Takeover Match. “The electricity is so thick, he says, you can literally cut it with a knife,” There we go!

WCW Cruiserweight Championship:
The Disco Inferno vs. “The Man of 1,000 Holds” Dean Malenko (c)

Result/Analysis: Malenko via submission (12:04) with the Texas Cloverleaf. Disco was all song and dance to this point in his young career until he stepped into the ring with Malenko, “The Iceman” and his perserverance, fight, and skill level shows. Malenko mostly kicks Disco’s ass and he shows a visciousness while dishing out the beating. Malenko’s greatness as an in-ring tactition is undeniable. You cant watch a match of his without coming away being really impressed. He’s purposeful in everything he does. Historically, Malenko is underappreciated for how great he was. Anyhow, for the purposes of this match, Dean focuses on every area of Disco that would wreck a man: legs, back and head. Dean hits a brain buster done to perfection. Disco kicks out, somehow. Next, a snapmare coupled with a dropkick to the head results in another two count. He works the STF to force a submission but it’s purely toying with Disco. Dean can beat Disco at any time and he’s making that clear here. Disco forges a comeback to give the fans a match, and well, because wrestling is scripted that’s a nice change of pace. Disco nearly pins Dean several times only he remembers who he is first and dances and/or checks his hair before making a cover. SMH. That’s a no-no against Malenko, son! I hadn’t seen a Rude Awakening in forever but Disco hits that. The swinging neckbreaker Dean kicks out of, with Disco wasting away precious seconds before covering. Still, Disco reverses Malenko’s initial attempt at the Texas Cloverleaf into a small package as he continues to battle. They trade clotheslines after that before Malenko grounds Disco with a double underhoook powerbomb. The end is near. The Texas Cloverleaf is slapped on successfully with the second try and Disco taps. Disco fought courageously but Malenko was on another level. Dean retains the Cruiserweight Championship in a match that’s far better than I’d have thought.
Rating: ***1/2

“The Desperado” Joe Gomez vs. Steve “Mongo” McMichael (w/ Debra)

Result/Analysis: McMichael via pinfall (6:46) following a tombstone piledriver. Who knew Mongo had a finishing move in him? Anyway, this was a fight broke out at Chicago Bears training camp on a hot summer day with McMichael initiating a rookie to the rigors and hard knocks off the NFL. Gomez had a puncher’s chance and that’s all. Mongo hadn’t yet had a singles match, at least one broadcast, and he’s naturally green in the ring. Without a moveset, McMichael wasn’t to be taken seriously in the ring yet he made for a good henchman in The Four Horsemen picking on underlings such as “The Desperado.” The match is on par with Bubba/Tenta and DDP/Duggan.
Rating: *1/4

Flair, flanked by Liz and Woman, gives a long-winded interview to “Mean” Gene. He talks trash to Konan ahead of their U.S. Title match and discusses having both that belt and the World Title by the end of tomorrow night on Nitro once AA and Benoit take care of The Taskmaster and The Giant. Naitch breaks out in tune since he’s in such a good mood, “La Cucaracha, La Cucaracha.” Gene, meanwhile, the lech he is, allows Woman to put the moves on him. She promises a private party to cap the evening. Gene’s intrigued. Liz intends to spend her extra money hosting the after-party.

WCW United States Heavyweight Championship:
Konnan (c) vs. “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair (w/ Woman & Miss Elizabeth)

Result/Analysis: Flair via pinfall (15:50) after Woman hits Konnan with her high heel shoe. It’s the sixth and final U.S. Title reign for Flair in his career, and his first in nearly 16 years, with his previous title win coming over Greg Valentine in November 1980. Konnan controls most of the match with Flair wrestling in pure survival mode against someone that’s half his age. There’s HEAVY involvement from Woman, in particular, and Miss Elizabeth as the self-professed “Dirtiest Player In The Game” utilizes his harem to aid his cause. Flair respects Konnan given his pre-match handshake, as he somewhat breaks character. Konnan mixes in mat wrestling with higher impact moves to have Flair reeling both inside and outside the ring. Woman first involves herself by kicking Konnan square in his nuts as Flair had referee Nick Patrick distracted. That was beautiful! She got him good!!! Konnan had Flair in a bow-and-arrow submission hold in the early going and later, he slaps the figure-four on but Naitch makes it to the ropes. Flair bumps all over to make Konnan look like a worthy competitor and champion. Konnan had truthfully looked like total SHIT since arriving at WCW, and for sure, throughout his U.S. Title reign. In the end, with Liz distracting Patrick for an eternity, Woman knocks out Konnan with her size seven and Flair uses the ring ropes on the pin to get the three count. Heenan, of course, goes wild with delight. Thank God Konnan lost the belt.
Rating: **3/4

Meanwhile, Okerlund says he’s been eavesdropping outside the locker room of The Outsiders. Gene breaks the news that their third man is in fact inside with them. The voice of this man, Gebe says, is recognizable to yet the voice is muffled and he can’t make out who it is, though, it’s someone we’ve seen before and the voice he’s heard continues to ring in his sub-conscious. Heenan asks Gene to just bribe the police officers for the intel. LOL. Gene scoffs and says he’s not going there. The Hostile Takeover Match will soon be upon us.

Tag-Team Grudge Match:
* Should Anderson and Benoit win a member of The Four Horsemen will earn a World Heavyweight Championship Match versus The Giant on WCW Monday Nitro. *
“The Enforcer” Arn Anderson & “The Crippler” Chris Benoit vs. “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan
& The Giant [WCW World Heavyweight Champion] (w/ “The Mouth of The South” Jimmy Hart)

Result/Analysis: Sullivan & The Giant via pinfall (8:03) when The Giant pins Anderson following a chokeslam. The pre-match stipulation is nullified in a rare instance of reverse booking. The Horsemen completely corner off Sullivan in this match knowing full well that if it’s The Giant they must defeat they’re in a bind. That strategy nearly works. Mongo hits The Giant with the briefcase as the match begins in the aisle. The Giant chases after Mongo which leaves Sullivan at the mercy of AA and Benoit. That lasts a while despite The Giant’s efforts to prevent the loss. I catch myself dozing off as the battery of Sullivan continues. Arn gets Sullivan in position for a spike piledriver only Sullivan gets free and catapults AA into Benoit on the rooes. The Giant is tagged in and Arn is mincemeat. Benoit and Sullivan pair-off to continue their personal vendetta and their fighting winds up back at the broadcast position. The Giant chokeslams Arn for the pin while that’s going on. Benoit dives at Sullivan off the platform landing them in the sand. The Giant has departed victorious and Arn remains in the ring. Benoit takes Sullivan back to the ring to continue his assault. He’s really whipping him! Woman comes out, she of course, Sullivan’s real life spouse, to beg Benoit to back off. She screams, Chris stop! You’re going to hurt him.” The announcers don’t break kayfabe but introducing Nancy (Woman) to the feud, a feud involving her husband and future husband, was being rolled out. Had “bookerman” Sullivan not invented this sub plot, furthering introducing Nancy and Benoit, having them live their on-screen roles off-screen, who knows, the lives of all three likely turn out differently. But who could foresee any of what the future held? The Giant was getting a face reaction at this point so feuding with The Horsemen succeeded in that regard and had him positioned for his next challenger … a “Voodoo Child” I’d call him.
Rating: *1/2

Now, is the time. It’s without question the biggest match in WCW’s history. The Hostile Takeover attempt. Michael Buffer is here. “Are you ready? For the thousands in attendance here at ringside and the millions watching around the world on television, ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to RUMBLE!!!” Chills. Yes, I have chills!

The Hostile Takeover Match (2-on-3):
The Outsiders [Scott Hall & Kevin Nash] vs. Lex Luger, Sting & “Macho Man” Randy Savage

Result/Analysis: The Outsiders via pinfall (17:48 / though not official) with mystery partner Hulk Hogan pinning Savage after three leg drops. The single-most shocking heel turn in wrestling history coming from the biggest star, known the world over; the man that preached to little kids about saying your prayers and eating your vitamins … yeah, he spit it all back in their faces. Hogan’s heel turn to form the n.W.o., The New World Order, changed the trajectory of professional wrestling for the next two years and made watching wrestling on Monday Nights must-see TV. Hell, Monday Night Football mattered not. If you had a pulse, it was wrestling from 8–10 or beyond. The heel turn also saved Hogan’s career. It jumpstarted what had become a stale act. There’s just no denying Hulk-A-Mania had run its course. Go watch WCW from earlier in 1996 thru Uncensored in March and Hogan’s crowd reaction was lukewarm to the point of audible boos. WCW acted swiftly and with the mega signings of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, pillaging both from Vince McMahon and the arch rival WWF, WCW had the necessary evils, the components to make Hogan’s heel turn work and come off as truly epic. There was nearly two months lead time on this with Hall debuting in late May and Nash in early June. Hogan had been on sabattical since early April. WCW had teased his return in vignettes brilliantly. They kept his name fresh. Everyone speculated on who the third man would be. There’s no one that could find out or those that knew who gave it away. The aftermath of Hogan’s betrayal, since re-watching the match you know what’s to come, is what stands up a quarter of a century now later. His post-match comments to “Mean” Gene Okerlund as fans litter the ring with garbage thrown from every angle, is a sight out of The Twilight Zone. It’s all just gold. The match itself rates a **1/2, it’s purely The Outsiders whooping Sting, predominantly, while Savage stands on the apron in his deranged state. Luger is taken out of the match early from a Stinger Splash gone awry. That evened the odds at two men apiece and was really good booking for when Hogan walked out because who’s side was he on? Schiavone and Dusty, of course, think Heenan is nuts asking the question, but it plays itself out. The ***** nature of the entire PPV comes from the interview with Okerlund. Here’s the entirety of it:

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 wanna hear what I got to say!”

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

Hogan: “The first thing you gotta realize, brother, is this right here is the future of wrestling. You can call this the New World Order of wrestling, brother! These two men here came from a great big organziation 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…and you have made the wrong decision, in my opinion.”

Hogan: “Well lemme tell you something…I made that organization a monster…I made the people rich up there…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, he wanted to talk turkey with Hulk Hogan, amigo. Well, you know, Ted promised me movies, brother, Billionaire Ted promised me millions of dollars, Billionaire Ted promised me world calibar matches! Well, as far as Billionaire Ted goes, 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 that I want as my friends, they’re the new blood of professional wrestling, and not only are we gonna take over the wretling business with Hulk Hogan and new blood, the monsters with me, we will destroy everything in our path, Mean Gene.”

Gene: “Look at all the crap in this ring! That’s whats in the future for you if you want to hang around with this man Hall and this man Nash.”

Hogan: “As far as I’m concerned, all 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 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. If it wasn’t for Hulk Hogan, all thse Johnny come lately’s you see 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, with Hulk Hogan and the New World Organization of wrestling, brother, and the new blood by my side, whatcha gonna do when the New World Organization runs wild on you? WHATCHA GONNA DO?”

Tony Schiavone summarizes what we’ve withessed. He says, “All right, we have seen the end of Hulk-A-Mania. For Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, for Dusty Rhodes…I don’t know. I’m Tony Schiavone. Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell. We’re outta here. Straight to hell. [slams down headset].

The Verdict: July 7, 1996. It’s a date etched into the consciousness of everyone with a consciousness. Bash at the Beach was solid enough and had an instant classic at the top with Psychosis and Rey Mysterio. Flair won the U.S. Title. Other feuds continued. Hulk Hogan is the story. He always was the story when he was around. WCW had become #1 in the ratings war with the WWF based on the weakness of the WWF product more than anything creatively they had done … until here. Hogan as a monster heel, loathed the world over instead of beloved, opened up a pandora’s box of possibilities. The n.W.o. Their slogan became 4-Life. Even today, the n.W.o. is discussed, seen in t-shirts being worn for nostaglia purposes, and recognized as the pinnacle for WCW. I haven’t re-lived a lot of the n.W.o. era. I feel like I’m 15/16 years old again and Hogan going rogue, wreacking havoc with Hall and Nash, others joining the fold, is something I’m excited to watch unfold. WCW was headed for a vanilla year creatively before plans changed. Monday Night’s couldn’t come around soon enough.

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