A look at the events surrounding the Bash at the Beach 1996:
- The WWF filed trademark lawsuits at WCW over the Outsiders angle and tried to get a court order for WCW to break kayfabe and announce three times on each broadcast that Hall and Nash were WCW employees participating in a storyline. They even wanted WCW to have to mention the WWF by name and state that if the fans wished to view WWF superstars they would have to watch the USA Network Monday Night’s at 8 p.m.
- Mark Madden on WCW’s hotline muddied the waters further by stating something to the effect of that the WWF is only claiming Hall and Nash are no longer under their employ is because they are basically spies entering enemy territory and if they are exposed the WWF doesn’t want to have to deal with the ramifications.
- Supposedly MABEL of all people was Eric Bischoff’s best choice to be the third man in the Outsiders angle at one point. Crush was also discussed but eventually dismissed. Bischoff, Hall and Nash all badly wanted Bret Hart to sign with WCW but he declined all offers.
- Kevin Sullivan was almost removed as booker when the Nitro rating for Kevin Nash’s debut bombed. Sullivan had to agree to retire from the ring after his feud with Chris Benoit was over as part of an agreement to stay on as creative lead. The ratings exploded soon after as the Outsiders angle popped business.
- Randy Savage’s storyline suspension was ended much quicker than planned due to the ratings dip.
- Bruno Samartino was brought in to ref some house show main events in prime areas he used to headline in. Pedro Morales worked those same shows as a second for Konnan.
- The fans at a house show in Philadelphia were catcalling Konnan throughout his match with Kevin Sullivan. Konnan responded by going on the house mic and ripping on the fans and ECW. Heel Kevin Sullivan then had to take the mic away and do some damage control.
- Glacier (who has not yet debuted) was sent to an advertising fair to represent WCW as part of the Turner booth. No one knew who he was but when the Turner execs were asked they just said “He’s one of our biggest and most popular stars”.
- They ran an all time horrible finish during a Nitro match between Disco Inferno and Kurasawa. Another person dressed in a 70’s gimmick came down the aisle and distracted Kurasawa and the ref, which allowed Disco Inferno to lower a disco ball from the ceiling and swing it into Kurasawa for the knock out pin. I long for the days where Kurasawa was breaking bones for Col. Parker.
- Big Van Vader was nearly fired by the WWF after he went off script in a match with the Ultimate Warrior. Vader took a bump and walked to the back instead of being pinned. Vader and Warrior had been doing 30 second matches nightly because both men are hurt legit. Vader found out that the quick losses were being reported back in Japan and decided he wasn’t going to take the planned finish anymore. He was confronted immediately by WWF officials and told he better get back to the ring or he can expect to go home for a long while. Vader is also being ordered to drop weight.
- “Dr. Death” Steve Williams claimed he was seeking permission from All Japan owner Giant Baba to compete in the UFC.
- Hulk Hogan’s WCW contract was almost allowed to expire. He had scheduled dates left at Hog Wild and Halloween Havoc and was then believed to be possibly released due to his high salary and the fact that attendance and ratings have gone up while he went away to make a movie. The heel turn however changed everything, as suddenly Hogan was once again the top dog in the business and WCW couldn’t really afford to have him leave in the middle of a monster angle.
- Lex Luger was the originally planned “Third Outsider” but WCW felt too many people figured that out and so the plan was to turn Sting heel if Hogan wouldn’t agree to come back as a bad guy.
- Eric Bischoff didn’t come to Bash at the Beach until right before the main event, as he spent the evening with Hogan working out the details of the heel turn.
- WCW negotiated with Dennis Rodman in order to bring him in for this PPV to serve as a corner-man for the Nasty Boys.
Bash at the Beach 1996
They open with a video package on the Outsiders invasion so far. The music sure seems to rip off Seal’s “Crazy”. Dusty Rhodes, Tony Schiavone and The Brain are all riled up and want the main event to start right now. Eric Bischoff is AWOL.
Rey Mistero Jr. vs. Psychosis
Mike Tenay is added to the commentary booth, so we have four guys trying to speak. The two men go through a fast pace exchange of moves that only slows down when Psychosis does a suicide dive and both men end up sprawled on the cement. Psychosis then spends several minutes keeping Rey grounded. Rey takes some sensational bumps before sling shotting Psychosis into the ring post from off his back on the ring apron! A hurricanrana follows as Psychosis is drilled into the mats on the floor. Another rana in the ring nets a near fall. Psychosis manages to down Rey again in order to try and snuff the energy from his smaller opponent. Rey takes a big bump into the ropes and then is dumped onto the ringside railing. Psychosis then scales the top rope and hits a senton splash ON THE FLOOR!!
Rey absorbs some more grinding before he starts to use an array of high risk flying attacks to mount a comeback. Psychosis takes a crazy bump as Rey hurricanrana’s him off the ring apron and both men crash into the floor. Psychosis takes two more big bumps to the floor as Rey keeps air traffic control busy with his offensive. Tenay is calling all the spots by their Spanish names and Dusty and Heenan are flabbergasted.
Rey is slammed into the turnbuckle upside down and is then set up for a top rope Razor’s Edge (Splash Mountain) powerbomb but he reverses it in mid-air into a hurricanrana and scores the pin at 15:18. This was perhaps the best spotfest I’ve seen so far while doing these reviews. A HELL of a match.
“Carson City Silver Dollar Match”: John Tenta vs. Big Bubba Rogers
This is a bag of coins on a pole match. The announcers immediately speculate on how Tenta’s going to lug his 500 pound frame up the pole. The coins are about twenty feet in the air and I doubt either guy can feasibly get to them. The men club away at each other as they take turns climbing the ropes by the coins. The gimmick is really breaking up the flow of the match. Bubba catches him with a back suplex as Tenta climbs. Tenta crotches him on the turnbuckle and then disposes him on the floor. Tenta looks at the pole and decides he’d be better off disassembling the structure. Bubba jumps him during this and uses his belt to choke Tenta out.
Bubba tapes his mortal enemy to the ropes and beats on him with his belt. Bubba then produces a pair of scissors and prepares to cut more of Tenta’s hair off. (Tenta has been walking around with half his head shaved for two months now due to Bubba’s cosmetology handiwork.) Tenta goes low to stop him. Then uses the scissors to free himself from the tape and heads toward the pole to cut the straps that are holding it up. That sequence is actually freaking ingenious!
Bubba jumps him from behind while Tenta’s working at the straps. Rogers side slams him and orders Jimmy Hart to shimmy up the pole and get the sack of coins. While Hart is busy with his mission, Tenta gets the advantage on Bubba and drives him into the mat. Hart climbs down unaware that an angry super heavyweight is ready to kill him at the bottom. Bubba gets cracked with the coins and Tenta pins him with one hand at 9:14. That turned out to be way more fun than I expected. A very well laid out match.
Taped Fist match for the Lord of the Ring jewelry: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan vs. “Diamond” Dallas Page
DDP flops to the floor from a shoulderblock right away. He manages to outsmart (surprise!) Duggan and tapes Hacksaw’s feet together around a ringpost. This allows him to cut the tape from Duggan’s hand. Hacksaw doesn’t mind and just slugs DDP to the floor. Page bumps all over the place for Duggan before using cheap shots to keep himself in the fight. Page is crotched and beat up some more with Hacksaw’s fists. DDP manages to low blow Duggan and hits a Diamond Cutter that ends it at 5:39. Duggan gets a second role of tape and KO’s DDP after the match. Watchable but pointless. Hacksaw doesn’t really sell for anyone, so having him as a mid-card gatekeeper doesn’t help anybody get over.
Four-man Dog Collar Match: The Nasty Boys vs. The Public Enemy
All four men are chained. Rocco Rock is bound to Saggs and Johnny Grunge is tied to Knobbs. This of course breaks down into a four-way brawl right away. They hit each other with chairs, surfboards, inflatable pool toys, trash can lids and anything else they can find laying around. Rock tries to jump off the lifeguard tower but he gets yanked off. He tries again and Saggs tips the whole thing over. Rock is piledriven on the concrete as Grunge and Knobbs play with a table. Saggs is sent through another table before the brawl returns to the ring. Rock misses a senton in the ring and crashes into a table that doesn’t break. Saggs wraps his arm in the chain and Saggs crashes down on Rocco and the table still doesn’t break. Grunge is hung while Saggs whips Rocco into the taut chain. That is enough to finish Rock at 11:25. Public Enemy attack them after the match and leave them laying to set up another 200 rematches. If you’re into plunder shots, this was fine. I am pretty much in the middle of the road with this one, I’ve seen worse attempts at weapons matches but I’ve seen far more inspired ones. That finish was well done though.
Mean Gene is with a foursome of cops to put over the gravity of the Outsiders’ match.
Cruiserweight champion Dean Malenko vs. Disco Inferno
Malenko is annoyed by Inferno’s tomfoolery and he goes right after him. He slaps Disco on his mouth for his never ending yapping. A brain buster gets a near fall in the opening minutes. Malenko cranks away at Inferno’s knee and ankle joints to torture him a bit. The champion then ties him into a modified STF. Disco finally gets pissed after getting owned for the first five minutes or so and he begins to flail punches into the champ. Malenko recovers and tosses Inferno into the railing. Back in the ring Malenko again stretches and contorts Disco’s body at his will.
The commentary is pretty much just burying Disco for having no chance and being an unfocused goof. The Inferno does down Malenko and chooses to dance instead of going for a pin. He manages to escape from an attempted Texas Cloverleaf leglock but the relentless Malenko drives him to the mat and submits him with the Cloverleaf at 12:04. Disco, despite being a heel, was basically playing the underdog babyface here, but how can you feel sorry for him when he’s the cause of his own undoing?
The WWE Network edited off a Kimberly Page PPV ad here. She was apparently wearing nothing but a towel, so perhaps they found it too improper or something?
Joe Gomez vs. Steve McMichael
After that great angle last month, the big blowoff is… just a squash match? They didn’t even give Mongo somebody who would be able to guide him through a match. The men trade blows and McMichael comes up with a bloody lip. That earns Gomez some hard chops as a receipt. Mongo tries to slow things down with some clinch work but Gomez is feisty. A sloppy neckbreaker by Mongo sets up a figure-four attempt, but Gomez escapes from that before being downed. They go through another sloppy sequence as Gomez hits a series of leaping chops before they awkwardly switch spots and Mongo ends it with a Tombstone at 6:44. This should have been on WCW Worldwide or a dark match. On a PPV, this stood out as garbage.
US Champion Konnan vs. Ric “Nature Boy” Flair
Flair treats Konnan like the proverbial broomstick and just stooges for him while bumping around. He allows the champ to show off his power by tossing Flair around at will. Konnan even launches an attack at Flair when he’s hiding by his women and Liz takes a bump as the men crash into the floor. Woman shakes the ropes and when Konnan tries another aerial attack and that causes Konnan to fall from his perch. Flair then pokes the champ’s eyes and draws Nick Patrick into a conversation so Woman can sneak in and kick Konnan in his gonads. Liz distracts the ref so Woman can choke away at the champ.
Flair wears at Konnan with some rest holds for a few minutes until the Mexican superstar can make a rally. Flair is sent into the corner upside down and then finds himself trapped in the figure-four. Flair escapes only to find himself cradled for a pin. Liz keeps the ref busy while Woman hits a weak looking shot with a ladies’ shoe and Flair steals the win and the title at 15:39. This wasn’t good at all. A total styles clash with a babyface that the fans didn’t even care about. They really just wanted to see Flair be a cheating bastard.
Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson vs. The Giant and Kevin Sullivan
They start brawling on the floor right away. Mongo runs down and cracks The Giant with a briefcase. That causes the monster to chase him and gives the Horsemen a chance to double up on Sullivan. The Giant returns and watches as The Crippler and Sullivan claw at one another’s eyes. The Horsemen keep Sullivan in the ring and take turns battering him. The Giant swipes at the men when they come too close and proves that he is the ultimate weapon of destruction by dropping them with ease. Sullivan tears at Benoit’s face in desperation but Arn Anderson makes the save.
Sullivan manages to finally tag out after knocking the Horsemen together. The Giant mauls Anderson as The Crippler and Sullivan wander away to tear into each other out in the shadows of the arena. The Giant finishes The Enforcer in short order via a chokeslam at 7:59. Sullivan and Benoit just keep fighting despite the match ending. The Giant wanders away. The men end up back in the ring and Woman shows up to beg Benoit to stop hurting Sullivan. The fact that Sullivan and Woman were legit married was not part of the kayfabe, so this was an attempt at a fourth wall storyline. The Giant comes down to save his boss and the Horsemen scatter.
Lex Luger, Sting and “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and a Mystery Partner
Even with a three on two advantage to start off, the Outsiders are able to hold their own until Luger gets caught in a collision and is knocked out. Luger is hauled off on a gurney as the match grinds to a halt. When things resume Sting is all fired up and he unloads on Scott Hall. Hall manages a cheap shot and both men tag out. Nash uses his size advantage to pound Savage into the mat. Sting tags in and finds himself battered with similar ease.
Sting gets in a few hope spots but otherwise spends the next few minutes at the mercy of Nash and Hall. Sting finally tags in Macho Man and Savage goes gonzo on both Outsiders. Hall is tossed to the floor and launched into with a double ax handle. Nash ends that rally quickly with a low blow. Everybody is down when Hulk Hogan walks down to save the day. The Outsiders scatter to the floor. Hogan then shocks the wrestling world by dropping a leg drop on Macho Man. He then mockingly pins Savage. Hall and Nash then mockingly do the Hogan poses, which is funny since Hogan would spend the next 2 and a half years trying to mimic the natural cool charisma that Hall and Nash possess. Hogan gives us a history lesson on how he made Vince McMahon rich and how much cash Ted Turner is paying him now. The fans shower the ring with garbage as the security force tries to quell them. What are they going to do, kick them out of a show that’s over? Schiavone ends the broadcast by telling Hulk Hogan to go to hell.
As a match, it honestly wasn’t much. It went 16:55 but about a third of that was standing around and most of the match was just the faces getting pounded into the mat and selling. As an angle, few others proved to draw more money or sell more merchandise.
Final thoughts: The finish is certainly historically significant, but the matches after the first hour mostly fell flat for me. The best part is probably that this will put an end to Hogan’s squashing of every heel on the roster… of course now all the babyfaces are going to be neutered. Maybe we’ll call it a wash?