Classic Wrestling Review: Bash at the Beach ’94

(All screen captures are the property of World Wrestling Entertainment)

Bash at the Beach

July 17, 1994

Orlando Arena

Orlando, Florida

News & Notes: Hulk Hogan signed a deal with WCW in April and his debut happened in June. WCW threw a parade and a press-conference at Disney-MGM Studios. Hogan’s deal was insane. He was making over a million a year plus a large chunk of PPV revenue and merchandise money. His contract also included what is known as a creative control clause, which would become an issue in the future. It basically means Hogan has the final say in his material. The WWF had a chance to counter-offer, but Vince had no desire to spend that much. WCW was confident Hogan’s presence would more than compensate for what they were paying him. They immediately put Hogan into a dream match with Ric Flair for the now unified WCW Title. Flair beat Sting at Clash of the Champions to unify the WCW and International titles and he turned heel in the process by joining forces with Sherri Martel. She was now calling herself Sensuous Sherri because the WWF owned the name, Sensational Sherri.

Hogan’s arrival in WCW also meant his friends came with him. Brutus Beefcake and Jim Duggan appeared on TV and soon Earthquake and the Honky Tonk Man would also arrive. Hogan even brought back Mr. T for this event. I guess they were trying to recapture the past. This, unfortunately, meant that some of WCW’s established stars would be pushed to the background. Sting was probably the biggest victim as he slipped into the midcard after losing to Flair and would stay there for a while.

The Show: They open with a lens flare that would make J.J. Abrams proud. The narrator says people have dreamed of the unfathomable since the dawn of time. I’m pretty sure that’s an oxymoron. How can you dream it if you can’t fathom it? Then, he talks about champions becoming immortals when 12-time WCW champion Ric Flair faces 5-time world champion Hulk Hogan. He doesn’t say where Hogan held those titles because WCW is in enough trouble with the WWF. He also claims a new universe will emerge after Hogan and Flair collide and there will only be one ruler. I’m unsure the science checks out on that one. Finally, the narrator welcomes everyone to Orlando for the match of the century.

Tony Schiavone welcomes everyone to the show. He’s with Bobby Heenan and Mean Gene. Tony says they are awaiting the match of a lifetime. I guess no one told him it’s the match of the century, not a lifetime. The narrator one-upped him. Tony would spend the rest of his career making sure that never happened again. Now, we know why Tony is so prone to hyperbole. Gene says that Heenan can’t be happy, but Bobby claims he will be when Flair wins and sends Hogan crawling out of Orlando. The crowd boos when they hear him. Tony also mentions that Shaq is there and the crowd cheers. Then, he introduces Daron Norwood to sing the national anthem.

Daron is a country singer. I’m not a big fan of Country Music. I don’t know much about Daron, except he has a song named, “Bad Dog, No Biscuit.” I find that hilarious. Also, he’s rockin’ a pretty nice mullet like it’s 1984 instead of 1994. His rendition of the song is a bit too countrified for my taste, but he didn’t mess up anything. Mean Gene, on the other hand, loved it.

Next, Tony and company talk about Sensuous Sherri injuring Sting on WCW Saturday Night. They show a clip of a supposed fan jumping the guardrail and raking Sting’s eyes. It’s Sherri in disguise. She’s wearing a wig and a fake goatee. Hogan enters the ring and gives her an atomic drop while copping a feel, but Flair attacks Hogan’s leg until Mr. T arrives to stop him. Tony says the doctors told Sting he can’t wrestle Lord Regal tonight because of a scratched cornea. Johnny B. Badd will take his place. Heenan jokes they should keep an eye out for him, but Gene doesn’t find it funny. He plugs the hotline to change the subject, but Heenan cracks another joke about Shaq being 5’11” without his shoes.

TV Title Match: Lord Steven Regal (c) (w/ Sir William) vs. Johnny B. Badd

Notes: Regal’s feud with Zbyszko is over, but he did lose the title to Larry before regaining it at Clash of the Champions. Regal was supposed to face Sting at this event, but Sting was injured. The kayfabe reason was a scratched cornea because of Sherri’s attack, but I don’t think that was the real injury.

Johnny B. Badd enters the arena in a cape that says, “When you’re hot, you’re hot.” He also sets off some fireworks while glitter rains from the ceiling. It gets all over the ring and stays there for a while. Someone didn’t think about the mess. He makes it worse by shooting some Badd Blasters. Tony says it will take a year to clean. Next, Regal enters while a fan can’t figure out how to point and do a thumbs-down at the same time. I’d like to see this fool try to pat his head and rub his belly simultaneously. Meanwhile, Badd tells the camera it’s a good day to be a bad man.

The Match: They grapple and trade arm holds as well as some athletic reversals. Badd keeps countering Regal’s holds and returns to working the arm until Regal regroups. Regal uses forearms, headbutts, and even a dropkick, but he gets more of the same. Badd also surprises him with a flying head scissors, a hip toss, and a back drop before hitting the Kiss That Doesn’t Miss. However, Regal rolls to the floor. Badd doesn’t let him rest. He hits a slingshot cross body to the outside and a slingshot sunset flip back inside, but Regal grabs William’s umbrella to block it. The ref sees it and kicks the umbrella away, but Regal awkwardly reverses the pin and wins with a handful of tights.

Thoughts: The finish was slightly botched, but the rest of the match was good. They didn’t dwell on any hold too long and they told a decent story. Regal’s mannerisms and heel tactics got a good reaction from the crowd. This bout did exactly what it needed to do. It was a fun opener. It’s a shame about the ending, but it didn’t ruin it.

Winner: Lord Steven Regal (10:40)

Badd catches Sir William on the apron and slingshots him into the ring. He then gives him a back drop and steals his hat. Heenan calls it a disgrace while they air a replay that shows Regal hooked the tights because the camera missed it the first time. Then, Heenan says he needs to check on something backstage. However, Tony makes him stay long enough to plug the main event. They talk about Hogan on Regis & Kathy Lee and Heenan says that George Foreman has been training Hogan. He sarcastically says he hopes it works.

Mean Gene is in the ring for a ceremony to honor the legendary Japanese wrestler, Antonio Inoki. Gene mentions that Inoki is now a Japanese senator. He then presents him a plaque for his contributions to the sport, but they are interrupted by Lord Steven Regal. He wants to know why they’re giving Inoki a plaque when he has received nothing. Regal claims he’s a noble Englishman and was elected to the House of Lords. He also says he came from Japan where he beat many of their legends and never saw Inoki. Regal claims he’s unimpressed by Antonio beating Muhammad Ali or Andre the Giant. I’m sure the WWF loved him mentioning Andre. In fact, I doubt Hogan appreciated it either. Regal just pointed out that someone beat Andre before Hogan. Then, Regal says he’s superior to Inoki, and it’s a good thing Antonio is retired otherwise he would do the same as he did to Zbyszko. Inoki threatens to attack Regal, but Steven retreats and tells him he’s lucky. This was great character building for Regal. I enjoyed this segment.

Meanwhile, Jesse Ventura joins Tony for the next couple of matches. Schiavone has to tell him which camera to face. Ventura clearly wants to be anywhere else but there. The arrival of Hogan has to be a factor. Jesse notoriously doesn’t like him.

Big Van Vader (w/ Harley Race) vs. The Guardian Angel

Notes: Nick Bockwinkel stripped The Boss of his nightstick, cuffs, and name at Spring Stampede because the WWF threatened a lawsuit. Now, he underwent training to join the Guardian Angels crime-watch organization. He ditched the police outfit for a Guardian Angels t-shirt and black slacks. It’s not a great look outside of the cool red beret and jacket. This gimmick wouldn’t last long.

During the entrances, Tony talks about the Angel being stripped of his nightstick and cuffs. Harley Race gets in Angel’s face and the Angel attacks him. Vader takes exception and jumps the Angel.

The Match: Vader uses headbutts and a surprising spin kick, but Angel answers with a back suplex and removes Vader’s mask. He also slams Vader after holding him up for a few seconds. Then, they brawl to the floor and Angel goes after Harley again. Vader uses the opening to hit an avalanche attack before returning to the ring to do another. Vader then shocks me again by attempting a second-rope sunset flip, but Angel sits on him. Next, Vader takes the Angel to the mat with some holds before hitting a Vader Bomb and a moonsault. He hurts himself in the process, so Race tries buying him some time. He climbs to the top rope, and Angel slams Harley. He then clotheslines Vader out of the ring and suplexes him back inside, but the ref gets clipped in the melee. Vader uses the opening to grab Angel’s baton, but the Angel stops him and takes it. Unfortunately, the ref recovers and sees the baton in Angel’s hands. He assumes Angel used it and calls for the bell.

Thoughts: The ending was lame, but the rest of the match was enjoyable. It was another hard-hitting hoss fight between these two. I liked their Spring Stampede match better, but this was decent until the finish. I also have to give them credit for not reusing spots. Both Vader and the Angel tried some new things, and it helped the bout. Vader was pulling out some surprising moves for his size. The only issue is the end didn’t help either man.

Winner: Vader (by DQ) (7:58)

Tony tries to ask Jesse for a prediction on the main event, but Ventura doesn’t seem to care. Then, they show Chris Cruise and Mike Tenay backstage trying to get some interviews for the hotline. Terry Funk walks by them, but he refuses to speak. Jesse finds that funny. Next, Tony recaps the Rhodes/Stud Stable feud. They show footage from Spring Stampede and Slamboree. Funk and Bunkhouse attack Rhodes and botch a spike piledriver. I’m unsure why they chose to show that clip. Next, they show Rhodes asking Arn Anderson to be his partner. Arn says he will give him an answer at Clash of the Champions. He eventually agrees and says they might get hurt, but they’ll turn that hurt on their opponents.

They also show footage of a dark match between some radio hosts. Jimmy Hart was the special ref and the match looked awful. I’m don’t understand why they would air clips of this. It looks embarrassing.

Terry Funk & Bunkhouse Buck (w/ Col. Parker & Meng) vs. Dustin Rhodes & Arn Anderson

Notes: Terry Funk attacked Dustin at Slamboree, so Dustin sought the help of someone who knows Funk well. He approached Arn Anderson to be his partner and told him he wanted the old Arn. Something tells me he will regret that decision. Arn took some time to think about it before agreeing at Clash of the Champions. Col. Parker countered by hiring a new bodyguard named Meng, who is the former Haku from the WWF.

During the entrances, Funk threatens some fans while Buck threatens the camera. Tony says he feels unsafe when Funk is in the ring. Rhodes and Anderson enter to Arn’s theme while Jesse talks about the history between the Rhodes and Funk families. He also brags about wrestling Terry to a time-limit draw in the 70s. That gives some perspective on how long Funk has been wrestling. I believe he’s retired at least twice since then.

The Match: Arn asks to start the match, but he reaches a stalemate with Buck. Bunkhouse then demands Dustin and gets him. Rhodes cleans house for a bit and even throws both men over the ropes while the ref is distracted. Ventura is disgusted. Unfortunately, Rhodes tumbles out of the ring on a missed cross body and Funk & Buck take control. They work over Dustin’s back and neck and double team him. Funk manages to knock himself loopy a couple of times and hilariously stumbles around like a drunk man. Eventually, Dustin fires back with punches and elbows before whipping Funk & Buck into each other. Rhodes finally tags Arn Anderson. Arn enters the ring, fires himself up, and—gives Dustin a DDT!! Then, Arn pulls Funk on top of Dustin for the win.

Thoughts: This was a fun match. The Arn turn wasn’t a big shock. You could see it coming a mile away, but it was still entertaining. It’s exactly the kind of thing you expect him to do. Dustin did a great job playing the face in peril, and it didn’t go on too long. Also, Terry Funk was a blast as always. I love how he sells like a drunk man. He would hit a headbutt and then stumble around like he dazed himself. Also, this match does a great job of building the storyline. The feud is an example of good long term booking. They have done a good job of keeping this rivalry interesting.

Winners: Funk & Buck (11:15)

After the match, Funk & Buck hold down Dustin while Arn drops knees on Dustin’s arm. Referee Nick Patrick tries to prevent Parker from joining the attack, but he does nothing to stop anyone else. Other officials finally arrive to end the attack because Patrick is useless. Mean Gene is in the aisle. He says it’s the most disgusting and despicable thing he’s ever seen. He tries getting answers from Arn, but Anderson tells him he will have to join their celebration party to talk to him. Gene plugs the hotline instead and recaps what we saw.

Meanwhile, Heenan returns while Tony introduces Hank Aaron. Tony asks Hank for a prediction for the main event. He says he’s rooting for both of them, so Heenan jokes that he should run for president. Then, Tony plugs Fall Brawl: War Games in September. Also, they recap the last match, and Heenan says he thinks Dustin has a broken arm. Tony then plugs the remaining matches before sending it to Gene.

Gene is with Ric Flair and Sensuous Sherri. Ric laughs about Arn’s heel turn, but Gene replies he should worry about Hogan. Ric says it’s standing room only as he likes it. He then name drops all the celebrities in attendance and claims they’re there to watch him make history. Then, Ric asks Sherri for her thoughts. She screams about Hogan having to beat the man to be the man. She says Hogan had a failing career, so he came to WCW to become the man again. Flair finishes by saying they’re limousine riding, kiss stealing, wheeling and dealing winners and champions of WCW. Then, Flair & Sherri woo before Gene sends it back to the ring.

U.S. Title Match: Stunning Steve Austin (c) vs. Ricky the Dragon Steamboat

Notes: Steamboat enters wearing his dragon wings and carrying a torch. He’s lucky he didn’t set the entrance curtain on fire. He then breathes fire, so Heenan calls him a human Bic. Tony talks about the history between these men. Steamboat once defeated Austin for the title and Heenan thinks he could do it again. Also, I should mention Austin is no longer in the Stud Stable. Tony explains that Parker thought Steve would be better suited on his own. Plus, Parker needed to focus on managing Funk & Buck.

The Match: The bell rings, and Steamboat mistakenly turns his back. Austin attacks and they trade chops. Austin then attempts a Figure Four, but Ricky sends him into the post. He surprisingly follows that up by hitting Old School and the two men trade punches. Then, Steamboat hits a dropkick that leaves Austin tangled in the ropes before Ricky focuses on Austin’s arm. Next, they do some leapfrogs, but Austin feigns a knee injury to lure Steamboat to the floor. They brawl and return to the ring, but Ricky goes back to working Steve’s arm. Austin keeps retaking control with a low-blow, an apron suplex, and a spinebuster. He also focuses on Steamboat’s neck and mocks his karate poses. Ricky responds by daring Steve to bring it. He catches Austin in numerous pin attempts and they reverse through a Tombstone multiple times until Ricky hits it. Austin grows nervous and starts trying to get himself disqualified, but Steamboat begs the ref not to do it. Steamboat then does a cross body, but Austin reverses it and pins him with his feet on the ropes.

Thoughts: This was a great match. There were points where it felt a little slow, but they always found ways to draw the crowd back into it. The closing minutes got the crowd even hotter. They set a good pace and told a nice story. Plus, the finish sets up a continuing feud. Unfortunately, Steamboat would suffer a career-ending back injury in their rematch at the next Clash of the Champions. He would still win the match and the title, but his in-ring career would essentially be done. It’s a situation eerily similar to Rick Rude. WCW seems to be cursed lately.

Winner: Steve Austin (20:06)

Tony is disgusted at Austin, but Heenan jokes that Austin accidentally got tangled in the ropes. Then, they show Cruise and Tenay talking to Pretty Wonderful. Heenan asks Tony for a prediction in the next match. Schiavone picks Cactus & Sullivan and Heenan jokes that Pretty Wonderful could beat them with some straight jackets.

Meanwhile, Gene crashes the Stud Stable’s celebration. Meng tries to prevent him from entering, but Gene says he has credentials. Bunkhouse Buck opens some champagne while Anderson celebrates with some women. Funk jokes that he kicked a fan who complained about what he did and Parker toasts Arn. He calls Arn an honorable man, but Gene thinks it’s disgusting. Gene asks for an explanation. Arn responds with a vague reference to being in the hospital after his scissor fight with Sid. He says it made him question what he was fighting for because he’s no crusader. He also says he warned Dustin he would get the old Arn Anderson who would smack his own Granny in the mouth for fifty cents. Buck pours champagne on Arn’s head, but he continues on the best he can. He ends his promo by saying Dustin made a pact with the devil and paid for it. Meanwhile, Gene is disgusted with the women for associating with this group. I love Arn Anderson’s promos. He has a way with words. It’s almost poetic. This was a good one.

Tag Team Title Match: Pretty Wonderful vs. Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan (c) (w/ Dave Sullivan)

Notes: We haven’t seen Pretty Wonderful on PPV in a while, but they’ve racked up enough wins on TV to earn a Tag Title Match. They fix each other’s hair in their entrance while Tony expresses disgust at the Stud Stable party. Then, Cactus & Sullivan make their entrance with Dave Sullivan in tow. Dave is wearing a Hulk Hogan t-shirt and a robe. Heenan jokes that Dave is wearing his jammies. Also, they show the famous Hulk Hogan fan that always dresses like the Hulkster. Heenan says that’s not Hogan. It’s some idiot.

The Match: Pretty Wonderful spend a lot of time stalling and posing after catching Sullivan in some arm drags. Cactus & Sullivan answer with biting and some surprising teamwork. Pretty Wonderful have to regroup, but all four men end up brawling. Orndorff moves when Cactus looks for a Cactus Elbow, but Cactus & Sullivan continue double teaming him. Jack surprisingly works the arm instead of his usual brawling, and Sullivan gives Orndorff a double stomp. Then, the fans lose interest and do a wave while Pretty Wonderful take control. They give Sullivan a piledriver, but Dave puts Kevin’s foot on the ropes. Roma continues the attack, but he makes nonchalant covers. Finally, Roma misses a flying splash and Jack makes a tag. The match becomes a brawl and Cactus hits a Double Arm DDT, but the ref is distracted. Roma trips Cactus and then holds down his feet while Orndorff covers for the win.

Thoughts: This was a slow and dull match. They unfortunately wrestled Pretty Wonderful’s style instead of the usual Cactus Jack match. There was too much stalling and the heat segment went on too long. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d rather see the Nasty Boys again. I’m also sad to see Cactus lose his tag titles so soon. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing this was punishment for Jack spitting on the belt.

Winners: Pretty Wonderful (New Champions) (20:10)

Tony then recaps the night and talks about the main event. He says it’s the match the fans have all waited for and WCW is proud to give it to them. Tony says Heenan didn’t want to see the match. Bobby responds if Hogan beats Flair, it will be a fluke. Then, Tony says everyone is thrilled to have Hogan, but Heenan takes offense to that comment. Bobby says its a shame he has to listen to fans cheer Hogan.

WCW Title Match: Hulk Hogan (w/ Mr. T & Jimmy Hart) vs. Ric Flair (c) (w/ Sensuous Sherri)

Notes: Before the match, Michael Buffer has to introduce Commissioner Nick Bockwinkel twice because he takes a moment to emerge. He also introduces Shaquille O’Neal, who gets a great reaction in Orlando. Then, Flair enters the arena first. I prefer the champion to enter last, but you know Hogan likes coming out second. Hogan has Jimmy Hart and Mr. T with him. It’s kind of odd because Mr. T is well past his prime. I get they’re trying to recapture the past, but T hasn’t been on TV in a long time. Next, Buffer does the introductions and compares the match to the moon landing, but he nearly forgets Buzz Aldrin’s name. This is apparently the night for ridiculous hyperbole. He also calls Mr. T infamous and the maniac mugger of Chicago. Buffer then claims that Hogan has had a three-year layoff, which is nonsense. Even if they ignored his ‘93 run, that would still be incorrect.

The Match: Hogan shoves Flair around before both men duck each other and strut. Then, they trade some mat holds, which is odd for Hogan. Flair eventually bails for a breather and hides behind Sherri a couple of times. He uses the tactic to lure Hogan into the ring and attacks him. Hogan responds by biting and punches Flair in the corner until Sherri trips him. Flair takes control with a long chinlock, but Hogan recovers and whips Ric into the corner for a flip. Then, Hogan hits a back suplex on the floor and a suplex from the apron, but he misses the leg drop! However, Hogan blocks some Figure Four attempts and no-sells a suplex. He then hits the big boot, but Sherri pulls the ref to the floor. Nick Patrick arrives to take over as ref as Flair locks Hogan in a Figure Four. He reaches the ropes, but Sherri chokes him while Ric distracts Patrick. Mr. T responds by grabbing Sherri and taking her away from the ring. He doesn’t notice that Sherri left behind some brass knuckles and Flair uses them, but Hogan hulks-up and hits the big boot and leg drop for the win.

Thoughts: I think they put together a pretty entertaining bout. It wasn’t a technical marvel, but it was pretty good for a Hogan match. I like the story they told and Flair controlled enough of it to look strong. Plus, they had the crowd in the palm of their hand. I enjoyed this. It helps to have a hot crowd. They were solidly behind Hogan, but that won’t always be the case. Hogan eventually gets booed in traditional WCW towns. They were smart to do this PPV in Orlando. If it had happened in the Carolinas, Hogan would have been hated.

Winner: Hulk Hogan (New Champion) (21:54)

Hogan celebrates with Hart, Mr. T, and Shaq while Heenan cries. Fireworks explode, and Hogan does his usual posing. Heenan calls it the worst day, but Tony disagrees. They show Hogan’s family and his Thunder in Paradise co-star, Chris Lemmon. Chris is holding a young Nick Hogan. The camera then focuses on Tony and Bobby, but Heenan is too busy grieving to call the replay.

Next, Hogan heads backstage where he greets Brutus Beefcake and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. He joins Mean Gene in the locker room, and Gene says the good old days are back again. Hogan replies everything that was old is new again. He then promises to take WCW fans on a long ride. I don’t think they realize how long it will be. He also lists different continents and seemingly invents a new one called, “Africasia.” Then, Hogan claims he had George Foreman on the phone during the match. I’m unsure how that’s possible. Hogan also mentions everyone in the room, including Brian Pillman and Johnny B. Badd. Gene introduces a few more and says Brutus Beefcake’s name. I’m sure the WWF didn’t care much for that. Hogan recaps the match and claims Mr. T was going to bend Flair into a ball so Shaq could dunk him. Next, Hogan talks about the fans wearing t-shirts and bandannas to hide their domes. Did Hogan inadvertently admit to hiding his bald head? Finally, Hogan claims he’s going to celebrate by riding tiger sharks. I don’t think that’s a good idea. Hogan then poses while Gene sends it back to Tony and Bobby.

Heenan says Flair won’t roll over and die, and Hogan has started a war. He then throws down his headset and storms off while Tony thanks the crew. He also says WCW’s new catchphrase, “What the world is watching—now!” That’s way too close to the WWF’s old slogan. I can see why it didn’t last. Tony then claims that wrestling is cool again, which immediately makes it uncool. It’s almost as bad as Michael Cole trying to say something is cool. Finally, Tony says goodnight and the credits roll.

The Good:

– The main event was entertaining.

– The opener was fun.

– Austin/Steamboat was good.

– The Rhodes/Stud Stable tag match was done well.

– Arn Anderson’s promo.

The Bad:

– The Tag Title Match.

– The finish of Vader/Angel.

Performer of the Night: I’m giving it to two people. The first one is Arn Anderson. He didn’t do a lot of wrestling, but his character work and promo were great. The second person is Bobby Heenan. He gave another great commentary performance that put over the importance of the event and sold his hatred for Hogan.

Final Thoughts: I thought this was an overall solid show. I know the arrival of Hogan is polarizing for some fans, but this was a good start for this era. It would slowly go down hill, but it got off to a decent beginning. The show was a success for WCW as far as PPV numbers, but the attendance was still an issue. It would be another couple of years before business truly turned the corner.

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My next review will be ECW’s Hardcore Heaven ‘94, so watch out for flying chairs! Look for my review next Saturday!

 

Written by Paul Matthews

I am chronologically reviewing all the pre-network era WWF/WCW/ECW PPVs from Starrcade '83 to WrestleMania 30. Join me on this journey every Saturday!
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