Bash at the Beach 1996: It All Begins Here (Formation of the NWO/Hulk Hogan Heel Turn)

How in the world do I not have this up yet?

 

Bash at the Beach 1996
Date: July 7, 1996
Location: Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Florida
Attendance: 8,300
Commentators: Bobby Heenan, Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes

So this is it. This is the show where everything changed for WCW. There had been an invasion by Hall and Nash, who up to this point I don’t think had been named, and we had Sting, Luger and Savage joined together to fight them off. There’s also a mystery third man that no one knows yet.

That right there is what causes the whole change in wrestling. It launched WCW into the stratosphere and causes WWF to be about as sick as you can get without dying. The rest of the show is pretty much forgotten and with good reason. Let’s get to it.

If you’re looking for what I think about the beginning of the NWO, scroll down to the end of this and you’ll find it.

This is subtitles The Hostile Takeover. Yep it’s so hostile that they’re being given ring music, a match on the show and the main event spot on the PPV. I wonder if they got catering too.

There are security guards at the table with them. Ok then.

Rey Mysterio vs. Psychosis

Rey had debuted at the PPV the month before this. This should be awesome as they have all kinds of history together. Tenay replaces Bobby for this one. Rey is YOUNG here, only being 21 at this point. Rey starts off with a half crab. We hear about how popular these two are, talking about how the masks are sold in the streets. I always wanted a Kane mask. Finally they get tired of the leg locks and go all lucha on us.

And then they hit a chinlock. Sure why not. Psychosis hits the guillotine legdrop that would be his finisher later but it’s just two here. You know for a match with these guys, this is pretty freaking boring. Rey finally starts throwing some ranas to make things interesting. West Coast Pop gets two. And let’s talk about the main event. Heenan is here too actually.

We hit the floor and Psychosis hits a perfect senton to the floor on Mysterio. It’s a back splash, not the Hardy move. This referee is really annoying. He has a hitch in his count just like that Armstrong referee that got released a few months ago. So after almost ten minutes they realize they’re Rey Mysterio and Psychosis and just go the heck off with high spots.

Psychosis goes for Splash Mountain (Razor’s Edge into a sitout powerbomb from the top) but Rey shoves off in mid air and hooks him into a hurricanrana for the pin. That’s still one of my all time favorite endings to a match. Mysterio would win the Cruiserweight Title the next night on Nitro.

Rating: B+. This started VERY slow but once they realized the crowd was only halfway into it, they cranked it WAY up and it turned into nothing but awesome high spots. See, this is a FAR different Rey than you’re used to today. This is when he was the best cruiserweight ever. He was pulling off stuff that is just flat out insane.

Then he destroyed both of his knees and slowed way down to where he was like 3rd best in the world. Either way, he’s amazing at this time and had some of the most jaw dropping spots ever. Also keep in mind: this is the very beginning of this division. Today it’s common to see this all over the place in America, but it had only debuted in mainstream wrestling less than a year ago at this point, so this was mind blowing stuff. Great opener and the crowd is white hot now.

Konnan says he’ll keep the title. When asked what happened to end the match, he says Psychosis had him up for a top rope Splash Mountain but Rey reversed into a top rope Frankensteiner. YOU CAN’T BUY THIS KIND OF ANALYSIS PEOPLE!

Apparently you can and it’s called Mike Tenay. Got it.

John Tenta vs. Big Bubba

This is a Carson City Silver Dollars Match. In other words, there’s a sock full of silver dollars on a pole and either Big Boss Man or Earthquake has to climb it. Keep in mind that Eddie Guerrero vs. Regal and Steiners vs. Harlem Heat for the tag titles took place on the Main Event, which was the TV show that aired before this. Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea? Oh that’s right: they’re Hogan’s buddies.

Bubba shaved half of Tenta’s hair and half of his mustache, making him look even stupider. Is there a point to the bag of silver? Not at all, but why let that stop them? Tenta finally wakes up and tries to take the pole down. Keep in mind that you win by pinfall so the pole isn’t even needed. Then again why would logic make sense here? Earthquake gets tied to the ropes with athletic tape. Only one arm though.

Who in the name of hollandaise sauce thought this was a good idea? Boss Man comes over with some scissors to cut the rest of his hair but Quake uses them to cut the tape. Ok that’s smart at least. We get our first intelligent thing of the night as Bubba tells Jimmy Hart to climb the pole. Tenta gets them and nails Bubba in the jaw with the silver dollars for the pin. THIS GOT NINE MINUTES.

Was this supposed to be a joke that went bad? Again, Harlem Heat vs. the Steiners for the TAG TEAM TITLES didn’t go on PPV, but this did. WOW. Oh and I forgot to mention: THIS IS THE TALLEST POLE EVER. Tenta is 6’7 and wasn’t even half as tall as that thing. Seriously, WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA??? He pours the silver dollars on Bubba afterwards. So not only did he beat him up, but he pays him for it? Is this some kind of weird fetish?

Rating: S. As in SERIOUSLY? This makes the PPV and gets almost ten minutes? I get that Hogan was running things, but this is ridiculous to put it mildly. The match was boring and the whole cutting the straps on the pole went nowhere. This was just freaking bad all around.

The announcers talk for a bit and Tony has a lei on. The others talk about how important this is and Tony looks like an idiot. Bobby says he’s been asking people not involved in wrestling if they know who the third man is. He’s surprised that they didn’t know. Do I even need to make fun of this?

Team WCW says they’re ready for the Outsiders and don’t care who the third man is. They all have their faces painted like Sting. Oh and Luger is full face now, which at least makes sense for this.

Lord of the Ring: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Jim Duggan

This is a taped fist match for the stupid ring that DDP won last month that is now worthless since his title shot was revoked. So apparently in this you can tape your fists more than you usually can? I hate WCW. I truly do hate it at times, but at least it improves for a bit after this. The fans chant USA, even though both guys are Americans. That always made my head hurt.

I’d love to see someone that Duggan was fighting get fired up more than he did because of the chants and shout about how they’re MORE American than Duggan. Apparently 10,000 people were turned away. Maybe it would be better if they got an arena that held 10,000 people in the first place. Duggan has his feet taped together around the post. Again, is there some kind of tape fetish in this company? And he just gets out through some unseen method.

Again, Guerrrero vs. Regal and Heat vs. Steiners. Just thought I’d remind you of that. Page uses the ropes to avoid a suplex and Tony gets on him for it. Why? It’s a legal move. Everybody is shocked that Duggan can manage to take control without tape on his fists. Thanks for the vote of confidence in Duggan. After being on the floor for 8 seconds, Duggan slides Page in and walks into the Diamond Cutter for the pin. Duggan throws some tape on his fist and knocks Page out anyway. Another waste of time.

Rating: D-. Again, WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THIS? For the life of me I can’t think of one. Either way, the match was terrible and I still fail to see the point in it. Just a waste of five minutes or so.

Giant and Taskmaster say they’re not worried about the Horsemen. Giant is still world champion here.

Lee Marshall talks to Benoit and Anderson who get the aforementioned heels later tonight. Arn of course cuts a decent promo.

Public Enemy vs. Nasty Boys

It’s a tag team dog collar match with a former ECW team. Pay no attention to the Stevie Richards/Raven vs. Pit Bulls dog collar match less than a year before this in ECW. WCW never stole anything from ECW at all. Not a thing. Have you noticed a significant lack of young talent on this card other than the openers or DDP? Bischoff is missing if that means anything at all. Sags and Rock are attached and Knobs and Grunge are attached.

We almost immediately go split screen which has the ocean behind it and only half of the screen is covered by the split screen due to the MASSIVE BATB logo on the top of the screen. Brilliant. A trash can full of trash is brought in. Sure why not. We go up to the beach set and Johnny Grunge gets knocked down and is in pain. He was beaten by an inflatable pink shark. Somehow this has stopped being absurd. That’s a new one on me.

They fight for about five minutes on the beach. This is entertaining at least. I know I don’t say that often but this is one of those matches that reaches the point of insanity that makes it amusing. The announcers not taking it seriously at all helps a lot too. We get a table brought in. Keep that in mind. Rock gets piledriven on the floor and there’s no cover. Knobs hits a GREAT trash can shot on Grunge.

There goes the first table. We’re back in the ring now with another table. Now this one noticeably looks different than your modern Dudley tables. Sags is on the table and Rock goes up. He gets pulled into a front flip and bounces off the table. Remember that Rock weighs about 300lbs. Sags goes up and drops an elbow onto Rock onto the table. It STILL doesn’t break.

Rock comes unhooked from the chain when he’s whipped into the chain of Knobs and Grunge and it clotheslines him. That’s also enough for the pin. Rock knocks Sags from the apron to FINALLY break the real table. Most tables are precut and weakened to make going through them easier. This one wasn’t apparently.

Rating: C+. Not bad actually. They woke up and realized that there’s no point in trying to have these two teams have a coherent match. This was just pure insane fun and it actually worked pretty well. The shark was funny if nothing else. The commentary helped too as they just had fun with it like they were supposed to. Fun match.

Gene is in front of the Outsiders’ locker room. He doesn’t go try to talk to them or anything, but he’s in front of it. Love that hard hitting reporting!

Cruiserweight Title: Disco Inferno vs. Dean Malenko

I hate to say it, but that song is catchy. He says everyone is here to see him dance and once he wins the title he’ll dance. The guy had charisma and energy. You can’t take that away from him. And let’s talk about the main event more. Ok to be fair, this was a huge match for a change rather than the usual run of the mill main events so I can’t complain that much.

They talk about how awesome the cruiserweights are even though a lot of the really great ones aren’t there yet. This is all Malenko so far. Malenko’s in ring work is really underrated as far as the flying stuff goes. He actually was ranked as the best in the world in the PWI 500 in 97. I was surprised by that. Maybe six minutes in, Disco hits his first offense which is a punch. And now he just goes off in the longest string of offense he’s ever been on I think.

It lasts all of a minute. Heenan says pincovers. I thought only Taz used that term. Most odd. Disco hits his Stunner which was his finisher but checks his hair first. Dean starts busting out springboards of all things. He really could do just about all of it. Dean just goes off and hooks the Cloverleaf for the tap out. Malenko just going off like that made it work for me.

Rating: C+. This wasn’t bad, but the ending was never really in doubt. Inferno looked pretty decent if nothing else, but it’s not like it meant much as Rey would beat Dean the next night in the opener to win the title. Decent little filler match though.

Kimberly says nothing of note. She’s in a towel though so I can’t complain.

Joe Gomez vs. Steve McMichael

So Gomez is a career jobber and McMichael is in his PPV debut as a Horseman. Any bets on what happens here? Mongo is allegedly one of the meanest people Dusty has seen in the last 10-20 years. Wow. This is another of those matches where you know there’s no drama as to the winner. The crowd is DEAD. McMichael just isn’t that good yet. To be fair he never became any good but at least he has an excuse here.

Apparently this is his third match. That’s saying a lot. Gomez is called a rookie here despite having been wrestling over ten years at this point. This is just going on too long. That’s what this boils down to. This match is just too long. They’re making it look like he can’t finish anyone off. He should win this in like 2 minutes and we’re over five already. It makes him look inept rather than elite.

There’s your boring chant. Gomez starts his comeback and they botch the heck out of a sunset flip. Thankfully they realize that it’s going bad and just end it almost immediately. This would have been a success if they cut about 4 minutes out of it.

Rating: F. This was supposed to be a squash and Mongo was supposed to look dominant. Neither happened as Mongo looked like a BAD rookie that had no idea what he was doing. I get that he needs ring time, but he needs to get it in far shorter spurts. This can be blamed on the booking far more than the people in it though. Again, you cut four minutes out of this and it’s light years better.

Flair cuts a promo and forgets he’s fighting Konnan and says that he’s fighting a man with 1000 holds. Right. Gene gets hit on by Woman again which was something I never got at all.

US Title: Konnan vs. Ric Flair

It’s nice to see a guy like Flair going down to Konnan’s level. This is the kind of stuff you just flat out do not see in modern wrestling. Konnan looks…weird. They shill Nitro tomorrow. Once I get done with the PPVs, I might start doing some Nitros and Raws. Just not sure how many of them. We hear about Flair’s cardio which is in a word, unmatched. The Surfboard never stops looking totally awesome.

Konnan Hulks Up and we go to the floor. Konnan gets a running start off of the apron and takes down Flair and Liz at the same time. That’s just WRONG. With the referee distracted Woman kicks Konnan square in the balls. Even the fans cheer for it, I’m assuming out of sympathy. In case you forgot about it, let’s talk about the main event! Konnan makes ANOTHER comeback and Flair is in something resembling trouble.

This is a very different Konnan here as he looks like a guy that actually could win something. Flair gets put in the figure four which for some reason is surprising despite it happening in about every match he’s ever in. The rolling clothesline hits and you can tell we’re running out of time here.

Konnan hooks an abdominal stretch into a rollup for no count as Liz is with the referee. Lucky bastard. Woman pops Konnan with the shoe to the head and throws his feet on the ropes (completely unneeded but it’s what great heels do) to win his first US Title in over 15 years.

Rating: C+. Not bad but it never got me going on this one. Flair getting the belt gave it some legit credibility that it had been lacking recently after runs from One Man Gang and Sasake so this was a big deal. Konnan never was as important as he was here again though, but this was just an ok match. I don’t think anyone thought Flair would lose though.

Gene goes to the Outsiders locker room and there’s a third voice in there. He’s not sure who it was but he’s heard it before. Even knowing who this is, the drama is there man. They’re building this perfectly and I’m excited about this.

Chris Benoit/Arn Anderson vs. Taskmaster/The Giant

Ok so there are two things to keep in mind here. If the Horsemen win, a Horseman gets a shot at the Giant the following night for the title. The second thing is that no one can beat the Giant so they’re going to focus on Sullivan. They brawl in the aisle and Mongo runs out with the briefcase he had to nail Giant who chases Mongo to the back, making it a handicap match for a bit.

It means nothing as Giant is back in like 8 seconds. Ok then. Now Benoit and Sullivan were having a GREAT feud where most of it was shoot stuff as Benoit had (kayfabe) stolen Woman, who was in real life married to Sullivan. In real life, Benoit and Woman had an affair and in real life Woman left Sullivan for Benoit. So in other words, they legit hated each other and were in brutal fights with each other.

Sullivan gets to get beaten on forever as we realize that the match is over once Giant comes in. So he gets a tag (to a freaking POP) and the Horsemen run. Benoit and Sullivan fight up to the announce area as Giant beats Anderson up like a jobber and the chokeslam ends it in like a minute. Benoit dives off of the announcers’ stage to plow into Sullivan.

That could have been a top five ever feud if Sullivan hadn’t sucked so much. Benoit is just destroying him at this point until Woman comes out and yells at Chris to stop it. This never went anywhere because of the NWO. Benoit was just awesome back then, even moreso than he would become. Giant carries Sullivan off like a 6 pack which is kind of funny.

Rating: D+. This did its job and that’s it. There was nothing to the match but somehow it went eight minutes. This was just a filler to set up the next chapter in Benoit vs. Sullivan and to be fair it did that, but we’ll never know where it went after that.

And now the reason why this is the most important show in WCW’s history up to that point: the main event. Since this is legitimately one of the biggest matches ever, I’ll have a special section at the end talking about the NWO at this stage. I’ll save the latter stuff for when it happens, but this will focus on the beginning through about Uncensored 97 where Hogan vs. Sting became the clear end goal. So I’m not skipping this, but I’ll save it for the end so scroll down if that’s what you’re here for.

We recap the invasion and see Hall walking onto Nitro and making history back in May. Those two debuts were some of the biggest shockers I can ever remember. They both blew my mind and even me, perhaps the biggest WWF mark here, forgot Raw existed for a little bit. There’s no commentary of voiceover here.

It’s just clips and occasional audio with them. Not that it really matters but Hall and Nash cost Sting and Luger the tag belts. This whole thing comes down to one question: Who is the Third Man?

Sting/Lex Luger/Randy Savagevs. Kevin Nash/Scott Hall/???

In case you don’t remember, the WCW guys were selected by putting the names of the top 6 WCW wrestlers based on win/loss record over the past I think six months or a year in a hat and drawing them out. The others were Hogan, Taskmaster and Giant. Hall and Nash come out alone and don’t have names yet. Tony gives them their names here. Until then they were just the Outsiders.

I’m not one for six man main events but this feels huge. Partially because it is huge. Gene goes into the ring before the WCW guys are here to find out who the third man is or for that matter where he is. The build for the drama here is epic. They’re milking this for everything they can.

The commentators aren’t even trying to stay unbiased which for once is nice. Even Randy Anderson is taller than Gene. Buffer is almost as tall as Scott Hall. Wow I didn’t realize that. The bell rings and we actually start with a handicap match.

The paranoia of the announcers actually upgrade this, marking the final time the WCW commentators don’t make me want a stiff drink in the history of WCW. Luger and Hall start. Now we get to the interesting part about a minute in. It turns into a big brawl and Nash and Luger are in the corner. Sting launches a Stinger Splash and nails Nash.

He also nails Luger, whose head and neck are rammed into the turnbuckle/bar attaching the turnbuckle to the ring. He’s OUT. They bring out a stretcher to carry him to the back and we have a 2-2 match with the third man on the way out. Now this does a few things. First of all, it makes the Outsiders look like they have a chance. Being realistic, there was no three man combination in the world that could have beaten Sting, Luger and Savage at this point and looked dominant.

That’s a WCW All-Star team to put it mildly and it would have been a waste of time to try. By making it two against what would become three, it makes WCW, the faces, at a disadvantage as they should be (are you listening TNA?). Also, this throws out a tiny piece of meat to the smarks as Luger and Sting had been the top candidates to be the third man.

It opens a door for Luger coming back and never being hurt and it opens a door for Sting to have done that on purpose. Either way the match pretty much stops at this point while we wheel Luger out. Tony says the Outsiders planned that somehow. That makes no sense but whatever. Crowd is RABID here.

Savage comes in but when Nash goes for a big elbow he lands on Savage’s head so Sting has to come in. Nash beats the tar out of Sting as does Hall so Savage is going to get the hot tag. There’s no real penalty or reward if the Outsiders win. They’re doing something brilliant here as they’re pacing things out to the point where we forget about the third man.

That’s very smart booking and I’m in awe of how this match is going. Tony says the Outsiders should get hurt. Wow. I’m not sure if that’s awesome or not. Savage FINALLY gets the hot tag and you actually can barely understand the announcers over the crowd. Nash gets a low blow on him though…and here comes Hulk Hogan. Heenan asks which side is he on.

The Outsiders clear the ring….and Hogan turns heel, dropping a leg on Savage and then another one. To say the crowd is pissed off is an understatement. This is legitimately a shock as NO ONE, not Meltzer, not Keith, not Reynolds, no one called this and if they did they were wrong at the time because from every report I can find, this decision was made the day of or the day before the show as Sting was scheduled to be the third man until Hogan agreed to do it.

This was a legitimate shocker and it lived up to every bit of the hype. Hogan turning was the one thing that made this angle work as I’ll get into later on. This was a great moment and I was about to cry when it happened. The fans flood the ring with garbage as Gene gets in. Hogan cements his heel status by saying the fans need to shut up if they want to hear what he has to say. That line alone makes this promo.

He says the name and the rest is history. Hogan claims the success for making WWF. I’m shocked too. Hogan says he’s bored with WCW and is joining up with the Outsiders and calls them the new blood of WCW. This is the one problem I had with both this turn and Austin joining the Alliance in 2001. Both guys said they were bored with the companies they had been in and wanted better competition.

If you’re going to be fighting the company you used to work for, won’t you be fighting the same competition you were fighting before? Hogan’s title win was over Giant who he had fought at I think three PPVs and his first defense was against Flair and you know that history. That just never made sense to me.

He throws in the for some reason semi-famous line about Bischoff selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis which is actually true. Hogan runs down the fans and does his trademark line. Tony says Hogan can get out twice and we’re done.

Rating: A+. This was about launching the NWO. It worked.

OverallRating: B+. Not even considering the main event, this is a very good show all around. There’s one bad match early on, but you completely forget about everything else by the main event. There’s some great stuff on here and you could easily use this show as a definition for how to build drama to the ending. That was all that mattered but it worked like a charm at the end. Great show and well worth watching all the way through.

Despite all that happened to it later on and all the insanity that came from it and how it eventually became an albatross that brought WCW to its knees (and yes, most of the blame can still go on Hogan for reasons I’m sure we’ll get to later), when it began this was one of the best storylines in the history of wrestling (and yes X and others, I know Bischoff stole it from Japan).

Having an invasion could have been the best idea in the world. However, I think it peaked as soon as the Giant and Fake Sting joined. The problem simply was that at that point, it stopped being about an invasion and it was just a big faction in WCW. Hogan had to be there or else it was two guys beating up WCW guys. Hogan was virtually unbeatable in WCW so they needed him on board or everyone would just be waiting on Hogan to come in and save the day for WCW all over again.

The problem became that EVERYTHING became about the NWO. Angles such as Benoit/Sullivan and DDP’s benefactor were just dropped and it was NWO all the way. This is a big part of why the company failed in the long run. People got tired of the NWO and WCW had nothing else to throw out there.

Over in the WWF at their peak you had Austin vs. Vince but you also had the IC Title all over the place, you had the hardcore stuff, you had a (terrible) lightweight division, you had DX vs. the Nation and Rock vs. HHH. The midcard wars were going on and while they were tied to Austin vs. Vince, at the same time they were their own feuds. In short, there were a lot of things going on in the company other than just the main event.

Now, the NWO came out red hot and was the #1, #2 and #3 reason why WWF got its head handed to them and the early days of it were the best. That night where Rey got thrown into the trailer was one of the sickest things I have ever seen in wrestling and I was legit scared of the NWO after that. To say they nailed the start of this was an understatement. The NWO was a brilliant idea and it saved both WCW and Hogan.

The next year and a half were some of the most interesting shows of all time. Note that I said interesting and not good or anything like that. Either way, I’m looking forward to the next bunch of PPVs, but we’re going to reach a point eventually, and it’s not going to go well. Still though, this was GREAT and probably the biggest and best played shock in wrestling history.

 

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3 comments

  1. Awesome_Miz says:

    Didn’t know where else to post this at, but as you said in the beginning of this review, “How in the world do I not have this up yet?”. I don’t know why you haven’t reviewed the fallout show to this show.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    I have. I just haven’t posted it yet. Not that it matters much as Hogan doesn’t appear.

    Awesome_Miz Reply:

    Didn’t know that. But, yeah you’re right not that interesting without Hogan showing up until the following week.