As usual, this was written several months ago so if I'm missing something, it's because I hadn't seen the Nitros leading up to this show.
Bash at the Beach 1997
Date: July 13, 1997
Location: Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Florida
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Dusty Rhodes
Reviewed by Tommy Hall
I’ll be doing the three Bashes in a row and then probably just doing individual shows again for awhile. It’s 1997 and the unofficial anniversary of the NWO being formed. This was in that weird period for WCW as everything was setting up for Sting vs. Hogan, but at the same time it took forever to get there because we waited 9 months between Sting’s moment of showing he was WCW and the actual match. The main event here is Luger/Giant vs. Hogan/Rodman. As in Dennis Rodman. Let’s get to it.
The opening video is Luger ranting about the NWO and how Rodman has been all mean to them and jumped them a few times.
The announcers talk a bit and apparently Page has a mystery partner for later that is either Curt Hennig, Sting or Raven.
Mortis/Wrath vs. Ernest Miller/Glacier
These four seemingly had more matches on PPV than I can count. Glacier is all ticked off to start and spears down Mortis so he can pound on him. He looks at Wrath and freezes him somehow so that Miller can hit a springboard dropkick to take the big man down. Off to Miller vs. Wrath now as we’re told Miller played for the Falcons and Patriots. I can’t find any evidence of this anywhere else and I’ve never heard of it otherwise. Why does that not shock me?
Miller fires off some kicks but gets caught in a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker but a middle rope elbow misses. Glacier comes in and hits a double dropkick with Miller to Wrath for two. Glacier goes to the floor where Mortis beats him up a bit. Wrath hits a pretty nice running somersault off the apron to take out the ice enthusiast. He finds a chair to put against Glacier’s head so Mortis can kick the chair into Glacier’s head into the post.
Back inside now for Glacier vs. Mortis. Heenan says there’s something between these two in the past but Glacier doesn’t want to go into what it is. Wrath comes back in and they hit Beer Money’s DWI for two. ROH fans will like this as Wrath throws on a Billy Goat’s Curse and Mortis drops a leg at the same time.
Mortis misses a moonsault and Miller comes in illegally to help Glacier. Feliner (Trouble in Paradise) takes out both heels. Everything breaks down and Glacier gets a DDT to put Mortis down for a delayed too. James Vandenberg, the manager of Mortis/Wrath puts a chain on Mortis’ foot so a kick to the chest ends this for Glacier’s first loss.
Rating: B-. Better match than you would expect here and I liked it for the most part. Mortis is more commonly known as Kanyon and he can do some interesting stuff. Wrath was shockingly good here too and is a guy I’ve always liked a little so that’s a nice perk. Also, notice how much better it is with guys to compliment the martial arts guys. You get a much better match.
Cruiserweight Title: Chris Jericho vs. Ultimo Dragon
Jericho is champion. He’s a face and hasn’t been champion long. I think Dragon is also but I’m not sure. To the shock of no one they start on the mat. Neither guy can hit a kick so they lock up again. Dragon does his handstand in the corner and of course no one can touch him as he does that. There are the kicks from Dragon and he puts on a nerve hold but just for a few seconds.
Jericho counters Dragon’s offense into a double powerbomb and a senton backsplash gets two. The fans want Sting. Just another five months for that guys. Jericho works on the back before the speed things up a bit. Moonsault press gets two for the Canadian as does a tiger driver. I’m not sure what happened here but they both go up to the top and Jericho tries a dropkick which clearly misses by about 8 inches but Dragon drops to the floor anyway. The announcers say he missed it and that Dragon fell to avoid it but it looked like a botch.
Anyway Jericho hits a plancha and they go back in. A rana by Dragon out of the corner doesn’t work as he gets shoved to the floor. Jericho dives on him but gets caught by a dropkick in a cool looking shot. Snap suplex on the floor has Jericho in trouble, yet he was back in the ring first. Dragon gets him to the floor and hits the Asai Moonsault to put both guys down.
Back in the ring and both guys try La Magistral but can’t get the pin. They speed things way up into some pinfall reversal sequences but Jericho counters a Dragon Sleeper attempt and they both go outside. Back in again and Jericho hits a Lionsault to the back for two. Another Lionsault attempt is countered by a dropkick and Dragon tries both his finisher with no success. Muta style moonsault gets no cover for Dragon and Jericho counters a powerbomb counter into a sunset flip to retain.
Rating: C+. This was actually kind of a mess. Far more of a collection of spots than a coherent match with any form of a story or anything like that throughout it. It’s certainly good and the big spots were cool, but I’m not sure if they really had this planned out all that well. They just kind of missed here.
Gene comes to the ring to talk to Raven. He asks Raven about being DDP’s mystery partner so Raven recites a poem. Stevie Richards pops up and mentions an announcement Raven has tomorrow on Nitro, earning him a backhand slap from Raven. The announcement might have been the formation of the Flock but I’m not sure.
Steiner Brothers vs. Masahiro Chono/Great Muta
They’re NWO Japan and if the Steiners win they’re #1 contenders….again. WCW has this really annoying habit of having teams (usually the Steiners) win title shots “somewhere down the line” but they never actually got them. The Japanese dudes clear the ring rather quickly so the Steiners go up top and hit a pair of clotheslines to send the foreigners to the floor. Chono gets in an argument with some guy at ringside before we get this going.
Scott and Muta get us going. Scott pounds away and Muta is like boy please and kicks away. Steiner finally gets his butterfly powerbomb to take over and hits a gorilla press to send Muta outside again. Off to Chono and Rick, whose eyes look all freaky. Chono gets annoyed with the bug eyes and hits a SICK Mafia kick to put Rick down.
Test of strength results in a kick to Rick’s ribs and they switch off again. Scott likes to pound Muta on the back. Belly to belly superplex to Muta doesn’t work as Chono grabs an electric chair drop and Muta hits the handspring elbow to take over. Chono goes up and he winds up taking the aforementioned belly to belly to put both guys down.
Hot tag Rick who hits belly to bellies on both guys. Steiner bulldog gets two. Scott goes up as the illegal man and gets caught in a rana by Muta. Rick by in and gets caught in a leg whip by Muta but manages a suplex for two. Everything breaks down again and while Chono argues with the referee, a super DDT (Rick puts him on his shoulders so Scott can hit a DDT off the top) ends Muta.
Rating: D+. Match was another mess with no flow to it at all. The Steiners were so bored/boring by this point that it was unreal. They had beaten every team in existence and there was no one left to challenge them. Since the Outsiders were allergic to wrestling I suppose, this was just another waste of time and it was pretty clear the Steiners didn’t care at all.
Juventud Guerrera/Hector Garza/Lizmark Jr. vs. La Parka/Psicosis/Villano IV
Ready for some pointless lucha libre for the sake of only having lucha libre? Onoo is with Parka and Psicosis. This is under lucha libre rules, meaning if you go to the floor someone else on your team can come in sans tag. Lizmark and Psicosis start us off as Tenay tries to explain rudos vs. technicos. Juventud’s team is technico here. They do some speed stuff and then Villano and Garza come in because they feel like it.
Things speed up and after this point I’m really not going to try to keep track of what’s going on because the point of it is to go completely insane for awhile. Sonny tries to kick Juvy but he moves and the kick hits La Parka instead. The power of money keeps him from mauling Onoo. Psicosis misses a running dropkick and the rudo team has an argument.
Juvy hits a springboard triple splash for two and all three technicos hit stereo planchas as the referee literally ducks and covers in the corner. Juvy tries a springboard cross body but Psicosis gets something like a dropkick up to block it. They go to the corner and Psicosis gets something like a sunset bomb on steroids for two. They do some more insane stuff and Garza gets a moonsault press for two.
Everything breaks down again as some heels collide. We get the four man move called the Star that never got over in America. Basically they’re all on the mat and have leg locks on someone while two guys get in the middle and do a move. It’s WAY too contrived to look good at all. Five man Tower of Doom is broken up and everyone goes to the floor.
Lizmark is the last one out with a big dive to Villano. Air Juvy (love that move) and again I can’t keep up with this at all. Garza hits his HUGE corkscrew plancha to take out everyone else. Villiano V comes out and switches with his brother but gets caught by a missile dropkick and standing moonsault for the pin by Garza.
Rating: B. This is a hard one to grade because from an American standpoint, it was an insane mess but from a lucha libre standpoint, I’d think it was rather good. It certainly was exciting and got the crowd going again, but at the same time this kind of stuff happened about once a PPV for WCW. This was one of the more fun ones though.
Kevin Sullivan vs. Chris Benoit
This is a career match and is out with Sullivan. No Woman though. Sullivan hasn’t wrestled in three months and Benoit is a Horseman. You figure the ending out. This is the final match of a feud that has gone on for a year now and it’s another slugfest which was done best the first time and has gone downhill ever since. Sullivan suplexes him to the floor and it’s a brawl already.
They tear apart a piece of the guardrail and Benoit suplexes Jackie. She of course no sells it because she’s Jackie and can take moves from men so she’s tough and should be on TV for the next 10 years right? Benoit is finally like screw this and tosses her at Sullivan then pounds on him for awhile. She interferes again because she can I guess. Jackie needs to get hit by a bus. Seriously.
They fight up to the set and Benoit goes through a surfboard house. I don’t think this is No DQ but who cares I guess. Benoit has sand all over him. They destroy most of the set and Sullivan is thrown into a tree. Sullivan takes a beach chair to the head and Jackie hits Benoit again. Seriously, go away. They fight to the other side of the set and keep punching each other.
Sullivan hits a Piledriver in the aisle and since it’s been 18 seconds since Jackie did something, she drops some elbows. Kevin gets a garbage can lid shot to Benoit’s lid but it just fires Chris up. And never mind as he gets sent to the floor so Jimmy can get some shots in. Benoit gets hung upside down with his back to the apron and Sullivan chops away even more.
Back in and Benoit pounds away on him even more. Sullivan bites his stomach so Benoit bites Sullivan’s ear. Crossface goes on but only gets two arm drops. Heenan says this show has the largest audience in the history of PPV. I won’t even start on that one. Benoit pulls him back to the middle and puts it right back on but can’t get it full.
The hold is broken so Chris kicks him a lot. Now he chops him a lot and Sullivan is a face somehow. He Hulks Up for lack of a better term and puts Benoit in the Tree of Woe. Three running knees hit him as Jackie gets a wooden chair. Jackie pops Sullivan with the chair for no apparent reason other than to give herself a reason to yell some more. Swan Dive ends Sullivan’s career.
Rating: C-. The problem for this comes down to one thing: they had the same match for a year straight. Why in the world would I want to watch another big brawl between these two so many times over and over again? It’s not horrible but we’ve seen it such a ridiculous amount of times that no one cares. Also, WAY too much Jackie time here.
Sullivan gets some big sendoff by the announcers like he was some great guy or something.
US Title: Jeff Jarrett vs. Steve McMichael
Jeff is champion here. They both pose with the belt to waste some time. It should be noted that Jarrett is about as popular as George Wells was. If you’re saying “who?” to that name, you’re getting the point. There’s a reason he would be back in the WWF in about three months. Jarrett takes him down to start and struts to waste some more time. He is from Tennessee after all.
He wastes too much time though and walks into a Bossman Slam. Mongo takes out the knee so Jeff heads to the floor a bit longer. For some reason Jeff accepts a test of strength with a big power wrestler. What could go wrong with this? It’s pretty clear Mongo has no idea how to actually pace a match or use psychology or anything like that at all but he’s not messing up every move anymore.
Out to the floor and Mongo goes into the steps. That doesn’t seem to hurt him and Jeff goes into the railing to further injure the knee. Mongo chokes him with a cord and we head back into the ring. Weak gorilla press is followed by a powerslam for two. Mongo misses a knee in the corner and now Jeff uses a football tackle on the knee. There’s a second one and Mongo is down. He sets for the Figure Four but Debra gets up on the apron, “accidently” gives Jarrett the case and he hits Mongo with it….in the arm. He tries again and hits him in the head for the pin to retain. Debra leaves with Jeff.
Rating: D. The lack of psychology and anything remotely resembling it hurt this a lot. Mongo would get the title in a few weeks so it’s not like this mattered that much. Jarrett and Debra would go back to the WWF soon enough so we didn’t have to put up with this feud much longer. Jarrett got better with age but at this point he wasn’t nearly as good as he’s known as today.
Hogan and Rodman say nothing of note.
Scott Hall/Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page/???
Hall is a tag champion but is teaming with Savage here because Nash is busy at a taco festival I suppose. The partner is likely either Raven, Hennig or Sting. It’s pretty clearly not going to be Sting because it would be too big of a waste for his return. Raven….probably not due to it being kind of a big jump up for him in the card. Hennig was more or less the default pick and it turns out he is in fact the partner. This is his WCW debut in the ring, because he popped up on Nitro for no apparent reason other than to make sure this wasn’t an actual shocking debut at the PPV.
Page vs. Savage starts us off which is one that’s hard to screw up based on how obsessive they were about setting up matches beforehand. Page sends him to the floor and Savage stalls some more. There’s a bunch of stuff in the ring for some reason and Savage doesn’t want to fight. Not sure what it is but the referee keeps wiping it off the mat. Off to Hall vs. Hennig now and they look at each other a lot. They go to the corner and Hennig actually gives a clean break.
Both combinations seem more interested in seeing how long they can go without actually getting into a full on match. Curt hits an atomic drop and Hall does his hop selling. Back to Page so he can hammer on Scott a bit. Page gets beaten down and it’s the NWO in control. Since it’s a match between 1996 and 1999, Page has bad ribs. Out to the floor and the beating continues. Hall gets a discus punch for two.
Back off to Savage as Page gets a right hand in. Page kind of falls down and it’s ice cold tag to Hennig. Granted the match is like seven minutes old at this point so it’s not like he was in peril long. And since this is in 1997, Hennig of course turns on Page and leaves him to the wolves known as Hall and Savage. The beating goes on for awhile and the big elbow ends it. Hennig wouldn’t officially join the NWO for a few weeks after pretending to join the Horsemen.
Rating: D+. Total meh match here as the whole thing was about going from debut to the turn (if you can actually be one way or the other after five minutes) in under ten minutes, which is pretty wasteful but they’re trying at least. Hennig would join the Horsemen soon enough and then the NWO because that’s what everyone did, minute the Horsemen part I guess.
Roddy Piper vs. Ric Flair
Because the fans were BEGGING for it! WCW really doesn’t help themselves with the lack of recaps. I have no idea why most of these matches are happening and it’s totally random as to whether or not you get a recap of it. Even a quick sentence can sum up a lot of stuff. To the shock of no one, this is more of a brawl than a match. Piper beats the tar out of him to start and sends him to the floor.
Back in and Piper chops away in the corner and Flair is looking like a clueless putz. No idea if Flair is face or heel here. Piper hammers away in the corner and there’s a Flair Flip in the corner. Flair eats post and Piper chops away some more. I don’t think he’s done anything but punch or chop. Back in again and Flair gets a shot to the knee to take over. Figure Four goes on and Piper reverses it.
Roddy actually gets a swinging neckbreaker for two. Wouldn’t have expected that one. Low blow takes the Canadiscot down and it’s back to the knee. That doesn’t work either so Piper fires off punches and kicks Flair’s leg. Out to the floor again which doesn’t last long. Back in Flair gets a jawbreaker to quickly break up a sleeper.
After a bunch of two counts Flair goes up and you know how that goes. Figure Four goes onto Flair and is broken rather quickly. Illegal object from Flair is stolen by Piper and Flair goes out. Here are the Horsemen and Piper of course outsmarts them until Mongo of all people is able to piledrive him. That only gets two and Piper Hulks Up. Sleeper ends this which is supposed to be some big deal, even though WE HAVE NO IDEA WHY THEY’RE FIGHTING.
Rating: C+. Well I can’t really say it sucked, but is there any real point in having these guys fight? It’s not a bad match and is actually kind of good, but the time hurt it as this got nearly 15 minutes and with Piper only being able to chop and punch, how good can it really get? Also, no Malenko, Guerrero or Mysterio on here, but they get 15 minutes. And people wonder why this company went out of business.
Dennis Rodman/Hulk Hogan vs. Lex Luger/The Giant
I get that Rodman was a legit big draw and at the time he was an A-list celebrity so it’s not as stupid as it sounds like now, but what does this accomplish from a storyline perspective? Oh that’s right: it keeps Hogan from having to defend the title so he can hold it even longer. Buffer says tens of millions of people are watching this around the world. Savage is out with the heels here.
Luger and Hogan start and I’d expect Hogan to wrestle more in this match than he has in the past five weeks combined. They go to the mat and it’s just ugly. We put the camera on Andrew Galotta (boxer) and Rodman’s agent for awhile. Not much contact so far as Hogan is stalling a lot, mainly because were twenty five minutes left in the show when the bell rang.
The first major contact is a shoulder block by Hogan about three minutes in. Luger hits one as well and by hits I mean you can see a good three inches between their arms. Hogan hammers him down and it’s his usual heel stuff. He asks the fans if they want Rodman to come in and it’s pretty clear Rodman is the most popular guy in the building. Hogan goes over and makes the tag and it’s time for the announcers to overhype everything like never before.
Rodman is in sunglasses here. He stalls like Larry Zbyszko dreams of and they lock up. Rodman gets an armdrag and the reaction from the announcers (the WCW ones mind you, as in the ones that HATE the NWO) makes the one when Sting won the title later in the year pale in comparison. I mean they lose their minds because Rodman hit an armdrag. Luger armdrags both guys twice and the overreaction is just stupid. Have these guys never seen a Ricky Steamboat match? This is proving why the match is stupid, right here.
A leapfrog and a shoulder block by Rodman (meaning a basketball player is capable of jumping and leaning his arm forward) are hailed as “flashes of brilliance” by Tony. The guys on Tough Enough have flashes of brilliance in their second episode then. A single clothesline sends Rodman looking for a nurse and it’s off to Giant vs. Hogan. They proceed to do a basic Nitro match for a few minutes as no one cares with no Rodman in there.
Rodman offers to come in and fight the Giant and plays face because he doesn’t know any better. He tries more leapfrogs and then we realize that it’s stupid to try to jump over a guy called THE GIANT. Heenan loses his mind because his apparently new sexual object of desire known as Rodman is in trouble. If you were new to this product and heard the commentators, you would swear Hogan and Rodman were the good guys.
Hogan and Rodman get a double clothesline to Giant and Rodman breaks up Hogan’s pin attempt for some reason. Hot (and unseen) tag brings in Luger but Hogan takes him down pretty easily. Savage interferes and this is rapidly getting boring. There’s the legdrop for two and ZERO reaction from the crowd and announcers. This is the Hulk Hogan legdrop and it got no reaction. Maybe Hogan should try a leapfrog. Actually that would get a reaction.
Back off to Rodman as this slows down even more. There’s the foot choke in the corner which gets a bigger reaction than the Hogan legdrop. Another unseen tag brings in Giant but this one doesn’t count for some reason. Giant comes in anyway and here’s Not Sting. He hits Giant with the bat and everyone thinks he’s NWO. Pay no attention to the fact that he’s maybe an inch shorter than Giant and comes in over the top rope. Hogan accidently hits Rodman and the Rack ends Hogan finally.
Rating: F+. Totally awful main event but the announcers overreacting is pretty funny stuff. In short, Rodman isn’t a wrestler so he’s not really at fault here. I mean, would you turn down probably a minimum of six figures for twenty minutes of “work”? He just took a check and did his thing out there to a huge reaction. That being said, this proves nothing and the whole thing was just a mess because we had to protect Rodman (again not his fault).
Luger Racks Rodman and Savage post match.
Overall Rating: D. This was a hard one to grade. It’s certainly a low level show and that needs to be kept in mind. This show wasn’t about having a good show but rather having a big buyrate due to Rodman. It’s definitely not the worst show ever but it shows a lot of what’s coming for WCW and how things would start falling apart. They clearly weren’t trying that much here and they wouldn’t do much next month either because it was in front of a bunch of drunk bikers. Bad show, but for different reasons than usual.
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