REVIEW: Bash At The Beach 1996: The Turning Point

REVIEW: Bash At The Beach 1996: The Turning Point
REVIEW: Bash At The Beach 1996: The Turning Point


Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?

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

This is one of the first non-WWE reviews I ever did so it is LONG overdue for a second try. I’m pretty sure you know this one, as it is built around the question of who is the third man. The Outsiders arrived about a month and a half ago and are now ready for their first match, but they need a partner. Now who is that going to be? Let’s get to it.

I do miss the WCW Home Video “And now, our feature presentation” graphic like it’s a Disney movie.

The opening video looks at the Hostile Takeover, which is the only thing that matters whatsoever.

Commentary welcomes us to the show with Dusty wanting the six man tag on first. Fair enough idea actually.

Psychosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr.

Mike Tenay joins commentary, thank goodness. Rey’s offer of a handshake earns him a slap in the face as Tenay talks about these two training at the same camp and hating each other as a result. They go to the mat with Psychosis slipping out of a cross armbreaker attempt but getting pulled into a leglock. That’s broken up as well as Tenay talks about how big lucha libre is in Mexico.

The pace picks up a bit with Rey getting headscissored to the floor, setting up the big suicide dive. Back in and a legdrop gives Psychosis two and the chinlock goes on. With that being a bit too boring, Psychosis hits a guillotine legdrop (his future finisher) for two and a running clothesline drops Rey again, setting up a fire four necklock. That’s broken up so they head to the apron with Rey launching him into the post. A running flying headscissors (Tenay: “They call it a hurricanrana!”) has Psychosis in more trouble and it’s back inside for Rey to work on the leg.

A kneebar sends Psychosis to the rope but he is fine enough to send Rey throat first onto the top. They head outside with Rey getting dropped onto the barricade, setting up a top rope backsplash to the floor (dang). Back in and an enziguri gives Psychosis two as Heenan wants to know where Tenay learns all of these names. Rey cartwheels up into a hurricanrana to the apron, setting up the top rope hurricanrana out to the floor in a huge crash.

Back in and a springboard moonsault gives Rey two more and a springboard missile dropkick sends Psychosis head first to the floor. The springboard spinning moonsault hits Psychosis again, but Rey’s knee bangs into the barricade. Back in and Rey’s springboard hurricanrana is countered into a sitout powerbomb for two more. Rey gets sent stomach first into the buckle and Psychosis loads up a super Razor’s Edge, which is countered into a super hurricanrana (Splash Mountain) for the pin at 14:22.

Rating: B. This took some time to get going but then it was all action with these two flying around like crazy. Rey snapping off hurricanranas all over the place to the point where only Tenay could keep up with them was great stuff. The other thing to remember is that this is 1996, when this kind of thing was unheard of on this kind of stage outside of about three people. Awesome opener and a heck of a match.

After explaining what we just saw, Konnan says he isn’t worried about facing Ric Flair tonight. Konnan hasn’t had time to develop any allies but he’ll take out all of Flair’s friends, including the women, to keep his US Title.

Big Bubba vs. John Tenta

This would be Big Boss Man (with Jimmy Hart) vs. Earthquake (who has had half of his head shaved to set this up) in a bag of silver dollars on a pole match, because that’s how WCW worked at this point. Bubba runs away to start but runs back in to get elbowed in the face. Tenta goes up but gets belly to back superplexed down for the huge crash. Now it’s Bubba’s turn to climb, earning himself a crotching. Tenta gets smart by trying to take the pole down, only to get whipped by Bubba’s belt.

Bubba tapes him to the middle rope and unloads with the belt to keep him down. For some reason Bubba only tapes one arm before going to cut more of the hair. That means a low blow to Bubba so Tenta can steal the scissors and cut himself free. Bubba is right back up with a spinebuster as Hart climbs the pole to get the bag (which is REALLY high). Tenta gets in a powerslam though and is right there to take the bag from Hart. One good shot to Bubba gives Tenta the win at 9:00.

Rating: D. Well this wasn’t exactly the same as the opener. I’m not sure why WCW would think that fans would want to cheer for an over the hill Earthquake just after he was the Shark, but I’ll assume “because WCW”. The match tried to have a few different things going on at once and most of them didn’t work, which you probably could have guessed.

Lex Luger, Sting and Randy Savage, all in face paint, are ready for the Outsiders and are all ready because they all have goosebumps.

Lord Of The Ring: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Jim Duggan

Page, defending in a taped fist match, has undergone a career renaissance in recent months, going from rich to poor to winning Battlebowl to losing the title shot which came with it to a lot closer to what you remember him as being. Duggan sends him outside in a hurry but gets shouldered in the ribs for his efforts. A neck snap across the top takes Duggan down again and Page tapes his legs around the post.

Referee Nick Patrick unhooks it though, making that a bit of a waste of time. Duggan is right back to knock Page into the ropes and out to the floor, setting up a suplex back in. Another suplex is blocked though and Page takes him down by the arm. Page goes up top but gets crotched (Dusty: “SOMEBODY CALL THE FAMILY!!!”) and Duggan starts hammering away again. They go outside but Page kicks the ropes on the way back in, setting up the Diamond Cutter for the pin at 5:57.

Rating: D. This didn’t work in the slightest and I’m not at all surprised. Page was on his way up but he still had a long way to go before he meant anything. You could see the effort there though and that is a great thing to see. Duggan….dang it he can be hard to like in WCW at this point, but it’s hard to not like someone who could be that goofy.

Post match Duggan is right up to wrap tape around his fist and knock Page silly.

The Dungeon of Doom is ready for the Horsemen, with Kevin Sullivan being ready to show that he is not the weak link. Giant, the World Champion, is ready to crush everyone in front of him. Gene Okerlund thinks Jimmy Hart needs to brush his teeth.

Arn Anderson wants to see what happens to the Outsiders, even though he is not a fan of Sting/Lex Luger/Randy Savage. As for tonight, he is ready to win the tag match and get a World Title shot to bring it back to the Horsemen. Chris Benoit is ready to leave Kevin Sullivan for dead.

Public Enemy vs. Nasty Boys

Double Dog Collar match and dang it I forgot how annoyingly catchy Public Enemy’s theme is. During the Boys’ entrance, Tony points out that they have a large variety of matches on this show and he is absolutely right. That’s something a lot of other promotions could learn from, even if they won’t. Johnny Grunge and Brian Knobbs are chained together and fight to the floor, with Jerry Sags and Rocco Rock following in a hurry.

It’s time for a trashcan (complete with trash for some bonus points) and thankfully we go split screen. Knobbs and Grunge fight up to the beach set, featuring Grunge being beaten with a rubber shark. Sags hits Rock with a surfboard (Tony: “You can do much more with a surfboard than with a rubber shark.”) but Rock climbs a lifeguard stand to flip down onto him. Rock sends Sags through the stand but he is back up to grab a table. Said table is thrown at Rock as we go single screen since they are all together.

A piledriver in the aisle gives Sags two with Grunge making the save. Grunge fights off of the table but gets hit in the head for his efforts. Sags is put through the table for two and it is time for everyone to head back to the ring. Rock sets up another table and goes up but Sags pulls him onto the table, which does not break as Rock bounces off. Sags wraps the chain around his arm and drops an elbow on Rock onto the table….which still doesn’t break. Grunge gets hung with the chain and Rock is sent into the stretched chain for the pin at 11:37.

Rating: D+. Your individual tastes may vary here but my goodness I miss those themed sets. There was sand, a lifeguard chair, a boardwalk and of course the rubber shark. Those things add so much to a show like this and that was certainly the case here. Do something like that and make the show feel special, as it isn’t like you see this very often anywhere these days.

Post match the brawl stays on with Sags being knocked off the apron and through the toughest table of all time.

We aren’t sure where Eric Bischoff is (he didn’t show up for the pre-show) and Gene Okerlund talks about all of the tension backstage. Ignore the Cruiserweight Title match graphic popping up as he talks.

Cruiserweight Title: Disco Inferno vs. Dean Malenko

Disco, in a lot of orange and carrying a gold record, is challenging and promises to dance after he wins the title. Malenko starts fast and knocks him to the floor for a whip into the barricade. A posting puts Disco down again and the leg lariat gives Malenko two back inside. We’re already off to the Figure Four necklock as this is one sided so far. A belly to back suplex drops Disco again and we hit the kneebar.

Malenko lets that go and dropkicks him in the back of the head, setting up an STF. With that broken up, Malenko grabs a sunset flip out of the corner for two. Disco manages to slug away in the corner though and grabs a Stroke for two of his own. They go outside again though and Disco is sent hard into the barricade. Back in and a double armbar goes on as Tony has to explain what it means to “thwart” something.

Disco stretches rather far with his feet to escape again and elbows Malenko down in the corner. The middle rope ax handle sets up a neckbreaker for a slightly delayed two. A swinging neckbreaker lets Disco dance for a second before covering for two more. Malenko catches him with a springboard dropkick but the Texas Cloverleaf is countered into a small package for another near fall. A backslide doesn’t work and Malenko has had it, meaning it’s a tiger bomb into the Cloverleaf to retain at 12:08.

Rating: C+. I think you can call this one a shocking near miracle as Disco was a complete goon most of the time but he was working here and almost pulled off a miracle. He was a good bit away from meaning anything, but at least he put in a heck of a performance here. Malenko was his usual good self and the perfect person to help make Disco look better.

Joe Gomez vs. Steve McMichael

McMichael (Mongo, with Debra, with her dog) is still new to the wrestling thing but this is a weird choice for a pay per view match. Some chops have Gomez in trouble but a backslide gives him two. Gomez manages to send him into the corner but Mongo gets the most obvious low blow imaginable (there was no way the referee didn’t see that). The beating is on with Mongo ramming him into the buckle and grabbing a reverse chinlock (Mongo: “NOW I GOT HIM!”).

The sleeper goes on but Gomez jawbreaks his way to freedom. A neckbreaker gives Mongo two but the Figure Four is countered into a small package for the same. Mongo’s powerbomb is countered with a backdrop and they screw up a sunset flip to give Gomez two more. Mongo has finally had it with this and hits his Tombstone (the one move he could do well) for the pin at 6:37 (ignore Gomez’s foot under the rope).

Rating: D. It’s only that high because of Mongo’s lack of experience but there were more problems than just that. The match was WAY more competitive than it should have been and made Gomez look like a bigger deal than Mongo. Throw in how sloppy it was (again, understandable) and the fact that this was actually on pay per view instead of on Nitro (with half the time) and this was a near disaster.

Ric Flair, with Woman and Elizabeth, says you can never have enough trophies in your career and it’s time to win the US Title. Then the Horsemen can win the tag match so Flair can win the World Title tomorrow and you know what that means: LA CUCARACHA! Then they can have a private party, with Woman being rather interested in having Gene Okerlund there. That was always a weird deal, but Woman made it work.

US Title: Konnan vs. Ric Flair

Flair, with Woman and Elizabeth, is challenging. We actually get a handshake to start until Flair takes him into the corner for a WOO. Konnan headlocks him down but they’re right back up, with Konnan hitting a dropkick. A slap to the face rocks Flair and another headlock takeover has him in trouble. Of note: Dusty says he has been in the ring with Konnan, which is something I need to see.

The surfboard goes on to make Flair scream again and Konnan kicks him in the back to make it even worse. There’s a gorilla press and it’s time for Flair to take a breather on the floor. Konnan clotheslines him off the apron but a Woman distraction lets Flair take over for the first time. Back in and Flair pokes him in the eye so the referee yells, allowing Woman to come in for a low blow. Now it’s Elizabeth offering a distraction so Flair can throw Konnan over the top (with Woman pulling the rope down).

Back in and the chinlock goes on but Konnan fights up and hammers away in the corner. A triangle dropkick puts Flair on the floor and it’s time to beg off back inside. Flair punches his way out of a sunset flip but the Figure Four is countered into a small package. Now Konnan gets his own Figure Four, drawing more Flair screaming. Flair grabs the rope and scores with a suplex, only to get slammed off the top (the classics never die).

The rolling clothesline gives Konnan two and there’s the abdominal stretch rollup for the same. That’s enough to draw Elizabeth onto the apron for a distraction, allowing Woman to hit Konnan in the head with the high heel. Flair covers (with feet on the ropes because he’s a villain) to win the title (for the first time since 1980 and the sixth time overall, still a record) at 15:35.

Rating: B-. I was expecting a styles clash here but they had a pretty good match with Flair knowing how to get the most out of just about anyone. The women cheating to make it easier for Flair is a classic story that will always work and Konnan looks strong in defeat. Rather nice surprise here and that’s always a good thing to see.

The third man has gone into the Outsiders’ dressing room but Gene can’t make out his voice. He knows he has heard it before but he just can’t place it. For some reason he doesn’t ask any of the four security guards, instead asking Tony Schiavone who he thinks it might be. Bobby Heenan suggests asking the guards (or even bribing them) but Gene stops himself because he doesn’t want to get caught up in one of Heenan’s schemes. This has been your latest example of WCW announcers being REALLY STUPID.

Chris Benoit/Arn Anderson vs. Giant/Kevin Sullivan

If Benoit/Anderson win in any way, a Horseman gets a World Title shot tomorrow. The fight is on in the aisle and here is Mongo with his briefcase to jump Giant. The chase is on, leaving Sullivan here on his own….for about three seconds. Sullivan punches his way out of Anderson’s wristlock and it’s time to scrap with Benoit, as tends to be their nature. Anderson comes back in for a knee that looked a bit low, allowing Benoit to take Sullivan outside for a ram into the barricade.

Back in and the double teaming continues, as the Horsemen know they’re done if Giant gets the tag. Anderson misses a charge into the post but Benoit makes the save and hits a running elbow in the corner. Giant makes the save but Anderson grabs the abdominal stretch to keep Sullivan in trouble.

It’s time to work on Sullivan’s leg as I try to get my mind around the idea of Sullivan fighting for a hot tag. Sullivan manages to catapult Anderson into the corner to crotch Benoit and there’s the tag to Giant. Benoit and Sullivan fight into the aisle and then the announcers’ area, leaving Anderson to get chokeslammed for the pin at 7:50.

Rating: C. It was much more of an angle than a match but there was certainly a good story being told. The idea that the Horsemen knew they were in trouble against the Giant meant that they had to keep Sullivan down made sense, as did Giant wrecking things as soon as he came in. Giant was rapidly improving at this point and you could see that he was getting the hang of things in a hurry.

Post match Benoit dives off of the set onto Sullivan as the beating continues. They had back to the ring (after Giant made a rather fast exit) with Benoit wrecking Sullivan. Cue Woman to call him off but the Giant makes the real save. Giant carries the out cold Sullivan off.

Long video on the Hostile Takeover, which really did feel like the biggest thing to happen in a VERY long time. The Outsiders kept appearing and even powerbombed Eric Bischoff off the stage at the Great American Bash. The idea was to present the team as….well as outsiders, and they made you believe that these guys were here to wreck things. I didn’t know what exactly was going on, but I knew it was great. They set this up to perfection and even at eight years old, I needed to know who the third man was going to be.

Outsiders/??? vs. Sting/Lex Luger/Randy Savage

The Outsiders, coming to the ring to some generic music (probably for the only time ever in a bit of trivia that no one ever wondered about), have no third man to crank the drama up even higher. Before Team WCW comes out, here is Gene Okerlund to ask the Outsiders what is up. They confirm that the third man is here but they can handle it themselves for now. Tony: “THEN COME OUT HERE AND KICK THEIR TEETH IN RIGHT NOW!!!” Team WCW is all painted up together for a nice touch.

Luger starts with….the yet to be named Scott Hall (“This Outsider” according to Tony) and takes him into the corner where Sting tries a Stinger Splash. That crushes Luger in the corner and he’s out cold, meaning he is being stretchered out (Now THAT is a great red herring!). Hall goes extra evil by stomping away while Luger is on the stretcher and Tony bothers to name (at least last name) the Outsiders. Sting hammers Hall down in the corner and the fans are WAY into this.

Savage comes in but gets punched out of the air, allowing Nash to get in a shot of his own. Hall gets knocked into the corner though and Nash comes in legally for the first time. Savage unloads in the corner but gets knocked down without much effort. The jumping elbow…I think misses, even though it made contact. Sting comes in and gets elbowed in the corner, setting up the boot choke. Tony brings up the question of why no one has come out to take Luger’s place, which I believe qualifies for a “because WCW”.

It’s back to Hall for the fall away slam and Nash adds the big boot. Sting gets in a shot to Nash’s ribs and a small package gets one on Hall. That’s not enough to bring Savage back in though and Hall grabs the abdominal stretch (and Nash’s hand to make it worse). Nash comes in for his own abdominal stretch, setting up Hall’s sleeper. With that not working, the big side slam gives Nash two but Sting strikes away. The diving tag brings Savage back in and commentary/the crowd is right back into it.

Everything breaks down and Nash gets in a low blow on Savage. Things are looking bleak….and here is Hulk Hogan. Heenan gets in the famous “BUT WHOSE SIDE IS HE ON”, which is still perfect for Heenan and not a spoiler like some have suggested. Hogan clears the ring, turns around, and drops the leg on Savage, revealing himself as the third man. We’ll call it a no contest at 16:52.

Rating: C-. This is just for the match and ignoring the ending. They had to take someone out of the match for the sake of keeping it 2-2, as putting the Outsiders at a disadvantage would mess everything up. The best thing about this is that Hall and Nash can wrestle a good match with anyone and it isn’t like the two of them vs. Sting/Savage was going to be bad. It was a bit dull at parts, but this is a case where 95% of the match means absolutely nothing and that is perfectly fine. The ending was all that mattered here and it worked better than anyone could have dreamed.

Post match we get some more legdrops, allowing Hall to count a pin on Savage. Hulk N Pals clear the ring, including kicking Sting to the floor. Commentary freaks out with some great lines, including Tony thinking this was all planned back in 1994 when Hogan debuted (not true of course, but absolutely something that would fit if they wanted to go that way).

Gene Okerlund gets in the ring for the famous interview, with Hogan telling the fans they need to shut up if they want to hear what he has to say. Hogan talks about how these two came from an organization up north and no one knows more about it than him. He became bigger than the organization and then Ted Turner promised him everything he could want. Well now Hogan is bored, so he wants these two as his friends because they are the new blood of wrestling.

They are going to destroy everything in their path and all the trash in the ring represents the fans. For two years, Hogan did everything for the charities and the kids, but then the fans booed him. Well those fans can stick it, because they wouldn’t be here without him and Eric Bischoff would still be selling meat from a truck in Minneapolis. Hogan: “I was selling out the world while they were bumming gas to put in their car to go to high school.” The New World Organization is running wrestling and whatcha gonna do? Tony signs off, saying Hogan can “Go to h***. Straight to h***.”

Where do you even begin? The first thing is that they actually did it. They actually turned Hulk Hogan, the biggest face in his generation heel. That’s hard to fathom but they did it. Not only did they do it, but they absolutely nailed it, as the fans were stunned by what they saw and responded accordingly. This absolutely holds up and it did exactly what it needed to do, as Hogan is completely fresh and WCW has their hottest angle…..ever.

As for what Hogan said, I don’t think you can argue with it hitting the right chords. Hogan acknowledging that he was booed by the fans and not really knowing how to handle it fits the whole thing perfectly as Hogan always was an egomaniac but could get away with it because the people loved him so much. Much like Austin joining the Alliance in 2001, I’m not sure I get the idea of turning on WCW and thereby fighting the same people you’ve been fighting before as a change of pace, I’d call that minor at best.

This is one of those moments in wrestling and it has absolutely deserved that right. You can’t praise it enough and you certainly can’t argue with how it went immediately thereafter. Hogan absolutely needed this turn to save his career, because the last year and a half had been so bad with him being pushed so hard. It opened up a new world, it was a great promo and it took me a few weeks to comprehend what happened as a kid. To say this holds up would be an understatement and it deserves all the praise that it gets.

Overall Rating: C-. Ignoring the huge main event angle, this was the usual up and down WCW show. You had the talented people turning in good matches but the lower half was its usual drek. That being said, WCW absolutely needed this show and it was absolutely the turning point for the company. As Vince McMahon said after Austin won the title, nothing that happened before tonight matters anymore and everything starts now. Not a great show, but the one point that matters worked very, very well.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.

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