wrestling / Columns

Top 7 WCW Bash at the Beach Moments

July 11, 2022 | Posted by Steve Cook
New World Order nWo Bash at the Beach Hulk Hogan Image Credit: WWE

What was World Championship Wrestling’s most important annual event? As a younger man, I always thought it was Starrcade, the oldest of WCW’s PPVs. The granddaddy of them all, if you will. Eric Bischoff told us it was Halloween Havoc due to its locale of Las Vegas. You can either believe everybody’s favorite podcaster or teenage me. Or, perhaps there was another answer.

There was one other show that could have made a good argument for the title of “WCW’s WrestleMania”. It always seemed to have the biggest matches with the most mainstream appeal. It took place in the middle of the summer, which is a good time to have big events. Also, some of WCW’s most cataclysmic events took place there.

I can only be speaking of Bash at the Beach. It’s no wonder BatB was the first old WCW PPV name Cody Rhodes used for an AEW show. Whenever WCW went to the beach, big things happened. Today, we look at the seven most magnificent Bash at the Beach moments.

7. WCW on Baywatch!

The second edition of Bash at the Beach took place at a beach, which was a rather novel idea. Tony Schiavone claiming that hundreds of thousands of fans were there was somewhat ridiculous. Some will mock WCW for not charging money for tickets, a practice they would continue with their later PPV events in Sturgis, South Dakota. I don’t see the need to engage in such mockery for three reasons. For one thing, what difference would one live gate have made in how WCW operated in their immediate future? Secondly, I recently re-watched the show and one of the things I noticed was a metric ton of Slim Jim advertising. Mean Gene even had a Slim Jim hat on!

Then, there was Baywatch.

Back in 1995, Baywatch was the most-watched television series in the world. As popular as the show was in the United States, it was even more so in Europe, Asia & Australia. Parts of Bash at the Beach were included in an episode of Baywatch, exposing the WCW product & its stars across the world. Not everybody knew where Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage & Ric Flair had gone since leaving the WWF, now they knew.

6. Russo Buries Hogan

To say that 2000 was a crazy time for WCW would be a bit of an understatement. There were all sorts of creative difficulties & moving parts behind the scenes resulting in an on-screen product that often didn’t make much sense. Bash at the Beach saw this on full display when Jeff Jarrett laid down for Hollywood Hogan in their scheduled World title match. Not long afterward, Vince Russo came out and launched into a diatribe.

Apparently this was all supposed to lead to something, but then Hogan got upset by some of the stuff Russo said. Hogan would not appear for WCW after this event. I’m still not sure who was “right” in the whole backstage scenario with Russo, Hogan & everybody else, but it certainly was memorable.

5. Rey & Psicosis Tear It Up

This wasn’t the first time Rey Mysterio Jr. & Psicosis met on U.S. soil. They had a series of matches in late 1995 for Extreme Championship Wrestling that drove hardcore fans nuts. This got them noticed & signed by WCW along with a whole crew of luchadores. A young generation of wrestler was taking Mexico by storm, and WCW was able to fill out their cards with a lot of them.

Mysterio would end up being the biggest star of all of them. Psicosis broke in at the same time with Rey, training in the same camp with him. Early on, they would be each others’ greatest opponents, pushing each other to new heights wherever they went. There wasn’t a bigger stage for them to compete on than 1996’s Bash at the Beach, and they went all out to steal the show. A reader of the Wrestling Observer called it “the first great match of the twenty-first century”. Psicosis & Rey’s incredible moves would set the stage for what would follow in later years, as countless wrestlers were influenced by their style. This was the first opportunity for a ton of American viewers that didn’t get ECW or AAA television to see it.

4. Arn Turns On Dustin

Dustin Rhodes had all sorts of problems with Col. Robert Parker’s Stud Stable during 1994. It started with the unpredictable Bunkhouse Buck, then things picked up a tick when Terry Funk entered the proceedings. Terry’s issues with the Rhodes family went back multiple decades…he thought Dusty was nothing but a no-good egg sucking dog, and Dustin wasn’t any better. Dustin needed a little backup, so he enlisted one of the toughest people he knew.

The only problem? It was Arn Anderson. The Anderson family had no shortage of problems with the Rhodes either, but Arn had been a fan favorite for about a year and a half at this point. Arn had always been loyal to his friends, serving as an Enforcer for years. Dustin thought he could trust Arn, and he knew from previous battles that Arn had a competitive edge that would come in handy against the Stud Stable.

Dustin took most of the match beating up Buck & Funk, then finally tagged Arn in. Arn wasted no time, immediately giving Dustin a DDT and rolling Funk on top for the three count. Arn then joined the Stud Stable in injuring Dustin’s right arm. Even as a 10 year old kid that hadn’t even seen the worst of Arn from back in the day, I wasn’t surprised.

3. Malone vs. Rodman

We’ll never see anything like this again. Sure, professional athletes will continue to appear on wrestling shows. We’ll even see some of them wrestle. What we won’t see again will be two of a sport’s top stars competing in the main event of a pro wrestling PPV just weeks after competing in that sport’s championship. For one thing, their employers would never allow such a thing. Too much money on the line.

Even if such a thing did come to pass again, what would be the odds that both athletes involved would be Hall of Famers in their sport? Karl Malone & Dennis Rodman are still considered among the best power forwards to ever play basketball. Rodman was part of several championship teams while Malone obtained many individual awards. These guys were at the top of their game when they agreed to step in the ring.

Not all celebrity wrestling works. We would see that a month after this match when Jay Leno tried to wrestle. The Bash at the Beach 1998 main event worked on a level that I don’t expect to see again. Rodman had competed at the previous year’s Bash, teaming with Hogan against Lex Luger & the Giant. Malone struck up a friendship with Diamond Dallas Page when Page attended a game, and told Page he wouldn’t mind getting involved in wrestling. The Bulls & Jazz had a pretty hot feud going at the time with Rodman & Malone at the center of it, so it didn’t take a rocket scientist to book this one. It just took getting everybody to agree on things.

2. Hogan vs. Flair Done Right

We all know the story. While Hulk Hogan carried the WWF during its nationwide expansion, Ric Flair dominated the NWA as its World Champion. Wrestling fans lined up behind each man. WWF fans that were drawn towards spectacle and the new style being presented were behind the Hulkster. More traditional wrestling fans that liked the sport of pro wrestling the way it was were behind the Nature Boy. Fans debated for years who would win if the two ever met.

It happened first in the WWF, but didn’t quite live up to peoples’ hopes & dreams. Hogan & Flair matches did well the first time around the house show loop, but not so well the second time. A combination of factors doomed the program, and a match that should have main-evented a WrestleMania was cast aside. The timing wasn’t right.

By the time of July 17, 1994, the timing was right. Hulk Hogan had jumped ship and signed with WCW. Unlike when WWF had Flair face some other people before getting to Hogan, WCW didn’t waste any time. Their fans knew who Hulk Hogan was, he didn’t need to be established. WCW built it up as a huge event with the two greatest of all time going at it. People bought it, it did big business and pushed WCW to another level. For the first time in a long time, WCW felt like a big deal.

1. The Third Man

Scott Hall & Kevin Nash showed up in WCW in the middle of 1996 as dangerous Outsiders. WCW hoped to get rid of them, or at least humble them a little bit, in a six-man tag team match at Bash at the Beach. Sting, Lex Luger & Randy Savage represented WCW against Hall, Nash and their mystery buddy, who didn’t even show up at the start of the match. Luger got taken out early on, so it wound up being two on two. Which apparently weren’t fair enough odds for WCW, as the announcers were completely distraught about it going from 3 v. 2 to 2 v. 2.

Then Hulk Hogan came down to save the day! Unfortunately for WCW, he wasn’t there to save Sting & Randy Savage.

You could call it the New World Order of wrestling, brother! Hogan turning to the dark side gave him a much needed refresh and gave WCW a heel supergroup that could take business to the next level. Everybody in the world had an NWO shirt at one point. It was not just one of the biggest moments in WCW, but one of the biggest moments in professional wrestling history. People still talk about it today and use it in their memes. Pretty sure I saw the Big 10 Commissioner legdropping the Pac 12 Commissioner somewhere.

Thanks for reading! Hit me up on the Twitter with thoughts & concerns, or down in the comment section. Until next time, true believers…

article topics :

WCW, WCW Bash at the Beach, Steve Cook