What the World Was Watching: Bash at the Beach 1995

Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan are in the booth and they are live from Huntington Beach, California.  Schiavone says that the crowd is the biggest ever to see a WCW event.  This passes the eye test but there was no accurate way to verify how many people were there to see the show since WCW did not sell tickets to the event.

A video package hypes Meng.

United States Champion Sting is interviewed by Gene Okerlund.  Sting says that he has home field advantage and the fans – including his mother and father who are at ringside – will give him the energy to defend the U.S. title.

Opening United States Championship Contest:  Sting (Champion) (19-1) beats Meng (w/Colonel Robert Parker) (24-1-1) after a schoolboy at 15:29:

Michael Buffer is back to doing ring announcing duties for the evening since WCW wanted to lose as much money as possible for this show.  The match is a stark contrast to their Great American Bash encounter as Meng does a lot of rest holds and controls more than eighty percent of the match, causing Schiavone to talk about how Baywatch is filming footage of the match for the upcoming WCW crossover episode for the sake of having something to talk about.  That might explain why the match proceeds as it does since the WCW cameras pan to the audience several times.  The craziest part of the match is when Meng suplexes Sting into the ring and appears to unintentionally modify it into a brainbuster.  Sting’s late rally brings the crowd back a little bit, but this did not work the crowd like an opening match needs to do.  The bad finish did not help, and it also killed Meng’s push as he went into midcard purgatory.  Oh, and remember that in the build that Sting promised to get a submission win?  That did not happen either.  Rating:  *½

After the match, Meng attacks Sting until Road Warrior Hawk comes to ringside to save Sting from further punishment.

Okerlund interviews Television Champion the Renegade and Jimmy Hart.  The Renegade tells Okerlund in between his yelling that Hart has trained him to terminate on sight.

Television Championship Match:  The Renegade (Champion w/Jimmy Hart) (8-0) pins Paul Orndorff (13-3) after a side suplex at 6:11:

Orndorff received a title shot after winning a mini-tournament on WCW Saturday Night on May 27.  The match got very little build, though, as Orndorff did not wrestle on television throughout June and did minimal taped promos for the match.  In a bad sign for the Renegade, the Huntington Beach crowd HATES him, possibly because even the most casual fan realizes he is a ripoff of the Ultimate Warrior.  Schiavone and Heenan also use this match to discuss how abrasive the ringside sand is and how it could get into a wrestler’s pores and cause incredible discomfort.  At least this has a payoff since Orndorff throws sand into the Renegade’s eyes to go on the offensive.  Since the match lasts longer than a minute, the Renegade goes to his favorite babyface hold – a headlock – and then throws a horrible dropkick that Schiavone does not even attempt to cover for.  And the Renegade keeps spamming that move, thereby making his predicament worse.  Then you have the finish, where the Renegade does a side suplex that Orndorff appears to sandbag and Orndorff clearly gets his shoulder up and hand in the ropes before three, which referee Nick Patrick fails to see.  Why would you ever do that finish for a weak babyface?  That just compounds the Renegade’s problems and if WCW wanted to book a rematch between these two there were better ways to get there.  Rating:  DUD

After the match, Orndorff attacks the Renegade, piledriving him and getting a big pop.  However, the Renegade does not sell it and gives Orndorff a flying body press to a chorus of boos.

A video package recaps how Kamala became a member of the Dungeon of Doom.

Okerlund interviews Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who says that he is tired of following the rules in WCW.

Kamala (w/Kevin Sullivan) (4-0) beats Hacksaw Jim Duggan (28-3-1) after the Zodiac hits Duggan with Kamala’s mask at 6:07:

Kamala is so great with his character, finding time to slap his belly when Duggan keeps trying to knock him off his feet with clotheslines.  He even does a hilarious celebration taunt when he starts pounding on Duggan in the corner, raising both hands in the air like he is Rocky.  For his part, Duggan shows some smarts, stomping on Kamala’s bare feet with his ring boots.  Sadly, the match is bowling shoe ugly as far as in-ring technique.  Duggan hits the three-point stance clothesline, but Sullivan distracts the referee and the Zodiac runs in, hits Duggan in the back of the head with Kamala’s mask, and Kamala stays undefeated.  The crowd is just DEAD with these finishes so far.  Rating:  ¼*

Randy Savage is interviewed by Okerlund.  Savage says that he does not care who the lifeguards are for tonight’s match with Ric Flair because emotion, family, and survival is what wrestling is all about.  He adds that the beach is his natural element.

Diamond Dallas Page (w/the Diamond Doll & Maxx Muscle) (8-0-1) pins Dave Sullivan (6-2) after the Diamond Cutter at 4:23:

Before the match, a young fan in a Hulk Hogan shirt gives the Doll some flowers, which Page promptly tears up.  Sullivan hits the ring with rage – meaning that Ralph cannot accompany him –  forcing the flowers down Page’s throat and getting a loud pop.  Sullivan makes Page pay for some blind charges but Muscle hops on the ring apron when Sullivan gets Page in the inverted bearhug and Page hits the Diamond Cutter when Sullivan turns around.  That is the best booked finish of the evening thus far, which is not saying a lot.  Rating:  ½*

Okerlund interviews Harlem Heat and Sister Sherri.  Sherri says that the cohesion of Harlem Heat will help them prevail in the triangle match.  Booker T says that tonight is going to be “like a steaming pot of neck bones that have been simmering for three days.”  I am not sure what that means but it sounds serious.

Triangle Match for the WCW Tag Team Championship:  Harlem Heat (Champions w/Sister Sherri) (33-4-2) defeat the Blue Bloods (17-1-1) and the Nasty Boys (35-3-2) when Booker T pins Lord Steven Regal after a Brian Knobbs splash at 13:07:

One thing that this match does very well is that wrestlers tag themselves into the match more than receive it from another team, which makes perfect sense within the context of the rules because why would you tag in another team and give them a chance to win the titles?  Another great part is frequent tagging/brawling, which keeps the action moving.  Eventually things break down as all of the teams start fighting and Jerry Sags backdrops Booker T on top of Lord Steven Regal.  Knobbs follows that up with a splash and even though Sags sits on top of Booker T, the referee awards the match to Harlem Heat because Regal was counted down with Booker T on top of him.  That violates every previous standard rule in wrestling and it continues a string of bad finishes tonight.  Knowing where the tag team division is heading, WCW should have booked the Blue Bloods to win the titles over the Nasties in this match and then turned Harlem Heat babyface and had them chase.  That would have evened out the division and gone with the crowd reactions that the Heat generated.  Rating:  *½

Okerlund interviews the Heat again, who emphasize that they are the best and no one can stop them.  Okerlund brings up the title defense that the Heat will have against Dick Slater and Bunkhouse Buck on WCW Saturday Night next week.  Booker T says that the Heat will face all comers and they will keep winning.

Okerlund interviews Ric Flair.  Flair invokes Elizabeth’s name and how she had to have him in the past, and Okerlund inquires whether she went to Space Mountain, to which Flair smiles and says “You know she did.”  That causes Okerlund to nearly corpse on camera as he looks away during the promo.  Flair concludes by saying that he is a bigger star than Savage and he will prove it tonight.

Lifeguard Match:  Randy Savage (10-1) pins Ric Flair (5-0) after a flying elbow smash at 13:56:

Savage hugs his father on the way to the ring, with Angelo Poffo shirtless and waving his cane amongst the crowd near the entrance.  Based on the events of The Great American Bash that is the best place for him.  Some of the lifeguards around the ring include the cast of Baywatch as well as Harlem Heat, the Nasty Boys, Johnny B. Badd, Maxx Muscle, Diamond Dallas Page, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Dick Slater, Bunkhouse Buck, and Arn Anderson.  Schiavone is appalled at the last lifeguard because he is a friend of Flair and sure enough, Anderson tries to give Flair as many breathers as possible when he ends up on the floor.  It should also be noted that the wrestlers do the heavy lifting, with the Baywatch cast standing behind them in the sand and they never factor into the match.  Schiavone continues his comments about abrasive sand as Savage and Flair go through the usual Flair formula and the babyface and heel lifeguards tussle every time one of the men ends up on the floor.  Near the end, Flair plays into the stipulation by running away, with the lifeguards chasing him down and forcing him into the ring, but Anderson sneaks in after another Flair ring out and DDTs Savage.  That awakens a dead crowd when Savage kicks out and Flair’s mistake of going to the top rope gets him tossed off and finished, giving Savage the victory in their summer feud.  This was technically proficient but nothing special.  Rating:  ***

After the match, Savage aims to give Flair another flying elbow smash but Anderson pulls him out of the ring.  Savage also gets up close and personal with the Baywatch ladies in his post-match celebration.

A video package recaps Vader’s path to Bash at the Beach.

Okerlund interviews Vader, who says that his time is coming soon.  He puts himself over as the every man, slugging it out in California while Hulk Hogan was getting a tan.  With a promo like this, combined with how Vader had to chase Hogan all the way to California to get a title shot, it is hard to really frame him as a heel in this feud.

WCW Champion Hulk Hogan, Dennis Rodman, and Jimmy Hart get interviewed by Okerlund.  Rodman takes a shot at Detroit, saying he does not want to be at an airport there in the future, while Hogan trashes Vader’s working class story in the previous promo.  He also discusses how he will use “killer whites” in the ocean to beat Vader.  He is obviously discussing great white sharks but in a modern context you cannot help but laugh.

Steel Cage Match for the WCW Championship:  Hulk Hogan (Champion w/Jimmy Hart, Dennis Rodman & the Baywatch Cast) (2-0) defeats Vader (15-2) via climb out at 13:23:

This is only the second Hogan title defense of 1995, putting to shame the standard requirement that a titleholder should put up their belt every thirty days.  A winner is guaranteed after the two previous matches between these men did not result in clean finishes and the rules do their best to allow for this as a combatant can win by pinfall, submission, or escape.  Vader’s mastodon mask is kept in the cage so that Hogan can do a comedic spot of putting it on, mimicking Vader’s mannerisms, and headbutting his challenger a few times.  Vader does not take kindly to that and responds with a couple of Vader Bombs.  However, a top rope something by Vader misses, causing Vader to mess up his shoulder, a nagging injury he would work through until getting corrective surgery early the next year.  Sadly for Vader, Hogan hulks up after a Vader splash off the second rope and when Kevin Sullivan and the Zodiac try to get in the cage Rodman fends them off with a chair.  Hogan then drops the leg and wins a chop off on the top rope, allowing him to escape and end Vader’s six-match winning streak in singles competition.  This would be Vader’s last match on a WCW pay-per-view as he would be gone from the company by Fall Brawl for reasons that will be explained later.  Other reviewers hate this match, but it is a good brawl, features some fun spots, and was entertaining, even if the outcome was not in doubt.  Rating:  ***

After the bell, Ric Flair runs into the ring and throws a tantrum over Vader losing.  He gets in Vader’s face and when Vader chokes Flair, Arn Anderson runs in to make the save and the two heels run to the locker room.  Vader looks in the camera as he walks off and says that he will face Flair and Anderson at the same time and make history.  This turned Vader babyface and – by the end of his WCW run – into another lackey for Hulk Hogan.

The Last Word:  The last two matches have some replay value, with Hulk Hogan doing his usual cage match formula with Vader and Ric Flair doing his formulaic match with Randy Savage but they were not good enough to make up for the lackluster bouts that littered the beginning and middle of the show.  What those matches did accomplish is that they ended the company’s biggest feuds.  Vader-Ric Flair/Arn Anderson has some interest because it had not been done with that type of babyface-heel dynamic, but Hogan-Dungeon of Doom is nothing to get excited about as it is uncool relative to 1990s culture.  WCW would continue doing some outdoor shows in the summer but those would be shuffled to Sturgis, South Dakota the following year for the Hog Wild pay-per-view in August where, once again, people did not have to pay for admission.

Attendance:  9,500 (est.)

Buyrate:  0.82 (-0.20 from previous year; est. 180,000 buys)

Up Next:  WCW Pro for July 22!

And if you want to read what was happening in the WWF as a companion to this series of WCW reviews, check out my e-book on Amazon.  $4.99 for an electronic copy of the e-book or $26 for the paperback copy, which provides more than 800 pages of reviews, statistics, and angle breakdowns of the WWF in 1995!