The Summer of 96 reviews continue, as we look at WCW’s most memorable effort of that Summer in the form of Bash at the Beach 1996. If I were Scott I’d now make a joke that the show was so memorable because it had Joe Gomez on it, but sadly Scott has beaten me to that veritable goldmine so I’ll have to just persevere with posting obscure references to British comedy shows.
Anyway, the real reason this show is so well known is because it featured a gigantic SWERVE in the Main Event that helped turn WCW around from being in a distant second place to the WWF all the way to being the top dog in American Wrestling.
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall decided to leave the WWF and take up Eric Bischoff’s offer of some cushy WCW deals. Rather than just bring them in like they were new guys though, Bischoff instead decided that no one would buy that because Nash and Hall had been such prominent members of the WWF’s upper-card for the past couple of years.
Thus, rather than ignoring all of that WWF backstory, WCW decided to just acknowledge that these two guys were big stars in the WWF and now they’d come to WCW to try and have their run of the place. This allowed WCW to present Nash and Hall almost as an invading force, which combined with the fact they started kicking some monumental arse got them instantly over as a dangerous Heel threat.
Bash at the Beach was to be their first official in-ring match in WCW since returning, and they had an ace up their sleeve in the form of a mystery third man that they promised they would reveal at the show itself. As a result of the (frankly excellent) storytelling going on each week on Nitro, WCW had a lot of interest going into The Bash. The question was, would they deliver a mystery third man worth talking about?
Let’s watch on and find out!
The event is emanating from Daytona Beach, Florida on the 7th of July 1996
Calling the action are Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan and Dusty Rhodes, with Mike Tenay popping in sometimes
We get a really good opening video, set to an instrumental of “Crazy” by SEAL, which has somehow managed to remain unedited not just on the Network but on the 2K games too. It’s bizarre because they fall over themselves to edit things that sound a bit like real songs (such as when they dub out Sid’s 99-00 theme because it sounds like a song by The Scorpions) yet they’re fine leaving this in for some reason. Copyright law will forever remain a mystery to me.
Psicosis Vs Rey Mysterio Jr.
Psi and Rey had been wrestling one another for years, including a memorable series in ECW prior to coming to WCW, but this is the first time they’ve done it on in a big pay per view setting like this. It was always a natural pairing, due to Psi being so much taller than Rey, thus allowing him to play the bullying Heel whilst Rey could play the battling Face fighting from underneath. Tenay puts the Lucha Libre masked tradition over in the early going, whilst Tony suggests we’ll see some exciting action.
They actually work it on the mat a bit in the early going, but it isn’t long before Psi sends Rey out to the floor and follows with a TOPE SUICIDA. Psi works Rey over back inside, with Rey selling it all well, but the crowd is a bit quiet thus far. It looks like they are watching the match, but they aren’t getting that excited either. Psi plays to the crowd a bit whilst working Rey over though, and that succeeds in getting a bit of a response. Psi was still pretty new to WCW (I’m not sure if he’d been on TV yet but this was certainly his pay per view debut whilst Rey had debuted on the previous PPV) so he hadn’t really had time to get over as a regular with the group yet, which might explain why the crowd haven’t really been biting.
Rey does eventually manage to get himself back into the match by giving Psi a monkey flip into the ring post and then following with a Rana back inside for two. This has been an entertaining match thus far, with some hot moves and some decent wrestling holding it all together. They’ve been given a decent chunk at time, with the match coming in at around 15 minutes, so that has meant they’ve had to pace themselves a bit more rather than just go into a wild spot fest like some of their ECW matches were. Psi has taken most of it, and even gets a jumping back senton splash to the floor at one stage in a spot that blew my mind when I first saw it back in the day.
The only thing this match has lacked is a more responsive crowd, but that could happen sometimes because these guys and this style of wrestling was still new, so it took a while for crowds to get on board. They do finally start making some noise once Rey really gets cooking, delivering a slew of hot moves, including a Rana off the apron to the floor at one stage, which again was crazy wild stuff for a mainstream American Wrestling audience in 1996. The commentators thankfully put the action over as well, which helps make both guys seem like a bigger deal.
Rey does this crazy flipping springboard body press to the floor at one stage, with his legs clashing against the metal railings on the way down, and it’s been so long since I’ve seen this one that I forgot he did it in this match and I actually exclaimed loudly when it happened. You could honestly stick this match on an episode of NXT or AEW and it wouldn’t look out of place whatsoever. Eventually Psi tries to finish Rey off once and for all with a Splash Mountain Bomb off the top rope, but Rey counters it into a Rana and that’s enough for the three count.
WINNER: REY MYSTERIO JR
That match was so good I need more Partridge to adequately convey it
Yes, that’ll do nicely!
Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage with WCW United States Champ Konnan, who recaps the finish we just saw. Gene puts over that Konnan wrestled in Mexico last night, and that Ric Flair is very confident about the match tonight. Konnan says he’s going home with the belt tonight, and he’ll clobber Flair’s managers if he has to.
Silver Dollars On A Pole
Big Bubba w/ Jimmy Hart Vs John Tenta
Yes, it’s Vince Russo’s favourite stipulation, with a sock full of money atop the pole that you can use as a weapon. Bubba cut off half of Tenta’s hair to set this up, and poor Tenta then had to walk around with half the hair missing following that to sell the angle. Tenta with half his hair missing and wrestling in black tights and a singlet just has zero star aura in comparison to his Earthquake days, when he had loads.
To both men’s credit, they are working hard here and taking plenty of big bumps, which is impressive when you have to think they had close to a combined 700 pounds between them. Tenta even takes an Electric Chair Suplex at one stage. Of course forcing these two massive men to try and clamber up a pole isn’t exactly the best of ideas, but the crowd is into the climbing at least.
Tenta tries to actually take the pole itself down at one stage, but this allows Bubba to start choking him with a belt, which the referee allows for some reason even though I think in these matches the only legal weaponry is the one atop the pole, otherwise what’s the point in even climbing the pole? Just grab a chair and pulverise someone without having to bother climbing if the rules allow it.
Bubba tapes Tenta to the ropes following the choking, which I think is to allow him to climb unimpeded, but instead he uses it as a chance to work him over some more with his belt. At this point he’d be stupid to try and climb the pole, as this tactic is working just fine for him so why bother risking going up the pole when you can just keep hitting him with the belt to win?
Bubba tries taking more of Tenta’s hair, but Big John clocks him right in the Cobb County to put a stop to that. The action here has been fine, but the booking has been arse backwards in a lot of days and it’s hampered my enjoyment to be honest. Bubba manages to catch Tenta with an impressive looking spine buster and sends Hart up the pole, which is apparently allowed.
Look, if you want me to care about your wacky stipulation match then you need some clear rules that you’re going to stick to. The first two rules should 100% be that 1. You can only use the weapon that’s on atop the pole and no other weapons are legal and 2. Only actual competitors in the match are allowed to retrieve the weapon. That’s just common sense stuff guys.
Anyway, Hart manages to get the dollars, but he stupidly doesn’t look behind him before coming down, which of course allows Tenta to knock down Bubba, take the dollars from Hart and then clock Bubba with the dollars to pick up the win (Drawing an admittedly pretty big pop in the process)
WINNER: JOHN TENTA
Both men worked hard and the crowd enjoyed the finish, but the lack of proper rules just infuriated me (This might not be something that bothers you though)
Tenta pours the dollars on Bubba following that, but surprisingly doesn’t go for any hair cutting revenge as well.
Mean Gene is backstage with Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger, who are the WCW team that will take on The Outsiders later. Gene asks them who they think the third man will be, but they don’t care and just want to crack some skulls later on.
Taped Fist Match
Diamond Dallas Page Vs Jim Duggan
DDP had won Battle Bowl at Slamboree 96, but it didn’t really lead to much for him in the short term outside of a fun feud with Eddie Guerrero. Duggan was doing a gimmick at the time where he had a distant relative from Ireland who had been a taped fist boxing Champion, so he started taping his fist and punching people as a finish. There was some sort of story going on here about DDP’s Battle Bowl winners ring too, where I think Duggan stole it for a bit.
Duggan shines on DDP to start, and he’s pretty over with the fans, but DDP tapes his ankles around the ring post at one point so that he can get some cheap shots. Duggan eventually has the tape taken off his fists, thus negating the whole point of the match, but he still manages to clobber DDP with some big punches anyway before adding a slam on the floor. This has actually been an entertaining brawl for the most part, with DDP selling big to try and make Duggan look dangerous.
In some ways the match is one long shine, as DDP gets brief moments of offence, only for Duggan to keep regaining control and bumping DDP all over the place. DDP eventually manages to kick the ropes right into Duggan’s 2×4 though, which allows him to pounce with the Diamond Cutter OUTTA NOWHERE for the three count.
WINNER: DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE
This was alright actually, as they kept it short and action packed, with Duggan taking most of the match because DDP was eventually winning. DDP is a good stooging Heel though and Duggan was over with the crowd, so it worked for me
Duggan punches DDP with a freshly re-taped fist following the match to get his heat back.
Mean Gene is backstage with WCW Champ The Giant, Kevin Sullivan and Jimmy Hart, who face Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson later. Sullivan says he isn’t the weak link in this team, and Giant agrees, saying he’s the backbone of the entire Dungeon of Doom. I honestly don’t know which of these two stables were supposed to be the babyfaces.
Lee Marshall is in the entrance way with Anderson and Benoit. Anderson cuts a promo on The Outsiders, getting over the idea that everyone in WCW hates them. Anderson and Benoit cut a good promo about the tag match later, with Benoit’s delivery being a bit cartoonish, but he shows some personality at least.
Double Dog Collar Match
The Public Enemy Vs The Nasty Boys
I wonder why they can’t use TPE’s WCW music seeing as it was actually made by WCW and TPE are the ones singing the lyrics. Are they worried about the “Na, Na Na Na Na” part possibly running afoul of Ini Kamoze’s lawyers? Saggs is attached to Rocco here, whilst Knobs is attached to Grunge. I expect this match to be like a Lays warehouse, because it’s going to be full of potatoes!
They waste no time heading outside for the wild brawl, with the production guys doing a split screen gimmick for it so you can see both pairings going at it. I can appreciate the thought, but I honestly find these crazy tag brawls work better when you have one screen and just keep cutting between the two sections of the brawl, as it gives the whole thing a more frenetic wild feel.
If guys walking around and hitting each other with beach themed weaponry isn’t your jam then this match won’t be for you, but I find this sort of hardcore brawling entertaining when done in the right setting. They are smart and keep it around the 10 minute mark, which is about as long as you can do one of these things without it outstaying its welcome (WCW clearly learned their lesson from Uncensored 1996)
I know a lot of people bag on TPE, but I always thought they were fine as wacky mid-carders doing hardcore matches. Their entrance was fun and people popped for the table spots. I think the WWF missed a trick due to being so petty when they came in, as two street thugs putting people through tables was tailor-made for the WWF in the Attitude Era, so much so that The Dudleyz were able to make an entire Hall of Fame level run from it.
We of course get spots where the collar is used as a weapon and whatnot, but it doesn’t happen as much as you’d expect given the stip. There is one moment where Rocco is on the top rope and Saggs yanks him down with the collar, with the goal clearly being to cause Rocco to go through the table. However, Rocco flips and ends up bouncing off the table, which means I’m afraid I’m contractually mandated to post the following.
Sorry, but rules is rules. Anyway, Saggs is all like “you’re going through the table lar”, to which Rocco probably responded “Shurrup lar you’re being a right weapon here lad”, at which point he puts Rocco onto it and then goes for an axe handle off the second rope, only for the table to remain intact, like a Metapod that has used harden (Or a Kakuna if you’re that way inclined. Cloyster also had Iron Defence that did much the same thing, but who honestly bothered catching and training up a Cloyster?).
They finally seem to give up on the table and do a finish where Knobs holds the chain so that Saggs can whip Rocco into it, which is enough for the three count. I’m guessing the original finish was going to be Rocco going through the table and they had to improvise an alternative when the table wasn’t playing ball? Tony exclaims “that was a mess” which seems a bit unfair to the lads, but there’s no doubting that the finishing stretch did not go smoothly.
WINNERS: THE NASTY BOYS
This was a decent wacky brawl, but sadly the nonsense with the table at the end just robbed the closing stages of any momentum and the match sort of whimpered to a close as a result
TPE attack following the match, as it looks like this feud is going to continue. Saggs does finally go through the table at least, but only just. This match would be like catnip for Maffew.
Mean gene is in the hallways backstage trying to find out who the third man is later. Apparently Eric Bischoff hasn’t arrived at the arena yet, which was the tease for his eventual Heel turn later in the air.
WCW Cruiserweight Title
Champ: Dean Malenko Vs The Disco Inferno
Disco was more of a comedy guy at this stage, beating the likes of Manabu Nakanishi on Nitro by hitting him with a giant disco ball and whatnot. This match was an effort to give him a bit of credibility by having him take on Dean in all his “Ice Man” Cruiser Champ pomp and actually give him a bit of a run for his money. Disco cuts a pre-match promo, inviting everyone to his celebration disco party once the Title becomes his.
Malenko looks like he’s genuinely disgusted to have to wrestle this joker, and opens up with a slap before putting the boots to Disco in aggressive fashion. It’s interesting as Malenko always had a rep for being boring and showing no emotion, but he’s showing a tonne of it here as he batters Disco from pillar to post. To his credit, Disco sells it all really well and pin balls around nicely to make Malenko’s offence look devastating. It makes the match really enjoyable as a result, as two diametrically opposed characters with different in-ring styles’ colliding is one of the things that makes wrestling fun to begin with.
I like how the commentators are on the ball with the story too, saying that Disco is a decent wrestler when he’s focused but he spends too much time with his comedy antics. Heenan even points out at one stage that Disco would benefit from the services of a manager to focus him, which is a cool little call back to the past because Heenan is an experienced former manager who can recognise what a wrestler is missing from their game and understands what Disco is lacking. And indeed, when Disco finally won the TV Title in 1997 it was after he’d toned down the comedy antics somewhat, which allowed his wrestling ability to shine through and win him the belt. That’s called long-term character growth people.
Disco does eventually fire up and get some offence in, with the story being that he can actually take it to Malenko when his head is in the game, and is thus a genuine contender. This whole match is a textbook example of how you can elevate someone and get across character development through in-ring action. Promos and angles are important obviously, but wrestling matches themselves can still be excellent ways of getting across overarching storylines when you use them correctly, and they’re doing that here.
Sadly the crowd sits on their hands for most of the match, which is a shame as the work has been good here and the match has told a good story. In a fun moment Disco gets a spinning neck breaker and stops to dance momentarily before realising he’s missing a chance to win and makes the cover. Disco gets some more near falls on Malenko, with The Champ only just managing to kick out on each occasion, once again making Disco look like a deserving challenger. However, it’s not to be Disco’s night and Malenko eventually wins it clean with the Texas Cloverleaf.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: DEAN MALENKO
Dean cuts a promo to camera following that with his belt, but he’d end up losing it very soon to Mysterio Jr.
Mongo McMichael w/ Debra Vs Joe Gomez
As of the time of writing this Mongo has just been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) so thoughts with him and his family at what is a very sad time. I feel a bit bad for the upcoming match review now in all honesty.
Mongo had recently gone Heel and joined The Horsemen, whilst Gomez was an undercard guy who didn’t win that often and was mostly fodder for the stars (Although Scott Keith is a noted super-fan of his, to the point that rumours suggest that he had Gomez’s face tattooed onto his chest. Not unlike the picture below).
They’ve actually gone to the trouble of giving this one a backstory by saying that Gomez was a fan of Mongo during his footballing days, so now he’s unhappy that Mongo has gone Heel. I appreciate the effort to make this more than just a throwaway match, but that doesn’t change the fact that this match has no right to be anywhere near the main card of a pay per view event.
Gomez gets a bit of a shine on Mongo in the early going, with Mongo not really knowing how to sell it properly, but eventually Mongo gets cut off and works some heat. Mongo really shouldn’t have been put in a singles match like this unless he was in there with a really good worker who could carry him. He should have been mostly in tag matches and singles outings with average guys like this shouldn’t have gone past the 2-3 minute mark.
Gomez manages to get a chin breaker out of a sleeper attempt at one stage, but it proves to be a false dawn as Mongo continues to work him over with a sloppy Rude Awakening. You know, I should be angrier at Mongo’s awfulness than I am, but he came into wrestling pretty late in life and it was always going to be an uphill struggle for him to be good. In the end he was pretty entertaining for a guy with his notable limitations.
And one thing you could never accuse Mongo of was that he didn’t try when he was in there. He just really shouldn’t have been put in this position, but he had name recognition from his football days and WCW can’t really be blamed for trying to make use of that somehow, especially as he had charisma and could work the mic. This just wasn’t the way to do it. Gomez and Mongo go through a super sloppy finishing sequence where they mostly botch everything and Mongo finally puts the match out of its misery with a Tombstone (Yes, they gave the super green sloppy guy a TOMBSTONE as a his finishing move!)
LOSERS: THE REST OF HUMANITY
This was absolutely honking
The announcers try to pass that off as an impressive battling win for Mongo, but COME ON, it took him six minutes to beat Joe Gomez in a semi-competitive match. That’s like a Premier League team only barely sneaking past a League Two team in the FA Cup or something.
Mean Gene is backstage with Ric Flair, Miss Elizabeth and Woman. Woman does her usual thing from this timeframe of flirting with Gene, thus flicking on his lecherous old man switch. Flair says you can never have enough trophies in life, and he’ll add the US Title to his sizable trophy cabinet tonight. This was a fun wacky Flair promo, and Mean Gene trying to worm his way into the victory party was funny stuff.
WCW United States Title
Champ: Konnan Vs Ric Flair w/ Woman and Liz
Konnan had brought the Luchadores into WCW, so the theory has always been that he got the US Title basically as a thank you for that. Flair was probably above challenging for this belt at this stage in his career, but it gave him something to do at least whilst current dance partner Randy Savage was embroiled in the whole WCW Vs Outsiders feud. Flair’s feud with Savage had actually been a very important turning point for WCW, as it had drawn well on the House Shows and as a result WCW was finally able to turn a profit during the Bischoff regime.
Flair has talked smack about Konnan a few times in those WWE documentaries, so part of me thinks that he didn’t really enjoy having to work with him. They don’t especially have a lot of chemistry as opponents, and they also get quite a lot of time too, which isn’t really the best way to showcase Konnan. He was usually better in tags or working 6-8 minutes so he could get his trademark offence in to pop the crowd before taking it home. Even when in there with Ric Flair, it’s asking quite a bit to have Konnan work for 15 minutes, especially when he wasn’t really that over here so he didn’t have that to fall back on like he would have been able to do in Mexico.
Konnan gets the extended shine here, with Flair bumping around for him, but the crowd seems to prefer Flair, so the section is flatter than you would want it to be atmosphere wise. Konnan doesn’t seem entirely comfortable getting plugged into the formula either, but he mostly performs his duties as needed. Eventually the women gett involved, with Woman causing Konnan to take a spill off the top, which leads into Flair working Konnan over. I don’t know if they really are this quiet or if WCW have done a bad job of mic’ing them, but the crowd sounds comatose here. They do pop when Woman comes in and kicks Konnan right in his Tequila Sunrise whilst Flair distracts the ref though.
Flair does a good job in the heat to the point that the crowd is actually into Konnan when he starts making a comeback, and he even puts Flair in his own Figure Four at one stage, which Flair of course sells spectacularly. Flair has sold a lot for Konnan here, and Konnan has been a reasonably competent broomstick, but it’s been kind of a middling effort. Not bad or anything but I wouldn’t say it was especially good either. Flair’s women eventually prove to be the difference maker, as Woman clocks Konnan with her shoe and Flair pins Konnan with feet on the ropes to win the match.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: RIC FLAIR
I like how Konnan was clearly out from the shoe attack, but Flair STILL put his feet on the ropes anyway just because he’s Ric Flair and that’s what Ric Flair does. The match itself was okay, but I just don’t think the two men had any real chemistry together and this didn’t really strike me as the best way to lay a match out for Konnan. 15 minutes was just too long as well, though I appreciate that they wanted to give the secondary Title match a reasonable amount of time due to Flair being involved and the match itself being so high up the card. I’m not really sure why Flair needed the belt either, but you couldn’t really have him lose to Konnan, so it was either a screwy finish or a Flair Title win. Konnan got a lot of offence in at least and lost to chicanery, so it’s not like it hurt him that much and he’d eventually get more of a push in 1997 when he started Faction Hopping
Mean Gene is listening at the door of The Outsiders’ locker room and says he can recognise the voice of the third man but he can’t quite place who it is.
Kevin Sullivan and The Giant w/ Jimmy Hart Vs Chris Benoit and Arn Anderson
Giant was WCW Champ at the time and the Horsemen will earn a Title shot if they can win here. The main feud was Kevin Sullivan and Benoit, with the idea being that Benoit had stolen Sullivan’s missus from him and now Sullivan was looking for vengeance. Benoit would indeed end up with Nancy Sullivan in real life and that had such a tragic end that I don’t especially want to discuss it further here.
Sullivan and Giant attack The Horsemen on the way to the ring, but Mongo helps The Horsemen out and that leads to Giant chasing him away, leaving his partner two on one with Benoit and Anderson. The way they are working this suggests that Sullivan is supposed to be a babyface, but this whole Dungeon of DOOM Vs Horsemen feud was kind of confusing at the best of times, so who knows at this stage.
Giant does eventually return and we settle into more of a standard tag match for a bit, with Sullivan getting worked over in The Horsemen corner, for either the shine or the heat depending on what role The Horsemen are supposed to be playing. It looks like it’s the heat, as they’re clearly building to the big Giant hot tag spot. The action itself has been fine, if a bit basic. Mostly just punching and kicking, but Sullivan sells well at least.
Things do start to feel like they’re dragging a bit, mainly as the crowd doesn’t really care that much about Sullivan, so the heat feels pretty flat as a result. If they were actually behind him and desperate to see him fight back then it would be more entertaining as at least there’d be some atmosphere. They sadly botch one of the big Sullivan hope spots too, as Sullivan is supposed to catapult Anderson into Benoit but Anderson stumbles and they don’t pull it off.
We get the hot tag off that, with Giant chasing Anderson around whilst Benoit and Sullivan head down to the beach set, where Benoit dives off the commentary podium at one stage. Whilst that is going on though Anderson is left alone with Giant, which leads to him taking a choke slam and getting pinned, thus meaning no Title shot for The Horsemen on Nitro.
WINNERS: GIANT & SULLIVAN
This was a pretty meh effort to be honest, especially when you consider the talent involved. The crowd didn’t seem to really care about the storyline that much and they would have probably been better served to have done more of a wild brawl than the big Sullivan babyface in peril routine
The fight continues following the three count, with Benoit clobbering Sullivan with a chair. Giant has left following the match, so no one is there to rescue Sullivan from Benoit destroying him. Surprisingly Woman is the one to come down and try to break it up, which leads to Giant returning to chase The Horsemen away.
Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and ??? Vs Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger
Nash and Hall had left the WWF and moved over to WCW, so Eric Bischoff decided to make use of it by doing his own version of the New Japan Vs UWFi feud that he’d seen whilst in Japan, by acting like Hall and Nash were still WWF guys looking to come in and take WCW down. They were forced to tone it down a bit when the WWF legal team got involved, which led to Hall and Nash both openly admitting that they didn’t work for the WWF at Great American Bash. However, on the same show they powerbombed Bischoff through a table to heat the feud up further. WCW did an incredible job of booking them as a threat, actually needing police with guns to stop them at one stage. This all built to Sting, Luger and Savage teaming up to take on Hall, Nash and a mystery third man at BATB.
They use an instrumental very similar to “Crazy” by Seal for Hall and Nash’s theme, which sounds cool but doesn’t really suit them. That song is also incredibly 90’s isn’t it? In a nice touch the commentators are openly cheering against the Heels because of their villainous goals, even including Heel commentator Bobby Heenan, who would normally want the heels to win. The commentary team actually freak out when Hall and Nash come out without the third man, with Mean Gene even coming down to ask them who it is. They say they have enough with just the two of them right now, and demand that the faces come down to start the match. This is a great way of building suspense and I remember reading a Re-writing The Book over on Wrestlecrap where there wasn’t even a third man and they were just making it up to mess with the faces, which actually could have worked as a payoff. All the babyfaces have their faces painted like Sting to show that they are unified.
Luger gets a quick shine but Sting accidentally squishes him in the corner with a Stinger Splash, which leads to him getting taken away by medics. This not only makes it 2 on 2 now but it also plants another seed to try and make people thing that Luger could be the third man. Sting gets to batter Hall for a brief bit, but soon both he and Savage are getting taken apart by the heels. There is one notable botch where Savage tries to move out of the way of an elbow drop but he can’t quite manage it and Nash lands on top of his head and neck in a gnarly moment. Savage was lucky not to get badly hurt there. I’ve seen less conspicuous botches cause worse. Sting gets worked over for a while and sells it well, although the heat probably goes on for a bit too long and it starts to drag after a while. It does the job of making Hall and Nash look like dominant heels that are a genuine threat at least, which is exactly what they needed to do here.
Sting finally manages to make the hot tag to Savage and he briefly runs wild only for Nash to catch him with a low blow to take him out of proceedings just as he was getting motoring. This is Hulk Hogan’s cue to come down to the ring, ostensibly to help the WCW guys. However, it’s all a SWERVE, and one of the best ever for that fact, as Hogan drops the leg on Savage and high fives with Hall and Nash to reveal himself as the third man. Heenan screaming “whose side is he on?” when Hogan came down was in character for him seeing as he was always Hogan Hater In Chief, but I personally think it telegraphed the turn a bit. Hogan flings the ref out of the ring, leading to the match getting thrown out. I’m surprised they didn’t go the whole hog and have Hogan get a proper pin.
The match was basically one long heat segment, which wasn’t especially interesting to watch, but the storytelling was fantastic and began WCW’s run of dominance in the Monday Night War until they managed to ruin it for themselves in 1998 and 1999
Hogan cuts a big heel promo following the match, as fans fill the ring with rubbish, and dubs the group the New World Organisation. I’m still not sure if he just got it wrong or if it was originally supposed to be that but they realised New World Order sounded better. The gist is that Hogan was bored of being nice brother, and wanted to team up with Hall and Nash to take over the wrestling industry. As far as reasons go, that works well.
Great American Bash 1996 is probably the better overall show when it comes to quality, but that Heel Turn in the Main Event was dynamite stuff and WCW dined out on the heat it caused for a couple of years before overdoing it.
This does come recommended, even though it isn’t a classic show from top to bottom. The Cruiserweight wrestlers deliver and the Main Event was a big deal and still an excellent piece of business. I think it’s one of those shows you should watch at least once just to understand why the whole New World Order thing was such a business changing development.
If you’d like to get in touch to suggest shows to review, ask questions, share your love of those wonderful Royal Blue Toffees, or just generally chat the grapple game, then feel free to hit me up at [email protected]