Bash at the Beach was WCW’s flagship event of the summer. The inaugural Bash at the Beach event held on July 17, 1994 featured a blockbuster first ever pay-per-view clash between Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair.
The final Bash at the Beach event took place in the year 2000. In the intervening years, the show played host to some of WCW’s hottest storylines and feuds as well as some terrible matches and angles. This feature ranks every single Bash at the Beach in WCW history.
#7 Bash at the Beach 1999
The 1999 edition of Bash at the Beach was the event’s nadir. A truly dreadful card from top to bottom. In fact it was so bad, it is amazing that Eric Bischoff survived as WCW Executive Vice President for a further three months after this show.
The card opened with such attractions as Disco Inferno versus Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller, Rick Steiner versus Van Hammer and David Flair versus Dean Malenko which were as woeful in reality as they seemed on paper.
However, worse than that, was the baffling Junkyard Hardcore Invitational. This bout took place in an actual Junkyard as WCW mid-carders battered each other with anything they could find. The rules were unclear, but when Fit Finley clambered out of the Junkyard, he was for some reason declared the winner. The match was so poorly lit, it was impossible to see what was going on and half of the match’s participants suffered injuries which side-lined them from in-ring action. There was also nothing on the line in the bout rendering the whole thing pointless.
There was some amusement to be had with Curt Hennig, Kendall Windham, Barry Windham and Dobby Duncum Jr’s Rap is Crap feud with the No Limit Soldiers, Rey Mysterio, Konnan, Swol and BA. However, it was short lived, unlike the match, which went an interminable 16 minutes.
The highlight of the card was the Tag Team Championship match between challengers, Chris Benoit and Perry Saturn versus The Jersey Triad of Diamond Dallas Page, Chris Kanyon and Bam Bam Bigelow. Strangely, the trio were free to tag in and out of the bout, despite it not being advertised as a Handicap Match.
Despite that fact, the action was top-notch even though the finishing sequence was overbooked. The featured attractions on the card were woeful and demonstrated WCW’s lack of creativity in it’s final years. Rowdy Roddy Piper fought Buff Bagwell in a Boxing Match. This didn’t work when Piper took on Mr T at WrestleMania 2 in 1986 and was even worse in 1999. Bagwell was miscast as a face, particularly when he made his entrance with his obnoxious mother, Judy. The finish came when Judy bit Piper’s ear and shoved a bucket on his head. Bagwell hit his Blockbuster finisher to win by pinfall. Pinfall! In a Boxing Match! The crowd did not know how to react to the finish as once again, no-one understood the rules.
The main event for the WCW World Championship pit the veterans, Kevin Nash, Sting, Sid Vicious and Macho Man Randy Savage against each other. All four participants phoned it in in a pitiful headliner. The 46-year-old, barely mobile, Savage won the belt.
It was an awful end to one of wrestling’s worst ever super-cards.
#6 Bash at the Beach 1995
Bash at the Beach 1995 was the only Bash at the Beach to actually take place at a beach. The capacity crowd in attendance at Huntington Beach, California were probably relieved they didn’t have to pay to watch the show.
The card was lacklustre on paper and even more disappointing in reality.
The opener saw Sting clash with Meng. The bout was passable in the early going but faded badly during it’s interminable 15 minute runtime. Meng was a great character but was a very limited worker and the ‘Stinger’ could not carry him. Sting won with a fluke roll up pin.
Kamala versus Hacksaw Jim Duggan had no place on pay-per-view in 1995. The Renegade clashed with a decade past his prime, Paul Orndorff in a surprisingly passable match-up. Renegade, despite his limitations looked decent in the bout. Despite this, the crowd jeered the Ultimate Warrior copycat. Renegade won following a back suplex.
Diamond Dallas Page bested Dave Sullivan in a lousy match which had shades of the Randy Savage versus George Steele bout at WrestleMania 2. However, Sullivan’s courting of DDP’s wife, Kimberley was not a patch on Steele’s innocent infatuation of Miss Elizabeth. This blow off match lasted a paltry four minutes, rendering the whole affair pointless.
The Triangle Match for the Tag Team Championships was a calamity. The Nasty Boys and The Blue Bloods challenged Harlem Heat. In typical WCW fashion, the finish was convoluted and confusing. The Nasty Boys pinned Booker T and Regal simultaneously to apparently win the belts. However, Harlem Heat were announced as the winners as Stevie Ray was lay across Regal, when the Nasties pinned him. This, despite the fact, Booker T had also been pinned. This made no sense.
The two main events could have saved the card, had they delivered. However, unfortunately, neither did.
Randy Savage clashed with Ric Flair in a Lifeguard Match, which was effectively a Lumberjack match with the Lumberjacks dressed as lifeguards. This seemed silly at the time, but that was before Zombies were used as Lumberjacks at WrestleMania Backlash. Both men went through the motions and the bout was only made passable by the outside interference. Savage won with a Diving Elbow.
The headliner saw Hulk Hogan and Vader blow off their intense feud over the WCW World Title inside a Steel Cage. However, the buzz that had surrounded their conflict in March had fizzled out by June. The pair sleepwalked through a pedestrian bout. Hogan no-sold Vader’s biggest moves before escaping the cage for the victory.
This was Vader’s final WCW pay-per-view match and unfortunately was the worst send off possible. Incredibly, Vader’s subsequent tenure in the WWF from 1996-98 was somehow more dire than his final days in WCW.
A truly dreadful show, which was highlighted still further by the utter disinterest of the sun soaked crowd.
#5 Bash at the Beach 2000
The final Bash at the Beach ever held was one the worst in the event’s history. From an in-ring standpoint, the card was lacklustre. However, the drama that unfolded backstage and on-screen did at least make the event an unforgettable spectacle.
The show is best remembered for being Hulk Hogan’s final ever WCW appearance. Hogan challenged Jeff Jarrett for the WCW World Title. As soon as the bell rung, Jarrett immediately laid down on the mat. The ‘Hulkster’ feigned bemusement and pinned the champion to apparently win his seventh WCW World crown.
Not so fast! WCW booker, Vince Russo sauntered to the ring post-match and cut a shoot promo on Hogan and the WCW veterans. Russo trashed the company and the backstage politics and declared that Jarrett was still WCW Champion and would defend the belt against Booker T in the show’s main event.
This was supposed to lead to a storyline in which Hogan returned to the company, claiming to be the real World Champion and challenge whomever held the belt at that point in time, similar to the CM Punk/John Cena storyline at SummerSlam 2011.
However, Russo overstepped the mark in his promo and called ‘The Hulkster’ a “piece of s**t” and upset the former six-time WCW Champion so much that he quit the company never to return. Worse than that, Hogan filed a defamation lawsuit against Russo. This whole affair was crazier than any wrestling angle you could ever conceive.
It did at least seem like a new era when Booker T dethroned Jarrett to win his first of five WCW World titles. The other marquee bout on the card was Goldberg versus Kevin Nash. The newly heel, Goldberg took on Nash in a bout where Scott Hall’s contract was on the line. ‘Da Man’ quickly defeated Nash, which meant Hall could never to return to WCW. That was a stipulation that the company actually adhered to; however that was due to Hall’s personal problems, rather than storyline.
Underneath the main event matches, there was a glut of short, interference based encounters. Some of which were decent; Mike Awesome versus Scott Steiner and Booker T versus Chris Kanyon (yes, Booker wrestled twice and losing to Kanyon somehow earned him a World title bout), and others were downright awful (Buff Bagwell versus Shane Douglas, Daffney versus Miss Hancock and Vito versus Norman Smiley versus Ralphus).
Also, of note on the undercard was the dreadful Vampiro versus The Kiss Demon in a Graveyard Match. Much like the Junkyard Invitational at the previous year’s event, it was very difficult for the viewer to see what was going on. The pair lumbered around in the dark until The Demon was knocked into a coffin and set on fire, like something out of a Hammer Horror film from the 1950s.
Bash at the Beach 2000 had very few redeeming features. It was no surprise therefore, that there was not a Bash at the Beach 2001.
#4 Bash at the Beach 1998
Bash at the Beach 1998 was held at the height of WCW’s popularity and profitability. The show, however failed for the most part, to deliver as an entertainment event.
The undercard featured such gems as Chris Jericho versus Rey Mysterio Jr. and Juventud Guerrera versus Billy Kidman. Like most WCW shows of the era though, there were also bouts which could be described as the exact opposite. A Raven’s Rules match pitting Raven against Perry Saturn started the card on a dour note. Barely any weapons came into play, despite the stipulation. Raven was the only winner at the end of this one.
The Eddie Guerrero versus Chavo Guerrero feud escalated when Chavo lost to Stevie Ray on purpose to set up a bout with his uncle. Eddie defeated Chavo in a Hair versus Hair Match that never got out of second gear. After his loss, Chavo bizarrely shaved his own head.
Disco Inferno took on Konnan in a rotten encounter. The Giant clashed with NFL star, Kevin Greene, in a contest which was passable but dull.
The show should have picked up with it’s marquee matches. However, all of them failed to deliver on some level. Goldberg defended his newly won WCW World Championship versus Curt Hennig. The match was dynamic enough as Hennig bumped like a madman for the champion’s offence. However, no-on believed the former Mr. Perfect posed any threat to Goldberg. Therefore, the three minute squash didn’t flatter Hennig and did nothing to enhance ‘Da Man’ either.
Bret Hart and Booker T phoned it in in a tedious United States Title match. The bout plodded along until Hart nonsensically disqualified himself by nailing Booker with a chair.
The main event pitted Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone against Hollywood Hogan and Dennis Rodman. The involvement of Basketball icons, Malone and Rodman earned WCW copious amounts of publicity but that did not translate to a good match.
This was the match in which Rodman was famously there in body but not in mind as he fumbled around the ring in no condition to perform. The other participants did their best to work around him, but there was no saving the contest. It didn’t help that a bout featuring two non-workers and an ageing DDP and Hogan was booked to last an interminable 24 minutes.
Not the worst Bash at the Beach of all time, but it was far from a good show. Despite making bundles of cash in 1998, all of the problems that would beset WCW in 1999 and beyond were on display here.
#3 Bash at the Beach 1994
The inaugural Bash at the Beach was the most successful pay-per-view WCW had ever promoted at that point in time.
The main event pitted WCW’s new big money signing, Hulk Hogan versus WCW World Champion, Ric Flair. Incredibly, this was the first ever pay-per-view meeting between the most famous wrestlers of the 1980s and early 1990s.
The card ranged from passable (Vader versus The Guardian Angel) to good (Steven Regal versus Johnny B. Badd) to superb (Steve Austin versus Ricky Steamboat). However, at the end of the show, all anyone could talk about was Hogan versus Flair.
The main event was the best television bout Hogan and Flair ever wrestled. The contest had a big fight feel. Hogan’s WrestleMania tag team partner, Mr T. accompanied the ‘Hulkster’ to the ring whilst long-time, Hogan nemesis, ‘Sensational’ Sherri seconded WCW World Champion, Flair.
The pair contested a dramatic 22 minute match-up, full of interference and near falls. Hogan won the match to lift his first WCW World Championship.
#2 Bash at the Beach 1997
The 1997 edition of Bash at the Beach was a terrific show. The nWo faction was at the peak of it’s powers and WCW was the number one wrestling promotion in the world.
In a rarity for the time, all of WCW’s main event bouts delivered in spades. The 48-year-old, Ric Flair and 43-year-old, Roddy Piper put on an entertaining 14 minute contest. Both men rolled back the years as they engaged in a frantic and intense brawl, packed full of false finishes. Flair finally succumbed to Piper’s Sleeper Hold, after a terrific battle.
The classic Macho Man Randy Savage versus Diamond Dallas Page feud continued in a tag team contest where Savage teamed with his nWo buddy, Scott Hall against DDP and a mystery partner, who was revealed to be Curt Hennig. After an entertaining battle, Hennig turned on his partner, allowing Savage to pin DDP for the win.
The headline bout pitted Hulk Hogan and Dennis Rodman versus Lex Luger and The Giant. After a slow start, the action picked up at great pace considering the participants. The crowd were red hot for this match-up and went crazy every time Rodman entered the ring.
In a shocking result, Luger Torture Racked Hogan for the clean victory. He would repeat the feat the following month to defeat Hogan for the WCW World Title on Nitro. On the under-card, there was a surprisingly decent battle between Jeff Jarrett and Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael, which featured ‘Mongo’s’ wife, Debra, turning heel on him and aligning with Jarrett.
Also, of note, was the super intense and violent brawl, pitting Chris Benoit versus Kevin Sullivan. The pair brutalised each other in all out war, which was eventually won by ‘The Crippler’ following a Diving Headbutt.
The show was rounded out by more choice bouts (Chris Jericho versus Ultimo Dragon, The Steiners versus The Great Muta and Masahiro Chono and Mortis and Wrath versus Glacier and Mortis).
An excellent show from top to bottom.
#1 Bash at the Beach 1996
The most famous Bash at the Beach was also the greatest in the event’s seven year history. Bash at the Beach 1996 is best remembered of course for the formation of the New World Order and Hulk Hogan’s heel turn.
The headline attraction pitted The Outsiders, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall against WCW’s Randy Savage, Lex Luger and Sting. Nash and Hall had waged war on WCW and insisted a third man would assist them in the main event. No-one expected Hogan to be that man. The ‘Hulkster’ had been a babyface for 15 years, since his AWA days. It was unthinkable that he would ever join the dark side. It was monumental then, when Hogan leg dropped Savage and aligned himself with Nash and Hall.
Hogan’s post-match speech in which he launched an astonishing tirade on the WCW fans, who had booed him for the previous two years, was something to behold. The nWo storyline catapulted WCW to unprecedented success as they supplanted the WWF as the number one wrestling promotion in the world.
Underneath, there were strong bouts pitting Psychosis versus Rey Mysterio, Dean Malenko versus Disco Inferno and The Nasty Boys versus The Public Enemy. However, nothing could overshadow the main event and the show closing angle.
A superb and history making show. Unquestionably, the pinnacle of the Bash at the Beach lineage.
You can watch every single Bash at the Beach event exclusively on the WWE Network.