After the last couple of reviews focusing on WWE in the summer of 2004 (which will be continuing), this review will be looking at the 25th anniversary of a WCW PPV, and it was one of huge significance to the WCW franchise. This show is the first WCW PPV to feature Hulk Hogan, as he squared off against World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair, who had recently won the title at Clash of the Champions XXVII. This was regarded as a dream match at the time, with the two surprisingly not locking horns at WrestleMania VIII and only battling on live events, giving WCW the opportunity to present this huge occasion. This particular card took place from Orlando, Florida.
After a very short video package focusing on the main event match-up, we were given a run through of the matches on the show, with Steve Austin vs. Ricky Steamboat for the WCW United States Championship being the pick of the bunch. Muhammad Ali and Mr T were also announced for participation before the National Anthem is performed.
WCW Television Championship Match
Steven Regal (C) vs. Johnny B. Badd
This match was originally meant to be Sting challenging Regal, but due to an injury suffered at the hands of Ric Flair and Sensual Sherri (shown in a video package prior to the match), Badd took the Surfer’s place. The crowd were very excited at the start of this show, being fully behind Badd and totally against Regal and Butler William. The match was a lot better than expected, with the two being very even and Badd going toe-to-toe with the TV Champion at his own technical game. The pace started to quicken to the challenger’s advantage, as he forced Regal into the corner multiple times, and fans were heavily invested in Badd targeting Regal’s left arm, resulting in the “USA” chant being used more than once. The finish saw Badd on the verge of victory after a tope, only for Regal to retain with a roll-up after a back and forth with Badd. Post-match, Badd attacked Sir William before Regal and his manager would escape.
Gene Okerlund then introduced “One of the greatest wrestlers in the world”, Antonio Inoki. The crowd didn’t seem to really know who the Japanese star was, especially when given an award for being Antonio Inoki. This led to Steven Regal coming back out claiming he was far more superior, and that Inoki was lucky to be retired. The TV Champion ran off before Inoki could attack him.
Vader vs. The Guardian Angel
The commentary team did a very good job of building up the intimidating Vader, who had been World Champion up until Starrcade 1993, against Ray Traylor who was fighting for “law and order” and was basically just playing his WWF character The Big Boss Man with a new name. The match began before the bell with Traylor attacking Harley Race, who accompanied Vader. The Angel looked like a big threat to Vader, hitting a huge bodyslam to Vader and only taking offence when suffering two-on-one disadvantages. Vader showed his athleticism in the match by attempting a sunset flip bomb from the second rope, as well as a modified Crossface. In the end, Vader hit a Vader Bomb and a moonsault before Harley Race gave Vader a nightstick, and the referee saw Guardian Angel with the nightstick and thus awarded Vader the win via a disqualification (the original Lie, Cheat and Steal strategy, really).
A video package was shown for the next match, with Terry Funk cheating to beat Dustin Rhodes and saying that he will only leave the Rhodes alone when he wants to, while getting help with Bunkhouse Buck. Dustin asked Arn Anderson to be his partner, with Anderson accepting at Clash Of The Champions XXVII. We also saw footage of a pre-show match, with Molly McShane beating the Shane Brothers (a radio duo in Georgia), with Jimmy Hart as referee.
Bunkhouse Buck & Terry Funk vs. Arn Anderson & Dustin Rhodes
The crowd was in full support of Dustin and Arn here, with Anderson and Buck starting the match. Bunkhouse wanted Dustin in, and after getting his wish, he was completely overwhelmed, leading to a Funk tag who suffered the same fate. Multiple times, both Funk and Buck attempted to run in and help their partner, with The Natural able to hold onto the advantage. A big moment was a missed crossbody by Rhodes, which saw him fly into the ramp, damaging his left arm. This led to a lot of double-teaming with Buck and Funk pounding on Rhodes in the corner, until Rhodes gained momentum by hitting two huge back body-drops and a Bionic Elbow to Funk. The finish saw Anderson get tagged in, only for him to attack Dustin!!!! Arn hit Dustin with a DDT and pulled Funk on top of him for the win. Post-match, Arn, Meng, Buck and Funk attacked Rhodes even further, leading to wild screams of pain by the ‘Grandson Of A Plumber’. Gene Okerlund tried to interview Anderson to no avail.
Ric Flair and Sensual Sherri were interviewed by Mean Gene, though. Flair gloated over Anderson betraying Dustin, and then moved on to how all the celebrities at the arena tonight were here to see him, “The Best In The World”, which Sherri backed up by calling Hogan an underdog and saying that Hulk had to beat “The Man” (making two nicknames that are used in 2019 WWE).
WCW United States Championship Match
‘Stunning’ Steve Austin (C) vs. Ricky Steamboat
With Hogan vs. Flair as the main event, this was the biggest match on the undercard of the show, and can be argued to be the best on paper for the ‘wrestling purist’. The match started with Austin blindsiding Steamboat and attacking him in the corner to take early control, which was done through targeting the left leg of Steamboat. The challenger countered by targeting the champion’s right arm. Steamboat nearly won with a roll-up after Austin escaped a sleeper hold, before going back to target the arm. Steamboat focused on the arm for a long period of the match and again almost claimed victory with a roll-up, before Austin got himself some relief with a spinebuster. ‘Stunning’ Steve began to imitate Steamboat with chops, before a catapult pin combo nearly led to a new champion. The finish saw multiple pin combos by Steamboat before a massive Tombstone by the challenger; Austin then attempted to escape via a DQ which would not be given, before rolling through a crossbody and using the ropes for the win. This is a recommended match, especially for the fan who likes a good amount of wrestling psychology and limb targeting.
Mean Gene finally managed to interview Arn Anderson over his actions earlier. Double-A claimed he was “not a crusader”, and that he had made a pact with the Devil.
WCW World Tag Team Championship Match
Cactus Jack & Kevin Sullivan (C) vs. Pretty Wonderful
This match started with Orndorff and Sullivan, with the challenger taking his time taunting Sullivan. This carried on when Jack and Roma entered the ring, with the former Horseman being beat down two-on-one style by the champions. There was a very funny moment of brilliant teamwork with Cactus Jack blocking Sullivan as he went to the corner, only for Roma to attempt the same thing and fail. For the most part of this match, Sullivan dominated over both challengers, hitting turnbuckle shots and a double-foot stomp on the former TV Champion Orndorff. The match started to lose the interest of the fans around halfway through as they hit a Mexican wave, which ended with Orndorff using a piledriver to almost crown new champions. Soon afterwards, Cactus tagged back in, and he seemed to have the match won with a piledriver of his own, only for the referee to be distracted. This gave Roma the chance to grab Jack’s legs and hold them underneath the bottom rope, allowing Orndorff to get the win and lead to NEW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS in THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE.
WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match
Ric Flair (C) vs. Hulk Hogan
We are finally here: arguably the biggest match in WCW history in Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair. Bruce Buffer was brought in as the ring announcer to give the match some extra celebrity focus and legitimacy, before Mr. Bockwinkel (a four-time former NWA Champion) and Shaquille O’Neal were introduced as major guests. Flair as the champion made his entrance first, before Hogan (with the Mouth Of The South himself, Jimmy Hart, and Mr. T) made his grand entrance with the crowd being fully behind Hogan. After the bell rang, the crowd went nuts for anything Hogan and Flair did, from a staredown to Hogan doing a rolling arm-puller, which isn’t a move normally attached to the Hulkster. The majority of the match was controlled by Flair targeting either the left arm of Hogan or applying a sleeper hold, with Hogan just being unable to hit the big boot for the legdrop. Flair came close to winning with ‘Sensual’ Sherri attempting to hit Hogan with a steel chair, only for Jimmy Hart to come to the rescue. Flair did apply the Figure-Four Leglock to Hogan after Sherri interference had cost Hogan the win. But Hulk escaped the Figure-Four, as well as kicking out of a brass knucks shot, before hitting Flair with the Hulkster routine, culminating in a big boot and legdrop for the win. NEW CHAMPION – HULK HOGAN! Bobby Heenan’s commentary to this is brilliant. Post-match, Hogan was backstage celebrating his win over Flair, giving an interview to Okerlund outlining that Hulkamania is here to stay and that Ric Flair will have to deal with it.
Overall, WCW Bash At The Beach 1994 was a really good show. It has a type of wrestling for nearly everyone on the show, and it doesn’t have a bad match with the crowd heavily invested in the main event, which is what was needed. Heenan’s commentary for this show is also absolutely superb, with his love for Ric Flair at Royal Rumble 1992 levels.