By July 1997 World Championship Wrestling was the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. With the New World Order celebrating their one-year anniversary and the Cruiserweight division the talk of the wrestling world—not to mention a roster that was arguably second to none—it seemed that WCW couldn’t get any bigger. That was until Dennis Rodman, the NBA’s “bad boy” and one of the most eccentric athletes in American sports history, joined forces with Hollywood Hogan and the nWo. Nearly overnight Rodman’s involvement took WCW mainstream and brought the kind of media attention to pro wrestling the sport hadn’t seen since the “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” days.
Hardcore fans despised the idea of Dennis Rodman making a joke out of the business and using WCW as a platform to push the Rodman brand. But the exposure on ESPN, the entertainment news programs, and in print in the major newspapers and magazines across the country silenced many of the naysayers. Whatever the end result, be it good or bad, the fortunes of WCW had changed. And for a short time WCW was on equal footing with Vince McMahon and the WWF in the eyes of public.
If you’re looking for context, it’s all here on the Network. All previous editions of NITRO, Clash of the Champions, and all prior PPVs are available for you to view and enjoy today!
WCW Bash at the Beach ’97 (WATCH)
Date: July 13, 1997 – Location: Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Florida
Attendance: 7,851 – PPV Buys: 0.89 (>316,000 homes)
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan, Dusty Rhodes, & Mike Tenay – Interviews: “Mean” Gene Okerlund
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Hollywood Hogan
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: Jeff Jarrett
WCW World Tag Team Championship: The Outsiders (Scott Hall & Kevin Nash)
WCW World Television Champion: “Lord” Steven Regal
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho
WCW Women’s Championship: VACANT
The PPV opens with a vignette highlighting the tag team main event between Hollywood Hogan & Dennis Rodman and Lex Luger & The Giant. As the pyro goes off in the arena Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the show and introduces Dusty Rhodes and Bobby Heenan. Heenan and Schiavone talk about who Diamond Dallas Page’s “mystery partner” will be later in the night when DDP battles Scott Hall and Randy Savage, while Dusty and Tony talk about the massive tag team main event featuring Dennis Rodman.
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:38)
Special Guest Commentator: Mike Tenay
Wrath & Mortis w/James Vandenberg vs. Glacier & “The Cat” Ernest Miller
This one starts out as a brawl until Wrath and Miller slow things down. Once the match gets going it becomes more of a traditional type of match as opposed to the fun, stiff battles of the last few months. While the match has its moments it’s ultimately not the physical battle many had hoped it would be. Eventually the match breaks down into a 2-on-2 brawl with Miller and Wrath battling on the outside of the ring. On the inside Vandenberg slips a chain on Mortis’ boot as Glacier goes for a pin. Moments later Glacier clocks Vandenberg with the Cryonic Kick before turning into a Cryonic Kick from Mortis and the loaded boot. Mortis makes the cover and scores the win at 9:48. This marked Glacier’s first pinfall loss in WCW and Dusty immediately starts selling the fact that Glacier may not be able to recover.
WINNERS are Wrath & Mortis w/James Vendenberg (Pin, 9:48)
Backstage we see Diamond Dallas Page doing a WCWWrestling.com interview about the upcoming tag team match and who his “mystery partner” will be.
— WCW Cruiserweight Championship (WATCH – 17:39)
Special Guest Commentator: Mike Tenay
Ultimo Dragon vs. Chris Jericho(c)
This is a very, very good match but the crowd, for whatever reason, isn’t as invested in it as they usually are. This match features a number of great spots and interesting psychology and was one of the better Cruiserweight title matches to this point. In the end Jericho’s Tiger Driver is reversed into a hurricanrana which Jericho then reverses into a sunset flip for the pin at 12:55 to retain the Cruiserweight title. After the match Jericho and Dragon shake hands and share an embrace.
WINNER and STILL WCW Cruiserweight Champion, Chris Jericho (Pin, 12:55)
Next “Mean” Gene Okerlund plugs the WCW Hotline before walking to ringside to try and interview Raven. Raven gives a rambling promo about dreams (or something) and then segues to whether he is or isn’t DDP’s partner. Spoiler, he’s not. Stevie Richards then tells Raven to tell Okerlund about the announcement on NITRO tomorrow night. Raven backhands Richards like a child and the segment is over.
— Tag Team Match – If The Steiner Brothers Win They Earn a WCW World Tag Team Title Match Against The Outsiders (WATCH – 37:09)
nWo Japan (The Great Muta & Masahiro Chono) vs. The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott)
Despite their history, the lone story in this one is that if Rick and Scott won they would finally get their title shot against The Outsiders. After a wild start this one settles down into a standard tag team affair that, thanks to miscues and poor timing, never quite gets out of the blocks until the very end, but that’s not to say the match is boring. The fans, meanwhile, are hot for this match and everything the Steiners do. All four men go at it late when Scott hits a Frankensteiner on Muta. Rick goes for the pin when Chono drags the referee out of position. As the referee scolds Chono, Rick hoists Muta up on his shoulders and carries him to the corner where Scottie hits the Steiner DDT from the top rope for the pin at 11:38.
WINNERS are The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) (Pin, 11:38)
— “Trios Match” (WATCH – 52:00)
Special Guest Commentator: Mike Tenay
Juventud Guerrera, Hector Garza, & Lizmark, Jr. vs. La Parka, Psychosis, & Villano IV w/Sonny Oono
Though the crowd is flat for this one (for the most part), this is a fun, fun match and one of my personal favorites of the PPV “trios” matches. This match features a number of jaw-dropping high spots and incredible moments, including a top rope sunset flip that damn near kills Juventud and Juvi’s unbelievable springboard dive off the back of Garza to La Parka on the floor. The big drawback to this match is the finish. Late in the match Villano V, fresh from the back, runs in and replaces Villano IV. Villano V gets hit with a springboard dropkick and a standing moonsault from Hector Garza for the pin at 10:08. Everyone else gets hit with everything under the sun and can’t be pinned but Villano V gets hits with two relatively low-impact moves and is toast? I still can’t figure that one out.
WINNERS are Juventud Guerrera, Hector Garza, & Lizmark, Jr. (Pin, 10:08)
— “No Disqualification, Anything Goes Career Match” – Loser of the Fall Will Never Wrestle for WCW Again (WATCH – 1:05:52)
Chris Benoit vs. “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan w/Jimmy Hart & Jacquelyne
This was Sullivan’s first televised match since April and would mark his last WCW match until Starrcade ’99. This was the kayfabe conclusion to one of wrestling’s most heated and personal feuds. After months of brawls and “death” matches it all came down to this. An absolute war from the opening bell these two tore apart guardrails, the beach set, surfboards, a lifeguard tower and one another as they fought for their WCW careers. This war is tooth and nail until Jacquelyn, looking to hit Benoit with a wooden chair, gloms Sullivan with it instead and storms to the back, an angry Jimmy Hart in toe. Benoit goes up top and hits a devastating headbutt for the 1-2-3 at 13:12 to win the feud and “retire” “The Taskmaster”. After the match Jimmy Hart confronts Sullivan, telling him, “You let us down, you let everybody down!” Sullivan snaps and pushes Hart down for a final big pop from the hometown crowd.
WINNER is Chris Benoit (Pin, 13:12)
— WCW United States Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:23:50)
Steve “Mongo” McMichael w/Queen Debra vs. Jeff Jarrett(c)
This one comes on the heels of Jarrett being booted from The Horsemen, though it’s hard to really say has was a member of the group. “Mongo” was at odds with Jarrett for Jarrett’s coziness with Queen Debra. The match itself, which looks like Jarrett put it together from the ground up, isn’t all that bad. In the end Debra slips Jarrett “Mongo’s” Halliburton and Jarrett clocks McMichael in the elbow (“Mongo’s” yelp still cracks me up) before dotting the “i” and scoring the pin at 6:57 to retain the U.S. title. After the match Queen Debra smiles and waves at Jarrett.
WINNER and STILL WCW United States Heavyweight Champion, Jeff Jarrett (Pin, 6:57)
Next up “Mean” Gene plugs the WCW Hotline again (“some inside things”, etc.) followed by a Road Wild PPV promo.
In the back Hollywood Hogan and Dennis Rodman cut a promo. Hogan says it’s nice to finally “find another Champion”, as if the rest of the nWo aren’t on his level. Hogan says Rod “The Bod” will destroy the whole town. Rodman says they’re going to tear the town apart. Hogan tells Rodman, “You put the icing on my cake.” Yeah, it’s one of those kind of promos.
In the arena Scott Hall and Randy Savage make their way to the ring. DDP and Kimberly come out and wait at the end of the stage for their “mystery partner”, who turns out to be… exactly who everyone thought it would be, Curt Hennig!
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:40:23)
New World Order (WCW World Tag Team Champion Scott Hall & Randy “Macho Man” Savage) w/Elizabeth vs. Diamond Dallas Page & “Mystery Partner” Curt Hennig w/Kimberly
Though DDP and Savage start this one out it’s not nearly the fight their past encounters have been. The match slows even more when Hall and Hennig get in. The match never really takes off and, unfortunately, feels like a NITRO main event rather than a marquee PPV showdown. Late in the match DDP gets knocked from the ring. As DDP tries to climb back in the ring he pulls down the top rope and inadvertently causes Hennig to fall out of the ring. Hennig turns on DDP and drops Page with a big double axe handle to the back. Scott Hall takes advantage and drills DDP with the Outsider’s Edge before Savage hits the big flying elbow from the top for the pin at 9:36. After the match the nWo taunt DDP and Kimberly until they decide to leave. With the ring cleared Kimberly helps DDP up and helps her husband to the back.
WINNERS are New World Order (WCW World Tag Team Champion Scott Hall & Randy “Macho Man” Savage) w/Elizabeth (Pin, 9:36)
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:57:14)
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair
This one had been on the horizon since April, when Piper and Flair joined forces to battle The Outsiders. After Flair left Piper to fend for himself at the prior PPV against Hall and Nash these two took the gloves off and went to war. The match is a career highlight for both men; a stiff, physical, psychological war that is arguably the best match on the card. Late, Flair tries to use “knucks” on Piper, who blocks them and uses them on Flair instead. Suddenly “Mongo” runs out and distracts the referee as Chris Benoit attempts to hit the diving headbutt on Piper as “Hot Rod” covers Flair. Piper moves, though, and Benoit hits Flair. As the referee tries to get Benoit out of the ring “Mongo” spikes Piper with the tombstone piledriver. Piper kicks out, fights Flair off, and cinches in the sleeper hold for the submission win at 13:27.
WINNER is “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (Submission, 13:27)
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:15:07)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Michael Buffer
“Total Package” Lex Luger & The Giant vs. New World Order (Dennis Rodman & WCW World Heavyweight Champion Hollywood Hogan) w/Randy Savage
This was, going in, one of the biggest matches in WCW history. No other match in WCW history had the attention of the mainstream media or the public, to this point, like this match. Rodman looked the part, played the part and, most importantly, took it as seriously as he could. Rodman was no natural but the match is fine for what it is, despite the stalling and fluff, with the Daytona Beach crowd coming unglued for Rodman. Near the end, with Giant in control, Rodman takes out the referee as a large “Sting” makes his way to the ring and, as Giant has Rodman up for the chokeslam, clocks Giant in the back with a baseball bat. In the chaos that ensues Hogan hits Rodman by mistake, which allows Luger to hoist Hogan up in the Torture Rack. Referee Nick Patrick runs in, hears the submission, and calls for the bell at 21:20.
WINNERS are “Total Package”Lex Luger & The Giant (Submission, 21:20)
After the match Luger racks Dennis Rodman and Randy Savage before going to check on The Giant on the outside. Hogan, Rodman and Hollywood stumble to the back as the show comes to a close and credits roll.
Bash at the Beach ’97 is, despite the stumbles, a nearly a flawless WCW card! With the lone exception of the “Mystery Partner” tag team match, every match, in its own way, delivered.
Despite the crowd being up and down for much of the card they were treated to a rare night in WCW history where everything went as planned. 20 years later BATB ’97 is just as good as the night it aired, proving that when wrestling is done right it never goes bad.
This one is certainly worth watching, whether you’ve seen it before or for the very first time. So, if you’re already subscribed to the WWE Network what are you waiting for? Check out this classic WCW PPV and let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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