This week, straight from the WWE Network archives, Throwback Thursday celebrates the recent 20th anniversary of one of World Championship Wrestling’s biggest and most important PPV events: Bash at the Beach ’98!
While the tide of the “Monday Night Wars” had shifted to the World Wrestling Federation, WCW was far from finished. But, in the midst of the most competitive period yet of the wars, WCW was forced to fight a the war on two fronts. The first, and most important, was against the WWF. The second was against their new parent company Time Warner, who demanded per-approval of “scripts” and enacted a rigid code of standards and practices that left WCW all but helpless to defend against the WWF’s move to a more adult oriented product, something WCW had done to gain the upper-hand in the first place.
Rather than fight fire with fire WCW attempted to go mainstream, a world it had never found success in before, by staging the biggest crossover match since the Lawrence Taylor/Bam Bam Bigelow showdown from WrestleMania XI. NBA rivals Dennis Rodman (of the Chicago Bulls) and Karl Malone (whose Utah Jazz were coming off back-to-back NBA Finals losses to the Bulls) were the talk of the sports world thanks to their on-court “wrestling” in the epic series-ending game six of the NBA Finals on June 14, 1998. With Rodman paired with the evil Hollywood Hogan and Malone with wrestling’s everyman Diamond Dallas Page it was a story that even non-wrestling fans could sink their teeth into.
The record-breaking go-home edition of NITRO, seen by some 40,000 fans live at the Georgia Dome, earned WCW their first ratings win since April 20, 1998. Though revisionist history pillories the show for giving away WCW’s biggest match (Goldberg/Hogan) for free the event helped bring WCW up to the WWF’s level in respect to publicity and helped draw the second-largest buyrate in company history for this event, behind only Starrcade ’97. Between the go-home NITRO and the hugely successful PPV WCW earned more than $2 million dollars in the seven days leading up to Bash at the Beach ’98.
But just how well does this event hold up twenty years later? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
Edits are few and far between (beyond the usual music overdubs) and context is complete with all previous editions of both NITRO and Thunder, as well as all prior PPVs, available for you to enjoy on the Network right now!
WCW/nWo Bash at the Beach ’98 (WATCH)
Date: July 12, 1998 – Location: Cox Area, San Diego, California
Attendance: 10,095 – PPV Buyrate: 1.5 (>548,000 homes)
Commentators: Tony Schiavone, Mike Tenay, & Bobby Heenan – Interviews: “Mean” Gene Okerlund & Lee Marshall
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WCW World Heavyweight Champion: Goldberg
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion: VACANT
WCW World Tag Team Champions: Sting & “Big Sexy” Kevin Nash
WCW World Television Champion: Booker T
WCW Cruiserweight Champion: Chris Jericho
The show opens with a surfer/beach-themed vignette highlighting Goldberg, Kevin Greene, and the big crossover tag team main event.
In the arena the pyro blows the doors off the Cox Arena as Tony Schiavone welcomes us to the show. At the announce position Tony and Mike talk about the worldwide interest in the tag team main event while Schiavone and Heenan talk about what will happen when the bell finally rings between Rodman and Malone.
Next we go “Mean” Gene Okerlund at the foot of the stage who talks about nWo Hollywood’s Curt Hennig challenging the new World Champion Goldberg later in the show and cuts a quick promo for the WCW Hotline.
— “Raven’s Rules Match” (WATCH – 4:31)
Saturn vs. Raven w/Riggs & Lodi
Last month we saw Saturn be booted from The Flock at Great American Bash ’98 (Throwback here) following a loss to Kanyon. This ECW-lite match is a brawl from the start. Late in the match, after a springboard dropkick in the mush, we get a ridiculous, Razzie-worthy sell job from Nick Patrick. Saturn puts Raven between two tables on the outside and goes for a big elbow when Kanyon saves Raven only to hit Raven with a Flatliner on the steel chair in the ring moments later. In the end Raven survives a late Saturn comeback and, after Saturn drops Riggs with a thunderous Spicoli Driver, manages to hit an Evenflow DDT for the pinfall at 10:43.
WINNER is Raven w/Riggs & Lodi (Pin, 10:43)
After replays we go to “Mean” Gene who brings out Eddie Guerrero to talk about Eddie’s upcoming “hair” match with nephew Chavo, Jr. Eddie says he was nervous about the “hair” match until Chavo challenged Stevie Ray to a match before their scheduled match and that all Eddie’s going to have to do is “pick up what’s left”, hit the Frog Splash, cut Chavo’s hair, and “send you back home to mamma.”
— Singles Match (WATCH – 20:33)
Kidman w/Lodi vs. Juventud Guerrera
This marked Kidman’s first one-on-one PPV match in WCW. This is a great, fast-paced match that hooks the crowd from the start. While there’s not much in the way of psychology it’s filled with fantastic spots and high-flying action. In the end Juvi evades Kidman’s Seven Year Itch (Shooting Star Press) before hitting a crushing 450 Splash for the pin at 9:55.
WINNER is Juventud Guerrera (Pin, 9:55)
After replays we go back to the WCW internet location where Lee Marshall interviews Konnan about his sudden popularity and that of nWo WolfPac.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 33:40)
Stevie Ray vs. Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
As the bell rings Eddie Guerrero, scissors in hand, makes his way down the aisle as Chavo gets on the mic to dedicate his match with Stevie Ray to his “favorite wrestler” Eddie: “This is for you little trooper!”
After some stalling Chavo offers Stevie Ray his hand and as soon as Stevie shakes Chavo’s hand Chavo drops to his knees and submits at 1:36, enraging Stevie Ray and Eddie Guerrero alike.
WINNER is Stevie Ray (Submission, 1:36)
After the match Chavo gets back on the mic and taunts Eddie, who yells as Stevie Ray for not taking care of Chavo.
— “Hair vs. Hair Match” (WATCH – 37:45)
Chavo Guerrero, Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero
Unlike the previous Juvi/Kidman match this match is all about psychology and tells a great story. Eddie dominates much of the action, cutting off Chavo at every turn. In the end, after Eddie tries to cut Chavo’s hair, Eddie misses the Frog Splash. Chavo follows up with the tornado DDT and looks to have the match in hand when he, too, goes for the scissors instead. As the referee tries to pull the scissors from Chavo Eddie rolls his nephew up in an inside cradle for the pin at 11:54.
WINNER is Eddie Guerrero (Pin, 11:54)
After the match Eddie and Chavo argue over the electric clippers until Chavo begins to shave his own head, threatening Eddie to do the same. Eddie leaves the ring and Chavo sits down to continue to shave his head until it’s nearly bald.
Next we go back to the announce position where Tony, Tenay and “Brain” talk about why Dean Malenko is out of the scheduled Cruiserweight title match with Chris Jericho.
Disco Inferno and Alex Wright come to the ring and butcher Konnan’s catchphrases before trying to dance. The nWo WolfPac music hits and Konnan, Lex Luger, and World Tag Team Champion Kevin Nash come to the ring, correct all the catchphrases, and do the usual shtick.
— “Unadvertised Singles Match” (WATCH – 56:45)
Disco Inferno w/Alex Wright vs. Konnan w/Lex Luger & WCW World Tag Team Champion Kevin Nash
This one is over nearly as soon as it begins. After Alex Wright attacks Konnan Luger puts Wright in the Torture Rack at ringside while Kevin Nash sneaks into the ring and drops Disco with a big boot and massive Jackknife Powerbomb. Moments later K-Dawg cinches in the Tequila Sunrise on Disco for the tap out win at 2:16.
WINNER is Konnan w/Lex Luger & WCW World Tag Team Champion Kevin Nash (Submission, 2:16)
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:05:33)
The Giant vs. “The Mean Machine” Kevin Greene
This was originally to be a tag team match in which The Giant and Curt Hennig faced Kevin Greene and then-United States Champion Goldberg but with Goldberg winning the World title on the go-home NITRO the tag team match was split into Goldberg/Hennig and Giant/Greene.
This would mark Kevin Greene’s final match in WCW as the Carolina Panthers insisted upon a “no wrestling” clause being added to Greene’s contract (to ensure the safety and security of their investment), effectively ending Green’s wrestling career. Although this was only Greene’s fifth match on WCW TV Greene looks impressive, particularly Greene’s selling which is better than some seasoned pros. After taking the brunt of the punishment Greene makes the comeback, landing a beautiful clothesline from the top rope before going after Giant’s knees. In the end Greene rushes Giant for a big shoulder tackle when Giant grabs Green by the throat and ends the match with a chokeslam at 6:58.
WINNER is The Giant (Pin, 6:58)
Next we head back to WCW’s internet location where Lee Marshall interviews Curt Hennig, who says the secret to dethroning Goldberg is experience.
Up next is footage from the go-home NITRO of Jericho and Malenko costing each other victories and of J.J. Dillon, Chairman of the WCW Executive Committee, banning both men from touching before their scheduled “no D.Q.” title rematch at Bash at the Beach. Of course Jericho, hinting that Mama Malenko was unfaithful while ol’ Boris was on the road, goads Malenko into attacking him and Malenko is removed from the match.
Jericho comes to the ring with a top hat and cane and announces he’s going to dance soft-shoe for the crowd since he isn’t wrestling. J.J. Dillon joins Jericho in the ring and announces that another challenger, one who hasn’t wrestled in six-months, is ready for a title match. Jericho agrees, so long as it remains “no D.Q.”, and out comes Rey Mysterio, Jr!
— WCW Cruiserweight Championship – “No Disqualification Match” (WATCH – 1:15:55)
Rey Mysterio, Jr. (sub. for Dean Malenko) vs. Chris Jericho(c)
Though Rey had just worked the July 10, 1998 L.A. Melee Pay-Per-Listen event in a losing effort to Jericho (after Malenko interference), Rey hadn’t worked a televised match in WCW since the Souled Out ’98 event. Rey looks incredible and the fans are solidly behind the hometown boy. It’s not the cleanest of matches but it tells a great story and is good while it lasts. In the end Dean Malenko distracts Jericho, giving Rey the opening to roll through the Walls of Jericho and score the pin at 6:01. This supposedly ended Jericho’s fourth Cruiserweight title reign but the title would be returned to Jericho the very next night with neither the title loss or Rey’s win being officially recognized by either WCW or the WWF/E.
WINNER and NEW WCW Cruiserweight Champion, Rey Mysterio, Jr. (Pin, 6:01)
After the match Malenko chases Jericho to the back where Arn Anderson stalls Jericho long enough for Malenko to catch up. The two fight backstage until we abruptly go back to the ring where Rey celebrates what he thinks is a Cruiserweight title victory.
— WCW World Television Championship (WATCH – 1:31:23)
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Booker T(c)
This isn’t bad for what it is but it’s over before the story can really develop. Bret dominates nearly this entire match before Booker T makes the comeback. In the end Booker T lands the missile dropkick only for Bret to get his feet on the ropes and escape to the floor where Bret grabs a chair and gloms Booker T at 8:26 to give Booker T the win via DQ. After the match Bret continues to beat the bejabbers out of Booker T with the steel chair, even cinching in the figure-four around the ring post until a disgusted Stevie Ray slowly makes the save. The divide between the brothers is really being pushed hard as Booker T is helped to the back.
WINNER and STILL WCW World Television Champion, Booker T (Disqualification, 8:26)
Next we see a vignette of the events that led to Goldberg dethroning Hollywood Hogan on the go-home NITRO.
— WCW World Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:45:33)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Michael Buffer
Curt Hennig vs. Goldberg(c)
This, like the Konnan/Disco match earlier, was over nearly as soon as it began. Try as he might, Hennig is no match for Goldberg. In the end Goldberg kicks out of the Hennig-Plex before hitting the the spear and stiff looking Jackhammer for the pin at 3:51 to retain the World Heavyweight title and improve to 112 – 0.
WINNER and STILL WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Goldberg (Pin, 3:51)
After replays we see a vignette detailing the war between Karl Malone & DDP and Hollywood Hogan & Dennis Rodman.
— “Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:58:03)
Special Guest Ring Announcer: Michael Buffer
nWo Hollywood (Hollywood Hogan & Dennis “Rodzilla” Rodman) w/The Disciple vs. Diamond Dallas Page & Karl “The Mail Man” Malone
This match more than lived up to the hype and delivered in a way few fans thought it could. Though Rodman (who no-showed the go-home NITRO after a weekend of bad publicity) looks to be a fish out of water, Karl Malone is all-in. From the work rate (well, maybe not Rodman) to the psychology this tag team showdown is a true WCW highlight that proved that given the proper ingredients WCW could do “Sports Entertainment” as well as the WWF. In the end DDP hits Hogan with a running Diamond Cutter before Malone nails Rodman with a Cutter of his own. As Malone and Rodman tussle near the ropes The Disciple sneaks into the ring and drops DDP with the Apocalypse allowing Hollywood to score the pin at 23:45.
WINNERS are nWo Hollywood (Hollywood Hogan & Dennis “Rodzilla” Rodman) w/The Disciple (Pin, 23:45)
After the match Malone drops Disciple and the referee with Diamond Cutters as fans litter the ring with garbage. Hollywood and Rodman celebrate with the rest of nWo Hollywood as DDP and Malone leave through the crowd.
Schiavone, Tenay and Heenan sell tomorrow night’s NITRO as we see replays of the main event and post-match antics by Malone. At the announce position Tony, Tenay and Heenan give their thoughts on the night before bringing the show to an end.
Though a few of the matches (and finishes) leave a bit to be desired (Konnan/Disco, Booker T/Bret and Goldberg/Hennig) this event has a lot to like.
The cruiserweights steal the show with the Eddie/Chavo, Rey/Jericho and Juvi/Kidman putting on arguably the best matches of the night while the main event, even with Rodman’s flubs, stands as a benchmark moment for World Championship Wrestling. If you’ve haven’t seen this event or it’s been a while this is well worth your time!
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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