Saturday, November 3, 2012
Scott Watches WCW Bash at the Beach 1994
It's the truest turning point we've come across to date on the Project, as now it's not just Hulk Hogan talking on TV and shit, he's actually going to be in a WCW ring, wrestling for the WCW world heavyweight title. Mr. WWF himself is truly here.
When Flair left for the WWF during the Herd days, it was a huge deal. Frankly, that was bigger for WCW, I think, but not in a good way. Hogan, for all his faults and shittiness, is good for what WCW wanted to do and wanted to be. He can take them further than they could go without him. That's just a fact.
So the landscape changes drastically with Hogan, and it all really starts right here, the first-ever Bash at the Beach (spiritual successor to Beach Blast). Hulk Hogan in WCW. What a time to be alive, I suppose. It's a clash of rasslin ideals. Ric Flair is The Man. Hulk Hogan is ... well, he's everything that Ric Flair is not, basically.
Honestly, as a kid I never saw Hogan-Flair as a dream match, I don't think. I at least don't remember thinking it would be one, and I mixed my WWF and WCW action figures quite a bit. Sting-Hogan I saw as a dream match. Flair-Savage I saw as a dream match, I think. The pieces had to fit. Hogan-Flair was a weird thing that crossed too many streams. It just didn't belong. It wasn't right. The WWF did it a little in '91, but never on TV, and never the right way. This was the right way -- years past its true sell-by date, like Tyson-Holyfield or something.
"Since the beginning of time, people have dreamt of the unfathomable. The dreamers have turned into champions. And the champions to immortals. Tonight, WCW brings you the unimaginable. Two champions: 12-time WCW champion Ric Flair and five-time WWF champion Hulk Hogan. When these two worlds collide, a new universe will emerge, with only one ruler. One champion."
It's the Match of the Century, y'all. I'm actually kind of excited all over again. I like to drink the Kool-Aid. It makes life tolerable to occasionally believe in something.
Something called Daron Norwood from Giant Records sings the national anthem:
I wonder who he was supposed to be "the next" version of? Alan Jackson? Wikipedia tells me this dude ended his career in 1995 because he was an alcoholic drinking Jack Daniel's. If I was an alcoholic relying on Jack Daniel's, I'd quit, too. Apparently he released an album this year, though. I'll try to find it. YES! It's on Spotify. Anyway, he does a pretty good job on the anthem here. Nothing showy. I hate showy anthem readings.
NEWS: Sting was injured, so he's out of his match with Lord Steven Regal for the TV title. Johnny B. Badd will replace him. Sting's not even here. He's not allowed here with his scratched or slashed cornea.
The good news is that Johnny B. Badd's portion of the show is up first, and thus is over first, and I don't have to deal with him further. What you see to your right there, in poor quality I know, is a man in a nice shirt and tie, holding up the Union Jack, and then a somewhat slovenly man next to him, in a tye-dye Mickey Mouse t-shirt, pointing at it with his right hand, and giving a sloppy thumbs down with his left. That says a lot about the cultures, I think. USA chant leads the match. Says even more.
Badd's stupid confetti is all over the mat. These two have developed some solid chemistry and Regal is more than good enough in 1994 to lead Badd through something good. Regal favoring his shoulder and the match is slowing down here, angering the crowd. Heenan says everyone all over the States is talking about WCW. Schiavone says, "Well as they say, wrestling is cool again." I don't think this was true. The other idiot from "Thunder in Paradise" is seated ringside, looking like he couldn't care less. It goes on a while, then ends when Regal eventually reverses a pinning predicament for the three count. Sir William gets his after the match. The match was OK.
Let's talk to Tony and Bobby. "I hear Hogan's running five miles a day." LOL. OK. Gene is in the ring with Antonio Inoki. "He is the equivalent to a Senator." For no particular reason, WCW is presenting Inoki with a plaque, and they demand a standing ovation, which...works. Whoa. They should demand standing ovations more often.
Regal returns to the ring, still covered in confetti. He's working off the Zbyszko storyline to set up a match with Inoki. The crowd is all about Inoki giving Regal what's for. The "babe" they had in the ring for no reason is like :) while they nearly come to blows. Regal bails.
After that, we go back to ringside where Heenan is gone. "Turn around, Jesse, you're on camera." "Oh." Jesse couldn't care less about being here anymore. It's terrific. "Yeah I wrestled Antonio Inoki." "What's up with Regal here, Jesse?" "I dunno. Ask him."
These two had a kickass match at Spring Stampede. Vader breaks out a spin kick quickly, but he gets slammed by the Angel, and then Angel lays in the right hands and pulls off Vader's mask. Then a scoop and a slam, just holding Vader there with one arm. This is brute big bad mother fucker strength when these two collide. Fuck a Lex Luger being strong, or Sid, or Davey Boy, or whatever. And then they just start fucking fighting. Angel with a right to Vader's stupid fat face. Then Vader's like, fuck you, dickwad, and flattens him when the two of them collide. Vader starts whistling for some reason. This is awesome. These two should wrestle on every show. Vader with a flying sunset flip, and Angel drops down with a butt smash. Vader with a clothesline and then a leglock. Maybe he's tired of trading face-punches with the Angel. Now he's into a crossface riding him with all his girth. yeaaaaaaahhhh doctor. Angel with rights to the gut and an uppercut from his knees that snaps Vader's chin back. But Vader eats the shots and slams him. Then there's the Vader Bomb. Race wants another. He gets the moonsault, and Vader connects but it takes its toll on him too. Now Harley Race is up top, because he wants to be slammed off, and that happens, and then Vader and Race are both sent to the floor. You can't stop Harley Race from taking bumps. Fuck retirement. Vader eats a right on the floor, then they go back in, as Angel suplexes him in from the apron. This is the greatest feud in history. Then Angel shoulders Vader, and the referee gets knocked over. Vader has a "telescopic night stick" and the Angel gets it from him, and we wait and wait and wait, and the referee sees him with the stick and disqualifies him. What a load of shit. "He didn't even hit him with it! He's a Guardian Angel!" Tony is unhappy. He keeps going on about how as a Guardian Angel, the Guardian Angel refused to use the weapon. Not really. He was asking for the crowd's approval. Get serious, Tony. Stop reading into shit.
Backstage, Chris Cruise and Mike Tenay have taken off their sport jackets, because it's too hot tonight. Then we see Terry Funk blow them off instead of talking to them. YEAH THAT MAKES ME WANT TO CALL IN - I WANT TO HEAR WRESTLERS NOT TALK TO THEM
Here's a recap of the Stud Stable-Dustin Rhodes feud. Here's some clips of a lady wrestler beating a couple of doofus disc jockeys before the show went live tonight.
Tye-dye Mickey Mouse also does not like the Col. Parker group. Thumbs DOWN. Arn starts with Buck. Col. Parker has a surprise for Dustin Rhodes. what could it be
Arn and Buck collar and elbow a couple times, but Buck wants Dustin in there, so Arn obliges. And they throw hands. Dustin wins that exchange, and Funk tags in, and Dustin wins an exchange there. Dustin maintains control on both of them and throws Funk over the top to the floor while the referee is turned around, and then he does it to Buck when the referee is counting on Funk. Back to action, and Dustin still dominates the match, easily handling both of them. Finally Dustin makes a mistake, and he makes it count, missing a crossbody and flying out to the floor, skipping the steps on the side of the ring and into the aisle. Funk follows him over and does a number on him while Buck distracts the ref.
Eventually, Arn goes over and checks on Rhodes, but gets out of the way when Funk comes back to continue beating on Dustin. Funk's in the wrong corner when he goes back to the ring, because whatever. He's old. Anderson hits the turnbuckle and eggs the crowd on while Buck works on Dustin. Funk and Buck double-team like it's olden times, cheating and cheating and convincing the referee there was a tag. Anderson comes in and distracts the referee for a second again. "Ah, darn it!" he says. Funk with a reverse neckbreaker and Dustin is reeling.
So Dustin gets a clothesline on Funk for a short count, and Buck is back involved. "It's a one-man fight!" says Tony. "And that's the way he wanted it!" Well, then fuck him, the moron. Anderson finally gets the tag, and he's PUMPED UP, then he DDTs Dustin, which the crack WCW production crew totally misses in favor of looking at Meng.
Now, there is no surprise, really, that Arn Anderson turns on Dustin Rhodes. He's Arn Motherfuckin' Anderson, not Dustin Rhodes' mentor or buddy. Arn Anderson is a friend to no man except for Ric Flair. His other partners were associates and strength in numbers. Dustin Rhodes was just a means to getting back into the thick of things, basically; Arn was kind of floundering, flopping around in the mid-card, no real direction. Though he is in his way a loner, Anderson is not a solo artist. Though the relationships may not mean much to him beyond money and backup, Arn Anderson likes to run in a pack. Always had, always would. So though the Four Horsemen are (for the moment) dead and buried, Col. Parker has a good thing going with Funk and Buck and Meng, three other guys who are together out of convenience more than anything else. Anderson fits the group like a glove. It's a collective of hired guns. And Dustin Rhodes is a fucking idiot for asking the man who made his name as the "Enforcer" of wrestling's greatest gang to pal around with him, slapping hands against guys who so clearly are cut from the same cloth as Arn Anderson.
Ringside, Hank Aaron is with Tony and Bobby. Hank Aaron is pulling for both Hogan and Flair. He just wants to see some good stuff, I think. Heenan makes a joke. Hank makes one right back. Just shootin' the shit with the home run king. No biggie for Bobby.
Anyway, word has filtered from the ring to these two that Dustin may have a broken arm. Still to come, U.S. title! World tag team title! Hogan-Flair!
Let's go to Ric Flair and Mean Gene. Sherri looks great. "How 'bout Double A?! How 'bout it? Is he back? I guess he is!" So Flair isn't hangin' with Arn, but he puts him over anyway. See? They're friends. They have no other true friends. And Sherri, I don't even know what she's here for, really. Flair isn't tapping that. She's just a weird manager for him so we know he's bad. Unfortunately the crowd is still cheering him, it would appear. Sherri's good here: "You, Hulk Hogan, are the challenger. You, Hulk Hogan, are the one who has a failing career."
Do I lose my smart wrestling fan card if I say that I'm kind of tired of watching Ricky Steamboat matches right now? They're kind of all the same. He's great all the time and all, but he's never any different, and he's not exactly interesting character-wise, any time past '89.
Eh, nevermind, these two bring it fast and they're both so good that I'm into this one in short order. Steamboat walks the ropes and does that Undertaker move. The hand behind the back bodyslam isn't used enough anymore. Or at all. Tonight Austin's butt says DRAGON SLAYER. Austin goes down with a bad knee and Schiavone calls it an "old Hollywood Blonds trick" right away. Steamboat attacks, and Austin bails to the floor still complaining about the knee, pulls Steamboat out, and apparently the knee is OK enough. Didn't get a big dramatic "it's not really hurt" moment though.
The match is very good, as it should be and as you'd expect. Steamboat is still smooth as silk and Austin is really in a groove at the moment. Steamboat is playing tough old man here, begging Austin on, playing some rope-a-dope. Austin is laying in chops and punches and finally Steamboat fires back. This match has plenty of drama and a hot crowd and some great offense and some great selling and man, these guys are good. The tombstone piledriver from Steamboat could have ended this thing, but Steamboat remains half a nut these days and he can't bring himself to put it away. Steamboat talks Randy Anderson into not DQing Austin for pulling Anderson in front of him on an axhandle attempt, and then Austin gets three with his feet on the ropes. Ha! Fuckin Steamboat. What a dumbo. Outsmarted in the end no matter what he tries.
Backstage, Mean Gene interrupts the Col. Parker afterparty. Meng is like, "No," and Mean Gene's like, "eat shit! I'm press!" and Bunkhouse Buck sprays and then spits champagne all over, making this upsettingly porn-y. Arn Anderson is draped in ladies. Funk is yelling about nonsense. After everyone stooges all over, Arn Anderson cuts a great promo, and then Funk and Buck pour champagne on his head while he's talking. Arn no-sells it even though the shit got in his eyes. That is the most badass thing ever.
Pretty Wonderful were a mediocre team at their very best and they weren't over and nobody cares. They're no fun to watch now, either. Roma actually thinks his roided, tanned body makes him a better wrestler than Cactus Jack. It's hilarious, the sincerity of his trash talking. Orndorff is at least pretty decent still.
There is a good bit here where Orndorff throws Sullivan into the turnbuckle, and Cactus blocks his impact, and Roma tries to copy the same thing on the other side, so Sullivan reverses course and sends Orndorff back to the open corner. This would be OK, maybe, except Pretty Wonderful aren't, and there's only so much Sullivan can do when trash cans aren't involved. it's a standard tag match, unlike the brawls with the Nastys, and while Cactus can work a normal match, it's not his strength; forget just weapons, he doesn't even get the chance to get wild brawling in a normal setting with these two. So the story is "Wow! Lookit Sullivan and Cactus working as a team! Who would ever expect that!" And BFD. After a while it's just blatantly meant to take up as much time as possible while a disinterested crowd does the wave, which should be outlawed at all events ever.
WCW is so proud of people doing the wave and ignoring their match that we get a wide shot of the crowd. WCW is hilarious. They're like Billy Hoyle: So stupid they don't even know when they're being insulted. Sullivan does his usual useless no-selling until a piledriver. Even him putting his feet on the ropes seems lazy and arrogant. This match has just moments now and then before it settles into a warm fart again. It's not that it's bad, really, but Pretty Wonderful suck, and there's a heat segment on Sullivan, which mostly involves Sullivan laying down, because he doesn't take bumps. Sullivan falling down is outrageously funny - he tends to take a full turn and then gradually allow his body to tip over, even on, like, a clothesline.
In the end, Pretty Wonderful win the titles, because they're among the worst choices for the spot, so of course they win the titles.
I've always really liked how sincere Bobby Heenan seems when discussing his dislike of Hogan. Maybe he really doesn't like him, I don't know. But it doesn't matter. He's not irate about Hogan, he just truly doesn't like him, and he can't figure out how nobody else can see how full of shit, how phony Hogan is, what a fake he is, what an overrated turd he is. Helping that is that he was always right, a fact he would play up in two years.
WCW World Heavyweight Title: Ric Flair (c, w/Sensuous Sherri) vs Hulk Hogan (w/Jimmy Hart & Mr. T)
Michael Buffer reads some bullshit about how soon it's the 25th anniversary of man walking on the moon, and this is pretty much comparable. I do love pro rasslin bullshit, but I admit I needlessly get a little annoyed by things like that.
The good thing is that Hogan is really over, or else they pumped in a lot of noise. Shaq was really over. So was Flair. But Hogan but a big, loud reaction. "Tonight, after a three-year layoff," says Buffer about Hogan. That's wild as fuck considering a whopping year before this Hogan got fatted out of the WWF by Yokozuna. So apparently nothing has happened to Hulk Hogan since 1991. Hulk Hogan and people around Hulk Hogan have always assumed you can just say whatever you want to and people will believe it. That might be the most obnoxious thing about that soulless shithead of a human being -- he really thinks that he's been putting one over on everybody with all his lies, all his bullshit stories that are easily called out.
Crowd's hot and the match has a ton of energy. It's also pretty good -- whatever I can say about Hogan, he worked well with Flair, and they knew how to make shit happen together. Flair continues his recent streak of taking clotheslines horribly, either out of position or falling too fast and catching hand only. Jimmy Hart neutralizes Sherri's interference. Given all we know about the two of them, doesn't it seem like Sherri would be expected to whip his ass?
You know, Hogan doesn't do a lot that's special here, but he's really throwing his chops and punches, really bringing maximum Hogan effort. He's moving as well as can be expected, and his clotheslines aren't lazy. What can you really say bad about this match? They don't do any pin reversal segments?
Hogan really gives a big effort here, and Flair is busting ass for two. This is honestly a great, hot match -- it's not among Flair's very best matches, but it's really something, and comes off like a true event. Sherri misses her diving splash, while the referee just watches it happen, and then Flair gets slammed off the top. Then Hogan wipes them out on a single run, clotheslining Flair and smacking Sherri in the face.
Hogan puts the figure four on Flair and it's ... well, he didn't twist the leg or nothin', but it's better than The Rock's sharpshooters. Mr. T takes Sherri out of there, but Flair has the brass knux or whatever, and WHAM! Down goes Hogan. 1, 2, Hulk-Up. "Damn it!" Heenan exclaims. Flair lays into him with rights and Hogan is shaking it all off, of course. Heenan is phenomenal this match. Schiavone's great, too. I really don't remember this match being as good as it, so you have to forgive my fawning here -- I think when I first saw this, I was all jaded late teens wrestling fan, and Hulk Hogan could never do anything right, but this is a great match. I still don't like Hogan. But he wins and fireworks go off and shit.
After the match and the celebration, Heenan is so distraught he won't call the replay or even look at it. And then backstage, the real shit starts. Hogan is flanked by Brutus Beefcake, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, B. Brian Blair... goddamn it. He can't just let me like him for a few minutes.
Heenan: "It's the greatest pay-per-view I've ever been associated with. But I'll tell you, the sad thing is standing there right now: That man holding the title."
Hogan will be riding tiger sharks this weekend, dude.