Happy 20th Anniversary, WCW Bash at the Beach 1997!

Note:  Apologies for the late submission.  WCW Bash at the Beach aired live on pay-per-view on 13 July, 1997.  I initially posted this article on my personal Facebook page and shared it around.  I wanted to officially post this on the website (although it’s almost 10 days late) to share how much this event was significant to me as a pro wrestling fan.  Enjoy!

Happy 20th Anniversary, WCW Bash at the Beach!  This pay-per-view event illustrated how greatly diverse and cool WCW was, and how dominant pro wrestling was in popular culture. The Hogan era served its purpose – which was to elevate WCW from a southern based, national American wrestling promotion into a worldwide wrestling operation. When you’re able to reach places like New Zealand – a country that only knew WWF wrestling and only showed WWF wrestling on network television, then it’s an example that WCW finally had every market covered. WWF hadn’t been shown in NZ television since 1991, WCW had become the only pro wrestling show on NZ network TV! Sky TV NZ had shown WCCW/USWA/GWF since 1990, but the screenings were during week days at 10am. WCW began showing on Sky in 1995, but it was the showing on network NZ’s prime time slot that really made pro wrestling cool again.

The coverage that we got of pro wrestling in NZ was really bad during the early to mid -1990s, where WWF ppv’s would arrive to our video shops months after it’s live showing. Wrestling publications like the Apter magazines and the WWE magazines were sold at shops a couple of months after they were released, and sometimes the magazines and video tape time lines didn’t coincide. But I remember when WCW first began showing on our network channel TV2, there was an effort to make the pro wrestling coverage ‘current’, so Bash at the Beach aired four days after it had aired live on ppv.

I was obviously already a wrestling fan when WCW first showed on network NZ television. However for many other New Zealanders, this was their first time watching wrestling. I found there were significant parallels between Bash at the Beach and the first WrestleMania, in that both main events were a tag team encounter which featured a celebrity/athlete and the most recognisable name in wrestling – Hulk Hogan. WCW was dependent on Hogan and Dennis Rodmen to gain the company some serious mainstream exposure. I was excited to see that WCW had a mighty undercard which featured a diverse range of establish names, young lions and international talent from Mexico and Japan. For example, newcomers like Glacier, Ernest Miller, Mortis and Wrath were given the chance to open the show, the Benoit/Sullivan feud had come to a close at this ppv, and we got to see Piper vs. Flair.

People have called Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage at WrestleMania III one of the greatest classic matches, but we would have to thank Hogan/Andre for drawing in the mainstream attention. Hogan and Andre were at the front door, waving in the usual, the casuals and the new spectators, so from Hogan/Andre, the Steamboats, Savages etc. were introduced to a new generation of wrestling fans. In a similar sense, through Hogan and Rodmen, the next generation of fans were introduced to the Cruiserweight Division. Credit to WCW, they didn’t have to turn the ppv into a huge nWo filled event, there were key members such as Kevin Nash and Syxx who didn’t appear.

Looking back now, it was definitely a clever move to turn Hogan into a heel and pair him up with Rodman. The comparisons between WrestleMania 1 and BATB ’97 demonstrated that times had changed, and that the bad guys were being cheered. It wasn’t just happening in the NBA, it was happening in music with the emergence of Tupac Shakur and TV shows like Melrose Place where every character was a villain.

This had to be WCW’s best undercard for a ppv, and I will always hold WCW Bash at the Beach in high regards for the exposures it gave to the roster.

 

WCW Bash at the Beach 1997 Results

Mortis & Wrath (w/James Vandenberg) defeat Ernest Miller & Glacier (9:47)

WCW World Cruiserweight Title Match

Chris Jericho (c) defeats Ultimo Dragon (12:55)

The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner) defeat nWo Japan (Masahiro Chono & The Great Muta) (10:37)

Six Man Tag Team Match (7.19)

Hector Garza, Juventud Guerrera & Lizmark Jr. defeat La Parka, Psychosis & Villano IV (w/Sonny Onoo) (10:08)

Retirement Match

Chris Benoit defeats Kevin Sullivan (w/Jacqueline & Jimmy Hart) (13:10)

WCW United States Heavyweight Title Match

Jeff Jarrett (c) defeats Steve McMichael (6:56)

Randy Savage & Scott Hall (w/Elizabeth) defeat Curt Hennig & Diamond Dallas Page (w/Kimberly) (9:35)

Roddy Piper defeats Ric Flair (13:26)

Tag Team Main Event Match

Lex Luger & The Giant defeat Dennis Rodman & Hollywood Hogan (w/Randy Savage) (22:30)