Let’s take a look at WCW Beach Blast ’92, a June PPV thrown in between Wrestlewar and the Great American Bash as WCW was trying to increase their PPV presence. Like usual, WCW was in transition at this point from the short-lived but pretty good Kip Frey era (with its workrate bonuses) to the Bill Watts era which would be decidedly mixed in terms of quality. Tony Schiavone and Eric Bischoff open the show live from Mobile, AL and Eric’s shirt is busier than Grand Central at rush hour.
They interview Bill Watts about the show, because he has to remind people that he’s running this show now. Our commentators are Jim Ross and Jesse Ventura, living proof of something where the whole didn’t come close to the sum of the parts. Ventura was good on this show because he was still motivated.
Brian Pillman (C) vs Scotty Flamingo for the WCW Light Heavyweight title
For those who are somehow unaware, Flamingo is Raven wearing colorful tights. Can’t imagine he got along with Bill Watts. It would have been one extreme or the other, no pun intended. Lots of nice mat work to start, and Pillman breaks out a short arm scissors! Jeez, you usually only hear about that move when Gorilla says this won’t be a technical match. One of the new Watts rules was anything off the top rope was an automatic DQ which came up again and again on this show. Completely stupid to throw in a 1960s trope into 1992 wrestling. Pillman goes up top, because that’s what he and his character is, then realizes it’s a DQ so he gets tossed off. Have I ever mentioned I love the Pillman chops? Yeah, even more than Flair’s. Pilman goes for a plancha and misses and nearly kills himself on that ramp walkway that WCW uses. Flamingo brings him in, knee off 2nd rope and he wins the title. I would have had Pillman lose that belt so he could go for the WORLD title, but that’s just me.
The extremely tan Johnny B. Badd is out now and he’s hosting a “beauty contest” between Madusa and Missy Hyatt to determine the First Lady of WCW and does his normal schtick. Ventura basically calls him gay on commentary in a rather unenlightened moment. This is the gown segment: Missy in a nice evening gown, which Madusa is in a wedding dress and covered by a veil. They plug a 900 number to call and vote, which people apparently did. Which is more of a “90s thing”, 900 hotlines or commercials for 10-10-321 and 1-800-Collect and all those things?
Ron Simmons vs the Taylor Made Man, Terry Taylor
Simmons would get pushed to the world title in months under Watts, and this is the start. JR again talks about Simmons’ Florida State days and Ventura says that all nose tackles are cheaters. Interesting to note that Ventura did color for Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio around this time so he had seen his share of football. Not a bad match, but I could never buy Taylor as a threat by this point especially since he was just doing a store-brand Million Dollar Man gimmick. Simmons gets a quick powerslam for the win, and does an inspirational babyface promo after the match with JR. Not bad stuff as he was pretty over in ’92. Maybe not world title over, but his title win over Vader was a pretty big moment for many reasons.
Marcus Bagwell vs Greg Valentine
The Hammer probably wishes he had jumped from WWF in the fall of ’88 instead of 1992; he would have fit great in 1989 WCW. Bagwell looks very much like Jeff Bagwell here, so I blame Marcus’ steroid usage for Jeff not being in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ventura calls Bagwell a “former rookie” which I thought was funny. I know he means that he was a rookie last year, but everyone is former rookies. Valentine blocks a hip toss and just clubs Bags with a forearm. Later, Bags misses a knee drop and Valentine goes to work on the legs. At this point, I notice the guy in the front row wearing short overalls because he is marking like CRAZY for Valentine, who gets his figure four for the submission victory.
Cactus Jack vs Sting in a Falls Count Anywhere match
This is non-title as Sting is WCW champ, but is to face Vader at the Bash in a month. The story is that Cactus is softening Sting up on behalf of Vader as Ventura wondered why Sting would take the match. (Logic from commentary? Wow.) Much of this match is in the ringside area: Cactus wallops Sting with a chair, but then Cactus takes a belly to back and partly hits the barricade. He also misses his elbow from the apron, but later gets Sting with a sick stun gun on the barricade. They head over to the ramp, and Sting takes control with a chair, however Cactus gets a double arm DDT but only for 2. Sting with a clothesline….then to the top rope (no DQ) and clotheslines Jack for the win. Really good match, maybe not as legendary as Foley ranks it in his first book though. But about 3 ¾ stars from me, even if I am not much of a star ratings guy.
Ravishing Rick Rude vs Ricky Steamboat, 30 Minute Ironman Match
Rick Rude is the US champ, but his title is not on the line in a 30 minute ironman match against Ricky Steamboat. I will never get tired of Rude’s “What I’d like to have right now…” pre-match speech. I also love that Ventura is on commentary given that he is Rude’s longtime advocate dating to the WWF. Steamboat is out with his wife and kid, because he’s whipped. I still think he’d be over as a face today, because his moveset would be expanded to include more flying.
This is also a rematch of the first ever match at a Royal Rumble, from 1988. Steamboat in control early with work on Rude’s ribs. Long Boston Crab by Steamboat as Ventura compares the Dragon to Dr. No. Whip into corner, and Rude gets a knee up on Steamboat’s jaw, and gets a quick pin. Ventura compares this to a hockey team allowing 12 shots in a row, then scoring on their first shot. He’s from the State of Hockey, ya know! Rude gets a Rude Awakening, and it’s 2-0 less than a minute later. Then in a moment that defies logic: Rude goes up top and knees the Dragon off the top. So he gets DQ’d, but he gets a pin so that washes and it’s 3-1 Rude with 19:45 left. Wouldn’t he get similar effect without giving up a fall by going from the 2nd rope? It’s my only issue with this match.
Rude goes to the rest holds which makes sense but he (kayfabe) should be going for more pins. Dragon makes a comeback and hits a tombstone to make it 3-2 with 12:15 left. He then gets a rare pin on a backslide of all things with 9:35 left to tie it at 3. Great action in the final 9 minutes as you can tell the next pin will decide this: Rude gets a sleeper but the Dragon channels Bret Hart at Mania 8 and walks the ropes and flips into a pinning combination for the fall with 35 seconds left. Rude immediately tries everything, inside cradle, etc. to tie it but it fails. Great match, but why wasn’t this for the title? My guess is so there would be somewhere else to go, and they wanted Rude positioned strongly even in defeat.
After blowing the 3-1 lead, the Washington Capitals contacted Rude about bringing him in, but that never came to fruition. That’s a joke for the NHL fans. But the last 9 minutes here were as exciting as a game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Next is part two of the Missy/Madusa beauty contest thing: Only notable thing is you can tell from the look on Madusa’s face that this is beneath her. Shame she didn’t come along today since I’d love a match with her against Becky Lynch or someone. Put her on Smackdown right now and give her that women’s title and when you inevitably drop the brand split, she can just put it back in the trash!
Dangerous Alliance (Steve Austin/Bobby Eaton/Arn Anderson) take on Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham, and the remains of Nikita Koloff
Austin has no knee pads or brace here which is so odd to see. Ole Anderson is the special ref because he had recently been brought in as a storyline as the “troubleshooting referee” which is something that never seems to work out as planned. Remember Mr. T as an enforcer in 1987 WWF and his feud with Danny Davis? Of course not, it got scrapped almost immediately.
This whole thing turns out to be pointless: Arn is DQ’d for coming off the top on Windham after a superplex and they don’t even show a replay of it afterward. The Alliance was definitely being phased out since Paul Heyman and Bill Watts are very different people.
After Steamboat gets ambushed by Cactus Jack at the interview platform, it’s time for the final bikini showdown. Ventura is with Badd and outright asks him if he likes girls. Madusa is out, but Missy has lost her bikini, so she fashions one out of Ventura’s scarves and Jesse is outraged. The crowd is befuddled as Badd declares Missy the winner. Madusa starts slapping Badd around (not the last time a woman would get the best of him) but behind the curtain Badd ends up with her top. Jesse proclaims Madusa the first lady as JR says we’ll get the hotline vote totals tomorrow on Main Event. Gee thanks for this hot mess.
The Steiner Brothers (C) vs Dr. Death Steve Williams and Terry Gordy for the WCW World Tag Titles
Yes, this is the final match of the night. Not Sting or the Ironman Match, but this. JR instantly picks the heels because Oklahoma. On paper, this match looks great, but Gordy by 1992 was a shell of his former self, and as I dive into WCW I am finding the Steiners to be a bit overrated. I just can’t rank them higher than the Midnights or Arn/Tully and they don’t have the appeal the Road Warriors had. Maybe I need to watch their 1990 work. The current comparison with American Alpha scares me a little; does that mean Jason Jordan is going to end up insane and will have a terrible match with HHH at a Royal Rumble before finally opening his own Shoney’s location? God, I hope not.
We have a long face in peril sequence from Scott, then one from Rick. In the final comeback, Scott hits a Frankensteiner, but right as the 30 minute time limit expired. The match itself was fine, but like the JR/Ventura commentary combo not as good as you’d expect from the parts. And it shouldn’t have gone on last.
Summary: Despite the Missy/Madusa goofiness, this is really good show. Sting/Jack, Rude/Steamboat, and Flamingo/Pillman all delivered and the midcard stuff was entertaining. Short overalls guy in front row filled in the gaps. However the Bill Watts changes were pretty stupid and made things worse, and I say that as a guy who likes his rules in wrestling. But crippling the top rope moveset of guys like Pillman and Steamboat is just dumb.
Despite all that Watts-ness, I recommend. Watch this one before or after going to the beach this weekend.