Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Great American Bash: The Blood Runs Cold guys stole the show, Chris Jericho and the Ultimo Dragon tried to kill each other for real, and Hulk Hogan celebrated the one year anniversary of his industry-changing heel turn by losing a tag team match with a basketball guy.
… And Previously on the Best and Worst of WCW Monday Nitro: WCW sold out most of the Georgia Dome six days before a pay-per-view and were like, “You know what? Let’s just have the pay-per-view here.” William Scott Goldberg is the new WCW World Heavyweight Champion, Scott Hall returned as an awkward obstacle, and Diamond Dallas Page gave Karl Malone the worst double high-five you’ve ever seen.
Click here to watch the pay-per-view on WWE Network. You can catch up with all the previous episodes of WCW Monday Nitro on the Best and Worst of Nitro tag page and all the episodes of Thunder on the Best and Worst of Thunder. Follow along with the competition here.
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And now, the Best and Worst of WCW Bash at the Beach 1998.
Best: Tony Schiavone Gets Leid
I will always be a fan of WCW’s themed pay-per-views, and an even bigger fan of their art department’s “whoops, we forgot we’re supposed to be at the beach for this, somebody run to Walmart and buy half a dozen double-X Hawaiian shirts and some luau party favors” laissez-faire style. “WCW beach business casual” is right behind “WCW at a biker rally” on the list of fun dad looks. Your WWE announce team favorites could never.
I think my favorite of the group is Stagger Lee Marshall, who gets shaded by Konnan during a World Championship Wrestling Wrestling dot com interview and snaps back with the wit of a man who spent the past three years coming up with city-specific Weasel burns:
“I got a question, Lee. This sweet shirt you got on, man … did Skittles have a shirt giveaway and you won that or what?”
“You don’t recognize, this came from Sanchez the Hatter in East L.A., I’m surprised you don’t have a closet full of these.”
You don’t build a career out of getting billion-dollar corporations to accept collect calls without having a quick wit.
Note: Later in the night Konnan gets an “added bonus match” against Disco Inferno, in which Disco has regressed to his original gimmick of being too concerned about his hair to win the match, and Konnan has the in-ring speed and agility of a senior citizen falling down a flight of steps.
Best: Nick Patrick Takes An All-Time Ref Bump
The summer fashion continues with Lodi, who shows up for Raven vs. Saturn dressed like the ECW hat guy in a perfect combination of theme and context. WWE should bring in Lodi for a one-shot against Brock Lesnar and dress him up in an Affliction shirt from 2012 that he can wear to shows for the next seven years, hoping people recognize him.
Anyway, Raven and Saturn have a pretty terrible 1998 garbage match topped off with Saturn introducing one of the most dangerous concepts I’ve ever seen in a hardcore match: a double-stacked table with the victim lying on the bottom table instead of the top, so you’d like, crash through the top table and impale their entire torso with wooden shards. This doesn’t work, of course, as Kanyon pulls Raven to safety at “the last second.” He actually pulls him off the table way too early, and Saturn looks like an idiot jumping into nothing.
The actual highlight of the match is Nick Patrick taking a ref bump like he’s Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind.
Amazing. The finish is classic “too many steps” WCW, in which Kanyon saves Raven only to attack him, and then Scotty Riggs shows up to keep Saturn from getting the pin, allowing Raven to recover and win anyway. Thanks, I hate it.
In Other Flock News
Raven vs. Saturn is immediately followed by the much better Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera, which makes you wonder aloud why these guys aren’t fighting for the Cruiserweight Championship instead of mat-based guys like Dean Malenko and Chris Jericho. WCW asks that same question at some point during the next year, and shifts control of the division to them, and Rey Mysterio.
They kinda sorta know they’re in a death slot, so they break out everything they can to keep the crowd hot. I’m talking powerbombs to the floor, teased superplexes from the top rope to the cement, springboard hurricanranas to an opponent sitting on the middle of the top rope, sit-out spinebusters off the top, the whole nine. One major highlight here is Tony Schiavone calling a powerbomb from the apron to the floor “a sidewalk slam from the inside out,” starting the “Tony thinks everything’s a goddamn sidewalk slam” joke.
Juvy dodges the Seven Year Itch and counters with a 450 to pick up the win in a match that would be at home on 205 Live in 2019, assuming they worked in 2-5 more apron spots.
Best: Chavo Guerrero Jr. Es Muy Loco
Despite already having a hair vs. hair match with his uncle Eddie on this show, Chavo Guerrero Jr. has also randomly challenged Stevie Ray to a match. Because he’s crazy, Chavito shows up with a Super Soaker and a child’s tiger inner tube, does the Cabbage Patch to show how much he appreciates Stevie’s culture, and, in a true moment of genius, taps out to the match-opening handshake.
Stevie gets the world’s easiest pay-per-view pay day, and Chavo has played the most roundabout mind game this side of a Raven finish.
Of course, Eddie Guerrero vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. is the best match of the night, and of course, Eddie wins. Eddie looks like he has the match won after a tornado DDT, but goes for the scissors instead of a pin. It costs him, and Chavo’s able to recover. Chavo then has the match won, but also goes for the scissors instead of the pin, and Cheat-To-Win 101 costs him. A small package later, and Chavo’s pinned.
Because Chavo is crazy, though, he pulls a Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant and shaves his own head, robbing Eddie of the glee of humiliating his nephew.
As a bonus, bald is a much better look for Chavo than his usual 1990s stand-up comedian hair.
Best: How Greene Was My Valley
A quick recap of what this was supposed to be, for anyone who doesn’t frequent the weekly Best and Worst of Nitro column: Goldberg and football star Kevin Greene were roommates when they played for the Los Angeles Rams, so after a few nWo beatdown saves, they ended up as a tag team against The Giant and Curt Hennig. The match was signed and announced for Bash at the Beach … and then whoops, Goldberg won the WCW Championship six days before the event and changed everything. So now it’s Goldberg defending the WCW Championship against Curt Hennig one-on-one, and The Giant vs. Kevin Greene, so they can still work.
As you’ll read in any other Kevin Greene wrestling appearance review … man, the guy was good. He was a great football player, too, but he really missed his calling in pro wrestling. He probably could’ve been the next Hulk Hogan if he’d come up at the right time with this amount of athleticism and enthusiasm. Every match he’s in is better than it should be, which is crazy, because he only had five matches total. Here, he has the best singles match The Giant’s had in years by just wrestling it like a normal person might … starting off strong, getting cut off and beaten down for a while, firing up, and getting caught. It’s not Guerrero/Mysterio, but it never needed to be.
Best/Worst: Speaking Of Mysterio
During the build to Bash at the Beach, Cruiserweight Champion Chris Jericho did everything he could to get out of defending his title against Dean Malenko, from manipulating the Ultimo Dragon into doing run-ins to bringing out a mini dressed as the injured-for-six-months Rey Mysterio Jr. and taking a pinfall loss to him (on purpose) to create a “new number one contender.” At the Bash, Jericho shows up in a top hat with a cane and says that since he has no opponent, he’s just going to entertain us with a little “soft shoe.” James J. Dillon shows up, calls his bluff, and says he’s found some local guy to challenge Jericho. Jericho, thinking this means enhancement talent and not realizing they’re in area code 619, agrees.
Enter the actually returning Rey Mysterio Jr., who looks about as good as he’s ever looked. He’s put on some muscle, but not lazy WWE Kidman muscle that makes him 30 times slower, and tanned himself to a crisp golden brown. This sets up a pretty good match that gets outright derailed by one or both of their desire to wacky sand castle spots, including this headscissors takedown from the top of a lifeguard tower where Mysterio inadvertently powerbombs himself:
They end the match with a bad Liontamer counter to a hurricanrana with Mysterio not getting his legs up, and Dean Malenko shows up too late for a distraction so they have to fight to the ropes and do it again. Malenko eventually causes a distraction, though, and Mysterio counters the crab with a rana-style roll-up and wins the Cruiserweight Championship.
I don’t want to spoil the next night’s Nitro or anything, but take a wild guess at how long Mr. Rule Book Loophole Chris Jericho allows an illegal Dean Malenko distraction and an unannounced opponent defeating him to keep him away from the Cruiserweight Championship.
Best: Tony Schiavone Doesn’t Like Sand
One of my favorite moments from the match is when Jericho takes a bump off the lifeguard tower and lands against the side of a sand pyramid. Tony, who is way too far into his announcing career to not say what’s on his mind, does his trademark thing where he exposes that it’s “actually a pretty soft landing,” then backtracks to try to rationalize why it’s still dangerous. Because sand is irritating. Nice save, Anakin.
Anyway, back to Bash at the Scarif Beach.
Best: Heel Edgelord Bret Hart
Bret Hart’s retroactively fantastic heel work (once they actually let him start being a part of the shows) continues with a Television Championship match against Booker T. The idea is that Bret is SUPREMELY overconfident, assuming Booker is just a throwaway tag team wrestler, and doesn’t understand that he’s spent the past couple of years powering up into a top level singles competitor. In a way, Bret shading someone for being a tag team specialist trying to go solo is a small scale version of Daniel Bryan accusing Kofi Kingston of not trying hard enough and being a B+ player.
Bret keeps thinking he has the match under control, and Booker keeps firing up and fighting back. Eventually, Bret casually wanders around ringside, picks up a chair, and swats Booker out of the air for that frustration disqualification you know all too well if you’ve failed to pin someone over and over in a WWE video game.
Bret proceeds to batter Booker’s knee with the chair for several minutes, then hook him in the ring post figure four while flipping off the referee for trying to make him stop. Stevie Ray takes his goddamn time walking out to ringside to scare Bret off, and the announcer (rightfully) wonder if Stevie’s frustration at Booker’s singles run is going to push him into taking the offer Bret had previously laid out for Booker to join the New World Order. To make things worse, Stevie forces Booker to “walk it off” to the back, when his leg is barely functional. Hmmm.
Also, In WCW World Heavyweight Championship Action …
Goldberg kicks out of a Perfect Plex and retains the championship after a marathon 3:50 match.
Worst: And Now, 25 Minutes Of Hulk Hogan
If you want to know how similar 2019 Triple H and 1998 Hulk Hogan are, here’s a fun fact. The longest match at Bash at the Beach ’98 without Hogan in it is Eddie Guerrero vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr., which goes 11:54. The main event, which features two barely trained non-wrestlers and Hulk Hogan, goes twice as long at an astonishing 23:47. It’s all about the game, and how you play it.
The match itself could be described as “fun,” I guess, in as much as it looks like Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone (wearing the world’s longest pair of blueberry Fruit Roll-up pants) are having fun, but Hulk Hogan wrestling anyone for half an hour would be a drag, much less watching him try to anchor two guys from another sport while Page desperately attempts to stick to the script. The finish is actually pretty hilarious as well, as Hogan could pin Karl Malone using a wrestling move in a totally reasonable moment, but instead chooses to have Malone and Rodman distract the referee for no reason so Motorcycle Brutus Beefcake can sneak in and hit Page with his terrible appropriated Stone Cold Stunner. Hogan pins Page to win the match. Because of course he does.
The faces get their heat back after the match when [checks notes] Karl Malone hits referee Charles Robinson with a Diamond Cutter while the nWo celebrates.
Terrible in all the Hulkest and most Hogan ways. Wait until the next pay-per-view where they do the exact same match, but with a 48-year old talk show host and a band leader instead of professional athletes!