World Championship Wrestling was at a weird place in 2000. With the WWF reaching unprecedented heights in popularity thanks to the likes of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, and, of course, the McMahon family. But WCW, on the other hand, was struggling to regain the momentum it created following the formation of the New World Order. Since that historic day when Hulk Hogan joined Scott Hall and Kevin Nash in the ring to form a revolutionary faction, Hogan had embraced the fans’ adulation, Scott Hall was battling contractual disputes (and personal demons), Kevin Nash continually defended his best friend, and men like Bill Goldberg and Jeff Jarrett had risen to main event prominence. Everything else, on the other hand, felt confusing, nonsensical and just plain bad. But there’s always hope, right? Lets find out if WCW’s final summer spectacular is a classic.
Bash at the Beach
July 22, 2000
Dayton Beach, FL
1. Lt. Loco defeated Juventud Guerrera to retain the Cruiserweight Championship
2. Big Vito defeated Norman Smiley & Ralphus in a Handicap Match to retain the Hardcore Championship
3. Daffney defeated Miss Hancock in a Wedding Gown Match
4. Kronik defeated The Perfect Event to become the new WCW World Tag Team champions
5. Kanyon defeated Booker T.
6. Mike Awesome defeated U.S. champion Scott Steiner via disqualification
7. Vampiro defeated The Demon in a Graveyard Match
8. Shane Douglas defeated Buff Bagwell
9. Hulk Hogan defeated Jeff Jarrett to become the new WCW World champion
10. Bill Goldberg defeated Kevin Nash
11. Booker T. defeated Jeff Jarrett to become the new WCW World champion
Not Missing Filth: A few days earlier on “Nitro”, Juventud Guerrera of the Konnan-led Filthy Animals (which also featured an unmasked Rey Mysterio Jr. and the jiving Disco Inferno) literally stole the Cruiserweight Championship from the Misfits in Action’s Lt. Loco (a.k.a. Chavo Guerrero). Though announcer Mark Madden (who was a terrible commentator, mind you) claimed that Juvi physically possessing the title belt made him the champion, Loco was officially the champion heading into this bout fighting for honor. A big stipulation added to his bout was the banishing of both wrestlers’ factions being barred from ringside (remember that for future reference).
As per the norm in regards to Cruiserweight bouts, the action was fast from the sound of the bell. The faux champion was left scurrying to the floor after being inverted atomic dropped, suplexed to the floor and springboard splashed. Just when it seemed like Loco was going to make quick work of “The Juice”, a mask-wearing group of people who looked very much like The Filthy Animals made their way to the ring. Referees immediately stopped these intruders approach, giving Guerrera a chance to shove the distracted champion shoulder first into the steel ring post. Taking control of the bout, Juvi paid the lieutenant back with splashes of his own. The champion’s perseverance allowed him to survive pin fall attempts following an attack like Guerrera’s Liger Bomb and the Juicy Elbow (Guerrera’s version of the People’s Elbow).
Like minutes earlier, the dominant wrestler lost his advantage thanks to a mask-wearing faction (in this case the M.IA.) coming to the ring to distract the referee. But what would distract Juvi? The Misfits’ valet, Major Gunns and her… ahem, major guns. The distraction worked perfectly as Guerrera couldn’t get all of his Juvi Driver before succumbing to Loco’s Tornado DDT and the follow up pin fall.
Though the interference took this match down a couple of notches, at least it was done decently. The same can be said about the match. Loco and Guerrera had great chemistry that the fans enjoyed watching from bell to bell. Very good opener to say the least.
High Times: The gimmick stealing Shawn Stasiak (trying to be the new “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig) and Chuck Palumbo (with his Lex Flexor exercise device to mock his former rival “The Total Package” Lex Luger) were forced to face their destiny in taking on Kronik (labeled as “Kronic” by the production people because they were as high as the tag team name) of Brian Adams and Bryan Clark after spending weeks using Kronik to decimate potential title challengers before stealing victories. Yep, the champs were fluke champions from day one.
This feeling of The Perfect Event (Palumbo & Stasiak) being one step behind Kronik was on full display when Adams and Clark easily tossed both opponents around the ring. The fans were going crazy any time either challenger slammed one of the champions. It would take some smart thinking (or dishonorable actions) to help the champions turn this thing around. Why not yank Adams out of the ring and bash him with a chair? That’s exactly what Chuck Palumbo did to help his partner from taking any further abuse at the hands of their much larger opposition.
While not flashy, the champions’ tactics of various sleeper holds worked after grounding Brian Adams. But Adams refused to be denied, causing a big collision between himself and Stasiak that gave him enough room to tag out to a fired up Bryan Clark. Right hands to the face and slams were all Clark needed to keep his opponents reeling. Shockingly after weeks and months of being jokes, The Perfect Event (specifically Palumbo) was able to stop The Meltdown and turn the tides in their favor again. Then Brian Adams just nonchalantly entered the ring, used the F-5 on Stasiak before finishing off “PerfectShawn” with the Doomsday Device into a power bomb. Adams made the cover, winning the WCW World Tag Team title for his team.
A pretty average match that the fans were really into. Incredibly, the previous sentence was actually a complement. The match was much better than it had any right being. A formulaic tag team bout in front of a hot crowd always comes across better than it really is.
Positively Better: After attacking his best friend and mentor Diamond Dallas Page, Chris Kanyon reinvented himself as “Positively” Kanyon – becoming a faux DDP featuring an autobiographical book, a blond wig, and an adoption of the Diamond Cutter as his finisher. Booker T., on the other hand, struggled to gain any leeway during the year; reverting back to his old character, G.I. Bro (you could probably guess what that character was all about). Between adopting his previous persona and this event, Booker T. became Booker T. again; no explanation, of course. And, for some reason, these two men fought here.
The fans were really behind Booker, giving him the fire to dominate the match’s opening minutes with a spinning heel kick that actually sent Kanyon’s wig flying across the ring. Angered over losing his covering, Kanyon resorted to dastardly measures when the action spilled to the floor. The man full of positivity whipped Booker to the floor before slamming the steel ring steps against his fallen opponent’s back with a perfectly aimed chair shot. For some reason this caused no disqualification in favor of the downed Harlem Heater, giving Kanyon a chance to dominate the former multi-time Tag Team champion.
Kanyon was innovating some offense, pulling out maneuvers like a superplex while standing on the middle of the second rope (not near the turnbuckles/corner), a sit-out Alabama Slam, and a reverse Boston crab. Yet Booker refused to give up or stay down for the three count. Booker started fighting back, leading to a pinning combination exchange that ended with one of Kanyon’s devices coming back to hurt him – a steel chair he placed between the turnbuckles that the referee seemingly forgot was in the ring.
Booker took advantage of this turn of events, using his spine buster, Harlem side kick, and even the Book End to unsuccessfully lay out Kanyon. Desperate, Kanyon went to grab his book. During Booker T.’s comeback, Booker removed the casing of Kanyon’s book to take out a brick that Kanyon had used to knock out many an opponent. When Kanyon popped Booker in the face with the un-bricked book, T. was able to easily shrug off the “pain”, putting Kanyon on the mat for his Houston Hangover. Before Booker could dive, Kanyon grabbed the referee. As the ref tried to free himself of Kanyon’s grip, Jeff Jarrett (who promised to ruin the show if his opponent for the evening, Hulk Hogan, didn’t show up to face the WCW World champion on time) ran to the ring to bash Booker with “Double J’s” infamous guitar. Booker was unconscious on the top rope, prone to Kanyon’s super Diamond/Kanyon Cutter for a positive victory.
Even with the unneeded interference (though it would play into something later in the night), this was, easily, the best match of the show thus far. Crisp, hard-hitting, innovative display happening in front of an enthusiastic crowd made this highly enjoyable.
Reclining A Thrilla: In 2000, the United States champion “Big Poppa Pump” wasn’t just a genetic freak, he was also certifiably crazy. The man, in and out of the ring, started fights, attacked people for no reason other than it being something fun to do, and, somewhat shockingly, gained the adulation of fans around the world. Looking to hamper some of Steiner’s growing momentum and popularity was none other than the former ECW World Heavyweight champion and lover of portly-to-obese sized women, Mike Awesome.
Awesome, seemingly fired up to fight Steiner, rushed the ring; only to be attacked by the former WCW World Tag Team champion. This quick altercation would lead to a brawl spilling into the pro-Steiner crowd. It didn’t take long before the usual awesomeness of Mike Awesome came out to play. The legitimate near seven foot athlete started zipping around the ring when some semblance of order was restored. Steiner had to contend with Mike Awesome literally slinging himself over the top rope with splashes and clotheslines until his opposition just went crazy with a steel chair. Suplexes, elbow drops, even the unnamed Three Seconds Around the World were seen until the closing moments when WCW Commissioner Ernest “The Cat” Miller made his way to the ring after spending the night fighting off and being beaten by the kung fu clan known as The Jung Dragons.
Why? Because Scott Steiner, after downing his opponent with a belly to belly suplex, wanted to use his finisher, the Steiner Recliner. Unbeknownst to the viewing audience because the commentators/ring announcer completely forgot to mention Steiner’s finisher was banned. Being the rebel that he was, Steiner still used the maneuver to get himself disqualified. Once again, Scott Steiner didn’t care about what just happened; beating down the commissioner and his victorious opponent.
A really fun, almost ECW-like brawl that saw WCW trying to go against the grain and make the popular Steiner a villain. The biggest problems, once again, were the interference and lack of information given that would’ve made the finale feel more important.
The Fourteen Year Journey is Complete: So, after losing to Kanyon thanks to Jeff Jarrett, Booker T. found himself in the main event facing the champion who lost the title to Hulk Hogan barely an hour earlier (more on that later). Whatever. Booker T. took the fight to the champ, leading to another crowd brawl. Bringing the match back to the ringside area, Jeff Jarrett actually hit a piledriver on the announcers’ table to set up … some rear chin locks. The challenger would eventually fight back, sending “Double J” into a series of moves including his spine buster and the Harlem side kick. The now desperate champion nonchalantly knocked out the referee, hit Booker in the groin and looked to bash his challenger in the head with his guitar. Jumping off the top rope, Jeff Jarrett actually threw himself into the Bookend for a Booker T. win and the first of his five WCW World Heavyweight titles.
The moment of Booker T. winning was a nice cap to a solid match. Booker and Jarrett had some good chemistry, but the match went a little overboard with Jarrett’s antics. It’s sad the fans were so down on the action thanks to everything that had gone down beforehand, but they sure enjoyed seeing a hard worker get his deserved reward.
He’s Softcore: With Terry Funk unable to wrestle and his former partner Johnny Stamboli injured, Big Vito was left without an opponent for his Hardcore Championship title defense. Ready to accept the open challenge was none other than former Hardcore champ and one of the most popular wrestlers during WCW’s latter days Norman Smiley. Being hardcore, Vito challenged Smiley and Norman’s second Ralphus to a Hardcore title match where the match was supposed to start in the backstage area and end in the ring. Of course the match actually began in the ring, saw Norman, Ralphus and the champ “brawl” to the back before the crowd favorite disappeared so the untrained Ralphus could be Vito’s punching bag on his way to victory. Just a terrible match featuring mundane plunder wrestling where the most popular wrestler wasn’t even the focus.
Let Them Eat Cake: In 2000, David Flair (the less-talented son of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair) was the man every lady wanted; including Stacy Kiebler (yes, that Stacy Kiebler) and her polar opposite Daffney Unger. David, smitten by the beauty of Stacy, opted to be with her, but Daffney refused to be dumped without a fight. This brought us to, not a wrestling match, but an Evening Gown match where the rules were one woman would have to strip the other of her evening gown to win. So who was the first person to be stripped? David Flair, of course. Daffney’s admirer and Flair’s former friend Crowbar also removed his pants because he was crazy. Just when you though the match couldn’t make any less sense, Stacy removed her own evening gown to dance in her underwear for the awaiting crowd that had died thanks to more men running around in their unmentionables.
How do you screw up a match where all you have to do is strip someone? It’s not that difficult, yet here is a perfect example of taking something simple and destroying any chance of it turning out well.
To the Death: After disposing of Sting at the last pay-per-view by setting him on fire, Vampiro set his sights on the KISS Demon. The Demon, who debuted during the rock band’s KISS’ only performance during a professional wrestling event, somehow became humanized and started dating WCW’s answer to Chyna, Aysa. Vampiro wanted to make The Demon and Aysa a part of his stable of ghouls, only to find The Demon wanted no parts of the proposed alliance. So what better place for a vampire and demon to fight than in a graveyard? The Graveyard match featured the two opponents battling throughout a poorly-lit, barely visible resting place for the dead.
Now half of that sentence might sound like fun, the truth is this match featured D-quality acting, slasher movie “kills” (Vampiro literally coming out of a nearby lake like Jason Voorhees) and a terrible “ending” where Vampiro broke a tombstone over The Demon’s head. No, a tombstone to the head didn’t kill The Demon. So what Vampiro did next was put the unconscious body of The Demon into a casket, pushing the Demon-filled casket into an open grave so he could set the pit on fire. Okay, actually the pit didn’t become engulfed in flames; but instead just had some a fiery spike sizzling beside the overturned casket. Oh, and get this; that wasn’t the end of the match!
The winner had to make it to the arena first. So a deadly match was actually no more than a relay race that lasted for the next hour. After several matches and promos (including a Shane Douglas promo that happened directly after The Demon’s potential death), Vampiro made it to the arena so he could be confronted and attacked by an imposter dressed as Sting (or maybe it was Sting, but the building was so dark that even the announcers didn’t know if this person was Sting or not). Yes, the match’s real conclusion had nothing to do with The Demon. There are few words that can describe just how much of an atrocity this “Graveyard” relay race was and still is.
Book it, Vince: “The Franchise” Shane Douglas and Buff Bagwell seemingly found something in common with each other during the spring, deciding to team in hopes of becoming big stars. Then Buff Bagwell got arrested and acted like a jerk backstage. Unable to figure out what to do with a Buff-less Douglas, WCW decided to send Shane home until Bagwell’s suspension was up. Furious over this turn of events, Douglas challenged Bagwell to a match. Unlike the Tag Team title match that shockingly delivered something entertaining, Douglas and Bagwell struggled to gel and actually have a decent match. Suddenly, Torrie Wilson came to the ring, distracting and slapping Douglas into a Buff Bagwell cradle. Douglas kicked out, giving Bagwell a chance not to follow up with an attack, but make out with Wilson; who subsequently kicked Buff in the testicles. No, the groin shot didn’t end this match. What did stop this match was Douglas’ usage of fellow former ECW competitor Danny Doring’s inverted stunner to finally pin his former tag team partner.
Not only did we have more interference in a match that didn’t need it, one has to question why in the world would Wilson, who was trying to help Douglas win, put her man in a vulnerable position. What kind of planning and strategizing is that? Below tolerable match capped off by an even worse ending.
You’re Breaking the 4th Wall: After weeks of anticipation and questions as to whether or not Hulk Hogan would show up, Jeff Jarrett finally defended his WCW World Heavyweight title against the man who turned on WCW to form the New World Order at this very same event four years prior. Instead of getting a potential southern style heat-grabbing classic, Jarrett, at the behest of Vince Russo, laid down so Hogan could pin him for the title less than a minute after the initial bell rang. A confused Hogan blamed Russo for WCW’s slow demise thanks to stunts like the previous moment as the announcers talked about this being a reflection of the real life struggles between Hogan and Russo and how they were deviating from the script. Wait, professional wrestling isn’t real? This isn’t another form of entertainment that asks you to suspend disbelief for a few hours to fully immerse yourself in a product? We’ve been had!
To reiterate the realness of this fake altercation, Vince Russo (the boss, not the character as the announcers stated over and over again) returned to cut a promo on Hogan refusing to lose to Jeff Jarrett and how men like Hogan have held down the likes of Jeff Jarrett and other deserving wrestlers. This caused Russo to cast down the championship Hulk Hogan “won” and declare that we’d see the real WCW World champion “Double J” defend his title against a hard-working man in Booker T. Yes, the same Booker T. who lost earlier in the night in a hard-fought match because of Jarrett. Why not just book Jarrett vs. Booker period? Why go through all of this stupidity? Because the future power struggle between Hogan and Russo would become a big storyline. Sadly, Russo’s promo was so degrading Hulk Hogan never came back and sued (in real life, mind you) Vince Russo for defamation of character.
A perfect example as to why World Championship Wrestling was on its last legs. Even a passionate, profanity-laden Vince Russo promo calling out Hulk Hogan for everything Hulk was believed to be couldn’t save these segments.
Hey Yo, Swerve: Bill Goldberg, who was the most popular wrestler in WCW a year ago, decided he wanted to sell himself out to Vince Russo. In reward, Russo gave Goldberg the contract of Kevin Nash’s best friend and tag team partner Scott Hall (the same Scoot Hall that hadn’t been seen on WCW television since February). Rather than just tear up the contract (or eat it on live television like Bill did during a promo to build this match), Goldberg allowed Nash to fight him for possession of Hall’s contract. Nash, who reprimanded Scott Steiner for seemingly making out or having sex with a random freak in the corner of an open hallway prior to the big man’s entrance, came to the ring to fight a furious Bill Goldberg. And furious he was as Goldberg battered the life out of Kevin until Steiner came out to motivate his friend. Nash made a comeback, only to be attacked by, you guessed it, Scott Steiner! Another interference-assisted swerve! Goldberg took advantage of Steiner’s interference to win and have the ability to tear up Scott Hall’s contract; as if Goldberg didn’t have the ability to destroy “The Bad Guy’s” contract anyway. Oh, and all of this happened in about four minutes. Terrible, just terrible.
Is It A Classic: Other than Booker T. finally having his long-deserved moment after being involved in the best two matches of the show, this is a travesty of an event thanks to the middle portion of “real life, off-the-script” insanity taking so much steam out of the once hot crowd who made each match up to that point seem better than it really was. Add that to the fact almost every match featured some kind of interference, a slash movie-inspired, yet lifeless brawl and stipulations that made no sense and you have nothing short of a disaster. For every step forward, there were three steps back. Yep, that was WCW in a nutshell during its last couple of years in existence.