This week for the VHS Memoirs, I’m going to review Beach Blast 1992, a pay-per-view that took place during a transitional period in WCW, a time when former Mid-South promoter Bill Watts took over as head book for the company. The Watts administration was short-lived, as The Cowboy lasted less than a year before he was fired from Turner. For all of his critics, Watts was very successful in his heyday, promoting his Mid-South territory very successful for several years, including major events at The Super Dome in New Orleans before the oil crunch of the late-80s forced him to sell the organization to Jim Crockett Promotions. Still, Watts’ ideology, which can be seen throughout this pay-per-view, with no mats on the outside of the ring and disqualifications for jumping off the top rope, was so antiquated that it didn’t give WCW a fresh direction. Furthermore, the hard-nosed Watts couldn’t work in a corporate environment, which is why he wasn’t a successful booker outside of his own territory. In 1995, his WWF tenure was just a few months.
A rather comical side note, the show titled, “Beach Blast” was held in Mobile, Alabama, which isn’t exactly a location known for its beaches. The broadcast opened with Scotty Flamingo, the grappler that would go on to have arguably legendary success as Raven, in a bout against Flyin’ Brian Pillman for the WCW Light Heavyweight championship, the predecessor to the Cruiser Weight division that would become a staple of Nitro a few years later. It’s somewhat odd to see Scotty Flamingo in all the florescent attire, simply because he’s so well known for the brooding Raven persona. That said, you can see just from his body language that Raven “gets it” and knows how to perform for show business. That lends credibility to the notion that Raven always had the talent, (regardless of the later years in his career when he often put it on autopilot) and thus found his biggest success when he became a character that was closest to the real-life Scott Levy. The bout itself was solid and went about 15 minutes with a lot of fast-paced action. It’s the classic dynamic of the fiery baby face, a role that Pillman did very well in the early part of his career, even if he was still honing the finer points of the craft, and a shyster of a villain, which Flamingo worked well during this portion of his career. Flamingo got the win to capture the championship.
Ron Simmons vs. Terry Taylor was next, and this was a basic bout that went about six minutes for a contest that was completely designed to make Simmons look strong. As we know, Simmons beat Vader for the WCW world championship just a few months later in an iconic moment. Terry Taylor, who had the “Tailor Made Man” discount Ted Dibiase gimmick at the time, made his opponent look great with a lot of good bumps. Simmons showcased a lot of power moves and the finish saw him land a power slam to get the win.
Greg Valentine beat Marcus Bagwell, and the match was fine, but the contest went about five minutes, garnering almost no crowd response. “The Hammer” looked as cheerful as you’d expect during this segment.
The match that is well known from this pay-per-view because it was released on a few of the Mick Foley career retrospective DVDs is the Cactus Jack vs. Sting Falls Count Anywhere match. While the Sting feud was one of the first rivalries that helped Cactus gain notoriety in the United States, you can see how the style took a toll on him. Cactus takes some absolutely brutal bumps, including a back drop on the entrance ramp where he bounces from the impact. He also took a suplex and a few other bumps on the concrete. The finish saw Sting hit a clothesline from the top rope onto the ramp for the three count. This was a wild and very entertaining match.
There was a 30-minute iron man match between Ricky Steamboat vs. Rick Rude, and it goes without saying that putting these two legends in the ring for 30 minutes is guaranteed quality pro wrestling. The psychology in this bout is top notch, as Rude took an early lead before he jumped off the top rope, causing a DQ, but used the maneuver to get another pin fall directly after that so he was ahead again. The dynamic of this match-up had “The Dragon,” one of the best baby faces of all time, rallying from behind to attempt to tie the score throughout the duration of the contest. Finally, the momentum shifts and Steamboat takes the lead, prompting Rude to desperately try to get another pin fall in the closing moments. Finally, the bell rings and Steamboat wins 4-3 in the iron man challenge. This is great stuff that you should go out of your way to watch if you haven’t seen it.
Dustin Rhodes, Barry Windham and Nikita Koloff beat Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, and Bobby Eaton in a six man tag team match. Again, you can look at the competitors booked for this contest and know what you’re going to get in this segment. Everything was crisp and the crowd was following the action. Unfortunately, the finish was flat when Arnderson was DQ’ed for jumping off of the top rope, and you can tell that the crowd doesn’t immediately associate it with the new rules. If I had to guess, I’d say this finish was booked as a way for Watts to establish the new DQ rules, but that probably would’ve been a more effective decision for a TV segment, not pay-per-view.
The main event was The Steiners vs. Terry Gordy and Steve Williams for the WCW Tag Team titles. Unfortunately, this was another Watts booking that was designed more to establish the cowboy’s antiquated version of pro wrestling than to serve the paying audience, both in the building and on pay-per-view. These are unquestionably two legendary teams and under usual circumstances, you’d expect this to be a great match, and it probably should’ve been. Instead, it was 30-minutes of an amateur style contest right out of the Watts playbook, and at times, it almost resembled a UWFi style from Japan, which didn’t translate to the live crowd. There’s nothing wrong with the bout itself, but the lack of crowd reaction to a main event match had a rather flat presentation. The finish was a draw and that itself doesn’t lend to a reaction from the audience either.
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Until next week
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