I first watched the WWF in 1986 when it sporadically replaced the usual British wrestling show on World of Sport. It wasn’t until 1990 that I had access to watch it regularly and became hooked, buying every video and WWF magazine I could lay my hands on.
In mid 1991, a local newsagents was had a different wrestling magazine on display. Despite not knowing the man on the cover, Lex Luger enticed me enough to purchase my first WCW Magazine. I discovered a bevvy of wrestlers I never knew existed. Not knowing P.N. News, Richard Morton, Steve Austin, or Sting didn’t stop me from watching WCW when it appeared on British TV and I quickly became a fan of the promotion.
30 years ago this summer, WCW held one of my favourite Pay-Per-Views with their inaugural Beach Blast. The announce team for the show was one of Conrad Thompson’s dreams: Eric Bischoff and Tony Schiavone were the presenters and Jim Ross was on commentary. Bischoff and Ross certainly had some interesting beachwear-inspired fashion choices for the show! The other commentator, Jesse The Body Ventura, started the show on a sun lounger, almost leading to a shockmaster-esque moment. When leaving the lounger he stumbled, his saving grace from falling to the ground one of the four bikini clad women surrounding him.
The show started with a Light Heavyweight Championship match, a reminder of some of the presentation in place in WCW at the time. The entrance ramps raised to the level of the ring led to a painful looking moment as Brian Pillman dove through the ropes, missed his opponent Scott Flamingo and landed stomach first. This was the Bill Watts era where top rope manoeuvres were banned which certainly hampered ‘Flyin’ Brian in this surprising title switch.
Scotty Flamingo is a name I love for a wrestler (more animal or bird surnames please!) and looking back it is even more amazing that after a spell in the WWF as Johnny Polo (another great name), Scott Levy became the dark character Raven – a complete 180 from what we saw at Beach Blast.
One of the best matches on the card was the “Pinfall on the Gulf Coast” match between Sting and Cactus Jack, although Sting’s World Title was not on line. The match was unlike anything I’d seen at time, no mats around the ring led to destructive backdrops and suplexes on the hard floor. Cactus hit his famous elbow drop from apron to concrete floor and a sunset flip from apron, swinging chairs into the back of Sting who later returned the favour.
“How are these men still alive?” my young-self though. This match was brutal and so different to what I was seeing in WWF at the time. It was the start of my fandom for Mrs Foley’s baby boy as I realised this was a performer who was willing to take risks and put on great matches.
Next up was an Iron Man match between Ricky Steamboat and Rick Rude. When I think back to the Iron Man matches I most remember, the list is Kurt Angle versus Brock Lesnar, Triple H versus the Rock, and this one. For me, this Steamboat versus Rude is the best, simply amazing pacing and storytelling.
Rude surprisingly gets two quick pins early in the match, then showing questionable tactics by deliberately getting disqualified in order to inflict more damage on Steamboat. Rude goes for an immediate pin, the crowd anticipating Steamboat to kick out so the heel gets his comeuppance. Instead Rude’s tactics work, his nefarious plan gives him a two pin lead with the score now three – one.
We see a masterful babyface comeback as Steamboat levels up. The last couple of minutes are frantic as Steamboat goes four – three ahead, Rude forced to go on the offensive to try to level. He batters Steamboat for the last minute showing great urgency but time runs out and both men are exhausted at the end of a classic.
After a match involving one of my favourite factions, The Dangerous Alliance, we get the main event as The Steiners take on Steve ‘Dr. Death’ Williams and Terry ‘Bam Bam’ Gordy.
I watched this match with no prior knowledge of Williams and Gordy other than they had been wrestling in Japan and having no knowledge of the Japanese scene. I questioned why they were getting a title match and why it was the main event. By the end of match I had been taken to school.
Again, I witnessed a completely different style from what I was used to, the match packed with hard hitting moves and submission wrestling. Great tag team work from Williams and Gordy saw them dominate the match, first isolating Scott and then, after a hot tag, isolating Rick. The last minute of the match sees a brief Steiner comeback as Scott hits a frankensteiner, but he cannot clutch a pin as 30 minute time limit expired.
Beach Blast only lasted one more year. The 1993 version is best remembered for the part-hilarious and part-cringe worthy mini movue involving Sting, Davey Boy Smith, Big Van Vader, and Sid Vicious. The Beach Blast concept clearly wasn’t a success, but thirty years ago, WCW gave us a Pay-Per-View classic.