I remember watching WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 on pay-per-view at my house at 9 years old. That was when my passion for pro wrestling really began to grow. Watching Scott Hall and Kevin Nash show up on previous episodes of Monday Nitro shocked everyone within the wrestling community as both guys had previously been working for Vince McMahon’s WWF during this era and now we see them appear on WCW television. The Outsiders as they were called, even made an appearance at The Great American Bash power bombing Eric Bischoff through a table. Hall and Nash said there was a third man who would be at Bash at the Beach.
My recollection of such a grand event had to be one filled with excitement and pure emotion. Nothing could distract my individual focus from that show on an evening where little did I know as a kid, it would change the wrestling landscape forever. After all those iconic storylines setting up certain matches for whatever venue none quite had a feeling of unknown anticipation than this show did. Tony Schiavone, Dusty Rhodes, Bobby Heenan, and Mean Gene Okerlund drew us fans into what drama awaited later on in the show. A common question which seemed to be their theme all throughout this special event was “Who’s the Third Man?” It was Main-Event time in Daytona Beach, Florida at the Ocean Center on Sunday night July 7th, 1996. We saw team WCW consisting of Sting, Lex Luger, and the Macho Man Randy Savage facing Hall and Nash the Outsiders in a 6-man tag team match.
Luger got injured early due to a Stinger Splash by Sting who inadvertently had connected not only with his opponent Nash but unfortunately Luger as well. Making it a 2-on-2 contest, see before the match started there was still no third man representing the opposing team of the Outsiders. Sting and Savage put up a courageous, valiant effort against two impressive villains in Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Then Hulk Hogan comes out to a tremendous reaction from the crowd inside the arena only to come inside the ring and leg drop Randy Savage multiple times revealing that he indeed was the third man and the NWO was officially born. Fans littered the ring with garbage as a sign of disgust for the traitor Hulk Hogan and even longtime friend Mean Gene could not believe it. Hogan then cut an epic promo about being tired of carrying WCW and how he made money for that big company up north referring to the WWF. Hogan went on to explain how it had been the fans who made him sick. I’m paraphrasing what the Hulkster said. I took Hogan becoming a heel so hard that I tore up a poster of Hulk Hogan in my closet, true story. Now looking back at the execution of a storyline where one of wrestling’s top heroes had turned against his friends and fans, I must admit was pure genius, not only Hogan’s part but WCW, Hall, Nash and the man running the operation Eric Bischoff. Hulk becoming a villain like this had never been done or even seen before at least on that level.
The NWO would revolutionize the wrestling world forever and prove to be one of the all-time greatest factions within the business. This is easily one of the greatest wrestling story lines in history. It’s hard to argue with how successful it was. We’re still witnessing many wrestling promotions trying to copy their formula today but whether those different incarnations are good or not, there ain’t nothing like the real thing though.
A hot angle with great superstars helped propel Nitro to new heights along with other established WCW talent.