Paul Heyman's Eastern Championship Wrestling, and the state of Pro Wrestling in 1993
So in September after the Ultraclash show, ECW was on their way up. Paul Heyman took over the booking, and it was a seamless transition due to Heyman's role as Eddie Gilbert's assistant booker throughout his tenure at the helm. With the exception of the debut of a few new characters that were more in tune with what was going on in pop culture at the time(Public Enemy, Ian Rotten), The Ultraclash show looked a lot like an Eddie Gilbert show. The ECW would continue to resemble Gilbert's Memphis style of booking under Heyman for the rest of 1993, but with a darker, more up to date spin on the tried and true raunchy, bloody, violent style of wrestling shows handed down from the Memphis/Florida territories that Gilbert(and Heyman) were raised on.
Ultraclash was a finacial success for Tod Gordon's ECW, and things looked to be heading in the right direction with his new booker(Heyman), and their new affiliation with the NWA. Eastern Championship Wrestling was being pushed by the NWA as their premier northeast promotion, and their next big show would be the 2 day "Bloodfest" show at the ECW Arena on October 1st & 2nd of 1993.
ECW's two part NWA Bloodfest show was another step in the right direction for the company. The show was marked by the debut's of two wrestlers that would go on to define the ECW in later years.
Sabu made his Eastern Championship Wrestling debut at Bloodfest part 1. Sabu was trained by The Original Shiek(his uncle). The Shiek, and Sabu both competed in the successor to the ECW in Philadelphia, the TSWA years before. Sabu was a veteran of the Japanese FMW promotion in Japan in the early 90's. The FMW took the violence of the Memphis/Florida territories of the southern US to a whole other level. By The NWA Bloodfest show, Sabu had already accumalated many of his trademark scars due to the incredibly violent barbed wire matches he competed in over in FMW.
For his ECW debut at NWA Bloodfest, Sabu was rolled to the ring strapped to a dolly with a mask, and a bunch of chains tieing him up ala Hannibal Lecter. The man he would be wrestling that evening was none other than Taz, also making his ECW Debut. This was way before the bad ass MMA Taz of later years, this was "The Tasmaniac". The Tasmaniac was a similar gimmick to Sabu's. They were both uncontrollable forces of choas. Even though their gimmicks were still quite cartoonish, Sabu and The Tasmaniac were glimpses into the darker, grittier direction that the ECW was headed under Heyman's booking. Gone were the goofy characters, and comedy heavy storylines of Gilbert's booking. Another aspect of Gilbert's booking that was on it's way out was the traditional definition of heels and faces in pro wrestling. The Public Enemy continued their rise up the ranks, and kicked off their first ECW rivalry with two more new characters that were Paul Heyman originals. Ian and Axle Rotten may not look like anything impressive these days watching the old tapes, but they really were quite a bit ahead of what other tag teams were doing for gimmicks. Grunge had swept the nation by 1992, and in 1993 it was everywhere. Ian and Axle Rotten formed the newest tag team in the ECW at Bloodfest, The Bad Breed, and they embodied the grunge look and attitude like nobody else in wrestling at the time.
Here are the results for ECW's NWA Bloodfest shows, and the preceeding episodes of ECW TV:
By the end of 1993 Paul Heyman's ECW was well on it's way to being the top independant promotion in America. The trademark Attitude was there, the talent was there, and it wouldn't be long before the little hole in the wall Philly promotion would rise to be the #3 fed in states.
Here are the results for the rest of ECW's 1993 year under Paul Heyman's booking:
Click for Spoiler:
Click for Spoiler:
1994: The Rise Of Eastern Championship Wrestling
The ECW took off under the NWA banner with Paul Heyman booking shows. 1994 would be a huge year for the company. All of the shows in the promotions history up to this point have been really terrible, but starting in 1994 the ECW would begin a steady rise in quality from show to show. It all started in February's "The Night The Line Was Crossed". The Night The Line Was Crossed was really the night that it all started for Paul Heyman's ECW. The show was an instant success, and would generate a tremendous amount of buzz in the pro wrestling industry for the ECW. All of the newsletter reading smarks of the time had to get their hands on The Night The Line Was Crossed tape. One of the standout matches of the show was a No Rules match between The Public Enemy and the Bruise Brothers. The Public Enemy burst on the scene in the ECW on Paul's first show(Ultraclash) as the booker for the promotion, and he pushed them as the dangerous, violent, thugish east coast hood rats throughout the fall of 1993.
Heyman booked the Public Enemy to be nearly unstoppable. At The Night The Line Was Crossed, The Public Enemy gave a glimpse of things to come for the ECW when they battled the Bruise Brothers in an incredibly stiff, violent "No Rules" match(recieved 4 stars from Wrestling Observer Newsletter). Another future mainstay that took a big step up at The Night The Line Was Crossed was Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer was being pushed down the throats of the fans as the clean babyface. The problem was that nobody liked him the way Paul envisioned. Tommy had a match against Jimmy Snuka at The Night The Line Was Crossed. Snuka played a snarling, villanous heel in an attempt to get Tommy over as "THE" face of the ECW, but it just didn't work. Something about Tommy was just not jiving with the Philly ECW crowd. Future World Champion Mike Awesome would also compete at The Night The Line Was Crossed. Awesome always was a very quick, strong, agile heavywieght that could fly through the air like a cruiserweight. Awesome did what he did best at The Night The Line Was Crossed, and nearly decapitated JT Smith with a dive over the top rope down to Smith on the outside of the ring.
In the main event of The Night The Line Was Crossed, Terry Funk helped out the ECW again by putting over their best two wrestlers in the very first ever 3 Way Dance match(or Triple Threat as it would come to be known in the WWE later). Terry Funk battled the most popular wrestler on the independant scene at the time, Sabu, as well as Shane Douglas. The three men battled to a 60 minute time limit draw that drew a standing ovation from the fans in the ECW Arena. After the match Terry Funk helped establish Shane Douglas as "The Franchise" in one of the all time classic pro wrestling promos. The match would go on to inspire hundreds of three and four way matches throughout the rest of the 90's, and generated the buzz among the Smarks of the "Pre Internet" era that the ECW needed to become #3 in North America.
After the match, the hype around Sabu and Shane Douglas grew to phenomenal proportions amongst the indy wrestling fans of the mid 90's. Sabu's aerial style of suicidal spot wrestling had never been seen before. Shane Douglas looked like "The Next Big Thing", and it was all really thanks to Terry Funk, and the original 3 way dance at The Night The Line Was Crossed. Looking back at the match now, it isn't really anything to get riled up about, but back in 1994, this was the match that put Eastern Championship Wrestling on the radar of the smart indy wrestling fans.
The very next month ECW would continue to push Shane Douglas. Douglas would win the ECW World title from Terry Funk in a War Games match by smothering him with a plastic bag. In April of 94, ECW would take another step up. When WCW used "When Worlds Collide" pay per view name for their AAA show in 1994, the title was already trademarked by ECW. ECW threatened to sue, but were able to reach a settlement out of court. As part of the settlement, WCW agreed to send two wrestlers to compete at the ECW's When Worlds Collide show in April. Paul Heyman originally requested Steve Austin and Bobby Eaton, but Austin was unable to make the show for some reason. Arn Anderson would take his place. Bobby Eaton would partner with Sabu to defeat Terry Funk and Arn Anderson in a tag match for the main event of When Worlds Collide. Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton's presense in the ECW at When Worlds Collide only helped to propel the promotion into the #3 behind WCW, and WWF(multi million dollar companies). The very next show at the ECW Arena in June of 1994, an old Philadelphia favorite would be making his debut in the ECW while still under contract with the WCW.
Cactus Jack became an immediate favorite of the city of Philadelphia when he was a regular in the Tri States Wrestling Alliance(the precursor to the ECW). In TSWA in 1991, Cactus fueded with Eddie "Hot Stuff" Gilbert in one of the most memorable, violent fueds in indy wrestling in the 90's. Cactus would go on to have a successful career in WCW, and would eventually win the Tag Team Titles. While a tag champion in WCW, Cactus was allowed to wrestle in the ECW Hostile City Showdown card in the ECW Arena in June. Cactus Jack was defeated in his ECW debut by Sabu. After the match Cactus cut one of his classic promos by spitting on the WCW tag belt before throwing it to the ground. This would be a move that got Cactus in a lot of hot water with his regular gig in the WCW, but it was a pivitol angle for the ECW. An angle they used to help establish themselves as the top indy promotion in North America.
Also at Hostile City Showdown in June of 1994, Paul Heyman pushed the Public Enemy into their first major headline fued. A fued that would establish them as a serious threat in the ECW. A fued that would put them over as one of the ECW's biggest draws for the next couple of years. The Public Enemy were defeated at Hostile City Showdown by Terry Funk, and his legendary brother Dory Funk Jr.
Here are the results for the ECW from January of 94 to Hostile City Showdown in June:
Click for Spoiler:
It just kept getting better for the ECW through 1994, from show to show, it was a constant improvement. By the summer, ECW Hardcore TV was hot(Best weekly show for 1994 by Wrestling Observer Newsletter), and the buzz for the company was there. The ECW continued to get more and more violent through the year, and by the summer the Eastern Championship Wrestling was already looking like the Extreme Championship Wrestling that it would later become.
Another important note about this time period was the relationship with Paul Heyman and the NWA's Jim Crockett. Crockett had originally planned for Heyman to book his WWN promotion once it got launched. As the ECW grew through 1994, Heyman's desire to run Crockett's promotion started to fade. Crockett was old school, and wasn't going to fly for the types of ideas Heyman was pushing in the ECW. Paul Heyman declined to take the job, and remained in the ECW. Soon after, ECW owner Todd Gordon declined an offer from Crockett for ECW to even further entrench themselves into the NWA by becoming an affliate of his WWN(World Wrestling Network).
The next show we are going to take a look at is another pivitol show, and another where the promotion just seemed to keep improving. Our next review will be Heatwave, from July of 1994. The promotion is still affiliated with the NWA, and they are still Eastern Championship Wrestling, but things are changing big time by now. ECW is starting to outgrow the NWA, and things are starting to get really Extreme.
Eastern Championship Wrestling(NWA)
July 16th 1994
So Eastern Championship Wrestling was blowing up in the pro wrestling world back in 1994. After a critically acclaimed show in February(The Night The Line Was Crossed) The ECW just continued to improve from show to show. ECW grew from their humble indy roots up into a cult underground wrestling promotion that all of the "Smarks" were raving about by the end of 1994(best weekly wrestling show for 1994 from Wrestling Observer Newsletter).
After The Night The Line Was Crossed it was a steady improvement over the course of 3 more shows(Ultimate Jeopardy, When Worlds Collide, and Hostile City Showdown) leading up to this show. This show(and the 3 previously mentioned) were glorified "Supercard" tv tapings. They would usually cut a show like this up for 2-3 weeks worth of weekly "Hardcore TV" episodes with additional promos and ads edited in.
The main thing going on in ECW at this point was the push of Shane Douglas and The Public Enemy. Sabu was the CM Punk of this era, and easily the most popular indy wrestler in the game, which was quite an accomplishment for someone at this time that had not been in either WWF or WCW.
ECW was still under the NWA umbrella here, but not for much longer. You'll notice more with this show than any of the previous ones that even though they were still Eastern, the seeds of Extreme had already been planted.
Axle & Ian Rotten vs Rockin' Rebel & Hack Myers
Hack Myers and Rockin Rebel come out to "Whatta Man" by Salt-N-Peppa, lol.
Hack Myers would go on to be like the Hacksaw Jim Duggan of ECw. Everytime he would throw a punch he would yell out "Shah!", and eventually the fans caught on and started yelling it along with him. Then it got to the point where the fans would yell "Shit!" whenever one of his opponents would throw a punch back. He was called "The Shah! of ECW" for a while, and the fans would go back and forth yelling "SHAH!" and "SHIT!" during his matches when he would exchange punches with his opponent. He wasn't quite that over yet in this video, and was pretty much just a jobber.
Yep, This is just bad. The wrestling is almost as bad as the haircuts on these guys. Ian and Axle Rotten(The Bad Breed) had an interesting look for this era. They were two really tough guys that should have stuck together as a tag team in my opinion. Neither of these guys should have ever tried to be much of a singles wrestler.
This is just a traditionally worked tag match here, no blood, no violence, and no brawling, and it's just strait up boring.
Ian Rotten gets a Bulldog off of the top on Hack Myers for the win after about 12 minutes.
The Rebel turns on Hack Myers after the match, and they have a little scuffle.
God awful match here. They get a 1 for effort to at least put on a clean worked tag match, but damn.
ECW Television Championship Match
Mikey Whipreck vs Chad Austin
Mikey comes out to "Loser" by Beck, and that just fits his character perfectly for this time.
Mikey was loved by the ECW fans in 94. Something about an underdog that the Philly fans can really get behind for some reason(Rocky, Vince Papalli). He was a crashtest dummy jobber that would set the crowd off whenever he would finally win. He would get a pretty good push due to how over he was, eventually even defeating Steve Austin for the World Title.
Austin comes out to "Whatta Man" by Salt-N-Peppa! I guess this was the designated song for all of the jobbers.
Austin is just a worthless jobber. Totally out of shape, with zero skills. He comes out with Jason Night(The self proclaimed Sexiest Man On Earth), the longtime manager that would stay with ECW up until the end in 2001.
Just a typical Heel/Face match here with Austin & Jason cheating Mikey.
Austin pins Whipreck for the title after a legdrop off of the top rope. Austin wins clean.
Now here is the screwy part.
Austin gets the microphone, and tells the referee that he used Brass Knuckles on Mikey to win the match.
The referee reverses the decision, and gives Mikey the win. Austin and Jason attack Mikey after the match. Austin cuts a terrible promo to make matter worse telling the crowd how much he hates them.
I just don't get this. Some really screwy booking going on here that I don't get at all. It was like Austin wanted to deny the fans of seeing a title change or something, but why would he screw himself out of a title?
Doesnt' make sense. Pretty crappy match too.
Tommy Dreamer vs Stevie Richards
Stevie Richards looks so weird here. This is before he was a Raven Lackey. He has a rocking Shawn Michaels '94 mullet, and looks like he was about 22 or 23 years old. Stevie actually lived like 2 blocks from the ECW Arena in South Philly.
Tommy Dreamer comes out to Pearl Jam's "Evenflow", and is wearing black pants with suspenders.
Heyman was shoving Dreamer down everyone's throats as The Face of ECW, but people were just not buying into him.
Richards is such a green rookie here, and you can see it in his performance. He's just having a hard time finding any chemistry in this match, and botches several spots.
They take it to the outside for a little bit, and Richards gets slammed into the guardrail.
Tommy Dreamer has to be in the best shape of his career here. Looks like about 230 pounds, and pretty ripped too.
Stevie takes the upper hand in the match with some decent Heel work.
Dreamer's set of moves is so different from what I'm used to seeing in his later days. He's using a lot of traditional moves.
Stevie jumps off of the top rope down towards Tommy, and Tommy catches him in a sleeper hold. Joey calls it "The Dream Weaver".
Stevie goes limp, and the referee drops his arm three times. Tommy picks up the W.
Tommy cuts a promo telling Shane Douglas that he wants a shot at his title, and calls him "A No Good Pittsburgh piece of shit!".
This brings out his next opponent, Shane Douglas' bodygaurd at the time.
Not bad, but not good. Best match on the tape so far.
Tommy Dreamer vs Mr. Hughes
Mr. Hughes comes out, and the match is on.
Shane comes out to watch Hughes beat the crap out of Dreamer. Dreamer takes the momentum with a low blow.
Hughes overpowers Dreamer to get an easy win after about 5 minutes. Shane Douglas comes out, and cuts a promo.
He calls Hughes his "Offensive Line", and shows off his new "Head Cheerleader", a woman named Angel. Heyman was building Douglas' character up to be this cocky quarterback type of character, or "The Franchise". His promo is pretty damn good. He had some mic skills here, especially for this era.
Douglas finishes by saying that Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Bret Hart are not the future of Pro Wrestling, but The Franchise is.
Not a real good match, but a nice promo from Douglas kind of makes up for it.
Sabu & The Tazmaniac vs The Pit Bulls
The Pit Bulls are an underrated tag team from this era in my opinion. They come out to White Zombie's "Thunderkiss 65".
The Tazmaniac comes out alone to one of Offspring's songs off of "Smash"(that CD was HUGE about this time).
Taz in the Tazmaniac gimmick was just another thing that wasn't working for Paul Heyman. Just a bit too cartoony.
The Pit Bulls beat on Taz with chains for a while. Taz is just getting destroyed here until 911 comes out. 911 was a huge guy that was incredibly over with the fans at this time. 911 was like the "Enforcer" of extreme. Any time someone did something that the fans disapproved, 911 would come out, and choke slam them into oblivion for some of the biggest pops in ECW for the era.
Mr. Hughes gets involved for some reason, and keeps 911 out of the ring.
5 minutes in and it's still 2 on 1 with Taz getting killed. The fans explode when Sabu finally comes out.
Sabu throws a chair into the face of one of the Pit Bulls, and the bell finally rings.
Taz tosses one of the Pit Bulls out of the ring with an overhead belly to belly suplex, and Sabu slingshots himself outside the ring for a hurricanrana. The fans pop huge for Sabu's move.
Taz gets a suplex on the other Pit Bull for the win in under 10 minutes.
Another really weird segment with the booking. Not much of a match either.
Dueling Canes Match
The Sandman vs Tommy Cairo
This is the early days of the Sandman's drunken barroom brawling character. Prior to this he was the literal "Sand" man, complete with surfboard, and wetsuit.
He comes out with his singapore cane puffing on cigarettes, and accompanied by the late Nancy Sullivan.
Interesting note, no beers yet, just smokes.
He has one hell of a gut on him, and he looks trashed drunk.
Both guys chase each other around the ring with these canes for quite a while to start things off, neither man really lands anything.
Cairo takes a few shots to the face, and blades himself. He doesn't even try to hide it, just right out in the open slices his forehead open with two slices.
Sandman cracks him a few more times, and gets the pin.
Total waste of time. These guys were barely hitting each other through most of this. All they did was chase each other around, and trade light shots.
As shitty of a segment as this was, the crowd was really behind The Sandman here. Something about the guy that appealed to these wrestling fans.
ECW World Championship Match
Shane Douglas(C) vs Sabu
This match is billed as "The Battle for the Future of Professional Wrestling".
Sabu makes a sweet ass entrance. He busts through the sheetrock wall like a madman, and sprints to the ring full speed like a maniac.
Paul Heyman comes out with 911(Sabu's handler). Heyman says that Sabu is the future of Pro Wrestling, and the crowd pops loud for him.
Douglas comes out with Mr. Hughes, and his newly acquired valet, Angel.
They work a surprisingly fluid, good technical grappling match early on believe it or not, and it's quite impressive.
The crowd is behind Sabu 100% here. Douglas keeps saying that he is the future of pro wrestling.
Douglas works the crowd, and draws some pretty good heat. Both guys are working together really well here. Nice selling, and a good pace. Shane keeps the momentum early with a few submissions, and some sharp wrestling. Sabu takes the momentum with a sitdown powerbomb, and we go outside the ring.
Sabu hits Douglas with a light chair shot. Sabu goes up to the top rope, and hits a nice dive onto Douglas on the outside.
Sabu brings in a chair, and the match really starts to take a nosedive.
Sabu lands several of his traditional aerial moves, and even attempts a nice slingshot 450 splash that I've never seen anybody do. He misses it, and Douglas goes right back to dominating him on the mat, placing him in several different submissions.
The match goes outside the ring, and Sabu back body drops Shane into the crowd, taking out several fans. They brawl in the crowd for a little while, exchanging chair shots.
Sabu leans a table up against the guardrail, and leans Shane up against it. Sabu does a moonsault into the table, and Shane moves. Sabu crashes into the table, but the table doesn't break. Sabu crashes down into the concrete similar to Shane Mcmahon vs Kurt Angle at King Of The Ring 2001.
They act like Sabu has been ko'd, and Shane forces the referee to count him out. Shane gets the win via countout.
They had something great going early on, but killed it when they brought in the chair. Would have loved to have seen them keep it clean because they were really working well together.
Really this was one of the better matches of the tapes I've reviewed so far. Nothing epic, but a nice little gem that I have never seen, or heard about before.
Mr. Hughes decks Paul Heyman, and Paul sells it beautifully. 911 comes to the rescue, and drops Shane Douglas with a chokeslam.
911 and Mr. Hughes stare each other down. 911 drops Mr. Hughes with a chokeslam, and the crowd pops louder than they have all night.
They get even louder when he grabs Douglas' valet, Angel, and violently bounces her off of the mat with another chokeslam.
The arena goes apeshit chanting 9! 1! 1!
No Rope Barbed Wire Match
Terry & Dory Funk Jr. vs The Public Enemy
All 4 of these guys come out wearing probably 5 t-shirts. Just a reminder, Terry & Dorry are both WWE Hall Of Famers. Funk a former NWA World Champion for 14 months when the title was the best in the world.
Public Enemy immediately go up to "The Eagles Nest" balcony in the ECW arena, and challenge for The Funk's to come to them.
Some of the fans are still chanting 911!
The Public Enemy were drawing heat before this fued, but this was what really put them over as one of the top draws in ECW's earliest days. Public Enemy finally come to the ring.
Dory Funk Jr. looks like he is 90 years old here, and barely moving around. Public Enemy are being pretty stiff, even with Dory. Public Enemy escape the ring, and the crowd starts chanting "Asswhole" at them.
The Funk's take it outside after them, and we have a wild brawl. Terry Funk and Rocco Rock finally get into the Barbed Wire. Rocco Rock's shirt gets ripped to shreds. It's a sloppy brawl around the ring where they trade chair shots, and shove each other's faces into the wire.
It doesn't take long, and all 4 guys are bleeding.
Things get really sloppy, and it seems like they all forget about what to do or something as they try to communicate.
Terry Funk and Rocco Rock lay in the ring together, and Terry Funk suddenly waves to the fans for someone to throw him a chair.
One fan throws a chair, and then suddenly 50 more fly into the ring.
This isn't the infamous "Chair Throwing Incident", but the one that inspired it. The next time this would happen nearly 300 chairs flew into the ring.
The brawl goes outside to the parking lot of the arena, but the camera stays inside focused on Rocco Rock still out of it in the ring. They come brawling back in, and back to the ring.
Things just get wild from here. They brawl with trash cans, chairs, and a pair of scissors. All 4 men busted wide open bleeding, and steadily getting tangled up in the barbed wire.
Terry Funk gets tangled up in some loose barbed wire until it is all bundled up around his body.
Johnny Grunge cracks Funk with the trash can, and Public Enemy both cover him for the pin, and get put over by the legends.
Terry Funk is just a bloody mess, tossing chairs all around. Public Enemy get taken out after the match, and more chairs get thrown into the ring.
Nothing pretty about this at all. Not one of the better barbed wire matches I've seen, but it was a fun little brawl. It was just so chaotic, wild, and violent.
The Funk's put Public Enemy over here. It's hard to realize what was so great about Public Enemy looking back on them with a 2012 state of mind, but back in 1994 they were pretty edgy compared to what else was going on in tag team wrestling.
They were believable south philly hoodrat mid 90's east coast gangsters, and they were tough as nails.
After this victory they were the top heels in the ECW.
The main event was a little fun to watch, and historically important for ECW, but not really worth tracking down and paying for. Sabu vs Shane Douglas was a surprisingly good match, and the best match on the tape, but nothing to really get excited about. Putting over The Public Enemy in this event was one of the hundreds of things that Terry Funk did to help the ECW. Just think of how much more awesome pro wrestling would have been through the years if guys like Hogan and Nash thought more like Terry Funk did.
The future was looking bright for ECW though. Sabu and Shane Douglas didn't turn out to be much, but you can't deny their potential during these earliest of days in the ECW.
Shows are getting better, but they still are not very good. The ECW in Heyman's earliest days of booking really wasn't much better than the Eddie Gilbert era, and with this show you can see him struggling a bit.
The Split From NWA, and the Birth Of Extreme Championship Wrestling
Lets go back to August of 1994. Hulk Hogan had taken his talents to WCW, and the company was on their way to a level playing field with the big dogs, WWF. Hogan and Flair finally had their long awaited match in July of 94 at WCW's Bash At The Beach pay per view, and the company seemed to be headed in the right direction with talented performers such as Steve Austin, Dustin Rhodes, Vader, Terry Funk, Cactus Jack, and even a young Triple H on the roster.
Over in the WWF it was the epic Brother vs Brother storyline of Bret Hart vs Owen Hart that had taken center stage, leading up to a 5 star cage match at Summerslam. Even though things were getting better in the WCW/WWF than they were in 1993, they were still pretty stale. Both promotions were still using the tried and true "Good Guys vs Bad Guys" formula that had grown quite stale by this point, and everything still had a thick cartoon feel to it. For instance, take a look at the Undertaker vs Undertaker main event from Summerslam 94, and a majority of the characters in WCW/WWF at the time including Duke "The Dumpster" Droese, Kwang, Doink The Clown, and Thurman "Sparky" Plugg, all of which were prominently featured on Raw throughout the summer of 1994.
Meanwhile in a small bingo hall in Philly an NWA affiliated promotion named Eastern Championship Wrestling was using characters that were drastically more up to date with what was going on in pop culture in 1994.
Throughout 1994 the ECW continued to improve from show to show, and they continued to get more and more extreme and gritty with each show as well. As the buzz grew around Eastern Championship Wrestling, it was becoming evident that ECW didn't need the NWA.
The entire split from the NWA centered around Todd Gordon's(Then ECW Owner) rivalry with cross town Philadelphia promotion named WWA, ran by Dennis Corruluzo.
Dennis Corruluzo's beef with the ECW went all the way back to it's spiritual successor Tri States Wrestling Alliance, ran by Joel Goodhart(see one of the previous posts for more details). Corruluzo and Goodhart had a healthy competitive relationship, but when Tod Gordon took over TSWA, and transformed it into ECW, the rivalry started to get personal.
Corruluzo and Gordon's fued got personal when Gordon stole away the WWA's main draw, Eddie Gilbert. After that, Corruluzo repeatedly tried to sabatoge ECW shows by calling the Philly fire department complaining that the shows exceeded the maximum occupancy of the ECW Arena.
This is where the story gets a bit fuzzy, because all of the books leave out the part where Corruluzo becomes an authority figure for the NWA. I don't know when/where it happened, but somewhere along the ride he became the president of NWA, and continued to try to make life miserable for Todd Gordon's ECW.
Sources have stated that Corruluzo was jealous of the buzz surrounding ECW, mainly because his WWA promotion was much more successful financially, but it didn't recieve half the press that ECW was at the time.
The situation boiled over when Todd Gordon and Paul Heyman decided to kill two birds with one stone.
The plan was set into motion when NWA decided to hold a tournament for their vacant World Title in the ECW(due to the fact that they were the territory with the best television coverage). During one of the matches in the tournament 911(the enforcer of Extreme) defeated Doink the Clown. After the tournament Joey Styles took a swipe at the WWF/WCW:
The major consensus is that Paul Heyman, Todd Gordon, and Shane Douglas were the only ones who knew about this shoot. Evidence says otherwise. Ring announce Bob Artese has been quoted that he knew it was coming, and was even told to grab the NWA belt as soon as Shane threw it down. I personally believe all of this was a work, and that Corroluzo was in on it. Dennis Corulluzo's comments after the event are seen in The Rise and Fall of ECW documentary, and what he says is incredibly like a wrestling promo.
I believe that Gordon and Heyman convinced Corroluzo to go along with this in return for an ECW vs NWA storyline. The work came when they never delivered on their promise to Corroluzo.
ECW was officially done with NWA, and the next day they were officailly changed from Eastern Championship Wrestling to Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Many don't know that Paul Heyman actaully considered changing it to Extreme Combat Worldwide, to further distance themselves from traditional wrestling, but at the end of the day he felt like was a bad move.
I'm going to skip through the first couple of shows of Extreme Championship Wrestling, and pick up at their first show of 1995, Double Tables. You'll notice that the promotion never stopped improving, and that they did in fact do what Shane said they would do.
Here are the results of the shows that I will be skipping:
Click for Spoiler:
And these are the end of the year awards the ECW won from Wrestling Observer Newsletter for 1994:
Best Technical Wrestler: Chris Benoit(also wrestled in Japan)
Best Brawler: Cactus Jack(also wrestled in WCW)
Best Weekly Television Show: Hardcore TV
Rookie Of The year: Mikey Whipreck
Best Television Announcer: Joey Styles
Best Booker: Paul Heyman
Readers Favorite Wrestler: Sabu(previously won by Ric Flair for 10 years prior)
In January of 1995, on the very first episode of ECW Hardcore TV, a new character was introduced that would become the center of all the major storylines in ECW for the next two and a half years.
Tommy Dreamer was a wrestler that the ECW was trying to push as their ultra clean, poster boy baby face. Just one problem though. The crowd hated him early on. The fans just didn't like the way the character looked, or his old school baby face antics. It wasn't until Dreamer fueded with The Sandman in 1994 that the crowd finally accepted Dreamer. Dreamer lost a Loser Gets Caned match to The Sandman, and refused to back down when it came time for him to take his licks. The stipulation was that Dreamer could stop the caning at anytime by getting down on his knees, and kissing the feet of The Sandman's manager at the time(the late Nancy "Woman" Benoit). Dreamer refused, and took so many shots from the cane that his back began bleeding from the welts. Dreamer's toughness finally won the crowd over.
After feuding with The Sandman, Dreamer began a feud against the young Stevie Richards. In late 1994 Stevie Richards began calling himself by different knicknames based on the previous characters of one Scot Levy. Richards began calling himself Stevie "The Body", Stevie "Flamingo", and Stevie "Polo" based on Raven's Scotty The Body, Scotty Flamingo, and Johnny Polo characters in Continental Wrestling Association, WCW, and WWF. On the January 7th episode of Hardcore TV Stevie Richards came out to an interview with Joey Styles with a pink Scotty Flamingo jacket like the one Raven used to wear in WCW. Styles told Richards that he had been at the Arena all day, and that he did not see Johnny Polo in the building like Stevie had promised last week. Richards responded by telling Styles that this was the biggest day in the history of Extreme Championship Wrestling, and introduced "The Birth" of Raven.
Raven was a character that was crafted by Scott Levy himself. Levy started wrestling in 1988 in Memphis' Continental Wrestling Association with Eddie Gilbert. He went on to have brief stints in WCW and WWF with really goofy gimmicks. In WCW he was a florida surfer, and in WWF he was a rich spoiled snob that was relegated to managerial duties(was Adam Bomb's manager).
Levy crafted the Raven character after Patrick Swayze's "Bohdi" character in the film Point Break.
Throughout January of 1995 Raven was pushed in ECW through some edgy highlight videos mixed in with the music video for Offspring's "Come Out And Play". Raven would also cut promo's in dark boiler room type settings, and school classrooms vaguely taunting Tommy Dreamer about their childhood.
The ECW continued to improve and break new ground with the introduction of the Raven character at the very beginning of 1995. There weren't any characters in pro wrestling like Raven in WWF or WCW. He was just more down to earth and dare I say....Realistic?
The next show we will take a look at is the first big supercard for the ECW in 1995, the February 4th "Double Tables" show. The format at this time for ECW is that they would typically take a show like Double Tables, and cut it up for several weeks worth of their weekly Hardcore TV episodes. These supercards were pretty much their pay per views in 1995, but at the same time these would be what you seen on the weekly show(with extra promos and music videos mixed in).
Extreme Championship Wrestling
February 4th 1995
This show is part of a trilogy of shows for the ECW where you can see the progression as a promotion. The company continued to improve starting with The Night The Line Was Crossed up throughout 1994. The first 3 shows of 1995 would see the company transform into a beast, starting with Double Tables.
The month of January 1995 was a busy month for the ECW. One of the major storylines going into this show was Shane Douglas steady trashtalking towards both Ric Flair & The Four Horsemen. Douglas would disrespect Flair every chance he would get. It was always "Flair can kiss my ass", or "Fuck Ric Flair", and he was always holding the four finger Horsemen hand sign upside down as a gesture of disrespect towards the legendary group(which Joey Styles would talk about how much he was a fan of them during the shows). In early January ECW ran an angle on one of the episodes of Hardcore TV where Joey Styles introduced a envelope at the beginning of the show. Within the envelope contained Shane Douglas' next opponent. Styles teased viewers throughout the show saying that the wrestler was not currently employed by ECW. At the end of the show Styles opened up the envelope to reveal former Horseman Tully Blanchard to be Douglas' next opponent. The angle was that Blanchard had come to ECW to get revenge on Douglas for the things he had said about Flair.
In the weeks prior to this show Shane Douglas was coming off of a fued against Ron Simmons over the World Title. Douglas formed the first incarnation of The Triple Threat with Dean Malenko and Chris Benoit as kind of like a newer, better version of The Four Horsemen. Two weeks before Double Tables Tully Blanchard attacked Shane Douglas after a match against Ron Simmons. Blanchard beat Douglas pretty badly until Malenko & Benoit came running to his rescue. Blanchard was beaten down like a dog.
Joey Styles kicks the show off with an interview with "The Self Proclaimed Sexiest Man on Earth" Jason. This is the same guy that managed Justin Credible in later years.
Jason brings out his tag team, The Pit Bulls. The Pit Bulls come out to White Zombie's "Thunderkiss 65", which is just awesome, and it fits them really well.
Jason then brings out Jason The Terrible, a Jason Voorhees gimmick wrestler with a hockey mask.
The Pit Bulls & Jason The Terrible vs The Young Dragons & Hack Myers
The Pit Bulls were really big intense guys, and quite an underrated tag team in my opinion. They were getting a pretty good push in early 1995. Jason The Terrible is a guy that dresses up like Jason Voorhees. I've seen some matches of his in FMW that weren't really that bad. He isn't very good though. As for the Young Dragons I'm pretty sure this is Mikey Whipreck and Paul Lauria in disguise. They are wearing karate gi's with wierd Japanese style masks.
Not much to write about in this one. Myers gets a pretty good reaction from the fans. He would always let out a "Shah!" whenever he would throw a punch or a kick, and the crowd started to go along with it. Myers would go on to be like a Hacksaw Jim Duggan type of babyface, and it kind of started in this match.
Myers partners The Young Dragons disappear later on in the match leaving him to go it alone 3 on 1. Myers gets overwhelmed eventually, and pinned by Jason The Terrible after nearly 8 minutes.
Nothing special here. Not a bad 6 man tag match, but definitely not a good one. An interesting booking decision because it further elevated Hack Myers even though he lost. The fans got emotionally attached to this character pretty much because he was a loser. The Pit Bulls worked the match pretty stiff, and looked like strong, powerful monsters. This was Jason Voorhees one and only ECW appearance if I'm not mistaken.
The Young Dragons come back out for some reason, and get beaten down by Hack Myers as Jason tries to cut an interview with The Pit Bulls. Myers takes out The Pit Bulls with a steel chair, and then takes Jason into the ring. Myers kicks Jason's ass.
Some woman comes out in a white wedding dress, and pushes Myers around a bit. Suddenly Myers hits the woman in the face with a punch, and bends her over his knee for a spanking.
She gets up off the ground smiling, and starts to kiss Hack Myers. What the fuck?!
Myers kicks her in the stomach, and gives her a piledriver. Wow. I was going to give this segment/match a 5 until I seen this garbage aftermath.
Tommy Dreamer vs Stevie Richards
Stevie comes out in a Scotty Flamingo outfit. Pink Jacket with pink tassles hanging off. Stevie is accompanied to the ring with Raven.
Dreamer comes out to "Evenflow" by Pearl Jam. The crowd absolutely loves Tommy Dreamer here. He looks weird not seeing him in his black pants/ECW shirt outfit. He is wearing a red ECW shirt with cutoff sleaves, and some short tights with knee pads.
The ring announcer announces Raven being from "The Bowery", whatever the hell that is. Most of the fans cheer Dreamer, but there are a small handful of boo's, and even a small chant of "Dreamer Sucks". This is the first time Dreamer & Raven were ever in the ECW Arena together at the same time. Up to this point the fued has only consisted of Raven's brief, vague promos. Stevie knocks Dreamer out of the ring, and nails him with a chair shot, and a Super Kick. Richards pulls Dreamer's ECW shirt off, and puts it on for a Shawn Michaels type of pose in the ring.
Dreamer regains momentum of the match with some devestating moves. He takes his shirt off of Richards, and puts it back on. Dreamer takes it back outside, and gives Richards a chair shot to the back. The match gets fun when Dreamer slams Richards' face first into a chair held up by one of the fans at ringside. The crowd really starts to get into the match.
Somebody in the crowd hands Dreamer one of those candy necklaces to use to strangle Richards with.
Dreamer gets a frying pan from the crowd, and busts Richards over the head with it. Dreamer then takes the match into the ring, and busts him in the nuts with the frying pan. I'm looking closer into this crowd and seeing all kinds of crazy weapons in everyone's hands. Stop signs, kitchenware, etc.
Dreamer counters a hip toss into a DDT, and the crowd goes crazy for him. Richards kicks out of several pin attempts from Dreamer. Raven eventually gets in the ring, and holds Dreamer from behind for Richards.
Stevie nials Tommy Dreamer in the face with a Super Kick while being held from behind by Raven. Richards pulls Dreamer back up for another Super Kick, but Dreamer ducks underneath it. Tommy hits Richards in the groin, and rolls him up for the pin. Raven gets back in the ring, and takes off his flannel. Richards and the ref hold Raven back as Dreamer stands in the center of the ring telling him to bring it. Raven backs off, and gets out of the ring to make his exit.
The crowd starts a "PUSSY!" chant as Dreamer leads them on.
Dreamer gets a microphone and tells Raven to go back to the WWF, and when he does to tell everyone to kiss our ass! The entire arena pops loud for that. Biggets pop of the night so far.
Dreamer then starts an E! C! DUB! chant, and climbs into the audience to lead them on. Awesome moment.
Hard to find much wrong with this one. Nothing spectacular in the ring. They botched a few times, and there were times when they weren't sure what to do next. Just a fun little brawl while it lasted. The finish wasn't bad, and we got a tease of our first fight between Raven and Dreamer.
The aftermath was a preview of things to come for Tommy Dreamer, and one of those moments where you could see him well on his way to becoming The Peoples Champion of the ECW.
Mikey Whipreck vs Paul Lauria
The buildup to this match came off of Whipreck's Rookie Of The Year award from 1994 Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Lauria was a former tag team partner of Whipreck's apparently, and appeared at one of the January 95 Hardcore TV shows to congratulate Whipreck on his award. Lauria attacked Whipreck, and announced that he was working for Jason(who had been fueding with Mikey throughout late 94).
Pretty good fast paced cruiserwieght wrestling going on early on. Lauria is a surprisingly good worker here. I've never hear of him outside of this fued. Things get sloppy later on in the match when Mikey botches a head scissor takedown. No protective mats on the floors here, just cold, hard concrete. Whipreck takes pretty stiff bump on the concrete, and Jason gets involved. Jason gives Whipreck a kick to the face on the ouside followed by a back body drop down to the unprotected floor.
Lauria spikes a chair down into Whipreck's face, and accidentally hits him too hard on the chin. Whipreck starts bleeding from his chin. He's lucky he still has all of his teeth. Wow!
Mikey lands a Bulldog off of the top, but Jason pulls him off of the pin to the outside of the ring. Whipreck is bleeding pretty good from his chin. Whipreck floors Jason with a punch.
Whipreck reverses a pin attempt to win the match.
Really not a bad match at all.
It had some sloppy moments, but overall was a nice paced well wrestled match with some good action.
Ian Rotten vs Axle Rotten
The background to this one is that these two were a tag team going back to Paul Heyman's first show(Ultraclash). Behind the scenes Axle Rotten was requesting a chance to wrestle single from Paul Heyman, who granted his wishes. The team was broken up the week prior to this show in a "Loser Splits Up" match against The Pit Bulls.
The two "brothers" began fighting each other after the match, kickstarting arguably the goriest, bloodiest fued in ECW history.
Over the course of the next couple of shows this fued would bring over some of that over the top gore that was commonplace in Japanese FMW shows. Axle and Ian Rotten helped put the Extreme in Extreme Championship Wrestling with this feud.
The match starts off very quickly when Axle storms out of the back, and is met in the isle by Ian. They immediately begin brawling around the ring. Axle beats on Ian with the stop sign I spotted in the crowd earlier. He then busts him in the head with a chair, and Ian doesn't even attempt to hide blading himself. Just right out in the open where everyone can see it. They take the brawl out in the crowd. Its just a real fast paced, violent brawl going on here. Ian is busted open pretty good. The pace finally slows up a bit, and the blood is pouring down Ian's face. Ian takes the momentum of the match, and is doing a good job of putting some emotion into the match.
Ahhh, more frying pans. I'm hungry for eggs all of a sudden.
They continue to beat the shit out of each other until they finally make their way back into the ring. Ian is a bloody mess. Kind of disgusting really. Axle jabs Ian in the face with the hammer they use to ring the bell. I don't think I've seen a single wrestling move used so far in this match. Just kicks, punches, and weapons. Oh, just when I say something Ian throws a dropkick. Ian is even bleeding from one of his arms somehow. Did he blade his arm? Wow.
More stiff chair shots from Axle as they continue to just beat the shit out of each other. Ian rolls into the ring, and begs for mercy. Axle just continues to bash him in. Ian trips Axle down, and pins him by holding his legs on the ropes. Axle just keeps on beating on him with chairs.
Oh man this was just bad. The crowd was all into it, but it was pretty much just a bunch of shit. The Axle vs Ian fued was what gave the ECW it's Extreme reputation in the early days, but looking back on the matches now you kind of wonder what was so great about them. I think a lot of it was the unbelievable photographs in the magazines back in the day. One positive I can say about it is the emotions Axle & Ian put into the match. They did give it a heated, emotional brother vs brother type of vibe, which helped it out a lot.
Chris Benoit vs Al Snow
Ah, some real wrestling. This is the gem of the tape right here.
Al Snow had just made his ECW debut in a previous episode of Hardcore TV in January of 95 where he wrestled a pretty good clean technical match. Snow's wrestling abilities are quite underrated in my opinion, especially his early days.
Benoit was coming off of his match with Sabu at November To Remember 94, where Sabu botched a move that injured his neck. ECW pushed the incident as if Benoit broke Sabu's neck on purpose, and gave him his "Crippler" persona. Benoit and Dean Malenko were regular tag partners at this time, and had just been recruited by Shane Douglas into a faction named The Triple Threat.
Joey Styles talks about Al Snow helping Dan Severn train for his performance in UFC 4 which was in December of 1994. Snow was indeed in his corner at that tournament, where Severn dominated his way to the finals where he took then UFC champion Royce Gracie into the longest fight of his career before being tapped out to the very first ever Traingle Choke in UFC history.
Very good opening grappling exchange. Some fluid wrestling here.
They go through the Test Of Strengh before going into a series of rolling pinfall attempts.
Just some really solid sequences so far in this match. A good back and forth match. Joey keeps selling how dangerous Benoit is. Benoit destroys Snow's chest with some nasty chest chops. Really loud.
Al Snow misses a missile dropkick, and gets a German Suplex for his troubles. The pace has slowed down quite a bit. Benoit nearly takes Snow's head off with a nasty lariat. Snow lays motionless of the mats for a moment as Benoit taunts him. Snow slowly drags himself up only to get slammed back down.
Snow is selling all of Benoit's offense beautifully.
Benoit keeps the pace slow, and continues to beat down on Snow, who sells everything like a real pro. Benoit looks down on Snow trying to recover with pity.
Benoit goes up top, and lands an amazing flying headbutt nearly all the way across the ring.
Snow continues to get dominated, but continues to kick out of pinfalls, even after a powerbomb.
Benoit's snap suplex was always amazing. He does a real good one here in this match, seemingly putting Snow away for good. Benoit lands another nice German Suplex with a bridging pin attempt, and Snow continues to frustrate Benoit by kicking out.
Benoit is the heel in the match, but he gets a lot of respect from most of the crowd just because of how good he is. Snow was getting a lot of love as well. There really wasn't a good guy or bad guy in this match as far as the crowd was concerned. They just wanted to see a good match, and that was one of the things I always really like about ECW. The crowd set a really good atmosphere, comparable to the respectful crowds of Pride Fighting Championships MMA in Japan.
Snow starts to come back with a couple of reversals that look awesome. These two guys had a good chemistry and rythm working together here. Very nice. Both of them get back up at the same time, and Snow takes the momentum after a stiff lariat.
Snow gets a Back Body Drop, Super Kick, and a Fisherman Suplex on Benoit, but can't get the pinfall. Benoit gets a reversal for a release German Suplex. Snow beats him up to the feet, and attempts a move, but gets reversed into a Full Nelson "Dragon" Suplex with a bridge for the pinfall.
Benoit gives Snow some powerbombs after the match to get some heat. Snow has to be carted out of the ring in a neckbrace and on a stretcher. They were really pushing "The Crippler" angle with Chris Benoit. Something that I forgot to mention was that he also kayfabe injured Hack Myers and Ron Simmons in matches in late 94 after the Sabu incident.
Hands down the best ECW match I've reviewed so far. This is probobly one of the more underrated matches in ECW history.
To me one of the biggest misconceptions about pro wrestling was that ECW was all about blood, guts, violence, and hardcore garbage wrestling. This was just not true. This match is one of the many, many obscure rarely seen matches that proves that notion wrong.
ECW World Heavyweight Championship
Shane Douglas(C) vs Tully Blanchard
Oddly enough Shane Douglas is playing the heel in this storyline, and Blanchard is playing a face.
Blanchard competed in one of my all time favorite matches in his I Quit match against Magnum T.A. Incredible match, but I digress.
Blanchard starts off looking really good. One of the things Blanchard always did really well was make a match look like a fight. He does a really good job of that in this match.
Really good pace here. Solid match right from the start. Blanchard looks really, really good with his offense. Douglas's selling makes it look even better.
The match goes to the outside, and OH SHIT! Douglas vertical suplexes Blanchard through the timekeepers table!
The match turns into a sloppy brawl on the outside.
I don't know if Blanchard just got tired, or if the table bump hurt him, or perhaps the combination of both, but this match goes downhill fast. They just kind of sloppily brawl in and out of the ring at a real slow, boring pace.
Blanchard tries to suplex Douglas into the ring off of the apron, but Douglas reverses it on the way in for a pinfall.
They had something good going on early. They should have just worked a clean match. It probably would have been much better. Just a short, kind of boring match overall.
Texas Death Match
The Sandman vs Cactus Jack
Not much of a backstory to this one. Cactus was settling in after being released from WCW, and pretty much putting The Sandman over in this series of matches.
Standard Texas Death Match rules here. You get 10 seconds to get up after a pinfall.
Sandman comes out with Nancy Benoit. He has a pretty fat gut. Cactus attacks him in the entrance isle, and the brawl is on!
Cactus lands 3 stiff unprotected chair shots on Sandman. Sandman doesn't stick a hand up in the way or nothing. Cactus gets a pin, but Sandman gets back up immediately for 2 more unprotected shots. Cactus gets another pinfall.
The Sandman gets up at 6. Cactus gets a frying pan. He breaks it over Sandman's head. Sandman is just dazed standing there in la-la land with brain damage. Holy shit.
They send each other into the steel guardrail several times before re-entering the ring. A sloppy brawl ensues until Cactus takes it back outside.
Pretty slow paced, sloppy brawl, but I've seen much worse. Sandman works over Cactus' knee for a while. Nancy even takes a shot at it with the Singapore Cane.
Sandman takes it to Cactus with a piledriver and a DDT on a steel chair to get his first pinfall.
Cactus gets up at 4. This is just a brutal brawl. These guys had this stuff down to an artform. They did a good job of making this look like a brutal, grueling brawl.
Cactus gets the Singapore cane, and cracks The Sandman in the face 5 times.
Cactus knocks Sandman out of the ring to the concrete, and hits him with a diving elbow off of the apron with a chair in his arms. Cactus then gets back up on the apron, and throws the chair down into the Sandman's head as he tries to get up. Cactus follows up with another dive off of the apron down onto the concrete. Jesus.
Cactus gets a pinfall. Sandman gets right back up to keep fighting. Holy shit.
Cactus gets another pinfall after a DDT to the concret, and the Sandman keeps getting back up!
Another DDT on the concete for yet another pinfall. Sandman gets up again.
A third DDT on the concrete for another pinfall. This one does the trick, and the Sandman finally stays down. Cactus gets the win, but damn!
If you can get past the sloppy brawling and see this for what it is, and for what these guys were trying to make it look like they really did a very good job.
Very brutal match. Both of these guys at their best. Some good selling and psychology believe it or not.
Double Tables Match For The ECW World Tag Team Championship
The Public Enemy(C) vs Sabu & The Tazmaniac
Rocco Rock gets a microphone saying something about computer internet nerds. They had Internet in February of 1995? Wow.
Taz immediately with the beautiful suplexes. Taz is still playing the cartoony Tasmaniac gimmick here, but I'm going to call him Taz.
Sabu brawls with Johnny Grunge on the outside. He lands a suicide plancha through the ropes onto a seated Johnny Grunge. Taz and Rocco Rock brawl to the back of the arena. Taz gets a broomstick to use across Rock's back.
Sabu and Grunge go off into the crowd. Another fucking frying pan! This one is still wrapped in cellophane.
Two separate brawls going on in the arena, both of them really sloppy.
Taz lands another nice overhead belly to belly suplex as Sabu lands his "Air Sabu" onto the other guy in the corner.
Public Enemy bring in the tables.
Sabu puts a chair up on the top rope, and tries to put Rocco Rock through a table, but the table doesn't break.
Sabu and Taz do something awesome. Taz suplexes Sabu onto Rocco Rock. You don't see that often.
Johnny Grunge tries to Moonsault Taz through a table, but Taz gets up, and suplexes him through it.
Rocco Rock puts Sabu through a table with a somersault off the top.
Pretty interesting concept for a tag match. More interesting than a regular tables match. A double tables match is more like a 2/3 falls match.
Sabu drops a guillatine leg drop off the top rope putting Rocco Rock through the table for the win.
NEW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!
The Public Enemy fight with Sabu & Taz after the match. Sabu arranges the tables in the ring with one up on the top rope, and one underneath it on the mat. Sabu puts a chair up on top of the table on the top rope!
Chris Benoit comes out.
Benoit powerbombs Sabu off of the table on top through Rocco Rock on the table below.
OH MY GOD!
Not bad, but not great. Could have been much better. Just a bit too sloppy and spread out.
After the match we get a classic Chris Benoit promo. The camera's focus in on his hands as he rubs them together talking about Sabu and Taz. Benoit says that they will learn what pain and humility is all about, and says that he and Dean Malenko are the future tag team champions. Pretty good promo.
Really not a bad show. 2 real good matches, and a couple of ok matches. This event had some great moments, but it also had it's fair share of shit. The one thing to consider when judging this tape is what else was going on at this time in WWF and WCW. Also, the constant improvement of the ECW. They never really stopped getting better up to a point. This show was much better than anything I've reviewed yet, and the shows would just continue to get better.
The Evolution Of A Franchise
The Double Tables show that I last reviewed was cut up and aired in pieces over the next 3 weeks on ECW Hardcore TV leading up to the next show that I will be reviewing, Return of the Funker. On the February 21st episode, the first half of the show consisted of a 25 minute long promo with Shane Douglas entitled "The Evolution of a Franchise". Through the promo Douglas talked about his career as highlights of him played on from his early fued with Terry Funk in 1994 to his tossing of the NWA belt. Douglas got to a point in the promo where he pretty much did a shoot on why he hated Ric Flair.
Something similar here with this Shane Douglas promo. Something else that I realized was that this promo was eerily similar to Steve Austin's promo's later on in the year when he would come over after being fired from WCW. It was becoming clearer with this promo that at the core of "The Franchise" character was a bitter, disgruntled worker that was sick of being done wrong by the politics in pro wrestling. At the core of the "Stone Cold" character that was really the same thing.
Shane Douglas is coming off of a victory over former Four Horseman Tully Blanchard at the last ECW show, and was in the process of forming his own Horseman type of stable with Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko called The Triple Threat. Douglas was still the ECW World Champion at this time, and was set to defend his title at the next show I will be reviewing against former WWF Intercontinental champion Marty Jannety.
Also something to note. Flair's generation really did hand down a dead horse to the next generation. In 1993-94-95 the sport was really at an all time low as far as ratings/ticket sales are concerned. It wasn't really until the Monday Night Wars/NWO that the business really started to pick back up. Me personally, I think ECW had some influence on what brought pro wrestling out of the sad state that it was in from 93 to 95, so in a way Shane Douglas was really speaking a bit of truth here.
Extreme Championship Wrestling
Return Of The Funker
February 25th 1995
This show took place 3 weeks after the last show I reviewed(Double Tables). The major buildup for the show on Hardcore TV is a World Title match with Shane Douglas against former WWF Intercontinental champ, Marty Jannety.
Also advertised was a special mystery opponent brought in by The Sandman to face Cactus Jack. Sandman and Cactus were in a pretty violent fued right here with 2 pretty brutal matches preceding this event.
The Pit Bulls vs Chad Austin & Joel Hartgood
The Pit Bulls are in the middle of a really good push right here. They broke up Bad Breed(Axl & Ian Rotten) in a "Loser's Split Up" tag match. They have been smashing jobbers left and right. One thing that Heyman used that really got The Pit Bulls as over as they got was music. Heyman used White Zombie's "Thunderkiss '65" as their entrance music, and also aired their highlight clips on Hardcore TV mixed in with the actual music video for the song. This was just a really popular song back then, and it fit the Pit Bulls really well.
Austin & Goodhart are jobbers. Interesting note, Joel Goodhart is actually kind of a poke at the old Tri States Wrestling Alliance owner Joel Hartgood. TSWA was the predecessor to the ECW.
The Pit Bulls are jacked up here. Big muscles. They definitely had a great look. Imagine two Rybacks.
That's what this looks like too. The Pit Bulls no sell everything, and are stiff as hell with these guys with similar moves as Ryback.
Goodhart goes to the outside, and Pitbull #1 grabs a crutch from one of the fans at ringside. This crutch belongs to a mentally disabled guy that sat ringside at pretty much every ECW show from 1995 to 96. Mick Foley would pick the guy up for each show, and the wrestlers would often use one of his walking crutches as a weapon in the matches.
Goodhart gets Superbombed off the top rope, and the crowd goes crazy for these two monsters as they get the win.
The entire ECW Arena breaks out in a chant of "ONE! MORE! TIME!"
Can you say Over?
Hard to grade a squash match. This one wasn't anything special, but you could see this team rising up in popularity. They were big, powerful, and mean, and the crowd really loved them here.
After the match we get Raven coming out with Stevie Richards still dressed up as "Stevie Flamingo".
Raven talks to Joey Styles cutting one of his poetic promos about how Stevie Richards lost to Tommy Dreamer at the last show. He rambles on with a bunch of big sofisticated words that don't really add up to much as far as making sense.
Hooray big word usage!
Tommy Dreamer comes out and they are face to face.
Tommy tells Raven that they have had enough problems in the past, and orders him to shut up with his rambling or else to climb in the ring so they can go right now!
Pretty awesome segment here. Raven replies in his emo ultra feel sorry for me attitude saying that it isn't the time, but that Dreamer could go ahead and hit him if he want's to telling him to "Feel my pain". Raven says that he won't hit back.
The crowd starts calling Raven a pussy.
Dreamer tells Raven to keep his mouth shut, or else he would be getting his ass kicked. Dreamer leaves.
Raven says that Dreamer can't escape their past, and may god have mercy on his soul.
Quothe The Raven Nevermore.
Stevie Richards gets on the microphone, and tells Raven that he met a couple of guys at a bar in Philly that can help them kick Tommy Dreamer's ass. Stevie Richards brings out two old school guys from the early Eastern Championship Wrestling days, former champions Tony Stetson, and Johnny Hotbody.
Stetson and Hotbody come out telling Raven that he is a creation of today's society, and that society made him. They go on telling Raven that he is what Generation X is all about, and that they will help him kick Tommy Dreamer's ass.
Raven gets in the ring, and all of a sudden Tommy Dreamer comes running out with a stop sign. Dreamer cleans house with his sign, and we have an awesome stand off with Raven & Dreamer.
Raven and Dreamer fight each other for the first time, and get pulled apart by Stetson, Hotbody, Richards, and a few other wrestlers that come out of the back.
Joey Styles keeps hinting around that there is something more to the story that we aren't getting yet as the brawl comes to an end.
Jason Knight & Paul Lauria vs Mikey Whipreck & Hack Meyers
You know you are a good booker when you can get Hack Myers over. He is quite over here with everyone in the arena chanting "Shah!". Wow.
They do a wierd spot with simultaneous sunset flips, pulling both Lauria & Jason's pants down exposing their asses. They get up and kick both of them in the bare ass. Not sure how I feel about that spot.
The crowd screams "Shah!" at every move that Hack Myers lands.
This is a terrible match. Some really sloppy wrestling from Jason, and a bunch of wierd double team moves with Lauria that the crowd boo's because they look terrible.
Here we go with our first frying pan of the evening. Jason cracks Whipreck over the head on the outside with a frying pan he was handed by one of the fans in the crowd.
Wow, this is getting quite a bit of time. Boring, sloppy match here.
I can't believe this match went on as long as it did. This was a really bad match that literally almost put me to sleep at around 15 minutes. None of these guys were tag team wrestlers, and only one of them was even remotely talented in the ring to begin with.
Some big masked guy interferes in the match to give Jason and Lauria the win. How goofy does it get?
Horrible match. One of the worst I've ever seen.
2 Cold Scorpio vs Hector Guerrero
Yep, Eddie Guerrero's brother, the Gobbledy Gooker himself, and current TNA Spanish broadcaster.
Hector is in pretty good shape, and looks a lot like Eddie did around this time.
They start it out with some solid mat wrestling, trading a couple of leg submissions. Solid technical match so far.
5 minutes in and this match is nothing special. Slow paced match with mucho rest holds, and nothing spectacular going on as far as selling, psychology. Just a mediocre match.
10 minutes in and Scorpio starts up with the high flying stuff. He lands a couple of moonsaults, and then the two men roll around the ring in a series of near pinfalls.
Scorpio gets the win after a 450 splash at the 12 minute mark.
Nothing special to write about, but not really a bad match at all. It was clean with some nice submission attempts, but overall the slow pace with all of the rest holds held it down. Really just kind of a bland match.
Barbed Wire Baseball Bat Match
Axl Rotten vs Ian Rotten
Oh wow, this is actually an "On A Pole" match, where's Russo?
Ian Rotten storms the ring early to get his hands on the bat before the ring crew guy can put it up on the pole. Ian gets the bat, and cracks the ring crew guy in the back with it!
This was the fued that put the Extreme in Extreme Championship Wrestling. I remember seeing pictures of these matches in magazines back in the day, and they were unbelievable. Unfortunately this series of matches looked a lot better in the magazines than they did in motion.
Axl slowly comes out as Ian screams for him in the ring with the bat.
Axl gets in the ring with a steel chair, and the crowd starts chanting Axl's name. Axl gets the bat from Ian, and proceeds to beat him around the ring. Axle opens up Ian by rubbing the barbed wire across the back of his head.
I think these guys have a razor blade taped to their finger tips. You can see both of them blading themselves plain as day with them. They take the fight into the crowd, and the fans hold up a chair for Axl to slam Ian into.
And we get our second frying pan of the evening. Somebody should make a drinking game with these things.
Back in the ring, and Ian takes the bat to Axl's leg. The bat gets stuck in Axl's leg! These guys are bleeding pretty good right now.
This is some really sloppy stuff, but it's just so over the top with the violence and blood that I can't help but feel somewhat entertained. Still though, I don't feel real good about myself for being entertained by something like this. It is just a tad bit over the top, but when you think about the fact that it was exactly what these guys were trying to make this look like you can kind of appreciate it for what it is.
Oh wow, we finally get a......Wresting move?:stalker: Piledriver from Ian, but Axl kicks out at 2.
Both guys are a bloody mess. Axle gives Ian a type of pedigree move onto the barbed wire baseball bat for the pinfall after nearly 15 minutes.
Ian attacks Axle with the barbed wire off of the bat after the match as Joey says that we haven't seen the last of this fued.
As extreme as it looked, it was just a bunch of blood really. You can say that shit like this was bad for the safety of the wrestlers, but cuts aren't really that big of a deal. The worse thing to come from cuts in the long term is a scar(as long as everyone is clean from blood diseases, which can easily be detected by a 40$ blood test). There weren't really any unprotected chair shots or blunt head traumas in this match. With that said this wasn't really good. It was different for sure, and it wasn't as bad as their last match. At the end of the day if you look at this match for what it was in kayfabe, two brothers that hate each other's guts and want to kill each other, it really wasn't that bad.
I don't know what to think about it really. I've been cut open pretty badly in the past, and it doesn't hurt as bad as one might think. I don't really buy into the whole "Inhumane" argument from the purists(because most of them are just soft pussies), but at the same time I'm just not real crazy about watching a match like this. It wasn't a wrestling match at all, but it did have some entertainment value. The same type of entertainment you would get from watching a choreographed fight in an action movie.
ECW World Championship
Shane Douglas(C) vs Marty Jannetty
I've heard around the internet that Shane Douglas was originally planned to play the Heartbreak Kid gimmick that Shawn Micheals played after turning on Marty Jannety. I've never seen any proof, but it seems like it could have been possible. Douglas was in the early stages of a push before he left the WWF in 1991 to take care of his terminally ill father. The counter argument was that Mr. Perfect gave the HBK gimmick to Shawn, but that could have just been the nickname itself(HBK). Not sure if Hennig ever had anything to do with the WWF creative department.
Marty is decked out in his Rockers gear. Something interesting to note here, Jannetty accidentaly injured a jobber in the WWF in 1991. The jobber, Charles Austin suffered a broken neck, and sued the WWF. In the spring of 94 the court case was brought forward, and Jannetty dissapeared from the WWF. He would stay out of the mainstream wrestling scene until this event, almost a year later.
Shane gets a microphone before the bell rings, and talks about how he and Jannetty were good friends in the WWF. Douglas says that he doesn't want to fight Janetty tonight, he just wants to teach him a wrestling lesson.
Shane offeres a handshake, and tries go give Marty a kick to the mid section, but Jannetty blocks it.
Pretty good stuff to open up. Jannetty works at a fast pace with several near falls on Douglas. Shane plays the heel here slowing the pace down. Some good, smooth sequences here. These guys do have some nice chemistry in the ring together.
This is a surprisingly good match here. Nice pacing, excellent selling, and some good moves.
Marty keeps trying to land the superkick, but Douglas keeps finding a way to avoid it. Jannetty keeps the momentum of the match in his favor until Shane lands a low blow kick to Marty's groin that brings out the boo's from the crowd.
Jannetty is a very nimble, agile guy here. The match goes to the outside and Marty slams Douglas around the ring, and eventually into the crowd taking out the entire first row of fans!
Jannetty follows him into the crowd with a running dive. They fight through the crowd towards the concession stand.
Cant see shit.
Douglas drops Jannetty across the steel guardrail pretty hard, and attacks him with the crutch that I talked about in a previous match.
They get back in the ring, and Shane works Jannetty over. Marty with some really nice selling here.
Shane lands a clothesline that sends Marty spinning around in mid air.
They take it back outside, and Shane sends Jannetty into the steel guardrail, and the ringpost. Marty sells it like a champ, and makes it look really good.
OH! back body drop across two chairs! Pretty wicked bump by Jannetty.
This is a really good match. Douglas misses with a chair shot on the outside, and Jannetty lands his superkick.
Jannetty gets Douglas with the Rocker Dropper, but Shane kicks out. Marty is breathing hard and sweating profusely from working his ass off. He lands a nice superkick, and a DDT, but Douglas gets his leg up on the ropes.
Marty goes for a hurricanrana, but Douglas counters into a powerbomb for the win after nearly 18 minutes.
You can make a strong case that Jannetty carried Shane Douglas in this match, but a good match is a good match. Not a classic, but a damn fine match. Jannetty worked his ass off, and looked pretty good. Shane Douglas really didn't do much, but he looked better here than any of his previous matches that I've reviewed.
After the match the Public Enemy come out to this song:
This was hot shit back in 1995, and the perfect theme song for these guys really.
Rocco Rock comes out in a wheelchair(put there by "The Crippler" Chris Benoit). They talk with Joey Styles about how they lost their titles at the last show. They say that they were robbed, and that it was the ultimate dis, because they were the ones that do all of the robbing around here. The Public Enemy characters just had a lot of depth to them in ECW that they didn't have in WCW. In WCW they were just the guys that came out with tables. They were quite bland in WCW, but in the ECW they were some interesting, often times humorous "East Coast Gangsters" characters.
PE calls out Paul Heyman and Todd Gordon for running the ECW, and say that they aren't running anything, PE runs ECW. They send a message to Benoit & Malenko that they aren't The Crippler and The Shooter, and that PE was the only real cripplers and shooters around here.
This brings out Benoit & Malenko.
Johnny Grunge tells Benoit that PE is coming for his ass, and the fight is on. Grunge gets taken out by Benoit with a chair, and Rocco is pushed over out of his wheelchair. Benoit puts Rocco back in the wheelchair, and shoves him into the steel guardrail. Total beatdown here.
Sabu & Taz(maniac) come out and the crowd pops. Here we go with our tag team title match!
ECW World Tag Team Championship
The Tasmaniac & Sabu(C) vs Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko
They start it off with some wild brawling in the ring. Everybody starts chanting SA-BU!, nobody cares about the Tasmaniac.
Beniot and Malenko control the match until Taz starts tossing them around the ring with a bunch of different suplexes. Taz tosses Benoit with a beautiful belly to back suplex.
Benoit & Malenko go after Taz's leg, and take him out of the match. 911 comes out and carries Taz out of the arena, even though he is still trying to fight. 911, Taz, and Sabu were kind of like a face stable managed by Paul Heyman here.
So it's just Sabu against Malenko and Benoit.
Sabu goes crazy, and flies all over the place.
Vintage, classic Sabu here with about 3 high flying, suicidal, kamikaze moves(including a springboard moonsault out of the ring to the floor) in the about 15 seconds of time. Awesome stuff.
Sabu pushes a table and a chair into the ring. He sets the chair up, and hits both Malenko & Benoit with a triple jump somersault out of the ring. I love it. E! C! DUB! chants echo through the arena.
Sabu sets the table up on top of the ropes in the corner, and sets a chair up on top of the table. He goes up to the top of the chair, but Benoit pushes him off. The chair folds out from under Sabu, and he falls on top of it down on the mats in a very painful looking bump.
Benoit then powerbombs Sabu off of the table set up on the top rope.
1, 2, 3, and we have new tag team champions.
Benoit gets a microphone and says that anytime the Public Enemy want a shot at the belts they know where the gold is.
Public Enemy come out and a brawl is on. 911 brings Taz back out, and he limps around. PE, Benoit, and Malenko take the brawl to the outside. 911 picks Taz up and throws him out of the ring on top of them. Sabu follows up with another dive off of the top rope onto Rocco Rock, and the 3 way brawl continues outside the ring.
911 chokeslams the referee down into the canvas for no reason, and the crowd loves it. Hilarious.:rofl:
The way Taz was taken out and brought back was kind of goofy, but it really gave Sabu a chance to shine, and boy did he. Sabu was very awesome at this time compared to what else was going on in pro wrestling. This was before the luchadores really took of in WCW, so Sabu was doing things that you just did not see. It was a lot of action, and that was always why Sabu was one of my favorites. This match was really one of his best.
This match gets extra fractions of a point from me because it was just fun. The random chokeslam at the end, the pandemonium, it was starting to really look like ECW finally, and I loved it. I also loved the psychology involved with bringing in the table the way they used it merely as a platform on the top rope. Also, this segment really set up the main event for the next show quite well. You can't doubt that Heyman had really stepped up his game as a booker with this 3 way tag team fued between Benoit/Malenko, Public Enemy, and Sabu/Taz. You have to remember that the 3 way dance really came from ECW, and there weren't many 3 way fueds going on in pro wrestling up to this point(except maybe The Von Erich's vs Freebirds vs Devastation Inc. in WCCW in the 80's).
Cactus Jack vs DC Drake
Alright, I don't know who the hell DC Drake is, but based on the title of the this event, I'm willing to bet it ends up with Terry Funk facing Cactus instead of Drake. The Sandman and Cactus had been fueding going back to late 1994, and were coming off of a brutal Texas Death Match on the last show I reviewed. Sandman was supposedly KO'd for real, and had to go to the emergency room after that match. So I'm assuming that he was unable to compete tonight, and brought in someone to take his place.
So far up to this point Sandman wasn't really drinking beers out in the open. He was just smoking cigarettes, but the personality of the character was there.
Joey Styles does a very interesting interview ringside with The Sandman and his manager here, the late Nancy "Woman" Benoit.
Nancy says that first of all, Cactus has been running his mouth about her husband, and that everybody knew who he was. Her husband at this time was Kevin Sullivan. Sullivan was the booker for WCW, where Cactus had recently been fired. She goes on cutting a really decent promo talking about how Cactus tried to take out her meal ticket, The Sandman in their last match.
Nancy was really good on the microphone.
Cactus Jack comes out and people in the crowd are trying to hand him weapons, including an empty vodka bottle. Cactus gets in the ring, and some dude gets out of a box in the nearby ringside area. Joey puts Drake over as one of the most sadistic, violent wrestlers in Pennsylvania wresting history. He gets no reaction from the crowd. He looks like the Repo Man with his costume, black paint around the eyes and everything.
Boy this is sloppy, slow, and terrible. Just a brawl. Cactus works the guy over. Here we go with our third frying pan of the evening:fpalm:. Drake takes the timekeepers hammer to Cactus. Drake smacks the hat off of Straw Hat Guy, he's pissed.:fellah:
Cactus gets his DDT for the win, and The Sandman attacks him with the cane. Woman rakes Jack's eyes, and Jack goes after her. Drake and Sandman attack Cactus, but he takes them out. The brawl goes near the box at ringside. Cactus shoves Sandman into the box. The box is covered with a black sheet.
Cactus pulls Sandman back out of the box covered up in the sheet. Cactus rolls Sandman into the ring, stands him up, and pulls the sheet off to reveal Terry Funk!
Huge pop from the crowd!
Cactus and Funk circle each other in the ring smacking each other in the face as the crowd goes ape shit. Cactus and Funk begin fighting in the ring. Sandman comes into the ring with the cane, and takes it to Cactus. Funk and Sandman double team Cactus. Cactus gets the cane, and clears Sandman out of the ring. Cactus takes the cane to Terry Funk with some hard shots to his face. Funk takes them, and gets the cane. Funk and the Sandman both destroy Cactus with canes. Wrestlers come out of the back to save Cactus, but each of them gets a cane shot for their efforts. The beating continues for several mintutes as Woman stalks the ring.
Tommy Dreamer comes out and gets a cane. Dreamer clears Sandman out of the ring, and we have a staredown with Dreamer and Funk. Styles says that Dreamer is Funk's protege. Funk slaps Dreamer across the face as he stands in the center of the ring looking at him with a cane in his hand. Dreamer drops the cane as Funk continues to slap him across his face. Sandman takes Dreamer down with a cane shot to the back of the head.
Dreamer and Cactus are destroyed, and Terry Funk turns heel on the crowd by talking shit about them. Funk tells Cactus that he hasn't forgotten about their past. Cactus cries out in a microphone for help as Funk & Sandman beat on him.
Out comes Cactus' former training partner Shane Douglas.
Shane just watches as Terry & Sandman continue beating on Cactus with canes and chairs.
Woman tells Shane Douglas that she used to manage the Four Horseman, and promises him that she can help him take them down if she joins Funk and Sandman.
The Sandman holds Cactus Jack up as Terry Funk tells Shane Douglas to hit him in the face with his ECW World Title. Douglas starts to hit Cactus, but hits The Sandman! Shane takes out Funk & The Sandman with his belt to bring the show to an end.
Kind of a wierd segment with mystery guys coming out of boxes. Surely they could have come up with a better idea.
With that said the Cactus vs DC Drake match itself was terrible. I'd give it a 3-4 on it's own. The segment that followed with Funk aligning himself with The Sandman turning heel, and Shane Douglas turning face by saving Cactus Jack was a pretty good double switch. This was all giving Douglas and The Sandman a pretty good rub with the already established hardcore legends Cactus and Terry Funk. Not sure why it was necessary to bring Tommy Dreamer in, but perhaps it will lead to something in the future. We'll have to find out on the next episode. Same Shinobi time, same Shinobi channel.
This show and the last show I reviewed, the first two shows of 1995 for ECW, were really the turning point for the promotion. The turning point for all of the major characters. There were still some issues with Heyman's booking, but you could see some real talent in him with this 3 way tag team fued, and the way he was pushing Dreamer, Sandman, The Pit Bulls, and Douglas, all homegrown talent. The thing with Heyman at this time was that he had really figured out his audience. It was the same group of people coming to all of the shows, and by early 95 Heyman knew exactly what they were going to cheer or boo. That was one of the benefits of running shows in a bingo hall like the ECW Arena, the same crowd came to every show, and you could really give the characters a good chance to develope some depth.
With that said the Jason/Lauria vs Whipreck/Hack Myers tag match really stunk up the joint and brought the overall score of this show down. Terrible match. Other than that we got to see some vintage Sabu at his best, a cool Raven vs Dreamer segment, and a solid Douglas vs Jannetty match. Overall this was really an in between show to push these storylines, and build up to the next show I will be reviewing, Three Way Dance.
Pro Wrestling In Early 1995
So what was the big deal with ECW? Why did the smart marks think it was so cool back in the day? I don't understand this love affair that the promotion's fans had, I mean the shows were put on in a.......Bingo Hall!?
The budget was so low, the shows were shot with two cheap cameras. There weren't any flashy production values. There weren't any HBKs, or Diesels, or Hogans, or Hitmans, or Stings, or Randy Savages, I mean ECW didn't have anybody like that.
So what was the big fucking deal? Why did ECW fans have this love affair with them? Were the ECW fans just idiots with really poor taste?
To get a feel for why there was this loyalty from the ECW's fans, lets go back to when the the ECW really started to win them over, and lets take a good look at what else was going on in pro wrestling. Lets see what the alternatives looked like. Lets take a look at what was going on in the WCW & WWF in the months leading up to the next show I will be reviewing, ECW Three Way Dance from April 8th 1995, just 6 days after Wrestlemania XI.
In the WCW, they were on their way to their very first ever Uncensored pay per view. The show was promoted as an unsanctioned event, which meant that there were absolutely no rules. ECW called WCW out on the show several times on Hardcore TV in the weeks leading up to the event, going as fas as saying that Eric Bischoff was ECW's biggest fan. Public Enemy also took several shots at the show(and WCW) in their promo skits on Hardcore TV in March of 95, which were pretty fucking hilarious.
At the show, even though it had been billed as a No Disqualifications show, the Savage vs Avalanche(the late John Tenta) match did in fact end in a disqualification. A previously recorded "King of the Road" match for Uncensored between Dustin Rhodes and The Blacktop Bully was heavily edited due to the blood in the match. Due to WCW's no blood policy at the time, both Dustin Rhodes & The Blacktop Bully were fired for blading in the match.
Also at Uncensored was a Texas Tornado tag match between Harlem Heat & The Nasty Boys where the two teams made their way to the concession stand to beat each other with lethal objects such as Cotton Candy. The match was heavily parodied in a skit by Public Enemy in the following week's ECW Hardcore TV with both men dressed up like women. If you forget momentarily that Public Enemy would go on to compete in these same watered down WCW hardcore matches themselves about a year later, you will see that these WCW spoof skits were a big part of why they were arguably the most over acts in the ECW at this time in 1995.
A little known fact is that the biggest heel in ECW history is without a doubt Eric Bischoff. This all started really right here with Uncensored where the ECW painted him as completely ripping them off with the entire Uncensored concept, trying to capitalize on the style that ECW used to generate the hype they were generating at the time.
In the WWF all of the buzz for the upcoming Wrestlemania was over NFL Hall Of Famer Lawrence Taylor coming in to have a match with Bam Bam Bigelow. Diesel was still in the early stages of his year long World Title reign, feuding with the up & coming heel Shawn Michaels. Ted Dibiase's Million Dollar Corporation was the lead heel stable with Bam Bam Bigelow, King Kong Bundy, Tatanka, Kama, and IRS fueding primarily with The Undertaker. Bret & Owen Hart's epic fued had been brought to an end on Raw in March, and Bret was set to face Bob Backlund in a rematch at Wrestlemania XI
Wrestlemania XI is generally conceived to be one of(if not the) worst Wrestlemania's of all time. Worse than that, characters like Doink the Clown, Duke "The Dumpster" Droese, Henry Godwin, Mantaur, Jean Pierre Lafitte, and Aldo Montoya were prominently featured week in and week out on Monday Night Raw throughout the spring of 1995.
Meanwhile, over in the bingo hall, the ECW's main storyline was the double switch between Shane Douglas & Terry Funk. Cactus Jack had been fueding with The Sandman & his valet Nancy "Woman" Benoit. Cactus & The Sandman's fued centered around Cactus talking shit about Woman's real life husband Kevin Sullivan, who was the booker of WCW at the time(Which was common knowledge among ECW fans at the time). Cactus had recently been released from WCW, and his fued with The Sandman really helped put him over as one of ECW's most popular characters. Cactus put The Sandman out of action in a brutal Texas Death Match. The Sandman promised Cactus a mystery opponent at the next ECW show, which turned out to be Terry Funk. Funk turned heel with The Sandman & Woman that same evening with the vicious way he attacked the Philadelphia favorite Cactus Jack. Funk insulted the crowd as he helped The Sandman beat the dogshit out of Cactus with chairs & Singapore canes. Shane Douglas came out, and turned face when he saved Cactus. Shane Douglas & Cactus Jack were training partners in Dominic Denucci's wrestling school, and that was the storyline reason why Shane came to help him.
During the following weeks Funk cut some epic heel promos that were a throwback to his feud with Ric Flair. Funk talked about Cactus's real life stuff. Mentioned his son Dewey, and said that Cactus was a Charlatan.
Cactus' promos that he cut in response on ECW Hardcore TV in March of 1995 were some of the all time greatest wrestling promos. Cactus talked about how he was a real person, and that his name was Mic Foley. Cactus called Funk out on Jobbing to Patrick Swayze in Road House.
The feud culminated at the ECW Arena March 18th 1995 show where Cactus & Shane Douglas faced Terry Funk & The Sandman. During the match Cactus Jack was burned by Terry Funk with a flaming branding iron. Pretty awesome double switch between one of the top heels and the top face in Funk & Shane Douglas. The Funk vs Cactus fued also really gave The Sandman & Shane Douglas a good rub to help establish them as some of the top characters in ECW.
Also at the same March 18th 1995 show was a "Generation X Guantlet Match", where Tommy Dreamer had to face off against Raven's flock in order to get a match with Raven. Dreamer beat up Raven's lackeys, but was viciously beaten by Raven afterwards. In one of the most extreme, gruesome moments in ECW, Tommy Dreamer was handcuffed to the ropes on the outside of the ring, busted open bleeding like a stuck pig, and beaten to within an inch of his life by Raven.
Starting to see what all of the fuss was about now? ECW was way more down to earth, and adult oriented.
The next show up is the Three Way Dance show from April 8th 1995. The main storyline going into this show was a three way tag team fued between The Public Enemy, Sabu & The Tasmaniac, and Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko. A very well booked 3 way fued, but problems would arise with Sabu screwing up the big payoff.
Sabu had a Japan show booked for the same date, and was unable to make the show. Paul Heyman lambasted Sabu in a pre show speech to the crowd for choosing not to show up, but he failed to mention that Sabu had turned down a lucrative Japanese tour down just weeks prior to perform at ECW shows for less money.
Heyman offered the fans refunds for their tickets, but asked for everyone to at least wait until intermission to decide whether or not they wanted one. Before intermission Sabu's replacement was revealed to be none other than Rick Stiener.
Extreme Championship Wrestling
Three Way Dance
April 8th 1995
This was a huge show for ECW. This is the show that the ECW was building towards starting as far back as the end of 1994 with the 3 way fued between Public Enemy, Benoit & Malenko, and Sabu & Tasmaniac. Sabu, the most over wrestler in the ECW at the time, no showed the event in order to make a much higher paying date in Japan, but Heyman found a pretty good replacement for him(at the time) in Rick Stiener.
Also going into this show were two of the greatest fueds in pro wrestling history. The Raven vs Tommy Dreamer rivalry was just starting to heat up. Prior to this show Raven had beaten Dreamer pretty badly on Hardcore TV, but the reason for the rivalry was still kind of a mystery at this point in the storyline.
One of the most underrated fueds/storylines in pro wrestling absolutely has to be this Terry Funk vs Cactus Jack fued in ECW in 1995. The storyline started out with Cactus fueding with a heel Sandman(with manager Woman), but eventually included a double switch with Terry Funk turning heel on the same night that ECW World Champion Shane "The Franchise" Douglas had turned face. It culminated in a tag match in March between Terry Funk & The Sandman against Douglas & Cactus Jack where Terry Funk burned Cactus with a flaming branding iron. The storyline continues on this show with Shane Douglas defending his ECW World Title against The Sandman.
The show opens up with Joey Styles bringing out Raven, Stevie Richards, and their newest aquisitions to "The Flock", Johnny Hotbody & Tony Stetson. Stetson and Hotbody are former Eastern Championship Wrestling champions who came out to join Richards & Raven in March of 95. Richards brought out Stetson & Hotbody on Hardcore TV as the guys that were going to help them kick Tommy Dreamer's ass. Dreamer faced Stetson, Hotbody, Richards, and Raven in a "Generation X" Guantlet Match on Hardcore TV in March. Dreamer beat Stetson, Hotbody, and Richards, but was then handcuffed to the ropes in a crucified position, and bloodied by Raven.
Stevie Richards tells Stetson & Hotbody that they need to prove their worth to Raven, and that if they lose the next match they will be fired.
Richards says that he will make Raven proud by bringing out the men that can get the job done against Tommy Dreamer, Stetson & Hotbody, and probably anyone else in the ECW, The Pitbulls.
The Pit Bulls vs Johnny Hotbody & Tony Stetson
The Pit Bulls were two really big, intense, powerful guys like Ryback. They come out and immediately destroy Stetson & Hotbody with martial arts kicks, and a superbomb for a quick 1 minute squash.
Not bad. Pit Bulls look real tough here, so this did it's job. They were getting a pretty good push, and they took a step up here by becoming Raven's enforcers.
Richards gets a microphone after the match to tell Raven that he did a good job of recruiting The Pit Bulls. Richards plays probably the greatest lackey of all time. Raven tells Richards that he finally succeeded. The Pit Bulls come ringside to tell Raven that he is their new master, and that they will win the tag team titles to give them over to him.
Pretty interesting storyline progression. As we continue to examine the Raven vs Tommy Dreamer fued, you will realize that it involved a lot of different characters over the two and a half years that it lasted.
The segment continues after The Pit Bulls make their exit. Richards tells Raven that he has a bigger surprise for him tonight. Richards asks Raven if he remembers "That Girl" that he was telling him about how she was at the Summer Camp with Raven & Dreamer. Richards tells Raven that he brought the girl to the ECW Arena, and promtly gets the shit smacked out of him by Raven.
Just a quick note, Raven's look just screams 1995 here. I remember people actually dressed like this believe it or not.
Raven screams at Richards for bringing "that fat, overweight, disgusting" woman to the ECW Arena
Richards tells Raven that she isn't the same girl that Raven left at Summercamp. Richards brings her out, and this walks out:
Beulah Mcgillicutty makes her ECW debut.
Beulah's hair is all messed up, and she totally pulls off the "Hot Grunge Slut" look perfectly!
Raven vs Tommy Dreamer
Tommy Dreamer comes out for his first one on one match with Raven, who patiently waits for him perched in the corner.
Raven and Dreamer start brawling with each other with a lot of emotion. The crowd really gets into it as they furiously brawl all over the ECW Arena.
Dreamer uses a frying pan. We have our first frying pan of the evening.:fpalm:
Dreamer then gets a cheese grater, and a metal street sign out of the crowd to hit Raven with. Raven is already busted open with a pretty gruesome crimson mask.
Just a really intense brawl here. Both guys did a real good job of making it feel like it meant something. There was definitely some emotion here, and not just two guys beating each other around the building.
Tommy Dreamer really has the fans behind him here.
Raven takes the momentum of the match after countering a backbody drop with a DDT.
Raven beats on Dreamer in the ring as Stevie Richards tries to make a move on Beulah on the outside. Stevie gives Beulah a kiss, but she smacks him in the face.
Stevie grabs Beulah by the throat and starts choking her like Homer Simpson does Bart.:rofl:
Tommy goes to the outside to save Beulah, but she sprays him in the face with hairspray. Dreamer is blinded on the outside, and takes a Superkick from Richards, followed immediately by a DDT to the concrete from Raven.
Raven rolls Dreamer into the ring to get the win after about 8 minutes.
Nothing special about the match, but I kind of liked the finish. A good match that really felt like there was some legit emotion in it, and kept the storyline rolling along with this new uber grunge slut character in Beulah Mcgillicutty.
Mikey Whipreck vs Ron Simmons
Man, it's not looking too good for Whipreck here, Simmons is JACKED UP HUGE!
The crowd starts a "KICK HIS ASS MICKEY, KICK HIS ASS! clap, clap" chant before he even comes out to the ring.
Ron Simmons dominates Whipreck by slamming him around the ring like a Ragedy Andy doll as Joey Styles says.
The fans start chanting for 911, who was in the middle of a feud with Simmons in the early parts of 95.
Ron Simmons devastates Whipreck with two chokeslams before chokeslamming the referree.
The bell rings signalling a........DQ!?!?!?!?
Whipreck wins by DQ.
Out comes 911.
Simmons and 911 fight like two monsters in a Godzilla movie. Ron Simmons drops 911 with his own finisher, The Chokeslam.
Nothing spectacular here as far as the wrestling, but nothing too bad either. Simmons looked like a total monster here, and was in great shape.
ECW TV Title Match
Too Cold Scorpio(C) vs Eddie Guerrero
This was Eddie Guerrero's debut in ECW. His brother Hector wrestled at the previous ECW show.
Scorpio has a taped up shoulder due to a kayfabe injury at the hands of "The Crippler" Chris Benoit.
Guerrero looks really good in the opening minutes of the match with some really good looking moves. The crowd quickly gets behind Eddie because of his talent.
Eddie leaps off of the top rope to the outside on top of Scorpio with an AMAZING dive. Incredible height and distance. Awesome.
Eddie lands his Tornado DDT out of the corner to get a standing ovation from the crowd in the Bingo Hall. Eddie then gets a Frankenstiener off the top for a 2 count. Eddie goes up top like he is fixing to attempt another Frankenstiener, but Scorpio pushes him off. Eddie does a backflip to land on his feet, but Scorpio follows him with a Flying Cross Body Press.
Scorpio takes the momentum of the match, and lands a nice looking moonsault followed by his amazing "Tumbleweed" flying guillatine somersault legdrop with a twist.
Eddie counters a Wheelbarrow Suplex attempt to catch Scorpio in a victory roll to win the title, and the crowd goes crazy. Really, really good looking counter.
Loudest pop of the evening.
Eddie offers a handshake, and Scorpio accepts. Joey Styles says that somewhere Art Barr is looking down smiling on Eddie Guerrero with a crack in his voice like he is about to cry.
Outstanding match, and a really emotional win. One of those matches that makes me say that ECW was the best wrestling promotion of 1995. I've seen better Scorpio matches, but overall this was a really good match. Eddie looked great in the ring. The selling, psychology, and action were all there. You could see here with his first major US title victory that he had a lot of potential.
Eddie wins his first title in his very first ECW match, and would go on to win the WWE Championship 8 years later.
Hair vs Hair Match
Axl Rotten vs Ian Rotten
Ian & Axl are in the middle of THE fued that put the Extreme into Extreme Championship Wrestling. They had a pretty brutal strap match in March that was ECW's way at taking a shot at the terrible Hogan vs Vader strap match that took place that month at WCW's Uncensored pay per view. Axl and Ian's feud was really the first to bring in the over the top FMW type of blood and gore to the ECW.
15 seconds into this match, and we already have our second frying pan of the evening.:fpalm::fpalm:
These guys just brawl with each other sloppily in and out of the ring, and around the ECW Arena with razor blades taped to their finger tips. Nothing pretty here. Ian has a pretty gruesome crimson mask going.
Both guys are bleeding from their foreheads and their arms as they brawl through the crowd.
I love watching how the crowd reacts to something like this. Mixed reactions here between the bloodthirsty E! C! DUB! chanters, and those that are kind of disgusted, trying not to get any blood on them.
Axl gets another win after a chair shot, and cuts Ian's hair off with scissors.
Ian hits Axl with a paint rolling pan, and jabs him in the forehead with the scissors before making his exit.
I'm not a real big fan of these matches. This one in particular wasn't very good at all.
Hack Myers vs Dino Sandoff
Sandoff is a small jobber. Myers is quite over with this crowd for some reason, probably the way he was booked through the earlier parts of the year.
The crowd loudly shouts "Shah!" with every strike landed by Myers as he just wears this jobber out.
This match sucks. Sandoff actually gets some offense in, and I'm not really understanding why it was necessary.
Myers gets the pinfall after a Brainbuster.
I like my squash matches short, sweet, and dominant. This was not any of those, and was quite terrible really.
ECW World Championship
Shane Douglas(C) vs The Sandman
People like to knock on The Sandman because he isn't a wrestler, but what about his character? It's an entertainment business in the first place, not wrestling, and I personally find The Sandman's character quite entertaining. He's a pool-hall hustler/bar room brawler who traded in his pool stick for a Singapore cane, should that type of character really know how to "Wrestle"?
Sandman comes out smoking a cig(no beers yet) with Nancy "Woman" Benoit, who is smoking hot here.
Nancy was actually a very talented manager who was pretty damn good on the microphone.
Shane Douglas looks pretty good starting out with a vertical suplex, and a rolling neckbreaker.
Something weird about this tape that I have is that for some reason we cut away to a later part of the match where The Sandman is winning the match.
Sandman is actually using wrestling moves on Shane Douglas.
Yeah, this match is clipped up for some reason. This is an officially released tape of the show, so I don't get it. Usually they wouldn't clip up the matches like this(unless it was on Hardcore TV).
Joey Styles says that The Sandman has dominated Shane Douglas without using his cane, or brawling out of the ring throughout the match.
There seems to be some tension between The Sandman and his manager. Sandman orders Woman to bring him his cane. Sandman gets her to light him a cig, but as she does, she throws the cane into the ring for Shane Douglas to use.
Shane racks Sandman in the groin with the cane. Douglas rolls Sandman up in a small package cradle to get the win.
Woman kisses Shane Douglas, and has apparently joined him as his new valet.
Douglas crushes The Sandman's cig's and pours them out on him.
Pretty cool shot afterwards of The Sandman in the ring all alone dejected, and beaten lighting up one of the crumpled up cigs.
The show cuts away to a promo with The Sandman telling Woman to bring all of the women's activists that she can with her to the ECW Arena at the next show, because he will beat all of them into the ground along with her.
It cuts away again to a promo from Shane Douglas & Woman, and it has become obvious to me that this was all just buildup to their next match at the next ECW show. I think that is why they didn't show too much of this match on this tape.
Hard to grade it because it didn't show the entire match, but it was a pretty cool little segment with a really good promo from both Douglas & Woman. From what little bit I did see of the actual match there was some actual psychology in the match, with both characters swapping roles. Sandman outclassed Douglas with clean wrestling, but Douglas stole the win by using the cane.
ECW World Tag Team Championship Three Way Dance
Public Enemy vs Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko(C) vs Rick Stiener & The Tasmaniac
Public Enemy's entrance is awesome. They were so loved by this crowd. Some of their WCW parody skits from Hardcore TV in 1995 were pretty funny, and a big reason why they were so over with the Philly crowd.
Benoit & Malenko come out next, and immediately start to brawl.
Taz and Stiener come out next with Heyman and the brawl is on.
Suplexes everywhere. Taz and Stiener made a good pair, and clean the ring out upon arrival.
Taz and Ric Stiener continue to suplex guys around the ring. Stiener drops Benoit with the Steinerline.
All three teams take the fight to the outside. Malenko drops Taz with a steel chair.
Rocco Rock uses two frying pans, one in each hand to attack Dean Malenko, and Ric Stiener.
That's four total frying pans on this show so far, I think that may be a record.:fpalm::fpalm::fpalm::fpalm:
Benoit and Malenko double team Taz in the ring as Public Enemy fights with Stiener in the crowd.
Chris Benoit hits Taz with his flying headbutt, and pins him. Taz and Stiener are eliminated first, but stay in the match.
Stiener and Taz destroy everyone with suplexes before making their exit.
Benoit and Malenko double team Grunge and Rocco Rock. The pace of the match slows down tremendously with all 4 men sloppily brawling in the ring.
PE take over the match with a steel chair, and it just turns into a wild weapons brawl.
Benoit and Rocco Rock brawl over to the sound stage/eagles nest balcony area of the ECW Arena. Rock sets Benoit up on the table, and climbs up to the balcony. Rock leaps off with a somersault, but Benoit moves out of the way. Pretty awesome looking table spot.
Benoit & Malenko set up a table in the ring. Benoit superplexes Rocco Rock off the top through the table. Dean Malenko mocks Sabu in the ring as he and Benoit continue to dominate PE.
Johnny Grunge drops both Malenko & Benoit with a double DDT in the ring, and Rocco Rock immediately follows it up with a somersault senton splash off of the top rope to get the pinfall, and win the ECW World Tag Team titles.
Everyone in the ECW Arena starts waving their arms back and forth as PE's music comes on.
Taz and Stiener come back out to fight off Malenko & Benoit as Public Enemy celebrate the victory with the fans.
The celebration is cut short when The Pitbulls come out to attack Public Enemy, bringing the show to an end.
A pretty long match, over 20 minutes, but not all of it was good. It had some great moments, and it had a pretty good ending, but there was just a little too much sloppy weapon brawling going on to get any higher of a score. The Pit Bulls attack would kickstart one of the best tag team fueds in all of wrestling. Overall the Public Enemy's run in the ECW was just a bit underrated in my opinion.
Altogether this wasn't really a bad show at all. It had some great matches/moments. Eddie Guerrero vs 2 Cold Scorpio was great. Raven and Dreamer's storyline progressed with the introduction of Beulah, and the involvement of the Pit Bulls. With that said there was a lot of mediocre to downright terrible stuff on here that keep the overall score down.
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