The SmarK Retro Repost – Path Of Destruction (DVD)

– Never before has the title of a DVD been more appropriate, as Paul Heyman continuously shot himself in the foot for the past year, pushing the wrong people, pissing off the network who gave him a home when no one else would, and burning his bridges with the other promotions to the point where neither Vince nor Eric felt any qualms about signing whoever they felt like out from under his nose. Funny how the ‘net’s sentimental view became one of the underdog fighting against huge odds and seemingly only focused on the effort given by the underpaid workers. Hey, if I’m building a house and I don’t know what I’m doing, the house is still gonna fall down no matter how much effort I put into it. Face it, Paul killed his own promotion deader than Hulk Hogan’s hair folicles when he put the World title on Justin Credible instead of waiting for RVD to heal earlier this year. Make all the rationalizations you want, but when Justin started his reign ECW had a faithful (if small) PPV base and a national TV deal. By the end of it, they were cancelled off TNN and their buyrates were lower than WCW’s. That kind of record makes Kevin Nash look like Bruno Sammartino in terms of drawing power. Paul learned the hard way that if you shove the wrong guys down the fans’ throats, you lose your promotion. Well, I guess the WCW booker job is always open.

– But enough negativity! Before they self-destructed, they had some really good years, mostly between 1994 and 1997. And to celebrate them, it’s the second ECW DVD, released by Pioneer Entertainment, which means that the DVD has higher production values than the product itself. To wit, the sound is full Dolby Digital 5.1, but the source material is mono, so everything comes from the center channel during the actual matches. The video quality is EONS better than anything ECW has put out, so I guess they really went all out and cleaned up the master tapes before transferring it to the DVD.

– Your host is Joey Styles.

– Part One: Title Matches.

– ECW TV title match: Chris Jericho v. 2 Cold Scorpio v. Pitbull #2 v. Shane Douglas. This is a pretty famous match, and one which I’ve never actually seen, believe it or not. Jericho is looking noticeably pudgier than today here. He sends Scorp to the floor and teases a plancha to start. Back in, they do a hammerlock sequence and Scorp gets a leg lariat off the ropes. Somersault legdrop gets two. Jericho gets a tiger bomb for two, and into a bizarre submission move that Joey dubs “Mr. Salty” for lack of a better name. They exchange chops and Scorpio tags Shane in. Jericho suplexes him for two, and works a headlock. Bridging rollup gets two. He tries the Lionsault, but can’t get all of it. Jericho unleases some CANADIAN VIOLENCE in the corner, and Douglas responds in kind. Lionsault gets two. Jericho tags in Pitbull 2, but Douglas is a chickenshit and tags out to Scorpio. Crowd calls him a pussy. Joey totally oversells the storyline, however. Scorpio reverses a slam for one, but Pitbull drops him. Powerbomb gets two. Scorp sends him to the floor, and rams him headfirst to a chair. Back in, Scorp gets some high knees and tags Douglas in. So of course now he comes in and stomps the weakened Pitbull. See, now this is the character Shane should be playing, not whatever his WCW one is supposed to be. Backdrop suplex gets two. Douglas tags to Jericho, who dropkicks Pitbull in the head. Pitbull gives him an elbow and a powerslam gets two. Jericho escapes a wristlock with a leg lariat, and a german suplex gets two. Rana is blocked with a powerbomb, and Scorpio comes in. He goes upstairs, but Jericho crotches and hits the Super Frankensteiner. That differs from a normal top rope rana in that both guys are STANDING on the top rope. Wild stuff. Douglas then tags himself in and covers Scorpio for two. Scorpio hits a series of jabs on Shane and they brawl outside. Back in, Douglas eats a chair, and it gets two for Scorpio. Pitbull 2 is in, so Douglas is out. Jericho cradles Pitbull for two. Slam is reversed by Pitbull for two. Jericho tries the “You run at me in the corner and I’ll alley-oop over top of you” spot, but Pitbull forgets to run at the corner and Jericho is left to launch himself in the air and fall on his face. Whoops, there goes ¼* right there. Good one, Anthony. Pitbull powerbomb gets two. Scorpio in, and he brawls with Jericho. Jericho gets a DDT and tags Pitbull in. A blockbuster suplex off the top gets a one count and Douglas tags himself in. He and Pitbull brawl outside, but Jericho hits both with a tope, and Scorpio nails all three with a plancha. Jericho and Scorpio brawl into the crowd, out of camera range. Back to ringside, Douglas bulldogs Pitbull on a chair for two. He goes to tag out, but no one wants it. Oops. Pitbull comes back and Jericho missile dropkicks Douglas for two. Pitbull pulls him off and tries the pin himself, getting two. Dumb move there. Elbow off the second rope and dropkick get two on Douglas for Jericho. He hits the figure-four, but nothing there. Douglas tags out to Scorpio, but Jericho hits a fisherman’s suplex for two. He tries the Lionsault, but Scorpio dropkicks him in mid-air. Powerbomb and stalling follow. Jericho dropkicks Scorpio into Douglas and hits a tiger suplex on him, then tags Douglas in. Douglas hits a cheapshot on Jericho on the way in, then tags himself back out, leaving a dead Jericho at Scorpio’s mercy. Tombstone and Tumbleweed kill him off at 27:01. Douglas goes against Scorpio next, and they stall. A lot. Scorp fires away with punches and gets a dropkick. Into a resthold, but Douglas gets the belly to belly. Scorp comes back with a sunset flip for two. He catches Pitbull with a superkick, and piles Douglas on top of him. A moonsault attempt onto both misses, and Shane DDTs him. Douglas and Pitbull form an uneasy alliance, hit a superbomb on Scorpio as a result, and Scorpio is gonzo at 30:22. Pitbull and Douglas brawl on the floor, and Pitbull brings a pair of chairs into the ring and powerbombs Shane on them in a spot lifted by Kevin Nash and Terry Funk on one of last year’s WCW shows. I don’t even remember which it was – I think it was Superbrawl X, but don’t quote me on that. Pitbull gets a table, but Douglas hits the belly to belly. Francine (The Pitbulls’ manager at the time) gets dragged in by Douglas, and the ref is bumped. Francine then turns on Pitbull and takes her skirt off, revealing “Franchise” underwear. Pitbull comes back, taking the betrayal remarkably well, and clotheslines Douglas out, leaving the Pitbulls to have their way with Francine. They superbomb her through a table. Well, patience never was big on Paul Heyman’s list of booking attributes. Douglas comes in and nails Pitbull 2 with the belt for two. A piece of table gets two. Brass knuckles get two. His trusty chain gets two. The belly to belly finishes at 38:25. I really, REALLY hate that finish, and I’ m not impressed that Heyman felt the need to repeat it at Barely Legal for the Douglas-Pitbull match. Match was awesome aside from Pitbull blowing spots, Scorpio stalling, and the goofy finish. ****1/2

– TV title match: Bam Bam Bigelow v. Rob Van Dam. The storyline here is pretty standard: Rob’s partner Sabu has a title shot against Bam Bam upcoming, so he sends RVD to do his dirty work and soften him up. Or so he thought. This is another one I never saw the first time. Stalling to start. Bam Bam hammers and shoulderblocks him. RVD leg lariat, but he gets powerbombed and bails. Stalling follows as RVD and Fonzie do a whole little skit for the ringside camera. Back in, RVD misses an enzuigiri, but he gets a sidekick, flying bodypress, missile dropkick and rolling splash in quick succession for a one count. Ouch. Bigelow tosses him. Rob gets posted to the back, but comes back and springs off the railing with a kick. Bigelow tosses him into the crowd. Rob necksnaps him off the guardrail, and then springs off the railing with a rana that sends Bigelow further into the crowd and probably takes out a couple of spectactors. Van Dam then heads back into the ring, goes to the top, and comes BARRELLING off the top, onto Bigelow, who’s like four rows into the crowd. Whoa. Back in, and he DOES IT AGAIN. Holy shit. Crowd is just absolutely going bananas, and rightly so. Bigelow crawls to the railing, and Rob legdrops him on it, off the apron. Bigelow comes back with a lariat and powerbombs him onto the timekeeper’s table. Elbowdrop puts him through. Rob chairshots him, but Bigelow hits an elbow. Back in, Bigelow suplexes Rob off the apron, dropping him facefirst on the apron. RVD back in, and Bigelow goes up to finish him, but the moonsault misses. Five-star frog splash gets two. Bigelow hits a samoan drop for two. Brainbuster gets two. He goes for Greetings from Asbury Park, but Sabu runs in. Bigelow tries to powerbomb him, but Sabu goes to the eyes to stop it, and a blinded Bigelow doesn’t see the chair thrown at him or the Van Daminator that finishes at 15:46 to give Rob the TV title, a title which he’d hold for the better part of the next two years. Match was awesome by sheer force of willpower. ****

– Part Two: Hardcore Matches

– Sabu v. The Sandman. This is the famous Stairway to Hell match, featuring a ladder leading up to barbed wire. Sabu hits him with the ladder right away a few times, and he legdrops him between a chair and the ladder for two. Atomic Arabian Facebuster gets two. Sandman bails and Sabu follows with a plancha into the crowd. They brawl for a while, and over to the broadcast position, where Sabu sets up a table and puts Sandman through it. Sandman comes back with a slam and elbowdrop and they brawl back to the ring. Sandman suplexes a ladder onto Sabu and see-saws it into Sabu’s jaw. He follows with a suplex onto a table and legdrop on it. He puts the ladder across the railing and apron and legdrops Sabu on it. I sense a lack of moveset from Jim tonight. Sandman climbs and grabs the barbed wire, but Sabu dropkicks the ladder and sends him crashing out of the ring and through a conveniently placed table. You can actually do that spot in No Mercy, which is a scary thought. But speaking of scary, Sabu tries to follow him out with a plancha, and lands chin-first on the railing, breaking his jaw in the process. That’s just repulsive to see. Into the ring, Sabu chairshots Sandman into the barbed wire, and blood results. He puts Sandman in the tree of woe, with barbed wire on his face, then dropkicks a chair at him. Blind charges misses, and Sandman canes him. Fonzie hastily tapes up Sabu’s rapidly bleeding jaw, but it’s obvious he needs medical attention, badly. Triple jump moonsault is blown, Arabian facebuster is blown, and Sandman obviously gets the message because he finishes Sabu with a caneshot at 17:55 so Sabu can get the hell out of there. It was an okay bunch of spots, but Sabu’s injury just shot the ending all to hell. **1/2

– Ian Rotten v. Axl Rotten. This is the Tai Pei Death match, and I don’t feel like watching again, so here’s my commentary from the original show. Both guys have glass glued to their fists. Joey gives all sorts of warnings about the blood. They spar and Axl gets the first shot, drawing a trickle of blood. So Fonzie stops the match at 1:18. Best finish ever. The crowd explodes, but now the Gangstas and Public Enema are brawling in the entranceway, so Alphonso leaves to deal with that. Tod Gordon sneaks in, waits until Fonzie’s gone, and restarts the match himself. The usual gorefest follows. Ian does an admirable bladejob and adds a bag of thumbtacks to the ring, but gets backdropped and splashed on them for the pin at 9:12. Just business as usual. 1/2*

– Part Three: Classic Matches

– Super Crazy v. Yoshihiro Tajiri v. Jerry Lynn. This is from N2R 99, and once again I refer you to my original review. Steve Corino looks like he spilled a bottle of Javex on his head. And while I’m thinking of it, does anyone else feel like humming “One Step Beyond” after listening to this ring announcer? Tajiri kicks everyone and Crazy & Lynn form a temporary alliance to get him out of the ring. Tajiri gets both in the Tarantula in short order. Out of the ring for a trainwreck spot. They brawl into the crowd for no real good reason. It builds to Crazy hitting the moonsault off the entrance way. Back in the ring for a couple of three-way sequences. Jerry gets a cradle piledriver for two, but Tajiri saves and then decides to brainbuster Super Crazy for himself, eliminating him at 6:50. Crazy really had no point being in this match, since Tajiri and Lynn have the issue anyway. Tajiri puts Lynn in the Tree of Woe and dropkicks him, leading to a suplex exchange sequence. Lynn gets a tornado DDT for two. Tajiri finally hits the big bullseye on Lynn’s ribs with some kicks, but Lynn fights it off, hits the cradle piledriver, and gets the pin at 10:55. And I say so what? **1/4

– Dean Malenko v. Eddy Guerrero, 2/3 Falls. This is the last ECW match for both guys. Wrestling sequence to start. Eddy gets a pinning combo for two. Eddy reverses an armbar, reversed by Dean, but Eddy makes the ropes. Eddy hiptoss, Dean gets a monkey flip. Dean misses a dropkick, and Eddy takes him down and goes into a rear chinlock. Nice sequence. Flying wristlock from Eddy, but Dean no-sells. Eddy gets a sambo suplex and floatover suplex for two. Dean uses an indian deathlock variation into a bow-and-arrow, and gets two. He moves into the STF. Eddy escapes and takes over. Dean bails. Back in, Eddy gets a belly to belly for two. Enzuigiri gets two. Superplex gets two. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, but Malenko gets a backslide for two, but Eddy rolls him up for the first fall. Second fall, Eddy gets a german suplex for two. Dean works on the leg, however, and the Texas Cloverleaf gets the fast submission for the second fall. Eddy rolls out to recover between falls. Dean gets a brainbuster for two. They brawl outside briefly. Back in, Dean levels him with a forearm, and a tiger bomb gets two. They head to the corner, where Eddy gets a tornado DDT for two. Brainbuster sets up the frog splash, for two. Rana gets two. Sunset flip gets two. Dean blocks another tornado DDT. Exploding gutbuster gets two. Guerrero rollup gets two. Malenko rollup gets three but whose shoulders were down? Both, as it turns out, since the match is ruled a draw at 20:11. Lame. Not as good a match as the previous ones between them, either. ***1/2 They say their goodbyes after the match.

– Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Psychosis. This would be their ECW debut. Psychosis bails on an armdrag to start. Back in, he works a hammerlock. They do a wrestling sequence and Psychosis bails again. Back in, he drops an elbow. Powerbomb follows and he launches Rey facefirst to the mat. He presses Rey into the turnbuckle, and dropkicks him. Pancake and legdrop, and he hits an avalanche in the corner. Another try misses and Rey gets the rana rollup for two. Another rana and flying headscissors follows. They fight on the apron, and Rey alley-oops Psychosis into the post. Back in, Rey misses a blind charge. Psychosis goes up, guillotine legdrop gets two. Powerbomb gets two. Rey bails and Psychosis tries a tope suicida, but Rey holds up a chair to block it, prompting Joey to comment that he’s picking up the ECW style in record time. Back in, Psychosis gets a corkscrew senton for two. Blind charge puts Psychosis on the floor, and Rey follows with a plancha into the crowd. Back in, Rey gets a top rope rana for the (somewhat anticlimactic) pin. Match was mind-blowing at the time, but just pretty good given what we’ve seen since then. ***1/2

– Errata: Also on this DVD are some assorted promos from guys (most notably a hidden one from Brian Pillman, the famous “Smaaaart maaaark” one), including Steve Austin, Stevie Richards, the Pitbulls, and more. Nothing terribly exciting, but a nice touch. You access the Pillman one by going into the Special Features menu, highlighing “Main Menu”, and then hitting the left-arrow.

The Bottom Line: Well, the company’s dead, but they sure put out a kickass DVD before they went. The very definition of “something for everyone” with some awesome matches that are hard to find, some gorefests for the vampires, and some classic wrestling matches for us workrate elitists. Even the Axl v. Ian crapfest has the awesome Bill Alphonso angle to begin it.

Well worth your $20 here, no doubt. Highest recommendation