The SmarK Retro Repost – Hardcore History (DVD)

The SmarK Rant for ECW Hardcore History DVD

– As requested by many a person, here’s the latest in the ex-company’s line of “Best Of” DVDs, which by the way was a total pain in the ass to find up here. As a note, I’ve seen a bunch of the stuff on here, so I’m gonna cut-and-paste whatever I’ve already done to save myself some time.

– Your host is Joey Styles

– Part 1: Title Matches

– ECW World tag title match: Sabu & Taz v. Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko. Big brawl to start, as everyone hits crazy highspots so fast that I can’t keep up. The Triple Threat control things until Sabu nails a seated dropkick on Malenko. Benoit takes over on Taz and they double-team him. Dean drops Sabu with a pair of brainbusters, which is cool because Benoit broke Sabu’s neck a few months prior to this and the fans all remember it. Taz hits an awesome series of suplexes, but gets stopped by Malenko. Taz & the challengers then go into an intricate series of suplexes and counters that ends with Taz dropping Benoit on his head and Dean clipping him from behind. The action is literally so fast and furious that I can’t transcribe it properly. Dean slaps on a legbreaker, and Benoit stands there and kicks him in the head to be a jerk. The champs bail to regroup, and 911 decides that Taz has had enough and carries him to the dressing room for medical attention. That leaves Sabu 2-on-1. He gets a double dropkick, sending Benoit & Malenko to opposite sides of the ring on the floor. Sabu hits a somersault plancha on Dean, then a crazy suicide dive and quebrada on Benoit. Both Benoit & Malenko regroup and Sabu hits both with a tope. He pops into the ring again, sets up a chair, and goes flying over the top onto them. See, now that’s the difference between Sabu in his prime and today: Back then he used to fire off a crazy series of highspots, with everything hitting, and everything leading to something else. Now, it’s just spot, walk around, spot, etc. He brings Malenko in and puts a table on the top rope and a chair on top of that, but Benoit pushes him off, then brings him to the top, powerbombs him off, and pins him to capture the ECW tag titles at 10:27. Literally non-stop action here. ***3/4 The Public Enema returns and 911 cleans house on everyone, and THAT would set up the Three-Way Dance, which I erroneously attributed to this show in the Double Tables recap.

– ECW World tag title match: The Gangstas v. The Elminators. This is a cage match from the “Natural Born Killaz” show. Brawl outside to start, as New Jack & Saturn fight into the crowd. Gangstas gain the upper hand, but Saturn comes off the top onto all three on the floor. Sadly, Kronus made sure to lead New Jack to his spot on the floor in order to catch Saturn. Kinda takes away from the effect. Into the ring, Mustafa suplexes Kronus while Saturn & New Jack hang off the side of the cage. In fact, Saturn hits New Jack in the nuts so hard that Jack flies UPWARDS and into the cage. That’s a pretty powerful nutshot. Saturn climbs to the top of the cage and clotheslines New Jack, and makes him taste the unforgiving cold steel mesh of the cage. Mustafa takes care of both Elims, and pretty quickly we have quadruple juice. ROB VAN DAM IS ON A RAMPAGE! Punch punch punch. Saturn gets a Falcon Arrow and heads up, splashing Mustafa. New Jack turns the tide with a garbage can. Usual weakass weapons get used. If you REALLY want to see someone utilize a garbage can for the fullest potential of violence, pick up the Godfather and watch Sonny go medieval on Carlo’s pathetic ass. Mustafa mixes things up by going with a fork and they continue hitting each other at random. Mustafa sets Kronus up with a backbreaker, and gets a pump splash for two. Back up again, but he meets a garbage can on the way down. Mustafa unleashes a nice dropkick on Saturn for two. That’s like Dusty Rhodes doing one. New Jack uses a keyboard, but Kronus gets it and decides to surf the net TO THE EXTREME! New Jack calls for a guitar from the weapons-providers, but one of them unmasks to reveal Shane Douglas, who pops New Jack with the guitar, giving Saturn two. That angle actually ended up going nowhere. Brawl drags on as Saturn goes up, but Douglas knocks him off indirectly, and Saturn crashes through the ringside table. Gangstas finish Kronus at 14:57 to retain. Just awful. ½*

– ECW World tag title match, double-dog collar: Raven & Stevie Richards v. The Pitbulls. Scott Keith completists will already know my feelings about this one, but for the rest of you, this is a fairly famous match that is an answer to a trivia question about myself I once posed in a previous rant. The stipulation here is that the Pitbulls have to split up should they lose. Stevie Richards is notably absent from the introductions, and Beulah explains that he has a “broken arm” and will not be participating tonight, so for the sake of fairness the match will be 2/3 falls. Pitbull 2 attacks and hangs Raven with the chain they’re connected with, while Pitbull 1 heads to the back. Vicious chairshot for Raven as #1 finds Stevie in the dressing room, and indeed he’s already a bloody mess. Raven brings a table in, piledrives Pitbull 2 THROUGH the table, and gets the pin at 2:07. Wild spot there. Raven & Stevie double-DDT #1 and get a two-count. Steviekick gets two. Raven and #2 bring another table in and it gets set up. Stevie gets superbombed through it for the pin at 4:17 to even things up. Okay, that was all just the warmup session for the REAL fun. Brawl into the crowd as Pitbull 1 KILLS Stevie, but gets chaired. Meanwhile, #2 and Raven head back in, where a third table gets involved and the ref gets bumped in the process. The Dudleyz run in to make it 4-on-2, and the heels pair off and superbomb both Pitbulls at once. However, since the law of heel-babyface relations says that a babyface having his own move done to him does not have to sell, they invoke it and pop right back up. DDTs for the heels, and the Dudleys get superbombed. Yet another table is set up for Raven, but he hits his head on the EDGE of the table and I’m shocked he’s still alive. That gets two, so he’s alive. They beat on Stevie, while Raven readies an ether-soaked rag to choke #2 out. That spot was intended as a rib on Jim Cornette’s booking. Raven puts him on two tables, legdrops him through the first one, and elbows him through the second one. This being only 1995, that’s devastating enough to require EMTs for Pitbull 2. In the ring, Stevie goes up and gets crotched, and #1 suplexes him through a table for two. Raven unhooks himself from the chain and makes the save. Francine & Beulah do the mandatory catfight, but Raven DDTs Francine to end that. Tommy Dreamer runs in to take Pitbull 2’s place and beats the hell out of Raven. DDT gets the pin at 14:41, but Joey’s not sure who actually gets the belts. Turns out to be a moot point, as Bill Alphonso comes in to overturn the decision since Dreamer isn’t legally in the match, and he was just being nice allowing it to go on under 2/3 falls rules anyway. And the pin on Raven doesn’t count, so he’s still never pinned him. Tod Gordon gets all indignant and comes in to argue with Fonzie, and Big Dick sneaks in to use the currently-banned chokeslam on Dreamer. Fonzie suddenly waffles and decides to un-ban the chokeslam so that he doesn’t have to suspend Big Dick, and with that 911 makes himself known. For those who didn’t follow this stuff back then, fans had basically been waiting since the day of Fonzie’s introduction as Evil Ref for 911 to chokeslam the shit out of him, but Fonzie countered by banning the move. So 911 comes out, gives Fonzie the BIGGEST CHOKESLAM EVER, holding him up there for like 10 seconds, and the place is just going apeshit. Pitbull #2 rejoins things, and they set up Raven for the superbomb, then put Stevie on HIS shoulders, superbomb both guys at once, and Tod Gordon personally counts the pin at 19:40 as the Pitbulls finally beat Raven & Richards to win the titles. Whereas normally overbooking is done too often in the wrong place, this was exactly the right amount of excess done in the right match, with the right finish. And given the total insanity of everything after the 5:00 mark and all the intricate storylines weaved into one 20:00 match, this became the one and only match in ECW history that I ever rated *****, so for those of you who still e-mail me asking about it, there you are. This match was also voted #1 in the DVDVR awards for the Best ECW match of the 90s, so many agree with me on it. Of course, many also disagree, most notably Dave Meltzer (albeit in a nice way). This is definitely a match you need the right context to fully “get”, but I’d recommend checking it out at least once to see what Paul is capable of with the right motivation and guys.

– Shane Douglas v. Pitbull #2. This was during the worked Gary Wolfe neck injury that took an ironic turn when he really DID injure himself a few days prior to the big blowoff match at Barely Legal. Douglas attacks Pitbull to start, but he no-sells. Shane goes low, but gets suplexed. Neckbreaker prompts a “Break his neck” chant. Nasty piledriver gets two. Pitbull goes to a facelock to work the neck, but Shane hammers him. Pitbull gets a DDT and keeps working the neck. The classy fans indicate that Francine should fluff Gary’s Garfield. Brawl outside, Pitbull uses the LEMON MERANGUE PIE OF DOOM, and a chair to subdue Douglas. Now, I’m no expert in the lethal arts, by any means, but given a choice between hitting a guy in the face with a pie and hitting him in the face with a chair, I’d think that the choice is clear 99.9% of the time. Douglas crotches him on the railing and pounds away. Pitbull ends up on a table in a series of twists and turns so devious and convoluted that David Mamet would take one look and go “Shit, that’s just way convoluted”, but luckily he escapes before Rebecca Pidgeon can be booked to play a major character. They slug it out and proceed to Cliched ECW Brawl #19349B as they head into the crowd for the usual. They head back in where Shane controls, but Pitbull dumps him and heads up but misses a dive to the floor. Shane uses the moment to go after Gary Wolfe, but Pitbull #2 saves. Shane gives him some yummy post sandwich for his troubles, and he blades. Dammit, someone needs to stop that RVD jerk! He’s potatoing people open and he’s not even in the match! Shane suplexes him back in for one. Elbow gets one. Brass knuckles get two. The BICYCLE CHAIN OF HIDEOUS DISMEMBERMENT gets two. Chair gets two. Piledriver on the chair gets two. Now, logic says that if hitting him with the chair didn’t work, piledriving him on it probably won’t either, since he’s obviously impervious to chairs in all their myriad forms. Pitbull starts no-selling, and press-slams Shane for two. Again for two. Pitbull apparently forgets his script and starts staggering around like a guy who’s forgotten the script, but then given all the drugs they were caught with in later years I wouldn’t be shocked if he had to write “left” and “right” on his socks in the morning, just in case. Shane finds ANOTHER chain from his endless supply and batters Pitbull with it. He pounds him in the corner, blocks a powerbomb, and finishes with a belly to belly suplex at 15:29. I already bitched about that finish in the Barely Legal rant, but suffice it to say surviving 10 foreign objects and then losing to a suplex is pretty damn stupid. Match was interesting thanks to the neck psychology early on, but it degenerated into the usual nonsense after about three minutes. *

– Part 2: Hardcore Matches.

– This section would be exclusive to the DVD. Lucky us.

– ECW World title match: The Sandman v. Cactus Jack. I could live without ever seeing this matchup again. Sandman stalls to start, then calmly canes Jack. Jack bails and Sandman pulls out a tope con hilo! Holy shit, it was a good one, too! Back in, more caning, but Jack gets a DDT. Jack’s turn with the cane follows. Sandman gets a chair to retain the advantage and more caning results. Sloppy DDT on the chair is followed by more caning. Slingshot legdrop gets two. Flying legdrop gets two as Woman brings more barbed wire for Sandman, in addition to the stuff wrapped around Cactus’ fist. Sandman wraps himself in it and avalanches Jack. Twice. Big fat flying barbed wire splash follows, and then Jack manages to dump Sandman in desperation. Cactus elbow follows. Back in, Jack does bad thing with the barbed wire, then legdrops Sandman off the top, underneath a chair. It gets two. Barbed wire punches get two. Woman gets involved, and the ref is bumped. Shane runs in and makes good on his promise by piledriving Sandman, then caning best friend Cactus Jack and putting Sandman on top for the pin. Some highspots make it worthwhile. ** Shane punks out Tod Gordon for good measure, so 911 saves and chokeslams him right into the Dean Douglas character.

– Stretcher match: Sabu v. Rob Van Dam. This is very early in RVD’s ECW career, and in fact he wasn’t even “RVD” yet, just plain old Rob Van Dam. The deal was that they had a match and Sabu was all “I respect you, dude” and Rob was all “Go to hell, dude” and they started a feud and stuff. Not exactly John Grisham, but consider the audience. Long feeling out process to start. Rob slugs away, but it goes nowhere. Sabu gets a slingshot leg lariat and headbutt, but Rob gets a double-underhook suplex and goes to the apron. Sabu dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a rather insane tope. Table gets set up, but Rob guillotines Sabu on the railing first. Sabu pounds him with a chair, and they head in and up. Sabu gets crotched and dropkicked to the floor. Rob guillotines him again and the Damage Control guys try to take him out on the stretcher, but he’s EXTREME and won’t go. Back in, Rob gives him a sidekick and powerbomb. Rob works the neck, legsweeps him, and gets the standing moonsault. They head up and Rob snaps Sabu’s neck on the top rope. Another chair is tossed in, and Rob gets suplexed onto the top rope by Sabu. Sabu gets his own guillotine and stomps Van Dam out of the ring. Rob tries to come back in with a springboard dropkick, but blows it badly and looks like a tool. Sabu goes up for the Arabian facebuster, and follows up with the Atomic version. Van Dam goes out on the stretcher, but recovers and returns. Sabu gives him a vicious lariat and triple-jump moonsault, and both guys are down. Air Sabu and Rob bails. Sabu puts him on the stretcher and hits a quebrada, messing up his knee in the process. Both guys get hauled away, but Sabu gets up and legdrops Rob off the stretcher. Back in the ring, Van Daminator and Rob moonsaults Sabu off the railing. Back in, Sabu tosses a chair at him and they head up, and he gets a sloppy rana off the top. Sabu charges, but Rob catches him with a fisherman’s suplex through the table on the floor. Ouch. They can’t stretcher Sabu out, however. Back in, they dropkick each other at the same time. Sabu gets a fisherman’s buster, but Van Dam hits him with a chair. Inelegant but effective counter. Of course, this was during Van Dam’s early years, so the chairshots look like Shane McMahon is throwing them. They head out again, and Sabu lands on the stretcher, but he was just faking because when Van Dam dives after him, Sabu moves and Rob lands tailbone-first on the stretcher, and he’s done at 23:24. WAY long spotfest, but Sabu was still capable of carrying RVD to a few good matches before injuries finally took their toll for good. ***

– Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Juventud Guerrera. This is from the Big-Ass Extreme Bash in 1996, and it’s Rey’s last ECW match before jumping to Atlanta. It’s also 2/3 falls. Rey with a surfboard, into the bridging deathlock. Juvy gets a northern lights suplex for two. Rey gets a rana for two. Pinfall reversal sequence ends with a two count for Juvy. Nick knucklelock gymnastic exhibition spot leads into a near-fall for Juvy, and Rey comes back with another rana for two. Rey dumps him and fakes a highspot, then follows with a quebrada. Back in, Rey goes up with a top rope powerbomb for two. They fight over a suplex, won by Juvy for two. Spinkick, springboard dropkick, and dragon suplex finish for Guerrera at 5:30. Second fall: Rey snaps off a rana for two. Juvy charges and splats on the apron, and Rana headscissors him to the floor. Rey vaults over the ref and gets a tope on Juvy, and they head back in. Powerbomb gets two for Rey. Lionsault gets two. Juvy snaps off a clothesline and kicks away, but gets dropkicked while trying a bodypress and Rey finishes with a Doctorbomb at 9:01. Third fall: Juvy takes a breather outside and then dropkicks Rey, and puts him on top for a dropkick to the floor. Baseball slide, and Rey is in the crowd. Juvy follows with a quebrada. Back in, springboard leg lariat gets two. Springboard legdrop misses, and Rey comes back. They head up and Juvy blocks a rana, but gets caught coming off into a powerbomb for two. Rey with a northern lights suplex, and a moonsault misses. Juvy gets a blockbuster suplex for two. Rey with the leg lariat and Juvy bails, but Rey slides out with a headscissors on him. Rey hits a tope and battle outside the arena, where Juvy powerbombs Rey on a CAR, and they head back in. To the top, where Rey reverses Splash Mountain into a rana for the pin at 16:00. Non-stop spots. ***1/2

– Tommy Dreamer v. Brian Lee. This is the scaffold match, with an ECW twist: There’s about 20 tables piled in the ring beneath the wobbly scaffold. Brawl outside and into the crowd, usual stuff follows. Over to ringside, where Tommy takes his contractually obligated groinal abuse. Lee powerslams him on the floor, but Tommy uses another pie (what is this, a theme?) and they head for the scaffold. IN the air, Dreamer DDTs Lee on the scaffold, but can’t get him off. Er, perhaps I should rephrase that as “PUSH him off”. Dreamer blocks a chokeslam, as does Lee. Dreamer gets crotched again, and they slug it out until Tommy is able to hit him enough times to send him crashing off at 8:46. Bleh, it’s a scaffold match. *

– DVD Extras: Steve Austin’s “violent crap” promo, detailing his plan to regroup and conquer ECW, two weeks before he signed with the WWF for good. Plus, Brian Pillman attacking a giant pencil. Plus, Shane Douglas and Brian Pillman having a verbal confrontation at a show in New York. Plus, an Easter Egg: Go to Title 3, and you’ll find a blooper reel as Shane cuts a promo using what he THINKS is an empty can of spraypaint. Funny stuff results.

– Extreme Moments: JT Smith does his famous tope con hilo attempt, but catches his knees on the top rope and lands face-first on the concrete. As sick as it sounds. Plus, New Jack does a balcony dive, and Tyler Fullington turns on his dad.

The Bottom Line: Another fine outing from the remnants of ECW, with more “Something for everyone” offerings and fun memories of Austin & Pillman in the extras section. You probably won’t like everything, but you’ll definitely like SOMETHING, and the improved video quality is enough to justify a purchase of at least the videocassette version.

Recommended.