– You know, I just want to warn you right now that the match that took up 90% of the pre-game show (Awesome v. Tanaka from last week) is match of the night without a question, at ****1/2 by my count, and actually got me fairly pumped about this PPV outing, a condition which was sadly wasted by the end of the night. A scroll on the top of the screen announces that Sandman will NOT be wrestling tonight, which is as good an incentive to buy the show as any I’ve heard.
– Live from Birmingham, Alabama, America’s leading importer of the phonetically spelled cue card, next to Keanu Reeves’ agent.
– Your hosts are Joey & Cyrus. Gertner interrupts yet again and lets loose with three of the dick jokes he’s been saving up from TNN. One is pretty funny, the other two are so-so. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out which were which.
– Opening match: Mikey Whipwreck v. CW Anderson. Good thing Mikey got out of WCW, where those heartless bastards paid him to sit at home and play video games instead of jerking the curtain. Lou E. Dangerously (channelling the overacting ghost of Paul E.) handles the intros for his men. Mikey takes out both members of the illustrious Dangerous Alliance to start, but takes a nasty bump to the floor off a superkick. Anderson does his, well, Anderson imitation to work the arm. Mikey comes back with a legsweep and a flying clothesline for two. Whippersnapper looks to finish, but the ref is pulled out at two and shenanigans result. The end result is an ancient Dangerously-model cell phone to the head and a spinebuster for the CW Anderson pin at 4:40. Rather dreary and pointless little opener. *1/2
– Simon Diamond, Danny Doring & Roadkill v. Kid Cash, Nova & Jazz. There’s so many managers, seconds and part-time wrestlers hanging around it actually takes me a few minutes to figure out who’s actually wrestling here, but the above seems to be the best guess. Pretty unfocused time-killer that sees a big brawl coming out of nowhere involving Diamond (and his returning Dick Ã¢â‚¬â€œ did he ever leave?), Cash and Jazz on the outside. They all disappear into the ether, leaving Doring and Roadkill to beat on Nova at will. Some decent stuff, and then Chris Chetti returns to join Nova in a scene reminiscent of every opening match of 1998 in ECW. He manages to hold his own despite the neck injury, but eventually chooses the path that gets us all Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 69’ing with a hot valet at the worst possible moment Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and is easy prey for a Roadkill splash and pinfall loss at 9:58. Fairly decent match in places, but nearly unwatchable in others because it was disjointed. **
– Dream Partner match: The setup leaves me underwhelmed, Corino ends up choosing Crazy as Tajiri’s partner, thus confusing the crowd and defeating the basic purpose of the match: To settle the feud between the two of them. Little Guido ends up wanting a piece of the action, and so does Paul Heyman, who assigns Jerry Lynn to be his partner, as though it was a big deal or something. Face it, Paul, you blew it with Lynn. Put the TV title on him or give it up already. Anyway, the end result is
– Jerry Lynn & Little Guido v. Super Crazy & Tajiri. Lots of flip-flop sequences to start. Tajiri & Lynn do a sadly lacklustre little bit in there, too, which is weird considering they’ve wrestled each other a billion times over the past few months. Crazy pulls out the balcony moonsault he’s been doing lately, and they had back into the ring for the double enemy pummel (en espanol). Suddenly, a highspot convention breaks out, with representatives from all over the world. The match is turning into such a mess, becoming impossible to follow either the flow or the complex “swerve upon swerve” storyline Joey is desperately trying to get over here. They all hit their finishers, with the last one being the brainbuster on Lynn that Tajiri does for the pin at 12:36. This is NOT the way to elevate these guys. *** Corino’s old school posse beats up on Lynn afterwards, and even calls out Dusty Rhodes. Oh, lord, no. My fears are realized as the American Cow attacks everyone with the BIONIC ELBOW OF DEATH and it’s like 1985 all over again. Some things are better left dead. Rhino manages to take him down, and as if it couldn’t get worse, I now have a Rhino v. Elephant match to look forward to.
– There’s that crazy Dave Scherer on camera again. And people say I’m a media whore. Speaking of which, don’t forget my special guest appearance on The Edge on January 24th, a live radio show broadcast at www.liveonthenet.com. CRZ will also be doing the show, but AFTER me, of course. It’s the night after Royal Rumble, so you can be sure that I’ll have SOMETHING to complain about.
– New Jack v. Angel. It’s like paint-by-numbers, using blood. The same music, the same weapons (staple gun, vacuum cleaner, street signs), and the same big move (balcony dive through a table) leads to the Baldies attacking Jack three-on-one and a shovel shot to New Jack for the Angel pin at 8:47. Don’t ask me the point of the Baldies going over AGAIN. The heel-going-over syndrome has been bad enough tonight already, and it’s not like any of the Baldies have reps to protect or anything. Call it * for the usual New Jack stuff.
– ECW World TV title match: Rob Van Dam v. Sabu. Eh? This is one time I could justify putting the TV title over the World title. They exchange some chairshots outside the ring to start. Back in and Rob does some kicks and flips and stuff, and ends up getting sent over the top, taking an ultra-killer bump to the railing. Man, better count the teeth, Rob. They exchange some more wicked bumps, but it’s just a stunt exhibition. Sabu hits an absolutely insane bump onto Rob on a table, then back in for some dueling chairs. Ref gets bumped, which is an absurdity for ECW. A really, really bad-looking sequence erupts. Doesn’t really go anywhere, then Fonzie ends up taking the Van Daminator. This pisses Sabu off, but when he goes for the triple-jump moonsault, Van Dam uses the chair as a shield, stunning Sabu. Five star frog splash finishes it at 14:38. What a mess. *1/2 I think the cancelled Sandman match may have caused this to run long, messing them up.
– Tag title match: Raven & Tommy Dreamer v. The Impact Players. If I hear “do the right thing” one more time, I’m going to start boycotting Spike Lee movies. Brawl to the back right away, where the Players get tossed off the entrance way. Back in the ring, and Tommy (who is, I guess, the less-crippled of the champions) plays Ricky Morton. And blades. Heel miscommunication results in a missed superkick from Storm, and Raven gets the hot tag. He gets taken out quickly, and Storm & Credible wallop on Tommy in various violent ways, including using Raven’s drop toehold, except with the chair facing the wrong way, so that Dreamer catches the back of the seat. That didn’t look so good. A catfight breaks out (ECW law, you know) and Raven dives into the way of a Credible caneshot, saving Francine. This allows Credible to tombstone and pin Raven for the tag titles at 9:51, something that should have happened weeks ago. Bad match. Ã‚Â½*
– ECW World title match: Mike Awesome v. Spike Dudley. The suspense here is killing me. Spike sets up several tables at ringside, then promptly gets tossed through all of them by Awesome. It gets two. More carnage, much like Bigelow v. Spike from 97. Spike blows a plancha and looks to have hurt his knee. He keeps going, as Awesome no-sells a rana and continues the beating. Awesome then blows his own move, hitting the tope con hilo but slipping on a beer puddle and landing on his ass in the process. That’s the danger of going into the crowd like that all the time Ã¢â‚¬â€œ next time it might be your neck. Big spot for the match: Spike acid-drops Awesome from the apron through a table on the floor. Great, one guy does 14 variations of powerbomb and the other does 14 variations of the Diamond Cutter. He goes for, wait for it, the Acid Drop back in the ring, but gets tossed to the outside like last Friday. Back in, another table. PLEASE end this soon. Awesome soon obliges, powerbombing him from the top rope through that table and pinning him at 14:20 to retain. Thank god. * Chop 10 minutes off this and stick it well down the card and it would have worked. As a main event, though? To quote Spike’s role-model, I don’t THINK so.
The Bottom Line: This show has a legitimate chance of getting a higher buyrate than Souled Out, which scares me somewhat. The show itself was okay, with the usual good but pointless action in the undercard and table-breaking in the main events, but nothing earth-shattering here by any stretch of the imagination. Just another day at the office for Paul & Co. I’ve become pretty soundly apathetic towards ECW recently, and this is no different. I like the TNN show as a wrestling-based alternative, but the storylines are not doing it for me right now.
Thumbs in the middle, leaning up. Add the pre-game show Awesome-Tanaka match and it’s thumbs up.