– Live from Asbury Park, New Jersey
– Your host is Joey Styles.
– I’ve got about 8 months of ECW TV sitting in my closet that I have yet to watch, so I’m not really up on the storylines and such leading up to this show, aside from the basics that I read on the ‘net. So I’m basically going into this one blind.
– Opening match: The FBI v. Jerry Lynn & Chris Chetti. The arena tonight looks like a WCW one from around 1991, complete with rampway. This match is as cookie-cutter an opener as they come, with Chetti doing most of the work and looking solid, but not great, in the process. Tommy Rich tries to hit Lynn with the flag, but of course he ducks and Smothers gets decked, Lynn gets the win. **
– W*ING Kanemura / Masato Tanaka video package. Ah, no better way to win me over than to import guys from my least favorite promotion in the whole world.
– W*ING Kanumura v. Masato Tanaka…no wait, here comes Lance Wright with Doug Furnas. Lance, who is possibly the worst interview in ECW, spews more “I’m a WWF employee” nonsense very unconvincingly (you wish you Joel Gertner, buddy) and then announces that it’s Doug Furnas against Tanaka instead. I don’t like the looks of this. Phil LaFon is the talented one of the team.
– Doug Furnas v. Masato Tanaka. Starts out good enough, then suddenly Tanaka puts a figure-four on Furnas and it just dies. Tanaka f*cks up a swinging DDT, then they misfire on another series of spots. Ug-ly. Furnas goes for the pin after a rana, but Wright keeps telling him to get off. Why? Who knows. Tanaka messes something else up, then pins Furnas with a very weak spinning elbow thing. Not much to praise here. 1/4* Lance drops a bunch of WWF booking names in yet another amateur-night sounding interview and then gets clobbered by Furnas. I don’t find Wright annoying, I find him tiresome. That’s a Bad Thing for a heel. And does anyone really buy into this “ECW v. WWF” thing anymore?
– Joey informs us that “the censors” have decided that Sabu v. Sandman from earlier in the night is too graphic and cannot be shown. Damn, I always hate to miss a good, scientific Sandman match. Jason and Nicole Bass (eewwwww!) storm in and demand an exciting tape of Tommy Dreamer (and his dog) coming to the arena alone be shown. Wow, that’s, uh…whatever.
– Rob Van Dam v. 2 Cold Scorpio. Mat wrestling to start, which Robbie sucks at. Crowd is quickly getting restless. They do a “dueling bridges” sequence which gets them nowhere. Looks nice, though. Finally, with wrestling not working, they just go fight outside the ring. *Sigh* Weak brawling. Fans chant “This match sucks” as they get into the ring again and I’m inclined to agree. I love Van Dam to death, but I’m sick of him having to flip or roll or twist before every simple move he does. A Scorp powerbomb (Sweet!) gets the crowd going again. Beautiful moonsault by Scorpio. Now it’s into Sabu-mode, as they go spot-rest-spot in a one-upmanship contest. This match is just dragging on way too long for the position on the card. Have I mentioned how stupid the Van Daminator is? “Hey, some guy just threw me a chair…what should I do with it? Hmm, I think I’ll hold it up by my face and use it as a shield…D’OH!” Ref bump, (AAARRRGH!) and Sabu runs in and Arabian face-busts 2CS, and the ref wakes up to count…2. Some more stuff, and Van Dam with a reverse rollup for 3. Joey sells this match as the second coming of Flair-Steamboat, but it was only **1/2 tops. They shake hands, and Scorpio turns on him in a show of sportsmanship. So Sabu comes back (with a table) and they prepare to do all sorts of nasty things to Scorpio. But Sandman makes the save, trying a rana off the top rope on Sabu, only to mess it up. Dear lord, why must I endure this pain? Scorp kisses butt with the fans, and Sandman offers him a beer as a peace offering, and they dance. This probably would have affected me more if it had been a better match, but it was still moderately fun, if overbooked.
– GERTNER! YES! YES! YES! Hasn’t that neck injury healed yet? “The man that took such liberties with YOUR mother…”, “More tongue-in-cheek than a lesbian orgy” and the D-Von intro stand out as always, putting me in an immensely good mood. D-Von is *not* 169 pounds, by the way. 🙂
– The Dudley Boys v. Ballz Mahoney & Axl Rotten v. Spike Dudley & NuJack. I can’t stand 4 of the 6 participants in this thing, so that might influence my opinion a bit. As usual, NuJack misses his flight and his entrance is delayed a few minutes, as the other two teams do some mindless brawling to stall for time. Then, as it looks like there’ll be NO WAY for Axl and Ballz to recover…HIT THE MUSIC! I always mark out a bit for that. It turns into an even bigger weapons-filled clusterf*ck, with the usual brain-dead garbage wrestling and blood. I guess you gotta keep the mutants happy, but this was essentially the same as the match at N2R. Absolutely INSANE spot, though, as NuJack and Spike do a double-dive off the balcony to the Dudleys below, who are lying on tables. That only puts them out for a couple of minutes, of course. Someone is gonna die one of these days, I swear. Back in the ring (what a crazy notion), Spike DDT’s Ballz through the table, but only gets two. So the Dudleys give him the 3D to eliminate him themselves. Uh, why would Buh Buh bother breaking up the pin if they were just going to finish him off themselves? NuJack somehow finds more weapons, and pins a Dudley for the win. I seriously have to question why Paul E. thought a guitar shot would make for a better finish than two guys jumping twenty feet off a balcony, but then I’m not the booker. Pretty pointless as garbage wrestling goes. *1/2
– Jenna Jameson (YEEEEEEEEOOOOWWWW!) brings out Justin Montoya and his gang of idiots, but he blows her off so she brings out Tommy Dreamer for…
– Tommy Dreamer v. Justin Credible. Yeah, PJ, you *wish* you were Sean Waltman, buddy. It’s just not a Tommy Dreamer match unless he gets crotched on the steel railing. Just more mindless brawling, which is what ECW always falls back on if the wrestling is boring their fickle fans. Justin’s (albeit limited) talents are wasted here with Tommy, who I am now convinced is to blame for the state Scott Levy is in today. Tommy can carry anyone to a bad match. Justin hits the corkscrew piledriver, but Beulah, who was apparently teased to be switching sides, comes out and kills that one by crotching Credible, and then the “playing darts with a machine gun” approach takes over, as everyone involved in the angle (Mikey, Tommy, Beulah v. Jason, Justin and Nicole) runs in at some point and beat each other up in hopes of confusing the fans so badly that they won’t realize what utter crap they’re watching. In the chaos, Tommy hits a DDT and gets the pin. DUD, bordering on negative stars for having to see Nicole’s breast, albeit briefly.
– World TV Title match: Taz v. Bam Bam Bigelow. Some submission stuff to start, and a SWANK powerbomb by BBB. Power v. Power when they’re actually in the ring. Taz needs someone like Bigelow to work with. Out into the crowd again (ugh), and Taz suplexes Bigelow off the ramp, onto the steel guardrail, nearly splitting both their heads open. I wish they’d quit with that shit. Back in the ring, and Bigelow does his shitty moonsault. You’d think that if Vader could learn a proper one, so could Bam Bam. And was a table really necessary here? Bigelow drags one in and then takes his sweet time setting it up. The spot looked okay, but so what? Back outside the ring, and now they’re just kind of stalling for time, wandering around and resting. It looked kinda weird. Back in the ring again, and Taz gets the Katihajime on Bigelow, who falls back and they go THROUGH THE RING. Oy, vey. Subtlety in booking seems to be lost on Paul E these days. Bigelow pulls Taz out of the wreckage and pins him to win the title. ** The match was ruined because they built it around waiting for the Big Spot, which wasn’t that great an idea to begin with. I wish Paul would just take a f*cking valium and let his guys do their thing without all the “revolutionary” ideas he seems to feel the need to toss in there.
– Paul comes on camera and freaks out on Joey, demanding they show the Sabu-Sandman match while the ring is being repaired.
– Sabu v. The Sandman. Sandman beats on Sabu to start, but suddenly…Sabu runs in? Oh, the first one is Rob Van Dam in a *really* good costume. Neat. Usual crap from then on in, and it’s all Sabu. Spot-rest-rest-rest-spot. At least the spots hit this time. More stuff involving tables (what happened to “dueling canes” or whatever ridiculous stip was attached to this thing?) and then Sabu gets an assist from Robbie V again, who’s still in costume. They destroy Sandman some more and Jeff Jones comes into the act, counting the pin on Sandman for no reason other than to draw more heat. More boring than “hardcore”, I’d say. * There wasn’t even any blood. At least it was shorter than The Other Match.
– Joey rants about the censors or something.
– The crowd seems inordinantly happy to have Head.
– Main Event: Chris Candido & Shane Douglas v. Lance Storm & ???. The Heads in the crowd kinda give this one away. Lance brings out…Sunny. Okay. Storm takes on both of the Triple Threat, doing quite well for about a minute, then tags in Sunny and The Storyline of Doom takes over completely. Sunny quickly turns on Lance and makes up with her hubby-to-be. The Threat beats on Storm, asking him what the mystery is and what he’ll give them. Storm says “I’m gonna give you Head!” and Al Snow comes out to weird-ass video distortion, flipped camera angles and blacklight. This gets old FAST, but remains for the entire match. Snow quickly cleans house, pins Douglas with a Snowplow, and the arena celebrates. Um, that’s it? That’s the main event? There was all of two minutes of wrestling there. DUD. Very underwhelming.
The Bottom Line:
Very low quality of wrestling on this show, which Paul E tried to compensate for by throwing everything but the kitchen sink into every match. It just becomes mind-numbingly dull after a while as he books like Dusty Rhodes on speed. Again, Paul, if you’re reading this, RELAX, DUDE. Barely Legal worked because your guys went out and did their thing and the angle followed, if need be. This was made okay by sheer force of willpower, I think, but it’s nothing I’d care to watch any more than once. Hardcore Heaven was bad, but memorable in it’s own sick way. The last two ECW shows have just been, well, there. That’s not much of an “alternative”, especially with the WWF putting on a show like Wrestlemania, which did what ECW usually does — a mix of sideshow, brawling and straight wrestling.
But I did enjoy this more than the last two ECW PPVs, so thumbs up on the “ECW scale” because I still don’t feel it’s fair to compare them to the Big Two yet.