The SmarK Retro Repost – Heat Wave 1998

– Live from Dayton, Ohio.

– Your hosts are Jo-Jo and Shane Douglas.

– Opening match: Justin Credible v. Jerry Lynn. This was a better choice for an opener than, say, every other ECW PPV, but Justin Credible is not even close to any of the WCW cruiserweights, and that’s the problem with ECW in general. They make the WWF look talent-rich. And the usual bullshit with the entire entourage interfering didn’t help. Still, Lynn carries him to a good-ish opener and the tombstone off the second rope was sweet. **3/4 Watching it live it was a hot opener, dubbing a copy later at home it dragged and exposed Justin for the over-hyped mess that he is. But at least the brawling was minimal.

– Chris Candido v. Lance Storm. This I liked both times. Solid match, with good spots and psychology. I hope both guys jump to the big leagues because the WWF can use them. Especially as a team. Live it was a solid crowd-pleasing match and on tape later it remained a good watch although it was easier to pick out the glaring flaws. Candido with the superbomb and then Sunny falls out. ***

– Mike Awesome v. Masato Tanaka. SOMEONE SIGN THIS MOTHERFUCKER RIGHT NOW!!! Match of the night, no question. The wrestling could have been better but as a bumpfest it was unmatchable. Now *this* is effort. If all the guys in ECW that people claim “try hard” tried as hard as this it would be 10x better. Tanaka powerbombs Awesome, through a table, on the outside, then finishes him with a tornado DDT on two chairs. ***3/4

– Sabu & Rob Van Dam v. Hakushi & Hayabusa. Hey, now I see why these guys finished with the big goose-egg in the AJ tournament. Hakushi does his usual stupid spots (that backflip kick looks good, but *come on*, how showy can you get?) and Hayabusa tries hard but dear lord can Sabu and Van Dam work a normal match anymore? They try some, you know, wrestling for a few minutes and it’s not clicking at all so suddenly a Sabu match breaks out! Spot…setup…spot…setup…ugh. They blew a lot of them, too. And how contrived is the “two guys through the same table” spot? This match dragged way too long live, and was even harder to sit through while taping afterwards. * for the spots.

– Taz v. Bam Bam Bigelow. I’m sorry, but I completely stopped caring about Taz after he turned face at Barely Legal. The Goldberg-like character just does not interest me. And they didn’t even *try* to wrestle this time. I thought “Okay, there shouldn’t be a goofy ring-breaking spot to work around this time, let’s see some wrestling”. But instead it instantly turned into an ECW brawl, which usually involves a tour of the arena. Then back to the ring, for some token wrestling, and then out to the ramp, for ANOTHER “through the prop” spot. Taz, of course, is unharmed and chokes out Bammer to retain whatever the f*ck that belt is supposed to be. DUD

– The Dudleys v. Sandman/Tommy Dreamer/Spike Dudley. I kind of like one guy in this match — D-Von — and the rest can fall off a cliff for all I care. Joel’s 20 minute long intro is funny, but what a waste of time. The previous match ended at the top of the hour, and this one didn’t even get started until half-past! They try some wrestling to start but then Sandman gets in and the usual Dudley brawl erupts, but without NuJack to provide the charmingly warped chaos that usually makes them bearable. And usually when someone gets lifted from the show in ECW, it’s a sure bet they’ll run in at the end. Finally, after Tommy gets the pin with the DDT, NuJack runs in with the weapons, they do some token shots, end of show. *1/2

The Bottom Line:

How can anyone seriously compare this show with anything the Big Two have done this year? WCW generally has at least three *** matches alone on the undercard, and that’s if they’re having a bad day. It was a good show for the first half, then went plummeting downhill.

Caveat: I liked it “live” (on the big screen) for the most part. I got into it a lot, but the half half really, really ruined my enjoyment because I kept waiting for the big spots instead of enjoying the show. I dislike being manipulated like that, especially when I can watch it later in a more objective (and less alcohol influenced) frame of mind and be as disappointed as I was.

Thumbs up on the ECW sliding scale that you have to apply given their horrible efforts since Barely Legal, thumbs down if you compare it to a real PPV.