The SmarK Retro Repost – Hardcore Heaven 1997


A brief reminder that my re-tooled webpage, now under the TheSmarks banner, is up and running at, with reader recaps of RAW, Nitro and every other major wrestling TV show under the sun. Who knows, maybe I’ll produce the next CRZ. Now there’s a scary thought.

– Speaking of scary thoughts, the annual spectacular from ECW is coming up, so I thought it was my place to remind everyone about the heritage of this glorious pay per view tradition. Heh heh.

– Live from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The arena only looks *slightly* bigger than my living room, it should be noted.

– Your host is Jo-Jo. His opening spiel is interrupted by Rick Rude, who had jumped to the WWF the week before. He brings out Chris Candido. Here’s an astonishing bit of trivia: Candido is not only wrestling the same match this year at Hardcore Heaven, but he has roughly the same amount of heat, credibility and chance to win. Tod “The Mole” Gordon comes out to banish Rude from ringside, and we hit the opening credits.

– Opening match, ECW TV title: Taz v. Chris Candido. For those nto aware, the lighting is horrible and the sound is almost as bad, making it almost impossible to hear the entrance music. Taz is wicked over. Candido bitch-slaps Taz to get him going. Candido bounces around for a bit until Taz counters a leapfrog by kicking him in the nuts. Well, that’s one way to do it. The ring is REALLY LOUD TONIGHT. They do some wrestling sequences and then it suddenly dies, as neither guy seems to know what to do. Candido hits a messed up enzuigiri and Joey sells it as working on the neck. Candido controls for a bit before getting backdropped to the floor. They brawl outside for a bit. Joey notes that Candido’s top rope powerbomb is named for someone special in his life. It’s called the Crack Whore? Back in the ring for a top rope rana and a diving headbutt for two. Powerbomb for two. Candido sets Taz up for the Blond Bombshell but Taz reverses to a belly-to-belly off the top and we do the double KO bit. Taz runs through his usual array of suplexes to make the comeback. Candido hits a quick powerslam but makes the mistake of turning his back, allowing Taz to slap on the Tazmission for the win. Good enough opener. **1/2 I’ll even skip the midget wrestling jokes.

– Earlier tonight, the Insane Clown Posse get the crap kicked out of them by RVD and Sabu.

– Bam Bam Bigelow v. Spike Dudley. Talk about a drawn-out storyline: This is the rematch from the match that started the whole Giant Killer thing in the first place, where Spike got a fluke pin on the Bammer. To quote Dusty Rhodes: There will be no comeback. Bammer absolutely murders Spike. Spike gets two or three token offensive moves in, then BBB catches him on a rana and gives him the biggest powerbomb I’ve ever seen. Bigelow tosses him out of the ring, and Spike hits the post on the way down and does a Mexico-worthy five-alarm bladejob, literally bleeding all over the ring. Then we do the stage diving thing, as Bigelow tosses him into the crowd. He gets dragged back in, piledriven and then moonsaulted for the merciful pin. Nothing match. * I really wish Bam Bam would learn the proper way to do a moonsault.

– Earlier tonight, but not as early as before, the Sandman gets the crap kicked out of him by RVD and Sabu.

– Rob Van Dam v. Al “Motherf*ckin'” Snow. He’s not Leif Cassidy, he’s Al Snow. Even if he’s still dressing like Leif. Needless to say, this was pre-Head, pre-cred and pre-JOB Squad for Mr. Snow. Snow does a nice job of keeping RVD in check for the first little while, hitting an Ocean Cyclone suplex and a plancha, then taking a run from the entrance all the way to the ring, where he hits Rob with a clothesline. They fight back in and out of the ring again, where Rob hits a moonsault off the barrier, hitting his leg on the way down. Ouch. Nice tope con hilo to follow. No Blitzkrieg, but nice. Back in and Snow fights for a good superplex for a two count. Snow goes for another one but Van Dam counters with a missile dropkick and that STUPID standing moonsault for two. Five-star Frog Splash gets two. Snow counters the powerbomb and makes the comeback. He hits his own standing moonsault, followed by the Snow Plow for two. RVD goes for his flippity-floppity moves, which Snow simply sidesteps, and then dropkicks Rob out of the ring. Snow follows with a plancha and batters him with a chair. He goes for the rampway clothesline again, but Rob blocks with the chair. RVD crotches Al on the railing, then hits the Van Daminator with help from Fonzie. Back in the ring and it get two. Hey, Rob, if you’re going to lay back on a pin attempt, BRIDGE! Double KO follows. Van Daminator gets three. You all know how I feel about *that* finisher, I assume. Snow carried RVD to a good match, at any rate. ***1/4

– Lance Wright is flying around in the Extreme Chopper, chasing after Sandman.

– Jerry Lawler cuts a promo for later tonight.

– USWA v. ECW: PG-13 v. The Dudleys. Gertner is still working the kinks out of the intro as this point. He doesn’t even hit the “JAAAAAAAAAAAACKED” right yet. The Gangstaz are officially stripped of the titles and awarded to the Dudleys at this point. You may know PG-13 as “The white guys in the Nation of Domination”. JC Ice does some Old School Memphis Heel Schtick that would make Scott Steiner proud. “You’re so fat, if I told you to haul ass you’d have to make two trips”. I wonder if Scott is watching? Sadly, we have to actually go through with the match. JC Ice slides out and kisses Jenna, and she acts like it’s the worst thing she’s had in her mouth. Man, he must have some REALLY disgusting breath, then. Defining moment of the match: USWA mainstays PG-13 hit a double-team tope and fans chant “ECW”. Match is a total mess, which the Dudleys finish with the 3D. Next. *1/2

– Lance Wright is still in the Extreme Chopper, and is still following the Sandman as he hijacks an ambulance. Totally insipid segment.

– Jerry Lawler cuts a LOOOOOOOOONG promo, running down ECW and hyping “Ground Zero”. The only time I can remember when a PPV promo turns into a heel segment.

– Jerry Lawler v. Tommy Dreamer. Jerry, the old brawler that he is, blades about 10 seconds into this. Dreamer proceeds to beat on Lawler from one side of the arena to the other, using plunder given to him by audience members. Lawler waits it out until they get back to the ring, where a low blow and a chair turns the tide. Hulk Hogan take note: Lawler demonstrates the PROPER way to whip someone with a belt here. Interesting tidbit: As Lawler turns the match into an old-style brawl, the fans revert from smarks to marks, simply chanting for Dreamer rather than making up smart-ass ones. In the supreme Memphis cheap heat moment, Lawler rips off the ECW shirt Tommy is wearing, then wipes his ass with it. It also provides us with the ever-disgusting shirtless Tommy Dreamer. Eeeewww. Dreamer makes the comeback, but Lawler hits him low. And again. And again. And again. Man, that’s a little excessive. But appreciated. Ref gets bumped (AAAARRRGH!). CUE THE OVERBOOKING! Dreamer tries to post Lawler, and the lights go out. When they come up, Rick Rude is there with a garbage can, which he nails Dreamer with. It gets two. Dreamer goes for a piledriver, and the lights go out again. When they come up, Jake Roberts is there to clothesline and DDT Dreamer. He gives Lawler a short-arm clothesline for good measure. Lawler rolls on top for two. They do more stuff, and Dreamer goes for the DDT, and the lights go out one last time. This time, they produce Tammy the Crack Whore, who hairsprays Tommy in the eyes, prompting a catfight with Beulah. Jerry goes after her, prompting Tommy to hit Jerry in the nuts several times and pin him after a DDT. Total crap. I know it was given rave reviews at the time, but it absolutely does not hold up today. **

– The exciting Sandman saga continues as he canes some people. The really sad part is that this built to Sabu v. Sandman at November to Remember, which was of course THE WORST MATCH IN WRESTLING HISTORY.

– ECW World title: Sabu v. Terry Funk v. Shane Douglas. Funk decides to let Sabu and Douglas beat on each other for a while. They all brawl outside the ring for a bit, then Shane and Sabu mutually decide to go after the old guy. That works rather well for a few minutes, as they double-team Funk. Joey plays up Funk’s imminent “retirement”, even though Funk would of course come out of retirement to temporarily win the WWF tag team titles and would then come out of retirement AGAIN earlier this year. Sabu turns on Shane and pulls out a chair-assisted plancha into the crowd. He goes after Funk, but Funk and Shane double-team Sabu and drop him on a pair of chairs for two. Douglas goes after Funk’s knee, which Funk promptly forgets about. Shane tosses a piece of guard rail into the ring, which promptly becomes Contrived Foreign Object of Doom. Then, of course, they work in the TRIPLE SLEEPER OF DEATH. I really, really, really, really so hate that spot. Sabu goes on the offensive with a bunch of triple-jump moonsaults. And a table. Sabu is so useless when forced to go on offense. Big-time contrived spot as Sabu goes to the top rope, and through a wacky set of circumstances, ends up putting both Tod Gordon and Fonzie through the table. It’s crap like that which exposes the business. Sabu gets a ladder, further dragging the match down. It’s just so out of place. Sandman finally makes his entrance, destroys Sabu with the ladder, and gets dragged out as Funk and Shane combine to pin Sabu. Good riddance. Shane and Funk brawl outside the ring and Funk hits himself with a garbage can like an idiot. Retire, Terry. I know I’ve said it before, but please, really. They slug it out in the ring with the whole lockerroom watching. Shane ducks under a chop and hits the BELLY-TO-BELLY OF EXTREME DISCOMFORT for two. Now Dory Funk Jr. hits the ring to nail Shane with some forearms. Shane tries a belly to belly onto a table on the floor, but they both end up going through it in an ugly spot. Shane gets another belly to belly for two. Another one gets two. Funk small packages Shane for two. Shane hits one more belly to belly for the pin. Way anticlimactic ending. Shane regains the title for the second time. Started really good and turned into a ridiculous mess. **1/2

– Shane beats on Terry some more, and then Joel and the Dudleys help out and offer Shane a spot in the Dudleys. Shane refuses and a big brawl erupts. Dudleys clear the ring, but the Gangstanators make their big appearance and take care of business. Must of had some time to kill.

The Bottom Line: Surprisingly, it didn’t suck as much as I remembered it sucking the first time I watched it. The energy was pretty much there, but the card was so eggreciously bad in booking and setup that it would have taken a Herculean effort to overcome it in the first place.

Mild recommendation to avoid, but it’s actually not the worst show ECW would put out.