The SmarK Retro Repost – November To Remember 1997


– Your host is Joey Styles, of course.

– Opening match: Chris Candido v. Tommy Rogers. Rogers looks old, there’s just no other way to say it. Joey rattles off a few Sunny jokes. I guess the relationship is out into the open now. Pretty boring match and the crowd is not into it at all. Candido would appear to be the one the fans hate the least and thus the face by default. I always liked the Fantastics, but no way in hell is Tommy “one of the top light heavyweights in the world” as claimed by Joey. The sound and lighting of the show are at least better than Hardcore Heaven, but the match sucks. Rogers is just dogging it here. Some good stuff, but the space in between is just too long. Suddenly, Lance Storm runs in for no good reason and starts beating on Rogers. Jerry Lynn then runs in, and we have an impromptu tag match with Lynn & Rogers v. Candido & Storm. Lynn spices things up a bit, but still can’t boost it over the “okay” mark. Lynn & Rogers do some good double-team stuff, but Candido ends up hitting a Northern Lights suplex for the winning pin. It was somewhat watchable, but not what you want to start a major PPV with. **1/2

– Justin Credible v. Mikey Whipwreck. I just don’t get the big push for Aldo Credible. The guy is not that great. Case in point, this match. All he does here is move, taunt, move, taunt, etc. Again, some good stuff, but it’s too slow and there’s too much heel schtick from Justin to make it worthwhile. You’re not Syxx, man, get over it. Mikey’s ever-increasing beer gut and “ECW old-timer” laziness don’t help matters. Jason ends up getting involved and it inevitably backfires as Mikey nails the Whippersnapper for the win. Nothing incredible at all. **

– Al Snow gives an unbelievably funny interview with The Head. “I didn’t screw The Head, The Head screwed the Head!” Really funny stuff.

– Taz v. Pitbull #2 (ECW TV Title). This is not looking good. We’re into the title matches now and there’s nothing in sight that has hope of elevating this card past average. Paul E. does some commentary for this one, which is not much because it’s a short match. Taz sets a personal record by selling THREE MOVES in succession from Pitbull #2 before deciding that it’s enough and putting him in the Katahajime for the tap-out. Lasted two minutes, if that. Taz calls out Bracchus, then insults the security guy and beats him up as Paul E worries about lawsuits. Nothing match to fill time, I guess. *1/2

– They waste more time by showing the Spike Dudley bodysurfing match with Bam Bam for the millionth time.

– FBI v. Dudleys v. Ballz/Axl v. NuJack/Kronus (ECW tag titles). We miss the entrance of the champs due to the footage, but not the Dudleys, thank god. Joel Gertner saves the show with his usual brilliant schtick (“The man who last night impregnated YOUR mother…”) before the match unfortunately has to start. The Gangstanators of course don’t show up until later, which means the first few minutes are the three teams kind of wandering around aimlessly waiting for them to show up. Finally, the heels get the advantage decisively enough for “Natural Born Killaz” to blast over the PA system. NuJack and Kronus bring the garbage can full of goodies and clean house. The cheese grater makes it’s debut on PPV. Foreheads erupt like an Oxy convention. Then in a stupid booking move, everything moves outside while the Gangstanators beat up on Big Dick and Tommy Rich, in that order, in the ring. Then, mid-beating, Buh-Buh comes in and nails a Bubba Cutter off the top rope out of nowhere, eliminating Kronus. And the crowd just goes DEAD. Paul E must be on crack, I swear. Then the Dudleys and Axl/Ballz fight a bit in the ring before we do a dumb miscommunication bit with the Dudleys, powder and a 3D that hits the wrong person. You fill in the blanks, bottom line is that the Dudleys are now gone, and now NO ONE cares about the match. Finally, to finish off the Match O’ Goofy Booking, we get the Jeff Jones – Evil Referee routine to finish it off as the FBI retains. Ugly, ugly stuff that could have SO much better if they’d just had the Gangstanators and the Dudleys by themselves. This match was just overbooking, pure and simple, as Paul E tries to be too cute for his own good and ends up screwing it up. **

– Tommy Dreamer v. Rob Van Dam. This is about the 5000th meeting this year for these two, so needless to say I’ve seen it before. They actually wrestle for more than usual before going outside for the normal crap one associates with Tommy. Same old crotch shots done at half speed, and once the chair gets into the ring it really goes down the crapper. Joey says Tommy is badly injured and it shows. They do all the usual spots, but slower. Finally, it at least gets interesting as Pee-Wee gets bopped and all hell breaks loose. Referees are fighting with each other, chairs are flying, much better. Tommy figures out a counter for the Vandaminator: HIT HIM WITH THE DAMN CHAIR! Sheesh, why did it take a year for someone to figure that bit of rocket science out. I mean, he HANDS you a f*cking chair, HIT HIM WITH IT! Okay, so Jeff Jones is in again and the other refs deck him and soon everyone gets nailed by Fonzie so the only non-wrestler left standing is Beulah so she becomes de facto ref, I guess. Nice spot as Robbie bounces (literally) four feet in the air after a piledriver. That’s how you sell it. :) Now Doug Furnas and Phil LaFon hit the ring and cream Tommy, then Stevie Richards appears out of nowhere, which at least wakes up the crowd, and clocks Tommy, and everyone beats on him before Rob “pins” him. I guess Stevie is as good a ref as anyone at this point. Sabu meanders in and adds to the carnage, including taking out Beulah. Again, way overbooked due to the fact that I don’t think Paul E could figure out a straight ending for the match. *** at any rate for the chaos at the end, mainly.

– Sabu v. Sandman. Now, this kind of segues from the last match, as Sandman presumably comes down to make the save, but it sort of reduces the effectiveness when he strolls down casually and does his whole entrance routine. Tommy could be DEAD right now for god’s sake. I guess the heels were too captivated to bother beating him up anymore.

This match was so bad. I mean, you know how they say “Words can’t describe how bad it was?” Well, they can. Terrible, awful, horrible, unwatchable, boring, repetitive, amateurish, pointless drivel. How’s that? I think Sandman flips upside-down after a whip because landing on his head softens the blow. It takes 10 minutes before they actually manage to hit a spot correctly. And I don’t mean fancy table/ladder spots, I mean there was NO wrestling in between. They just kind of punched and kicked in between setting up (and missing) ridiculous spots, one after another. Once they get back into the ring, the ring attendants helpfully set new tables back up. Did I mention that the tables were blatantly pre-scored and even broke BEFORE the big move on two occasions? The crowd is utterly dead. Sabu blows the big spot of the match, which was supposed to be riding a ladder down on top of Sandman, who was lying on a table on the floor. Both guys managed to f*ck up their end of it. Amazing. They just started audibly calling spots in the middle out of frustration, I think. If in doubt, hit him with the ladder. That’s what this was. They spend 5 minutes apiece setting up these ridiculously intricate spots and then MISS THEM. On many occasions. It was just embarrasing after a certain point. I begin to wonder why Paul E doesn’t give some signal to end the match already. Everything comes down to “How many ways can you put a guy through a table using a ladder?” No wrestling, just missed spot, wander around, set up another spot, missed spot, wander around, etc. Sabu even f*cks up a fireball. In total, counting the finisher, they managed to hit only FOUR actual spots in this twenty-minute marathon (for the viewer). That’s ONE spot every 5 minutes with NO wrestling in the gaps between spots. This wasn’t garbage wrestling, it was just garbage. I agree with Herb and John Williams: This was without a doubt the worst match of the year, and was not only bad to watch but a detriment to the sport in general. DUD, only because I don’t give negative stars.

– Bam Bam Bigelow v. Shane Douglas (ECW title). Bam Bam needs someone to carry him to a good match, and Shane is not the one to do so. This was a very slow-paced match compared to what ECW usually puts out. Bigelow controls the entire match as Shane plays Face in Jeopardy, doing the “How in the hell is he going to beat this big guy?” storyline. Two problems: 1) Shane’s character is the biggest piece of shit in wrestling history and 2) Bam Bam is very slow and deliberate. This makes for a boring, unsympathetic match. Finally, Douglas hits the belly-to-belly onto a table out of nowhere for the pin and title. Ick. *1/2, end of show.

Bottom Line:

Easier to watch than Hardcore Heaven and a better show, but Paul E is just trying too hard. It’s not really fair to compare ECW to the Big Two yet, so I won’t.

After a while, it becomes fairly easy to call the endings for the matches as well, because Paul has a very distinct style. When a star is fighting a non-star, the star will control things until the opponent suddenly gets a burst of offense, but makes one fatal error which allows a big move from the star for the pin. When an overwhelming favorite is fighting an underdog, the underdog will get beat on for a while before hitting his finisher out of nowhere for the surprise pin. And on and on. He’s three PPVs in, and he’s already becoming somewhat predictable, if you know what to look for.

I was disappointed more by the lacklusture effort on everyone’s part than anything. If you’re going to talk the talk (trashing both federations and promising a better show than either) then you’d better walk the walk (ie put out product better than *** as your best match). Still, it was innocuous enough that cable companies can’t really watch it and find anything to prevent it from being shown with them, which is a good thing, I guess.

But lay off the crack next time, Paul.