– Taped from the bingo hall, Feb. 16 / 96.
– Your host is Jo-Jo.
– Opening match: A bunch of jobbers do a token six-man, involving such luminaries as the Bad Crew, Don E. Allen, the Dirt Bike Kid and Dino Sendoff. Normally 911 would run in and choke slam everyone (or, to put a modern spin on it, Sid) but sadly the 911 era was ended by Taz shortly before this. So we get a Bad Crew member pinning Don E. Allen about two minutes in, only to see the Sandman run in and cane everyone to shut the fans up. Bleh. 911 had more panache.
– Pablo Marquez v. Spiros Greco. I don’t know who the hell this Greco guy is, and I’ve never seen him since. The gimmick is that he’s a Greek god (not literally). Marquez would gain greater “fame” in the WWF as Babu, manservant to Tiger Ali Singh. Boring match as Greco doesn’t do anything more interesting than a blown knee lift (booed by the fans, which Joey sells as heel heat). He calmly works Pablo over, and dispatches him with a side slam at 4:06 after literally zero offense from the rookie. Wow, that was certainly worth my time. 1/2*
– Taz v. Joel Hartgood. Taz did the initial heel-turn-to-end-all-heel-turns at N2R 95, and spent the next year squashing jobbers and “shoot fighters” while waiting for Sabu to answer his challenge. Case in point, this match, which Taz finishes at a whopping 1:20 with the katihajime. Several jobbers from the first match try a save but get whomped. Mikey Whipwreck also tries, same result. 1/2*
– Historic moment: Joey is doing the TV intro, when the lights go out, and we are re-introduced to.Brian Pillman! He complains about being fired from WCW (using very WrestleLine-unfriendly language as relates to Eric Bischoff) and the crowd loves him. Then, in a brilliant moment, he adds that Bischoff represents all the “smart marks rolled into one, just like all you pieces of shit out there!” and suddenly the whole arena goes dead silent. I nearly lose it these days watching the whole place get their little smart-ass attitude turned right back at them by Pillman. Pillman starts chanting “smaaaaaart mark” at the crowd, and now he’s drawing some SERIOUS heel heat. He finishes with a flourish, announcing that he might as well “yank out [his] Johnson and piss on this hellhole” before Paul E, Tod Gordon and Shane Douglas rush in to prevent it. Neat touch: In the background, you can hear Paul E. saying “He’s shooting” over his headset to add realism. Pillman gets arrested and dragged off, but stops to taunt a fan. When the fan spits on him, Pillman pulls him out of the front row and tosses him in the ring, then produces a fork (!) and savages him. Douglas runs him off again and stages a sit-in until Pillman is tossed out of the building. Finally security handcuffs him and ushers him to the exit doors on the opposite side of the arena as the crowd sings the goodbye song for him. Whew. GREAT segment. Too bad Pillman was barely healthy enough to walk, because the Douglas- Pillman blowoff would have been killer.
– Mr. Hughes v. Buh Buh Ray Dudley. This was during the stuttering Buh Buh period. Crap match, as Hughes goes after the periphery Dudleys, gets jumped by Big Dick, and pinned in 0:30 with a top rope splash from Buh Buh. DUD
– Mustafa Saied is out to announce that the Gangstas’ match with the Headhunters is off, because New Jack is spending time at the Steel Barred Motel, as per usual. I still have no idea why the jury didn’t convict him in the Eric Kulas trial, if only on general principles. The guy is a lifelong criminal and carving up some idiot fat kid is the least of his legal problems. Mustafa’s grasp of the English language leaves a lot to be desired. Damien Kane, the manager of the Headhunters, comes out and cuts an incredibly racist promo, then the Headhunters jump Mustafa and squash him in 0:43. The Headhunters are too really fat guys, who can moonsault, in case you were wondering. DUD
– Damien issues an open challenge for some real competition, so we get.
– The Headhunters v. The Bruise Brothers. Big brawl. Bruise Bros were known as the Blu Twins in the WWF before this, and DOA after this. You’d think it would be pointless to continually repackage a pair of 6’5″ twins, because anyone in the general fanbase with an IQ of over 5 would see right through it, but I guess that’s why I’m not the owner of a major company AND it’s World champion, right? They fight outside for a bit, then we head into the ring as a Headhunter moonsaults a Bruise Brother while the other Bruise Brother does something to the other Headhunter that the camera misses. Both pins are counted, and the Bruise Brothers are announced as the winners at 4:15. Whatever. DUD – the moonsault looked awful, even for a fat guy.
– Tommy Dreamer & Beulah are out for an interview. This is shortly after she announced her pregnancy to escape Raven’s grasp, and shortly before she further announced that there was no baby, and in fact she was sleeping with Raven’s girlfriend Kimona. Anyway, Raven interrupts here and gives an overview of the various international criminal systems, and how body parts are cut off to atone for a crime. Hopefully you can grasp where Raven was going with this one, since Tommy got his ex-girlfriend pregnant and all. The Bruise Brothers run out to back up Tommy, then turn and join Raven’s Nest, punking out Tommy and posting him about 8 times. The man’s got BALLS OF STEEL, I tell you! I was hoping it was either the lesbian angle or the cinder block angle, but sadly it was just the setup for both. For those who don’t know, this led to the Bruise Brothers dropping a cinder block on Tommy’s crotch later, as well as Tommy’s classic reaction to Beulah announcing her, ahem, lifestyle choice: “I’m hardcore.I’LL TAKE THEM BOTH!” Funny stuff. But that’s another show.
– JT Smith v. Axl Rotten. This was the seeds of the FBI, as JT was finding his long-lost Italian heritage at the time, and turned on Axl to further that. Axl beats the living hell out of Smith outside the ring with assorted weapons. Joey calls it a “Sicilian Grudge Match”, although as a real Italian, Joey should know that an actual Sicilian Grudge Match would end in about 5 seconds with one guy hiring a friend to shoot the other in the back of the head. Smith is just bumping like nuts for Axl here. He takes control, however, and grabs a chair, climbing to the top. He slips and falls, with the crowd mocking him as usual. Axl turns around to laugh with them, and JT suddenly pops up and nearly takes Axl’s head off with a chairshot. He was faking, you see. The pin is academic. Great ending, I’m surprised someone else hasn’t stolen it recently. **1/2 Hack Myers makes the save and a brawl erupts.
– The Eliminators & Stevie Richards v. The Pitbulls & Francine. Francine had just recently left Stevie for the Pitbulls, and was still working on her training at the time. This is a triple dog-collar match. Francine gets superkicked right off the bat, taking her out of the match. Pretty much a clusterf*ck of stuff, with Saturn desperately trying to hold things together. Stevie superkicks both Pitbulls out of the ring, and the fans help them out by holding up chairs for the Pitbulls to ram the Elims into. More mindless brawling outside as everyone heads over to the Eagle’s Nest. A couple of highspots there and then back to the ring. The Elims hit stereo powerbombs on the Pitbulls, and then they try for Total Elimination on Francine, but the Pitbulls recover and save her. They superbomb both Elims, then go after Stevie and do a kind of modified superbomb, with a neckbreaker at the end of it. Stevie is dead, and Francine crawls over for the pin at 13:59. The Elims take out the Pitbulls with Total Elimination, then do it to Francine. Eh, Jeff Jarrett beats up women every week now, it’s pass,. **1/2
– TV Title match: 2 Cold Scorpio v. Sabu. Time to play CRZ. Sabu goes for the chair really quickly and takes Scorp out. Scorpio bails and Sabu follows with a chair-assisted tope con hilo. Back in the ring, and Scorpio reverses a powerbomb into one of his own, then a legdrop off the second rope. He rams Sabu face- first into a chair. He tries it again, and Sabu reverses. Air Sabu and we’re back on the floor again. Running somersault off the apron and back into the ring. Scorpio with a crescent kick to waylay Sabu and then he nails Sabu with a running chairshot. Scorpio on the offensive with a Stinger splash, but Sabu reverses an Ocean Cyclone Suplex attempt into a rollup for two. A wrestling sequence leads to Sabu going to the rear chinlock, then a regular chinlock. C’mon guys, GST. Get your Shit Together. Scorpio punts Sabu in the boys to send him outside the ring, then suplexes him in for two. Sabu doesn’t appreciate that and smacks him around, then hits a slingshot legdrop for two. Sabu works the armbar, but Scorpio escapes and misses a moonsault. Man, eh got so much hangtime he nearly overshot. Sabu the Arabian Facebuster for two, but he hurts his leg. Scorpio takes advantage with a pancake and a standing moonsault for two. He crotches him on the bottom rope for good measure. Tumbleweed misses, and Sabu goes to the top, but get powerbombed off for two. Scorpio to the top, and Sabu with a victory roll from the top for two. Scorpio misses a dropkick and heads out, and Sabu follows with a top suicida. Back in and a slingshot clothesline gets two. Sabu goes back to the armbar. Scorpio escapes and drops him on the mat face-first. He tries what looks like a TKO, but Sabu grabs the top rope and back out we go. Sabu moonsaults off the apron, almost breaking his knees on the railing in the process. He sets up a ridiculously intricate spot, putting Scorpio on the table in the front row, then setting up a chair in the ring. He jumps on the chair, onto the top rope, and dives onto the table, just as Scorpio moves, and goes through the table. Pretty cool spot, but out of place. Joey: “I think he may be dead”. Back in the ring and Scorpio gets a two out of all that. Scorpio with an ugly powerbomb, reversed to an uglier rana by Sabu. Either Sabu is a great actor or he’s really messed up. Sabu with a moonsault for two. Another one misses badly, and Scorpio hits a powerbomb and Da Bomb for two. Kind of a uranage thing sets Sabu up for a legdrop off the top with a chair across his face. It gets two. Back to the top, but Sabu smacks him with the chair and hits a rana for two. Double-KO spot with two minutes left. The fans smell the draw. 450 splash from Scorpio, but he won’t cover. He goes to the other corner and misses whatever by a mile. Sabu drops a couple of legs with a chair in the middle, but time runs out. Spotty, but pretty much the best Sabu match I’ve seen in a long time. ****
– Cactus Jack v. Shane Douglas. This was the final chapter in Cactus’ anti-hardcore angle, as Shane returned from the WWF to find Jack had signed there, and was now determined to make him change his mind by beating the hardcore back into him. They quickly brawl outside, where Shane does bad things to Mick’s special area with a crutch. Back in the ring, and Shane with a legdrag, and then away we go back outside. Douglas suplexes Jack on the railing, then goes to the top rope and hits what would today be a FAT GUY OUTTA CONTROL PLANCHA into the first row. Wild. Back in the ring, and Douglas grabs a chair to Pillmanize Jack. Cactus retaliates by grabbing the chair and nailing Douglas. Works for me. Cactus works over Shane’s throat and knee. Cactus boxes Shane’s ears, until Shane collapses and falls onto the ringside table. Back in and Jack with the drop toehold onto the chair for two. Piledriver gets two, and a major wedgie for Shane. Jack hammers Shane further in the corner, and referee Brian Hildebrand (who trained with both guys) hands a pair of handcuffs to Jack while under the pretense of separating them. Now it gets ugly. Remember Rock v. Mankind at the Royal Rumble this year? Same thing. Douglas bashes him repeatedly in the head with the chair, demanding that he quit. Jack refuses, and keeps calling for former friend Mikey Whipwreck, whom he turned on and beat to a pulp shortly before this. Shane locks on the figure-four, and finally Mikey runs in, only to smack Jack in the face with a chair and give Douglas the pin at 15:43. Jack defeated Mikey in his farewell match soon after this, and left for the WWF. ***
– Man, they should have just left well enough alone and stopped there.
– ECW World title, Raven v. The Sandman. This is during the brief Missy Hyatt era for Sandman. Entrances alone burn up 10 minutes. Sandman with his usual 78- running-at-33 1/3 speed stuff, including a delayed (very delayed) brainbuster, before overbooking kicks in a whopping three minutes into the match. People get distracted by other people, DDTs get used, a catfight erupts, Stevie interferes, the FRIGGIN’ REF GETS BUMPED, TWICE, the entire Nest runs in to give Raven a two count, they fight over a chair, and finally Raven DDTs him on it for the pin to retain at 8:16. Fans chant “screwjob” very loudly. Can’t say as I disagree. The whole thing was pulled off very badly, feeling rushed and ham-handed. 1/4*
– Meanie goes after the unconscious Sandman and mocks him with a can of beer, but accidentally spills it on him, thus reviving him. Hilarity ensues as Sandman cleans house and screams for “Mommy”, which I guess is Missy because she’s the one who answers. Oooooh-kay. End of show.
The Bottom Line: Sabu’s spotty tendencies being reigned in and a good Shane v. Cactus showdown make for an entertaining show overall, although the first hour or so is strictly fast-forward material.