– Okay, I lied Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Hardcore Heaven is after THIS show.
– Quick plug for another website that’s part of the TheSmarks community: The always entertaining Shooters, featuring former RS.com columnist Steve Schroeder and some guy named Eric, has moved from it’s position in Emzee limbo to it’s own domain: www.theshooters.net. I’m mentioned there all the time, so it HAS to be good.
– Taped from the hall of bingo.
– Your host is Joey, with Taz stepping in for commentary now and then.
– Opening match: Hack Myers v. Tony Stetson. Squash situation here. Joey says “Nothing fancy about that” several times during the evening, starting with this match. I have nothing else to say about this match. Hack finishes with his knee driver thingy at 5:25. Ã‚Â¼*
– Taz & 911 v. The Oriental Connection. To show how important the Connection is to ECW, Joey isn’t even given their names so as to identify them as something other than “#1” and “#2”. I don’t recognize either. The fans pretty much write off the Japanese contingent’s chances right away, and Paul E’s team doesn’t disappoint, wiping them out with the expected stuff at a brisk 2:32. Not really a match in the normal sense of the word Ã¢â‚¬â€œ more like an exhibition of pain and suffering. Ã‚Â¼*
– Joey hits the TV intro and brings out Axl Rotten, who uses his potty mouth to complain about Florida (fun fact: The entirety of Florida is apparently composed of “a bunch of faggots” who can’t appreciate real hardcore wrestling because they didn’t want Axl v. Ian down there. My opinion of Florida just went up about 14 notches.) He finishes with a heartfelt “f*ck them” and promises a bloodbath with Ian, just for Philly. Lucky them.
– Axl v. Ian Rotten. Ian, innovator of, well, nothing, debuts a barbed wire chair here. Having now watched, what, 6 of these crappy matches in a row in the past few weeks, I can safely say I’m completely sick of watching it. Blood flows freely, as usual. Combined it’s about 1.5 Muta. The sweet, merciful finish comes as Ian tries a pump splash, but lands crotch-first on a barbed wire baseball bat (It’s funny on SO MANY LEVELS) and Axl suplexes him on a chair to put me out of my misery at 6:23. What rhymes with “blood”? DUD
– Shane Douglas comes out for one more appearance before ruining his life via the WWF, and in the process changes ECW forever. For you see, he felt he was screwed over when he lost the title to the Sandman two shows ago, so he’s used his connections with the state athletic commission to hire a troubleshooting referee (cue ominous music) Bill Alphonso. FEAR THE WHISTLE! The fans IMMEDIATELY pick up on the where the entire storyline is going and start chanting for 911. Talk about knowing your audience. Tod Gordon comes out to oppose all this “fair play” and “consistent rule” crap, but Fonzie stands firm, and furthermore if anyone breaks a table on his shift, he’s SHUTTING THE PROMOTION DOWN, BABY. And as our first test case
– Raven & Stevie Richards v. Tommy Dreamer & Mikey Whipwreck. Tommy tosses Stevie, but is prevented from chasing by Fonzie, and oh boy is the crowd pissed. Dreamer DDTs Stevie, but Tommy wants Raven, not the putz. Mikey tries to cover and gets two. Tommy & Mikey show some teamwork as they pound on Richards. Mikey gets a lariat for two. Stevie gets a cheapshot and Raven comes in, but gets rolled up right away for two. Mikey gets a rana, but Raven shrugs him off and starts pounding him. Stevie hits a powerbomb for two. Raven & Richards pull out a double gourdbuster (front suplex) for two. Neato keen. Raven gets a good kneelift for two. Raven puts Mikey on the top rope and casually slams him to the floor, but Dreamer catches him before he hits the concrete. That would have been a pretty sick spot had it gone through. Back in, Raven misses a blind charge and hits the floor. Dreamer hits a pescado as all four brawl. Raven & Dreamer go inside and slug it out and Fonzie calls for the DQ at 8:50. The reason? Tommy used a closed fist. I laugh my ass off at the utter BRILLIANCE of how Paul Heyman is completely manipulating his own fanbase with this and Fonzie is an immediate monster heel. Awesome stuff. The match, forced to be contested under, you know, RULES, was very good as a result, too. ***1/4
– Shane Douglas returns to gloat, and Cactus Jack tells him off.
– ECW TV title match: Eddy Guerrero v. Dean Malenko. **** Oh, sorry, knee-jerk reaction there. Joey is joined by Taz here. Counter sequence to start, and Eddy goes into a cross-armbreaker, called a Fujiwara armbar by Taz. Jesus H. Christ, even TAZ is calling it by the wrong name. Let’s go over this again: If the opponent is on his back, it’s a cross-armbreaker. If the opponent is on his stomach and you’re pulling up on the arm, THEN it’s the Fujiwara armbar. Or Herb Kunze armbar, if you’re Old School RSPW. Malenko works on a leglace and they CLIP THE MATCH. YOU FUCKING BASTARDS! You left Hack Myers v. Tony Stetson intact and clipped MALENKO V. GUERRERO??? We cut to Eddy taking Dean to the floor with a headscissors, then cut to Dean applying a chokehold and Eddy barely escaping. Brawl on the floor. Back in, tiger bomb gets two for Dean. I would just like to take this opportunity to claim final victory in the Great Tiger Bomb/Driver Debate over John D. Williams, because “bomb” seems to have become the North American standard at this point for the move. Backdrop suplex gets two. Tombstone gets two. Dean puts Eddy on top, and Eddy tries a tornado DDT, but Dean counters by tossing Eddy clear across the ring and on his head. Yeah, that’ll work pretty well. Powerbomb leads to a half-crab, but Eddy reverses into a pinfall sequence and we clip again. Cut to Eddy hitting a tope. Cut to an Eddy brainbuster. Frog splash hits knee. Eddy bails. Dean goes upstairs, but Eddy pops up and superplexes him. Cut to Eddy’s ropewalk rana for two. Eddy lands badly and starts bleeding from the back of his head. Dean works on the cut, of course. He hooks the Cloverleaf, but Eddy cradles for two. Eddy comes back, getting a top rope rana. Cut to Eddy delivering Splash Mountain (sitdown Razor’s Edge) for two. Dean rolls him up for two. Cut to an Eddy rollup for two off a kneelift. Ã‚Â¾ nelson rollup gets two. Eddy goes to a figure-four and time expires at 30:00, of which 12:38 was aired. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb too much here by estimating it at ****3/4 again, although if someone was there live and cares to dispute it, feel free to write to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your thoughts in great detail, where they’ll get the consideration due to them.
– ECW World title match: The Sandman v. Cactus Jack. The winner of this classic in the making faces Shane Douglas immediately after in yet another title match. Brawl to start, duh. Cactus does his FAT GUY OUTTA CONTROL dive over the railing and we head into the crowd. Nothing of note happens. Into the ring, where Sandman immediately tosses Jack back out again. Back in, Sandman gets a slingshot dropkick and a suplex, and then stands around. Jack comes back with a neckbreaker for two. Back outside, Sandman blows a dive off the apron, ramming his knee awkwardly into the railing in the process. Hmm, I’d put him at about 0.3 Jake on the “drunken wreck scale” considering that one. Back in, Sandman gets a totally sloppy piledriver. Could be a 0.4, come to think of it. But then, he’s been known to increase his blood alcohol level DURING THE MATCH, so it makes it kind of hard to get a definitive number. He sets up a table against the ropes, and it backfires on him, as Jack lays him up against the table, then tips it over, dumping Sandman onto the floor. Points for orginality there, if nothing else. Cactus conveniently finds some barbed wire and does violent things with it. Double-arm DDT gets two, as Shane Douglas appears and puts Sandman’s foot on the ropes. Since when has THAT meant anything? Sandman recovers, finds the cane, and nails Jack for the pin at 11:22 to retain. *
– ECW World title match #2: The Sandman v. Shane Douglas. Oh boy, TWO Sandman matches in the same show! There IS a Santa Claus. Shane hammers the barbed-wire wounds right away, drawing just about the saddest looking blood flow I’ve seen this side of Lex Luger. You’d THINK that all those beers would have thinned Jim’s blood enough to a decent flow going, but apparently it’s the opposite. Shane headscissors Sandman to the floor and follows with a pescado. Back in, Shane hits a cross-body and a dropkick. Dean Douglas rebound splash gets two. We hit the floor for the usual brawling. Back in, Shane works in a Flair flip and we head back out again. Sandman suplexes a table onto him. Back in, Sandman gets a delayed suplex and the slingshot legdrop. He tries to go aerial, but misses a legdrop. Now, when I say “misses a legdrop”, I don’t think I’m conveying the whole image. It’d be more accurate to say “I’ve seen Boeing jets crash-landing into the ocean while being piloted by blindfolded marsupials make a more graceful landing”, even if I’ve never actually seen the latter. Shane goes for the BELLY TO BEER BELLY OF DEATH, but Sandman reverses to his own version and Cactus is there to push Shane’s foot off the ropes as Sandman gets the pin at 10:39. Wow, that’s a pretty unbelieveable and horrible finish. BUT WAIT! Defender of all that is fair and just, Bill Alphonso, decrees that he saw everything from the back, and he’s restarting the match due to Cactus Jack’s interference. Shane quickly rolls up Sandman and gets the pin from Fonzie, apparently regaining the title. Fonzie and Finnegan argue the point. In the meantime, Malenko pearl harbours Cactus Jack, and Dreamer makes the save. Raven & Richards proceed to attack HIM in turn. Call it Ã‚Â¾*
– ECW World tag title match: The Public Enema v. The Pitbulls. This is the ever popular double dog collar rules. If TPE wins, they get 5 minutes with Stevie. Pitbulls toss the champs around to start. Rocco tries a rana and gets powerbombed for two. Johnny bleeds at 2:30, a mid-range time for him. Boring brawl lasts a few minutes. Into the ring, table gets put on the top and Pitbull #2 powerslams Rocco off that. It gets two. COME ON! What a waste of a potentially awesome finisher. Rocco comes back with the dreaded JUMPER CABLE TO THE CROTCH! Question: Considering the Pitbull’s steroid use, is there anything left to attach it to? Table gets set up, and Rocco moonsaults #2 through it for two. Well, I guess they’re even now, because that would have been a good finish too. The ingrate mutants chant “Fuck Sabu” like a bunch of sheep. Rocco & Pitbull 2 fight to the broadcast location (aka The Eagle’s Nest, for those who asked), where (surprise surprise) Rocco goes through a table. Back in the ring, Grunge and #1 violate each other’s personal space with the chain in a variety of ways. Everyone finally makes it back to the ring. Pitbulls superbomb Rocco through the table, for two. Another good potential finish wasted. Stevie tries to help but gets clobbered. This match is totally wearing out it’s welcome, as it’s turned into a Monty Python sketch Ã¢â‚¬â€œ they’ve suddenly realized they don’t have a plausible ending. So we get the cop-out ending: Double pin situation, ref counts both, and awards the match to the champs at 16:45. Well, THAT sucked. The match was getting a pretty good “Go home” groove on around the 10 minute mark, but then it went awry and mutated into another 6 minutes that weren’t necessary, thus ruining the match. Somewhat watchable in the middle, though. *1/2
– The Public Enema v. Stevie Richards. Stevie manages to hold off both, but gets destroyed, and then Raven and the Pitbulls run in. Big beatdown follows. Dreamer returns again but gets beaten down again until, of all people, Luna Vachon makes the save. Tommy piledrives Beulah for good luck, and then makes out with Luna, as we finally limp to the end of the show.
The Bottom Line: Oh man, those last 15 minutes or so just about killed the entire show, as the tag match and the beatdown that followed just kept dragging ON and ON until you felt like screaming at Heyman to just fade to black already. Raven v. Tommy is best in small doses, and it got overexposed on this show. But a solid tag match and Malenko-Guerrero make for another keeper overall.
Next up: Hardcore Heaven! This time for sure.