The SK Retro Rant for ECW Hoodies, Barbed Wire & Chokeslams (June 95)
– And back to 95 ECW we go to continue on with that year. I’m just a crazy guy that way. I should also note that the only ECW guy I’ve ever had heat with was Scotty Anton, and we’re cool now, thanks for asking.
– Taped from the ECW Arena.
– Your host is Joey Styles.
– Opening match: The Broadstreet Bully v. The Jersey Devil. Ya see, in 1995 the Devils eliminated the Flyers from the playoffs on their way to winning the Stanley Cup, and Philly fans were pretty peeved at them. So we get this match, as Tony Stetson beats some guy in a Devils’ jersey in about 10 seconds. But that’s not enough retribution for the fans — as the Bully gloats, 911 and Paul E come to the ring and further destroy the poor Devil kid with a record-breaking 4 chokeslams, despite Paul E’s good cop-bad cop protestations to the fans of mercy. Mercy? In Philly? DUD.
– Big Val v. Mikey Whipwreck. Val is a really, really, really fat-assed tub. Why Paul E hired him is a mystery to me. Mikey fights the smartest fight I’ve ever seen — he dodges him a few times, then drops down and hits him in the groin SIX TIMES (!), then DDTs him for an easy pin. DUD.
– Hack Myers v. Vampire Warrior. Once again, the talentless goof that is Dave Heath follows Luna like a lapdog into another promotion where he’s not needed or wanted. I’m constantly amazed that he made it as big as he did as Gangrel. He’s announced as “weight unknown”, so I guess that the “other side of darkness” doesn’t have scales. Bad match. Warrior finishes it off quickly with a DDT. DUD
– Tommy Dreamer v. Vampire Warrior. Stevie Richards had brought Warrior back out to interrupt a Dreamer interview and a fight breaks out, so a referee naturally follows. Tommy uses various foreign objects to beat on Warrior and it goes on and on and on. The “weapons from the audience” gimmick was pretty neat five years ago, but it’s just boring to sit through today without the benefit of Raven to carry the flow of the match. They of course fight through the crowd, then back to the ring, and Dreamer gets the pin. 1/2* Really weak brawling.
– A Tod Gordon segment nearly turns into a brawl as Bill Alphonso, the
“Senior Official” of ECW, makes one of his first appearances and Gordon
almost decks him. Several wrestlers break it up.
– “Jungle” Jim Steele v. 911. Jim Steele is a WCW reject, which I should think should tell you how talented he is right there. Amazingly, he recently got recycled by All Japan into Wolf Hawkfield, portraying a character from the Virtua Fighter video game. Quick and dirty: Chokeslam and out. Paul E comes in and dedicates the next four chokeslams to various people (the dedications were funnier than the rest of the bit) until Steele is left almost literally dead in the ring. DUD, but I appreciate seeing Steele getting slaughtered.
– Beulah v. Luna. Mammoth ring introductions for Raven’s entourage (Beulah was with Raven at this point) and during Luna’s intro, Stevie whacks her with a chair and Beulah pins her. DUD. Then Richards beats up Luna, and Dreamer runs in to save, but ends up brawling with Raven. Then in one of the most stomach-turning things I’ve ever seen, Raven proceeds to break three of Tommy’s fingers, one-by-one, with his own hands. The crowd was almost silent after that, and I don’t blame them. It was an acutely uncomfortable thing to watch. I don’t like that feeling when I’m watching, and neither did the ECW crowd I guess. Raven then handcuffs Luna in a crucifix position outside the ring.
– Raven & The Pitbulls v. Taz, 2 Cold Scorpio & Tommy Dreamer. Hack Myers tries to sub for Dreamer, but Bill Alphonso points out that it’s Dreamer’s spot, and he’s the one who attacked Raven so if he’s injured too bad. So it’s 3-on-2. The Pitbulls are utterly terrible. Skip to the end, as Scorpio gets the hot tag and fires off his trademark moves, but Taz inadvertently prevents him from doing his finisher. This sets up the later 2CS heel turn. Raven then walks out with his brood for no reason in particular. Pitbulls of course are disoriented and Taz suplexes #2 off the second rope for the pin. *, thus earning match of the night honors.
– Public Enema v. The Rotten Brothers. But wait! Even though Axl and Ian have reconciled, Bill Alphonso points out that they lost a “loser can never ever tag again” match the year before, so too bad. Axl decides not to screw the fans out of a fight, and turns on Ian again and they brawl into the sunset. TPE dances for a bit, then the Gangstas make their auspicious debut by jumping out of the audience and destroying them with an assortment of weapons. This was fine, but it just keeps going way too long. Paul E really needs to learn the fine art of hit and run booking. Run in, do the damage, get out. After about 10 minutes (!) of total slaughter, some Philly police finally realize the Gangstas don’t work for ECW and run in to arrest them. Get
used to it, guys…
– Main event: ECW title match, Sandman v. Cactus Jack, barbed wire match. This was before Sandman’s final transformation into what he is today, so his character is still a bit of a wimp. This is just gratuitious bleeding for the vampires. Most terrifying moment: Sandman gets his shirt ripped off. I call two obvious Sandman spots way before they happen: First, Jack gets tossed out of the ring and lays there doing nothing, and I predict Sandman will do a plancha over the barbed wire, which he does. Then I predict that at some point Sandman will show how dumb his character is supposed to be by trying to run the (barbed wire) ring ropes, which he also does. When I can call the spots three minutes in advance, that’s a bad match. Inevitably Cactus beats on Sandman with the barbed wire until he can’t answer the 10 count (HELLO? When did *that* rule start?) and Cactus is declared the new champion. But Bill Alphonso runs in and points out that there IS NO 10-count rule for this match, and it has to continue. Instant heel heat, of course. Sandman chokes out Cactus with the barbed wire and Fonzie stops the match and declares Jack unable to continue. Sandman retains. Horrible match. 1/4*
The Bottom Line: Fonzie’s heel ref character was brilliantly suited for ECW. Why? Because he always made sense, enforced the rules, and brought logic to the proceedings. That’s how you get heel heat in Philadelphia, and it worked. The “Answer the 10 count” thing has never been used to change a title before, it was just used as a contrivance for Alphonso to re-start the match. That bothers me as a thinking wrestling fan. For all their supposed “smarts” about the business, the
ECW fans didn’t realize Paul E was playing them like a fiddle all along.
This show was all angle development and no wrestling at all. While RAW can afford to do that sort of thing building to a PPV, ECW wasn’t building to any PPVs at that point, and it makes for a tough show to watch as a whole.
Recommendation to avoid.