The SmarK Retro Rant for ECW Gangsta’s Paradise
– Yup, we finally pick up 1995 ECW where we left off when I did HeatWave 95 ages ago. No guarantees when the rest of 95 will actually get done, but this one gets lots of requests so I figured I should get it done.
– Taped Sept. 16 /95 from the Bingo Hall.
– Your host is Joey.
– Opening match: The Broadstreet Bully v. Bull Pain. Bull, no relation to either Cham or Maxx that I know of, attacks to start and they slug it out. Bully uses his stick (the HOCKEY one) and they brawl out. Bully gives him a wussy suplex onto the table, but it breaks anyway. They keep brawling. Where’s 911 to end this? Bad DDT on the remains of the table for Bull, and back in he gets a powerslam for two. They head out, where Bull clotheslines the Bully off the apron, but gets posted. Pain drops him on the guardrail to retaliate. Back in, Bully goes low, but Pain superplexes him and gives him a weird looking DDT off the ropes for the pin at 8:12. WAY too long for a jobber match. Ã‚Â½*
– Chad Austin & Don E. Allen v. Dudley Dudley & Dances With Dudley. There was no Bubba Ray or D-Von at this point, nor was there a Little Spike. Dudley Dudley is supposedly the only “trueÃ¢â‚¬Â Dudley, because (ahem) both of his parents’ last names are Dudley. Chubby & Big Dick are lurking at ringside, and Sign Guy is in the front row. I can’t believe the current incarnation of the Dudley Boyz was spawned from this freakshow. Total squash as Dudley Dudley finishes Don E. Allen with a top rope splash at 4:48. Trust me, there was NOTHING to recap in between. DUD
– JT Smith v. Hack Myers. Mat stuff to start, and the match is then savagely hacked up by ECW’s video team, as 10:00 is cut to 5:00. We jump from Hack working a hammerlock to Smith missing a pescado, to some brawling, and finally JT going up to the top and falling off, landing through a table at ringside and getting counted out. Finish was good for a laugh but countouts in ECW? Feh. Looked about *
– The Steiner Brothers & Taz v. The Eliminators & Jason. This one is even more savagely hacked, from 20:00 down to 3:00. Lots of clips of the Steiners mauling the Elims, but the finish sees a very injured Taz destroying Jason, only to have Scorpio run in and kick him in the neck to give Jason the winning pin. Can’t rate it, too much clipped out.
– ECW World tag title match, double-dog collar: Raven & Stevie Richards v. The Pitbulls. Scott Keith completists will already know my feelings about this one, but for the rest of you, this is a fairly famous match that is an answer to a trivia question about myself I once posed in a previous rant. The stipulation here is that the Pitbulls have to split up should they lose. Stevie Richards is notably absent from the introductions, and Beulah explains that he has a “broken armÃ¢â‚¬Â and will not be participating tonight, so for the sake of fairness the match will be 2/3 falls. Pitbull 2 attacks and hangs Raven with the chain they’re connected with, while Pitbull 1 heads to the back. Vicious chairshot for Raven as #1 finds Stevie in the dressing room, and indeed he’s already a bloody mess. Raven brings a table in, piledrives Pitbull 2 THROUGH the table, and gets the pin at 2:07. Wild spot there. Raven & Stevie double-DDT #1 and get a two-count. Steviekick gets two. Raven and #2 bring another table in and it gets set up. Stevie gets superbombed through it for the pin at 4:17 to even things up. Okay, that was all just the warmup session for the REAL fun. Brawl into the crowd as Pitbull 1 KILLS Stevie, but gets chaired. Meanwhile, #2 and Raven head back in, where a third table gets involved and the ref gets bumped in the process. The Dudleyz run in to make it 4-on-2, and the heels pair off and superbomb both Pitbulls at once. However, since the law of heel-babyface relations says that a babyface having his own move done to him does not have to sell, they invoke it and pop right back up. DDTs for the heels, and the Dudleys get superbombed. Yet another table is set up for Raven, but he hits his head on the EDGE of the table and I’m shocked he’s still alive. That gets two, so he’s alive. They beat on Stevie, while Raven readies an ether-soaked rag to choke #2 out. That spot was intended as a rib on Jim Cornette’s booking. Raven puts him on two tables, legdrops him through the first one, and elbows him through the second one. This being only 1995, that’s devastating enough to require EMTs for Pitbull 2. In the ring, Stevie goes up and gets crotched, and #1 suplexes him through a table for two. Raven unhooks himself from the chain and makes the save. Francine & Beulah do the mandatory catfight, but Raven DDTs Francine to end that. Tommy Dreamer runs in to take Pitbull 2’s place and beats the hell out of Raven. DDT gets the pin at 14:41, but Joey’s not sure who actually gets the belts. Turns out to be a moot point, as Bill Alphonso comes in to overturn the decision since Dreamer isn’t legally in the match, and he was just being nice allowing it to go on under 2/3 falls rules anyway. And the pin on Raven doesn’t count, so he’s still never pinned him. Tod Gordon gets all indignant and comes in to argue with Fonzie, and Big Dick sneaks in to use the currently-banned chokeslam on Dreamer. Fonzie suddenly waffles and decides to un-ban the chokeslam so that he doesn’t have to suspend Big Dick, and with that 911 makes himself known. For those who didn’t follow this stuff back then, fans had basically been waiting since the day of Fonzie’s introduction as Evil Ref for 911 to chokeslam the shit out of him, but Fonzie countered by banning the move. So 911 comes out, gives Fonzie the BIGGEST CHOKESLAM EVER, holding him up there for like 10 seconds, and the place is just going apeshit. Pitbull #2 rejoins things, and they set up Raven for the superbomb, then put Stevie on HIS shoulders, superbomb both guys at once, and Tod Gordon personally counts the pin at 19:40 as the Pitbulls finally beat Raven & Richards to win the titles. Whereas normally overbooking is done too often in the wrong place, this was exactly the right amount of excess done in the right match, with the right finish. And given the total insanity of everything after the 5:00 mark and all the intricate storylines weaved into one 20:00 match, this became the one and only match in ECW history that I ever rated *****, so for those of you who still e-mail me asking about it, there you are. This match was also voted #1 in the DVDVR awards for the Best ECW match of the 90s, so many agree with me on it. Of course, many also disagree, most notably Dave Meltzer (albeit in a nice way). This is definitely a match you need the right context to fully “getÃ¢â‚¬Â, but I’d recommend checking it out at least once to see what Paul is capable of with the right motivation and guys.
– Rey Mysterio Jr. v. Psychosis. Already did this one for the Path of Destruction DVD, so I’ll just swipe the review from that one. This would be their ECW debut. Psychosis bails on an armdrag to start. Back in, he works a hammerlock. They do a wrestling sequence and Psychosis bails again. Back in, he drops an elbow. Powerbomb follows and he launches Rey facefirst to the mat. He presses Rey into the turnbuckle, and dropkicks him. Pancake and legdrop, and he hits an avalanche in the corner. Another try misses and Rey gets the rana rollup for two. Another rana and flying headscissors follows. They fight on the apron, and Rey alley-oops Psychosis into the post. Back in, Rey misses a blind charge. Psychosis goes up, guillotine legdrop gets two. Powerbomb gets two. Rey bails and Psychosis tries a tope suicida, but Rey holds up a chair to block it, prompting Joey to comment that he’s picking up the ECW style in record time. Back in, Psychosis gets a corkscrew senton for two. Blind charge puts Psychosis on the floor, and Rey follows with a plancha into the crowd. Back in, Rey gets a top rope rana for the (somewhat anticlimactic) pin. Match was mind-blowing at the time, but just pretty good given what we’ve seen since then. ***1/2
– Meanwhile, there’s a disturbance in the locker room! Public Enema and New Jack are jawing with each other, and a brawl seems likely! Joey goes backstage to investigate, and as things clear up STEVE-A-MANIA IS RUNNING WILD, BROTHER! Yes, it’s that hero of millions, The Stevester, as Mr. Austin takes a well-deserved potshot at his favorite target just a few years before eclipsing him as the biggest draw ever. Johnny Grunge makes sure to get into the shot and go into rapture upon seeing The Stevester. This is one of those Must See ECW clips, back when they still had a sense of humor about themselves.
– Main event, cage match: Sandman, 2 Cold Scorpio & New Jack v. Public Enema & Mikey Whipwreck. Mustafa is in jail again (yes, I’m as shocked as you), so we get this mish-mash instead. Mikey is an official hoodie here, as he steals Rocco’s watch to prove it. Big slugfest and the heels win pretty easily. Joey first says those magic words, “Johnny is busted openÃ¢â‚¬Â, at 2:45, which may be a new record for him. Johnny & New Jack violate the whole purpose of the cage by escaping and fighting into the crowd. They head to the broadcast area, where Johnny stops for a cold one so he can be bleeding AND drunk. Jack drops an elbow from the broadcast booth, while everyone else stumbles around the cage half-heartedly. Sandman suplexes a table onto Mikey, and again off the top onto Rocco. Scorpio superplexes both babyfaces as Jack & Grunge rejoin the fray, and tables are brought in and stacked up. Three of them. No, that’s not contrived, guys. Both Rocco and Scorpio go through them, then the babyfaces triple-suplex Sandman. Mikey gives him a top-rope rana, then finishes with a top rope splash at 15:06, which would lead to the ladder match for the ECW World title on the next show. Match should’ve ended with the big spot, but I can see why Paul would end with Mikey pinning Sandman. **
The Bottom Line: I heard the tag title match is gonna be on the next ECW DVD, and the lucha match is on Path Of Destruction, so really you’re MUCH better off going that route rather than tracking this tape down because there’s ZERO on this show besides those matches. Well, Steve Austin, but that’s on the Deep Impact DVD and the video quality is 100x better there.
So I guess kinda strongly recommended in one sense, but in another sense it’s pointless to recommend it when the good stuff is elsewhere, so make your own call on this one.