The SmarK Retro Rant for ECW Guilty As Charged 1999
– Thanks to Mike Campbell from 411 for providing this one, and be sure to check out his Japan reviews over there after you’re done here.
– This was a fairly anticipated PPV for ECW, as it featured the long-awaited (and LONG-delayed) challenge for the ECW World title by Taz. Oddly enough, I’ve never seen this show, only the last few minutes of the World title match, because my interest in the promotion was pretty much on the wane by that point and I didn’t feel like sitting through it weeks after the fact. Paul Heyman actually adds a breath of fresh air to the proceedings before the show, by admitting outright that Masato Tanaka and Jerry Lynn can’t be there, so they have to change the card.
– Live from Kissimmee, FL. What happened there Ã¢â‚¬â€œ did the town founders want the distinction of having the only name harder to spell than “MississippiÃ¢â‚¬Â?
– Your host is Joey Styles.
– Opening match: Danny Doring & Roadkill v. Little Guido & Tracy Smothers. Doring and Roadkill were obviously still in their heel phase judging by the crowd reaction. You know, it’s sad that someone so into lowbrow humor like Vince would completely miss the joke behind the FBI Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that they obviously weren’t Italian Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and use Italian wrestlers in the group. The FBI had former “fake Razor RamonÃ¢â‚¬Â Rick Bogner as part of the entourage, I believe. It all runs together after a while. Guido starts with Doring and they fight over a lockup, but some stalling leads to the entrance of Ballz Mahoney & Axl Rotten, just because I guess. So now it’s a three-way dance. Big brawl off that announcement, as you’d expect, and Guido rolls up Doring for two in the ring. Wrestling? What’s up with that? They slug it out and Doring gets dumped as a result, but Guido’s attempt at a dive misses and he wipes out on the railing. In the ring again, Smothers pounds Ballz (er ) but gets slugged in return, so he gets a dropkick. Ballz comes back with a superkick for two. Powerbomb and Smothers gets dumped off that, and Mahoney follows with the FAT GUT OUTTA CONTROL plancha to take out all the FBI. Back in the ring, Roadkill splashes Rotten in the corner, but gets clotheslined for one. Tracy goes after Roadkill next, but walks into a sideslam. Powerslam and Roadkill goes up, getting a flying splash for two. Doring gets the Stroke on Guido and hits a top rope legdrop (which Joey calls the “TeabagÃ¢â‚¬Â and notes he doesn’t get it. I didn’t either until seeing “Curb Your EnthusiasmÃ¢â‚¬Â, and now I which I was still ignorant about it) and that sets up a Hart Attack with Roadkill on him, but Tommy Rich hits Doring in the head with the flag and the FBI finish with a double brainbuster at 8:14. So we’re down to two. The FBI work Ballz over and get a legsweep for two, then put the boots to him. Double dropkick and Paisan Elbow gets two. Guido goes to a chinlock, but Ballz makes the tag to Axl and it’s BONZO GONZO. Nutcracker Suite finishes for Ballz at 10:40. Usual stupid fun brawl to entertain the crowd. *1/2
– Super Crazy v. Tajiri. This was early in Tajiri’s US career, back when he was clean-shaven, with short hair and normal tights, and no personality to speak of. You know, going totally insane really helped his career, although it’s obviously not for everyone in terms of career paths. Crazy gives a clean break to start and they do a neato armdrag reversal on the mat before Crazy gets a rollup for two. Criss-cross and Crazy gets a tornado DDT, but Tajiri fires off the kicks and gets a seated dropkick, as it seems that ECW was saving money by using epileptic cameramen at this point. They exchange chops and Tajiri dropkicks the knee a couple of times, then rolls into a kneebar. Handspring elbow and baseball slide put Crazy on the floor, and he follows with the Asai moonsault. Back in for the Tarantula and Crazy escapes and bails to the floor. He fights Tajiri off, sending him out, and follows with a crazy tope con hilo. Moonsault off the railing follows. Ouch. Back in, Crazy takes him up in a Rita Romero special, then rolls him into a bow-and-arrow. Awesome. Elbowdrop, but Tajiri counters an armdrag and dropkicks the knee again, sending Crazy out. Tajiri goes up with a plancha, then kicks him in the head afterwards. Back in, leg lariat gets two. They trade suplex attempts and Crazy gets another rollup for two. Another try is countered by Tajiri for two. They exchange chops and Crazy gives him a shot in the corner and moonsaults him for two. Dropkick puts him on the floor and he follows with a slingshot corkscrew tope. Nice. Back in, Crazy gets a missile dropkick and follows with a tornado DDT, then clotheslines him into the corner for ANOTHER one, this one inverted. Now that’s a cool transition. Powerbomb is countered by Tajiri to a DDT, but Crazy recovers first and goes up, but misses the Sky Twister Press. Tajiri then goes up, but Crazy catches him, so Tajiri comes down with a sunset flip for two. Back up for a rana, but Crazy rolls through for two. Liger Bomb gets two for Crazy. Tajiri comes back with his own Liger Bomb, into the rolling cradle for two. They slug it out and Tajiri gets a dragon suplex for the pin at 11:36. As a spot exhibition it was TREMENDOUSLY entertaining, although both guys would develop into more complete wrestlers later. ***1/2
– John Kronus v. Sid Vicious. This was a ripoff of a fairly successful angle done by WCW in 1993, with the same main participant, as Van Hammer abused manager Robert Parker until he promised payback on the Slamboree PPV, and that proved to be a squash by Sid, kicking off a huge run by Sid that only ended due to the whole scissors affair. This run was less successful. In this case, John Kronus (the less-talented member of the Eliminators) beat up referee Jeff Jones and this was the result. The match was largely the same, although more extreme Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Sid tosses Kronus out of the ring, right through a table, and then abuses him with a chair. Back in, the powerbomb finishes at 1:28. Ã‚Â¼* It’s funny, because for all the talk about how ECW’s fanbase didn’t like big stiffs like Sid, he got one of the biggest star reactions in the promotion’s history and the crowd gave him a babyface reaction all the way. Sid, to no one’s shock, jumped to WCW once they made him an offer, and finished his career there.
– The Dudley Boyz come out to annoy the crowd. Sometimes I miss Joel Gertner. Sometimes. We’re at our first dead wrestler Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Big Dick Dudley Ã¢â‚¬â€œ which is a pretty decent ratio for a wrestling PPV in the 90s. Usually you’re at 2 or 3 by the third match. Anyway, they throw out the dreaded open challenge, and it’s
– The Dudley Boyz v. New Jack & Spike Dudley. Big brawl to start (duh) as New Jack disposes of Dick and Gangsta Spike goes after Bubba’s crotch a lot. New Jack brawls out with D-Von in the meantime, as Spike gets a rana on Bubba and takes him down with a cookie sheet. That gets two. He chokes away on the ropes, but Bubba returns fire and headbutts him down. Press slam and Bubba tosses him into the crowd (always an impressive visual) and drags him back into the ring again. Another one sees Spike going into the other side of the arena. Spike comes back with another cookie sheet while New Jack continues brawling with D-Von. Back in, everyone grabs a weapon and Big Dick somehow takes the worst of it, until the Dudleyz regroup and lay them out with chairs and the remains of the guitars. They dispose of New Jack and superbomb Spike, but New Jack recovers and goes after D-Von again. The Dudleyz miscommunication results in Bubba getting staggered by a cookie sheet, but they come back with 3D on New Jack on the ramp. Back in the ring, Spike fights on, hitting Big Dick, D-Von and Bubba with Acid Drops, but another try on Dick is blocked, and 3D finishes at 9:58. Just a big messy brawl. Ã‚Â½*
– ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam v. Lance Storm. Rob was so much more fun when he gave a crap. Rob takes him down off a waistlock to start and it’s a stalemate. Rob gets a quick armdrag and they back off again. To the corner, where Rob gets the monkey flip, and they back off again. Storm goes to the eyes and RVD dropkicks him for two. Snapmare gets two. Storm rolls him into the Canadian Maple Leaf, but he gets distracted by Fonzie, and Rob hits him with a guillotine legdrop as a result. They brawl outside and Rob hits the railing, but he comes back to drop Storm there and follows with another guillotine. Storm hits the post and they head back in, where Rob gets a double-underhook pancake for two. Kind of a Pedigree with more extension. Storm superkicks him for two, however. Jawbreaker and corner clothesline follow, and when RVD drops, Storm dropkicks him in the corner. They slug it out and Rob tries a springboard, but Storm dropkicks him into the railing. That was contrived as hell. Storm follows with a baseball slide to send Rob into the front row, and they brawl into the crowd, as Rob hits Lance with a somersault dive off the railing into the crowd. Storm comes back with an inverted DDT on the floor, however. Ouch. He tries crawling back over the railing, so Storm dropkicks him off it again, and then follows with a springboard dive from the ring, over the railing, onto RVD in the front row. Rob is so injured that he tells jokes to the fans while “sellingÃ¢â‚¬Â. Back in, Rob tries going up, but Storm catches him AGAIN and brings him in with a backdrop superplex. Rob lands on his feet and gets a legdrop, however. What the hell is THAT about? Rob gets a Rita Romero Special to set up Rolling Thunder for two. They slug it out in the corner, but Storm springs out with a back elbow for two. Cartwheel into a clothesline in the corner, but Rob shrugs it off and gets thrown a chair, so Storm gets it and chairshots him. Rob ignores THAT and gets the Van Daminator in return, barely taking time to have a few deep breaths before bringing the unconscious Storm back in. However, Storm was faking, and he cradles for two. Rob spinkicks him down again and gets another chair, but bumps the ref this time. Storm gets his own version, but there’s no ref. Oh, sure, the Canadian gets screwed again. PREJUDICE! BIAS! SHENANIGANS! Rob comes back with a missile dropkick Van Daminator for two. They slug it out and Rob clotheslines him down, setting up the frog splash, but it misses. Storm tries a powerbomb, but RVD counters into a rollup, but Storm bridges out of that and they reverse until Rob gets a german suplex for the pin at 18:49. Well, the finish was really nice, but Rob’s idiotic non-selling and all the stalling didn’t exactly help the rest. **1/2
– Stairway to Hell match: Tommy Dreamer v. Justin Credible. Justin has his menagerie of freaks with him Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Jason, Jazz and Nicole Bass Ã¢â‚¬â€œ of which only Jazz endured to be the biggest star of the entire group. Not that that’s saying much. The idea here is that it’s a ladder match with the prize being a cane. You know it’s intense from the way both guys furiously chew their gum before the bell. Lockup to start and Justin starts chopping, but Tommy chops him back and goes low. Spinebuster and they hit the floor off a clothesline, but Tommy gets sent into the railing and they brawl outside. Tommy drops Justin on the railing, and they head back in, where Justin gets an inverted DDT onto a chair brought in by Dreamer. Oh, cruel irony. Powerbomb out of the corner and Justin tosses him to the ramp and gets the DROP TOEHOLD OF DOOM out there. Justin decides not to get the ladder yet, instead setting up the chair in the ring, but Dreamer comes back with a Russian legsweep and rams Justin into the chair. He catches Justin coming out of the corner with the Dreamer Driver, and heads outside to get the ladder. Justin & Jason try a double baseball-slide on him, but he dodges it and uses the ladder to put them into the crowd. Back in, Justin baseball slides the knee to keep Dreamer on the floor, but gets sent into the ladder. Dreamer doesn’t seem very excited to be there tonight. Back in, he catapults Justin into the ladder and gets a weak powerslam, but misses a ropewalk elbow. Justin puts Tommy’s arm under the ladder and abuses it with a chair. Justin starts chopping, but Tommy whips him into the ladder and out of the ring. Tommy starts to follow, but Justin catches him with a cradle suplex off the apron. Back in, Tommy blocks a superplex and goes after Jason, but Jazz goes low on him and suplexes him. Jason adds a clothesline and allows Justin to stomp away in the corner, but he misses a sliding kick and crotches himself on the post. Death Valley Driver (I never bought that “Spicoli DriverÃ¢â‚¬Â crap Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he was a career midcarder who died of an overdose, f*ck him, he doesn’t deserve a finisher to be named after him) and Tommy makes the first climb, but Justin hauls him down. Justin lays the ladder on the ropes and then puts Tommy on it, dumping him off it to the floor. Back in, Justin climbs, but Tommy launches him into the corner to bring him down. Tommy puts the ladder in the corner and whips him into it, but Justin does the same. He slugs away in the corner and gets the shitty DDT, then puts Tommy’s head in the ladder and rams it into the corner. Justin heads out and retrieves the emergency backup ladder, but Tommy returns with his own ladder and they both climb for the cane. Tommy brings him down with a Diamond Cutter and climbs unabated, getting the cane. Apparently the match continues to a pinfall, because Tommy jumps down with a DDT, but Terry Funk comes out and hits Tommy with a garbage can, and Justin finishes with That’s Incredible at 18:43. This bored the shit out of me, with a very slow pace and really nothing much going on over the course of a 20-minute match. Neither guy is any good, and when they’re off, the weaknesses really get exposed. *1/2 It also brings up a point with Justin Credible, as Paul Heyman’s genius was usually booking towards the fans and protecting the weaknesses of his top guys, but Paul got so blinded by Justin that he pushed him over everyone in the company, even when the fans clearly didn’t want to see it, and it eventually cost him the company once he put the World title on him to the exclusion of all sanity and was left with a company that people no longer wanted to pay money to see.
– ECW World title: Shane Douglas v. Taz. See, kids, Taz used to be a WRESTLER. As mentioned, this was a pretty big deal back in the day, as Taz had been pushed as a top guy for a little over 3 years straight by that point, without even receiving a shot at the title. Douglas reminds me a lot of HHH, looking unkempt and bloated from the roids. Douglas goes for the arm to start, but Taz takes him down and they do a bit of matwork. Shane grabs a headlock and they reverse off that. Shane slugs away in the corner, but walks into a head-and-arm suplex and bails. Back in, they go to the lockup and Shane chokes him out in the corner, but Taz gets a whiplash slam and a clothesline to send Shane to the floor again. Shane whips him into the railing and follows him into the crowd with a dive off the railing, albeit a very tentative one. They fight in the crowd and wander all over the arena, as Shane is compelled by the force of hair-pulling to keep walking, and they fight at the edge of the floor area. They continue meandering around the arena until reaching Joey’s booth. For a company that always claims innovation, this is sure ripping off every Austin main event from 1998. They fight back to the ring, after what feels like a million years, with the only highspot being a Tazzplex to Douglas over a railing and onto a platform. This isn’t wrestling, it’s a real estate tour. According to Joey, this is what goes for an “epic battleÃ¢â‚¬Â. Finally they make it back to ringside, with 13:00 gone by and nothing of note having happened, and Shane sets up a table. He stomps away on Taz, who fights back and fires away with boots in the corner, but Shane whips him into the table. That gets two. Rolling necksnap and Shane gets another table, setting THAT up in the corner, too. Taz suplexes him through it, however, for two. And then the lights go out and Sabu returns, hitting both guys with a springboard clothesline and cleaning the ring out. He puts Douglas on a table and puts him through it, then does the same to Taz. When you need to bring in another guy to do all the highspots in a match, you’re having a bad match. Shane recovers first and gets two on Taz. And now Chris & Tammy get involved, and Candido turns on Douglas, allowing Taz to get the T-Bone Tazplex and Tazmission. And because Douglas is the ECW legend, he won’t tap, instead passing out from the pain at 22:16 to make Taz the champion. Douglas went to WCW soon after. Shitty match with too many run-ins and 13 minutes of pointless brawling because they couldn’t deliver in the ring. Ã‚Â½*
The Bottom Line:
Even by my lowered standards for ECW, this show was pretty brutal, with a bad top of the card and the only real highlight being the Crazy-Tajiri match that ended up kicking off Tajiri’s improbable success in the US. As for the rest, forget it, it’s not worth your time.
Recommendation to avoid.