The SmarK Rant for the Rise and Fall of ECW: Part Two

Carrying on from the first disc of this excellent two-disc set, it’s the traditional second disc of just extra matches, and it’s a doozy.

The Extras:

– 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 arm” 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 “get”, 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. Psicosis. OK, proper match this time. From Oct. 95, 2/3 falls. Rey sends Psi out of the ring quickly and follows with a springboard plancha into the first row. Another crazy dive, this one over the top, lands in the first row again. Dangerous area tonight. Back in, Rey snaps off a rana for the pin at 1:20. Second fall, as Rey dodges Psi and gets a leg lariat to send him into the corner, but charges and hits the apron. He recovers with a flying rana that sends Psi to the floor, and he follows with a rana from the apron now. Rey goes back in and Psi stops to recover. Back in, Psi gets an enzuigiri and whips Rey into the corner for a nice upside down bump. Into the other corner off an inverted body vice, and he spears Rey, who is hung in the Tree of Woe. He adds a running boot to the face and a powerbomb for two. Into a Sharpshooter, but he releases. Rey bails, so Psi follows and sends him into the railing, and adds a chair to the knee for good measure. Back in for a slingshot legdrop, but he misses a blind charge. Rey comes back with a handspring into another rana, but a quebrada is caught by Psi and turned into a tombstone for the pin at 7:05 to tie it up. Third fall sees Psi powerbombing Rey through a table on the floor to start, and slamming him into the first row. Nice bump. Psi goes back in and follows with a tope con hilo. Crazy. Back in, Psi misses a blind charge and takes another crazy bump, into the post, and Rey follows with a springboard plancha to the floor. They throw chairs at each other and Rey chokes him out with one, then sends him into the post with a chair around his neck. Back in, Rey gets a flying rana from the top for two. A headscissors puts Psi on the floor, and he follows with a springboard cannonball. They fight on the floor and Rey gets put on a table, and Psi follows with a senton from the top to put him through it. Back in, Psi gets another powerbomb and goes up, moonsaulting onto a chair to finish Rey at 13:53. That was a truly crazy and sick spotfest, and I loved it. Maybe it’s the recent toned-down attitude of the WWE, but this held up really well. ****1/2

– ECW World title, ladder match: Sandman v. Mikey Whipwreck. Sandman’s music is tactfully edited out by the production guys, for what should be obvious reasons. So is Mikey’s, since Beck costs as much as Metallica, I guess. The belt isn’t hanging anywhere, it’s just a match with a ladder involved. Entrances alone burn 10 minutes of the 18 allotted to the chapter, by the way, including Steve Austin’s saunter into the ring during the introductions and hilarious verbal attacks on both guys. Mikey hits Sandman with the ladder to start and they brawl outside, but Mikey gets dropped headfirst on the ladder as they head back in. Ouch. Sandman does his somersault legdrop (nearly slipping off the apron in the process) and Mikey bails to recover. Sandman throws the ladder at him, and then puts it on the apron and suplexes Mikey onto it. He follows with a legdrop that puts Mikey on the concrete. He finally gets some offense with a chairshot and a rana from the apron that allows Sandman to showcase his, ahem, awesome selling skills, and they fight into the crowd. Sandman jumps over the top, onto the ladder, hitting Mikey in the face with it as a result. That actually came across as improvised instead of horribly contrived for once. Back in, Sandman misses another legdrop and Mikey comes back by hitting him with the ladder, a couple of times. That gets one. Mikey goes up and splashes Sandman under the ladder for the pin and the title at 6:30. The pre-match promo was way better than the match. *

– TV Title match: 2 Cold Scorpio v. Sabu. 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. ****

– Tommy Dreamer v. Raven. This is what was supposed to be the “final” match between them, although Raven’s departure for WCW proved to be less final. Tommy and Raven immediately fight into the crowd and Tommy gets the best of that. This has commentary from Coach and Tommy on the secondary track, by the way. Yes, COACH, bastion of hardcore wrestling. Raven comes back with a piledriver on a table, which doesn’t break, and Tommy offers a self-deprecating comment about it. Up to the stage, where Raven rams Tommy into the wall and sets up another table, but that backfires on him. Coach and Tommy taking shots at Raven is pretty funny. Back down to the floor, as they whip each other into the guardrail and Raven gets crotched on it. Because it’s not a Tommy Dreamer match unless someone’s getting cracked in the nuts with a steel object. So back into the crowd with more funny comments from Dreamer and reminiscing about Heyman ripping him off. Back to the floor, as Raven chairs Tommy, and they finally get into the ring, where Raven gets the DROP TOEHOLD OF DOOM. And as expected, Tommy takes a shot in the nuts. Up to the top, but Tommy fights him off, only to get tossed onto a chair for two. He comes back with the hiptoss DDT, but the ref is bumped via a sign from the crowd. It turns out to be a road sign (which Tommy takes credit for inventing), and Tommy piledrives Raven on it for two. Lucas the lackey gets involved and Beulah gets rid of him, but Raven rolls up Tommy for two. Tommy rolls up Raven for two. Chastity sprays him in the face with something and Raven gets two, and we’ve got a catfight as the overbooking kicks in something fierce. Tommy gets a DDT onto the sign for two. The ref is bumped again as Tommy gets a millionth DDT, but now Louie Spicoli runs in and DDTs Dreamer and puts Raven on top for two. Tommy comes back and gets rid of Louie, but Raven DDTs him for two. Enough with the DDT. Tommy obliges by changing to a Death Valley Driver, then another DDT for the pin at 15:08. But the lights go out and RVD appears (doing the WWF invader gimmick) and beats up on Dreamer. Then lights out and Sabu appears for more beatings. Dreamer comes back again, so lights out a third time and this time it’s Jerry Lawler, and that was huge. It turns into a giant brawl with the heels just kicking the crap out of Dreamer and no one able to get into the ring and save. It would lead to Jerry Lawler v. Tommy Dreamer at the Hardcore Heaven PPV in a match was given rave reviews at the time, but pretty much sucks these days. Much like this one, which was brawling and a million DDTs and nothing else. Great commentary, though. *3/4

– ECW TV title: Tazz v. Bam Bam Bigelow. Michael Cole & Tazz are doing alternate commentary here, ‘natch. This is more famous for the finish than the match. Tazz takes him down with an armbar to start, but they quickly fight out and Tazz gets sent into the railing. Back in, Bammer gets a powerbomb for two. He sets up Tazz in the corner, but charges right into a lariat that looked pretty darn stiff. Tazz tries a suplex, but Bam Bam falls on top for two. Bigelow charges and gets dumped on the ramp, and Tazz follows with an exploder that results in him knocking himself silly on the railing as he takes the landing wrong. Tazz is loopy and talks about it on the commentary, so Bam Bam clotheslines him back to the ringside concrete again. Because that’s the best medicine for concussions. Back in, Bam Bam gets a DDT and goes up for a bad moonsault that gets two. Bammer grabs a table (which proves to be pre-broken) and can’t really set it up, but Tazz fights out of a powerbomb and flapjacks Bam Bam through it. Cole claims that Bigelow was sandbagging him on that one, which is kind of weird coming from Michael Cole. Tazz gets two. They fight outside and exchange shoot punches over a piece of wood that didn’t break right (according to Tazz) and it’s back into the crowd. BBB hammers on him, which only gets Tazz more fired up, and Bigelow slips and falls on his ass doing a low blow. Back in, Bigelow tries Greetings from Asbury Park, but Tazz reverses to the choke and Bigelow falls back�á¢Ã¯Ã¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚¿Ãƒ¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚½ÃƒÆ’�á¦and the ring breaks, as they fall into a hole in the corner. Tazz reveals that he’s unconscious down there after hitting his head on the way down, and Bam Bam pulls him out and gets the pin and the title at 13:34. Didn’t like it back then, still don’t like it, although the commentary reveals a lot of hidden entertainment value. **

– ECW TV title: Rob Van Dam v. Jerry Lynn. This is from the Hardcore Heaven 99 PPV, and RVD provides commentary along with Michael Cole. They trade wristlocks to start and take it to the mat, but it’s a stalemate. Another reversal series and another stalemate follows. Rob does some stalling and talks about how Fonzie’s whistle didn’t actually bother him. He’s the only one. Another stalemate and Rob gets a mouse on his right eye, and it’s more stalling. Lynn bails and Rob follows with a plancha, but misses. Lynn dropkicks him on the apron and follows with a guillotine legdrop for two. They head up and Jerry gets a nasty bulldog from the top for two. Back up for Lynn, but Fonzie crotches him and holds up the chair. Lynn ducks tries a springboard dropkick, but Rob counters that and crotches him, then kicks him down to the floor, as Lynn takes the bump wrong and knocks himself out. That seems to be a theme for this disc. Rob picks up the dead weight JL (literally, not like Kevin Nash) and knocks him into the crowd again to buy some time. Jerry finally recovers as they head into the ring, and comes back with a rollup out of the corner for two. Rob hits him with a piledriver counter and Rolling Thunder, but another try misses. Into the corner, as they counter each other’s DDT attempt and Rob gets a bridge for two. Lynn powerbombs him out of the corner for two. Lynn heads out and sets up a table on the floor, but gets backdropped into the front row. Fonzie tosses a chair at Lynn, who stupidly catches it and eats a Van Daminator. Lynn recovers and they fight on the apron, however, but now Lynn gets backdropped off the top and through a table on the other side. Rough luck tonight. Rob puts him on the railing and drops the leg on him, and back in he gets two. The chair gets involved again as Rob kicks the chair at his head after 15 flips, and back to the top they go. Lynn goes down first and Rob follows with the legdrop, but Lynn fights back and they battle on the apron, which leads to Lynn powerbombing RVD off the apron, through a table. Back in, Lynn misses a blind charge, but comes back and kills Fonzie with a chair, then follows with a german suplex for two. To the top, but Rob kicks him down, and they fight over a suplex. No one gets it, as both fall off and the fans get on them. Rob picks up the chair, but Lynn hits him with a Van Daminator for two. Sneaky. Another reversal as they’re running on fumes, but Lynn goes for the cradle piledriver and then opts for a rollup for two. Back to the top and Lynn goes down this time, which allows Rob to follow with a split-legged moonsault for two. Lynn comes back with an inverted DDT attempt, but Rob reverses out and legdrops him, then goes up with the frog splash, but Lynn reverses the pin for two. They fight for a suplex, but Rob opts for the Van Daminator instead and finishes with the frog splash at 26:56. Started slow with a lot of stalling, but they really won me over by the end with all the counters and false finishes. **** Lynn should have gone over here, though.

– Stevie Richards talks about suffering a serious neck injury in 1997, and then lying about it and going to WCW as a result. That didn’t last long, as he had heat with Raven and went back to ECW briefly before jumping to the WWE for good. So this is basically his apology to the boys for doing such a dillweed at the time. OK then.

– Next up, Tazz talks about trying to get Paul Heyman’s blessing for his WWE career. It was always his dream to work in MSG, and he called Heyman from the train after not speaking to him for months.

– Jericho talks about Paul’s travel booking skills, or lack thereof. Most notably, Heyman buying a bereavement fare for Jericho and Johnny Smith because “brother in law” Chris Benoit had “died”.

– There’s also a couple of Easter Eggs here, the best of which is Mikey training with Public Enemy to prepare for his World title match with Sandman, as Rocco Rock sounds drunk off his ass. Funny stuff.

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