Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Steve Corino vs. Dusty Rhodes


Great-ing Gimmicks of the Past: Steve Corino vs. Dusty Rhodes – ECW, 2000

First up a correction. Eric S. correctly pointed out to me this week that in ECW, a match where three guys fight each other is not a triple threat match, and is instead a three way dance. The only Triple Threats in ECW were stables – the original being Shane Douglas, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko, then Douglas, Chris Candido, and Brian Lee, then Lee was replaced by Bam Bam Bigelow, then Bigelow was replaced by Lance Storm, and then Storm was replaced by the returning Bigelow. And, of course, a short-lived 1998 stable of Sabu, Rob Van Dam, and Taz named themselves the New Triple Threat.


At the 2000 Guilty as Charged pay-per-view, a Dream Partner match was underway. Steve Corino had selected Super Crazy to tag with Tajiri (who Corino managed), and Paul Heyman teamed Little Guido and Jerry Lynn on the other side of the ring. Tajiri got the win over Jerry Lynn, and then Corino’s team (himself, Jack Victory, and Rhino) hit the ring to take Lynn apart. While they were doing so, Corino called out Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes obliged and came out, taking Corino’s stable apart with Bionic Elbows. Rhino was finally able to recover and drop Rhodes.

After a recap show on ECW on TNN, we had Danny Doring and Roadkill facing off against Tommy Dreamer and Raven. Electra (Doring and Roadkill’s manager) finally hit the ring to check things out. That sent Francine (Dreamer and Raven’s manager) after her, only for her to get clocked with a pipe by Dawn Marie (manager to the ECW tag team champions – the Impact Players (Lance Storm and Justin Credible)). Raven scooped her up and carried her to the back. Meanwhile, Dreamer was well on his way to winning the match when Corino, Rhino, and Victory attacked, giving Doring the win. After the match, Dusty Rhodes hit the ring and was taking care of business until Rhino dropped him. That brought the Sandman out, who fought Rhino off with a kendo stick.

The next episode saw Tommy Dreamer and Josh Wilcox teaming against Corino and Rhino. The match was going badly for Dreamer, and then Wilcox turned on him. Afterward Corino called out Rhodes again. Rhodes slipped into the ring behind Corino and attacked. After dumping Corino, Rhodes attacked Wilcox (who would wind up playing football for the XFL’s Los Angeles Xtreme the next year).

A week later Corino and Rhino teamed against Dreamer and Rhodes. It didn’t take long for Corino to start begging Rhodes to tag in. Rhodes finally obliged and tried to get Corino to punch him but instead Corino put him in a headlock. Dusty pushed him away then raked Rhino’s eyes and locked on the figure four. Tommy Dreamer did the same to Jack Victory when he tried to interfere. Everyone got loose and the brawl was on. In the end Dusty got the win after a Bionic Elbow.

The next week’s show closed as Paul Heyman was fighting with the Sinister Minister (TNA’s Father James Mitchell) in the ring. Dusty Rhodes was also out there to check on Raven, who’d just taken a spike piledriver onto a chair. That brought out Network representative Cyrus, who demanded Rhodes and Raven leave the ring so that the show could continue. Dusty informed him that he didn’t care about the ratings and the two got into an argument. That brought Corino out to join in the fun. Shortly after, Victory and Rhino came out to show Dusty exactly where he stood. As the show closed, the Sandman was standing in the aisle.

The next week, Corino and his team were in the ring along with Erik Watts. Corino explained that he wanted to fight Watts because his father had been Cowboy Bill Watts. Corino then began berating the fans in Milwaukee and trashing the Crusher. The referee (who said he was from Milwaukee) told him to cut it out so Corino clocked him with the bullrope. Corino kept talking as the referee was carried to the back.

That brought us to Living Dangerously, where Steve Corino faced off against Dusty Rhodes in a bullrope match. Corino and Rhodes fought brutally in the match, and it wasn’t long until Corino was bleeding heavily. Finally, a second cowbell was tossed into the ring. The referee (who Corino had attacked previously) taped the bell to Corino’s head, then Dusty cracked him with a chair. Dusty hit an elbow drop for the win.


Surprisingly for such a short feud, this helped to elevate Corino a great deal. All along, he’d been a cowardly heel manager who preferred to hide behind Rhino or Tajiri instead of stepping into the ring himself.

Enter Dusty Rhodes. The legend’s appearance not only helped elevate Corino, but also helped ECW’s prestige as a whole. Even though Rhodes’s in-ring abilities may have corroded over the years, his legendary charisma was still intact. Add that to Corino’s skill on the microphone, and you had a winning combination.

One of the most important events in the feud was the final match. The match simply proved that how a wrestler wins or loses helps to decide the effect it has on the crowd more than simply the loss. Despite the fact that Corino came up on the losing end, it still worked in his favor.

Not only did the bullrope match play perfectly into Corino’s “King of Old School” persona, it figured into the ECW mindstate. On the Rise and Fall of ECW DVD, several former ECW wrestlers (and Paul Heyman) note that Bill Alfonso’s job had been in peril in 1997. During Tod Gordon’s alleged agreement with WCW to provide an “invading” ECW faction (a charge Gordon still denies), Alfonso was discovered to be planning on jumping ship as well. They note that the bloodbath that was the match between Alfonso and Beulah McGillicutty saved his job.

That figured in here as well. Corino wrestled a good match and his talent for bleeding profusely was discovered as well. This helped to move him up the card as a wrestler and not just as a manager. By year’s end, he would be the ECW World champion.

Where are they now?

Dusty Rhodes left ECW not long after and soon returned to WCW, where he once more feuded with Ric Flair. After WCW closed, Rhodes opened his own promotion in Georgia – Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling. Dusty eventually closed TCW and made his way to TNA, where he replaced Erik Watts in a Commissioner-type role. In late 2005 Dusty returned to the WWE, where he works behind the scenes on the creative team. Dusty was the first inductee named for the 2007 WWE Hall of Fame.

Steve Corino went on to win the ECW World title at the 2000 November To Remember by defeating Justin Credible, the Sandman, and Jerry Lynn in a Double Jeopardy match (Credible pinned Lynn and Corino pinned the Sandman, then Corino defeated Credible). After ECW closed, Corino returned to the independent scene, becoming very active in various NWA promotions, as well as in Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling. He was also part of two factions called the Xtreme Horsemen – one was composed of himself, CW Anderson and Barry Windham, while the Major League Wrestling version was Corino, Anderson, Justin Credible, and Simon Diamond with JJ Dillon managing them. Corino tried out for the WWE as a color commentator in 2002 but did not wind up signing with them. Instead, he began competing extensively in Japan, eventually establishing strong ties with Zero-One, as well as a stint in HUSTLE. Today Corino maintains his ties with Zero-One and runs his own Zero-One and AWA affiliated promotion World One. He is also a two-time AWA World champion and an AWA Tag Team champion. Corino has announced in his LiveJournal that he plans to retire from active in-ring competition by the end of 2007.