All the Motown brothers wore suits. Neat. Dignified. You play better in your suit. – Louie “The Lips” Fagin
If you follow the independent wrestling scene, you may know that two wrestling promotions 1 held a double card at the building formerly known as the ECW Arena.2 The reasons why this ‘might’ be the last wrestling card at the famous bingo parlor at Swanson and Rittner avenues in Philadelphia, are not very important. 3
The ECW Arena is a very interesting building. The main details about the place can be read online. One that describes the history and the atmosphere best is from the WWE (surprisingly):
My memory is that I attended the ECW Arena close to 10 times when ECW was there 4, and there truly was something magical about the building. It was an old school concrete hall that allowed the sounds from the hundreds in attendance to sound like an army of thousands, where you always felt close and connected to the action. And the wrestlers always brought their A game when they worked the building.
While I certainly am sad that the arena may never be used for wrestling again, but to be fair I’ve been to the arena since the fall of ECW and it’s not the same place. The passion and the power and the vivre of the fans that attended those old shows is gone. It’s still a great building where you are very close to the action, but it’s really no better than the shows I’ve seen at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory. And this is not me being a crotchety old fool saying that things aren’t as good as they were in the old days. I wish it was.
That said, let me bid a fond farewell to a place where I had so much fun 5 and saw so many great matches. I will describe my experiences more when we get there (if we get there). So let’s move onto episode 004.
ECW Television Episode 004
Taped: April 02, 1993
Broadcast: April 27, 1993
Taping Location: Cabrini College Fieldhouse
Announcing Team: Jay Sulli & Stevie Wonderful
In the previous episode:
- Eddie Gilbert attacked Terry Funk.
- Jimmy Snuka was crowned the first ECW Television Champion.
- The Rockin’ Rebel broke a surfboard over the Sandman’s head when he came to defend Peaches.
- Jay Sulli and Stevie Wonderful are interrupted by Eddie Gilbert claiming to have run Terry Funk out of wrestling. They show footage from an Eddie Gilbert vs Terry Funk match where Eddie is beating up Terry Funk. 6
- Segment #1: ECW Tag Team Championship Match: The Super Destroyers w/ Hunter Q. Robbins III vs “Hitman” Tony Stetson & Larry Winters
- Robins puts up $500 if Winters and Stetson defeat the Super Destroyers. 7 Larry Winters and Super Destroyer #1 start off with a criss cross. God, it’s been so long since I’ve seen a criss cross that I actually miss it. Early domination by Winters and Stetson, including a double hip toss on Super Destroyer #1.
- Super Destroyers turn the tide; Super D #1 hits a kick on Stetson and a big elbow drop; Top rope Axe Handle by Super D #2 , followed by a falling headbutt that hits Stetson south of the border. After some basic corner double-teaming in the ring, Stetson finally tags Winters. Larry Winters puts Super D #2 in the figure four leglock; Super D #1 blasts him with Hunter Robbins cane for the DQ; It’s a pier 6 brawl in the ring as Winters and Stetson are declared the winners.
- ECW must have added the $500 stipulation to the Super Destroyers vs Stetson & Winters in post production, as there is no indication of it after the match completed.
- Segment #2: “Wildman” Sal Bellomo vs Glen Osborne
- The match is interrupted by Eddie Gilbert. Initially Bellomo seems agitated, but leaves the ring speaking in Italian, I think. 8 Osborne starts to protest until Gilbert debuts the newest member of Hot Stuff International, “The Rock” Don Muraco! Snuka and Muraco speak about joining forces with Eddie Gilbert.
- Segment #3: Video Debut of the Suicide Blondes
- Ladies and gentlement, introducing the newest tag team to debut in Eastern Championship Wrestling, the Suicide Blondes: Johnny Hotbody and CHRIS CANDIDO! Okay, he’s paired with an average indy wrestler, they’re doing the 90s really really tight trunks/feather boa combination, and it’s years before he’s any good, but it’s CHRIS F-ING CANDIDO! 9
I only saw him years later, when he was worn down by fitness instructor gimicks and drugs… Look at him… He’s got his whole wrestling career in front of him, and Tammy Lynn’s not even a glint in his eye… 10
- Segment #4: The Suicide Blondes vs JT Smith & Tommy Cairo
- If you want to be let in on the joke, Hotbody has dark hair that is starting to recede. Cairo and Hotbody start off; Cairo hits a hiptoss on both Blondes; They end this quickly with a double clothesline on Cairo. Lots of headlocks from Candido, but in between the rest holds Candido is like 5x faster and smoother than almost everyone else on the ECW roster.
- Hotbody screws up the interference and in comes Cairo who fights both and scoop slam s Johnny onto Chris. Back in the ring, Candido hits a nice gut-wrench suplex. Cairo comes back and tags in JT Smith; Bonzo Gonzo by all four men; During the melee, JT hits the moonsault on Candido, but Hotbody breaks it up with a top-rope forearm to the back of the head for the pinfall victory.
- Actually watchable
- Segment #5: Don Muraco & Jimmy Snuka w/ Eddie Gilbert vs The Hell Riders
- This will not be watchable. Hopefully, it’s a quick squash. Muraco and Snuka attack the Hell Riders before the bell. Discus clothesline by Muraco on EZ Rider; HD Rider tags in. Muraco & Snuka double-team HD Rider; Muraco hits the piledriver and Snuka hits the flying headbutt (with Muraco assist) for the pinfall; EZ Rider walks into the ring, and basically sticks his chin out just to get attacked post match.
- Segment #6: ECW Championship Match: The Sandman w/ Peaches vs Rockin’ Rebel w/ Tigra
- Jay Sulli intros the match with footage of the disturbing beatdown from last week. 11
- Peaches is in the Miss Elizabeth role for The Sandman, whereas Tigra shows off her assets. 12 Sandman with a leap frog over Rebel, and then hits him with a scoop slam, followed by an arm-drag. 13 After interference from Tigra to get the advantage, Rebel hits a nice clothesline on Sandman. Sandman hits a small package on Rebel, but Rebel kicks out and hits another clothesline. Sandman climbs the corner and pretends to surf the turnbuckle before hitting a top-rope dropkick on Rebel.
- Tigra enters the ring to interfere, but here comes Peaches who attacks Tigra! 14 Referee calls for the bell; Sandman with the win by DQ.
- Closing Segment
- Shows a video spotlight of the ECW Television Title Tournament. Hype for next week’s show includes Stetson and Winters in a rematch with the Super Destroyers for the tag titles, and The Sandman in a title defense.
- Commercial announcement for the ECW Arena. That’s a little better.
- “The Magnificent” Don Muraco joins Hot Stuff International.
- The Suicide Blondes make their ECW debut.
- ECW Heavyweight Champion:
- The Sandman (since 11/16/1992)
- ECW Television Champion:
- “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka (since 03/13/1993)
- ECW Tag Team Champions:
- The Super Destroyers (since 06/23/1992)
ECW Wrestler Spotlight: Eddie Gilbert
When you talk about the forming of ECW, you almost always have to start with “Hot Stuff”Eddie Gilbert. You see, the real start of ECW can almost be traced to August 3, 1991, when Eddie Gilbert and Cactus Jack fought in a 2 out of 3 falls match (Falls Count Anywhere, Stretcher, and Steel Cage Match) for the Tri-State Wrestling Alliance. This match endeared Eddie Gilbert to the Philadelphia region, and made a connection between Gilbert and Tod Gordon, who was a part-owner in TWA.
When Gordon rebuild TWA as NWA: Eastern Championship Wrestling, he brought in Eddie Gilbert as a main attraction and head booker for the promotion. Eddie had a decent head for the business, and most likely was a good connection to the southern-oriented National Wrestling Alliance.
Eddie recreated his Hot Stuff International stable from his days in the southern wrestling promotions. Hot Stuff International would be the dominant force in ECW during 1993.
Eventually, Eddie Gilbert would be replaced as booker of ECW by the man who is more commonly known as the owner/leader of ECW, Paul Heyman. There are conflicting reports of whether it was Eddie’s unreliability (due to drug use) or whether Paul got close to Tod Gordon and forced Eddie out. But that is a story for the upcoming weeks.
Certainly a more historically significant show with Don Muraco and Chris Candido. The matches were ‘better’ and there was less 90s Indy junk, but it’s still not something you’d want to show a wrestling fan.
1. CZW and Evolve
2. Currently known as the Asylum Arena.
3. Basically the current owner of the building wants to remodel it for other events. And the wrestling companies in the region believe that once the renovations are complete, the price of renting the building is going to be not cost effective for wrestling promotions.
4. And 3-4 other times for shows since ECW closed.
5. I had so much fun at the ECW Arena that I would go by myself (cause I didn’t have friends that loved wrestling) and loved every minute of it.
6. Most likely from the ECW/WWA (World Wrestling Association run by Dennis Cooraluzzo) show from 01/23/93 (I think), where Gilbert and Funk faced each other in an I Quit Match.
7. Okay, I remember 1993 quite well, and $500 wasn’t THAT much money. Though it was probably more than anyone, other than Funk, got paid for this show.
8. His wikipedia entry says he’s originally from Belgium, so who knows what he’s speaking.
9. It was the 90s, you would always give some quasi-gay qualities to any young heel tag team.
10. My apologies to Kevin Costner from Field of Dreams.
11. Sandman in a blue Body Glove surfer outfit is indeed disturbing!
12. Which apparently are sharp nails and a killer rack.
13. Let me say that again, The Sandman did a leap frog!
14. As Joey Styles would say, “CATFIGHT! CATFIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Tags: ECW, Extreme Archive