The SmarK Rant for ECW Unreleased Volume 1 (Blu-ray)
– (click HERE
The DVD company actually sent me this one the day after release date, so I’ve gotta wrap this one up quick. End result: This will end up as more of a mish-mash of new stuff and old stuff than I would have wanted. I’ll throw in some 2012 Scott sez where I can, though. So this is the sequel to the highest-selling non-Wrestlemania DVD of all-time, thus making more money for WWE than ECW ever did for Paul Heyman. ECW is of course not my favorite promotion, to say the least, but it’s nice for a change every once in a while, especially when the product is as bland and overexposed as it currently is. It was kind of like that in 95 as well, where I’d watch ECW and SMW on the giant grey market satellite dish taking up half of my back yard because I couldn’t deal with another week of World champion Diesel.
Hosted by Joey Styles.
NWA World title tournament finals: Shane Douglas v. 2 Cold Scorpio
So this is reasonably famous, from August 1994. The NWA World title was of course vacated after all the bullshit with WCW pulling out in 1993, leaving Dennis Corraluzzo with no champion and not much of an organization either. Shane was the Eastern Championship Wrestling champion, and the idea was that Douglas would win the NWA World title and it would become the main belt for ECW, like happened with NWA-TNA years later. Of course, it didn’t quite work out that way. They trade holds on the mat to start, and Scorp gets a sunset flip for two. Scorp throws chops and drops a knee, and the somersault legdrop gets two. Small package gets two, and they trade reversals off that. They fight in the corner and Scorpio gets a bodypress for two as this drags on. Shane goes to a chinlock and Scorp escapes with the electric chair, then makes the comeback with a slingshot legdrop for two and a missile dropkick to put Douglas on the floor. They brawl into the crowd and Douglas suplexes him back into the ring, but Scorpio comes back with a tombstone and moonsault that misses. Shane finishes with the belly to belly at 12:49 and wins the NWA World title. This was of course supposed to be a technical exhibition to appeal to the NWA, but was basically just kind of boring. ** Afterwards, Shane gives his big speech, naming all the big former champions, and then telling them all to kiss his ass because he’s throwing the belt down, and double-crossing the NWA in real life. I don’t think the NWA ever really recovered from that one.
Raven v. Tommy Dreamer.
From Hostile City Showdown ’95. Heyman had to be seeing $$$ with this feud by this point. (Sadly, it bounced.) Brawl to the back right away. Dreamer bleeds and they fight to the Eagle’s Nest. Back to the ring, where Dreamer gets a sleeper, and back to the floor some REALLY silly weapons (the infamous plastic dinosaur and a dozen eggs, to name two). That’s just SO Memphis it’s not even funny. Back in, Raven delivers two DDTs, but Raven wants him on the floor. It backfires, and Stevie interferes. Dreamer hits a gorgeous floatover DDT on Stevie, then on the ref. He then piledrives Beulah for the first time (But not for the last time, wink wink nudge nudge), which pops the crowd of sexually inadequate, misogynistic losers HUGE. No contest at 8:02. Another super intense brawl from these two. *** (Well you had to have a Dreamer-Raven match on there, and this was actually a pretty good show overall to choose from.)
Dean Malenko & 2 Cold Scorpio v. Eddie Guerrero & Taz
From Heat Wave 95. This was clipped all to shit on the original video edit at only 9:00 long, so it’ll be nice to get the full version finally. Unfortunately the original tape’s production quality is still crappy, so you can’t understand the verbal sparring between Scorpion and Paul E. that starts things. Thankfully the video quality is great, with really bright colors, so they were able to fix that if nothing else. Taz and Scorpio get into a shoving match to start and Scorp loses that one decisively. Over to Eddie and Dean, and they trade wristlocks for a quick stalemate sequence, but Eddie gets a uranage into a slingshot senton for two. Everyone from the audience to the wrestlers are obviously DYING of heat out there. Taz comes in for the double-team and works a headlock on Malenko, but Scorpio breaks it up. So Taz suplexes him, only to get hit with a cheapshot and caught in the heel corner. Kind of funny to hear Joey Styles back in 1995 openly talking about how Taz changed his character from the Tazmaniac to the Human Suplex Machine. Malenko with a Texas Cloverleaf, but it’s not really set and Eddie comes in and rabbit-punches him in the back of the head anyway. The heels give Taz the old nutshot to the post routine, and Scorpio adds a powerbomb and goes up with a flying splash. He chooses not to cover, and Dean goes to work on the leg. Taz finally escapes with a suplex and Eddie flies in with a frog splash for two. They head to the top and Eddie dropkicks him to the floor, then threatens a dive, but Dean walks away to annoy the crowd. Back to Scorpio, but Eddie immediately gets a powerbomb for two. This was apparently a missed spot, because he tries it again and Scorpio reverses to his own for two. Another try, but Eddie reverses into a rana for two. It’s hot tag Taz, and he clotheslines Scorpio for two. Doomsday Device gets two. Side suplex gets two. Dean and Eddie slug it out and Dean quickly powerbombs him into a Cloverleaf, but Taz breaks it up. The heels get a ROCKERPLEX for two. Eddie snaps off a rollup for two on Dean, but Scorpio dives in for the save. Scorpio powerbombs Taz yet again and goes up with a nice moonsault for two. Things get really sloppy as everyone brawls and obviously the heat is really taking something out of them. Eddie dives on Dean outside, but Paul hits Scorpio with the phone and Taz pins him with a suplex at 19:14. Sadly, Fonzie runs in on behalf of the forces of LAW AND ORDER and declares that the match must continue. So the heels go for the cheap pin and Fonzie counts both of them and gives them the win. Lame finish, but at the time Alfonso was a white hot heel for the promotion. Kudos to the guys for fighting through the obviously brutal heat for this. ***1/2
ECW TV title: Dean Malenko v. Eddie Guerrero
From July 1995 at a show filmed on a fairground for ECW TV. And of course the creepy shirtless serial killer dude is there in the front row even still. They fight for the armbar to start and Eddie takes him down with the headlock. Dean escapes with a monkey flip and Eddie takes a Ziggler-ish bump off that, but quickly takes over with a top rope rana for two. They do a lucha sequence with Eddie flying all over and building to a headscissors takedown, then slingshots in with the senton for two. Dean takes over with a clothesline and brainbuster, and that gets two. Dean presses him into a gutbuster, but Eddie tries a tornado DDT and gets tossed across the ring as a result. Powerbomb gets two. Dean faceplants him for two, but Eddie snaps off a rollup for two. Eddie goes up with the frog splash, but hurts his ribs and can’t follow up. I’m growing increasingly annoyed with the shirtless doofus at ringside and his dreadlocked girlfriend, both of whom refuse to SIT THE FUCK DOWN and quit trying to get themselves over. Say what you will about the jackbooted WWE security force, but they’d never put up with shit like that when TV was being taped. Dean goes for another powerbomb, but Eddie reverses to a rana and wins the TV title back at 11:48. This was, as Kurt Angle might say, crisp and clean with no caffeine, with both guys hitting stuff with pinpoint precision. ****1/4
Cactus Jack v. Shane Douglas.
From Cyberslam 96. This was the final chapter in Cactus’ anti-hardcore angle, as Shane returned from the WWF to find Jack had signed there, and was now determined to make him change his mind by beating the hardcore back into him. They quickly brawl outside, where Shane does bad things to Mick’s special area with a crutch. Back in the ring, and Shane with a legdrag, and then away we go back outside. Douglas suplexes Jack on the railing, then goes to the top rope and hits what would today be a FAT GUY OUTTA CONTROL PLANCHA into the first row. Wild. Back in the ring, and Douglas grabs a chair to Pillmanize Jack. Cactus retaliates by grabbing the chair and nailing Douglas. Works for me. Cactus works over Shane’s throat and knee. Cactus boxes Shane’s ears, until Shane collapses and falls onto the ringside table. Back in and Jack with the drop toehold onto the chair for two. Piledriver gets two, and a major wedgie for Shane. Jack hammers Shane further in the corner, and referee Brian Hildebrand (who trained with both guys) hands a pair of handcuffs to Jack while under the pretense of separating them. Now it gets ugly. Remember Rock v. Mankind at the Royal Rumble this year? (Or 13 years ago, whatever. Obviously I did the original review in 99.) Same thing. Douglas bashes him repeatedly in the head with the chair, demanding that he quit. Jack refuses, and keeps calling for former friend Mikey Whipwreck, whom he turned on and beat to a pulp shortly before this. Shane locks on the figure-four, and finally Mikey runs in, only to smack Jack in the face with a chair and give Douglas the pin at 15:43. Jack defeated Mikey in his farewell match soon after this, and left for the WWF. *** (Sounds about right to me.)
2 Cold Scorpio v. Chris Jericho
From The Doctor Is In, in 1996. They exchange holds on the mat to start and both guys do some pretty crazy submission moves, and they trade monkey flips before Scorpio dropkicks him down into an armbar. Jericho with a crucifix for two. Dropkick and he hits a series of armdrags to put Scorpio on the floor, but Scorpio has a plan. Or, Joey notes, he might just be pointing to his head. Back in, he goes low to take over, so apparently he did have a plan. Clothesline gets two. Jericho spinkicks him and adds a delayed vertical suplex, into a slingshot splash for two. Scorpio goes low again and adds a sick t-bone suplex for two, but Jericho rolls him over for two. Scorpio puts him out of the ring with a BROGUE KICK, but Jericho fights back and suplexes him back in the ring for two. Underhook powerbomb gets two. Jericho throws chops in the corner, but misses a charge and Scorpio hits a sunset powerbomb out of the corner for two. Jericho comes back with a DDT and Lionsault, but it misses, and he recovers with a rana for two. Scorpio counters out of a powerbomb attempt and goes up, but a moonsault misses and Jericho goes up with a splash for two. They fight in the corner and both tumble to the floor, and Jericho gets the Lionsault on the way back in, for two. They’re kind of losing the thread here and they should probably slow down and focus again. Scorpio gets a DDT and goes up, but Jericho cuts him off and powerslams him off the top for two. Flying splash misses, and Scorpio goes up with a shooting star press to finish at 19:53. They worked really hard, but this was like an ROH match where they have a really great 15:00 climax mapped out and then end up going 5:00 too long. ***1/2
ECW tag titles, tables & ladders: The Eliminators v. Sabu & Rob Van Dam.
From Cyberslam, February 1997. Perry Saturn kisses the ECW fans’ ass before the match, just a few months before dumping Kronus and jumping to WCW. Joey is already learning the fine art of “plugging the PPV 101”. Saturn and RVD start and do some wrestling to maintain the illusion of being wrestlers. It goes nowhere and we get Sabu and Kronus and you can just feel the psychotic brawl ready to begin. I think at this point we all know which member of the Eliminators carried the team. The spotfest begins as Van Dam and Saturn fight over the ladder and their partners dropkick it and send everyone to the floor. Big brawl breaks out. They fight, they bite, they fight they bite they fight, fight fight fight, bite bite bite, the Saturn and Sabu show! I’m bored. Everyone is just kind of walking back to the ring. Back in the ring and Sabu with a triple jump moonsault for two. More non-sensical spots from the challengers (moonsault off the bottom rung of the ladder, rolling thunder on the ladder that misses, etc). Then the Eliminators get to do their series of silly spots (Van Daminator using the ladder, etc). Nice straightforward one as Saturn just chucks the ladder at Van Dam. That I like — it’s much more intuitive to just nail the guy with the ladder then it is to set up an intricate spot with it. I’ve never understood the point of Paul E using the hot tag system when there’s no way to DQ the other guy anyway. The spots are only hitting at about 45% or so. Van Dam’s lack of contact on his kicks and punches is very glaring. These ridiculous “do your finisher but involve the ladder” spots look horrible when they miss. Sabu and Van Dam are working extra sloppy here for some reason. Sabu and Rob do a miscommunication spot, leading to Van Dam taking two (very sloppy) Total Eliminations for the pin. ** Would have been higher if they’d actually, you know, HIT THEIR SPOTS. I mean, if you’re going to do a spotfest, at least have the decency to make contact.
Taz v. Sabu.
This was actually supposed to happen six months prior, but Torch reporter Bruce Mitchell sent PPV companies a tape of the crucifixion angle and the PPV ended up getting delayed until 1997 because of it. Slugfest to start here and they do a wrestling sequence. Taz gets an anklelock. He goes into a crossface and busts Sabu open very quickly into the match. They head into the crowd and Sabu hits a plancha. Back in the ring and Taz control on the mat. Sabu makes his chair-assisted comeback. Taz puts a stop to that. Back to the floor, and Sabu goes through a table. Back in and Sabu hits a rana for two and a top rope legdrop. It’s all for naught as Taz drops him on his head with a Tazplex or two and hooks the Katahajime for the submission at 17:45. Incredibly disappointing given the Sting/Hogan-like buildup. Match had no heat, either, oddly enough. **1/4
ECW World title: Bam Bam Bigelow v. Shane Douglas
From November 2 Remember 97, as they put the World title on Bigelow a couple of weeks earlier so that Douglas could regain it in Pittsburgh. Oops, spoiler, sorry. I actually don’t even recall that, as in my mind he won it at that shitty second ECW PPV and then held it all the way to Taz. Shane, who is of course smart enough to just play it straight as a total babyface tonight, gets tossed to the floor off a lockup and gets some advice from Francine. That advice: “You’re looking a little skinny. Maybe you should put on some more weight.” Bigelow pounds away and the audio is really subdued, like the ring mikes aren’t connected or something. Shane fires back, but gets avalanched and goes down and out of the ring again. Back in, more punishment from Bammer, but Shane tries a slam and Bigelow falls on him for two. If they’re going for Sting-Vader here they’re WAY off the mark. Bigelow already goes to a chinlock as they’ve got nothing going on. Bigelow misses a blind charge and Shane tries a bodypress, but gets caught and powerslammed for two. The silent ring is REALLY distracting. Shane goes out again and Bigelow continues the beating out there. Finally Shane goes to the nuts in desperation, but Bigelow just suplexes him for two. And we’re back to the chinlock. What the fuck is wrong with Douglas here? He’s done nothing the entire match. Bigelow presses him onto the post in a nice spot, and then grabs the helpfully marked table on the floor so he doesn’t get the non-gimmicked one by mistake. Bigelow goes up and Shane powerbombs him through the table to finally make a comeback 15 minutes in, but Bigelow cuts him off AGAIN. WHAT THE FUCK?! Were they having personal issues or something? Bigelow slowly chokes him out on the ropes, but Shane clotheslines him to the floor, only to dive into his arms and then through a table. Back in, Bigelow gives him an impressive powerbomb, but only gets two. Bigelow slugs away in the corner, so Francine calls in Candido and Storm, which results in Bigelow throwing Shane onto them. This also proves to the one time in ECW history where security is effective, as they get returned to the locker room as per the stipulations. So back in the ring and Shane is bleeding for some reason, so Francine comes after Bigelow now with her crutches. That doesn’t go well for her. Bigelow keeps slowly pounding on Shane, but Shane finally comes back with the belly to belly. And Bigelow cuts him off again with a corner splash and sets up a piece of table, but Shane gets another suplex through it to regain the belt at 25:00. I know what they were going for there, but it absolutely didn’t work in any fashion, and the crowd was dead because of the total lack of hope spots for Shane. *1/2
ECW World tag team titles: Sabu & Rob Van Dam v. Jinsei Shinzaki & Hayabusa
This is a pretty famous match from Heat Wave 98, and I shit all over it the first time so we’ll see if time and perspective have improved it. Hayabusa’s a really sad story, as he was a promising guy who took a bad bump on a Lionsault and broke his neck and never wrestled again. RVD and Hayabusa have a feeling out to start, trading armdrags, but Hayabusa gets a leg lariat and brings Shinzaki (aka Hakushi) in with a splash for two. Ropewalk and flying chop gets two, but he misses a kneedrop and Rob spinkicks him down and brings in Sabu for two. Legdrop gets two and a clothesline gets two. Over to Hayabusa, but Sabu splashes him for two, so Hayabusa dropkicks him out of the ring. Back in, they slug it out and Sabu dropkicks the knee for two. He goes to a leglock, and RVD starts brawling with Shinzaki outside, leading to Hayabusa hitting the champs with a quebrada onto the floor. In the ring, Rob puts Shinzaki in a bow-and-arrow, and Sabu hits him with a chair for two. Things get crazy as the Japanese team double-team Sabu with a pair of superkicks for two, and RVD is dumped. Rob and Hayabusa fight on the floor, and back in it’s more mayhem, as Shinzaki powerbombs RVD into Hayabusa’s 450 for two. That’s a sweet finisher. The champs hit Rolling Thunder on Hayabusa and then hit Shinzaki with a boston crab & flying legdrop combo that gets two. A table gets involved, because of course it does, and Shinzaki hits Sabu with a flying shoulderblock for two. Straightjacket hold, but Shinzaki breaks early and takes out RVD instead. Rob hits Hayabusa with a VanDaminator from the top, but as usual everyone just no-sells everything and they set up the table again. I’m finding it annoying that they’re doing all these devastating super-moves and just getting up and doing other things. The champs put Shinzaki and Hayabusa onto the table, smash them through it with legdrops, and Sabu gets the pin at 21:00 to retain. I’m still not particularly fond of this one, as there was no real flow to it and it just turned into a big spotfest after a certain point. I can see why people might like it, but I didn’t. It was like a gymnastics exhibition, not a wrestling match. **
ECW World TV title: Rob Van Dam v. Jerry Lynn
This is from the TV show, late in 98. I believe this would have been their first match. They trade leapfrogs and RVD dropkicks him and slugs away in the corner, but Lynn counters a monkey flip with a sunset flip for two. Rob bails for some guidance from Fonzie. Back in, Lynn clotheslines Rob to the floor and hits him with a pescado, but Rob suplexes him onto the railing and guillotines him. They take a break and return with Rob hitting a springboard legdrop for two. Rolling Thunder gets two. Rob goes up and Lynn dropkicks him to the floor and follows with a baseball slide, then hits a springboard dive into the front row. Back in, Lynn gets two. Gourdbuster and flying legdrop get two, and Rob’s nose is busted open. Luckily he’s got some good pain medication. Lynn gets a sunset bomb for two. Lynn tries a tornado DDT, but RVD reverses into a northern lights suplex for two. He goes up, but Lynn brings him down with a superplex for two. Fonzie trips Lynn up, allowing Rob to hit a guillotine legdrop on a distracted Lynn. They fight on the top, and Jerry finally gets his tornado DDT, through a table on the floor. Back in, that gets two. Rob gets a chair and Lynn steals it, and of course that leads to the VanDaminator. Lynn ends up on the floor, and Rob brings him back in for two. Lynn with a small package for two. Piledriver, but not a cradle one, so it only gets two. Lynn goes up and Fonzie interferes yet again, shoving him down and into another VanDaminator to finish at 13:53. Great first match from them, with Lynn being hungry and making a couple of dumb mistakes as a result. Of course, Heyman was all build-build-build between them and never let Lynn get the TV title blowoff win to pay it off. But that’s Paul. ****1/4
ECW World title: Shane Douglas v. Taz.
From Guilty As Charged, in January of 99. 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. Douglasreminds me a lot of HHH, looking unkempt and bloated from the roids. (Allegedly.) 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 battle”. Finally they make it back to ringside, with13:00 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 at22:16 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. ½*
Lance Storm & Justin Credible v. Jerry Lynn & Rob Van Dam.
What is with the babyface act from Van Dam? Faces control with some nice stuff to start before Lynn gets cheapshotted into the Ricky Morton role. Good series of pinfall reversals from he and Storm. Cyrus gets a shot at Jericho in. He works well with Joey. Justin does his Scott Hall impersonation, doing a Razor’s Edge for two. Pretty dull match thus far. Really overblown flippity-floppity chair spot from Van Dam, and Storm gets tossed out and legdropped on the railing by Van Dam. A-Brawling we will go. The usual ECW chaos results, and when things settle down it’s Storm and RVD in the ring again. Totally ridiculous bit as Credible oversells a corner whip and ends up on the floor, where Fonzie puts him on a table…and he lays there forever. Van Dam sets up a chair for the DROP TOEHOLD OF DOOM (which looks terrible), and wouldn’t you know the ring is now set up for a Sabu run-in, as he jumps onto the chair and puts Credible through the table. Would’ve looked better if it hadn’t taken 5 minutes to set up. RVD accidentally frog splashes Lynn, but recovers with a VanDaminator, leading into a Lynn piledriver for the pin. Solid tag match, but not really a main event. ***
ECW World title: Mike Awesome v. Masato Tanaka.
Quick avalanche from Mike to start, and Masato one-ups him with a plancha. He hits the running chairshot on the floor. Back in the ring, then out again as Awesome nails the tope con hilo. He follows that up with a springboard plancha into the front row. Back in for some down home chairshots, no-sold by Tanaka of course. Roaring Elbow version of the VanDaminator gets two. Tornado DDT on the chairs gets two. Crowd implores “One More Time”, so he does, and Awesome reverses to a DDT. Yeah, listen to a group of ECW fans, that’s REAL smart. Tanaka escapes the powerbomb-through-the-table once, but can’t escape twice and Mike hits a ligerbomb off the apron, through the table. That was pretty cool. Joey actually says “Holy shit”, the first time I’ve heard him swear. Another table into the ring. He tries a top rope powerbomb through it, but Tanaka reverses and superplexes Awesome through it for two. Too much stuff revolving around going through tables here. Tanaka hits the DiamondDust, but Awesome ducks the Roaring Elbow and hits a german suplex and lariat. Frog splash gets two. Top rope powerbomb finishes it at 12:30. That one left me flat compared to their other matches, as this one seemed rather forced and rushed, with a bunch of spots and not enough build in between. ***1/4
ECW World title: Tazz v. Tommy Dreamer
This was such a weird period. Mike Awesome was the champion, but WCW wanted to sign him away, so for god knows what reason Heyman brought in Tazz, fresh out of WWE, and moved the title onto him instead. And what Joey doesn’t mention on the introduction to this is that Tazz promptly took that title back to Smackdown and did a quickie job to HHH as champion in a petty and disgusting move on WWE’s part. Anyway, this is from Cyberslam 2000, a show never before aired due to a legal agreement with WWE. Since Tazz was working full-time with WWE, the title change here was academic. Joey paints Mike Awesome as a TRAITOR here, although Awesome jumped for three times the guaranteed money and Heyman was weeks behind in paying him in the first place. They slug it out to start and Tazz suplexes him and beats him down on the mat, and they brawl outside, allowing Tazz to get a chairshot in. Joey rails against the Mean Street Posse and Tazz gets another suplex for two, but Tommy hits the DDT for two. They go up, but Tazz hooks the Tazzmission, prompting Tommy to escape with a low blow. Tazz gets a northern lights suplex for two. They trade pinfall attempts and Tommy gets the pin and the title at 5:11. I can see why this one was locked in the vault for so long. *1/2 Tazz hands over the belt and gives the big promo to put Dreamer over while Joey talks about how Awesome didn’t want to do the job. Uh, Heyman wasn’t PAYING him, why should he go out and do business? He should have pawned the belt and gotten his backpay out of it that way. Anyway, the babyfaces all come in for the celebration with Dreamer, and even Raven offers a celebratory handshake and hug, but Justin Credible runs in and destroys them both. Justin throws down the tag titles, doing his best Shane Douglas impression and failing miserably, then challenges Tommy to a title match.
ECW World title: Tommy Dreamer v. Justin Credible
They immediately brawl to the floor and into the crowd. Back in, Tommy tries a death valley driver, but Justin reverses to an inverted DDT and powerbombs him for two. Justin steals Raven’s DROP TOEHOLD OF DEATH and gets two. Sloppy DDT gets two. Tommy comes back with an ugly stunner type thing and they fight onto the apron, where Tommy hits an F5 through a table. Back in, Justin ignores it, hits That’s Incredible, but only gets two. Tommy with the DDT for two. And of course Francine turns on Tommy and the shitty piledriver gives us World champion Aldo Montoya at 6:41. * In the pantheon of Paul Heyman stupid booking decisions, this was WAAAAAAAAY up there. Not just for the initial title change to Tazz, but then giving the fans their feelgood moment with Dreamer and then yanking the rug out from under them 5 minutes later. For JUSTIN CREDIBLE. Whatever this was supposed to be accomplishing, it was a failure on every level.
World TV title: Rhino v. Sandman.
Sandman’s entrance takes a good 10 minutes. Sandman canes Rhino to start, and Rhino no-sells it. Punching abounds. For two guys who’ve had as many matches as these two, you’d think they’d learn to mesh better already. Brawl outside, and Sandman tosses a guardrail into the ring, allowing Rhino to jump him and take over. Back in, Sandman whips him into the railing, which looked really lame. Tope rope rana gets two for Sandman. Man, he’s busting out the moveset tonight. Bulldog on the railing gets two. Rhino follows with a suplex. The effort is there, but they’re taking 20 seconds between moves. Sandman hits a swanton bomb (!!!) for two, and the Network wrecks a watchable match by running in. The ref gets bumped, and now Spike Dudley runs in. Corino takes 3D, then Rhino gores Spike, and piledrives him off the apron ala Lori Fullington. That’s kinda insane on both their parts. Back in, Rhino blocks the White Russian legsweep and finishes with a piledriver to retain. Match was shockingly watchable until the goofy overbooking ruined everyone’s fun. **
World TV title: Rhino v. Spike Dudley.
Spike goes after the knee to start, but gets beaten down. Brawl outside, Rhino takes over. He lays in some SICK chairshots. Rhino pounds away. Yawn. Spike comes back with some chairshots and they brawl outside. Spike does a balcony dive that the camera misses. Back in, he gets two. Rhino blocks the Acid Drop by putting him through a table. It gets two. Spear puts Spike on the floor. He chairs Rhino and tapes his leg to the ropes. He proceeds to chair the leg, but Rhino chokes him down and out for the win. What a dumb finish. Match showed what a load Rhino is, as usual. ½* (It’s true, he was not very good at this point in his career.)
Jerry Lynn v. Christian York
From Hardcore TV, December 30 2000. Lynn turns heel before the match for some reason, aligning himself with Cyrus. Joey (Mercury) Matthews is probably 50-60 pounds lighter than he magically became when he jumped to WWE as half of MNM. Strange how that happened. No idea what happened to York after ECW folded. Lots of stalling to start here and they start with a stalemate sequence, and York gets a bodypress and flying headscissors. York bails to the apron and Lynn guillotines him on the way back in and takes over. Lynn catapults him into the corner, but York blocks and hits a legdrop instead. Lynn faceplants him for two and hits a gutbuster, but a blind charge hits boot and York comes back with a bulldog. Springboard elbow and neckbreaker get two. York goes up and gets a sunset flip for two. Lynn powerbombs him for two. York goes after Cyrus, but turns around Lynn piledrives him for the pin at 8:52. *** I’m assuming, given the date of the show, that this was the finale of ECW Hardcore TV, because the last PPV was only a week after and I don’t think they ran any shows after that.
The FBI v. Super Crazy & Kid Kash v. Mikey Whipwreck & Yoshihiro Tajiri.
Kash/Mamaluke/Mikey start. Kash blows the first spot right away, missing a Lionsault. Stalling follows. Tajiri & Crazy go, hitting their usual good sequence of stuff. Mikey & Tajiri double-team Guido, leading to a triple-submission move spot. FBI brawl with the Unholy Alliance on the outside, but Kash & Crazy hit highspots on everyone. Back in, Crazy gets a backslide for two, but Big Sal squashes Kid Kash (literally) and Guido gets the pin, thus negating the point of Kash & Crazy doing their big spot less than a minute before. That’s just poor match planning. The Alliance work on Mamaluke, but the FBI gains the advantage and Guido gets some near-falls on Mikey. Double-team powerbomb on Mikey looks good. They hook a double-kneebar, but Mikey gets a stunner on Mamaluke and makes the hot tag to Tajiri. Lowblow for Guido blocks the tomikaze, and both FBI are dropped on chairs. Mikey sets up a double-whippersnapper from the top, but the FBI reverses into a double-armbar. Good stuff. Tajiri takes charge, blows green mist in Mamaluke’s face, and the Alliance hits stereo straitjacket suplexes for the pin. Nothing terribly special here. **3/4
Tommy Dreamer v. Jimmy Snuka.
My, how the times have changed. Just three years ago (This was written in 1997, by the way), Tommy Dreamer was an absolutely despised pretty boy rookie, ala Marcus Bagwell, and Jimmy Snuka was the only star power that ECW had. The fans are on Dreamer like Preparation H on a hemorrhoid here. No truly witty chants, though. I do thank Dave Scherer’s little group for starting that tradition…it’s become part of ECW’s charm. (And now part of WWE’s charm in certain cities.) Snuka…just… stalls…forever….here. It takes something like 9 or 10 minutes for them to even lock up. Then…Snuka…stalls…again. God, if there’s one cheap heat method I hate more than any other, it’s stalling. I haven’t been impressed with Tommy for a while, but he has improved by leaps and bounds ever since the caning incident. (As an entertainer, not really as a worker. He kind of got worse due to injuries and such by the time he got to WWE.) Really, really, terrible match. I can’t emphasize that enough. Dreamer gets hit with the Superfly splash and kicks out, and Joey just totally oversells it. Snuka goes on to hit two more, after which Dreamer is bleeding from the mouth (nice touch, btw) and ready to be stretchered out. Snuka gets the pin, of course. Tod Gordon tries to stop the carnage, but gets popped for his trouble. Ugh. Bad match, good way to get Snuka over as a heel. * (I wonder if Jimmy Snuka’s daughter, Tamina Snuka, was watching this match in Philly? Because he has a daughter, you know, and her name is Tamina.)
ECW World title match: Shane Douglas v. Sabu, winner faces Terry Funk.
(If you think I’m sitting through this thing again, you’re crazier than Paul Heyman’s financial advisor) Joey points out that if there’s no winner of the first match, Funk will face both guys. Well, I think that about gives it away right there. Okay, this match goes an hour so I had a lot of time to let my mind wander, so this will be a longish match summary. Paul E. punks Sherri Martel to start, and she takes a lot of abuse throughout the match. Okay, I have to ask…does Paul have misogynist tendencies or what? He fights Missy Hyatt and Madusa in WCW, and Sherri here, and has about 4 or 5 women who take major league beatings on a regular basis. This, to me, suggests some sort of issue with women. (This and other revelations in this week’s issue of DUH Weekly) I’m sorry, but Sabu is just not made for this stuff — most of his participation is resting. He just can’t work a straight wrestling match at this point in his career. He does put a wicked vicious armlock on Shane, though. Major yawnfest as Sabu and Shane drag it out until Funk gets into it. Sidenote: This is the first time 911 is named as such, and I actually miss the big lug. Sometimes you just need a big guy to come out and kill everyone, ya know? (Unless it’s Kane.) Sabu blows a table spot (real or worked, who knows with this guy) and that allows him enough rolling around in pain time for Funk to come out. Of course, with Funk into it, it becomes a total brawl. Except Sabu is injured now, so it’s Funk against Shane in a brawl and Shane doesn’t brawl really well. Oy. Sabu is helped back to the dressing room at this point. If you don’t blink, you can see ring setup guy Mikey Whipwreck at ringside, too. Terry does the “Gimme a chair!” spot and only gets 6 or 7. Oh, well, maybe next time. Things pick up for a bit about 22 minutes in, then get realllly slow again. Maybe Sabu was injured legit and these two had to improvise a one-on-one match? Either way, Shane can’t brawl and Funk can’t wrestle (anymore) so the results are pretty ugly. Sabu finally comes back out, and starts brawling with Shane. Funk steals Joey’s mike, mistaking for the house mike, and makes off-color remarks which only the home audience can hear. Another cute spot as the three guys put sleepers on each other at the same time. Sabu looks wasted 40 minutes in, blowing simple moonsaults. The pattern seems to be three guys in, one guy gets knocked out, remaining two guys brawl until third guy is revived, repeat. (Well, this one certainly did set the pattern for three-ways to come for the next decade or so.) Geez, no wonder Paul E. wears that hat — he’s bald even back then. And then, for no reason, the Rotten Brothers storm the ring 45 minutes in, and brutalize Shane and Sabu. Why? Joey asks that very question, so at least I know I’m not alone. Sabu and the Rottens brawl back to the dressing room, and only Sabu returns. This is just waaaaay too long for Sabu. Funk beats up the ref 50 minutes in, for no reason I can tell. Sabu blows two more spots as it winds down. Finally, he pins both guys, but the ref is out. Jim Molineux spends the last five minutes on the floor as the three guys brawl, ineffectively, until the time limit expires. The crowd stands and cheers like they’ve done something special. Feh. You’d think they’d know a screwjob when they saw one. Don’t believe the hype — this was*not* a classic by any stretch of the imagination. **
This one is pretty much criticism-proof, like most of ECW’s catalog, because the people who want it are passionately blinded to its faults much of the time anyway. For me, most of it doesn’t really hold up, but there’s some really great matches in here and some neat historical curiosities like the ludicrous World title changes in 2000 and the last ever ECW TV match. As a companion piece to the original ECW DVDs that WWE put out, it does exactly what it’s intended and will no doubt make the mutants happy.
WWE Home Video presents ECW Unreleased Vol. 1. Featuring: Shane Douglas, Cactus Jack, Tommy Dreamer, Raven, Sabu, Taz, Rob Van Dam, Jerry Lynn, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko. Running time: Approximately 540 minutes. Released: June 5, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Blu-ray, ECW, extreme championship wrestling, joey styles, Justin Credible, Paul Heyman, Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Shane Douglas, SmarK Rant, tommy dreamer, WWE