This week’s edition of the homework is this classic ECW home video release. Now available on the WWE Network in an edited form. More on that later. Make sure to listen to the At Odds with Wrestling podcast for detailed discussion of this event. I just like to chime in my own thoughts each and every week.
We start with an obvious edit. The soon to be known as Blue World Order is out here dressed as KISS, and JT Smith is with them. Raven is in the ring with the Sandman’s wife and son, Lori and Tyler Fullington. Sandman comes in but can’t touch Raven without hurting his son. It’s a hell of a story and memorable all these years later. Tyler seems old enough to know it’s a show and I would assume/hope he or his mom gave consent for everything in this angle. On the Network it jumps right into this, probably to remove any KISS trademarks, and cuts away quick too. I thought it was highlights from a previous show used to hype up this night. Sandman gets distracted and eats a kick from Stevie then a cane shot from Raven. Sandman is bleeding as we cut away and I have to imagine this was tough for the kid.
Mikey Whipreck vs Devon Storm
Mikey now has a European title he won from the Dirt Bike Kid the night before. Not an ECW title. I’m sure there’s a background story about this title and why Mikey has it here, but it’s ultimately not important to the story of the match. Devon has Damien Kane as a manager and is accompanied by Lady Alexandra. Damien looks like that big hippie from a couple seasons of Survivor. ECW island would have been a hell of a concept. Lady looks incredible and I have zero memory of her looking this good. I remember her showing up, but the other women in ECW were always made up to look better. Maybe because she’s a little thicker.
It feels like Devon is refusing to do ECW style and all Damien is concerned about is ending Mikey. Was this a longer angle? Kane bringing in new indie talent to take out Mikey? I think I would have liked to see that. It’s not a bad match, but it’s a good slow build opener for a promotion other than ECW. Devon finally remembers where he is and flips over the top rope, crashing on Mikey who is seated on a chair on the floor.
Kane wants Mikey to suffer and keeps instructing Devon to break up his own three count. Hit another move. Another. We know where this is going. Sure enough, that’s one too many two counts and Mikey comes back for the victory. I liked this match for what it was and I’m excited to start this night of wrestling.
Johnny Smith vs Louie Spicolli
Louie wasn’t treated as a good wrestler in WWF or WCW. I remember not liking the British style of Johnny Smith when I was younger. But wow this match was fun. Good wrestling from both men to start out. Lots of credit to Louie for hanging in this. The fight goes to the outside for a bit and then Louie controls the next part of the match. Lot of big power moves by Spicolli. We, universal we, really need to register the difference between fat and thick strong. Louie is just flat out strong and has a round build. I’m beyond impressed. I wonder if NXT UK and their talent has gotten me more used to Johnny Smith. This is an eye opener match for what both men could do. Johnny ends up hitting a Tiger Driver after some fantastic near falls from both men. Crowd shows their respect and it’s a shame these two didn’t get more opportunities to square off.
D-Von Dudley vs Axl Rotten
Does this count as a match? D-Von and Axl square off with chairs. It’s a stalemate. The other Dudleys come out and D-Von serves chairs up to Chubby and Sign Guy and Buh Buh Ray. Axl hangs out in the corner and wants no part of this family drama. Big Dick Dudley comes out and has a face off with D-Von. D-Von backs down and leaves. All seems over until Buh Buh launches himself over the top rope and crashes him and D-Von into the guardrail. Spot of the night so far. This was absurd. Axl picks up what’s left of D-Von and gets him out of the arena. Not a match, but a good fight to build up the bigger Dudley family feud.
The Sandman vs Stevie Richards
Raven comes out to announce he can’t compete. Stevie has good news though. He has offered to take Raven’s place. Raven is pissed and drops his underling with a DDT. Tod Gordon says that’s the deal and the match is on. Raven pulls Tyler in front of him and it gives time for Stevie to recover. This match then becomes a Stevie showcase. The rest of KISS keeps trying to interfere and attack Sandman but every time they get Stevie again. And he keeps kicking out! This is making Stevie. There was a window of time where he was over and could have had the title put on him. Everyone is down so Raven tries to interfere. Missy Hyatt jumps on him. She’s looking great by the way. I think there will be some more Missy talk later in the year with the retro wrestling reviews. Lori gets Missy. The loaded boot shows up and everyone tries to use it. I still don’t know what a loaded boot is. Sandman ends up ducking the boot and hitting Raven with a DDT. Closure will be his! Raven once again hides behind Tyler. Sandman is a mess. Stevie out of no where takes out Sandman and Raven shoves him aside to take the victory himself.
Amazing. Stevie looks great. Raven pins Sandman. The family drama continues. What a hot program this is. Very adult and mature, I don’t want to see WWE trying this, but it all works here and works well.
Chris Jericho vs 2 Cold Scorpio
This was good. This was so so good.
This is Jericho’s last match for ECW before starting with WCW. The fans don’t boo him out of the building. There’s some good hearted heat but overall there’s a ton of respect. These two tear it down. Honestly, my favorite match of the night. It also shows one of the things that worked great for ECW that is missing from the WWE style. This isn’t the main event, there is no title, and one of the guys is leaving. But they are allowed to go all out, tell their story, steal the show, and have a hell of a match. No politics or you can’t do this, you can’t do that. Just two guys showing why they are some of the best in the world. I got more out of this than most of “mainstream” wrestling from the last year. Jericho misses a twist and Scorpio hits a great tombstone for the pin. Such a good match. I want to watch it again right now.
ECW World Television Championship: Shane Douglas(C) vs Pitbull 2
Dirty. Grimy. Unpolished. I needed a shower just watching this match. This is everything Raw Underground wants to be, should be, but never will be. Pitbull 1 (Gary Wolf) having a broken neck was tragic but made for a great story (and he recovered). This fight takes place everywhere and both men look disgusting. I’ve watched many an ECW show but I don’t remember ever seeing both men covered in filth like this. It added such a sense of reality and danger to everything happening. Shane thrived so much in ECW and it’s a shame that never crossed over into either his WWF or WCW work. Pitbull 2 takes a beating and keeps coming back for more. The crowd is so hot and so into this match. Shane is lucky to make it out of the building alive on this night. Francine looks amazing and is already into her role with the Franchise. Shane Douglas wins, as he should here. A smaller Joel Gertner gets a power bomb for his troubles and the crowd gets to pop for that. This match was so much fun and shows how a crowd and venue can add to the experience.
Tommy Dreamer & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams vs Taz & Brian Lee
Hey, its Chainz from the DOA! Honestly, this was a two spot match and some time filled in around that. Taz facing off with Dr Death. The initial tease and then a little more action. Taz looks incredible here. Then there’s the Tommy spot getting suplexed off the balcony through a table. Other than that it’s a lot of brawling filler. Fine stuff, and everything we loved and expected from ECW. Unfortunately it’s forgettable even with the added attraction of the Doctor. Tommy makes his way back to the ring with a trash can. Brian Lee reverses Tommy’s attack, and hits a choke slam for the pin. This is the most work I’ve seen Brian Lee do despite seeing him in multiple matches over the last few months over at the House Show reviews.
ECW World Tag Team Championship 4 Way Dance: The Eliminators(C) vs The Gangstas vs The Bruise Brothers vs The Samoan Gangsta Party
I mean, we know two of these teams will be eliminated and are just there as filler to make it a little more interesting. I was upset at the music changes, but I understand it. Sandman, Tommy, these were easy to roll with. But New Jack without his music blasting for half the match takes away so much from the experience. I’m not a big fan of the Bruise/Harris/very fine people on both sides Brothers. I also wonder if some memory of the Samoan Gangsta Party inspired the nickname for one Sweet Matty Treats. The SGP is out in handcuffs still for reasons that escape me. Just makes the whole match tougher. Especially when Big Matty Smalls slips headfirst out of the ring. Great fight outside on the streets. It’s easy to see how ECW gained a cult following. Down to the Eliminators and the Gangstas and the Eliminators aren’t showing it tonight. I think the Eliminators were one of the best teams on the planet at this point but they don’t get a chance to show it as they’re overshadowed with a signature Gangsta weapons and trash fight. The Gangstas end up winning, which is good. They’re over, they deserve a run, and it keeps everything hot.
Stretcher Match: Sabu vs Rob Van Dam IV
This whole show is under 3 hours on the WWE Network but so much has happened I’m exhausted. I cant stand interview filler but dammit this show was so packed I needed it.
Time hurts this match. RVD got better. The styles that were so original from him and Sabu have been copied so many times in the years since. Also, I’m watching just this match. Not their previous ones, not the entire program, and I think without the entire story this match doesn’t come across as well. Call backs don’t work for an audience unaware of the call back. Van Dam isn’t a rookie but he also isn’t all that he will soon become. It’s a hell of a match and I was sure it was over multiple times. The larger story is RVD being too cocky for his own good. Just one more attack on Sabu so he knows who was the better man this night. That’s one too many and Van Dam causes his own defeat. It’s great work but it’s also like reading issue 4 of a 6 part story. I like it, but I’m also well aware I’m missing a lot.
For opposite ends of what ECW could be I think the two best matches were Jericho vs Scorpio and Douglas vs Pitbull 2. This was a great surprise homework assignment and I’m not sure I would have watched the show otherwise.
Taz vs Dr. Death (even back then) would’ve easily been a must see main event attraction. I know he wasn’t available in ’98 & ’99 when Taz was on top (well, more so 1999) but he could’ve been brought back in the following year in ECW after Taz’s feud w/ Sabu was over.
The more in his prime Dr Death I see the more impressed I am.
He really was a true HOSS back in his prime. I’d have personally love to have seen that program of Dr. Death VS SCSA back in ’98 had Williams been in his prime at the time. Same for his ECW and WCW runs.