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ECW Hardcore TV: February 27, 1997

To say ECW just had their biggest night ever is an understatement. Just 3 months earlier, an epic display of bad judgment had left the company on the verge of financial ruin. Between the impending lawsuit from Mass Transit’s camp that, on paper, looked like a slam dunk, and seeing their pay-per-view opportunity sliced and diced with New Jack’s exacto knife, the cult company looked like a sure bet to be done within months.

However, through the grace of Vince McMahon, who himself was on the cusp of bankruptcy, Heyman managed to keep afloat as he continued to knock at the doors of the Pay-Per-View industry. Somehow managing to sweet talk his way out of the incident in Revere, Barely Legal was green-lit for April 13th. Finally, with most of the WWF roster on tour in late February, and RAW newly beefed up to 2 full hours, the two companies were able to come together to fill TV time and make a little magic on one memorable Monday night.

This week’s Hardcore TV is the first since their big moment – and … it looks like we’re getting highlights from CyberSlam, which I recapped previously. CyberSlam didn’t air on TV though; it was a special fan convention show featuring Q&A’s and the like, and the only way to see the whole deal was to buy the eventual VHS release – so airing this on Hardcore TV and picking up any extra momentum that may be carrying over from RAW seems like a fine decision.

We kick things off with SHANE DOUGLAS running his mouth at THE PITBULLS; and run it he does, getting censored every two and a half seconds. He’s more than a little pissy that Pitbull #1 compared him to Shawn Michaels; the only man in the country that might have more hate for Shawn than Bret Hart. He suckers them into bumrushing him on the stage, where THE TRIPLE THREAT is waiting in the shadows to lay down the beats.

We then slide backwards into the opening match, which saw THE ELIMINATORS defending their tag-team titles against SABU and ROB VAN DAM in a match that you’ll either love, or hate, with no in between. I fall into the latter, because there’s nothing I hate more than watching guys lie around waiting for everyone else to make sure they get their spots in. This came across as unrealistic as it ever gets; which is sad in a sport that already forces a certain suspension of disbelief from the word go. The Eliminators retain here, with a Total Elimination pin on Van Dam. I gave this one *1/2; which in my subsequent viewing here, might have been generous.

Next up, TRACY SMOTHERS makes his ECW debut again TAZ, and he wines and dines with the boo birds just for being a pretty boy bitch. Taz wins the crowd over by completely destroying him, and Taz is actually a fascinating guy to look back on. He’s a short little fat guy, who in any conventional wrestling sense would NEVER be given a shot to succeed – but by being allowed to run his pissed off New York mouth and then back it up in the ring with a zillion violent looking suplexes, with the announcers selling him as the toughest, most dangerous man alive, he wound up being the marquee player in this company. It’s both incredible, and a reminder – the look isn’t as important as the man and the marketing.

We’re given some fresh content, with a promo from CHRIS CANDIDO. He said he grew up admiring Terry Funk, but he’s grown sick to death of hearing about him in ECW. Candido breaks into a hilarious impression, by taping up his forehead, and crying about his family. “I was the NWA Champion in 1977 when Freckles Brown fell off a cow…”

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Candido says he’s ready to go through a table to show how tough he is … or rather he would, if he didn’t have a growth on his back that sorta hurts right now, and he doesn’t want it to get infected. He says he’s also willing to take a thousand chairshots to the face, but then backtracks, because he’s got a puppy that’s been travelling with him lately, and he needs to be able to walk it every morning, so he can’t risk that. With all that said, he promises he’s still a legend … because he’s Chris Candido.

Finally, we’re given the start of the RAVEN and BRIAN LEE team taking on TERRY FUNK and TOMMY DREAMER. See, I would have run by airing all of THIS instead of the tag-team match at the top, because this was a thoroughly entertaining 20 minutes that got a half dozen different storylines involved, including the Fullington’s being dragged in to the mess. Unfortunately for Raven, Tyler finally escapes from the cult-like hold he’s had over him, and re-unites with his father, who proceeds to beat the ever loving shit out of Raven with his cane, and somehow winds up getting the pin despite not being involved in the match. It’s a violent mess of soap opera crap, but it’s the best kind of “can’t look away, this is actually kinda riveting” crap. Raven’s ability to weave a story in the ring is at its peak at this point, and the former Johnny Polo is actually starting to look like one of the most well polished workers in the entire world.

That’s a wrap for this one. However, if you’re hungry for more fresh blogging by me, you can visit capital-eats.com, which is my restaurant turned travel guide, currently chronicling my time in the Philippines, my home for the remainder of 2016.

Next up, the weekend approaches, and that means we’ve got Shotgun nestled in with a pile of WCW B, C, and D shows, my bread and butter. Ladies and gentleman, I’m home again.