ECW Hardcore TV: February 22, 1997

It’s been awhile – but the last time we left off with Hardcore TV, we’d spent the last two weeks re-living memories from Crossing the Line Again. We’re now 3 weeks removed from that special event, and with Cyberslam happening later today, we should see some new footage and angle development.
Hiding out in an empty subway stairwell, RAVEN chats about his #1 obsession – My Little Pony. That’s right, he’s a full-fledged Brony. Of course I am kidding, his life is, was, and always will be Tommy Dreamer. Apparently Tommy believes that his time is now, but it will never ever be his time. Nor will it be for his mentor, 53-year old Terry Funk. “What infuriates me most of all, is that you’re so old you could be my father. And I hate my father! I’m gonna beat you and hit you like that bastard did to me. My father beat me Terry Funk, and I’m gonna beat you the same way.” After musing about all the psychological damage he’s done to the Sandman, he reflects on the lost Stevie Richards. He left, just like everyone else, wanting to be his own man. He offers Stevie one last chance to come back, and he’ll forgive all. This guy really needs a little time with Dr. Shelby.

JOEY STYLES can’t wait for Barely Legal in April, the promotion that’s all the talk of the Monday Night Wars. No immediate response to the WWF’s challenge on Monday, instead opting to take us through a look at Raven’s torture of the Sandman and Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer is still without a win over Raven, no matter how much he’s beaten the man. And then there’s Terry Funk, the old man who is pleading with the company for one more title shot. As it stands, all these guys will have a chance to hunt Raven at Barely Legal – the main event isn’t set and we’ll be establishing that in the coming weeks.
THE SANDMAN vs. D-VON DUDLEY (with Sign Guy Dudley)
Sandman’s entrance lasts long enough for him to chug three beers; and while the act admittedly doesn’t take him very long, he’s got a couple of cigarettes to work over in between. Match preparation can’t be rushed. The fans offer emotional support by chanting “FUCK HIM UP SANDMAN, FUCK HIM UP!” This is a rematch from CTLA, where Sandman was destroyed at the hands of the now united Dudley Boys. We re-live that and miss the opening bell, coming back in time to see D-Von and Sandman engaged in sword play with a chair against a Singapore cane. Chair wins this round, and Sandman is staggering – either punch drunk, or just drunk. On the floor, D-Von asks the fans to TESTIFY, while laying in some, slow ass punches. They circle around the ring with D-Von throwing a new punch every 15 seconds or so, carrying this one for a few minutes. Sandman eventually backs up and hits a drop toe hold, sending D-Von face first into the support post. In his fog, he sees D-Von’s glasses, and decides to wear them. I’ve been there bud – everything seems like a good idea at closing time.
Sandman crawls around under the ring looking for god knows what; maybe a table, maybe a Singapore cane, maybe the Ultimate Warrior, but he comes up with a ridiculously tall red ladder. Mistaking this for D-Von, he suplexes the ladder – but thankfully, it falls on D-Von, making the move a success. Back in the ring, the ladder is set up in the corner, and Sandman’s got that drunken smile on his face – the one where you’ve managed to remember all the words to “Freebird” while performing karaoke. D-Von reverses an Irish whip, and Sandman hits the ladder. D-Von traps Sandman under the ladder and drops a leg. Using the ladder for leverage, he still only gets 2. D-Von heads up, but Sandman drunkenly stumbles into the ropes – D-Von falls off the top, but hits the ladder on the way down, catapulting it upwards into the Sandman’s face. That’s a pretty unique spot, and probably should have been the finish, but, well, ECW. After the inevitable kickout, D-Von sets up the ladder and tries a splash from about ¾ of the way up – but Sandman moves and D-Von bellyflops. Sandman nails a DDT, and heads up to the ceiling – where he swings off a beam and drops a leg onto D-Von for the pin at 9:42. From a pure trainwreck standpoint, this was kinda fun – but wrestling it ain’t. *
JOEL GERTNER hits the ring for the official decision, but before he opens his mouth, he takes a Singapore cane to the face, yielding a man-sized pop. BUBBA RAY DUDLEY attacks from behind, but Sandman’s not having anything tonight, single-handedly beating up both guys … until they hit the 3-D out of nowhere, and leave him lying as we head to commercial.
Via satellite, impending ECW imports GRAN NANIWAGRAN HAMADA, and THE GREAT SASUKE pimp Michinoku Pro wrestling, which is the ECW of Japan. English ain’t their strong suit, but Sasuke will more than make up for that in the ring.
TAZ (with Bill Alphonso) vs. SCOTT TAYLOR
This is Taz’s return to the ring, in preparation for Lance Storm at Cyberslam. Taylor is of course a ridiculously young Scotty 2 Hotty, and he’s got a phenomenal 80’s mullet on the go. Taz bitch slaps Taylor, and when Taylor gives it right back it may as well be a death sentence. A cross armbreaker is only broken up by a foot on the ropes. If there’s no DQ, why bother letting go? Taylor hits a savate kick and follows with a dropkick sending Taz to the floor. Giving Taz a chance to breathe is probably a mistake, and Taylor knows it, hitting a springboard plancha to keep the little monster down. Back in, Taylor gets caught in an overhead front facelock suplex, and Taz feeds him a clothesline that turns Scotty inside out – just in case he had any misconceptions of winning this one. Taylor ducks a big boot, slides to the outside, trips Taz up, and crotches him on the ringpost! A springboard clothesline gets 2, and that’ll be the end of Taylor’s offense. A t-bone about kills the poor guy, and the Tazzmission finishes at 6:06.Taz, when given someone who can pinball around the ring for him, looks like the midget prototype for Brock Lesnar today. **
TAKA MICHINOKUTERRY BOY, and DICK TOGO check in via satellite. THE BWO join them, and Stevie apologizes for the interruption, but due to the overwhelming popularity of their group, they need expansion. Taka: “Oh, international?” And that’s exactly what they have in mind, offering shirts to the trio. All 6 lead a “BUY THE SHIRT” chant as we take another break.
Man – I thought we might get through this show SHANE DOUGLAS free, but no such luck. FRANCINE is hanging on, and Douglas is in a bad mood. He didn’t care for the comment that Funk made that the ECW title is the only belt worth going for, because he’s made the TV title mean something. “Terry Funk, you do it your way, the ECW way, and I’ll do it my way.” He shoves his tongue down Francine’s mouth, who comes up for air and lets us know “and he does it so well”. I feel like I caught several diseases just watching that.
CHRIS CANDIDO carries on like a lunatic, about what I *think* is a promo against Rob Van Dam. It’s hard to tell, because he’s buzzing around like a bee on cocaine.
Fan Cam footage from last weekend shows the return of SABU, confronting TAZ. Before they throw down, THE ENTIRE LOCKER ROOM rushed the ring to keep them apart. There’s something decidedly un-hardcore about keeping guys from fighting. Just as the credits roll, Sabu manages to bust through the wall of wrestlers and hit Taz with a hands free plancha! The guys roll around on the ground, throwing punches, and we are out of time. Infomercials are NEXT!

ECW Hardcore TV: February 15, 1997

Big Dirty Murphy asks: Why has it continually been the narrative for nearly 20 years that that stupid Mass Transit kid was some poor helpless victim who got hurt at the hands of a heartless criminal? He lied about his age to get booked, lied about having wrestling experience, and allowed himself to get bladed by an opponent, something that always results in excessive gore (see also WM13). How about blaming the kid and his dad who apparently helped him get booked? Personal responsibility doesn’t play ANY factor here?
Because the kid was 16 years old. When you’re 16 years old, you’re probably going to do a lot of dumb shit things. The kid, from all accounts, had a number of self-confidence issues, and suffered from depression. I’ve known adults in the same position who make mistakes, and that’s before you factor in the confusing world of being a teenager. Paul Heyman was a fully grown adult, and as a business owner, and ultimately the person in charge of his brand, it’s his responsibility to vet every single person who steps into a wrestling ring. As much as I want to rain down the hate-parade on the kid’s father, I guarantee the guy thought wrestling was little more than two guys pretending to punch each other and it was all in good fun, and he was just happy to see his son participating in a group activity. That probably makes him a shitty parent for failing to educate himself before signing off on the idea of letting his kid go through with it, but Heyman’s lack of due diligence was the real issue.

Then there’s New Jack, whose idea of a little rookie hazing is apparently to take a box cutter and rip apart someone’s forehead until you tap an artery. It’s one thing to make a mistake, but New Jack fessed a long time ago he intended to hurt the kid, which is, as far as I know, assault with a deadly weapon. The kid could have easily bled to death inside that ring, and Jack seemingly didn’t give a damn. In light of this past weekend, where a highly skilled 20-year veteran passed away due to wear and tear off a couple of standard bumps, I’d say that awareness should be at an all time high about how critical it is to protect your opponents inside the ring. I can’t accept any argument that lets Heyman and especially New Jack off the hook. Heyman probably should have had his company shut down pending further investigation of safety practices, and New Jack should have done jail time. Rest assured, if this had occurred in 2015, this is *exactly* what would have happened.
Now, just because I hold that particular stance doesn’t mean I’m going to slam my laptop lid in moral outrage and stop watching immediately. I love wrestling. I grew up on it, and the late 90’s came during the most influential period of my life; my mid to late teens. So as a viewer – I’m thrilled the company wasn’t shut down, that they were able to continue to produce content, and that we’re able to look back some 20 years later and talk about it. But it doesn’t make it right.
As I dismount from my high horse, I’m greeted by the steely eyes of TOMMY DREAMER. He figures with all the hardcore things he’s done in his 3 years as an ECW wrestler, things are probably gonna be all sorts of gory come the PPV in April. And, just to accentuate the point, we’re shown a highlight package with all his nastiest moments; starting with the “Please Sir, may I have another?” caning from Woman and Sandman, the piledriving of Beulah, the face first chair-shot to Raven in the cage, his war with Cactus Jack, and the Stop “sign” on Raven. If that doesn’t get your blood pumping …
JOEY STYLES starts the hype-machine for Barely Legal, in what he’s calling a revolution in pay-per-view offerings. He figures Raven is going to be running scared trying to retain his title between now and then, especially in light of the fact that Stevie Richards is hunting him. A single Stevie Kick could be the difference between retaining … or losing.
Highlights from the main event of Crossing The Line Again are aired.
The Terry Funk / Tommy Rich match is replayed from the same show, which I reviewed a few weeks back. Geriatric fight be damned, there’s nothing quite like watching a couple of old vets work a crowd, and these guys brought everything they have left in the tank. Lots of fun.
A smiling TERRY FUNK tells a story about an old bull rider who was passed his prime, named Freckles Brown. He managed to jump on a bull that had thrown dozens of tough men away, setting a new record above this particularly wild animal. He was asked afterwards how he did it, and he just grinned and said “every dog has his day”. Funk feels the exact same way, he’s still looking for his day. If he’s able to capture the belt from Raven, he can give his family a lifetime memory of seeing Terry on top of the sport, instead of as a beat up old has-been.
The genesis of The Dudley Boys is shown in full. The era of Bubba and D-Von is upon us.
Speaking of, THE DUDLEY BOYS are out in the street. They’ve been looking all over Philly looking for Da Gangstas, starting with the West Side, working their way to the East Side, and even though they can’t afford it, they checked out the North Side. So, they’re standing in the South Side of Philly, and there’s not a Gangsta to be found. And the reason? They’re nothing but a bunch of “Puh-Puh-Puh-Puh-Puh” *smack* “Cowards!”
Lance Storm’s debut against Balls Mahoney from CTLA is shared. Storm would have far greater days ahead, but as far as debuts go, it was ago.
RAVEN sits in a basement somewhere, and asks Terry Funk to knock off the boring old war stories unless he’s willing to buy another round. If fate somehow puts them together, then the dog is going to be denied his day. Funk can talk all he wants about his dad dying in his arms, because if his own father had died in his arms he would be a much happier person today. The miserable shit promises to be World Champion forever.
The tag-team title match between The Eliminators and RVD/Sabu is replayed – which makes for an easy fast-forward spot. I know there’s folks out there who love a good 20-minute Sabu slopfest,  but I’m not one of them and I have no urge to re-watch this one again anytime soon.

CyberSlam is coming at us next week, as well as a new episode of Hardcore TV with a couple of fresh arena matches. And, of course, Jerry Lawler’s issued a HUGE open challenge to the ECW roster for the February 24th edition of RAW. It’s not a question of whether they’ll respond, it’s how they’ll respond.

ECW Hardcore TV: February 8, 1997

graves9: The BWO was so awesome back in the day and
Heyman did the impossible and got Raven’s lackey, who Joey Styles would call a
clueless putz and turned him into the most over face in the promotion. Stevie
really should have stuck around, but he followed Raven out the door and WCW
blew past Raven and Stevie’s history in a month, and had Raven beat him rather
easily at the Clash of the champions. Stevie soon after disappeared before
doing a few ECW shows and going to the WWE and never really getting pushed
again. Wat could have been for Stevie. If he could have done it again I bet he
would have stuck around.
Tenken347: Having also rewatched this stuff pretty
recently, I was able to put my finger on exactly what it was that I liked about
the bWo. While the nWo angle was something that went on to redefine the entire
industry, it was all just so serious all the time. Stevie and Meanie coming
along to take the piss out of it just wound up being a real breath of fresh
air, and not coincidentally became about the only real opportunity Stevie
Richards got to show the world how good he really could be.
The genesis of Stevie Richards from lackey to top-level threat was, as
graves9 alluded to, nothing short of a miracle. Now, Stevie was never so low he
was perceived as a modern day Virgil; but he definitely looked like a guy who
was never going to get much further than playing “and the challenger…” for the
TV title.

What Paul Heyman did better than anyone else, was recognize when
something worked, and push the hell out of it. The bWo was supposed to be a one
shot deal; another parody as they’d done with KISS or the Jackson 5. But the
reception it got screamed money, and Heyman let them run with it. It’s this
kind of grass-roots stuff that really makes pro-wrestling so much fun (and so
bloody frustrating in the modern era). The creative freedom the mid-card acts
had in the mid to late-90’s to just keep throwing stuff at the wall until
something stuck was always fun; from Crash Holly and his 24/7 gig, to Mr. Socko,
to Chris Jericho Conspiracy Victim, there was rarely a dull moment.
However, since we just ran through Crossing the
Line Again
, tonight’s show may in fact be a Dull Moment, since we’re likely to be
rehashing the bulk of that and viewing very little new content. But, for the
sake of giving us the complete picture of the year that was 1997, let’s see
what we’ve got.
Paul Heyman’s passionate pay-per-view announcement is replayed in full.
upcoming re-match against the Pitbulls and Tommy Dreamer. Douglas promises
people will be talking about their team for centuries to come. Well, I’m
looking at this in the 21st century, so he has a smidgen of hope.
JOEY STYLES welcomes us to
the ECW arena, and introduces the phenomenon of the Blue World Order.
Unfortunately, it’s the re-hashed Ricky Morton (with Ugly Girlfriend) match
against Stevie from CTLA. It’s still *1/2.
Here’s more from SHANE DOUGLAS
and FRANCINE, with a message
directly for Gary Wolfe. He’s tired of hearing from Joey Styles about all the
“awful” things he did to Pitbull #1, considering what he did to Douglas’
reputation. He points out that seconds before he broke Wolfe’s neck, Gary was
on the verge of giving Francine a piledriver like he’d have done to a man. And,
Wolfe was the same moron who attacked HIM while in a neck brace, all he did was
defend himself. So, since he hasn’t given it up, the next time we see Pitbull,
he’ll be getting wheeled around like Christopher Reeves. Hey, as much as I
can’t stand Douglas, the mark of a great heel is to believe what you’re saying,
and the guy brought up some fantastic (if one-sided) points to defend himself.
The Dr. Death / Axel Rotten match, followed by his immediate World Title
shot against Raven is replayed. Williams was well past his prime at this point,
but his brawl with Raven is fantastic stuff, and should have been the start of
a career re-birth in North America.
THE ELIMINATORS didn’t think
their match with Sabu and RVD at November to Remember could be topped; but they
did at CTLA last Saturday. I wouldn’t call a 20-minute ** match anything worth
bragging about; but that’s probably the max you’re getting out of any match
featuring both John Kronus and Sabu. Anyway, apparently they’re doing this
again. Crikey.
The main event is the D-Von Dudley vs. Sandman match that was only 5
minutes long bell to bell, but with all the run-ins and nonsense, went on for well
over 25. The Dudleys homecoming is fantastic, but there is just way too much
stuff going on here, between Bubba’s heel turn, Spike getting sacrificed, the
Gangstas running in and having a mini-match with the Dudleys, all while Sandman
refuses to stay down and keeps wildly swinging away like Casey at the Bat.

And that’s it. No surprise they used their supershow footage since it
hadn’t been syndicated, and this gives everyone awake at 2:30am on a random
Thursday a chance to see what’s been happening at the ECW arena. New content
next week, which is leading us right into CyberSlam on the 22nd.

ECW Hardcore TV: January 30, 1997

Last week, Pitbull #1 returned to the mother of all pops against Shane
Douglas, delivering the strongest January show to date. With one date left
before we check in with Punxsutawney Phil, the month is looking to end with a
bang (but sadly, not a bang bang, since he’s off grinding with strippers while
dressed like a mentally deranged turd).
We are ANYTHING BUT LIVE from Scranton, Pennsylvania! JOEY STYLES kicks us off just as we
started and ended last week, with THE TRIPLE
and FRANCINE. Douglas
forces Styles to stay in the ring, and says he’s fairly sure he knows who the
masked man is. And, if it’s who he THINKS it is, then he knows he’s a ladies
man who’s after Francine and not his belt, and if that’s the case, he best step
off. Just to make sure the masked man keeps away, he’s hired a body guard. Out
walks MIKE AWESOME – holy crap, I
didn’t even know he was around in 1997! Douglas gives away the identity of the
Masked Man for the handful of people who weren’t able to pick up on it by voice
alone; by telling the mysterious fella that Awesome’s in a pretty Rude Mood.

A bandaged and beaten down TERRY
reminisces on the ass kicking he took from Brian Lee. He puts over
Tommy Dreamer as the man with the biggest heart he’s ever seen, reminding him
of his father. His dad always wanted to be the world champion of wrestling, but
he had a massive heart attack in June of 1973. On his way to the hospital, he
asked Terry how much further to the hospital. And even though it was just a few
more blocks, “dad gum it I just can’t make it”. Those were his last words as he
passed away right there in the ambulance. 24 years later, Terry sits here
trying to make sense of his own goals, and like his dad, he wants to be World
Champion one more time. Terry breaks down, and says if he’s able to accomplish
he’s dream he wants all the ECW fans in the arena to come into the ring, link
arms with him in celebration and say “WE DID IT OUR WAY! Not like the WWF! Not
like WCW! AAA, New Japan, All Japan, FMW, UFC … but the ECW way. What is the
ECW way? It’s the only way, because it’s the most physical dangerous form of
wrestling in the world today bar non. WE DID IT OUR WAY! BECAUSE WE LOVE IT
Okay, so he was a little rambly, and had some difficulty tying the story
of his father into wrestling the hardcore style, but god damn if that wasn’t
one of the best promos I have seen in a long, long time. Terry came across as a
genuine middle aged dude, stuck at the cross roads of life, unsure where to go
next. However, with father time NOT on his side, he’s getting to be an emotional
guy, and is ready to appreciate and take advantage of every second he has left.
Raw, unscripted promos from the heart like this simply don’t exist anymore, and
it’s sad, because this was phenomenal.
We head over to Taz’s Dojo by satellite, and TAZ ready to come clean about his shoulder surgery apparently. Taz’s
story: In December he tore up his rotator cuff and popped a labrum and had
surgery. It was an old injury, he needed to have it done. He calls RVD a long
haired punk bitch, he despises him. He went into a match with Van Dam thinking
they were gonna have a classic old school grappling match, but the little bitch
used a weapon because he can’t do it alone. Sandman needs a stick. Tommy
Dreamer needs a garbage. And the 169-year old Terry Funk needs a shovel, even
though he should be using it to dig his own grave. His hands are HIS weapons,
he doesn’t need anything else. However, if Rob wants to play with weapons, we’re
gonna play with weapons. The promo work is on FIRE tonight. Taz just came
across as the angriest man in the world and pretty much the #1 most likely name
to come up in a homicide report tonight.
Elsewhere, RAVEN brags about
taking Sandman’s wife, son, and sanity. He warns Stevie Richards not to fuck
with him, lest he want to be on the receiving end of Raven’s games. “Just
remember one thing Stevie, no one gets out of here alive.”
Outside the bWo locker room, the fans are in party mode, celebrating
Stevie Richards’ win over Little Guido earlier in the night. These guys are
completely intoxicated on blue power.
RAVEN (with Lori
Fullington) vs. THE SANDMAN (for the ECW world heavyweight title and Raven’s
Sandman is still in possession of Raven’s belt, and Raven’s still in
possession of Sandman’s wife. No worries though, because Sandman shakes off any
potential pain by getting good and drunk before the match. Raven taunts him
during the intros by having Lori sit on his lap in his sulkin’ corner, but he’s
too busy playing the poster child for indoor smoking bans to notice. So, to get
his attention he attacks from the crowd before Sandman finishes his intro, and
smacks the cane over his head a bunch of times, drawing color all over 8
seconds into this. In the ring, Raven piledrives Sandman, and after a bit of a
struggle, gets a table set up in the corner. Sandman reverses whatever Raven
had planned, throwing the champ into the table, and it doesn’t give. Sandman
returns to his drinking which he never finished (and I mean even now, not just
on this one particular night), saving some to throw in Raven’s eyes. Raven hits
the floor, but he plays possum to lure in Sandman and whip him around into
various uncomfortable ringside objects, including a table which DOES break on
impact. Sandman’s unable to stand, but that could just as well be the beer.
Raven ties Sandman in the ropes by one leg, hung upside down towards the floor,
and then stomps on his face. Back in the ring, Raven throws pieces of table at
Sandman, and is handed a chair from Lori. Karma’s a bitch though, and that has
bad idea written all over it, because Sandman dropkicks it in Raven’s face and
DDT’s him on the steel. Lori saves at 2, but Sandman’s FINE with that, because
he’s got TONS of unsettled beef with her. He rips at her shirt revealing … a
bWo shirt underneath? Raven saves with a Singapore cane shot, but spies the
shirt and he is NOT happy. He looks like he wants to deal with it, but he’s
still got the smelly drunk on the other side of the ring to worry about, and he
can’t seem to decide which is more critical. THE BWO makes it easy by storming the ring, and Raven tries to
threaten Stevie to return to his roots with the cane. Stevie ain’t coming back
though, and Sandman grabs Raven hostage for a Steviekick, and Richards gives
him the blast to end all blasts. In fact, it’s SO hard that it knocks Raven’s
head back into Sandman’s, and Raven falls on top for the pin at 6:20. There was about 8 different
angles taking place here, but they were all intertwined in a way that Vince
Russo couldn’t possibly comprehend if he spent days trying to wrap his peabrain
around it. This was the usual junk from these two, but the sports entertainment
kicks it up a notch. **
Joey doesn’t even give us time to breathe after the break, urgently
ushering us back to the ring because this pair are throwing down RIGHT now. Pitbull
is all fired up, backdropping Lee and jamming a chain into his throat.
Following a spinning heel kick, Lee goes low to stop the assault. Primetime
Slam connects, but Pitbull pops RIGHT up and beats his chest. Lee gives him a
boot to the face, and hits a second Primetime Slam. Pitbull ain’t so quick to
move this time, but still has enough to get into a slugfest with Lee. SHANE DOUGLAS and CHRIS CANDIDO don’t care for the heart he’s showing, and attack,
ending this quickly at 1:54. 1/2*
The beatdown is on, but PITBULL #1
is back and not taking this anymore, taking out all 3 guys by himself! TOMMY DREAMER joins the fray, going after
the Bulldozer, and that leaves only Francine still on her feet. #1 picks her up
by the throat, but Douglas attacks the rehabbed neck to make him drop her. It
works, and then some, because he’s howling that his neck’s broken again. The
Triple Threat manages to take control of things, and pose to a loud “BULLSHIT”
THE MASKED MAN hits the ring
as Shane and his cronies slither towards the back, and he demands custody of
Francine in exchange for Douglas maintaining his own freedom. He whispers
something to her, and Francine makes her way to the ring as ECW heads off the
Man oh man, we had some pretty awful weeks to kick 1997 off, but this is
rapidly becoming the show I’m looking forward to the most. Crossing The Line is
in two days, and I’m fairly jazzed for it. When these guys hit, they hit.

ECW Hardcore TV: January 23, 1997

What on earth is this program I just stumbled on? I asked for ECW; and here I’m greeted by JOEY STYLES standing in a wrestling ring, in front of an actual audience. No 38 minutes of pre-tapes? No “fan cam” designed to make me dizzier than an amusement park ride? You’ve got my attention, ECW.
Styles doesn’t even get a chance to say or do anything before TOMMY DREAMER is attacked by THE TRIPLE THREAT. The fans chant for “TERRY” to save him, but he fails to appear because Tommy gets tossed off of Raven’s Nest and to the floor. FRANCINE takes a bow to the taunts of “SHE’S A WHORE”. It’s only AFTER the medical crew starts to work over the fallen Tommy Dreamer that TERRY FUNK shows up. Dude, I know you’re 55 years old, but even impotent grandfathers have been known to respond faster than that. After angrily throwing weapons around (and potentially putting Dreamer in MORE danger with the projectiles), he decides to help out and wheel his buddy backstage … walking RIGHT into an ambush by TOMMY RICH. Terry’s pummelled into a fine powder.

After the intro, a confused Joey Styles follows the advice of his director to “start over”, so we get the welcome a second time. His special guest is TAZ, flanked by BILL ALPHONSO. Alphonso steals the mic, and tells Joey that Taz was at the gym pumping 2000 pounds this morning. Taz burns a hole through Joey’s head, while the fans chant for “SABU”. Taz: “You’re gonna have to yell a little louder cuz he’s 90,000 fucking miles away in Japan, because he’s so ‘loyal’ to you people.” RVD’s with him, instead of manning up and facing Taz one on one. He figures if Paul can ever grow enough balls to sign Sabu to a contract, he’ll need all of 5 minutes to take him apart.
THE ELIMINATORS vs. AXL ROTTEN & D-VON DUDLEY (for the ECW world tag-team titles)
Taz joins Styles on commentary, showing early flashes of his eventual calling. Taz might be the smartest wrestler of the attitude era; escaping the perils of in-ring action at a young enough age so as not to have as many long-term problems, while still making a living from the profession he knows. Kronus hits a roundhouse kick, but Rotten comes back with clotheslines all around. Everyone squares off trading punches, but Saturn changes to kicks to the face while leaves Axl stunned. Saturn flies off the top with a kneedrop, and then dives to the outside with an axehandle for D-Von. In the ring, Kronus hits the handspring back elbow on Rotten, but D-Von has re-entered with Saturn and drops a leg off the top for 2. Axl nails Saturn with a DDT while D-Von rocks Kronus with a chair to the face. A pancake from Rotten gets 2. D-Von follows with the chair, but Saturn dropkicks it into his face before Axl is finishes with Total Elimination at 5:25. Total distorted mess. *
Because of Dreamer’s injuries, tonight’s main event between Tommy and Douglas has been cancelled. Also, earlier tonight …
SHANE DOUGLAS interrupted a match between PITBULL #2 and BUBBA RAY DUDLEY to put a bounty on the head of Pitbull. THE BAD CREW immediately rush in to claim the prize, but they’re pretty much the worst bounty hunters in history, getting destroyed in seconds. D-VON DUDLEY and AXL ROTTEN try next, but Bubba hits his brother with a vicious Bubba Cutter, while Axl is launched with a fallaway slam off the top! Finally, Douglas says he’ll do it himself, distracting them long enough for BRIAN LEE and CHRIS CANDIDO to attack from behind. A Primetime Slam ends Bubba’s night, leaving Pitbull alone to take a crazy nasty Primetime Slam over the top rope through a table at ringside! Jesus Christ! Shane Douglas, ever the sportsman, hits him with a double arm DDT in the wreckage. Candido and Lee are officially anointed as the newest members of the Triple Threat. Pitbull #2 was Dreamer’s replacement for a title shot tonight … so now what?
Funk’s still a bloody mess from Tommy Rich’s attack earlier in the night, barely able to walk, though his mouth is running as usual. Douglas, it’s announced, isn’t going to defend his TV title tonight since all the potential opponents have been killed. Lee wants to start the fight in the crowd, and Terry obliges since he doesn’t really have a personal preference regarding WHERE he gets his ass kicked. Lee takes the kneepads off Funk, and starts whipping away with the steel chair. Of course, knowing what we learned in Beyond The Mat about Terry’s lack of … well, leg joint, makes it just that much more difficult to watch. Back in the ring, Lee plants the old man with a spike piledriver, but he refuses to stay down. In fact, he takes Lee to the floor and gives him a stuff piledriver THROUGH a chair! That’s followed by multiple chair shots across the back and face of the Underfaker, with the kind of force that would probably have him arrested in 2014. In fact, Funk completely loses what’s left of his marbles, and starts throwing all sorts of chairs at Lee in the front row. Terry starts to crawl back towards the ring, but Lee stops him as he crossed the guardrail, and gives him an atomic drop ON the guard rail! After a 10-count of face plants into a ringside table, Terry’s so out of it that he starts swinging at the air. He climbs to the apron, and passes out, falling backwards to the unprotected floor. Styles starts thinking that this comeback might have been a mistake for the 55-year old; but Funk finds just enough wind to slam Lee’s face into the table. In a bit of a convoluted spot, Funk sets a chair up on top of the table, stands on it, and tries to drop a guillotine across Lee’s head to break the table – except with the 3 feet of height and the fact Funk’s completely blown up, he barely gets any momentum and the table doesn’t even crack. Lee recovers as Terry rolls into the ring, so the Bulldozer throws the table over the top rope ON to Terry. Then he shows Funk how to put someone through a table. Funk sits up, still ready to brawl, as Styles apologizes to anyone watching an old man who didn’t know when to give it up. SHANE DOUGLAS runs down now, with CHRIS CANDIDO in tow, and both guys take to beating Terry by the guardrail, JUST in case that wasn’t already a big enough beating for poor Funk. Terry climbs to the safety of the apron, where Lee grabs him by the throat and gives him a Primetime Slam through a new table that the Triple Threat has just set up for this occasion! Douglas rolls him back in, and Lee gets the easy pin at 12:43. **1/2
Funk, drained of blood and thoroughly beaten, shakes and convulses on the mat. Lee figures Funk’s old man is spinning in his grave, watching his “little girl get her ass beat”. Funk gives him the finger, and tells him “I’ll beat the shit out of you, you son of a bitch!” Lee starts headbutting him in the face, which gets him bitch slapped. “YOU’RE A GODDAMN PUNK, I’LL BEAT THE HELL OUT OF YOU!” And so he does; pounding away and trying to choke the life out of him. In fact, Lee starts turning purple and Terry won’t relent, so he’s DAMN lucky that Candido and Douglas are still nearby and able to save his life.
JOEL GERTNER starts his hype central, but notes a hair out of place. Of course, it’s a chest hair, which is taken care of by his comb.
Back in the ring, SHANE DOUGLAS and FRANCINE decide it’s high time to attack the referee; presumably because there’s no one left? A LUCHADORE hits the ring, and Douglas asks “who’s that, Juventud Guerrera?” The masked man promises to change the noise around here, and fuck Douglas up. Shane demands he take off his mask, but he refuses because a) Douglas will shit his pants, and b) the fans are gonna have to deal with the smell. A former NWA champion used to say that “to be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man”, and he has someone in the back who’s ready to do JUST that. Douglas demands to know who – and is given the shock of his life when a returning PITBULL #1 rushes in and just obliterates Douglas! Of course, it was Shane who broke his neck months ago, and it’s payback time. Just classic, old school booking here, and the fans explode as Pitbull works his Ultimate Warrior routine all over Shane.
This is more of the ECW I like to see, and it’s easily the best of the Hardcore TV’s we’ve seen. Good week for wrestling all the way around; it’s not often (well, at THIS point) that WCW puts on the weakest of the 3 products. Everyone’s putting their best hand forward, and that’s all we as fans can ever ask for.

ECW Hardcore TV: January 16, 1997

In an effort to better appreciate the era in which
ECW existed, I actually spent a little time reflecting on the shows themselves,
in their original form. While it’s often hard to remember through my mind’s eye
just how much poorly produced TV there was in the 90’s, I decided to jog my
memory by Youtubing the type of quality commercials that made up the era
I can remember this one playing, on what felt like
a continuous loop, during every late night airing of ECW TV, and WCW Thunder
(which I’d tape during a late Saturday night replay on one of the local
channels). And upon seeing the awful, laughable quality, I’m just reminded that
this is very much the world in which we once lived – and to appreciate ECW it
to appreciate the lazily produced phone sex commercials that sandwiched around
it. Thank you, Youtube, for never letting me down. Bring on the ECW!

Morton and Gibson have been MIA in WCW for the last
couple of months, so it’s good to see Ricky collect a bounced paycheque between
appearances. Straight to the weapons – with Morton beating New Jack over the
head with a frying pan, while Mustafa works over Rich on the outside. New Jack
and Morton head into the bleachers, leaving Mustafa alone to choke out Tommy
with a chain. Rich escapes with a wild kick to the junk, but it doesn’t last
before Mustafa boots him in the face. New Jack gets back in, and takes a thumb
to the eye from old Wildfire, but Rich then accidentally decks his partner.
Jack dives back in with a flying chair off the top, right to the face of Rich,
and scores the pin at 3:08. Tommy absolutely sucked, and it didn’t
get him an NWA title reign this time. *
“SCREAMING” JOEY STYLES is your host; and has all the dirt on what happened next.
Frustrated from their lack of cohesiveness, Rich and Morton started punching
each other, creating a vile bloody mess of indistinguishable blonde mullets.
Earlier today, a camera crew was sent down to the
Team Taz Dojo, and after some initial resistance, Paul Heyman’s father
eventually let them into the basement,
 they were let in for an
interview. Taz says he’s been sitting out for the last month, because he’s
waiting on Sabu. Until then, he’s not interested. Styles asks about the rumored
shoulder injury he’s nursing, and Taz admits to it. Joey has his mind blown by
this startling revelation, until Taz tells him to shut up, he’s been hurt since
the day he stepped into ECW. It’s an old judo injury from when he was 19, and
it acts up once in awhile. Regarding RVD, he tells him to get a haircut and
train a little. To prove his shoulder is fine, he says next week he’ll show
what he’s capable of.
Raven’s still without his belt, and he’s decidedly
pissy. He demands its return; and is greeted by the chain smoking, cane
wielding, and likely drunk Sandman. Raven demands they settle this man to man,
and decks Sandman in the face. No referee, so nothing official, but that
doesn’t stop the inevitable back and forth slugout between the two. The fans,
absolutely behind these guys, chant “BWO” in unison. On the floor, Raven grabs
a table but Sandman spears him through it, and then suplexes the table onto
Raven’s corpse. Raven recovers quickly, sets up the table across the guardrail
and ring apron, and delivers a clothesline over the top that sends Sandman gingerly
through the already broken table. Back in the middle of the ring, Raven gets
his hands on the belt, holding it up proudly as he delivers the Evenflow. With
Sandman incapacitated, THE BWO hit the ring distracting Raven.
Sandman gets a beer in the interim (where the hell did that come from? Do they
just materialize in his hands?), and spits it into Raven’s eyes blinding him.
Raven swings wildly, beating up the entire bWo while missing Sandman
completely. Stevie gives him a shove, and Raven trips over Sandman. Raven pops
up, pissed, and Richards throws a StevieKick – but Raven ducks and he clocks
Sandman! Richards grabs Raven, tells him they’re not finished, and the fans
erupt in a “STEVIE!” chant! They threaten to square off, completely missing
that Sandman’s back up and hits the Evenflow! Stevie shows his allegiance to
Sandman, and nails Raven with the StevieKick just to prove it. He offers his
shirt to Sandman, while is happily accepted … so that he can choke Raven out.
Sandman punches Raven a number of times, tying him up in the ropes, allowing
Sandman to grab the Singapore cane and smack Raven in the face repeatedly!
Frickin’ OW! The fans don’t even groan as he does it, completely in tune with
the violence, chanting “ONE MORE TIME!” Sandman downs a beer, crushes the can
on his forehead as he’s wont to do, and leaves with Raven’s title again.
JOEL GERTNER welcomes the best chest in wrestling to his interview segment …
Joel Gertner. And that’s all. Oh.
RAVEN, in a FOUL mood, steps onto the set and grabs Styles by the throat. He
orders him Joey to get his title back NOW. TOD GORDON happens
by, and tells Raven to grow up and get his title back “ECW style” by taking it.
That’s also the most effective method in getting paid around here, too.
We pick this up well into the match, with both guys
selling after what theoretically would have been a long war. Of course,
Spicolli might well be sucking wind just from the walk to the ring. Candido
tries for a rana, but Louie picks him up and throws him on his shoulders.
Candido knowing the DVD is forthcoming, grabs the ropes, so Spicolli just
throws him over the top and to the floor instead. Chris sells the neck like
it’s broken, and slowly makes his way back in … before admitting it’s a ruse
and packaging Spicolli for 2. Louie heads up, goes for a super sunset flip, but
Candido falls forward and gets the pin.
Candido shows his respect to Louie by throwing his
armbands at him, which just starts shit all over again. SHANE DOUGLAS and BRIAN
 rush in, triple teaming Spicolli, accentuated with a
tombstone. PITBULL #2 rushes in, and is immediately
chokeslammed by Lee … but he pops up, coked out of his mind, and kills any
member of the Triple Threat he sees. The heels retreat, as the ECW logo comes
Late night programming rocks – and we’re not done.
Stay tuned, because hot girls are waiting to talk to YOU.

ECW Hardcore TV: January 9, 1997

The dulcet tones of Desperado highlight the exciting return of Terry Funk!! … 2 months ago. At this point, Terry was a well-respected, but deeply washed up hardcore legend at 52 years old. Of course, that seems downright spry when compared to the 66 year old Ric Flair, still clamoring for one more big payday, but times were different. And speaking of different:
The intro is taken over by the BLUE WORLD ORDER, doing a cheap knock-off of the nWo quick-cut black and white routine. I guess the 90’s were a different time, because I honestly don’t remember ECW being this god awful; but compared to the slick presentation of the Big 2, the VHS quality of their camera-work, and their video packages that could be better produced in today’s age using Windows Movie Maker makes this exceptionally difficult to watch. I’m trying desperately to take myself back to an age where if you wanted to play video games with your friends, they came over to your house. Where AOL CDs were used as coffee coasters. Where people drinking bottled water were considered societal rejects; paying money for a free resource. Deep breaths …

AXL ROTTEN vs. BIG STEVIE COOL (with the Blue Guy and Hollywood Nova)
Stevie Richards was always an interesting guy; seemingly taking hold of every gimmick he was ever saddled with, and scoring a touchdown. From the BWO to RTC to his eventual insanity plea with Victoria, the man owned his personas. Unfortunately, injuries, poor political connections, and never finding the “it” gimmick he could run with for good kept him from ever developing into a major superstar, which is unfortunate, because he’s a hell of a performer. Axl Rotten embodies none of the above. In other exciting news, this is another match recorded with the “ECW Fan Cam”, so there’s a 40% chance I’ll start vomiting mid-match from dizziness. Rotten nails Stevie with a swinging neckbreaker, and chokes him out in the corner. Stevie’s filled with the power of cut off short-shorts, and turns the table, punching Rotten in the head and shoving his crotch as close to Axl’s face as legally permitted without charging for it. Axl isn’t ready to experiment though, and cracks Stevie over the head with a chair. “Funky like a monkey” doesn’t work when coming from anyone but Dusty Rhodes, and I recommend Joey Styles begin following that rule. Stevie nails Axl in the pooter, and his eyes blow up like a crack-baby. Headbutt to the groinal region gets 2. Axl gets up, and punts Stevie in the punt, before dropping his head in the same spot. “Work the PENIS!” is the kind of kool-aid inspired words I envision from Paul E before this took place. Stevie comes back with Emerald City Slam, but the Steviekick is blocked with a clothesline for 2. A powerbomb gets 2 before Axl picks up Stevie. I don’t mean to question his decision, as he’s a much bigger man than me with no aversions to putting a hurtin’ to the meat popsicle – but in my experience as a viewer, that usually backfires. Just play the odds man. One Steviekick later proves me right at 5:50. The winning group throw themselves into the crowd, and draw a “BWO” chant from all 22 fans in attendance. *
Meanwhile, we take a look at the Dudley Brothers. D-Von, at this point, is the outcast of the Dudley clan; having arrived in ECW roughly a year earlier to try and bring the True Dudley way back to the family name. More or less a family comedy troupe, D-Von was different, in that he had a real mean streak, and made sure everyone knew it. Brothers Dudley Dudley, Snot Dudley, Dances With Dudley, and Chubby Dudley were gone by now, but we’ve still got Buh Buh Ray, Spike, Big Dick, and Sign Guy kickin’ around. Anyway, we learn absolutely none of that from this segment. In fact, we learn nothing at all. Moving on.
JOEL GERTNER is here again, and his cameraman films this like a hyperactive seal wearing a camcorder on his head. He introduces CHRIS CANDIDO, who is being driven nuts by Louie Spicolli. He was undefeated when he came to ECW, and it’s everyone else’s fault that he lost to Rob Van Dam.
HOLLYWOOD NOVA (with Big Stevie Cool and The Blue Guy) vs. BRIAN LEE
Back to the fan cam, because production values aren’t extreme. Stevie reminds Brian they’re good friends, and was a little put off that Lee took out the entire BWO during the King of the Hill battle royal a couple weeks earlier. He recognizes it’s every man for himself, but he thinks Lee was a little more out for himself than everyone else. That draws an “oooooh” from the crowd but I don’t even know what that means. With all that said, they come from the same roots as members of Raven’s Nest, and he’s got a spot with them anytime as the BlueDozer. All that does is get Nova thrown across the ring by the throat. Prime Time Slam ends this quickly at 0:24.
Commercial reminding us not to “forget about M*A*S*H*”. How old IS this show?!?
KILLER KOWALSKI is welcomed to the program to discuss his hardcore roots, but he gets nowhere before BRIAN LEE shows up and chokes him out. “I’m a legend killer!” he warns Terry Funk.
THE ELIMINATORS respond to what they just saw; with Saturn seriously irate about his mentor being taken out. He vows revenge. Wrestling 101 here, good stuff.
Meanwhile, RAVEN is in the ring taunting Sandman. He’s a better man, which is why Sandman’s wife left him. He’s a better father, which is why his son left him. And he’s a better wrestler, which is why he’s the World Champion; and he wants his belt back NOW.
Sandman clocks Raven upside the head with the belt. Styles: “Well, he gave Raven his belt. And he belts him again.” I imagine he’s plum out of belt puns, but props for the effort. Sandman continues the assault, pummelling Raven in the corner. Every time Raven gets to his feet, he’s punched in the mouth again, knocked to the corner. It doesn’t take long for the blood to start flowing. Raven finally stays down, so Sandman advances … but it’s just a sucker move, and a field goal to the tent pole sends Sandman crashing down. Raven grabs his belt, and runs it into Sandman’s face. Raven grabs a mic and re-iterates that he’s the champion, before tossing him to the floor and into the crowd. They head to the concession table, and Sandman is suplexed onto an autograph table! How many glossys just went down? There’s at least $200 worth of merchandise there; and those bills don’t pay themselves! Into the fire-escape, Raven drags Sandman to the top of the building, and sends him headfirst into every door he sees. Sandman, ever protective of his head, allows it to happen full-tilt. This leads us to the BWO locker room, and while Raven continues to beat the piss out of Sandman, the group start a “BWO!” chant. Raven shoves Stevie to the ground, and exits the locker room. Sandman emerges, bloody, and wearing a BWO shirt. Styles wonders if he stole it; but judging from his physical state, it’s more likely Nova and Meanie just kicked his ass and put it on him. Back down the stairs, passed the merchandise area, and through the sea of fans, they find themselves back in the ring. Raven taunts Sandman to take his best shot, and Sandman happily delivers a roundhouse. Both guys start trading punches back and forth, selling like the end of a war with neither guy willing to give. When they both fall, Styles announces we’re out of time (at the 10:05 mark of the match)! WCW alternative my ass! 1/2* – total amateur hour, Raven has so much more than this kick punch drag crap.

No preview; but a quick search reveals that the Raven/Sandman war continues next week. In fact, the next month looks promising from a lineup standpoint; it’s simply a matter of delivery.

ECW Hardcore TV: January 4, 1997

Our final addition to the 1997 timeline is ECW; the “Big 3” that was
never really Big. ECW is likely the biggest “Indy” promotion of all time,
garnering a cult following in the mid-90’s with its irregular seedy
programming. ECW Hardcore TV aired whenever the hell the stations could slot it
in, regularly changing days, but you could be damn sure it was in the middle of
the night.
With the punch-drunk WWF, and the arrogant WCW as its main competitors,
ECW literally took a niche that didn’t previously exist, and exploited the hell
out of it. Owner Paul Heyman was more in touch with the ripped jeans headbanger
grunge rebellious youth of the mid 90’s than Eric Bischoff or Vince McMahon
could hope to be; no matter HOW many focus groups they held. Paul could smartly
take underutilized talent from the big stage, or unknown talent from the indy
world, and give them a pulse. In-ring ability was second to connecting with the
Kool-Aid drinking, rowdy Philadelphia locals, and as long as you had the right
attitude, you were set for life.
On the cusp of entering pay-per-view in late 1996, Heyman showed the
kind of bad judgment that would have had him castrated in the social media era;
by allowing a 16-year old kid to wrestle without conducting any background
checks, and watching New Jack nearly murder him (legitimately) in front of the
blood thirsty locals. His initial PPV offering was cancelled, and ECW seemed to
be back to square one.

Of course, Paul Heyman wouldn’t lie down like that. Doing the socially
responsible thing and owning your actions wasn’t necessary without an outraged
community hounding you with torches and pitchforks, so Heyman managed to smooth
talk the distributers into getting “Barely Legal” put back on the schedule to
air in April of 1997.
Now with his first chance at real, moneymaking, national exposure just
months away, I’m adding ECW to the rotation of shows I recap, so we can watch
the highs and lows of all 3 companies working through the last pro-wrestling
gold rush together.
JOEY STYLES welcomes us to
the ECW Arena; and we have a changing of the guard. The Eliminators captured
the tag-team titles at a live event this week, ending the 4 month reign of the
Gangstas. Yes, even after an unjustified homicide attempt, it would take
another month to get the title off New Jack. THIS is ECW.
New tag-team champions THE
brag about their path of destruction. They’ve defeated, in no
particular order, the Bruise Brothers, Cactus Jack and Mikey Whipwreck, the
Pitbulls, 911 and Rey Mysterio Jr., The Samoan Gangster Party, Rob Van Dam and
Sabu, Dr. Death and Terry Gordy, and now the Gangstas. They’ve been out of
their element for months, chasing them in street fights where they’re major
underdogs, but Total Elimination is the great equalizer. Same strategy as DDP,
focus on the explosive finisher, and push the hell out of them. Not rocket
This is from an ECW fan-cam in Allentown, PA. It’s absolutely unbearable
footage. Taken on a grainy VHS camcorder by a shaky front row presence, the
fact this is on TV is embarrassing. Van Dam nails a jumping spin kick, and then
does a super convoluted process including a springboard to take us to an
eventual hiptoss. Springboard crossbody gets 2. Candido charges his opponent,
but gets backdropped to the floor. Chris slowly gets to his feet, missing Van
Dam’s somersault plancha.
We zip ahead to a series of pinfall reversals, before Candido just
flattens Rob with a nasty short arm clothesline. Chris starts to stalk Van Dam
around the ring, but misses a corner charge and eats a springboard jump kick to
the chops. Rolling Thunder gut punch sets up a front suplex for 2. A scoop slam
sets up Van Dam’s ultra-fast top rope guillotine, scoring 2.
Another flash forward has Candido back in control, with Van Dam perched
on the top rope. He fights off a powerbomb attempt with a backdrop, and hits a
big crossbody – but Candido rolls through for 2! A bunch of standing switches
are won by Van Dam, and Candido is laid out crotch first on the top rope. A
springboard back elbow knocks Chris off, and gets 2. Van Dam attempts to do
more, but is backdropped over the top rope where he hits the guardrail. A
frustrated Van Dam grabs a giant wooden chair, tosses it to Candido and tries
the Van Daminator. Candido ducks and throws the chair in Van Dam’s face. He
goes for another, but the Van Daminator is waiting for Candido, knocking both
he and the referee who was a little too close, out. And, a knocked out referee
is all SHANE DOUGLAS needs to hit
the ringside area and wrap a chain around his Triple Threat buddy’s arm. He
punches Van Dam in the face, as LOUIE
enters the frey in a referee’s shirt. Spicolli takes the place of
the downed referee, so when Candido goes to try and wake him up, he’s given a
big surprise to see his current nemesis lying there. A Death Valley Driver is
delivered, and Van Dam dives on top as the referee recovers for the win at 8:02 (at least of what aired).
Recently, a camera caught up to TAZ
as he left the ECW Arena. He’s pissy because Rob Van Dam needed to bring a
chair into their match, when all the weapons he needs are his fists. However,
he’s not a complainer, because he knew he’d one day choke him out. And now,
he’s going to teach him something else … disrespect.
JOEL GERTNER claims he was
recently hand-picked by Bryant Gumble to replace him on “Today”, but he chose
to stay back in ECW. Also, he’s allegedly pantless and fully erect. Like,
that’s literally it. Glad he’s here.
JOEY STYLES announces that
some 20 years after losing the NWA World Title, Terry Funk will return to ECW
to … face Brian Lee? I’m not drawing the connection, but we’ll roll with it.
Would you like Brian Pillman’s new t-shirt that will allegedly get them
thrown off TV if they air it because it’s so controversial? Well you can have
it, sight unseen, for only $20! I don’t hate the marketing, even if the only
thing that’s controversial here is the fact that they’re making money off a WWF
guy instead of their own talent, but bottom line is bottom line yo.
TV champ SHANE DOUGLAS and FRANCINE gloat about their killer 1996
run. Of course, I imagine the number of men that Douglas put down pales in
comparison to Francine; so really she’s probably deserving of the promo time.
He tells Tommy Dreamer he isn’t allowed the belt, because it’s all his – just
like Francine and her 2 inch vertical gumline.
(with Lori Fullington) (for the ECW world heavyweight title)
Mikey Whipwreck is of course the former job guy, who went on an
unprecedented run of success without so much as knowing how to perform any
moves. As one might expect, Mikey managed to grow into role, and learned a few
things along the way. With an offensive repertoire now at his disposal … his
days as a champion were over. Go figure. These days he’s kicking around in the
loser gimmick, and somehow inspiring clones in his likeness over in WCW (wassup
Jimmy Graffiti!). Raven works a headlock, but releases it to take issue with
the fans paying more attention to his lackeys (THE BWO, who are looking on from Raven’s Nest) than him.
Cutting ahead, Raven nails the Evenflow DDT, which somehow injures
Mikey’s knee, and Raven retains at 1:29
of what aired. Lori throws in a couple of extra shots after the match, as THE SANDMAN rushes the ring. Raven DDTs
him quickly, and hands the Singapore Cane to Sandman’s ex-wife. Lori happily
belts the Sandman in the eye. Mikey tries to save, allowing Sandman back to his
feet … where he takes another Evenflow. Raven breaks the cane in half, and
poses for the fans, missing the fact Sandman’s on his feet again. Raven takes a
DDT, and Sandman leaves with the World Championship belt as ECW heads off the
I didn’t promise it was the most intelligently written show on the
planet; but it’s got plenty of violence, and for the hungry fans who’d never
seen anything like it before, it wound up being the perfect storm of Right
Place, Right Time. They never really had a legitimate chance at taking over one
of the big 2, due to the graphic nature of their shows, but as long as they’re
able to accept their niche role as the Alternative, they’ll be alright.

We’ll be seeing lots of them throughout this year.

ECW Hardcore TV – Episode #43 – 2/8/94

From the Network vault, it’s episode #43 of Eastern Championship Wrestling.

We kick things off with a video  clip: Saturday, February 5th, 1994: The Night the Line Was Crossed. Terry Funk, Sabu and Shane Douglas are receiving a standing ovation from the Philly crowd, as the ring announcer declares the match a draw.

Roll the opening credits!

Joey Styles is in the Eagle’s Nest, and declares the three-way match that ended in a 60-minute time limit draw the greatest match the country has ever seen in quite some time. I Christen Thee, Joseph “Joey” Schiavone! Joey says that later on we will be seeing some footage that is pretty graphic. I’ve seen the David Hasselhoff-cheeseburger video, so it better be more graphic than that, or I’ll be disappointed.

Match #1: Mikey Whipwreck vs. 911 (w/ Paul E. Dangerously).

911 grabs Mikey and chokelams him. 1…2…3!  DUD.

WINNER: 911. That’s his move! After the match, he chokeslams Mikey again. Paul taunts Mikey, then 911 chokeslams him a third time.

Video clip: On February 5th, the Line Was Crossed. Footage of a Bruise Brother slamming Rocco Rock on Joey’s announce table, and Joey freaking out. “ECW……It’s not a secret anymore!”.

Another video clip: On February 5th, the Line Was Crossed. Paul E. runs to the ring and nails Sherri Martel from behind with his phone, prompting Shane Douglas to attack Paul. “ECW….It’s not a secret anymore!”.

Back in the Eagle’s Nest, Joey promises footage of Shane Douglas and his dastardly ways.

Match #2: Chad Austin vs. Johnny Hotbody (w/ Tony Stetson).

Last week, in a match between these two, Hotbody was knocked unconscious by Austin, prompting this rematch. Stetson is taunting his own partner, getting Hotbody fired up. Lock up, and to the corner they go. Stetson mocking Hotbody by saying he let Austin knock him out. Hotbody retorts, and Austin tries a roll up off the distraction for 2. Whip off the ropes and Austin gets the hiptoss, and Hotbody bails to the floor. Now Hotbody and Stetson are arguing on the floor, while the referee counts. Back in, another lock up and to the ropes. Hotbody hits a forearm then goes back to arguing with Stetson. Austin tries a sunset flip for 2. Whip off the ropes and Austin hits a spinkick, and Hotbody bails to the floor again, where Stetson continues to ride him for letting Austin get the upper hand. “He’s a little kid!”. Back in, Austin slingshots him in and gets 2. Now Hotbody takes over with some forearms, then a whip off the ropes for a clothesline. Body slam for Hotbody, then a suplex is reversed by Austin for a roll up..1…2…3! *

WINNER: Chad Austin. Not much to see here, as it was really about Tony Stetson giving his partner a hard time about losing to Austin.

Video clip: On February 5th, the Line Was Crossed. Mike Awesome leaps over the top rope onto J.T. Smith on the floor, bending Smith back first over the guardrail. Yowch! “ECW…It’s not a secret anymore!”

Match #3: Pat Tanaka vs. Keith Shearer.

Joey informs us that Paul Diamond is still injured, so Tanaka goes the singles route for now. He offers Shearer a handshake, which Shearer obliges….until Tanaka turns his back and Shearer nails him from behind. Some punching in the corner for Shearer, then a suplex. Shearer drops the headbutt to the chest. Whip off the ropes, and clothesline puts Tanaka down. Shearer kicks him out to the floor, then follows him out. Shearer drops the arm across the guardrail, then presses Tanaka back into the ring. In the corner, some rights for Shearer. Tanaka then comes back with some chops and whip to the opposite corner. Sit out powerbomb for Tanaka. 1…2…3! *1/2

WINNER: Pat Tanaka. Tanaka takes a solid ass-whipping for a few minutes then hits one move to end it. Tanaka was better suited to tag team wrestling and taking the heat segment.

Video clip: On February 5th, the Line Was Crossed. Terry Funk with a sleeper on Shane Douglas with a sleeper on Sabu. “ECW…Secret No More It Is!”.

In the Eagle’s Nest, Joey throws it to Matty in the House. He’s backstage with the biggest story of the year. He has talked to a few of the witnesses of the incident between Terry Funk and Shane Douglas. Offering their opinions were J.T. Smith, Hunter Q. Robbins, Public Enemy (who give a hilarious account of past discretions involving stealing some stuff), Jason and Pat Tanaka. They all think Shane Douglas is a dick, man!

Hunter Q. Robbins III joins us to let us know that he is now managing Jimmy Snuka. “Isn’t that just…ducky.”

A pre-taped interview has Jimmy Snuka and Tommy Dreamer backstage with Jay Sulli. Dreamer tells Snuka that it’s a dream of his to get in the ring with Superfly, calling him a legend. Snuka takes it as Dreamer calling him old. “You’ve been wrestling since before I was alive.” Snuka tells Dreamer to remember……………and Snuka shows us that he’s a horrible interview, as he can’t even think of what he’s going to say. “The Superfly is always going to fly always.” Then he just barks, and calls Dreamer a punk. I think Snuka’s mind was on the dead body in his hotel room.

Joey let’s us know that the February 5th show will be available on home video, and you can pre-order by calling this number, and THE NUMBER IS BLURRED OUT. Damn it, I just bought one of those new-fangled TV/VCR combos and I sorely need a tape collection!

Match #4: Tommy Dreamer vs. Jimmy Snuka. 

Dreamer with a series of slams on Snuka, who bails to the floor. Crowd chanting “Piper, Piper” at Snuka. Back in the ring, lock up and Dreamer unloads some rights, then goes off the ropes and dives at Snuka, who moves, letting Tommy crash through the ropes to the floor. Snuka goes out and hits Dreamer with a chair across the back. Back in the ring, Snuka with a whip and a chop. Back breaker across the knee for Snuka. Snuka slowly goes to the top, and hits the splash. 1…2..kick out! A graphic comes on the screen, letting us know that Dreamer is the first man ever to survive the Superfly Splash. Really? Snuka continues to hammer on Dreamer, and then climbs the top again. A second Superfly splash. Snuka opts not to cover him, then climbs to the top again. A third splash hits! 1…2….3! **

WINNER: Jimmy Snuka. Dreamer is bleeding from the mouth, which MUST indicate he’s bleeding internally. Snuka hits a fourth splash, then attempts a fifth before Tod Gordon comes out to prevent it. Snuka hits Gordon with a double axehandle from the top. Now a few of the wrestlers come out from the back to call this off.

We get a Mike Awesome highlight video. I would be remiss in not mentioning that Mike Awesome got all of his powers from the mullet.

We come back to Joey Styles, backstage immediately after the 60-minute draw between Funk, Sabu and Douglas. Joey is with a beaten, bloodied Funk, he retained the ECW Heavyweight Championship in that match. Funk is in tears, as he states that he loves wrestling. He doesn’t think WCW or (muted) are worth a damn. He praises ECW for bringing the passion and the wrestling to the people. Cut to Shane Douglas and Sherri joining Joey and Tod Gordon. Douglas thinks he’s the uncrowned champion. Shane keeps getting bleeped, and then Funk rejoins the scene. He calls Douglas a fool. Shane retorts that Funk is a shell of his former self. Funk takes umbrage at Shane calling him an old man. Shane walked out under his own power, while Funk and Sabu were carried out. Funk is ready to hand over the title to Shane, who takes it. Shane fires it back at him, calling him a piece of BLEEP. Then the brawl is on. WE’RE OUT OF TIME!

The Post-Game Opinion: Good episode. The matches were short, but the main focus appeared to be on the fallout from The Night the Line Was Crossed. A nice angle at the end of the show between Funk and Douglas with good promo work from both. But, man….that Snuka needs to just retire, or get some sleep, or get indicted for murder or something. Thanks for reading, and watch out for another Old School review coming soon.

ECW Hardcore TV – Episode #41 – 1/25/94

From the Network Vault, it’s episode #41 of EASTERN Championship Wrestling.

The Network Vault skips about three episodes, and a lot has changed in those few missing episodes. First, Terry Funk captured the ECW Heavyweight Championship from Sabu at Holiday Hell, which took place on December 26, 1993. Sabu remans TV champ, and Shane Douglas was granted a shot at Funk and they had themselves a 45 minute draw. So with that, the first available episode in the Vault is from 1/25/94.

Joey’s in the Eagle’s Nest, recapping events from last week’s show (which is not available on the Network). ECW Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk and challenger Shane Douglas went 45 minutes without a winner. Now, on February 5 they have a rematch with Sabu also thrown in the mix. Public Enemy were bumped from last week’s show because of the long match, and Joey throws to Jay Sulli, who was backstage to let PE know the bad news.

Taped last week, Sulli informs Public Enemy that their match has been postponed. They’re upset about it, but Tod Gordon steps in. They threaten Gordon for this injustice, but he mentions the police and they are apologetic. Cut back to Joey, who intros the match that was supposed to air last week.

Match #1: The Public Enemy (Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge) vs. Duane Gill & Don E. Allen.

Yes sir, it’s Gillberg, which was funny as a one-time gag….and then they gave him a title. Anyway, PE jump the jobbers before the bell. Don E is dumped to the floor, while Rocco chokes Gill in the corner. Grunge takes a chair to Allen on the floor. Rocco slingshots Gill from the apron hard. Blind tag to Grunge leads to big clothesline coming off the ropes. Grunge drops some elbows and tags Rocco back in. Double DDT puts Gill down. Rocco misses a corner splash, and Allen gets tagged in. Rocco suplexes Allen, then drops and elbow. Tag to Grunge, then a double team Decapitation elbow from the middle rope. Scorpion Deathdrop for Grunge, tag to Rocco, who hits the cannonball splash for the 1…2…3. *1/2

WINNERS: The Public Enemy. Big time squash here, as PE looked pretty good destroying these guys.
Backstage, Sulli is back with Tod Gordon and he is seeking repercussions with the Board of Directors for Public Enemy threatening him earlier. PE show up and are making nice, but Gordon says that they will be facing The Bruise Brothers on Feb. 5……1994. The ECW Arena ticket booth awaits your phone call RIGHT NOW….in 2014.

Match #2: Tommy Dreamer vs. Dr. Disaster.

Disaster is a generic masked guy, so that PhD in Disasteronomy better be legit because I can’t see this wrestling thing working out for him. At least he stayed in Disaster School, or as you and I know it, Penn State. Dreamer is in pretty boy suspenders phase here. Tommy tries some amateur style to start, then they get to slapping in the corner. Dreamer dumps Disaster to the floor, then rams him into the post. A whip to the guardrail for Dreamer. Dreamer pulls a cane from a fan then hits Disaster with it. Dreamer hits a crossbody from the apron to the floor. Back in the ring, Dreamer mounts Disaster in the corner and bites him. Dreamer with a snap suplex, then drops the leg to the groin. Whip to the ropes, and Disaster fails on the sunset flip attempt and Dreamer drops a leg. Dreamer hits the Dream Weaver (Cobra Clutch Legsweep) for the 1…2…3. *

WINNER: Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer showed some aggression here, with Joey selling it as the pretty boy who has learned to adapt to the company style. Dr. Disaster needs a new profession, so maybe he should start shopping the PhD to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or the New York Yankees.

Match #3: Mikey Whipwreck vs. Mr. Hughes (w/ Jason).

Mikey’s debut, right here! Hughes immediately grabs Mikey by the ears and tosses him to the mat. Big right hand puts Mikey down. Hughes chokes him on the ropes now. Whip and Mikey ducks under, ducks under again, cross body is caught by Hughes. Hughes hits three consecutive backbreakers, covers for 2 and then pulls him up. Hughes whips him to the corner hard, and Mikey drops to the mat. Whip to the ropes, Mikey ducks under, but Hughes catches him with a huge sidewalk slam for the 1…2…3. 1/2*

WINNER: Mr. Hughes. Another total squash here. So there’s Mikey Whipwreck’s ECW debut. That’s all I have to say about a Mr. Hughes match.

Match #4: Terry Funk (c) vs. Pat Tanaka (w/ Paul Diamond) for the ECW Heavyweight Championship.

Funk gets on the mic and suggests Diamond leave the ring area. It’s all a ruse however, as Funk jumps Tanaka before the bell. Funk dumps him to the floor. Funk climbs out and takes some lefts to Tanaka. Head to the guardrail. Back in the ring now, Funk drops Tanaka with some rights and lefts. Piledriver  for Funk! Cover…1…2…kick out! Funk again dumps Tanaka to the floor. Funk uses some tape from his injured arm to choke Tanaka. A series of lefts and headbutts for Funk. Tanaka fires back and Funk bails to the floor. Tanaka has Funk in the ropes now, as we work in the Funk spot where he swings back and forth in the ropes. Off the ropes and Tanaka hits the flying double chop. Cover..1…2…kick out. Now Axl and Ian Rotten are out, and Diamond heads them off. Now Kevin Sullivan is out and he hits Diamond with a trash can, Tanaka is distracted by this and Funk rolls him up, pulling the tights…1…2…3! **

WINNER: and STILL your ECW Heavyweight Champion, Terry Funk. Not much of a match here for the most part. A quick match with back and forth action but nothing too exciting. Tanaka heads out to help his partner with Sullivan and Taz, as they have a match on Feb. 5….1994. The ECW Arena would love it, if you somehow showed up for this match in 2014.

Matty in the House is backstage with Paul E Dangerously and wants to know about this huge guy he has seen with Paul and Sabu. Paul says that his name is irrelevant. This guy is responsible for handling Sabu and making sure he is contained and Paul says that it must be the toughest job in the world. Guy: “Not in my world”. Hint: “Don’t bother calling 9-1-1 anymore, here’s the REAL number.”

Match #5: Duane Gill & Don E Allen vs. ECW Tag Team Champions Kevin Sullivan & The Tazmaniac.

The jobbers make their way to the ring, but are stopped by Badd Company who take this match from them (can anybody just DO that?) and jump the champs in the ring. Tanaka takes Sullivan to the ringside table. All four continue brawling at ringside, as Sullivan takes a chair shot from Diamond. In the ring, Tanaka chops Taz’s throat. Sullivan tagged in, Diamond tagged in. In the corner, Sullivan with chops to the head. Whip to the corner, and Sullivan meets boot. Diamond hits a bulldog from the middle rope. Taz tagged in now, he reverses a whip, puts the head down and Diamond hits a DDT. Tanaka tagged in, and Taz hits a Taz-plex. Whip off the ropes, but Tanaka hits a sit out power bomb, as Sullivan breaks up the pin. Sullivan takes over. After some chops, Taz is tagged in. Belly to belly overhead suplex by Taz. Tag to Sullivan, who slams Tanaka. Quick tag to Taz, who misses a diving headbutt. Tanaka makes the hot tag, who takes out both Sullivan and Taz. Tanaka and Sullivan to the floor and they head out to the crowd and out the EXIT door. Diamond hits a crossbody to Taz for 2. Diamond with a front suplex and Taz kicks out. Sullivan and Tanaka make their way back, as Diamond rolls up Taz for the 1…2…3. **1/2

WINNERS: Badd Company. Good action in this match. Badd Company are so underrated when it comes to tag team discussions. Everything they did was crisp. I haven’t witnessed any botches in their ECW run. Sullivan & Taz hit a spike piledriver to Diamond, as Joey wonders about the condition of Diamond for the title match on Feb 5…..1994.

Coming back from break, Joey is receiving instructions on air from the producer. They have a phone interview with Pat Tanaka. Diamond is out of the title match and Tanaka has to find a replacement. Tanaka is a HORRIBLE interview, by the way. Tanaka relates a story about his father (Duke Keomuka) one time finding a man that actually scared Kevin Sullivan out of the country. Joey wants to know who it was. Tanaka says that it’s THE SHEIK!

The Post-Game Opinion: Not a bad show with this episode. Some quick squashes to establish the stars like Tommy Dreamer and Public Enemy; the noteworthy debut of Mikey Whipwreck, and an injury angle. The company continues to cruise under the book of Paul Heyman. Thanks for reading, and go see Dr. Disaster for all your botched surgical needs. Tell him Stranger sent you, and you get a discount.