Michael Bradley and & I thought it’d be a sweet deal to team up for an article and come up with what we each thought were the Top 5 ECW Title Matches.
#5. ECW Tag Team Titles: Steel Cage/Weapons Match The Eliminators vs.
The Gangsta (Natural Born Killaz show – August 24, 1996)
around the time I first started watching ECW. I was really into the
Eliminators and wished they could have been pushed better than they
were. But at that time, there was no one more over as a team than the
Gangstas. They were the “extreme” in ECW. This match started as a
brawl, which was right down the Gangstas alley. New Jack and Saturn
mixing it up on the floor; Kronus and Mustafa in the cage. As it broke
down over the next 14 minutes inside the cage, weapons and high risk
moves made it a match I will always remember. [http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5jugn_original-ecw-steel-cage-gangsters-v_shortfilms
#4. ECW World Title: Mike Awesome vs. Taz vs. Masato Tanaka (ECW
Anarchy Rulz – September 19, 1999) This match was more emotional than
anything for me. Taz was in the middle of his run as ECW Champion and
it was already known he was headed to the WWF. More than anything, the
breaking of kayfabe and the locker room breaking during the match as Taz
embraced Paul Heyman as he left ECW will be a permanent fixture in my
#3. ECW Television Title: Jerry Lynn vs. Rob Van Dam (ECW Hardcore
Heaven 1999 – May 16, 1999) RVD and Jerry Lynn. The Whole F’N Show
versus The New F’N Show. It was an argument I had with my fellow ECW
friends over who was better. I sided with Lynn and hoped this was his
night. A battle for the ages that stole this show, was booked as no
time limit. As perfect of a match as you can get on the technical side
and you had to sympathize with the bloody Lynn, who would not quit.
#2. ECW Tag Team Titles: Jinsei Shinzaki & Hayabusa vs. Rob Van
Dam & Sabu (ECW Heatwave 1998 – August 2, 1998) This was my first
chance to see an ECW pay per view live. A card I will never forget. I
had seen Haybusa from the internet and through tape trading, but never
on a live show. I always thought of him as Sabu through a mask. Now I
got him, Shinzaki (another fave of mine), Sabu, and RVD all at once?!?!?
Maybe one of my top 3 tag team matches EVER! It had everything.
Technical wrestling, high flying, high spots, hardcore
spots…everything. An A+ in my book.
#1. ECW World Title: Shane Douglas vs. Terry Funk vs. Sabu (The Night
the Line Was Crossed – February 5, 1994) Historic on many platforms.
First, this was a first in the fact you had 3 guys in the ring at the
same time. You had Funk who was 49 years old at the time, you had the
unpredictable Sabu, and a young heel who was at the top of his game in
Shane Douglas. What was to come was an hour of innovative moves and
very entertaining action. A match ECW tried to duplicate but never
lived up to the original.
Mike’s thoughts on Caliber’s picks:
#5. I have this match on my list as well. A little higher, but when
narrowing down a list to just five, I can see this hidden gem getting
lost in the shuffle. The art of tag team wrestling is lost these days
and this match is almost 14 years old. Dare I say, the greatest tag
match in ECW history.
#4. When compiling this list we had
hundreds of matches to sift through. This one I overlooked altogether.
Going back and watching this thing, I was blown away. The power of
Pitbull 2 versus the mixed style of Jericho was amazing. Even Jericho
showing his strength by reversing a Tombstone had me popping. Great
ending sequence and just shows how great Chris Jericho was before the
mainstream audiences got a look at him.
#3. I contemplated
putting this one on my list, but eventually crossed it off. I went back
and watched it again and it was ULTRA violent. It reminded me of one
of the best barbed wire matches ever that many have never seen: Cactus
Jack versus Terry Funk from Japan. This one may have been even better.
Funk, at 53 (!), faced the maniacal Sabu. Two
things I distinctly remember in this one. Sabu basically tearing his
muscle in half early in the match, and then Funk and Sabu being in a
tangled mess of barbed wire at the end. A weird finish but I dare
anyone reading this to duplicate it. Holy s---!
#2. This was
another match I had to eliminate off my list of finalists. Guerrero was
Television Champion at the time. With the extreme and hardcore style
really over-shadowing this match, it was amazing to see what a show
these two put on. A slow build turning to some amazing reversals, mixed
with mat wrestling, made this a match to remember. By the end with the
match ending in a 30 minute time limit draw, the ECW arena was on its
feet. They stood and applauded both men and chanted Eddie’s name as he
stood up still ECW Television Champion.
#1. Another match that
made my list and it is hard not to rate it number one. So good, in
fact, that ECW began its run on TNN with this as the first match
mainstream fans witnessed. It is that good. Like I already said,
whether you were a RVD fan or a Lynn fan, you had to appreciate what
both men brought to the table. I enjoy this one so much that I have to
go back and watch it in its entirety from time to time
#5 – ECW Tag Team Titles: Jinsei Shinzaki & Hayabusa vs. Rob Van
Dam & Sabu (ECW Heatwave 1998 – August 2, 1998)
I gotta be honest, I’d never seen this match-up until I read Mike’s list. I’d always wanted to see Hakushi’s ECW stuff, as to see what he could do, not being encumbered by The Cliq.
The match is fantastic, as it’s a mix of everything ECW has to offer. Great technical wrestling mixed with high impact spots and a few splashes of hardcore. RVD & Sabu are a fantastic team that just don’t get their dues. I truly feel they’re up there with some of wrestling’s tall time greatest. And that’s a shoot!
#4 – ECW World Heavyweight Championship: Terry Funk vs Sabu (ECW Born To Be Wired – August 9th, 1997)
I love a good barbwire match. Now, that’s not to say that all it takes is some barbwire and I’m happy. If that were the case, I’d love me some CZW. But when you get 2 wrestlers who would do just fine without in the ring, you’ll get something special. Such was the case when 53 year old Terry Funk took on Sabu for the ECW Championship in a barbwire bout. They built up the suspense, keeping the audience guessing as to who’d be the first to meet the wire, and when they finally did, they never left it. Sabu performing Air Sabu into the wiring and tearing his bicep completely open, is one of ECW’s great stories. When it happens, you can see him in a panic, and trying to wrap it up with masking tape, even as Terry gives him a neckbreaker through two chairs. A brutal bout that just goes to show how far passion can go when performers actually care.
#3 – ECW TV Title: Eddie Guerrero vs Dean Malenko (Hostile City Showdown – April 15th, 1995)
This right here is the biggest reason why I always loved ECW. For me, it wasn’t about the hardcore wrestling, but about the great technical wrestling. ECW fans are the smarkiest smarks of all time. They care about this business as much as anyone, so when you go out and give’em a show like Eddie & Dean can, the crowd is going to lap it up. ECW was bad-ass because they’d put something like this on their hour-long TV program. WCW wouldn’t do that, neither would WWE. As for the match itself, what’s to say? Two of the all-time greatest going full tilt, bell to bell. Neither one of them ever really get the advantage, and just keep beating the holy hell out of one another until the time limit is reached. One hell of a match.
#2 – ECW TV Title: Pitbull #2 vs Chris Jericho (Hardcore Heaven 1996 – June 22nd, 1996)
A lot of praise is often given to the match where Jericho lost the TV Title, the 4-corners bout. While it’s a great match, it doesn’t compare to when he won it. Despite soon being on his way out, Paul put the strap on Jericho, and he responded by having one hell of a match with Pitbull #2. In my 2nd favorite power vs speed match, Jericho tries to match Pitbull’s strength with speed, and a constant onslaught. Everytime he gains momentum though, Pitbull gets in a power move to bring it to a screeching hault. Then when Jericho goes for a high-risk, Pitbull gets the reversal, and damn near ends the thing. However, the end of the match sees Pitbull getting things turned around on him as Jericho reverses a top-rope powerbomb into a huricarana. It’s an incredible match, and something that needs to be released on DVD.
#1 – ECW Television Title: Jerry Lynn vs. Rob Van Dam (ECW Hardcore
Heaven 1999 – May 16, 1999)
I use to love this match so much, I gave it ******. Seriously. It was so far and above anything I’d seen. Over the years, I’ve since knocked that off, but my love for this match will never wane. I’ve never seen a match where two people had each other so scouted before. I mean, it’s at least 5 minutes before someone is actually able to hit something. Awesome stuff. Some people prefer their first big PPV outing, but I prefer this one, because they call back to that PPV in a manner where RVD may have hit him with something before, but doesn’t this time, because Lynn saw it coming. You also have Lynn busting his face on the floor, but refusing to give up. They fly all over the place, as you truly feel Lynn is at RVD’s level, but just can’t grab the brass ring. Not only is it my pick for ECW’s best title match, it’s my pick for ECW’s best match ever.
Caliber’s thoughts on Mike’s picks:
#5 – I loved The Eliminators, but to be honest, The Gangsta’s never did it for me. I like hardcore wrestling, but The Gangsta’s were about as bottom of the barrel as you could get. Simply walking around and hitting people with weapons. Now New Jack, that’s a different story, I always found him entertaining. Even when he’s telling stories about Terri Runnels having “grease” on her face. That all being said, this match is still very entertaining, as The Eliminators keep the match from being a total “you hit me with a crutch, I hit you with a frying pan” sort of deal.
#4 – Yeah, I agree with Mike on the historical, and emotional impact of this one. I loved Taz at this point, and was so excited for him to finally come to the ‘E. Unfortunately, we all saw how that played out. When I saw this match, I was shocked at how quick Taz went out. I really thought he’d get to fight till the end. However, it makes complete sense for him to bow out quick, and let the two new guys prove themselves. The reason I couldn’t include this match in my list, is the whole locker room clearing out in the middle of the match really takes you out of it, disrupting the flow. Still, a huge moment in ECW.
#3 – These were the guys that ECW decided to showcase when they first went national on TNT. So obviously anytime they get together, you’re getting your money’s worth. Hell, they did it again in TNA, some 12 years later, and still kicked ass. I know a lot of people have problems with the stalling, but I dig it. It fits perfect with Van Damme’s character. If you watch the video link we provided, the guy who uploaded it cut out all the stalling, so it’s straight action.
#2 – Like I said in my article, the team of RVD & Sabu is severely under-rated. The promos they did were really funny, with Van Damme just running his mouth, and pissing Sabu off. He’d do things like ask Sabu for a high-five, but then leave him hanging as he started going on and on about how great he is. This match shows just how well they do, and don’t work together as Van Damme won’t tag in, and then near the end, Sabu pushes Rob out of the way to snag the pin. Awesome.
#1 – Other than Shane throwing down the title, this is the moment you hear the most about in ECW. However, I just can’t go along with it. First, I think the match runs too long, second, all three guys don’t even stay in the match for the whole time. I can’t fault Mike for picking this, because it is one hell of a moment for ECW, and a lot of people like the match. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have tried to re-create it so many times. I will say, their 3-way barbwire match at Hardcore Homecoming is great stuff.
Alright, thanks for joining us, guys. ECW doesn’t get a lot of love from Mr. Keith, so we felt we’d throw a little it’s way, respecting and remembering ECW the way it was. Not the way Shane Douglas thinks it is. By the way, there will be an Extreme Reunion show in June! Maybe with luck Scott will do something illegal, and the judge that forced that guy to be Jerry Seinfeld’s butler will be his judge, and see to it his punishment is attending this show. Fingers crossed.
Michael Bradley can be found here at the Blog of Doom, every Thursday night, with his review of iMPACT Wrestling.