The SmarK Rant for ECW Wrestling on TNN – 09.03.99
Well, unlike in the real world, the ECW on TNN debut was a big hit for the blog, so we’ll continue on with the show that was the first “real” one.
Taped from Queens, NY
Your host is Joey Styles
ECW World title: Taz v. Yoshihiro Tajiri
So we’re now at the Hammerstein Ballroom and the crowd is JACKED, and this is immediately 1000% better than the clip show that kicked off the TNN run. The weird isometric camera angle is neat, too, kind of like Fire Pro Wrestling. Tajiri immediately gets a handspring elbow and stomps him down while Joey rails against “$100,000 worth of fireworks and fancy lighting”. Well, it’s true, no one ever accused Heyman of putting money into his production. Taz comes back with the suplexes and chases off Steve Corino. Tajiri basically plays dead after a capture suplex, and Taz batters him with forearms while the crowd chants “TNN”. Man, that relationship would go south in a hurry. Tajiri comes back with the buzzsaw kicks for two and bites him in the corner, but he misses a kick and Taz chokes him out at 4:24. Fun little match with a great atmosphere, but there was nothing to it. *1/2
So at this point we get the show’s opening, and I actually think the opening sequence is way too long and probably should have been cut down to about 30 seconds max because it kind of kills the momentum of the show a bit.
Joey Styles joins us in the ring to open the show after the other two openings, but Joel Gertner interrupts and announces that he’s the color commentator and true host. So this brings out Jerry Lynn (with overdubbed generic rock) and he’s not here to cut boring promos like on Monday nights. Yeah, and they’re not drawing ratings like on Monday nights, either. Anyway, Lynn wants RVD TONIGHT for the TV title, should he have the intestinal fortitude. Fonzie comes out to refuse the challenge and Lynn goes after him, but RVD saves his manager and it’s a pullapart brawl as we go to break. Funny that they bashed the other guys’ booking and then did the exact same type of segment.
ECW tag team titles: Ballz Mahoney & Spike Dudley v. The Dudley Boyz
The Dudleyz were on the way to the WWF and weren’t making any secret about this being their last night, so the result here seemed obvious. The champs clear the ring to start and Ballz throws Spike onto the Dudleyz. Back in, Spike goes for the Acid Drop on Bubba and misses, but comes back with a bulldog before Bubba hits the Bubba Bomb. We do the replay and return with Spike getting dropped on the railing and busted open. The Dudz go to work in the ring and Bubba goes up, but Spike goes low and tries a rana, which Bubba reverses into a powerbomb and we take a break. Back with Spike hitting the Acid Drop on Bubba for two, but Bubba dumps him out of the ring and through a table. Ballz grabs a chair and just wrecks it on the Dudley heads, then brings in a table and dumps thumbtacks all over it. This allows D-Von to recover with his own chair, and they powerbomb Ballz through his own tacky table for two. Spike saves, but 3D finishes him at 7:22 to give the Dudz the ECW tag titles one last time. This was fun, but we didn’t need all the thumbtacks and stuff in the very first show. **
So now the Dudley Boyz will surely show up and “lay the belts at the feet of the McMahons” according Joey Styles. So we take a break and return with the Dudley Boyz in the ring again later on, as Bubba declares that “if God was a heel, he’d be the Dudley Boyz”, and they’re off to the true home of hardcore wrestling: STAMFORD. But first, they’ve got one last thing to take care, in the form of Tommy Dreamer. So Tommy comes out to answer the challenge, but Paul Heyman and Francine try to hold him back because he’s injured. That Tommy and Francine pairing just never worked for me. Although Joey and Joel have a funny bit where Bubba calls Francine a “two dollar whore” and Joel quips “Joey, do you have $1.87, something just came up!” However, Tommy will not abide this trashtalk, and comes in to challenge them for the titles.
ECW tag team titles: The Dudley Boyz v. Tommy Dreamer
Tommy attacks and quickly gets double-teamed, so Francine gives him a ladder and he uses it to even the odds. He whips Bubba into the ladder and then whips D-Von into Bubba, but Bubba sends Tommy into the ladder and follows with a backdrop suplex to take over. They beat on Tommy with the belts and try 3D to finish, but Tommy counters out of it and then RAVEN suddenly runs in, DDTs Bubba, and pins him to win the titles at 4:03. WHO THE FUCK HIRED RAVEN? Anyway, Raven had recently been freed from the shackles of WCW via Bischoff’s infamously stupid “Anyone who wants out can leave now” speech, and this was a huge shock to kick off the TNN era. Again, as a match it was nothing, but this was all about the atmosphere and payoff. ½*
So yeah, a super-fun show to truly launch the TNN era, but in some ways they were already screwed over by the bad first impression. For reference, TNN was publicly predicting a 2.0 rating and selling ads based on that, and the show debuted at 0.9 and never went much past that. It was still the highest rated show on Fridays, at least. The Raven return was a hell of a hook, though, and next week’s show sees RVD defending against Jerry Lynn again, and they’ve GOTTA pull the trigger on Lynn at this point, right? RIGHT?