Mike Reviews: ECW Hardcore TV #343 – 20/11/1999

Hello You!

Last week wasn’t a bad show all told, as they did some interesting stuff to advance the Raven/Dreamer/Sandman storyline by having Dreamer save Raven from a Sandman attack but not quick enough to placate Raven, thus causing him to have a seeming mental breakdown.

So yeah, it was fun for all the family!

Let’s see where they’re going next, as we hang various weaponry from the ceiling and once again take things to The Extreme!!!

This week’s matches were taped from The Arena in Philly

Calling the action is Joey Styles

Joey Styles is in front of the ECW Banner where he says tonight it’s Rob Van Dam Vs Sabu

Show Intro: This week’s tagline is “ECW Arena, South Philly PA, Sabu Vs RVD”

Man, if they don’t deliver this Sabu Vs RVD match now then people are going to be pissed.

Joey is back in front of the ECW Banner, where he hypes up Sabu and RVD

Main Event
ECW Television Title
Champ: Rob Van Dam w/ Bill Alfonso Vs Sabu w/ Bill Alfonso

Alfonso is indeed trying to call it right down the middle here, as he accompanies Sabu to the ring and then sprints back so that he can accompany RVD as well. RVD and Sabu trained together and had been ECW Tag Champs, but there was always a simmering resentment in the background and now the two pretty much outright dislike one another.

They do some mat work to start but it’s not especially smooth and there are some boo’s as a result, but most of the rest of the crowd applaud it because they’re trying at least. We get the Central American stand-off, which leads to RVD working a front face lock. Sabu gets out of that and we get some more flippy counter wrestling, which again isn’t that smoothly done but it could just be that I’ve been spoiled by how fluid and awesome the RVD Vs Jerry Lynn series of matches were and this now looks a poor imitation as a result.

Sabu kicks away at RVD’s leg a few times, possibly in an effort to take away Rob’s high flying abilities, and then dropkicks RVD to the floor. We get the brawl outside, where RVD sits Sabu on the guardrail and then follows with a flying kick to send him into the front row. Noticeably Alfonso wouldn’t hold a chair there as he’s still attempting to manage both men fairly. RVD follows Sabu into the crowd with a flip dive as we take a break.

COMMERCIAL

Back from the ads, RVD leg drops Sabu across the back of the head whilst he’s draped over the railing and then puts him back inside whilst also throwing in a chair. Sabu gets a hold of the chair though and flings it at RVD as he gets back in. Err, yeah, that was pretty stupid on RVD’s part if I’m honest. Sabu sets up a table between the ring and the railings and lays RVD on top of it, but when he goes for a dive Alfonso drags RVD off the table, which actually seems to annoy RVD as he wants to prove he’s better than Sabu without any help.

Sabu dives out onto RVD anyway and then tries to leg drop him through the table, but he mostly misses RVD and pretty much goes through most of the table himself, because Sabu. Sabu gets the Triple Jump Moonsault back inside, but he delays in making the cover to sell his mid-section, which allows RVD to kick out at two. RVD fights back by draping a chair over Sabu and following with the Rolling Thunder, which gets him a two count from the ref when Sabu gets his foot on the rope. They’re protecting each other’s big moves here, I’ll give them that.

RVD monkey flips Sabu onto the chair for two, but Sabu is the first up for some reason and gets a springboard leg drop for two. RVD is selling that he’s very groggy here (If indeed he is selling and Sabu hasn’t really knocked him loopy) but he fights back and gets a nice float over vertical suplex for two before following with a standing moonsault for another two. RVD hangs Sabu in the Tree of Woe and dropkicks a chair into his face before going to the Rita Romero Especial as we take a break for some commercial considerations paid for by the following.

COMMERCIAL

Back from the break, RVD has seemingly let go of the hold and is heading up top. The crowd is going nuts for some reason so I’m guessing something wacky happened during the break to pop them. RVD is cut off before he can do what he wants to on the top rope and Sabu rana’s him down for two. Sabu leg drops a chair over RVD (Something you could actually do on one of the WWE video games I think) and that degenerates into some poor man’s amateur styled grappling as the time limit seemingly expires. The majority of the crowd seems to be on Sabu’s side here and wants 5 more minutes.

RVD grabs a mic and says it’s not enough to retain the Title and that he wants to defeat Sabu and challenges for 5 more minutes. Sabu shows his agreement by punching him and the fight is back on. Sabu goes straight to the Camel Clutch (A move he was desperately trying to get over as a finish during this period) and the crowd pops big for it but RVD is able to get out of it and gets a modified Angel’s Wings followed by some somersault leg drops. I suppose it only makes sense at this stage that fans would be rooting for the Title change when RVD had been Champion for so long, but after all this time would Sabu really be the best option?

We get a chair duel, which Sabu wins, but when he tries Air Sabu in the corner RVD is able to block it. Sabu won’t give up though and comes off the top with a rana onto the chair and then leg drops a chair over RVD’s face for two. The crowd are totally into this and clearly want Sabu to win the belt, which is a testament to how hard the guys are working as the execution has been lacking quite a bit but the energy has been infectious and the crowd have picked up on it. Sabu DDT’s RVD onto a chair and heads up top for the Arabian Facebuster, which he gets but he’s too hurt to make the cover right away, which allows RVD to kick out.

Sabu goes to a cross arm breaker next of all things, which RVD is in for way too long but I think wrestling fans weren’t quite as knowledgeable about shoot submission holds like that back then so the crowd doesn’t pick up on it. These days if they sat in that hold for as long as they did without RVD getting out of it or even really selling it then people would cry bullshit because they know it’s an almost instant fight winner in MMA. Sabu drops another leg on RVD but the timer runs out again. Joey sounds like he’s about to have a fit as we take another break.

COMMERCIAL

We come back to find that both men want yet another 5 minutes. However, before we can find out whether that’s going to happen we cut to clips from ECW on TNN, where Rhino calls out Raven and Tommy Dreamer for the Tag Titles. As he heads backstage he gets accosted by Tammy Sytch, seemingly because she wants to form an alliance of some kind with him. We then get clips of Tajiri assisting Jerry Lynn in defeating Super Crazy for some reason. We then cut to a promo from Angel and DeVito who say that if Skull and Newz lose to Balls and Axl then they have to leave ECW. Cut to footage of Balls and Axl pinning Skull to send him to WCW for a run as Big Vito. Next we get clips of Candido recruiting Rhino for a Tag Title match with Raven and Dreamer. Cut next to footage from the match itself, as Dreamer and Raven win after Dreamer DDT’s Candido. We get the big heel beat down following that, which leads to The Sandman moseying down for the rescue. Raven of course is not happy to see him, so Dreamer has to hold them back from fighting, which leads to Sandman accidentally catching him with his Singapore cane. This gives the heels an opening to rally and the faces are left lying.

So after all that we finally go back to the ECW Arena, where Sabu wants another 5 minutes but RVD decides to leave instead, so Sabu dives out onto him and the bell rings again for the match to continue as we take what I hope will be our last break.

COMMERCIAL

Back from the ads, Sabu is going after RVD’s legs with a submission hold, which RVD sells big but is eventually able to fight is way out of. RVD catches Sabu with a desperation kick and then follows up with the Five Star Frogsplash, but he’s hurt from all his exertion in the match and the eventual cover only gets a two count from the ref. The crowd are now burnt out after all the teased finishes and I don’t think they believe we’re going to get an actual winner here. Indeed, both men trade near falls to diminishing returns and the match just slowly fades to the inevitable draw.

WINNER: TIME LIMIT DRAW
RATING: **

There were some good moments here and the first additional 5 minutes featured some fantastic heat, but by the time we got the second additional 5 minutes the crowd knew they weren’t getting a finish and lost interest. It was sloppy as all heck in certain parts but both guys were working hard but it went past the peak. To be honest I’m glad they didn’t switch the belt here, as the person who beats RVD needs to ideally be someone who isn’t already an established ECW name like Sabu. Someone like Super Crazy, Tajiri or Guido being the man to eventually dethrone RVD would be a better choice as it would really elevate them and it’d be a big deal. Giving it to Sabu would be kind of a waste.

RVD wants to do the handshake post-match and put this behind him and Sabu, but Sabu isn’t interested and the two look ready to square off again as the show fades to black.

In Conclusion

One match show this week, quite literally, and sadly the match wasn’t that great, so it’s hard to recommend this one I’m afraid.