What the World Was Watching: ECW: Enter Sandman

Joey Styles is handling commentary for this show, which took place at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 13.  According to thehistoryofwwe.com, the show drew 875 fans.

Opening Contest:  Hack Myers (1-2) beats Tony Stetson (0-2) after a modified facebuster at 5:31:

Logic would dictate that Myers would run over Stetson here in a matter of minutes.  Instead, Stetson dominates a lot of the action when he attacks Myers before the bell.  The fans also work up a “Kick!” chant when he lays in some blows in the corner, so Myers has to counter that with some blows for a “Shah!” chant.  Fans turn on the match at the four-minute mark because lots of ugly strikes are transpiring and it has no direction.  Myers finishes shortly thereafter with a modified facebuster where he goes to the top rope and uses his knees to drive Stetson’s face into the canvas.  Horrible opener that should have been booked to go less than three minutes.  Rating:  ¼*

Taz & 911 (w/Paul E. Dangerously) defeat Tsubo Genjin & Hiroyoshi Iekuda when 911 pins Genjin & Iekuda after chokeslams at 3:31:

Genjin and Iekuda are dubbed “the Oriental Connection” and serve as fodder for a Taz suplex and 911 chokeslam display.  It is amazing that Genjin was used again after ECW fans almost rioted over his awful match against Tony Stetson at Hostile City Showdown.  Fans love it when Taz suplexes both members of the Connection simultaneously and 911 does his one move to end the squash.

Styles welcomes out Axl Rotten, who carries a barbed wire baseball bat to the ring.  Axl says he hates Florida fans – throwing some homosexual slurs their way – because Philadelphia appreciates him and his brand of wrestling.

Barbed Wire Baseball Bat and Chair Match:  Axl Rotten (2-2) beats Ian Rotten (2-2) after a side suplex on a barbed wire chair at 6:13:

Not to be outdone by Axl’s bat, Ian brings a chair wrapped in barbed wire to the ring.  That inaugurates the usual bloody brawl, with Axl getting color less than a minute into the bout.  After brawling into the crowd and nearly taking out a fan’s eye with barbed wire, Ian’s attempt to drive the bat into Axl’s sternum goes awry and it ends up stuck to his rear end.  That allows Axl to suplex his brother on the barbed wire chair to take the edge in their series of matches.  Usually feuds lead somewhere but all of these matches are blending together and are not any good.  Rating:  ¼*

Raven and Steve Richards come to the ring for the next match, but Shane Douglas comes out too.  He says that he is going to remedy ECW’s lawlessness by bringing in a troubleshooting referee named Bill Alfonso.  Alfonso vows to enforce the rules, angering the crowd who kick up a 911 chant.  Tod Gordon enters the ring, saying Alfonso is not an ECW employee.  Alfonso says he answers to a higher power in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission and can shut the show down.  With that he prepares to referee the next match.

Raven & Steve Richards beat Tommy Dreamer & Mikey Whipwreck via disqualification when Dreamer uses a closed fist at 8:52:

Whipwreck is inserted into the Dreamer-Raven feud because he beat Richards at Hostile City Showdown and was beaten down by Raven after the bell.  Alfonso shows he is a stooge for the heels as he prevents Dreamer from pressing the advantage after he tosses Richards to the floor.  The story of the match is that Dreamer wants to beat Raven but Raven refuses to get into the ring when Dreamer is the legal man.  Rave also does some top-notch heeling by getting frustrated that his team cannot finish Whipwreck so he tries to throw him off the top rope and onto the arena floor, only to have Dreamer catch his smaller partner.  Dreamer and Raven take out their opposites with DDTs on the concrete.  However, when Dreamer hits Raven with a closed fist, Alfonso disqualifies him.  This was a fun match that had a lot of layers of character development on all sides.  For Whipwreck, he got to play his classic role of fighting from underneath.  For Dreamer and Raven, they continued their feud as Dreamer could not get a hold of his rival.  And Richards was his usual cocky self that the ECW crowd despised.  The finish was hilarious too.  Rating:  ***¼

After the match, Dreamer wants to kill Alfonso and has to be held back by other referees as Shane Douglas returns to the ring to taunt him.  Cactus Jack comes in and says Douglas is no longer welcome in ECW.  Jack tells Douglas to lace his boots and get ready because he cannot wait to face him once he takes care of the Sandman.

Television Championship Match:  Eddie Guerrero (Champion) (1-0-1) wrestles Dean Malenko (0-1-1) to a time limit draw at 12:36 shown:

Taz provides guest commentary for the match with Styles under his real name.  Since he is never shown on camera, ECW can sell him as an accomplished amateur wrestler that is an entirely different person.  This serves as the much-anticipated rematch from Hostile City Showdown that ended in a draw.  ECW Home Video clips the match several times so this is more of a highlight reel.  Malenko does a better job countering Guerrero’s offense relative to their first match, pushing off a tornado DDT effort and using his knees to block a frog splash.  Guerrero gets busted open after landing a springboard hurricanrana but rallies with a super hurricanrana and Splash Mountain, but cannot finish his opponent.  An exchange of pinning combinations follow, but the bell rings when Guerrero has Malenko in a figure-four leg lock as these two go to another draw.  Obviously, the clipping disrupted the flow of the match, but it looked like another great showcase of technical wrestling.  Rating:  ***

When the match concludes, the camera goes back to Styles who says that the man who commentated that last match with him was Taz.  This inaugurates Taz’s shoot fighter gimmick, which displaces his cartoonish Tazmaniac look.

A video package puts over Taz’s suplex abilities.

ECW Championship Match:  The Sandman (Champion w/Woman) (2-5) beats Cactus Jack (5-1) after a low blow with a Singapore cane at 11:23:

The winner of this match faces Shane Douglas afterward.  That provision is prejudicial against the champion as it would make more sense for Jack to face Douglas and the winner of THAT facing the Sandman.  This encounter features fewer weapons spots than their previous battles and that makes much of it dull because the Sandman cannot wrestle a cleaner match.  What the Sandman tries to pass for offense is laughable, though, as he springboards into the ring – and later over the guardrail – to kick Jack like he is a white trash Bruce Lee.  Then, the Sandman just jumps into the crowd from the apron to kick Jack again.  They do a wild spot where Jack puts the Sandman against a table in the ring and turns it over, causing the Sandman do go head-first to the concrete floor, and then Jack gets a bucket of barbed wire to use as a weapon for dropping the Cactus Elbow.  When a cover is made, Douglas puts the Sandman’s foot over the bottom rope and the ensuing distraction allows the Sandman to sneak up behind Jack and use the Singapore cane to retain.  With another opponent, this would have fallen apart in a hurry, but Jack was able to salvage something with his antics near the end.  Rating:  **

ECW Championship Match:  The Sandman (Champion w/Woman) (3-5) defeats Shane Douglas (4-1) with a belly-to-belly suplex at 10:39:

Douglas is cocky that he can outwrestle the Sandman in this rematch from Hostile City Showdown and in the beginning he does just that, even using a pescado to flatten the champion when he is sent to the arena floor with a headscissors.  Douglas maintains some of the high-flying with he uses a flying body press and a springboard splash.  That is a step in the right direction to make the match better since a mat classic with the Sandman is impossible.  The Sandman rallies after tossing Douglas over the top rope, using a series of tables to flatten the champion, only to miss the Bitchin’ Leg Drop.  Douglas goes for the belly-to-belly suplex, but the Sandman reverses and Cactus Jack comes out and pushes Douglas’ foot off the bottom rope to get revenge for earlier in the evening.  Strange finish but this was still better than expected because of Douglas flying all over the place.  Rating:  **

Following the match, Bill Alfonso comes into the ring and demands it be restarted because of Jack’s actions.  The Sandman goes to use his Singapore cane, causing Alfonso to repeat his threat to shut down the show.  When the Sandman goes to strike the blow anyway, Jack eats it and that allows Douglas to roll up the champion and Alfonso counts the pin, but referee Jim Molineaux refuses to allow that title switch and still recognizes the Sandman as ECW’s champion.  Things get crazier when Douglas and Jack decide to square off, only to have Dean Malenko run in and beat up Jack before Tommy Dreamer makes the save.  Raven and Steve Richards take their turn coming out, with Raven decking Dreamer with a foreign object and DDTing him on it.

In a match that did not make the VHS release, Television Champion Eddie Guerrero (1-0-2) beat Marty Jannetty (0-1) in six minutes.  Afterward, Malenko attacked Guerrero until Jannetty made the save.

Dog Collar Match for the ECW Tag Team Championship:  The Public Enemy (Champions) (4-1) beat the Pitbulls (w/Steve Richards) (3-2) when Rocco Rock pins Pitbull #2 after reversing his weight on a super side suplex at 16:39:

An additional stipulation for this match is that if the Enemy wins, they get five minutes with Richards.  The garbage brawling immediately breaks out as Pitbull #1 is paired with Johnny Grunge and Pitbull #2 is paired with Rocco Rock.  Pitbull #2 nearly wins it for his team when he puts a table over the top rope and powerslams Rock off of it, but Rock kicks out on his own and the Enemy use jumper cables on their opponent’s sensitive areas.  Rock puts Pitbull #2 through a table after a moonsault, but Pitbull #1 breaks it up and the crowd amuses themselves by yelling about how much they hate Sabu.  That should have been the finish, but things drag out for another nine minutes, with Rock and Pitbull #2 botching a spot by the announce position where Pitbull #2 suplexes Rock through a table.  A superbomb that sends Rock through a table also fails to finish when Grunge breaks it up, causing fans to wonder why the match keeps going.  And all of this builds to a double pin finish where Pitbull #1 has Grunge down after a superplex but Rock pins Pitbull #2 after reversing his weight on a super side suplex effort.  The referee only sees Rock’s pin, though, and the Enemy retain.  Rating:  *½

Per the match stipulations, the Pitbulls are forced to vacate the ring.  Richards tries to keep them at bay with a plastic dinosaur but that does not last long.  The crowd demands blood but before that can happen Raven saves his ally with the Pitbulls.  As the Pitbulls and Enemy brawl, Tommy Dreamer and Raven get into it before Richards smashes Dreamer in the back with a chair.  A two-on-one beatdown commences until Luna Vachon makes the save and Raven and Richards leave poor Beulah McGillicutty alone so she can be piledrived by Dreamer.  Dreamer and Luna kiss and head to the locker room.

The Last Word:  Attendance for this event was down relative to other ECW Arena cards, but it was a better show from top to bottom than Hostile City Showdown because garbage brawling was not a part of every match so when it was used it mattered.  Cactus Jack and Shane Douglas did good work in getting serviceable matches out of the Sandman and that three-way feud still has a lot of heat coming out of this show.

Backstage News*:        Chris Benoit missed Enter Sandman because his wife was in an automobile accident.  He was scheduled to wrestle Marty Jannetty, which is why Eddie Guerrero wrestled Jannetty in his place.

*Live reports suggest that the full Guerrero-Dean Malenko draw, which went thirty minutes, was about ***3/4.

*Paul Heyman was handling the payoffs for the Enter Sandman event instead of Tod Gordon, a sign that there is a backstage leadership transition.  Heyman wants ECW to do more house shows in the South in places like New Orleans and Birmingham.  However, the company has some outstanding bills that need to be paid.

*ECW had to cancel a show on June 30 at Lackawanna Stadium in Scranton, Pennsylvania because astroturf was installed.  ECW would have had to pay $9,500 to put a tarp over the field to hold the event, a non-starter when they want to get a stadium to hold a match between Cactus Jack and Terry Funk where the ring will be surrounded by fire.

*Backstage news is provided courtesy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for May 22.

Up Next:  ECW Hardcore TV for May 16!