What the World Was Watching: ECW: Hardcore Heaven ’95

Joey Styles does the commentary from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The show took place on July 1, 1995 and, according to Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for June 10, it drew a crowd of 1,075.

Opening Contest:  The Dudley Brothers (w/Big Dick Dudley) beat The Pitbulls (w/Raven, Steve Richards & Beulah McGillicutty) (3-3) when Snot Dudley pins Pitbull #2 after Dudley Dudley hits Pitbull #2 with a double axe handle off the second rope at 5:41:

This marks the debut of the Dudleys in ECW, although it is not the renowned tag team of Bubba Ray and D-Von most fans know.  Instead, it is Snot and Dudley Dudley.  Snot, who picked his nose in matches, was trained by Tim Horner and better known to Southern fans as the jobber Anthony Michaels.  He made some token appearances on Smoky Mountain TV during the promotion’s existence, also wrestling under a mask as Fire of the Infernos.  Dudley Dudley was trained by Joe Malenko and was best known to WWF fans as the jobber Charlie Hunter.  In a funny bit, Styles tells fans that they do not need to care about the Dudleys because they will never be seen again.  As ECW fans come to grips with Raven and Richards having the tag titles, the Pitbulls annihilate Snot as they need to be rebuilt after decisively losing their feud with the Public Enemy.  Near the end of the match, Richards talks with his superfan (the future Francine) and they kiss, angering McGillicutty, who starts fighting with the superfan.  Raven puts a stop to it by taking Richards and McGillicutty by the hair and dragging them backstage.  However, that leaves the Pitbulls confused as to what to do after they plant Snot with a superbomb.  With Pitbull #1 distracted, Dudley comes off the second rope onto Pitbull #2 and then puts Snot on top for the upset.  The end was a nice twist as the crowd popped nicely for it, but the match itself was not much since it was booked as a squash.  Rating:  ½*

The angry Pitbulls tell Styles that they are tired of Raven and Richards walking out on them and there is going to be a change.  After implying that Raven and Richards might be lovers, the Pitbulls walk off.

The Broad Street Bully & Chad Austin wrestle Dino Sendoff & Don E. Allen to a no-contest after 911 interferes at 1:29:

ECW fans rebel over this clash of the jobbers, with Austin doing his best to make things look bad, taking a nasty bump from a backdrop and then colliding with the Bully, causing him to fall out of the ring.  911 crashes the party as fans chant about how much the jobbers suck, issuing chokeslams with abandon.  As this goes on, referee Bill Alfonso pokes his head out from the backstage curtain but is smart enough not to come to the ring and raise a stink.

Hack Myers (2-3) beats Val Puccio after Puccio misses an elbow drop at 6:17:

While this match is far from a classic, it is a great case of working the crowd as Puccio waits to engage Myers so the fans can shower him with hatred about his weight.  Then, when the action begins the fans shout “Shit!” every time Puccio lands a blow, a counter to “Shah!” calls every time that Myers hits something.  One of the problems is they drag the spectacle on too long and the crowd gets restless from seeing Puccio – literally – throw his weight around.  Another is a weak finish, as Myers covers after Puccio misses an elbow drop to prevail.  Rating:  ¼*

After the bell, Puccio splashes Myers a few times as the crowd’s chants for 911 go unheeded.

2 Cold Scorpio (3-2) beats Taz (w/Paul E. Dangerously) after a flying leg drop onto a chair at 9:20:

Both men try to position this match as a clash of technical wrestling, but it falls apart because neither man can sustain a lot of momentum, so there are long gaps between moves.  Taz does not sell the Tumbleweed and after he pops up, he puts Scorpio down with a Tazplex.  The referee counts three, but Scorpio’s foot is on the bottom rope.  Referee Bill Alfonso comes out to try to restart the match, but his effort fails.  When Alfonso says that if any wrestler touches him, he will shut down the promotion, Dangerously gets ready to fight him because he is not a wrestler.  The distraction lets Scorpio grab a chair, hit Taz in the back with it and then lay the chair across Taz’s face before delivering a flying leg drop as Alfonso, who decks Dangerously in the back of the head, counts the fall.  Rating:  *½

Styles says that Shane Douglas is in negotiations with the WWF, prompting Douglas to come to the ring.  Douglas accuses Styles of yellow journalism, claiming to have single-handedly built ECW.  Douglas admits he has negotiated with the WWF and then gets distracted by the crowd’s chants for Ric Flair, going off about journalists and how he is underappreciated by the ECW faithful.  He claims to have spoken to Cactus Jack about his future since they are still friends.  After an eternity, Douglas gets to the point with a WWF t-shirt that constitutes his announcement that he is heading to New York.  Woman enters the ring to propose that Douglas join she and the Sandman, not believing his announcement, but Douglas turns it down by insulting her and getting ready to go on the attack until the Sandman makes the save.  Jack rushes the ring as well, causing the Sandman and Woman to flee.  Douglas tells Styles on his way to the locker room that he is going to give the Sandman the wrestling lesson of his life.

ECW Tag Team Championship Match:  Raven & Steve Richards (Champions w/Beulah McGillicutty) (1-0) defeat Tommy Dreamer & Luna Vachon when Richards pins Vachon after McGillicutty interferes at 7:33:

Since Raven and Richards are now the tag team champions, this match is suddenly for the titles, making this the first time in ECW history that a woman is challenging for a title.  In true ECW fashion, the match is Texas tornado style as the participants fair off.  Dreamer and Raven brawl all over the arena while Vachon and Richards fight in the ring.  Dreamer gets creative with the weapons, using an antenna to go low on Raven and then moving on to a newspaper stand.  The latter gets used against him moments later as Raven uses the door of the stand to smash Dreamer’s bandaged fingers.  In the late stages of the match, Vachon superplexes Richards, but McGillicutty comes into the ring and throws powder in her eyes.  Richards turns Vachon over with a Jackknife cover and the champions retain.  This was a great brawl that featured a good mix of conventional and garbage wrestling.  Rating:  ***

Commissioner Tod Gordon calls Bill Alfonso to the ring, assigning him the Taipei Death Match as a form of punishment since that match has no rules.  Alfonso gladly accepts.

Taipei Death Match:  Axl Rotten (3-2) beats Ian Rotten (2-3) with a splash at 9:12:

This serves as the blowoff of the Bad Breed feud as Axl and Ian wear tape over their fists and have shards of glass glued to it like the film Kickboxer.  Alfonso’s awesome character shines once again, stopping the match just over a minute in for “excessive blood loss” when a small cut appears over Ian’s right eye.  Chaos ensues as the Gangstas and the Public Enemy brawl near the entrance and Philadelphia police and security have to get involved to separate the teams.  With Alfonso preoccupied with trying to get the teams thrown out of the building, Gordon returns to the ring and restarts the match.  It does not take long for Ian to wear a thick crimson mask and after knocking Axl down with some shots to the groin, Ian scatters thumbtacks in the ring.  An attempted flapjack on them fails, though, as Axl backdrops out of the move and a splash makes Axl the winner of the feud.  Just a typical brawl between these two where it was all about the blood.  The finish was good, though.  Rating:  ½*

Tommy Dreamer and Luna Vachon brawl with Raven and Steve Richards, with all of the parties ending up in the ring.  Raven uses one of the ECW tag team title belts to wipe out the babyfaces and the Pitbulls come out.  Richards commands them to superbomb Vachon, but Pitbull #1 is reluctant to do so.  When Richards gets upset, he makes the bad choice to shove #1.  Raven smashes Pitbull #2 in the back with a chair, but that is not sold and the Pitbulls go on to beat up the ECW Tag Team Champions to turn face.  They try to give Richards a superbomb, but the Dudley Brothers put an end to that.  As the Pitbulls and the Dudleys brawl on the floor, Dreamer and Vachon resume their fight against Raven and Richards.  The fighting between the four teams destroys the black wall near the entrance, with Vachon, Dreamer, and the Pitbulls posing for the crowd when the smoke clears.

Weapons Match for the ECW Championship:  The Sandman (Champion w/Woman) (6-5) beats Cactus Jack (5-4) after Shane Douglas interferes at 13:04:

This marks the eighth time that the Sandman and Jack are facing off at a televised card in 1995 and the Sandman leads the series four-to-three, having won the last four matches between the two.  As part of the pre-match stipulations, each man can use their weapon of choice.  For the Sandman that is his trademark Singapore cane.  For Jack that is barbed wire, which is rolled up on his right hand.  The cane gets used the most, with each man using it to wear down the other.  In a play on rock-paper-scissors, it appears that the cane is more important than barbed wire as the Sandman isolates Jack’s arm and reins blows down with the cane, causing the barbed wire to embed in Jack’s skin.  Woman runs to the back to get the Sandman some barbed wire, which proceeds to wrap around his chest and use as a weapon.  The Sandman should sell all of his blows as doing equal damage to himself, but he does so inconsistently.  As the Sandman struggles to get out of the barbed wire trap he has wrapped around himself, the crowd senses that Jack is on the verge of winning the title, especially after he drops a leg across a chair from the second rope and shoves Woman to the canvas when she tries to run interference.  However, the referee gets bumped on a corner collision and Shane Douglas runs in to piledrive champion and nails Jack in the eye with a Singapore cane.  The Sandman comes out the better for wear and covers Jack, with the latter having to be attended to my medical personnel, to retain.  To say that the crowd is deflated after that finish is an understatement, but it is still a better outcome than what they used to end their barbed wire match a few weeks ago.  Other reviewers do not care for the feud between these two, but the action throughout their series was usually free flowing and featured creative weapons uses.  A big problem, though, is that their recent matches have had screwy finishes, and this was bout was no exception.  Rating:  **½

Tod Gordon rushes in to try to convince the referee to reverse the decision.  Douglas tells Gordon that he does not have the authority to do so and that he will stay in ECW if Gordon gets on his knees and begs.  Gordon gets to a knee, but soon pops back up to fire Douglas.  In response, Douglas decks Gordon and rips his suit off.  Various jobbers try to stop the attack and fail, leaving 911 with the responsibility of saving the Commissioner by giving Douglas a chokeslam.

The Public Enemy (5-1) defeat the Gangstas when Rocco Rock pins Mustafa after hitting him over the head with a croquet mallet at 11:30:

The Gangstas started teaming together in the North Georgia Wrestling Alliance in 1994 and started getting attention from fans when they came into Smoky Mountain Wrestling that year.  Seizing on the cultural zeitgeist of the period, they praised O.J. Simpson and relished in a hood-like culture that was in stark contrast to the largely white, rural audience SMW catered to.  After coming up short in feuds with the THUGS and Heavenly Bodies, the Gangstas departed for ECW.  As expected, a wild weapons-filled brawl commences.  The bout is all about which team can survive and it helps that the action is made unique and interesting enough to where it does not wear out its welcome.  A pin is not even attempted until the ten-minute mark when Rocco Rock puts New Jack through a table with a moonsault but that is broken up.  Moments later, Rock comes off the top rope and hits Mustafa over the head with a croquet mallet, allowing the Enemy to win the first match in the feud, a curious choice since the Gangstas were newcomers.  Rating:  **

After the match, the two teams keep fighting all the way back to the locker room, with the Enemy coming out on top and posing for the crowd in the ring.  They invite some fans into the ring to dance with them, which leads to a lot of fans gradually hoping into the ring and posing for the hard camera.

The Last Word:  Like Barbed Wire, Hoodies & Chokeslams, the first half of this show was not very good, but things turned around with the Raven/Steve Richards-Tommy Dreamer/Luna Vachon match.  That feud is easily the best thing ECW has going for it.  Fans really want to see Cactus Jack win the ECW Championship, but now that he has failed for the fifth time it is probably best that ECW move he and the Sandman in a new direction because Jack is starting to look like a choke artist that cannot win the big one.

Backstage News*:        ECW’s Heatwave ’95 card on July 15 is tentatively scheduled to feature the Sandman defending the ECW Championship against Axl Rotten, Steve Richards against Luna Vachon in a cage match, and the Public Enemy against the Gangstas in a spray paint match.

*In talent relations news, Paul Heyman has an interest in bringing Chris Jericho into the promotion.

*Backstage news is provided courtesy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for July 10.

Up Next:  ECW Hardcore TV for July 4!