What the World Was Watching: ECW: Gangstas Paradise

Joey Styles commentates the matches, which come from the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 16.

Opening Contest:  Bull Pain beat the Broad Street Bully (1-4) after a modified facebuster at 8:14:

Pain and the Bully waste no time running through the standard ECW conventions as they bash each other with weapons and break a table in the first two minutes.  After that there is nowhere for the match, which is littered with low blows.  Fans get restless and shower the participants with “You both suck!’ chants as Pain plants the Bully with a superduperplex and then drapes his opponent over the top rope so he can drive his head into the mat from a suplex position.  This would have been fine with less time, but the action did not flow in a logical way.  Fans also seemed to expect 911 to show up at any moment.  Rating:  ½*

Dances With Dudley & Dudley Dudley (w/Sign Guy Dudley, Chubby Dudley, Dances with Dudley & Big Dick Dudley) beat Chad Austin & Don E. Allen when Dudley Dudley pins Allen after a splash off the top rope at 4:49:

Big Dick is on crutches after a knee injury due to “an accident with a garbage truck.”  Dances With Dudley started his career in the Pennsylvania area in 1992, wrestling as a Native American character called White Cloud for International World Class Championship Wrestling (IWCCW).  Since Dances wears tassels on his boots and a Native American necklace the crowd serenades him with the Florida State tomahawk chop and yell.  There is not much to this one as the Dudleys swallow up for the jobbers for a long time before Dudley Dudley finishes with a splash off the top rope.

Hack Myers (5-4) beat J.T. Smith (1-1) via count out at 4:59 shown:

Val Puccio is gone from the company so his role as a third wheel in the feud between these two is over.  The VHS release clips this match a lot, with Smith becoming a comedy character by botching big moves to play off of Wrestlepalooza ’95.  After missing a pescado, Smith later jaws with the fans on the second rope and then falls off the top rope through a ringside table, causing him to be counted out.  The last spot was funny but that was all this match had going for it.  Rating:  ¼*

Jason & the Eliminators defeat Taz & the Steiner Brothers when Jason pins Taz after 2 Cold Scorpio interferes at 3:17 shown:

Jason returns to the promotion without any build, managing the Eliminators, a tag team composed of Perry Saturn and John Kronus.  Killer Kowalski trainees, the two worked in the USWA in 1993 and 1994, winning the promotion’s tag team championship.  They also worked for Japan’s WAR promotion in the first half of 1995, where they got the attention of Paul Heyman and were brought into the company.  This was originally supposed to be Scorpio facing Taz but that was scrapped, apparently due to Taz’s ongoing neck issues.  The Steiners wrestle much of the match, which is clipped down a lot, and the Eliminators bump well for their offense.  Taz beats Jason to a bloody pulp, but Scorpio runs in and kicks Taz in the back of the head, allowing the returnee and his new proteges to score the upset.  The result advances the Taz-Scorpio feud and is a sign that the Eliminators will be sticking around for a while.  Rating:  ½*

Best-of-Three Falls, Double Dog Collar Match for the ECW Tag Team Championship:  The Pitbulls (4-6) defeat Raven & Stevie Richards (Champions w/Beulah McGillicutty) (4-1) when they pin their opponents after a superduperbomb at 15:00 shown:

Previous falls:  Raven & Richards win the first fall when Raven pins Pitbull #2 after a piledriver through a table at 2:09; The Pitbulls win the second fall when Pitbull #2 pins Richards after a superbomb through a table at 4:20

The Pitbulls agree to a best-of-three falls setup after McGillicutty tells them that Richards broke his arm in a six-man tag the previous night and is unable to compete.  Richards is not in the ring when the match begins, so Pitbull #1 goes to the locker room and the two come out fighting, with Richards busted open.  The first two falls go quickly and chaos reigns in the third fall after the referee is bumped.  First, Dudley Dudley and Dances with Dudley run in and attack the Pitbulls, allowing the tag team champions to hit dueling superbombs on their opponents.  The Pitbulls do not sell those, though, and DDT their adversaries, giving the Dudleys superbombs for good measure.  Next, Raven kicks out of a superbomb, he uses the old ether trick on Pitbull #2 and leg drops and elbow drops him through two tables on the floor.  After that, Raven unhooks himself.  Then, Francine and McGillicutty get into a catfight until Raven breaks it up and DDTs Francine.  And THEN, Tommy Dreamer runs into the ring, hooks himself up to Raven, and DDTs his rival for the apparent winning pin at 13:53.  But nope, referee Bill Alfonso rushes out and voids it since Dreamer was not contractually part of the match.  He tries to award the match to the champions because the Pitbulls cannot continue, but ECW Commissioner Tod Gordon comes out and restarts the match instead.  Predictably, Alfonso decks Gordon and Big Dick Dudley, who rolled into the ring and is standing on crutches, chokeslams Dreamer.  That move is illegal, but Alfonso has a change of heart, declaring that he is allowing the move for one night only.  The audience immediately picks up on what that means and explodes as 911 walks in, grabs Alfonso, and chokeslams him.  After all this, the match seems secondary, but it does resume when Pitbull #2 slides back into the ring after being carted off by medical personnel minutes earlier.  Dreamer, Pitbull #1, and 911 hoist Raven and Richards up to Pitbull #2 for a superduperbomb and that finally gives the Pitbulls the tag team titles when Gordon counts the fall.  Perspectives on this match will vary as the in-ring work is average and the table spots have been beaten in the ground so much over the last twenty-five years that they generate little reaction today.  However, the angle splicing during the match covered for the limitations of the challengers and the bout never overstayed its welcome, something that most ECW garbage brawls tended to do.  And the payoff for the Alfonso-911 angle was so well done it raises this match to another level.  It is not the perfect match since the Pitbulls showed little vulnerability during the contest, but it is one of the best efforts at “organized chaos” that ECW was able to pull off, creating the template for what fans would later see in the Monday Night Wars between the WWF and WCW.  Rating:  ****

Rey Misterio, Jr. beats Psicosis after a super hurricanrana at 10:19:

With Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Chris Benoit leaving the company, Paul Heyman brought in two new lightweight talents to replace them.  Mysterio was trained by his uncle Rey Misterio, Sr., who some American wrestling fans knew from an appearance at Starrcade 1990 when he and Konnan made it to the semi-finals of the Pat O’Connor Memorial International Cup before losing to the Steiner Brothers.  Misterio, Jr. worked his first match at fourteen in 1989 and was working for Mexico’s AAA promotion before coming to the U.S.  Psicosis was another young Mexican talent, trained by Misterio, Sr. and breaking into the business at the same time as his opponent.  He made a name for himself in a local promotion in Baja California and defeated Misterio as part of a six-man tag team match at AAA’s When Worlds Collide pay-per-view in 1994.  Psicosis uses his bigger frame in the beginning to wear down Misterio, but Misterio pops the crowd with a springboard hurricanrana for a near-fall and uses a chair to block a Psicosis suicide dive.  Then, when Psicosis tries to escape into the crowd to escape a Misterio dive, Misterio just dives onto him anyway.  Psicosis tries to re-enter the ring by going to the top rope, but Misterio runs across the ring and gives his foe a super hurricanrana to win his first ECW match.  This was a nice display of the lucha style that immediately got both men over.  They would go on to do even better in future encounters.  Rating:  ***½

In the locker room, New Jack hits a cameraman and the Public Enemy argue with New Jack and 2 Cold Scorpio.  As officials separate them, Styles comes across Steve Austin, who is dressed like Hulk Hogan with a “Steveamania Rules” shirt.  Austin proclaims that “Steveamania” is going to run wild in ECW before leaving the character to say that he is not going to do a Hulk Hogan ripoff character because it will not get the job done.

Cage Match:  Mikey Whipwreck & the Public Enemy beat the Sandman, 2 Cold Scorpio & New Jack (w/Woman) when Whipwreck pins the Sandman after a splash off the top of the cage at 15:07:

In a nice touch, Whipwreck is sporting sunglasses like the Enemy and has some dreadlocks to fit in with his partners.  He even steals the ring announcer’s wallet.  Mustafa was arrested due to an incident at a hotel on the afternoon of the show, so Scorpio takes his place.  That takes some of the zing out of the main event, especially on a show that has the Gangstas name on it.  Even though the purpose of a cage match is to keep the participants inside, Johnny Grunge and Jack get out a few minutes in and engage in a bloody brawl through the crowd.  Tables also find their way inside the cage, which Whipwreck and the Enemy stack three high so Rocco Rock and Scorpio can throw themselves through them after brawling on top of the cage.  That should have been a match ender for one team or the other, but things keep going.  Scorpio and Jack fight with the Enemy on the floor, allowing Whipwreck and the Sandman to do a small singles match where Whipwreck finally puts the Sandman away with a splash off the top rope.  Most of this match ran into the usual ECW garbage brawl problem of running out of things to do but after the big table spot things got better.  Rating:  **

After the match, the Sandman gets his Singapore cane from Woman and unloads of Whipwreck.  He caps off the beating with a Bitchin’ Leg Drop from near the top of the cage before the Enemy get into the cage and force him to flee.  Afterward, Whipwreck and the Enemy celebrate, with Johnny grunge bringing up the possibility of Whipwreck being the new ECW Champion.  The heels return and the brawl spills backstage to end the show.

The Last Word:  This was a tale of two shows.  The first part was rough, but the last half made up for it.  The new talent that debuted here would help ECW in the months and years ahead since Steve Austin gives the promotion a new main event player, Rey Misterio, Jr. and Psicosis fill the workrate slot on the card, and the Eliminators provide a much-needed boost to the tag team division.

Backstage News*:        Konnan’s debut may be pushed back since Paul Heyman thinks he can get a sellout for ECW’s next big card on October 7 with the Sandman defending the ECW Championship against Mikey Whipwreck and the Pitbulls defending the ECW Tag Team Championship against Raven and Stevie Richards.

*Taz is still too injured to work, which is why he did very little in the six-man tag team match at Gangstas Paradise.

*Paul Heyman fired Richard Freedburg, who was handling ECW’s merchandise.  Heyman claims that Freedburg owes ECW payments from merchandise sales and the promotion will be doing its own merchandise going forward.

*Backstage news was provided courtesy of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for September 25.

Up Next:  ECW Hardcore TV for September 19!