Before we go any further, I’d like to send my sincere condolences to the friends and family of Jon Huber. 41 is no age and by all accounts he was a smashing bloke and loving family man. An absolute tragic passing in an already miserable year.
Back in February 2019 I decided to try something new by reviewing all of the ECW Hardcore TV shows up to Living Dangerously 99, being as that had been the first ECW pay per view I had ever watched way back in the day. Once I’d finished Living Dangerously I decided to keep going, reviewing each episode Twenty Years to the day of the original airing. Along the way I saw the TNN TV deal form and crumble, as well as enjoying some cracking matches and some fun angles.
On more than one occasion I wanted to jack it all in and do something else, but I felt compelled to keep trudging on with it, and ultimately I’m glad I did as this represents nearly two years of work and reaching the end feels almost like some kind of bizarre achievement.
I’d like to thank the small, yet loyal, readership of these Hardcore TV reviews that has stuck with them throughout, especially when the show took a notable dive in quality once it was clear it was playing Velocity to the TNN show’s Smackdown. The fact there was still some people willing to read these certainly helped with motivating me to stick with them. I hope the quality of the reviews themselves didn’t dip too much when it became clear that the show was starting to become a drag for me.
The relatively small regular readership these had did kind of ram home a point to me though, which is that ECW really doesn’t have the pulling power it once had amongst the IWC anymore. It’s funny to think that as the company’s legacy survived for a long time after it died, with the Rise and Fall DVD that WWE released in 2004 selling really well. I’m not sure why exactly, but that enthusiasm for ECW just doesn’t appear to be there anymore.
The simple fact that ECW’s hot peak happened nearly 25 years ago is probably the biggest factor, but it wouldn’t shock me if the WWE’s miserable attempt at rebooting the brand in 2006 didn’t contribute also. Another possibility is that a lot of fans who weren’t around to watch ECW back in the day have discovered it on the WWE Network, where all the music is dubbed out and the product itself can be censored from the original airing, which means they have never watched it the way it was intended. The wrestling business as a whole has moved on as well, and a product that features lots of dangerous unprotected chair shots, shedloads of extreme violence and mountains of unapologetic misogyny probably isn’t going to connect as strongly with the modern wrestling fan as it did back in 1996.
About a year ago now in a pre-COVID world I attended a Christmas wrestling show and it had a holiday themed hardcore match where guys were hitting each other with Christmas presents and whatnot. I decided to jokingly start an “EC-Dub” chant at one stage, because it was a relatively smarky crowd and I thought it would get over in an ironic way. Absolutely no one joined in and quite a few people shot me and my friend a quizzical look as if they had no idea what we were doing. That not only rammed home how old I personally was but it also kind of startled me, because even ten years ago that sort of crowd would have gotten the reference and joined in, even if they’d never actually watched ECW themselves at any point.
Anyway, thank you for reading these if you are one of few who dug them and I’ll try and make this review a fitting end to the series. I’ll do a more general recap on what I’ve enjoyed and disliked during the past couple of years in the final conclusion, and I’ll also update you and what I’ll be doing next now the Hardcore TV reviews are done with.
This week’s matches were taped from Queens, New York
Calling the action are Joey Styles and Joel Gertner
Our opening segment sees Cyrus bribing a kid to tell Jerry Lynn that his favourite wrestler is Rob Van Dam in order to get Lynn all angry for later. Cyrus is such a good slimy heel. I’ll miss his act (Although he’s pretty much doing it in AEW again now anyway).
ECW Tag Team Titles
Champs: Danny Doring and Roadkill Vs Da Baldies
This is joined in progress with Da Baldies working some heat on Doring. Da Baldies are from the Bronx, so the Queens crowd doesn’t like them and wants the Champs to retain. Doring manages to make the tag to Roadill, who runs wild on the heels with his usual array of big power moves, which Da Baldies sell well. Referee HC Loc gets bumped during the closing stretch, which leads to heel referee Danny Daniels coming down to the ring in order to screw the Champs. However, Tazz makes his return to ECW in order to help out his two trainees by choking Daniels out. That leads to the Champs rallying and putting DeVito away with the Buggy Bang.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: DORING & ROADKILL
Not enough to rate, but what we got was fine and Tazz coming back was a nice surprise. In a good bit of commentary, Gertner makes sure to point out that Tazz never touched Da Baldies, only Daniels, meaning the Champs won it on their own when the playing field was level
Tazz puts Doring and Roadkill over, saying he and Saturn killed them in training but they survived. He adds that he is proud of them and points out that Roadkill came back from a serious injury after a Bubba Ray Dudley powerbomb went awry and that Doring came back from his mother’s death to keep wrestling and now they are both Champions. This was a great heartfelt promo from Tazz and a really nice moment that put the Champs over.
Before the next match, Francine is waiting for Justin Credible outside. He pulls up and tells her he has it under control tonight. She storms off and it’s revealed that he’s been having his way with Jasmine St. Claire.
EZ Money and Julio Dinero w/ Elektra Vs Nova and Balls Mahoney
The winner of this match will get a Tag Title shot. Balls and Nova are a pretty makeshift team, but they did help one another out at the December pay per view against Money and his goons, so this match makes sense at least. Nova and Money do a nice wrestling sequence to start, which leads to the old Central American stand-off for a pop from the crowd. Balls’ segment with Julio isn’t as good, but Balls is over at least. Balls and Nova get decent length babyface shine, with Nova even diving out onto both heels at one stage, but eventually Money is able to catch Nova with the Buckshot Lariat for the cut off.
Nova sells well in the heat, with Money’s stuff looking good and Julio’s looking considerably less. One thing I’ve picked up from doing these reviews is that Julio Dinero was the clear weak link in the Money/Hamrick/Dinero trio. Hot Commodity would be a far more enjoyable act without him dragging the match quality down. Money is one of those guys that I could see a lot of people finding him infuriating due to his penchant for doing MOVEZ all the time, but one thing you can’t question is his execution, with all of the wacky stuff he does usually looking very cool.
Balls eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild, even going to the ten punch in the corner with the crowd shouting “Balls” after every punch in a funny touch. We head into the finishing stretch, with everyone coming in to hit a big move of some kind and the babyfaces nearly break Dinero in half with a powerbomb/neck breaker combo move. Man, that looked ugly. Balls clocks Dinero with a chair, but doesn’t notice Money catching Nova with an enziguri for the three count.
WINNERS: MONEY & DINERO
This was a decent enough TV match, but the result was never really in question.
Francine is still bitching at Credible, but Blue Boy comes over to check in that he’s been enjoying his time with Jasmine. Credible kizfaybes it because Franny is there in a funny moment.
CW Anderson wants to make Tommy Dreamer submit on the 7th of January in an I Quit match.
Christian York w/ Joey Matthews Vs Jerry Lynn w/ Cyrus
Cyrus does the big cheap heat promo pre-match, declaring Lynn to be the longest reigning ECW Champion ever in a funny line. Sadly Joey undercuts the joke in an almost Michael Cole like manner by then explaining the joke. Lynn insults The Metz for further cheap heat and then condescendingly tells York that he’ll carry him here to make him look good. The crowd chants for Rob Van Dam as a way to rile Lynn up, as the heat for this one has been pretty good even though they’ve just been working a standard match so far. Obviously Lynn’s stuff has been crisp and York has been hanging in there well with him, but they have mostly just been playing to the crowd and telling a basic story of the younger York frustrating the veteran Lynn by being competitive.
Cyrus eventually pays dividend by holding onto York’s leg, which allows Lynn to cut his opponent off and start working some heat on him. Lynn is not a natural heel, but he can do a decent job at it when he turns up the viciousness, which he hasn’t really done here yet. It feels a lot like he’s still trying to find his heel sea legs, but he carries things well enough and York looks good when he makes attempts at a comeback. York gets some nice near falls in on Lynn, with Lynn selling it all well and doing a good job of making York look competitive. It looks like York should have it won, but Cyrus distracts the ref and gets punched by Matthews. This allows Lynn to get the Cradle Piledriver though and that’s enough for the three count.
WINNER: JERRY LYNN
Not the most auspicious Main Event to finish the Hardcore TV reviews on, but it did a decent job getting across the idea that Lynn is now a heel
We get clips of Simon, Swinger and CW taking on The Dudley Boyz and Tommy Dreamer from the same Queens taping. More footage is available on the ECW website, which was probably at the request of the WWF as they didn’t want some of their contracted guys working on another company’s TV show. The clips make it look more like a proper House Show Special, with lots of comedy and whatnot.
Tommy Dreamer mocks CW Anderson’s earlier promo, saying it’s not about winning but surviving, and he’s survived them all. This was a great promo from Dreamer and I’ve really enjoyed this feud. CW attacks him as the show fades out.
And that’ll do it for the Hardcore TV reviews.
This wasn’t the strongest show to close on, but everything was watchable at least and the closing promo from Dreamer made me want to see him and CW go at it in the I Quit match.
I’ll be reviewing Guilty As Charged and will have that up on the 7th of January, and then I’ll be looking to take up a new regularly weekly show in my mid-week slot, with other reviews taking place on the weekends. I was going to give some classic TNA a go, but I had a really bad experience with Impact Plus earlier in the year and I decided to cancel. Basically they had a server migration and subscriptions were supposed to move over, but it ended up being an absolute disaster and after a week of complete radio silence despite multiple emails and Tweets, I decided to just cancel the payment off PayPal and move on with my life. I might give the platform another chance down the line, but right now it’s a left a sour taste. Thus, I’ll have to find something else to review and I’ll hopefully have an update for you next week.
Looking back at the nearly two years of Hardcore TV I’ve watched, I’d have to say that one of my favourite story arcs has been that of Steve Corino, as he went from a weedy cowardly manager all the way to becoming a genuine contender, to becoming a shockingly effective babyface and eventually the World Champion in the space of roughly 18 months. Sadly they botched his babyface run in the end and had to turn him back heel by the time he won the belt, and he wasn’t even on the most recent episodes of Hardcore TV, but everything from the feud with Dusty Rhodes in late 99 all the way up to his first match as a babyface at the ECW Arena against Scotty Anton in August 2000 was as close to perfect as it could have been.
Justin Credible is often a wrestler who gets derided when it comes to ECW’s latter years, and his ECW Title reign was certainly a bit of a misstep, but overall I enjoyed his work and my main bone of contention for a large chunk of 99 was how ECW really failed to actually push him properly. For months both he and Lance Storm lost almost every match they had, even though they were supposed to be the top heel act in the company. Sure, they often beat their victorious opponents up afterwards to “get their heat back” but it’s kind of hard to get your heat back when you didn’t really have any to begin with you know?
Taz went off the boil a bit as World Champion in 99, but I still enjoyed a lot of his promo’s, especially in his feud with Steve Corino. Indeed, the stuff with Taz, Corino and Cyrus in the summer of 99 was some of the most entertaining stuff in the whole Hardcore TV run for me, with all three characters bouncing off one another well and really knowing how to hit the storyline beats. I also really enjoyed the evolution of Jerry Lynn, as he went from generic mid-card babyface to a genuine top half of the card guy due to his series of matches with Rob Van Dam, including one of the best ECW matches ever when he took on RVD for the TV Title at the ECW Arena in 1999.
I enjoyed Super Crazy and Tajiri’s matches, at least for the first 4 or 5 times, but by the end they ran that series into the ground so much that I think I could go the rest of my life happily never seeing them ever wrestle one another ever again. What annoyed me is that they’d sometimes tease me with moving Tajiri onto a feud with Lynn or Crazy into a feud with Rhino, but they’d always end up coming back to more Crazy/Tajiri. It just shows that you CAN have too much of a good thing sometimes I guess.
New Jack’s feud with Spanish Angel and the rest of Da Baldies infuriated me as it featured roughly 100 matches that all went exactly the same (Angel gets battered all match, New Jack sells nothing, Angel wins on a fluke, rinse and repeat) and the feud itself dragged on for over a year with seemingly no end in sight. If New Jack had actually sold for Angel in the matches themselves and treated him as even the remotest kind of a threat then they could have conceivably done some stuff with the faction once the feud was over and actually had a new heel act to feud with the Dreamer and Sandman’s of the world, but they were mid-card fodder at best once that storyline was over and spent the second half of 2000 feuding with Balls Mahoney and doing jobs for Nova.
Mikey Whipwreck’s descent into madness and his alliance with the Sinister Minister was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the CW Anderson and Tommy Dreamer rivalry from the final few months. Kid Kash also grew into his role as high flying up and comer and I think he probably would have received an even bigger push in the autumn of 2000 if they hadn’t lost the TNN deal.
Overall there was a lot of good stuff to enjoy in these Hardcore TV episodes and I’m ultimately happy I watched them, as for years I only ever really watched the VHS tapes and pay per views when it came to ECW, with a lot of the weekly TV being out of my grasp. It was interesting and fun to get to follow the product from week to week like a regular fan could have done back in the day.
Once again I’d like to give my sincerest thanks to those of you who have stuck with these reviews over the past couple of years and I hope you’ll join me on the 7th of January for Guilty As Charged and will possibly sample my first TNA Impact review the following day.