Mike Reviews – ECW Guilty As Charged 2001 (07/01/2020)

Hello You!

Here we are with the last pay per view of the original ECW, with it tying a bow on my 23 month odyssey of reviewing the ECW product from 99-2000. ECW had promised a big surprise going into the show online, with the internet being their main way of promoting the show due to them losing TV in most of their markets, including New York of all places. Paul Heyman was seemingly prepared to struggle on but, as Ok Go once put so eloquently, the writing was on the wall.

The event is emanating from the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan, New York

Calling the action are Joey Styles and supposedly Joel Gertner, but they manage to shoehorn Cyrus in as we’ll get into below

We get a music video to start us off to “Renegades of Funk” by Rage Against the Machine (Which was also Jody Fleisch’s entrance music during this time period both in Japan and on the American Indie Scene I believe). It’s the usual clips, but the music suits ECW’s “Counter Culture” gimmick.

We head to the ring following that, where Joey and Joel are doing the usual intro. Joel does his dirty poem and actually targets a lady in the crowd for some of it, which gets a big pop from the crowd but is also why they probably didn’t get many female attendees to these things. Joel introduces Christian York and Joey Matthews following that, but all three of them get beaten up by Spanish Angel and Tony DeVito. Cyrus and Jerry Lynn run down to pay Da Baldies off with some cigars and that leads into the next “match”

Opening Match
Jerry Lynn and Cyrus Vs York and Matthews

Lynn drops Matthews with a Cradle Piledriver and Cyrus scoots in for the pin.

WINNERS: LYNN & CYRUS
RATING: N/A

Lousy way to start off a pay per view and the match itself may have had potential for fun with Lynn holding off the young lads from getting their hands on Cyrus in an almost “80’s babyface Vs Bobby Heenan and a Client” way

Lynn tells the young lads that it’s their job to make the stars look good, which used to be his job once also, but not anymore. Lynn says he will not wrestle again unless it’s in the Main Event and makes a sly dig at Rob Van Dam for good measure. Lynn and Cyrus look like they had potential as a heel duo based off this actually.

Following that we get ANOTHER music video with the regular “This is Extreme” intro. I don’t think we needed two videos so close together like that. It stinks of them trying to fill time.

Match Two
ECW Tag Team Titles
Champs: Danny Doring and Roadkill Vs Hot Commodity (EZ Money and Julio Dinero) w/ Chris Hamrick and Elektra

Doring and Elektra of course had a thing going on at one stage, which adds a bit of spice to what would otherwise be just a standard Title defence for the Champs. Doring has been going for a more serious persona since December 2000 and he’s in good shape here too, to the stage that it’s almost counterproductive for him to wear a singlet when his upper body looks good enough that he really doesn’t need to cover it up. He throws some strong words Elektra’s way at the opening bell, which gets a good reaction from the jaded misogynistic New York crowd.

Dinero is by far the weak link in this one, with his timing being off and his work not being especially crisp. Money stooges around well in the babyface shine, taking some good bumps for Roadkill especially, who is over with the crowd. This would have made so much more sense as an opener than the match we actually got, with The Champs shining nicely in the early going until the heels manage to cut off Doring and work some heat. Money gets one of the more spectacular moves in the match by getting the Buckshot Lariat over the railings onto Roadkill in the crowd whilst Hamrick helps Dinero cut off Doring.

The heat segment is decent when Money is and involved in some form and not when Dinero is just left to handle things on his own. Doring eventually manages to fend off both heels and makes the tag to Roadkill, who runs wild with some nice stuff to pop the crowd. At one stage he gives Money a wedgie by pulling up his thong before doing a powerbomb, which according to a Doring shoot interview I saw once was a receipt for Money complaining about the match backstage. Elektra and Hamrick both get involved, but they are unable to help their allies pick up the win and Buggy Bang eventually ends Dinero after a few near falls.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: DORING & ROADKILL
RATING: ***

Good match, where they hit a decent mix between working the tag formula and doing hot moves, which made it perfect for an early part of the card ECW tag match. Money was apparently pissy that Julio and he didn’t win the belts here, as he thought it was nailed on, even though Doring and Roadkill had literally just won them. Either he was utterly deluded or Paul E sold him a bill of goods.

The heels do a 3 on 2 beat down following that, but Nova saves, complete with new entrance music in the form of “Metal Health” by Quiet Riot. That leads us into the next match.

Match Three
Chris Hamrick Vs Nova

Nova runs wild on Hamrick to start, getting some hot dives to the pop the crowd, before Elektra earns her corn by interfering so that Hamrick can get a foothold in the match. The action is a bit disjointed in places, with it mostly being a procession of spots, but they mostly hit them all, so it’s not fully without its charm. Nova eventually gets beaten up enough to earn an Ultra Musou Attack and fires up with an enziguri for two.

Elektra keeps getting involved, so Nova kicks her in the arm and then goes to a crossface chickenwing of all things on Hamrick. However, the referee accidentally gets squished in the corner following that, allowing former tag team partner of Nova, Chris Chetti to run down in a referee shirt and fast count Nova’s shoulders down for the pin. Another referee runs down to suggest that doesn’t count, but he gets attacked by Lou E. Dangerously.

Little Spike Dudley runs down to save Nova, which leads to Lou E saying he’d never call himself a Dudley. It looks like there’s more promo to come, but Spike just decides to attack Chetti and we don’t get to hear where Lou E was going with that. I’m guessing that, as Chetti had lost a Loser Leaves Town match to Nova at November to Remember 2000, that Chetti now has a ref licence instead? Anyway, Spike and Nova take out the heels and Nova pins Hamrick with The Kryptonite Krunch, with Spike making the count and it being allowed to stand for some reason.

WINNER: NOVA
RATING: *

Started out okay but then devolved into a real mess as they got way too cute with the booking. Just have Nova win a spot fest clean to pop the crowd, why bother with the other nonsense?

We get promo time from ECW World Champ Steve Corino and Jack Victory (HIGH SPOT). Corino is angry that The Sandman has stolen the physical belt. He’s going to claim the belt tonight and then wear it around his waist when he has intercourse with Francine.

Match Four
I Quit Match
CW Anderson Vs Tommy Dreamer

This has been one of the few latter day ECW feuds that I think has been done quite well, with the younger CW trying to run the battered veteran out of the business. Dreamer put CW over clean on the last pay per view, taking a Spine Buster through a table in the corner leg side first, in one of the more brutal finishes I’ve seen in a hardcore bout. Tonight its I Quit rules, and Dreamer has gone back to his slacks and t-shirt look after months of looking like he was just going out for an evening jog when it came to his ring attire.

They waste no time going outside for a brawl, as this one has some good intensity to it, and we head back in where Dreamer tries giving CW a taste of his own medicine by working over his arm in Anderson style. Dreamer busts out a few different submission holds, including a Stretch Plum and THE DREADED YOUNG LION BOSTON CRAB, but CW survives those, so we head outside for some weapons based hijinks. Dreamer uses a wrench to bust CW open and then adds a shot with the ring bell for good measure, with CW selling it all really well.

They’re clearly going for a Magnum Vs Tully feel for this, and though they don’t quite match that level of intensity and visceral violence, they still manage to have a good hate filled fight, with CW even busting out Raven’s drop toe hold onto a chair, which leads to Dreamer coming up bleeding. CW wears Dreamer out with some vicious chair shots at one stage, but Dreamer keeps fighting back and that gets the crowd behind him as a result. Some holiday gifts get handed to Dreamer by the towel boy who CW tried attacking on the last pay per view, with one of them being barbed wire and the other being cooking trays.

CW doesn’t like that and drags Towel Boy into the ring to attack him, but Dreamer saves and they give CW a Con-Bake-O with the trays to pop the crowd. Towel Boy eventually went on to wrestle in ROH and CZW after ECW folded, and he shows that he’s trained here by taking a big hanging superplex from CW at one stage, which the crowd pops for because it’s an impressive bump for someone to take. CW gives Dreamer a Spine Buster onto the wire following that and goes to an arm bar, with the wire still sticking onto Dreamer’s shirt.

More anguish comes Dreamer’s way, as CW gives him a suplex through two chairs, but he still refuses to quit whilst Cyrus declares that his career is going to end right here. It’s a shame that so few established guys are as willing to put the new generation over like Dreamer has done for CW here, as he’s already done a job for him on pay per view and has taken a monumental battering here for good measure. However, it’s the blow off and it’s only right that CW returns the favour, which comes when Dreamer gives him a Spicolli Driver off the top rope through a table and then wraps the metal parts of the underside of the table around CW’s face, which leads to him understandably quitting then and there.

WINNER: TOMMY DREAMER
RATING: ***1/4

Darn good fight right there, as Dreamer took his lumps and then pulled it out of the fire at the end to get some revenge. CW gained something from the feud itself though, even though he lost the blow off

Dreamer and CW actually shake hands following that, showing that CW has earned respect for Dreamer along the way and suggesting that he has some honour despite being a jerk. Maybe a face turn would have been in his future if ECW had carried on?

Francine has a comical Simpson’s styled giant sub that she’s trying to eat, but she can’t fit it into her mouth…

Oh Ho! Is funny because is a visual representation of oral sex and Francine’s character is regularly portrayed as being a slut who regularly sucks people off! Oh Ho Hoooooooooooo!

Steve Corino interrupts to see if Franny is feeling freaky right now, but she’s not interested until he actually has the physical belt in his possession again? Why exactly? He’s still The Champion and makes Champion money, regardless of whether he has an actual belt or not. Anyway, this all leads to a payoff of Justin Credible being in the toilet with Missy Hyatt, because if Francine won’t give it to him then he’ll get it elsewhere. Missy leaves and passes Corino and Victory in the hallway, which leads to Victory asking her if she remembered him, to which she quizzically replies “Did I F### you?”

This was a stupendously funny little skit, but this is mid card comedy stuff and it’s beneath the supposed World Title level guys to be getting involved with it.

ECW optimistically announces that they will have Living Dangerously on the 11th of March 2001. Yup, I’m sure that will be a show for the ages…

Match Five
Winners Become The #1 Contenders For The ECW Tag Team Titles
The FBI w/ Big Sal Vs Kid Kash and Super Crazy Vs The Unholy Alliance of Mikey Whipwreck and Yoshihiro Tajiri w/ Sinister Minister

Tajiri is super over here. Well, considering how much I’ve complained about the constant Crazy Vs Tajiri matches over the past two years, it seems only fitting that we get yet ANOTHER match featuring them to send me off. Kash, Mikey and Mamaluke do a segment to start, and it goes well enough until Kash slips on the top rope and they have to salvage things. That’s the risk you always take with those big planned out conjoined spots, as if one guy slips up (quite literally in this case) then it can end up derailing everything.

We of course get Crazy, Tajiri and Guido going at it too, in what would probably be the 67th time we’ve seen those three in the same match with one another. The action is good of course, because all three guys are very talented and could probably work with one another in their sleep, but I’m just over it at this stage. Some of the spots when all six guys get in there are fun, although there’s the odd timing issue here and there, and eventually they give up all pretence of having a tag match and just start doing dives to pop the crowd, with the dives being admittedly very cool.

Hey, after an intense hardcore brawl this is probably the smart thing to follow it with, so I’ll give ECW credit for actually going with a palette cleanser for once rather than just following one garbagy brawl with another. Eventually Sal gets involved by splashing Kash, which allows Mamaluke to steal the pin and annoy the crowd. Yeah, it was way past the point they needed some fresh blood in the tag ranks here, so going back to The FBI/UA again after nearly five months of it when this could have been a good chance to put some steam on Kash ‘N’ Crazy probably wasn’t the smartest move.

The Unholy Alliance lay a whupping on The FBI for a bit, but Sal gets involved again by attacking Mikey, which leads to things settling into a tag match again, with The FBI working some heat on Mikey. The FBI do some nice double team moves in the heat and Mikey of course sells it well (I know, Mikey Whipwreck selling well, stop the presses) but he eventually manages to snap off a Stunner on Mamaluke (with Mamaluke doing a fantastic sell job of his own) and it’s hot tag Tajiri, who runs wild on The FBI with some nice stuff.

Chairs get involved (because it’s ECW innit) and The FBI go into them face first, only to shrug them off pretty quickly to lock Mikey in a double Fujiwara arm bar. Tajiri saves Mikey with some of his lethal kicks though, and double Tiger Suplexes on The FBI leads to The Unholy Alliance getting the win to set up a genuinely intriguing match with Doring and Roadkill that we sadly never got to see.

WINNERS: THE UNHOLY ALLIANCE
RATING: **1/4

Sloppy in places, and eliminating the second most popular team killed the crowd a bit, but in general it was a decent enough mid-card spot fest with a bit of tag formula thrown in once it came down to the two final teams

There are some live events on the 12th and 13th of January 2001, which I think were sold shows.

The Sandman cuts a promo backstage, saying he doesn’t have a problem with tonight’s Main Event as he’s betting on himself.

Match Six
Simon & Swinger w/ Dawn Marie Vs Meat and Two Veg (Balls Mahoney and Chilly Willy)

Dawn looks resplendent in a green outfit tonight, and Swinger is annoyed about that as Simon hasn’t been sharing Dawn enough for his liking. Thus, he’s set up a deal with Blue Boy and Jasmine St. Claire, which means Jasmine will now be his valet. Interestingly that doesn’t lead to Dawn and Jasmine immediately having a catfight, as I don’t think Dawn is really that into Swinger and she seems to like Blue Boy’s wacky jacket.

Simon & Swinger working a program with Balls and Wintry Pecker would actually be something fresh that they haven’t done before, so of course we don’t get to see them actually have a match as Rhino runs down to destroy everyone, including the women, with Jasmine actually taking a piledriver off the second rope in a pretty darn impressive bump for her to take considering that she wasn’t a regular wrestler by any means.

NO CONTEST
RATING: DUD

Nothing agitates my onions more in ECW than a non-finish, as getting a winner was one of the few things you could normally count on no matter how screwy. Also it was a real waste of two decent mid-card tag teams to just have them get slaughtered like that by Rhino. Yeah, Rhino is big and scary, we know, you’ve been ramming that home for over a year now. How about you actually allow some other acts to get some momentum without having to sacrifice everyone on the Rhino altar just because Paul E saw him as his last great creation?

Rhino cuts a backstage promo saying he’s just gotten started tonight, and that being violent gets him off more than Jasmine’s oral abilities would. This was the usual shouty Rhino promo and the act hasn’t been remotely interesting for a few months now.

Match Seven
Tables, Ladders, Chairs and Canes (Oh Crap!!)
ECW World Title
Champ: Steve Corino w/ Jack Victory Vs Justin Credible w/ Francine Vs The Sandman

Cyrus succinctly points that this match is not just for the Title but also for who gets the right to “bang Francine”, with her being positioned as a greater prize than the belt itself. You know, Taz wouldn’t have seen shagging a skanky broad as more important than being World Champion, which is why he came across as a genuine Main Event level guy and not just a mid-card guy who happened to be wrestling for the World Title. Just saying.

Sandman at least comes across as genuine star with his big beer drinking entrance and the crowd singing along to his music. Physically he doesn’t look too bad either. He’s certainly a tad more svelte here than he was towards the end of his first ECW run. The belt is hung above the ring here and you have to climb up a ladder to grab it, which at least pays off the idea that Sandman nicked it and now everyone has to claim the physical belt in order to be declared the Champion. Neither Credible nor Corino are taking any chances here, as they make sure to protect themselves as much as possible considering that they are more technical wrestlers/ brawlers than they are spot monkeys who are used to flying on and off ladders.

Sandman by comparison doesn’t seem to give a fudge, and falls off ladders with reckless abandon, as well as getting flung over the top rope through a table by Credible at one stage in a pretty impressive looking bump. Annoyingly he’s up and brawling again less than a minute later, which is a real shame as that was a big bump that would normally take someone out the running in one of these types of matches for a considerable amount of time. It’s quite a sloppy brawl all told, but it doesn’t look overly dangerous at least, so we should be thankful for small mercies.

It feels super rushed, which pretty much takes a sledgehammer to any sense of drama as guys have to keep popping up following what should be huge spots or bumps because they’ve got to keep chugging along to the finish. They’ve used mostly cheap rubbish ladders too, with one not even being able to hold Sandman’s weight and toppling over when he tries to climb. Some of the spots are set up well, such as when Credible dropkicks Corino off the ladder at one stage and Corino goes off the ladder face first onto a nearby chair, in totally safe bump that also looked good, but the action joining up all the spots doesn’t have much to it.

Sandman keeps taking bumps to the floor through tables, and keeps getting almost straight up, including a moment where he goes flying off the ladder through a table, only to then get up because he needs to take a rana from Francine straight after. Considering he’s up from that rana something like 10 seconds later, it felt like a superfluous spot that they probably could have scrubbed. Sandman grabs a big “Super Duper Mega Sized WrestleMania Emergency Ladder” following that, which actually looks sturdy at least, and that gets set up in the ring in preparation for the finish. Corino and Credible both fight on the same side of the ladder and end up falling through a table, which allows Sandman to climb and grab the belt to win.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: THE SANDMAN
RATING: *1/2

Some good spots, but everyone was up so quickly from them that they ultimately didn’t mean anything, which is an absolute killer in big spot-fest matches like this

Sandman gets a handshake from Credible and Corino following the match, which doesn’t really make much sense as he basically won that via fluke and was only in the match because he stole the belt, so I don’t really buy that they’d be so magnanimous in defeat. It worked in the Dreamer/CW match because you could buy that Dreamer actually earned CW’s respect by refusing to quit and the fact he kept coming back to win. Da Baldies run down again, which leads to Corino and Credible fighting them off together, which THEN leads to Rhino running down and attacking Sandman. Rhino grabs a mic and says he doesn’t care about being ECW TV Champion as ECW doesn’t even have a TV show anymore, so he lays down a challenge for Sandman’s ECW World Title. Sandman says no at first but Rhino threatens to attack Sandman’s family, so Sandman reluctantly agrees and the match is on.

Match Eight
ECW World Title
Champ: The Sandman Vs Rhino

Rhino GORES Sandman through a table for two in a good near fall, but Rhino piledrives him off the apron through a table and then throws him inside for another two before getting another piledriver on shards of the first table to pick up the belt.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: RHINO
RATING: SQUASH

More an angle than a match, as Paul E manages to get the belt on his main guy before the company closes

Cyrus runs down to seemingly become Rhino’s manager again, laying down the challenge for anyone to face him. This is Rob Van Dam’s cue to make his return to ECW for a monster pop and set up the Main Event for Living Dangerously that never happened. Jerry Lynn runs down to attack RVD before anything can happen though, which leads into the next match.

Main Event
Jerry Lynn w/ Cyrus Vs Jerry Lynn

This one is different from the usual RVD/Lynn encounter as Lynn is working this one as a straight heel rather than both men ostensibly being babyfaces, which means RVD actually gets a babyface shine in the early going and the crowd is very into seeing him doing his usual stuff, especially as he’d been away for a couple of months prior to this due to a pay dispute with Paul E. Lynn does a good job in his new heel role, with Cyrus helping the act by encouraging him and giving advice when the situation calls for it.

Lynn eventually manages to cut RVD off with a leg drop to the back of the head and works some heat, antagonising the crowd by doing RVD’s taunt and hugging Cyrus. RVD sells the heat pretty well, as he was becoming a better-rounded wrestler by this stage in his career. An annoying bald guy at ringside keeps trying to get involved, which leads to the crowd chanting “hit the bald guy” and then popping when security comes over to deal with them. Good, he was actively reaching over the rail to touch the wrestlers and almost got in the way at one stage, you can’t be allowing that.

Lynn openly goes low with a mule kick at one stage but the resulting roll up attempt goes awry and the crowd lets him know it. Hey, how about instead of waiting for a chance to chant that the wrestlers messed up you instead just watch the show eh lads? Just a thought. Anyway, RVD makes a comeback after that and brings a chair into the ring, which of course leads to him skateboarding it into the face of Lynn whilst he’s slouched in the corner. Lynn powerbombs RVD on the same chair soon after for two.

Their timing has been a bit off on occasions here to be fair, but it’s still been an entertaining effort from them for the most part. At the end of the day it’s Rob Van Dam Vs Jerry Lynn, even that match they had on Sunday Night Heat in 2001 was enjoyable for what it was. Cyrus gets actively involved by stopping the Five Star Frogsplash. RVD kicks him away and goes for it anyway, but he misses due to the delay and Lynn pounces with a roll up for two in a good near fall. Joel Gertner runs down to take out Cyrus as revenge for earlier, and he then plays the role of Fonzie by holding the chair for the Van Terminator, which gives RVD the three count.

WINNER: ROB VAN DAM
RATING: ***1/4

Not the best outing the two ever had, but it was still good and not a bad way to close the book on the original ECW pay per view run

RVD thanks Joel for filling in for Fonzie and then celebrates with the crowd.

We cut backstage for a promo from Francine, Justin Credible and Steve Corino. They would appear to be forming a new Impact Players team, and I guess they’ll be faces feuding with Da Baldies? I mean, that would have been a pretty one-sided feud in theory, but it might have elevated Da Baldies. Heck, maybe they could have had HC Loc start wrestling and formed the Carnage Crew a year early with Spanish Angel as an additional member?

We get one more video package showing clips from the show and we’re out.

In Conclusion

I could tell as I was writing this that I was in a bit of a bad mood for whatever reason, and it led me to be a bit surlier than I’d normally be when reviewing one of these. I think watching these final two years of ECW was a bit of a mistake because it kind of sapped the joy out of the promotion for me in some ways. Prior to this I’d only ever seen the pay per views and an occasional fan cam show from this period, which made it still seem like a relatively fun promotion. However, going back to watch it week in and week out highlighted some of the many issues the company had.

As a show this was mostly fine, with three good matches to close out the promotion and some storyline directions that I would have at least been interested to see play out if they’d survived. Doring/Roadkill against The Unholy Alliance in particular would have been a very interesting match and I would have been intrigued to see which team the crowd got behind, as both Roadkill and Tajiri were super over with the ECW crowd.

Corino and Credible as the new Impact Players felt a bit slapdash and almost desperate in some ways. “Hey, Credible had probably his best run in ECW when tagging with Lance Storm, so let’s find the nearest Canadian and make them a team in the hope that lightning will strike twice”. I suppose an extra team for the tag ranks wouldn’t have gone amiss and there were some fresh matches they could have done as a result of it, although if they had gone with them as faces it would have left the tag division heavily lopsided in favour of the babyface side.

Making Rhino the “Unified Champ” made sense considering the TV Title had become kind of redundant, but it sure felt like a waving of the white flag on Paul E’s part when it came to getting a new television deal didn’t it? Rhino Vs Rob Van Dam wasn’t a fresh match but they hadn’t really blown the feud between them off, so having RVD finally win the World Title to end the feud seemed like a wise idea. Hindsight suggests they should have just had RVD win it here seeing as Living Dangerously was never going to happen and it left them with Rhino of all people being the last ECW Champ, but that’s easy to say 20 years in the future.

Guilty As Charged 2001 was in some ways a suitably apt way to close the door on the original ECW, as it was a mixed bag of a show where everyone was working super hard and there was at least one story point coming out of it that I would be intrigued to see where they would have gone with it.

I’ll go thumbs up just because there was enough good on here to justify it, but it certainly wasn’t the company’s best pay per view effort.