What the World Was Watching: ECW Holiday Hell ’95 (Last of the Series!)

This card was the largest of ECW’s Holiday Hell Tour in December 1995, taking place at the Lost Battalion Hall in Queens, New York on December 29.  According to thehistoryofwwe.com, the show attracted a sold-out crowd of 1,283, the largest to see an ECW event to that point.

Joey Styles provides commentary for the evening’s events, working solo as per usual.  He starts the show in the ring, putting over ECW’s debut in the New York City area.  Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie interrupt so Richards can put himself over for a few minutes and question the sexual preferences of fans at ringside.  Missy Hyatt is spotted in the crowd and Richards tries to put the moves on her, but Hyatt is reluctant until Richards tells her that she can get Hyatt a date with Raven.  Hyatt kisses Richards, telling him to give that to Raven and Richards marks out to a chorus of boos.

Opening Contest:  Taz (w/Bill Alfonso) (2-1) beats Koji Nakagawa via submission to the Tazmission at 2:39:

Nakagawa was a competitor in Japan’s Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW), a hardcore wrestling promotion that had a talent agreement with ECW.  Throughout 1995 Nakagawa wrestled with a Bret Hart-inspired gimmick, using a ripoff theme song of the WWF superstar and wearing pink tights.  Taz squashes him with several suplexes and the Tazmission.

It takes a while for Taz to release the Tazmission after the bell.  After he does, Alfonso gets on the house mic and says that no one can beat Taz.  Taz adds that the crowd might love Sabu, but Sabu is too scared to face him.

Hack Myers (8-6) defeats J.T. Smith (3-3) after a modified facebuster at 4:41:

The undercard feud between these two has been forgotten since September, seemingly abandoned after Val Puccio exited the company.  A legacy of that, though, is that Smith insists on being called Italian in his ring introduction.  After the two exchange strikes, Smith scores a near-fall from a powerbomb.  However, when he tries to do a moonsault he botches it, and Myers follows up with his modified facebuster finisher to prevail.  Rating:  *

Television and ECW Tag Team Championship Match:  Mikey Whipwreck (11-6) pins 2 Cold Scorpio (Champion) (7-2) to win the titles after Cactus Jack interferes at 11:54:

The silliness of having the ECW Tag Team Championship defended in singles matches continues in this contest.  The stipulation also makes Scorpio look like a fool because he is putting two titles on the line while Whipwreck gambles nothing.  Who would sign that type of contract?  And the positioning of this match is odd since Scorpio has been positioned as a big deal on ECW television and yet wrestles in the third match.  As expected, these two exchange from high flying offense and Scorpio has Whipwreck beat after a moonsault and Dropping the Bomb but he keeps picking the challenger up before three.  Whipwreck rallies by crotching Scorpio and scores near-falls from a super hurricanrana and schoolboy roll up.  This leads to a crazy sequence where Scorpio knocks Whipwreck into the referee, causing Whipwreck to fall on top of the official.  Scorpio then goes for a splash but Whipwreck moves, so Scorpio splashes the referee.  The champion keeps beating up the challenger until Cactus Jack runs in, gives Scorpio a double-arm DDT, and then puts Whipwreck on top so his former tag team partner can win.  After a shaky start, the match found its groove with Scorpio getting heat for beating down Whipwreck and having his own cockiness get the better of him.  Rating:  ***¼

Following the match, Jack hoists one of the tag team titles and Whipwreck is not fond of holding the belts with him.  Whipwreck even gives his tag belt back to Scorpio, who Jack flattens with a Cactus clothesline.

The Eliminators (w/Jason) (2-1) beat the Pitbulls (w/Francine) (7-8) when Perry Saturn pins Pitbull #2 after Total Elimination at 16:13:

The series between these two teams is tied at one.  The bout follows conventional tag team rules rather than descending into a four-way brawl.  Garbage brawling does appear, but it is limited to the four-minute mark when Pitbull #1 uses a chair and cookie sheet to decimate the Eliminators and Jason.  It takes a while for the Eliminators to put Pitbull #2 in peril but Pitbull #2 ruins that by refusing to sell much during that sequence.  He shrugs off a low blow, pops up after John Kronus and Jason do an assisted elevated senton bomb, and pops up again after a Saturn flying elbow drop.  The cool offense by the Eliminators turns some of the crowd, who boo Pitbull #1 getting the hot tag.  Referee Jim Molineaux works to get Pitbull #2 out of the ring, causing him to miss Pitbull #1 trapping Kronus with an inside cradle.  The Pitbulls overcome that and superbomb Saturn but Molineaux gets distracted by Jason and Francine fighting on the floor.  Pitbull #1 goes outside to suplex Jason on a table but that leaves his partner alone, who falls victim to Total Elimination.  This was a fun power match but Pitbull #2’s superman approach to selling and some sloppiness after the hot tag kept it from being special.  Rating:  ***

The next match is scheduled to be Tommy Dreamer wrestling Raven in a no disqualification match with the winner facing the Sandman for the ECW Championship later in the evening.  Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie come out instead and Richards tells fans that Raven cannot compete because he broke his leg the previous night.  That is tongue and cheek because the Meanie reminds Richards of what Raven’s injury is before it is announced.  Richards announces the Meanie as Raven’s replacement.  Dreamer does not buy that, but the Meanie attacks him, and an impromptu series of matches breaks out.

Tommy Dreamer (7-5) pins the Blue Meanie (w/Stevie Richards & Beulah McGillicutty) after a jumping DDT in 12 seconds:

The Blue Meanie was an Al Snow trainee and new to the business in 1995, getting his start a year prior and wrestling for various independent promotions.  He caught the eye of Raven and Richards while working for the Latrobe, Pennsylvania-based Steel City Wrestling promotion and that landed him a job with ECW.  And that small biographical snippet is longer than the match as Dreamer quickly turns the tide on the Meanie and uses a jumping DDT off the ropes for the pin.

Tommy Dreamer (8-5) pins Stevie Richards (w/Beulah McGillicutty) (2-4) with a DDT in 12 seconds:

Like his friend, Richards tries to jump Dreamer but that quickly fails and he is quickly pinned after a DDT as well.

No Disqualification Match for an ECW Championship Match Later in the Evening:  Raven (w/Beulah McGillicutty, Stevie Richards & the Blue Meanie) (5-0) defeats Tommy Dreamer (9-5) after a DDT on a chair at 11:36:

After pinning Richards, Dreamer tries to piledriver McGillicutty but Raven tosses a shelf into the ring to break that up and goes on the offensive, placing Dreamer on a table and diving over the top rope to put him through it.  Dreamer comes back with a DDT barrage on Raven, Richards, and the Meanie and the weapons brawling commences.  In a sick spot, Dreamer cuts Raven open with a cheese grater and then licks blood off the object.  Dreamer dons the crimson mask during a brawl through the crowd, which also goes onto the streets of Queens for a few seconds before they realize its cold and head inside.  When the fighting returns to the ring, referee John Finegan is bumped and heel miscommunication sees McGillicutty blind Raven with hairspray.  Dreamer capitalizes with a DDT but only gets a near-fall.  That frustration leads him to put Raven in a tree of woe in the corner and land a barrage of low blows.  But that, along with a piledriver on a table fragment, is not enough to put Raven away.  Finnegan gets bumped AGAIN when makes a blind charge into the corner with a chair.  The heels attack Dreamer three-on-one and although Dreamer is able to fend off Richards and Meanie, he succumbs to a Raven DDT on a chair.  While the ref bumps were excessive, this was a great brawl as these two traded blows for nearly twelve minutes without stopping.  And it put over Dreamer’s fighting spirit versus Raven’s opportunism, with the latter winning out yet again.  Rating:  ***¼

Bruiser Mastino beats El Puerto Ricano (0-4) after a powerslam at 3:11:

Mastino got his first break in the business with the Catch Wrestling Association (CWA) in the early 1990s, working for the German and Austrian promotion from 1991-1994.  By this time in his career he was coming off a failed run in the WWF as Mantaur, one of the worst WWF gimmicks of the 1990s.  And ECW fans do not let him forget it, chanting “Mantaur sucks!” prior to the opening bell.  Ricano tries to use his speed to keep Mastino off balance, busting out three missile dropkicks.  Those fail to knock Mastino down so Ricano tries a fourth, only to get caught with a powerslam and lose.  Rating:  *

After the bout, Mastino beats up Ricano until 911 charges the ring and confronts the newcomer.  Mastino gets in a token shot before 911 chokeslams him.  Referee Bill Alfonso charges in, blowing a whistle but Commissioner Tod Gordon takes him down and throws some punches.  The segment falls apart after that as 911 just watches Taz come in and abuse Gordon before finally interceding.  Taz and 911 face off, with 911 refusing to sell any interceding blows from Mastino, and the jobber part of the ECW locker room empties to separate them.  While that happens, Mastino ends up fighting Hack Myers and 911 chokeslams J.T. Smith.

Before the next match, the Blue Meanie and Buh Buh Ray Dudley entertain fans by dancing.  After that, Stevie Richards tells Buh Buh Ray that Raven will not be happy with him.  Richards follows up by slapping Buh Buh when he stutters and says he will be fired from Raven’s Nest if he cannot beat the Meanie.

Buh Buh Ray Dudley (w/Dances with Dudley, Sign Guy Dudley & Big Dick Dudley) beats the Blue Meanie (w/Stevie Richards) (0-1) after a splash off the top rope at 1:09:

Buh Buh Ray wrestles this match like a Hulk Hogan squash, quickly kicking out of the Meanie’s moonsault finish.  He goes for a Buh Buh Bomb, but Big Dick hits him with a crutch to stop that for whatever reason.  So, Buh Buh finishes the Meanie with a splash instead.

After the bell, Big Dick gets into the ring and chokeslams the Meanie and Buh Buh Ray hits another splash off the top rope.  Richards gets back into the ring and puts over the Dudleys on the mic since Buh Buh Ray managed to win.  Fans want Buh Buh Ray to tear into Richards but the Dudleys choose to leave the ring instead.

ECW Championship Match:  The Sandman (Champion w/Woman) (12-7) beats Raven (w/Stevie Richards & Beulah McGillicutty) (6-0) after a super bulldog at 13:16:

The Sandman was originally supposed to defend the ECW title against Steve Austin here, but Austin signed with the WWF and had strep throat, so he missed the show.  That is why ECW had to make a provision for Tommy Dreamer or Raven to do double duty based on their match earlier in the evening.  These two would go on to have a big feud in 1996 but they are unsure how to work with each other at this point as the brawling just kills time rather than building to anything.  Styles tries too hard to put over some spots as well, with Raven going delicately through a table and Styles making it seem like Raven fell from the rafters through several of them.  The referee is bumped ten minutes in, causing Richards and Raven to double team the champion until Dreamer runs in and hits anything that moves (including the Sandman) with the Singapore cane.  And. of course, he piledrives McGillicutty too.  Out of that chaos Cactus Jack runs in and gives the Sandman a double-arm DDT, but the Sandman kicks out a two and gives Raven a sloppy super bulldog to retain.  This bout had the chaos required of a big ECW match but none of the heart.  Rating:  *½

The Gangstas (2-2) defeat the Public Enemy (9-4) when Mustafa pins Rocco Rock with a schoolboy roll up at 8:24:

In another booking change from the original card, the Public Enemy were booked to face the Heavenly Bodies, but Dr. Tom Prichard left for the WWF to become Zip of the Bodydonnas and scuttled those plans.  Styles makes a dig at that on commentary, saying that Prichard “flipped” since Flip was going to be Prichard’s WWF name before changes were made.  The Bodies replacement turns out to be the Gangstas, who ECW owner Paul Heyman fired from the promotion in early October because of New Jack getting into a backstage altercation with Dudley Dudley.  As expected, the match devolves into a four-way brawl and the Enemy are bleeding within the first four minutes.  A table is not impressed with how the match is going as it fails to break when Rocco Rock tries a moonsault on Mustafa.  Mustafa gets the table to break later with a slam, but Johnny Grunge is able to spark a two-on-one Enemy attack on Mustafa and Rock hits the Drive-By.  However, the referee is distracted by Grunge and New Jack fighting on the floor and Jack clocks Rock with a chair, allowing Mustafa to use the schoolboy roll up – the most devastating move anyone can do in this feud – to win.  This was just a token brawl and the Enemy did not appear motivated because they were about to jump to WCW.  Rating:  *

The crowd showers the Enemy with “You sold out!” chants after the match even though they were yelling “Please don’t go!” before the match started.

Cactus Jack teases the crowd into thinking he is turning babyface, telling them that WCW sucks and how he helped an ECW fan in a wheelchair get to a show, before discussing how his match with Sabu is going to make “dreams come true” because it will be an Olympic-style amateur wrestling match.  He welcomes NCAA referee John “Pee Wee” Moore to the ring, who goes over the rules.  Sabu is confused over what is going on when he gets into the ring.  That kills some time before 911 comes in and chokeslams Moore, which barely gets a reaction since 911 already appeared earlier in the show and Moore is not hated like Bill Alfonso.  911 proclaims himself as the referee for the main event.

Singles Match with 911 as Special Guest Referee:  Sabu (2-0) beats Cactus Jack (6-6) after reversing his weight on a slam attempt at 12:30:

Styles annoyingly riffs NCAA rules throughout the early stages of the match, noting “That is a negative point!” “Both men are in negative digits!” and other such nonsense.  911 does not make for a good referee either since it takes him a while to get into position and his count cadence is irregular.  Sabu swallows Jack up with his usual table and chair spots since Jack does not want to wrestle a hardcore style.  Jack has enough when Sabu moonsaults a chair across his face but is stymied.  Sabu hits an atomic Arabian facebuster for a near-fall and when Jack goes to slam him, Sabu falls on top for a flat finish.  Sabu hit all of his spots in the match and after hitting a few double-arm DDTs in the early going Jack got swallowed up, possibly owing to his desire not to wrestle a hardcore style.  Other reviewers give this match high marks, but I cannot agree with that since Sabu swallowed Jack up after the first four minutes and the finish was non-sensical.  Rating:  **¼

The Last Word:  ECW packed a lot into this card, which provided lots of matches for episodes of Hardcore TV in early 1996.  And in true ECW fashion there were some hits and misses scattered throughout.  The first half of the card was stronger than the end, owing to a fun 2 Cold Scorpio-Mikey Whipwreck match, a good Eliminators-Pitbulls showdown, and a wild brawl between Raven and Tommy Dreamer.  Overall, it was an above average show that might have turned out better had Steve Austin and the Heavenly Bodies been able to appear.

ECW ran one final show in Reading, Pennsylvania as part of the Holiday Hell Tour and here are the results of that card, courtesy of thehistoryofwwe.com:

Reading, Pennsylvania – Bodyslams Arena – December 30, 1995 (398):  Sabu beat El Puerto Ricano…The Bad Crew defeated Buh Buh Ray Dudley & Dances with Dudley…Television Champion Mikey Whipwreck defeated Koji Nakagawa…The Public Enemy beat the Gangstas…The Pitbulls beat the Eliminators in a double dog collar match…The Sandman & 2 Cold Scorpio defeated Raven & Cactus Jack…Tommy Dreamer pinned Stevie Richards…Hack Myers beat J.T. Smith via disqualification.

Backstage News*:  ECW was thrilled with the crowd it drew in Queens and is planning to return on February 3.  The promotion is also looking into doing a show at the Roseland Concert Hall in Manhattan in March.

*At the beginning of the Holiday Hell card in Queens, ECW owner Paul Heyman went into a tirade about the WWF, WCW, and Steve Austin.  The parts about Austin were a work but Heyman was upset that the WWF told him he could not use Dr. Tom Prichard because Prichard was needed for the California house show circuit and then the WWF never used him there.

*Some fans wanted refunds for the Holiday Hell Tour show in Glenolden, Pennsylvania on December 28 because Austin and the Heavenly Bodies were no-shows, but ECW told them no refunds would be issued because J.T. Smith and the Eliminators provided suitable replacements.

*The Public Enemy will be booked against the Gangstas in their last match at the ECW Arena on January 5.

*After Sabu worked the opening match on the Holiday Hell Tour in Reading, Pennsylvania he left the building and worked for Dennis Coraluzzo.  This angered some backstage because they cannot work for Coraluzzo and see it as Sabu getting favorable treatment.

*In talent relations news, it is expected that Cactus Jack will be heading to the WWF but will not depart until after February.  Heyman is looking to fill gaps in the roster with Ultimo Dragon, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, and Juventud Guerrera.  If he were to sign Van Dam and Guerrera they would work with Sabu and Rey Misterio, Jr., respectively.  Shane Douglas is expected to return sometime next year, but WCW has expressed interest in signing him.

kstage news provided from Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer for January 6, 1996.

To wrap up ECW in 1995, here are a few statistics from the promotion:

Top 25 Overall Records:

T1—911 (3-0)

T1—Konnan (3-0)

T3—Big Dick Dudley (1-0)

T3—Bill Alfonso (1-0)

T3—Bruiser Mastino (1-0)

T3—Jason the Terrible (1-0)

7—Buh Buh Ray Dudley (3-1)

8—Johnny Grunge (11-5)

9—The Sandman (16-8)

T10—Chris Benoit (4-2)

T10—Sabu (4-2)

12—Paul Lauria (2-1)

T13—2 Cold Scorpio (11-6)

T13—Rocco Rock (11-6)

15—Raven (12-8)

Top 15 Singles Records:

1—Sabu (3-0)

T2—911 (2-0)

T2—Buh Buh Ray Dudley (2-0)

T2—Chris Benoit (2-0)

T2—Konnan (2-0)

T6—Bill Alfonso (1-0)

T6—Bruiser Mastino (1-0)

T6—Bull Pain (1-0)

T6—Tsubo Genjin (1-0)

10—Raven (6-1)

11—Taz (3-1)

12—2 Cold Scorpio (7-3)

13—Mikey Whipwreck (12-6)

14—Shane Douglas (4-2)

15—The Sandman (13-7)

Top 10 Tag Team Records:

T1—2 Cold Scorpio & the Sandman (1-0)

T1—The Steiner Brothers (1-0)

3—The Eliminators (3-1)

4—Chris Benoit & Dean Malenko (2-1)

5—The Public Enemy (9-5)

6—Raven & Stevie Richards (5-3)

7—The Gangstas (3-2)

T8—Don E. Allen & the Broad Street Bully (1-1)

T8—The Dudley Brothers (Dudley Dudley & Snot Dudley) (1-1)

10—The Pitbulls (7-9)

Top 10 Appearances (Hardcore TV + Supercards):

T1—The Sandman (21)

T1—Pitbull #1 (21)

T1—Pitbull #2 (21)

4—Mikey Whipwreck (20)

5—Hack Myers (18)

T6—2 Cold Scorpio (17)

T6—Raven (17)

T8—Cactus Jack (16)

T8—Rocco Rock (16)

T8—Stevie Richards (16)

T8—Tommy Dreamer (16)

1995 was an important year for ECW.  While the WWF and WCW spent much of the year pushing a stale product, ECW went on the offensive and showcased a much grittier form of entertainment.  This differentiation from the “Big Two” played a big role in its growth, evidenced by it drawing a big house in Queens for Holiday Hell.  Creative feuds such as Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven, as well as crazy hardcore displays from the likes of Sabu would help build the company’s cult following.  However, that would also come to present challenges down the road as the WWF and WCW started seeing ECW as a fertile ground from which to acquire talent, and by the end of the following year superstars such as 2 Cold Scorpio, Cactus Jack, Konnan, Psicosis, Rey Misterio, the Public Enemy would depart.  Paul Heyman succeeded in the short-term in filling the gaps left behind, but this would become a bigger issue for the promotion as the Monday Night Wars heated up.

This column ends my four-year journey on the Blog through all wrestling in 1995, covering the WWF, WCW, ECW, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and the USWA.  I appreciate everyone’s feedback and thoughts as I have covered these promotions, especially those that corrected any mistakes or misconceptions.  I will be turning these ECW, Smoky Mountain, and USWA columns into Amazon e-books.

My next project will be turning the clock back to 1990 WWF.  The Attitude Era already gets a lot of play on the Blog, so I thought it best to go back and review a more cartoonish era, along with chronicling the company’s declining fortunes up the 1995 reviews that I have already done.  I’m more of a WWF fan at heart and based on views/comments the WWF content tended to get more feedback than anything from WCW, ECW, SMW, or the USWA.  So you’ll see the first review of that action next Monday, when I will cover a January 1, 1990 episode of Prime Time Wrestling.