The SmarK Rant for Extreme Championship Wrestling – 01.06.96
OK, so ECW on TNN is a bust on several levels, but I’d still like to find the sweet spot of reviewing the promotion when it was considered “good” because people always ask for it. Even though, once again, I have to remind the readership that I have ZERO nostalgia for this company so that’s the perspective you’re getting when I’m reviewing it. I never personally loved it and to me it was always just a commodity that other people wanted to acquire tapes from me. So anyway, let’s pick it up at the very beginning of 1996 with the show that later became “Hardcore TV” and see where it takes us.
Taped from Queens, New York
Your host is Joey Styles
We get a series of clips to start, like Sandman spitting beer on the mutant idiots outside the building, Sabu putting Cactus Jack through a table, and Tommy Dreamer piledriving future wife Beulah. Also Missy Hyatt is there in the crowd for some reason.
Stevie Richards and Blue Meanie interrupt Joey to start, and Stevie insists that he’s here to showcase himself (and his lackey) in front of all the TV executives and PPV companies. And he points out that the town is well named because they’re a bunch of queens and several audience members are obviously transvestites. So this brings Missy out of the crowd as Stevie puts the moves on her, offering to take her to Raven’s limo and show her his sundial. It points up to noon, you see. Amazingly, this incredible one-time offer does not impress her. However, an offer of a date with Raven changes her tune and she gives him a kiss to pass on to Raven. Joey: “Hey, I know Raven too!” I’d steer clear if I were you, Joey.
ECW TV title: 2 Cold Scorpio v. Mikey Whipwreck
So Scorpio is not only defending the TV title, but the tag team titles he holds with Sandman as well. One nice touch is that Scorp makes ring announcer Joel Gertner announce him as “a slim trim chiseled and cut 238 pounds”, a gag which Gertner would then re-appropriate years later for D-Von Dudley. They trade hammerlocks to start and Mikey rolls him up for one, so Scorpio puts him on the floor with a spinkick and follows with a baseball slide. They fight on the floor and Scorp clotheslines him into the railing and back in for a pump kick, which reminds me: I finally started watching Cobra Kai and it’s FUCKING AWESOME. You’re all right, I should have started it ages ago. Although my daughter hates me now because apparently the boys at school wouldn’t shut up about the show and she’s annoyed at having to listen to me talk about it now too. So I bought myself a Cobra Kai t-shirt at the mall to rub it in. Dad 1, 10-year old girl 0. They head to the floor again and Mikey gains control out there, but he misses a bodypress in the ring and the crowd chants “You fucked up” at him. Not how that works, Queens. DO BETTER. Scorpio puts him down with a knee and tries a powerbomb, but Mikey reverses to a monkey flip and Scorpio kicks him in the nuts while the camera cuts to Missy for some reason. Scorpio with a kneelift and gut wrench for one as he picks him up and the match is kind of dragging. Tombstone and he goes to the top to finish things with a moonsault, but picks him up at one again. So he goes up again, taking forever to set it up, and this time it’s a Tumbleweed legdrop for two as Scorpio picks him up AGAIN. Joey notes that the referee would stop the match in any other promotion, but not in ECW! That’s a straw man argument if I’ve ever heard one. Scorpio goes up yet again for his super-duper finisher, but Mikey crotches him and brings him down with the Mikey-canrana for two. Scorpio comes back and misses a corner splash, and Mikey rolls him up for two and slugs away in the corner. The ref is bumped and Scorpio splashes the ref by mistake for good measure and then splashes Mikey as well. But there’s no ref, which is actually the same bullshit that every other promotion does but in ECW it’s EDGY I guess. So Scorpio goes up again, but Cactus Jack runs in, DDTs him, and puts Mikey on top for the pin and the titles at 11:50. And Jack goes ahead and reclaims half of the tag titles for himself while he’s there. This was 5:00 of match stretched out to twice that. **1/2
Meanwhile, the Public Enemy are apparently still around ECW at this point, so let’s watch a music video about them. In this case, they steal a golf cart and break into the Double Cross ranch so they can vandalize the Funks’ barn. And then they go for a nice supper and limo ride, with the punchline being the maître d’ thanking “Mr. Dangerously” after taking the credit card. Two things: I’m amused at the notion that Paul E. Dangerously would actually have a credit card with his kayfabe identity on it, and I’m also amused that he had a credit card which had enough money on it to actually pay for someone’s dinner without being declined. Also the bit with the golf cart was a bit prescient, because Johnny quips “Next time let me steal the truck!” and in fact a couple of months later in WCW, they got in trouble for Johnny getting drunk and taking a production truck for a joyride.
The Public Enemy v. The Gangstas
Oh my god I’m music replacement hell if I have to listen to an entire match with “Natural Born Killaz” swapped out. OK, so this was supposed to be TPE against the Heavenly Bodies, but of course Dr. Tom signed with the WWF to be in the Bodydonnas. This leads to Joey to say “Tom Prichard was supposed to be here but he FLIPPED, and you’ll get that joke in about two weeks.” Well, as it turned out, there was a folk duo called “Skip and Flip” who actually had those names trademarked and thus the WWF decided not to use them, changing the team to “Skip and Zip” instead, which as a bonus made Joey Styles sound completely stupid for trying to preemptively score on them here. Wrestling, man. It’s just so weird. They do some Greco-roman matwork to start, as New Jack trades hammerlocks with Grunge while Mustafa and Rocco debate Shakespeare on the floor. But then, as all Shakespeare discussions lead to, Rocco hits Mustafa with a trashcan lid and moonsaults him for two, forsooth. Verily, they do spill blood forthwith, my liege. I can’t keep up that gag for an entire Gangstas match, sorry. So yeah, they each other with stuff and New Jack uses a fork on Grunge while Mustafa drops elbows on Rocco. New Jack hits Grunge with a stungun, which is of course ironic because usually he’s the one getting stungunned. They put Mustafa on a table and Rocco moonsaults him, completely missing the table in the process in an embarrassing spot. You had ONE JOB. That’s your whole deal! You put guys through tables and dance like an idiot. Well I guess that’s two jobs. Finally someone goes through a table on the second try and there’s a frying pan involved. Hopefully it’s one of those diamond-coated ones because otherwise they’ll never get the blood off it. Hopefully they sprayed it first. Rocco hits the Drive By on Mustafa but the ref is distracted and Mustafa gets the DISTRACTION ROLL UP PIN OF DOOM at 8:33. -*
Meanwhile, the Gangstas stress that Public Enemy is a bunch of sellouts who are going to WCW and are going to be dressed up in frilly pink dresses and bows in their hair, so they’re gonna take an asswhooping at the Arena before they go. And then Public Enemy promises that the rematch is gonna be the most EXTREME match anyone in ECW has ever seen on their way out.
Meanwhile, Jack brings Mikey and the tag titles to kneel before Raven, but Raven doesn’t want him. Jack: “He’s a great white meat babyface, we need this kid! The guts! The fire! Pizzazz!” Raven disagrees and we’re out.
I dunno, you tell me: Yay or nay? It’s an easy watch but it’s a weird show to review because it’s less about being a serialized show than it is an advertisement for the videotapes most of the time.