Hey there chaps and chapettes!
Today we’re looking back at the first ECW show of the Paul Heyman Era, with Ultra Clash representing the moment the pencil switched between Eddie Gilbert and Paul. Paul E was kind of cut throat in the way he got control of things, but Gilbert had no interest in working with Jim Crockett or the NWA, so ECW joining up with them was a natural stepping off point for Eddie, with this show scheduled to be his last in the promotion.
I’ve never seen this show before but it has some historical significance to it. ECW was actually still Eastern instead of Extreme at this point and was also now a member of the NWA, but that would change when 1994 rolled around. Knowing Heyman he probably already had the gears whirring in his head for that spectacular screw job.
The event is emanating from The Arena in Philly on the 18th of September 1993
Calling the action is Joey Styles, in what I think is his first ECW event, although he may have done some Hardcore TV’s previous to this
Ian Rotten and Jason Knight Vs The Public Enemy (Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock)
Rotten would go on to be promoted for IWA Mid-South, whilst Jason would work some shots for the WWF as enhancement talent and eventually win the ECW TV Title before settling into the role of a manager. TPE were possibly Paul Heyman’s greatest creation, as he saw Grunge and Rock as opponents and decided he would put them together as a wild brawling tag team, thus making them greater than the sum of their parts and turning them into an underground sensation in the process.
This is just pure anarchy to start, with TPE destroying their opponents with a combination of high impact moves and straight up punching and kicking. Rock actually does a couple of nice high-flying moves, including a dive out onto Rotten and a Quebrada back inside onto Jason. Jason and Rotten sell it all pretty well, with Jason even doing a blade job here in the opener. Start as you mean to go on I guess. Rock eventually pins Rotten with a Senton off the top.
WINNERS: THE PUBLIC ENEMY
A strong win for TPE to establish them right out of the gate
TPE beat up Rotten even more after that, just to be jerks.
ECW Pennsylvania Heavyweight Title
Champ: Tony Stetson w/ Hunter Q. Robbins III Vs Tommy Cairo
All three of these guys were holdovers from the previous era and all three would eventually either get phased down into enhancement talent roles or would just plain be out of the company by the time ECW really started gaining traction. Hunter Q is your typical snobby Heel manager, although he looks a bit like the actor Richard Ayoade. Stetson looks a bit like a discount Bret Hart, whilst Cairo actually has somewhat of a reasonable physique for this level of wrestling.
Stetson gets a bit of a shine in the early going, and actually gets a nice spinning wheel kick as part of that, which causes Stetson to bail outside the ring and bonk his head on the scaffold that will be used later for another match. This actually isn’t a terrible match or anything, but you can kind of see why these guys were eventually phased out for the likes of Benoit, Malenko, Raven, Taz, Dreamer etc, because those guys were just better at working in the ring to a higher level, whilst these guys were local indie level at best and the company just outgrew them.
Cairo gets some suplexes in at one stage, but Stetson manages to just about keep surviving with last moment kick outs, leading to Stetson stalling for a bit again. This one has been a bit all over the place structure wise actually, with it being a bit stop-start and Stetson never really getting a full heat segment as such. It’s mostly Cairo bumping Stetson around, before Stetson gets a brief flurry of offence and Cairo goes back to hitting his moves again. As a result the match doesn’t really have a lot of heat with the crowd, as they are never really given a chance to get fully behind Cairo. Eventually Hunter Q distracts the ref and that allows Stetson to get a belt shot for three.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: TONY STETSON
Not much to it really, but it wasn’t terrible or anything
Stetson and Hunter Q quickly bail following that.
Lucha de Apuestas – Mask Vs Mask
Super Destroyer #2 w/ Hunter Q. Robbins III Vs Super Destroyer #1
The Super Destroyers are masked guys who I don’t think went on to be anyone especially famous in the wrestling world. They were one of the early top teams for ECW, but they’ve since split up, with Super Destroyer #2 keeping Hunter Q on as his manager whilst Super Destroyer #1 has kicked him to the curb, ostensibly making him the babyface here as a result. Loser here also loses their mask.
This isn’t that bad of a match, although it’s wrestled at quite a relaxed pace due to both of these lads being pretty hefty. They make an effort to actually wrestle with one another though, as Super Destroyer #2 works over his opponents arm whilst Super Destroyer #2 tries working over the leg of his opponent. I wasn’t expecting such a scientific battle here to be honest, so they’ve surprised me.
The match probably goes on for a bit too long and some of the crowd agrees by shouting that it’s boring them. It’s just so odd to see two big masked blokes like this try to use limb targeted submission moves like they’re William Regal or something. Super Destroyer #1 eventually flattens Super Destroyer #2 with a back senton splash for the three
WINNER: SUPER DESTROYER #1
Another match that wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t especially exciting or fun to watch either. I do have a certain amount of respect for these two guys for actually trying to have a wrestling match though, because I honestly thought they’d just be slugging each other for 5 minutes before one of them keeled over
Super Destroyer #2 is indeed unmasked as is revealed to be some guy. Joey Styles says he recognises him but doesn’t know the name, and before we can learn anymore we are joined by The Dark Patriot, who takes Super Destroyer #1 out with a chair. Interestingly CageMatch.com lists this version of Dark Patriot to still be Doug Gilbert, so he was still getting booked despite his brother getting ousted. Super Destroyer #1 is laid out with a couple of spiked piledrivers, which leads to “Jazzy” JT Smith running down to make the save. Dark Patriot climbs up the scaffold to start the next match. Hey, one match bleeding into another, it’s Paul E using one of his main booking tropes one show in. It’s almost like a baby deer taking its first steps!
The Dark Patriot Vs JT Smith
Patriot first appeared in the GWF as a rival for The Patriot, but he found his way into ECW because he was Eddie Gilbert’s brother in real life so Eddie got him a booking. Doug Gilbert would actually appear briefly in the 1996 Royal Rumble match too, but he didn’t do much and was quickly chucked out. Smith is the local hometown babyface, but he’d eventually become a faux Italian Heel and form the original version of The Full Blooded Italians.
You throw your opponent off the scaffold to win, and like most scaffold matches it’s two guys mostly trading punches whilst trying to avoid falling. Patriot had already thrown Smith off The Eagles Nest in the ECW Arena, so Smith is looking for revenge here. Dark Patriot takes most of the match, and does nefarious things like throwing powder and choking JT with a cable of some kind.
I’ve yet to see a scaffold match that I’ve particularly liked and this one doesn’t change that, although it’s better than some of the others’ I’ve seen as they do make an effort to have a bit of a match up there, including Dark Patriot giving Smith a DDT and Smith throwing a dropkick. Patriot having all kinds of weapons down his tights is just so Memphis too, so get I get a kick out of that aspect.
Strangely despite Smith coming into this match looking for revenge and Dark Patriot being the brother of the recently ousted head booker, they still have Dark Patriot win, as he flings Smith off the scaffold and Smith takes a pretty big bump into the ring without anything to break his fall. I’m kind of amazed that after all that they had the Heel just go and win when it was shaping up to him finally getting his just desserts. Maybe Gilbert refused to take the bump?
WINNER: THE DARK PATRIOT
It wasn’t especially good or anything, but they did their best to have an actual match up there and they fully delivered on the stipulations too with Smith taking the big bump into the ring, so I’ll be generous. I’m still not a fan of this stip though
Dark Patriot teases doing a dive off the scaffold onto Smith following that, but then flips the crowd off and just climbs down. Okay, that was a good Heel spot. Patriot drags Smith through the crowd following the match, and even hits the referee with a chair for good measure. This is typical ECW insanity, although I question why poor Smith had to take even more of a kicking following the match when he’d already taken the big bump off the scaffold. Why did they feel the need to bury him so heavily? Dude just got thrown off a scaffold, you don’t need to also drag him all over the building and then destroy him with a chair on top of it all. This was also Dark Patriots last night in the company, so not only did Smith not get revenge in this match but he didn’t get revenge for this beat down either.
Bunkhouse Texas Tornado
Abdullah The Butcher and Kevin Sullivan Vs Terry Funk and Stan Hansen
I think these are four names that most of you will recognise, with Funk in particular being one of the few established guys from this era who was willing to come into ECW and put the next generation over. Tonight he’s in there with three fellow veterans though. Hansen didn’t work a lot in ECW, but he strikes me as someone who would have been perfect in that setting, especially as he started getting on in age as the 90’s went on and could have covered up his physical limitations by brawling in front of a crowd that enjoyed that type of wrestling.
This is a wild brawl from the very off, with all four guys going at it without the need for tags. If brawls aren’t your thing then you probably won’t enjoy this, but if seeing four wild guys like this go at it in a scenario with no rules sounds like fun then this match should scratch that itch. Sullivan and Funk even fight on the scaffold at one stage, with Funk eventually getting knocked down from the ladder section back into the ring. Claret is soon flowing, which isn’t surprising when fists are flying like this.
The ref ends up getting taken down at one stage because Funk is blinded by having blood in his eyes, and that leads to Eddie Gilbert and The Dark Patriot showing up to attack Funk’s team, which leads to Funk and Hansen winning the match by DQ, which doesn’t really make any sense when you consider that this was a wild brawl all the way through. Why would the match suddenly now have rules all of a sudden?
WINNERS BY DISQUALIFICATION: FUNK & HANSEN
Match was going along fine until the lame ending, but I guess they didn’t want anyone to do a job and this was the best way around that
Sullivan and Abdullah turn on one another following that, just to keep the whole mad house vibe going, which is increased when Hansen and Funk return and the fight starts up again. That was a lot of fun actually, and probably a wilder more entertaining fight than the match itself.
Joey does his best to explain the result in the previous match, saying that weapons are okay but interference isn’t. Bless him for trying, but that doesn’t make ANY sense.
Mixed Gender Battle Royal
Sherri Martel, Don E. Allen, Tigra, Angel, Hunter Q. Robbins III and Jay Sulli
Sherri I’m guessing most of you will know. Allen was another holdover from the previous booking regime, whilst Tigra and Angel are mostly valets who wrestle a bit. Sulli was the previous host of Hardcore TV prior to Joey showing up and I think he stuck around a bit as a backstage interviewer before eventually leaving the company. The winner of this Battle Royal will win $5000. Allen is a regular wrestler as opposed to everyone else, who are either managers or personalities more than in-ring competitors, so he seems a bit out of place in this.
Sulli is the first dumped out and teases skinning the cat before just leaving. This isn’t a match for work rate, as it’s mostly comedy spots, such as the women pantsing Hunter Q to send him fleeing, leading to the final three actually being the women. Angel seems to be more of a wrestler than Tigra, so she mostly wrestles with Sherri whilst Tigra hides in the corner. Referee Freddie Gilbert enters into the ring and causes Sherri to chase him away, leading to her eliminating herself. Tigra then shoves Angel out to win.
This was pretty much awful
Tigra celebrates and Joey talks about how he’d like her to take him out now she has some money.
Loser gets whipped with a strap
Sir Richard Michaels w/ Hunter Q. Robbins III Vs Sal Bellomo w/ Sherri Martel
Michaels mostly worked on the indie scene; whilst Bellomo used to work for the WWF in the 80’s and was doing a kid friendly gimmick here where he’d throw stuffed animals into the crowd. That gimmick wouldn’t last once ECW went from being Eastern to Extreme and kids were no longer welcomed to events. Michaels had given Bellomo some lashes to set this up, so Sal is looking for some revenge here.
This match is mostly Bellomo beating on Michaels until Michaels is able to hit Bellomo with Hunter Q’s walking stick to cut him off. He did that right in front of the referee though, so it should have been a DQ, something Joey even pointed out on commentary, as this was back when ECW had standard rules in normal matches. Bellomo used to do enhancement work for the WWF, so his selling isn’t too bad and Michaels is solid enough on offence.
Aside from the silliness of the cut off due to it being done right in front of the ref, the match itself has been okay for the most part. It’s not been a classic or anything, but it’s told a story and the work has been fine. Michaels eventually misses a move off the top and that allows Bellomo to flatten him with a Big Splash for the three count.
WINNER: SAL BELLOMO
This was okay
Hunter Q tries to save his man from the lashes, but Sherri stops him. Rockin’ Rebel joins us though and he destroys Bellomo with a chair, leading to Bellomo doing a big injury angle.
ECW Heavyweight Title
Champ: Shane Douglas w/ Paul E. Dangerously Vs The Sandman
Sandman wasn’t the beer drinking cane swinging Hardcore Icon yet, but was instead a surfing babyface. I think he adopted the persona people are more familiar with in 1994. Douglas had been working in WCW earlier in the year, but he’d left there and was doing a Fabulous Heel gimmick, complete with tassles on his ring jacket and boots. Douglas teases walking out to start, whilst some people in the crowd are clearly chanting that Sandman sucks. The ref says Douglas will lose the belt if he walks out, so Douglas sprints back and the match is on.
Sandman was pretty awful at this stage in his career, and it wasn’t until he started focusing more on brawling and got the new gimmick that he really started to gain some momentum in the company. Douglas does a good job of holding the match together though, bumping all over the place to make Sandman look good and selling big whenever Sandman delivers a big move. Douglas does eventually manage to cut Sandman off though, and does traditional Heel heat spots such as putting his feet on the ropes when he has Sandman in a chin lock.
Joey does that annoying commentator thing of pretending that the crowd is reacting in a certain manner when they clearly aren’t. For instance, Douglas puts Sandman in another chin lock and the crowd shouts that it’s boring, but Joey instead is acting like they are clapping for Sandman to make a comeback. You don’t need to address the negative chants but you shouldn’t lie about them either.
Sandman eventually fights back and comes off the top with a shoulder tackle, taking out the ref in the process. This leads to shenanigans with Paul E, which eventually ends with Douglas hitting Sandman with Paul E’s mobile phone for a near fall. That was done well actually. Sandman goes low and heads up for a cross body, but Douglas rolls through and grabs the tights to retain.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SHANE DOUGLAS
Douglas did a solid job holding that all together and the match was mostly okay as a result
Douglas and Paul E quickly bail following that, with Sandman giving chase.
Baseball Bat Match
The Headhunters (A and B) Vs Miguel Perez and Crash The Terminator
The Headhunters are two big lads from Puerto Rico who would occasionally do Moonsaults and the like. Perez would end up in the WWF as part of Los Boricuas, whilst Crash would be better known as Bill DeMott/Hugh Morrus/Hugh G. Rection. The rules here are that both teams start at different ends of the building and the first team to get to the bat in the ring can use it.
This match is basically all four guys walking around the arena hitting one another with weaponry, with some blood being shed but very little actual selling going on. Perez is probably the only one in the match who is actually selling consistently, and not surprisingly he was the best wrestler of the four. Crash and one of the Headhunters do go through a wall in the arena at one stage though, which is pretty impressive, although the camera sadly misses it because we’ve got only one hard camera and no roving cam.
It’s another one of those matches where if brawls aren’t your thing then this isn’t for you, but if you like all out mayhem then this will probably tickle your taste buds. Amazingly one of The Headhunters climbs up the scaffold to fight with Perez at one stage, but it doesn’t go anywhere and they eventually just climb down. Crash actually body slams one of the Hunters at one stage and then heads up for his trademark Moonsault, but The Hunter rolls out of the way to dodge it. The Hunter follows with his own Moonsault and that’s enough for three.
WINNERS: THE HEADHUNTERS
Decent brawl, although it got sloppy in the closing stages
The brawl continues following that, but the crowd are pretty brawled out at this stage.
You know what this felt like? It felt like when you’re 3-4 years into a TEW save file and you go back to look at the first show you ran just to see how much things have changed. You could see the prototypical beginnings of what ECW would become under Paul Heyman, but he didn’t quite have the roster he wanted in order to pull it off just yet, so the mayhem and anarchic feel was there but the show itself didn’t have the quality of wrestler required to really support it. It was a breezy enough watch, but there are better ECW shows out there.
Not really a recommended show unless you want to see it just for historical purposes.