Mike Reviews – ECW November To Remember 1998 (1st November 1998)

Happy Saturday Everyone!

I decided to do this one as I’ve only got two holes remaining in my original ECW pay per view archives, so I’ll do this one now and we’ll get to Guilty As Charged 1999 sometime in January. The big storyline going into this one is that Sabu, Rob Van Dam and Taz have formed an alliance because they’re just sick of Shane Douglas, Chris Candido’s and Bam Bam Bigelow’s nonsense, but it’s a loose alliance at best and liable to collapse at any moment.

I’m watching the Laserlight Digital home VHS version, which has a notable edit where part of the Tag Title match is cut out, but it does have the real music whereas the WWE Network version doesn’t, which makes it the superior cut of the show by default in my opinion.

The event is emanating from New Orleans, Louisiana on the 1st of November 1998

Calling the action is Joey Styles

An interviewer tries to get a word with Jack Victory prior to the show, which leads to New Jack attacking him with a weapon until security shows up and drags him away.

Joey Styles does the in-ring introduction, with the building looking pretty full and the production values being reasonably decent too. It looks pretty good for an ECW show all things considered. Terry Funk interrupts things, showing up doing his crazy old man Heel shtick. Terry had been working in the WWF for most of 98, but it seems like he’s back in ECW now. He’s bitter that he wasn’t invited to this show and even has a pop at Tommy Dreamer because Dreamer hasn’t chosen him to be his tag team partner later on tonight. Tommy Dreamer joins us, and says that he didn’t chose Funk because Funk would rather work a lighter schedule and he didn’t want to force him into something, which seems reasonable but he’s dealing with a crazed nutter here. Funk throws the mic at Dreamer and storms off. Funk was very good here but the angle went on for too long in my opinion.

Intro, complete with taglines! Tonight’s taglines are “Tonight, ECW Thanks You For Your Support, Welcome to the 6th Annual N2R!”

Opening Match
Danny Doring and Roadkill Vs The Blue Meanie and Super Nova

Meanie and Nova were a pretty fun opening match comedy act that normally did a good job firing the crowd up, but they’d end up breaking up when Meanie would inexplicably get a WWF deal not too soon after this. No offence intended to Meanie, but WWE was even more cosmetically obsessed back then than they even are now and Meanie did NOT have a “WWF Body” back then.

These guys work a decent opener here, but it’s somewhat overshadowed by the fact that Terry Funk joins us once again to act like a crazed wild man around ringside, which distracts from the action in the ring. Funk decides he wants to be the guest timekeeper here, meaning we get more clips of him ranting at ringside whilst the two teams are trying to have a match in there.

Nova and Meanie work a fun babyface shine, with Doring and Roadkill having some miscommunication at one stage and having a minor argument as a result. It’s all standard comedy opener stuff and they do it well. Funk continues to be a nuisance and slaps Meanie in the face, leading to Meanie punching him off the apron to send him through a table. The table doesn’t break though so Funk climbs on top of it and puts himself through it, whilst the Heels cut the distracted babyfaces off for the heat segment.

Doring and Roadkill work a competent heat segment, but Funk is continuing to be a pain in the tuchus and it’s reached the point that it’s actively spoiling the match for me now. I will say that with the decent production values, the show logo on the mat and special snazzy new outfits for the referees that this is possibly the most professional ECW had ever looked up to this point. It’s a shame they couldn’t consistently produce a show that looked like this every time.

Nova eventually manages to make the hot tag to Meanie, who does a decent segment actually. He was good in this role and going to the WWF really was a mistake because there was no way they were going to let him run wild like this in that company. They do a fun closing section, with Meanie even successfully coming off the top with a moonsault at one stage. Eventually the babyfaces hit Doring with a face buster/DDT combo move and that’s enough for three.

WINNERS: MEANIE & NOVA
RATING: **1/2

This was a decent opener marred somewhat by Terry Funk overshadowing everything

Speaking of Funk, he shows up and batters both Meanie and Nova, leading to Paul E. Dangerously having to come out and beg him to leave, which he eventually does when security intervenes.

We get a recap of The Dudley Boyz battering Balls Mahoney and Masato Tanaka to steal a Tag Title shot which they went on to win, setting Balls and Tanaka up as the challengers for this show. They both have serious concussions though thanks to The Dudleyz doing such a number on them.

Match Two
Tracy Smothers w/ Little Guido, Tommy Rich and Ulf Herman Vs Tommy Rogers w/ Chris Chetti

Smothers is a member of The Full Blooded Italians, with the joke being that only Guido is actually Italian with the rest being either American or, in the case of Ulf, German. Rogers was a lower mid-card tag guy for most of his ECW run, tagging first with Jerry Lynn and then recruiting Chetti once Lynn moved into the singles realm.

This is one of those matches where it could potentially work in front of the right crowd, but that crowd isn’t an ECW pay per view crowd in 1998. They try doing some cheap heat promos with Rich being a Heel and Rogers being a babyface, but Rogers’ promo is pretty bad and the crowd doesn’t bite on it as a result.

With the best will in the world, the peak of both of these guys’ careers as in-ring workers was probably a decade prior to this, and sticking them on an ECW pay per view like this was probably not the best idea. Don’t get me wrong, Smothers in particular could still get over in the right scenario due to his charisma and veteran smarts, but Rogers’ whole appeal was that he was one half of a pretty boy tag team, and by this point his looks were gone and he didn’t have good enough in-ring skills to offset that

I get they probably didn’t want to do another tag match after having one in the opener, but Smothers and Guido Vs Chetti and Rogers would have been the better way to go here, as they could have mixed in the younger guys with the experienced guys and had a better match as a result. Chetti fights to the back with Herman at one stage, leading Rogers 1 on 3 with the Heels, which means Guido comes in more than once for some illegal double teams whilst Rich takes the ref.

The crowd pretty much turns on the match at this stage, with Rich trying to taunt the fans into chanting for Rogers but having no joy. This match was just a mistake and I feel for both guys as this was just the wrong match for this crowd and they could have done something better in the right scenario. Rogers actually does a very nice fiery comeback at one stage, but the crowd doesn’t really care about it. Smothers tries a rope assisted pin, but the referee catches him and stops counting, which leads to Rogers winning it soon after with The Tomikaze (Pulp Friction/Killswitch)

WINNER: TOMMY ROGERS
RATING: *1/2

They had very little chance here as the crowd just wasn’t into it, although both men did try hard and it picked up a bit after a shaky start. Rogers’ win got a bit of a pop for instance

The FBI teases breaking up following that, but we’d have to wait a bit longer before Rich and Smothers were finally kicked out in favour of Big Sal, as the group reconciles and then start beating up Rogers and Chetti, with Herman and Mabel from the WWF showing up to help out. Yes, Mabel/Viscera had a brief stint in the original ECW. Seeing as we have two big goofs in the ring, it’s time for Little Spike Dudley to show up and kill some giants.

Match Three
Ulf Herman and Mabel Vs Little Spike Dudley

Spike wins this one pretty quickly with The Acid Drop on Herman, drawing a big pop in the process. It’s kind of amazing just how over they managed to get Spike in ECW, playing into the in-built feeling of resentment some fans have for less talented bigger men getting pushed due to their size, essentially “punishing” them by having them get beaten up by a much smaller man. It was a very simple bit of booking but it worked a treat and they could afford to bring in a slew of generic big men for Spike to polish off until it was time for him to have actual feuds with the likes of Mike Awesome and The Dudley Boyz.

WINNER: LITTLE SPIKE DUDLEY
RATING: SQUASH

I actually really enjoyed that as it captured the mad house vibe of ECW far better than the match that preceded it and the reaction of the crowd was proof of that

Axl Rotten puts over Balls Mahoney and Masato Tanaka, saying that they are going to win the belts despite their injuries later.

Match Four
Guest Referees: Mikey Whipwreck and Tammy Lynn Sytch
Lance T. Storm w/ Tammy Lynn Bytch (That’s B-Y-T-C-H) Vs Jerry Lynn

The idea here was that Storm had been feuding with Chris Candido and Tammy, so he brought in Dawn Marie under the name Tammy Lynn Bytch in order to offset Tammy, leading to many a cat fight. Sadly they’ve over complicated this match something fierce, having a wacky backstory where Mikey accidentally gave Sytch a Whippersnapper (Stunner) whilst blinded, so they now distrust one another. Joey outright calls it a soap opera and that’s what it is, but not in a good way in my opinion.

The big problem with this match is that all of the silliness with Sytch essentially derails the match. When Storm and Lynn are allowed to just wrestle one another then it’s really good, but then Sytch will do a deliberate fast count or there will be shenanigans with Mikey and it just grinds any enjoyment you could have with the match to an absolute halt. It’s possible the “We don’t really care about wrestling and just want entertainment” crowd might enjoy this for what it is, but my counter point would be that you should save this sort of storyline smoke and mirrors stuff for a match that actually needs it.

Storm and Lynn are good enough that you can send them out there to have the show stealing great wrestling bout of the evening and just let that be their thing, whilst another match with less accomplished wrestlers can have all of the wacky ref spots and up skirt moments as Sytch tries to quick count Storm. Plus, Storm is clearly meant to be the Heel in this match but Sytch is deliberately counting his pins super slow and then counting really fast for babyface Lynn, which just makes you sympathise for Storm that he’s not getting a fair shake of the stick.

The easy way to fix this is you just make Mikey the referee and have him call it fairly, whilst you have Sytch in Lynn’s corner (possibly against Lynn’s will because he wants none of their feud) and then have Bytch in Storm’s corner. You let Storm and Lynn have a great wrestling match so we wrestling fans can have something we can like, and then you can do a wacky finishing stretch filled with all sorts of chicanery in order to satiate the hunger of the Sports Entertainment portion of the audience. You get the best of both worlds and a better match as a result.

When Storm and Lynn do actually get a chance to wrestle here it’s really good and it just makes it all the more annoying when the crowd is more interested to look up Sytch’s skirt or when Storm is having to kick out of some moves at a lightning quick pace due to Sytch’s quick counting, which only makes Lynn look bad that moves that would be a normal kick out are being kicked out in way less than that because Sytch is doing the unfair fast count.

Storm basically beats Lynn a bunch of times too because Sytch does super slow counts when it would normally be a three count, which just makes Lynn look even worse because not only do his offensive moves barely do any damage but Storm decisively proves himself to be the better man on multiple occasions and only doesn’t win because the referee is screwing him with super slow counts. It just makes zero sense to book a babyface like this and it’s pretty much ruined what has otherwise been a very good wrestling match between two very good wrestlers.

The finish is all kinds of convoluted but I’ll do my best to try and explain it. We have a double down, which leads to Sytch and Bytch having their cat fight, with Sytch stripping Bytch down to her undies. Sytch parades around Bytch’s skirt following that, which becomes important later on as Storm snatches it from her and low blows Mikey whilst holding it. Mikey sees the skirt and remembers that Sytch was the last person to have it, so he thinks Sytch was the one who low blowed him and thus fast counts Lynn out to get her back once he recovers from the low blow, thus giving Storm the win.

WINNER: LANCE STORM
RATING: **1/2

I would like to know what cocktail of illegal substances Paul E was taking when he decided to put this match together because you could probably use it to help ease certain types of psychosis. I’ve pretty much listed all the reasons why I didn’t like it in the multiple paragraphs above, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a good wrestling match be so much of a slog due to the nonsensical booking and storyline surrounding it. The finish would appear to tease a Mikey Heel turn, but to be honest Storm was getting cheated throughout the match and Sytch was thoroughly unlikable throughout the bout, so what he did was pretty much a babyface move in my book

Terry Funk comes over to Joey in the commentary area and apologises for earlier and says he’s leaving forever. Oh yeah, I’m sure we’ll never see Terry Funk in ECW ever again. Yup, he’s gone for sure, no doubting it.

We get a video package hyping up Justin Credible, with Paul E narrating “We’ve got a lot of crap for saying this on TV, but he’s the hottest young star in wrestling today”. Anyone think Paul was starting to get a bit defensive over people’s criticism of the Justin Credible push?

Match Five
ECW Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Dudley Boyz (Buh-Buh Ray and D-Von) w/ Big Dick Dudley, Sign Guy Dudley and Joel Gertner Vs Balls Mahoney and Masato Tanaka w/ Axl Rotten

As mentioned in the opening blurb, some of this match is cut, with Balls and Tanaka making their entrance suddenly cutting to Buh-Buh working over Tanaka in the ring with some punches. I have no idea why this happened, but it happens. I think WWE Network has the full match uncut, so it might have been that ECW sent Laserlight an incomplete tap, which seems suitably makeshift enough that it could have been something that ECW would do.

The story going into this match was that Balls and Tanaka have been seriously injured at the hands of The Dudley’s and are coming into this match with a litany of ailments,  the most severe being a fractured skull apiece. With such serious handicaps it seems impossible that Balls and Tanaka will be able to wrest The Dudley’s ECW Tag Team Titles away, something Joey really lays in thick on commentary. However, this being wrestling, the more impossible a task facing a babyface the more stirred they will be to overcome it, which is just what the plucky challengers aim to do.

What makes this match better than just your standard ECW Dudley’s match is the presence of Tanaka, who takes the heat for his team before finally unleashing his usual vast array of exciting dives, strikes and weapon shots down the closing stretch. It’s not just Tanaka who takes to the air though, as Bubba Ray even leaves his feet for an unexpected plancha to the outside! Eventually the match descends into wild overbooked madness, with Big Dick Dudley, Axl Rotten, Joel Gertner and Sign Guy Dudley all getting involved at one stage or another.

Eventually we get to the sickening chair shots to the challengers from The Dudley’s, which the babyfaces somehow manage to survive and rally from. Tanaka even gets to kick out of the 3-D, which barely anyone got to do in ECW and it gets a big pop from the surprised New Orleans crowd in response. We get the obligatory appearance from Heel ref Jeff Jones, who refuses to count for Tanaka and then tries to explain to him why via the aid of a Japanese phrase book before getting taken out by Rotten in a funny moment.

The 3-D spot really is fantastic, not only because it was something you so rarely saw but because the timing on both the move and the kick out were absolutely spot on. The Dudleyz even start arguing with one another at one stage, which leads to stereo chair shots from the challengers in another great near fall as you could have bet the farm on it being the finish. The babyfaces follow up by hitting their finishers on some chairs for yet ANOTHER near fall, as the near fall game of everyone involved here has been great.

The Dudleyz get some low blows to get back into the match and then put some tables into the ring. However, that’s the cue for Rob Van Dam and Sabu to run in as they had an ongoing issue with The Dudley Boyz at the time. They put The Dudleyz through the tables to a big pop from the crowd, and that’s enough for the challengers to get the match winning pin.

WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: BALLS & TANAKA
RATING: ***1/4

This was a good tag match that then descended into chaos, but it was the good kind of chaos and there hadn’t been any big crazy brawls on the show yet so this style of match hadn’t overstayed its welcome. The unprotected chair shots were pretty horrible, but the general story of the babyfaces coming in injured but still managing to rally and win the belts was well told and the crowd responded to it. There was something poetic as well about The Dudleyz losing via outside interference when they always used to loads tonnes of it in order to win their matches. Heels having their own tactic used against them is always fun

The new Champs celebrate following that and Tanaka seems genuinely emotional over getting to win a belt in America.

Shane Douglas, Chris Candido and Bam Bam Bigelow cut a promo backstage. This is a good promo, with the gist being that they will be able to win because they are actually united whilst Taz, Sabu and Rob Van Dam are all out for themselves.

We get a video package to hype up the Main Event.

Semi-Main
Dream Partner Match
Justin Credible and Jack Victory w/ Jason, Chastity, Lance Wright and Nicole Bass Vs Tommy Dreamer and Jake Roberts

Jake was actually a big star in Mid-South, so it makes sense that he would be here as a partner for Dreamer. I do wonder what other stars of that territory thought about missing out on a pay per view payday though? I can just picture Ricky Morton now hearing that Jake got the gig over him.

Jake doesn’t seem to be especially interested in putting on a good show here, and he isn’t even wearing wrestling gear. Instead he’s got some slacks and what looks like a rugby jersey on. Victory seems to get wiped out in the opening brawl prior to the tag match settling in, which means Jason ends up working more of the match than he does. Credible and Dreamer actually do some good stuff together, but aside from that the match isn’t really up to much.

A seemingly hobbled Victory can barely pull himself up to stand on the apron, leaving Credible to work the entire match on his own outside of the occasional spot where Jason comes in. I honestly don’t know why they didn’t just call an audible and have Victory helped to the back so that Jason could be installed into the match instead. Credible and Dreamer usually had okay matches together, so it’s watchable, but it’s also a bit of a mess.

Eventually Jason just hops on the apron and the ref allows it because there’s not much else you can do here, which leads to Jason coming in for the hot tag segment as Jake runs wild with punches. All Jake has really done is punches and the odd clothesline here, but he’s been over with the crowd at least. Rod Price and One Man Gang run down to help out Credible, with OMG being a star from Mid-South/UWF as well.

This is New Jack’s cue to run down with his bin full of weapons with Kronus in tow, leading to this becoming the usual wild New Jack weapons filled brawl. I can’t deny that it’s brought some life to proceedings at least, as this match wasn’t really going anywhere due to Victory getting hurt but they can at least cover for it with some crowd pleasing weapon shots and high spots now, including Kronus coming off the top with a 450 Splash to Credible, which the referee almost counted a pin on in abject confusion due to just how off the rails this one has gotten.

Credible and Dreamer go back to working spots with one another in amongst all the chaos, and Dreamer goes to his usual spot of getting distracted from beating up his mortal foe because he just has to beat up the pretty girl he brought down to ringside with him. Nicole Bass gets battered as well, with Jake giving her a low blow and a DDT. And because this is a Justin Credible match they eventually have him lose when a big win might have actually elevated him and justified all the hype he was getting, as Jake DDT’s him on a ladder for three.

WINNERS: DREAMER & ROBERTS
RATING: *3/4

This was really messy but it was also somewhat entertaining with it. Credible losing was a bit of a head scratcher but he’d get another chance to wrestle Dreamer at the next pay per view in January

I don’t want to shock you at this point, but it turns out that Terry Funk has in fact not left ECW for good, as he comes down to yell at Dreamer again and starts beating him up whilst Jake is over it by this point and just walks off, likely to go and play blackjack. This would lead to Funk teaming up with Credible for a while.

Rob Van Dam, Sabu and Bill Alfonso have promo time backstage. RVD says the fans have paid to watch him kick everyone’s backsides and he’s going to carry three people tonight.

Taz cuts a backstage promo where he admits that he doesn’t like RVD or Sabu but he’s going to use them in order to get him to Douglas so that he can choke him out and become ECW World Champ.

Main Event
The Triple Threat (Shane Douglas, Bam Bam Bigelow and Chris Candido) w/ Francine Vs The New Triple Threat (Rob Van Dam, Sabu and Taz) w/ Bill Alfonso

Douglas kills some time with a promo prior to the match, which isn’t really needed as we’re two hours and 10 minutes into the show by this point and they really should just start the match. The Dudley Boyz then attack RVD and Sabu when they come down to the ring, leading to Taz having to make the big rescue to send The Dudleyz packing.

Once The Dudleyz are dealt with the match proper starts, with all six guys brawling around ringside and going at it. Sabu has a neck brace on, so The Triple Threat smartly goes after that every chance they get, with Candido and Douglas targeting Sabu in the ring whilst Bigelow holds off Taz and RVD outside the ring.

This is a decent match actually. I wouldn’t say it was on the level you would expect from the Main Event of what is essentially ECW’s WrestleMania level event, but it’s a fun brawl for the most part and it’s definitely got star power in it. Plus, Taz and Bigelow brawling is always good fun and we get a decent amount of it here.

There are definitely some sloppy elements to it all, but it’s watchable throughout and eventually things settle into more of a traditional tag match with The Triple Threat cutting off Sabu and working him over. Sabu eventually manages to tag out to RVD, who does a pretty disjointed hot tag segment, although in his defence it’s not like Bigelow and Douglas feed for it especially well. Candido puts Taz through a table outside the ring somehow during all of that, but we don’t see how.

Yeah this match has started to fall apart a bit now after a sloppy yet promising start. There are numerous moments where guys don’t seem clear as to where they need to be and it leads to parts of the match kind of just grinding to a halt whilst everyone tries to get their bearings. The finish is clever at least, as Taz looks to finally have Douglas beat in The Tazmission, but Sabu comes off the top with a leg drop and ends up stealing the pin for himself, essentially stealing the position of #1 contender in the process. RVD takes out Bigelow with an amazing dive into the crowd during that.

WINNERS: THE NEW TRIPLE THREAT
RATING: *1/2

Started out like it would be a fun wild brawl, but once they went into the normal tag section the match went off the rails and they never really got it back

Taz and Sabu argue following that whilst Rob Van Dam tries to be the peace maker.

In Conclusion

Great Tag Title match aside, this is one of ECW’s weaker pay per view efforts. It’s a shame as well because from a production stand point it was one of their better shows, with the arena looking good and well lit. Had they delivered a good show on top of everything else they did well from a production perspective then this could have been a real homerun for them, but instead it was a missed opportunity.

Not a Recommended Show