Mike Reviews – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999 (10th January 1999)

Happy Saturday Everyone!

This is the final hole in my ECW Pay Per View reviews I believe, so I’ve decided to review it so I can complete the set. Our Main Event is Taz finally getting a shot at the ECW World Title, whilst Tommy Dreamer and Justin Credible battle in a ladder match on the undercard.

The event is emanating from Kissimmee, Florida on the 10th of January 1999

Calling the action is Joey Styles

Paul E. Dangerously opens it up, complete with trademark baseball cap and headset. He lets us know that Masato Tanaka couldn’t come in from Japan and that Jerry Lynn is too injured to wrestle, so they’ve modified the card accordingly. Interestingly the choice of words Paul had were that they weren’t going to be able to “exploit” Jerry Lynn’s abilities to the fullest, hence why they’ve left him off the card.

Joey Styles does the in-ring introduction to the show

“Tonight, Sunday Night January 10th, ECW’s Guilty As Charged Live On Pay-Per-View”

Opening Match
The Full Blooded Italians (Tracy Smothers and Little Guido) w/ Tommy Rich, Big Guido and Sal E. Graziano) Vs Danny Doring and Roadkill Vs Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney

This is supposed to just be The FBI Vs Doring and Roadkill, which would have been a Heel Vs Heel match at the time, but Rotten and Mahoney interrupt to make it into a Three Way Dance so that the fans have someone to cheer for. The building isn’t lit too badly tonight and looks okay, certainly better than some of the other pay per view set ups we’ve seen from ECW (Hardcore Heaven 1997 I’m looking at YOU).

This is a pretty fun opening contest, with everyone brawling around ringside to start and Balls even doing a dive out to the floor on all of the heavies who came down with The FBI. It’s pretty much all action in the early stages and the wrestling is decent for the most part. The crowd gets into it too, especially with guys like Roadkill and Balls doing the sort of high-flying stuff that guys their size don’t normally do, especially in the other two main promotions of the time.

Doring and Roadkill give a decent account of themselves and they are protected when it comes to their elimination, as Rich comes in to hit Doring with the Italian flag and he is then hit with a double suplex by The FBI. Things continue to be decent with it just being The FBI Vs Axl/Balls, with the match settling into more of a standard tag match now that there are only two teams left. The FBI works some heat on Balls, but he eventually manages to suplex Guido and tag out. Rotten does a decent hot tag segment, including the Dusty Rhodes elbows, and that leads to stereo finishers onto The FBI to give Axl and Balls the clean win to pop the crowd.

WINNERS: AXL ROTTEN & BALLS MAHONEY
RATING: **1/2

This was a decent opener. It was fun and warmed the crowd up nicely

Big Guido and Big Sal get in the ring following that and end up eating some chair shots as a result.

Terry Funk cuts a crazy old man promo about his dad killing a jackass on the farm due to the jackass kicking him in the nuts. Funk then relates this to Tommy Dreamer, saying Dreamer kicked him in the nuts when he chose Jake Roberts over Funk as a partner at November to Remember 1998. Tonight we’re going to find out how much blood Dreamer has in his body, because Funk is going to open him up. This was a fantastic crazed promo from Funk.

Match Two
Super Crazy Vs Yoshihiro Tajiri

This is the ECW pay per view debut for both of these guys, and they would go on to have MANY more matches with one another over the course of their ECW careers. This one is all action to start and it’s really good, with both men doing quick counters and delivering some nice flashy moves. They both get instantly over with the crowd pretty much, who quickly recognises that these two guys can work and get into the match as a result.

That was one thing I liked about ECW crowds, if you could work then you always had a chance of getting over, which wasn’t always the case in the WWF and WCW, where you could be a great worker but if the fans didn’t see you as a star then they’d just sit on their hands most of the time. Tajiri busts out the Asai Moonsault and the Tarantula, with both moves getting a great reception from the crowd.

Crazy responds with a springboard missile dropkick and a somersault plancha to the floor, which also get a big pop. Crazy busts out some Lucha submission holds back inside following that, including the old Mexican Surfboard move, and those get over with the crowd as well. The big moves keep coming, with both men busting out some more dives to the floor, which leads to some near falls back inside the ring. Those are done well, as they continue busting out the impressive big moves, with Tajiri finally putting Crazy away with a nice looking Dragon Suplex.

WINNER: TAJIRI
RATING: ***3/4

This was a fantastic pay per view debut for both men, as they immediately came across as stars and had a great match to boot. And because it was ECW, both men actually got pushed based off the crowd reactions and match quality, with both of them holding the TV Title during their time there

Next up we have an angle modelled on something WCW did in 1993, where Heel manager Judge Jeff Jones gets revenge on John Kronus by bringing in Sid to beat him up. Col Rob Parker did something similar with Van Hammer, with Sid also being the heavy brought in on that occasion as well. Jones’ gimmick was indieriffic and always felt kind of out of place in a company like ECW.

Match Three
Sid w/ Judge Jeff Jones Vs John Kronus

This was Kronus’ last ECW pay per view appearance I believe, with this match essentially being designed as a way to write him out. I think he still made some appearances on TV and house shows following this, but he was never pushed again. Disappointingly Sid is super over with the ECW fans, even though they’ve ran much better wrestlers out of town in the past for being WWF and WCW cast offs. Still, smart fans in general have always had a blind spot with Sid for some reason.

Kronus takes a decent beating here, which is definitely the best way to do this one seeing as Sid has no discernible wrestling ability whatsoever and can’t bump, sell or feed to save his life. The crowd enjoys watching poor Kronus get destroyed, as Sid puts him through a table, batters him with a chair and then gets the powerbomb back inside the ring for three.

WINNER: SID
RATING: SQUASH

This gave the crowd what they wanted and Kronus did a good job selling it all

Sid celebrates following that, with Joey teasing that Sid will eventually target Jones as well due to it being impossible to actually control a guy like Sid.

We get a video package to hype up Taz Vs Shane Douglas for later. This was a pretty convoluted storyline, with Douglas paying Taz off to take out Sabu so that Douglas would have an easy Title defence against him. Taz did indeed take Sabu out with multiple attacks to his neck, but he also then voluntarily lost the FTW Title to him in a match by dragging his limp carcass on top of him. This was to show that Taz was now only interested in winning the ECW Title, whilst also giving Sabu the FTW Title so they could do a unification match down the line. It was a pretty confusing story in all honesty and an example of ECW sometimes getting a bit too cute with the booking.

The Dudley clan joins us to lay down an open challenge as they don’t have a match tonight. Joel Gertner does his usual dirty rhyme and actually gets cheered for it, which leads to Buh-Buh Ray chastising the fans by saying they don’t need their applause.

Match Four
The Dudley Boyz (Buh-Buh Ray and D-Von) w/ Joel Gertner, Sign Guy and Big Dick Vs Little Spike Dudley and New Jack

Spike is dressed like a “gangsta” here in a nice touch. This is your usual New Jack match, as everyone hits each other with weapons whilst “Natural Born Killaz” plays in the background. There’s not much to say about it really. If you like that sort of match then you’ll likely enjoy this because they hit all the expected beats and the Spike/Buh-Buh sections in particular are well worked. If this sort of stuff isn’t your jam though then this match will do little to convert you.

Buh-Buh lifts the old Bigelow/Spike spot by flinging Spike into the crowd so that the fans can bodysurf him around, which is a spot you would be unlikely to see today for a multitude of reasons. The wild ECW fans love it though, as crazy stuff like this is what they paid to see. This sort of match has it’s detractors (myself included when it’s bad sometimes) but you can’t deny that this was something you weren’t going to get from the other two companies at the time, so ECW was right to feature it sometimes just to get across it’s cult standing in the wrestling world of the time.

Big Duck ends up getting involved and ends up eating two big guitar shots from the babyfaces, although he was allowed to no sell the first one before finally bumping after the second one. New Jack does show off some real charisma in the match two, whilst Buh-Buh and D-Von seem to enjoy stooging for him when he hits them with a metal cooking sheet. The Dudleyz manage to catch him with a 3-D on the ramp though, which takes him out of proceedings.

They clearly protected him there, so it wasn’t as scary a spot as it could have been, which was a relief. Spike rallies all by himself, and actually does a decent job against three guys all by himself, but eventually the numbers game proves to be too much and he eats a 3-D inside for the three count.

WINNERS: THE DUDLEY BOYZ
RATING: NEW JACK MATCH

This was pretty entertaining, as all four guys were “on” and the crowd enjoyed the wild action

The Dudley Boyz beat up New Jack following the match and then lay down a challenge for The Public Enemy to face them. That feud did get started but it didn’t last very long as TPE got sacked before it could really get going.

Joey reiterates that Masato Tanaka will not be here tonight and then sends to a video package for ECW World TV Champ Rob Van Dam. It’s a cool video package that shows off RVD’s cool move-set whilst Kilgore’s version of “Walk” plays in the background.

Joey informs us that Lance Storm will be stepping in to face Rob Van Dam, and he thinks this puts Storm at an advantage in the Title match due to RVD preparing so much for Tanaka.

Match Five
ECW World Television Title
Champ: Rob Van Dam w/ Bill Alfonso Vs Lance Storm w/ Tammy Lynn Bytch (That’s B-Y-T-C-H)

Tammy looks resplendent in a red and gold outfit here. This was actually a match on the first ECW pay per view event, but now the roles have been switched, with Storm being the Heel and RVD being the babyface. Storm gets a good line in by saying he’s not the Whole Damn Show, he’s just the best part of it.

There’s clearly an edit on the Laserlight Digital cut of this match, although I’m not sure how much of the match they removed. We don’t seem to lose much of the match at any rate. RVD continues to shine on Storm with his high-flying offence, with Storm selling and bumping around for that well. Storm eventually manages to catch RVD with a desperation dropkick to send RVD flying down from the top rope onto the metal railings, but RVD fights back out there and then dives into the crowd with a somersault senton to keep control of things.

Storm gets a slick counter to a body slam out on the floor though and gives RVD a reverse DDT out on the concrete. There’s a super young kid out there by the way, who should NOT have been brought to an ECW show by whichever parent/guardian took him there. Storm shows that he can do this high-flying stuff as well by diving out into the crowd onto RVD, which leads to a groggy RVD pulling himself back to ringside, although he seems kind of out of it. In a nice touch, RVD is still kind of cocky about it all, but you can tell he’s been wiped out a bit and isn’t at 100%

RVD does manage to fight back inside the ring though, as this one continues to have a back and forth structure to it. It’s interesting as I felt for sure we were going to get some heat from Storm now that he’d managed to get RVD on the ropes with DDT on the floor and the big dive, but instead they’ve continued to have both men trade the momentum. The action itself has been good and the crowd has been into it for the most part. They’re clearly going for the in-ring back and forth classic match here, although I have to say that Crazy and Tajiri kind of stole their thunder in that regard.

Storm does eventually Heel it up a bit by going low and following up with a small package for two, which leads to a spot where both men throw a spin kick and RVD is quicker to the draw. We of course get some chair stuff, with John Finnegan taking a fantastic bump with RVD accidentally kicks a chair in his face. Storm gets a Van Daminator of his own, but the ref is down and misses it, so Storm gets a visual pin fall to protect him if he eventually fails to win.

Storm does go after Alfonso with a chair, but Fonzie bails and that allows RVD to get a Van Daminator of his own for two from the revived referee. RVD heads up for the Five Star Frogplash, but Storm dodges it and that leads into both men trading pinning hold attempts, with neither man being able to hold the other down. We get a very nice sequence of slick counters and that leads to RVD getting a rare German Suplex for the three count.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: ROB VAN DAM
RATING: ***

This was a good match, although I almost think that going for a more traditional match structure with Storm working some heat into an RVD comeback might have worked better than them going for the back and forth match. I enjoyed the finish though, as the German Suplex looked nice and the counter sequence into it was done very nicely. It was also fun to see RVD to win a match with something a bit different from usual

Tommy Dreamer is wrestling next, so we get a video package of him getting battered to “River of Deceit” by Mad Season, as was the style at the time.

Semi-Main
Stairway To Hell
Justin Credible w/ Jason, Nicole Bass, Jazz and Terry Funk Vs Tommy Dreamer

The idea here is that there is a Singapore cane hanging from the ceiling, with the first person to climb the ladder being able to grab it and use it to beat up their opponent. Funk had recently endorsed Credible to further his feud with former protégé Dreamer. These two generally had good matches together when they were given time to tell a story and this one is decent, although it didn’t receive especially good reviews at the time for whatever reason. I’m thinking the combination of people rejecting Credible’s push and the feeling that Dreamer was kind of in limbo a bit were the main reasons for that.

This is a really good brawl to start, with both men fighting around the ringside area and on the ramp. Credible is a good Heel and Dreamer is a good babyface, so their characters naturally mesh well together and both men are happy to sell for the other, so the match has a good give and take along with a good story being told of Dreamer fighting against the odds due to Credible’s wacky menagerie backing him up. We of course get some spots where the ladder is used as a weapon and they’re done well, with Credible getting to Pillmanise the arm of Dreamer inside the rungs at one stage.

Getting beaten up and still bravely fighting on regardless was pretty much Tommy Dreamer’s biggest attribute as an in-ring worker, so getting brutalised with a ladder is very much in his wheelhouse. Credible is really good in this match too, with his offence looking good and his selling, bumping and feeding all being on point when he’s required to be on the defensive. Jazz gets to come in and give Dreamer a snap suplex at one stage, which actually gets a pop from the crowd even though she’s a Heel, and Jason saves her before Dreamer can get her back in a rare occurrence of ECW actually having a bit of restraint when it came to a payoff on something like that.

All of Credible’s lackeys are worked well into the match in general actually, with them all getting involved in some manner or another, including a moment where they accidentally pull Credible crotch first into the ring post when Dreamer outsmarts them. It’s interesting that in January 1999 both Tommy Dreamer and Goldberg worked ladder matches on pay per view in their respective promotions and both of the matches were good, even though you wouldn’t think the two would be suited to working that kind of match.

They don’t do a lot of the slow climbing stuff actually, which is good in some ways but it does also mean that guys sometimes get up a bit too quickly in order to stop the other guy, such as a moment where Dreamer gets launched out of the ring through a table but then drags himself in pretty quickly in order to stop Credible from climbing. That’s probably the only real critique I’d have for the match though, as it’s generally well worked and the ladder spots are executed well. Credible eventually introduces a second ladder, which gives us a famous spot where Dreamer climbs up the other one and gives him a cutter down to the mat.

That clip got replayed A LOT from this point onward up until the eventual death of the promotion, with it soon finding its way into the opening video package. Dreamer is able to climb and get the cane following that, and then leaps down off the ladder with a DDT onto Credible for good measure. Dreamer is all prepped to finally dish out some vengeance on Credible, but Funk doesn’t let that happen and joins us with a metal bin. Dreamer refuses to fight his mentor, which means Funk is able to clobber Dreamer with the bin without response. This allows Credible to get a Tombstone onto the ladder and that’s enough for three.

WINNER: JUSTIN CREDIBLE
RATING: ****

I really don’t get why so many reviewers from back in 1999 slept on this one, as I liked it back at the time and I still liked it now. The brawling was good, the ladder spots were good and the storytelling was on point as well

Funk continues to beat up Dreamer following the match, although I don’t think the angle ever had a satisfying pay off as Funk was gone again by the time the next pay per view came along.

Steven Prazak tries to get an interview with Taz, although Taz isn’t very open to chatting right now.

Shane Douglas is adamant that he’ll retain his belt tonight, although Francine seems more interested in doing her makeup.

Main Event
ECW World Title
Champ: Shane Douglas w/ Francine Vs Taz

This was an instance of them hanging on for too long in delaying the Title switch on account of Douglas suffering from a slew of injuries, so by the time we got here a lot of Taz’s momentum as a challenger had kind of dissipated. Despite that they do a decent babyface shine segment for Taz, where he out wrestles Douglas and The Champ has to bail to catch his bearings. It’s classic match structure where you try to show that the challenger is on the level of the Champion in order to make the crowd think a Title change is on the cards.

Following the initial segment in the ring we get some crowd brawling, as both men fight amongst the people and Taz actually gives Douglas a big suplex onto a part of the bleachers. Though that’s a good spot, this section in the crowd probably goes on for a bit too long, especially as there isn’t a video wall and a lot of the crowd can’t see what is going on for most of it. Heck, even the camera crew loses them at some points. Douglas ends up bleeding from crowd brawling segment of the match, but they were going to be turning him babyface not too soon after this so that gives him something to bravely fight through.

Back inside the ring it’s mostly kick and punch stuff, with a table getting involved and Taz getting flung through it in the corner. Taz is soon bleeding as well, but manages to suplex Douglas through another table. This is Sabu’s cue to run down (complete with pyro) to beat up both men, setting himself up as a challenger for the winner at the next pay per view. The “Hulka Blues” plays throughout the run in of course. Both Taz and Douglas end up going through tables as a result of Sabu’s run-in and are left lying.

I think it kind of highlights how this match had kind of started grinding to a halt that it took a run-in from a guy not even in the match to get things back on track. It’s not like it’s been a terrible match or anything, but it’s been overly long and there hasn’t been much actual wrestling in it. Douglas gets a near fall from the Sabu attack and then calls on Chris Candido and Tammy Lynn Sytch for help. That ends up going awry, with the women having a scrap with one another and Candido popping Douglas so that Taz can make the comeback and win it with the Tazmission. Candido’s turn didn’t really get much of a reaction, probably because the crowd had run-in fatigue following the Sabu section.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: TAZ
RATING: **

They were clearly trying to give this an epic feel, but they just didn’t have enough in them to deliver a 20+ minute Main Event classic, and the match started dragging after a certain point, especially when they did the overly long brawl in the crowd. Sabu’s run-in added some life to things at least and by the end we got the clean Taz win, but they could have probably just given this 12 minutes and it would have been a better snappier paced match

Taz celebrates with his new belt and we’re out.

In Conclusion

This is probably one of ECW’s better pay per view events, with Crazy/Tajiri, Storm/RVD and Credible/Dreamer all being good and nothing being especially bad, with even the New Jack match being entertaining and the Sid match working within the context of what it was supposed to be. It’s a shame they couldn’t end it on a stronger note with a better Main Event, but the rest of the card held up and there were enough good to great matches that I’d be happy giving the show as a whole a thumbs up.

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