Mike Reviews – ECW Hardcore TV Volume 3 “Philly Stake!”

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

This week we’re heading back to 1995 for some classic ECW action. This was a compilation of matches and angles from Hardcore TV put together by Laserlight video as they tried to recoup as much money as they could from the ECW tape library. As a result this has fake music dubbed in and we don’t even get the real ECW theme. This came out in 2003 but I’d be shocked if many more of these hit the shelves from that point. I know RF Video have the rights to some of the ECW stuff as they still sell some tapes but I think Laserlight were pretty much done with ECW stuff by the end of 2003.

We open with an ECW video where the ECW theme is dubbed over with production music. I believe Len Davies of Real Quality Wrestling was the one to put this one together.

We open up with a very well-produced Chris Benoit promo, where we get a shot of Benoit’s face as he cuts the promo and another shot of his hands, with the two shots superimposed onto one another. It looks great and Benoit’s delivery is decent as well, as he talks about people he’s recently defeated and how he and Dean Malenko want the ECW Tag belts.

Match One
Paul Lauria w/ Jason Vs Mikey Whipwreck

Lauria and Mikey used to be a tag team but Lauria has gone Heel and now the two are feuding. This match is really sloppy as both of these guys were still very green at this stage. It has very good energy though as they are both working very hard to have as good a match as they can and the crowd is pretty patient with them and react to the match with quite a bit of generosity, which was kind of out of character for the ECW Arena.

Lauria is nicknamed “The Giant”, even though he’s shorter than Mikey. Things get really rough at points in this one, and I’m kind of amazed they don’t get more of a negative reaction from the crowd. I think it’s because the crowd can tell that they’re trying really hard and they both take some big bumps in this one, including Mikey missing a body press to the floor and splatting on the concrete as a result, which leads to Lauria working some heat.

Jason does a decent job at ringside as Heel manager, suplexing Mikey through a table at one stage and then mugging for the camera afterwards. Mikey comes up bleeding from the mouth at one stage, which might have happened when Jason attacked him or when Lauria bonked him in the face with a chair at one stage. It might also be fake blood of course and Mikey just chowed down on a condom that had some red liquid in it.

Mikey manages to fight back, getting a bulldog off the top rope but Jason breaks up the count at two by pulling Mikey out of the ring. Mikey clocks Jason with a punch following that, before heading back into the ring to pin Lauria with a backslide to a pretty big pop from the crowd.

WINNER: MIKEY WHIPWRECK
RATING: *1/2

I’m honestly amazed at how generous the crowd was for that one as the match was sloppy as all heck for the vast majority. I guess they just really liked Mikey and were happy he won? It’s not like that’s uncommon, it’s just weird to think of the too cool for school ECW Arena crowd reacting like that instead of slamming a so-so match. The lads were working really hard and it did pick up a bit in the closing stages. The clean finish was also appreciated

Joey Styles recaps the feud between Sandman and Cactus Jack before sending us to footage of a match they had together in Florida.

Match Two
Death Match
The Sandman w/ Woman Vs Cactus Jack

Sandman was the Heel at this point whilst Cactus was the babyface, which becomes clear when Woman distracts Cactus so that Sandman can jump him to start us out, with Woman even adding a shot with a Singapore cane for good measure. It looks like they’re holding this in a rodeo barn with an arcade set up in the corner. It’s certainly a far cry from some of the buildings Cactus would go on to wrestle in when he jumped to the WWF in 1996.

This is a really good brawl, with both men soon heading out to the floor for some weapon shots, including some sickening unprotected chair shots. I don’t really approve of those, but the rest of the brawl is good fun and it’s the sort of wild action that you weren’t getting outside of a FMW/IWA/W*ING tape at the time, which made ECW really stand out when put up against the WWF and WCW.

The fight spills back into the ring, where Sandman gets a piledriver at one stage and then lights up his victory smoke, although he’s neglected to actually win the match first. That of course ends badly for him when Cactus catches him with a big boot and then canes him a few times, all whilst Sandman manages to keep his ciggie from falling out of his mouth. That’s a real man right there! We head into the literal mud following that, as both men continue to fight all over whatever the heck this building they’re wrestling in is.

They fight up onto the bleachers, with Sandman taking a horrific fall off a guardrail at one stage for what looks like a 6-7 foot drop down to the mud floor. You can’t say these two aren’t suffering for their art here. Both ending up fighting on the apron and Cactus knocks Sandman off to the floor before following with a sunset flip for the three count.

WINNER: CACTUS JACK
RATING: ***3/4

This was all kinds of fun, although I feared for Sandman’s safety more than once. I can only think that being thoroughly sozzled took the edge off some of the ludicrous punishment he would take in these matches sometimes

Joey announces that Sandman suffered a concussion in a recent match with Cactus, so he’s not been cleared for a rematch on the 25th February. Sandman comes in, complete with a smoke on the go, with his voice sounding so normal compared to the slur he would eventually have. Sandman does the Tank Abbot thing of saying he doesn’t care about results, just inflicting pain. Sandman says that Woman is arranging a replacement for Sandman on the 25th February, meaning that Cactus will have an opponent on that date. This was a good promo from Sandman and set up the eventual match really well. Sandman gets a shot at Joey by calling him Todd Pettengill, which leads to Joey doing a funny double take.

Match Three
Stevie Richards w/ Raven Vs Tommy Dreamer

Dreamer was still dressing like a wrestler at this stage, as he hadn’t embraced being fully hardcore yet. Both men quickly head to the floor, where Stevie hits him with a chair and then clubs away with forearms. Dreamer actually has his shirt taken off at one stage, and he doesn’t look too bad from a body standpoint. I think all the injuries he suffered led to him wrestling in a shirt more often as he was too banged up to stay in the shape he was here.

Dreamer fights back with a nice swinging neck breaker in the ring and we head outside following that, where Dreamer has the fans hold up chairs so that he can fling Stevie into them before adding some shots with a frying pan. The crowd seems to appreciate Dreamer using the weapons and getting a little hardcore. Stevie fights back, but Dreamer gets a nice swinging DDT to put a stop to that.

Raven comes into the ring and holds Dreamer so that Stevie can deliver a Stevie Kick. Stevie doesn’t go for a pin though and instead pulls Dreamer to his feet, which allows Dreamer to duck another Stevie Kick and punch Stevie right in his Big Stevie Cool’s before getting a roll up for the three count.

WINNER: TOMMY DREAMER
RATING: **

This was a decent match, with both men getting their fair share of offence in and Dreamer getting to look resourceful in the finish

Raven teases getting into the ring and fighting Dreamer following that, but Stevie and the ref end up holding him back. Raven didn’t seem to be putting up too much of a fight there though. Dreamer cuts a promo on Raven, telling him to go back to the WWF and tell them that they can kiss ECW’s butt. Cheap heat but it seemed to work.

We get some promo time with Joey Styles, Raven and Stevie following that. Raven says that Stevie failed him in the previous match and rants in his usual Raven manner. It’s a Raven promo, if you like those then you’ll like this. Tommy Dreamer confronts Raven mid-promo and says he wants to fight, but Raven says now is not the time. Raven says Dreamer can hit him, but he won’t fight back, which causes Dreamer to leave as he doesn’t want to fight someone who won’t fight back. Stevie sucks up to Raven during the promo, saying that two guys beat him up in a bar so he’s brought them here to beat up Dreamer, leading to Tony Stetson and Johnny Hotbody returning to ECW to say that they will beat up Dreamer for Raven. This leads to Dreamer running down to hit all of Raven’s lackeys with a stop sign. Before Raven and Dreamer can fight though the lackeys pull him off. Raven refuses to fight and just stands in the corner, which is great as Dreamer still doesn’t want to attack him when he’s like that. Raven does finally sprint across the ring to attack Dreamer, like a switch just went off. That was awesome as it’s a side of Raven that hadn’t been seen yet and showed that he was a dangerous fighter when he wanted to be. This was a really great segment and a good example of why the Raven/Dreamer feud worked so well, as they’ve already brought Stevie, Hotbody and Stetson into it and made what would otherwise be lower card guys part of a hot angle. It just raised up everyone involved in it.

The Triple Threat of Shane Douglas, Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko have promo time backstage. At the time they held all the belts in ECW, as Douglas was the World Champ, Malenko was World TV Champ and also Tag Champ with Benoit. Douglas says that the Triple Threat has surpassed The Horsemen now due to how successful they’ve been and that they’re real wrestlers whilst everyone else is entertainers. This was a very good promo from Douglas, who did most of the talking. This was a very good stable, but they weren’t on the level of the peak Horsemen units. Benoit did some talking as well and was good, whilst Malenko just stared at the camera looking cool, and he did look cool as well.

Extreme Encyclopaedia

“Cac’tus J’ack”-n
(Bangus Bangus)

Toothless, earless, freak whose psychotic style and spirit truly epitomises that of ECW

Myst’ery Wr’est”ler-n
(Namus Unknownus)

Sandman and Woman’s hired henchman man. Purpose? Destroy Cactus. Identity? Unknown. Future? Unknown. Quite simply, a Man With No Name!!!!

We get promo time from Woman and The Sandman with Joey Styles. Woman doesn’t like Cactus Jack talking smack about Kevin Sullivan and injuring Sandman, which leads to Cactus coming down to the ring in order to face the guy in the mystery box the Heels have for him. This leads to local wrestler D.C. Drake being revealed as the mystery opponent, who is a bit of a let-down but this is a situation where “play it out and see where it goes” actually applies.

Match Four
D.C. Drake w/ Woman and The Sandman Vs Cactus Jack

Cactus takes most of the match, getting the better of things inside the ring before taking the fight to the outside of the ring for some weapon shots. Drake’s offence is mostly just punching, biting and eye gouges, which isn’t very exciting but does the job. We head back to the floor, where Drake chokes Cactus with some barbed wire, but Cactus fights back easily enough and drops an elbow off the apron before getting the Double Arm DDT back inside for three.

WINNER: CACTUS JACK
RATING: *

This was bordering on a squash, but it’s the post-match that we’re here for

Sandman and Woman try a post-match attack, with Cactus sending Sandman into the box before dragging him out to attack him some more. However, the man he pulls out is actually Terry Funk, who is dressed just like Sandman. That of course gets a gigantic pop and leads to the monster Heel beat down with Sandman and Funk laying a whupping on Cactus. Numerous guys try coming down to help Cactus, with even Dreamer being one of them, but he can’t bring himself to attack his mentor Funk and that allows Sandman to cut him off. Shockingly Cactus finds unlikely assistance from Shane Douglas, as even though Douglas is a Heel he did train with Cactus at Dominic Denucci’s wrestling school, so he has a friendship with him that goes beyond Face/Heel alignment. This was a fantastic angle, and I’ll include the Drake section as part of it as that was all about subverting the fans’ expectations and it was executed perfectly.

Match Five
The Pitbulls (#1 and #2) Vs Lukewarm Chad Austin and Joel Goodhart

Austin and Goodhart were holdovers from the old Tristate Wrestling Alliance days, with Paul Heyman essentially keeping them around as job guys for the acts he intended to push. This is a squash win for The Pitbulls, as they clobber both of the enhancement guys and no sell any attempt they make at offence. The crowd seems genuinely offended whenever Austin and Goodhart even dare to fight back. It’s a bit sloppy in places, but it’s a solid enough squash for the most part and gets the point across that The Pitbulls are a dangerous tandem you do not want to mess with.

WINNERS: THE PITBULLS
RATING: SQUASH

I’m not really sure why they felt they needed to add this to the tape to be honest, although it was fine as a squash to get The Pitbulls over

Joey Styles is in front of the ECW banner, where he recaps Terry Funk attacking Cactus Jack and then sends to a backstage promo from Woman, Sandman and Funk. Funk names Dewey Foley in the promo, and insults Cactus’ wife for good measure. I wonder if that led to the “Cane Dewey” sign in the crowd? Funk says he’s sick of Cactus trying to emulate him, which is why he’s teaming up with Sandman and Woman to run Cactus out of town. Funk actually does a very funny Cactus impression at one stage. This was a good promo.

Shane Douglas is backstage with Cactus. Douglas says that he’s got other commitments, but because of their history together he’s willing to help him out. Douglas actually recounts a story about how his dad liked Cactus and thought he was going to make it in wrestling. Cactus says he knows people probably think he shouldn’t trust Douglas, but Douglas helped him out earlier in his career and he’s willing to stand with him. This was a fantastic segment, with both men delivering.

Joey still ponders if Cactus Jack can trust Douglas, sending to a match between Douglas and Tully Blanchard.

Match Six
ECW World Title
Champ: Shane Douglas Vs Tully Blanchard

These two had competed in a universally panned match together that the ECW Arena crowd turned on viciously, but I think this is a different one to that. Tully controls things in the early going, with his offence looking decent, and Douglas does a good job bumping for and selling it all. It’s a decent match all in all, although you can’t help but feel that the two might have been miscast a bit here, as Tully is supposed to be a babyface and Douglas is supposed to be a Heel.

Douglas eventually takes the fight to the floor, where he finally gets some offence in, but Tully soon regains control and continues his elongated babyface shine. Tully does a decent job selling and bumping for Douglas when it’s time for him to be on the defensive, but it’s just hard to feel sympathy for Tully when he spent so much of his career playing a devious Heel who you wanted to see get his block knocked off.

The crowd boos at one stage when Douglas gets a near fall, as I think they want Douglas to win even though he’s supposed to be the Heel here and were annoyed Tully kicked out. The fight spills to the floor again, with Tully flinging Douglas into the front row and then grinding the sole of his boot into Douglas’ face for good measure. Both men have done a good job here of getting across the idea that they don’t like one another, with the match having some good intensity, from Tully especially.

Douglas ends up winning but it’s presented as a mixture of a fluke and a case of Douglas being resourceful, as Tully tries to suplex Douglas back into the ring at one stage and Douglas shifts his weight a bit to land on top and pick up the flash three count. That finish might of benefitted from Douglas clearly doing something a bit nefarious like grabbing the ropes whilst coming in rather than just having Tully “botch” the move and then be unable to kick out from it, which is how it came across for the most part the way they did it.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: SHANE DOUGLAS
RATING: **1/2

This was a decent outing, as they went about 8 minutes and mostly had a match where Tully dominated and Douglas sold. Tully was much better as a Heel than a babyface, but this was still a fun outing for the most part

Joey Styles hypes up a match between The Public Enemy, Taz/Sabu and Benoit/Malenko, and then sends to a promo from The Public Enemy, where they recap Benoit giving Sabu a powerbomb through both Rocco Rock and a table. Johnny Grunge said he didn’t shed a tear when people close to him died, but he did cry when Rocco was hurt, which will be bad news for Benoit. Revenge is sworn and TPE promise that blood is going to be spilled. This was a good promo and set up future matches between TPE and The Triple Threat well.

Ian Rotten cuts a promo backstage where he recaps his feud with Axl Rotten and states that Axl is an illegitimate child. We then get clips of Ian and Axl fighting one another with weapons, which leads to a barbed wire wrapped baseball bat getting involved. Axl Rotten then cuts his own promo backstage. This was a good recap of the feud but it probably needed an actual match to pay it all off here on the tape. Axl Rotten quoting Plato in his promo was pretty funny considering how low rent and violent this particular feud was.

Joey Styles is at ringside and brings out The Public Enemy for a promo, with Rocco Rock coming down to ringside in a wheelchair. TPE says that he had Sabu pinned in a previous match, leading the crowd to chant that TPE got robbed. Grunge says nobody robs The Public Enemy and that TPE are coming after the tag belts. This was another good promo from TPE, with the crowd getting into it. Benoit and Malenko come down to ringside to cause some bother, which leads to Grunge standing in between them and Rocco Rock. A brawl starts up following that, with Grunge getting laid out and Rocco Rock getting knocked off his wheelchair onto the concrete in a brutal looking bump. Rocco Rock starts bleeding from his mid-section following that, which I think is fake blood to get across the idea that Rocco Rock’s re-injured that part of his body. This being ECW though he could have just got hurt for real and they left him out there to suffer for his art. Taz and Sabu run down to attack Benoit and Malenko though, which leads us into the next match.

Match Seven
ECW World Tag Team Titles
Champs: Taz and Sabu w/ Paul E. Dangerously and 9-1-1 Vs Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko

This is worked more like a tornado match, with all four guys going at it at once, and its good anarchic fun. They probably shouldn’t have put that Triple Threat promo up before this match as it kind of gives away the finish, but this match is still entertaining to watch, with it being all big moves and wild action. Everyone looks good here, with Malenko doing some impressive Brain Busters onto Sabu whilst Taz suplexes both of the challengers around with ease.

The challengers decide to focus on working over Taz whilst keeping Sabu out of the ring, with Malenko working in a leg lock whilst Benoit just stomps away at Taz’s head, but Taz refuses to submit in an impressive display of guts. 9-1-1 ends up carrying Taz to the back at the behest of Paul E due to the number that has been done on his leg, leaving Sabu one on two against the challengers. He also gets swarmed and worked over, leading to the crowd getting behind him.

Sabu eventually makes the comeback and the crowd goes nuts for that, especially when Sabu starts busting out wild dives to the floor onto both challengers. Sabu ends up stacking a table on the top rope and then puts a chair up there too, but before he can do whatever he has planned to Malenko he gets cut off by Benoit and powerbombed down to the mat to give Benoit and Malenko the tag belts.

WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: BENOIT & MALENKO
RATING: ***1/2

Benoit cuts a promo post-match calling out The Public Enemy, which leads to TPE showing up looking for a fight, even though Rocco Rock is in no condition to fight with blood seeping from his mid-section. 9-1-1 carries Taz back down to the ring, which leads to 9-1-1 throwing Taz from inside the ring onto everyone else. This was a cracking angle and was done to set up a three way dance that didn’t end up happening because Sabu ended up taking a Japan booking instead and was fired by Paul Heyman live in the ring as a result. I think Rick Steiner ended up teaming with Taz instead of Sabu.

Joey Styles is back in front of the ECW banner, where he sends to footage of TPE accosting Jason, Malenko’s manager, so that they can get the three way dance signed off. Jason refuses to sign at first, so they pressure him into doing so until The Pitbulls show up to rescue him.

Joey tells us that The Public Enemy have been removed from the arena and then sends to a promo with Jason and The Pitbulls. Jason talks about all the men he manages, cutting a very Paul E. Dangerously like promo. Well, I’m sure Paul Heyman was behind the camera producing this one. Pitbull #1 says that ECW is their house, and Jason adds that he will sign the contract for the three way dance, provided TPE can beat The Pitbulls. There was low fake crowd noise playing over this, which made me think licensed music was originally playing and they dubbed that in to drown it out. The Pitbulls want a Tag Title shot soon as well, which Jason agrees to, although he looks a bit worried as well.

Shane Douglas and Cactus Jack cut a promo on Sandman and Terry Funk, with Douglas talking about throwing down the NWA Title and mentioning how important that belt was to Funk’s family and yet Funk didn’t have the guts to show up and stop him. Cactus talks about Funk not showing up to be a tag partner for Cactus back in 1994, which Cactus says was a big mistake because he’s now going to take Funk out. This was an excellent promo and I wish we were getting to see the match on this tape.

Woman cuts a promo on Douglas backstage, calling Douglas a wannabe.

Sandman and Funk tell Cactus Jack he can’t trust Douglas.

In Conclusion

This was an excellent tape at giving a first time viewer a flavour of what ECW was presenting at the time, with most of the big feuds getting some coverage and a couple of great matches thrown in for good measure. ECW was fresher and more exciting than either the WWF or WCW at the time, and this tape is a good example as to why.

Recommended!