The SmarK Rant for Extreme Championship Wrestling – 02.20.96

The SmarK Rant for Extreme Championship Wrestling – 02.20.96

I was cruising the WWE Network tonight looking to see what I wanted to review (WWE King of the Ring Countdown?  Confidential?  Monday Night War?) but then I remembered the ECW reviews and I saw the thumbnail…and what other choice did I realistically have?

Taped from Philly

Your host is Joey Styles

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Mike Reviews – NWA Eastern Championship Wrestling Ultra Clash 1993 (18th September 1993)

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.

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Mike Reviews – ECW Heat Wave 1998 (2nd August 1998)

Hey there Gang!

Back with some more ECW this week, with a special Stinker review scheduled for next week, so if you like those then keep a look out.

Heat Wave 98 is often regarded as one of the best shows ECW ever put on, with it featuring a bunch of well-built issues and some quality wrestling for good measure. Even Scott likes this one, so that’s a good barometer of how good it is!

Our big issue in the Main Event is Tommy Dreamer gunning for revenge on The Dudley Boyz after they broke the neck of his girlfriend, but we’ve also got Taz looking to avenge his defeat to Bam Bam Bigelow at Living Dangerously 1998 and the final bout in the Summer Series between Jerry Lynn and Justin Credible.

So yeah, lots of good stuff on the docket, so let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!

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The SmarK Rant for Extreme Championship Wrestling – 01.06.96

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

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Mike Reviews – ECW Hardcore Heaven 1997 (17th August 1997)

Guten Tag!

We head back to the world of the Extreme today, with ECW’s second ever pay per view event in the form of Hardcore Heaven. ECW’s first pay per view event, Barely Legal, had been a good show for the most part, if a little bit underwhelming due to a couple of the major matches not delivering. Still though, the Main Event was good and there was an excellent Michinoku-Pro match on the undercard, which was more than enough for a thumbs up at the time and the show is still a mostly fun and breezy watch to this day.

For the second pay per view ECW decided to move out of its Philadelphia based home of the ECW Arena and branch out to another territory where they had been having some success in the form of Florida. Going in they decided to throw a cat amongst the pigeons by having Sabu win the ECW World Title at the ECW Arena, thus changing the Main Event to Sabu defending against both Shane Douglas and Terry Funk in a Three Way Dance.

The three men had originally competed with each other in a famous hour long draw back in 1994, which had been one of the earliest ECW matches to catch the attention of the hardcore fan base online. Repeating the match again but now on pay per view didn’t seem like the worst idea, although they could have done a better job hyping up and marketing it.

The main feud on the undercard was ECW Vs WWF/USWA, as Jerry Lawler had invaded ECW and began a rivalry with Tommy Dreamer. Dreamer had actually gone to the trouble of invading the USWA television show and beating a bunch of guys up, in an angle that probably did more to make ECW look cool than it did boost USWA’s falling fortunes.

Would everything come together for another good pay per view effort from the Extreme brigade? Let’s watch on and find out!

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Mike Reviews – “The Summer of 96” – Final Part – ECW Heatwave 1996 (13th July 1996)

Bonjourrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr ya cheese eatin’ surrender monkeys!

Next week we’ve got a Stinker Review on the docket, but first we must close out our journey to the Summer of 1996 with a trip to our old friends from Philly. ECW was on a pretty decent hot streak at the time, although they couldn’t get on pay per view despite Paul Heyman’s many attempts. I used to have the Laserlight Digital cut of this show and I liked it so much I eventually shelled out for the RF Video version just so I could watch it with the real music left intact.

The big stories during this time period were Raven’s feud with The Sandman, which involved Raven quite literally stealing Sandman’s family from him in a super dark storyline that hit all kinds of nerves but never really had much in the way of a satisfying payoff due to Raven needing to divert course to feud with Terry Funk when 1997 came around.

Elsewhere, Taz was in the middle of his “Path of Rage”, where he’d destroy absolutely everyone on route to a big match with his nemesis Sabu. Shane Douglas was trying to connive his way to the ECW TV Title whilst also trying to avoid getting killed by the angry Pitbull’s. D-Von Dudley was trying to wrest control of The Dudley Family from his brother Big Dick.

And in the tag division Da Gangsta’s, The Eliminators, The Samoan Gangsta Party and The Bruise Brothers all hated one another and were feuding amongst themselves in various combinations, with it all building to a Four Way Dance on a future show for the tag belts themselves.

So yeah, lots going on and this show was sure to continue it. It also has genuinely one of the all-time greatest ECW matches on it, so let’s quit our jibber-jabber and watch some chuffing wrestling!

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Mike Reviews – ECW Hostile City Showdown (20/04/1996)

Hello You!

Back with another classic ECW review, as I’ve been meaning to watch this one again for a while and now seemed like as good a time as any.

1996 was a hot year for ECW from a creative perspective, with Taz’s “Path of Rage” and Raven’s feud with The Sandman being notable highlights. Most of the year was spent trying to finally get the company on to pay per view, with things like the Mass Transit incident delaying it until 1997. The product had a good mix of brawls, character work and wrestling still though, and when I first became aware of the company in 1999 I had a lot of fun going back to hoover up some of the better shows from the companies 96 prime.

Going into this show, Raven was the ECW World Champ and was still embroiled in multiple issues with the likes of Tommy Dreamer and Shane Douglas. Dreamer had recently stolen Raven’s girlfriend Beulah away from him, so Raven had in-turn shacked up with Kimona Wanalaya, although he made it clear more than once that he was still in love with Beulah and didn’t have much time for Kimona outside of a purely physical relationship. As a result that relationship fizzled and Kimona actually ended up with Douglas, as this was before Douglas had taken on Francine as his valet.

Douglas had been kind of a tweener since coming back to ECW following a failed stint in the WWF, in that he was still as disgusting and despicable human being, but he also was feuding with guys like Raven and occasionally even helping out Dreamer from time to time, even though it was mostly for selfish reasons. It was very much “shades of grey, bro”, but in 96 that concept hadn’t been beaten into the ground yet, and because Raven was such a clear villain and Dreamer was a clear face, it worked having Douglas in the middle pulling the strings.

Elsewhere, Taz had gone heel at the end of 1995 due to the fans welcoming Sabu back to the promotion, and he was tearing through everyone in a vicious manner on route to an eventual collision with his former tag team partner. Sabu was a bit busy feuding with Rob Van Dam at the time though, so his eventual blow off with Taz would have to wait.

Going into Hostile City Showdown, the two main matches were scheduled to be Rob Van Dam facing off with Sabu and Raven defending his World Title against Douglas, with Tommy Dreamer taking on Raven’s hired thug “Bulldozer” Brian Lee in the under card. It was a pretty stacked show and there was good interest for it as a result, especially as Douglas had been teasing that he would reveal the identity of a supposed secret lover of Beulah.

Will the big matches deliver? Let’s watch on and find out!

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Mike Reviews – Eastern Championship Wrestling (17/08/1993)

Hey to the hey ya’ll!

This week we’re going to go way back to 1993, when ECW was yet to become “Extreme” and was still essentially a Tri-State territory called Eastern Championship Wrestling. It wasn’t until 1994 that they finally changed the name following the whole NWA World Title tournament thing.

I picked this episode mainly because it’s got Eddie Gilbert in all his wacky pomp, and indeed it wasn’t long after this that he got punted from the company and Paul Heyman got control of the pencil. I’ve always really liked Gilbert, so I’m welcome for any excuse to watch something involving him.

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What the World Was Watching: ECW Holiday Hell ’95 (Last of the Series!)

This card was the largest of ECW’s Holiday Hell Tour in December 1995, taking place at the Lost Battalion Hall in Queens, New York on December 29.  According to thehistoryofwwe.com, the show attracted a sold-out crowd of 1,283, the largest to see an ECW event to that point.

Joey Styles provides commentary for the evening’s events, working solo as per usual.  He starts the show in the ring, putting over ECW’s debut in the New York City area.  Stevie Richards and the Blue Meanie interrupt so Richards can put himself over for a few minutes and question the sexual preferences of fans at ringside.  Missy Hyatt is spotted in the crowd and Richards tries to put the moves on her, but Hyatt is reluctant until Richards tells her that she can get Hyatt a date with Raven.  Hyatt kisses Richards, telling him to give that to Raven and Richards marks out to a chorus of boos.

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What the World Was Watching: ECW Hardcore TV – December 26, 1995

A video package recaps the feud between Rey Misterio, Jr. and Psicosis.

Joey Styles talks about how Woman controls all the titles in ECW.  He acknowledges rumors on the WCW Hotline that WCW Champion Randy Savage wants Woman to manage him.  However, Styles says that Woman has given her word that she is staying with ECW.  Call the ECW Hotline to find out more!

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What the World Was Watching: ECW Hardcore TV – December 19, 1995

Highlights of the Mikey Whipwreck-Steve Austin-Sandman triangle match for the ECW Championship air, as well as a reminder about a wrist injury the Sandman suffered during the match.

Joey Styles hypes the Sandman’s next three title defenses.  On December 28, the Sandman faces Cactus Jack.  The next night in Queens, New York, the Sandman will face Steve Austin.  And at House Party ’96 on January 5, the Sandman will face Konnan.

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