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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What the World Was Watching: ECW Hardcore TV – December 12, 1995

Joey Styles recaps the heel beatdown of Tommy Dreamer, the Pitbulls, and the Public Enemy on last week’s broadcast.  He hypes a “Beulah’s Box” segment tonight where Beulah McGillicutty will talk with the Heavenly Bodies.

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What the World Was Watching: ECW Hardcore TV – December 5, 1995

A graphic describes ECW as the place “Where the big boys don’t play” to lead into a replay of the Terry Funk and Tommy Dreamer-Raven and Cactus Jack match at November to Remember.  ECW clips the match down to three and a half minutes to hide its faults.

Funk puts over Dreamer as the next hardcore athlete and how his wrestling career is winding down.  A tearful Dreamer tells Funk that he will never forget what he did for him.

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What the World Was Watching: ECW Hardcore TV – November 28, 1995

Sabu’s return to ECW, which aired at the end of last week’s telecast, kicks off the show.  Joey Styles marks out on commentary, but it is too much and detracts from the segment.

A lengthy video package puts over Sabu.

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Mike Reviews Shows Considered To Be Stinkers – ECW Wrestlepalooza 1998 (03/05/1998)

Hello You!

Back again with another Stinker review, with us taking a foray into the world of Extreme for the first time with this feature (I have reviewed one of the WWE ECW shows before, but COME ON). For those of you who haven’t read one of these before, what I do is review a show that has a reputation for being stinky in an effort to decide whether it deserves that bad rap or not.

In January we did a reader request and we’ll be doing the same for March’s review as well when we look at WCW Bash at the Beach 1999. April will be my personal choice and then May’s review will be a reader request again, so if you have a show that you want added to the potential list then mention it in the comments and I’ll make sure it’s in the hat when I do the draw. I’ll reveal which lucky show has “won” in April’s review.

Wrestlepalooza was ECW’s fifth attempt at running pay per views, and to say their PPV output prior to this had been a mixed bag would be an understatement. Barely Legal 97 had been a good solid effort, whilst Hardcore Heaven 97 had been an okayish show marred by some poor production and a pokey looking venue. November to Remember 97 had probably been the most professional looking effort but had suffered from a boring Main Event and a catastrophic mess of a match between Sabu and The Sandman. Living Dangerously 98 is a show I’ve actually reviewed before and at least featured a couple of really good matches, including one between Taz and Bam Bam Bigelow.

That event had ended with Al Snow pinning ECW World Champ Shane Douglas in a tag match, which not surprisingly led to him earning himself a Title shot for Wrestlepalooza. Bigelow had defeated Taz for the TV Title at Living Dangerously but had since lost the belt to Rob Van Dam in a fantastic match from Buffalo on Hardcore TV (Well worth hunting that one down). This had sowed further dissension between RVD and his long time tag partner/hated rival Sabu, as Sabu was miffed that RVD had won the belt when he was really just supposed to have softened Bigelow up so that Sabu could win the belt from him at a later date.

Thus Wrestlepalooza had a Semi-Main of RVD defending the TV Title against Sabu and a Main Event of Douglas defending the ECW Title against Snow. If both those matches delivered and the under-card was mostly fine, then the show would be an easy thumbs up on the slightly more generous ECW sliding-scale. Let’s see if that’s the case!

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What the World Was Watching: ECW Hardcore TV – November 21, 1995

Buh Buh Ray Dudley’s introduction and squash of the Broad Street Bully at November to Remember ’95 airs.

Joey Styles puts over how the Public Enemy owned November to Remember, winning big matches in the first two editions of the event over Badd Company and Cactus Jack and Mikey Whipwreck.

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What the World Was Watching: ECW November to Remember ’95

Joey Styles handles the commentary for the show, which took place at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 18.  According to thehistoryofwwe.com, the show drew a sellout crowd of 1,150 fans.

Buh Buh Ray Dudley walks to the ring to do guest ring announcing duties for the Broad Street Bully-Don E. Allen opener.  He is accompanied by the other members of the Dudley clan except for Dudley Dudley, who is no longer part of the company.  Buh Buh is wearing a top hat and suit coat like he is running a circus.  Buh Buh gets through the welcome until he tries to mimic Michael Buffer and stutters over the word “rumble.”  Frustrated, Buh Buh takes out the jobbers with Buh-Buh Bombs.

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What the World Was Watching: ECW Hardcore TV – November 14, 1995

Cactus Jack says he is proud of Mikey Whipwreck for winning the ECW Championship.  However, he blames the crowd for ruining his moment and tells them to get ready for the most boring match they have ever seen.  Jack adds that he will take care of Tommy Dreamer by himself and does not need Raven in his corner to do it.

Tommy Dreamer tells Jack that he is in for a fight tonight.

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What the World Was Watching: ECW Hardcore TV – November 7, 1995

The closing moments of Mikey Whipwreck beating the Sandman for the ECW Championship on last week’s show air.

Joey Styles tells viewers that the Sandman is incensed over losing the ECW Championship and has vowed revenge.

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What the World Was Watching: ECW Hardcore TV – October 31, 1995

Beulah McGillicutty promises “an up close and personal feel” and talks about TNT.  This gives way to Steve Austin doing an Eric Bischoff impression on Monday Nitro, talking about his joy in firing people over the phone.  Austin calls WCW’s talent old and their show “Monday Nyquil” where “the big boys play with each other.”

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What the World Was Watching: ECW Hardcore TV – October 24, 1995

Joey Styles calls the action on this episode, which continues to come from The South Philly Jam.

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