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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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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ECW On Sci Fi – January 30, 2007

ECW on Sci Fi
Date: January 30, 2007
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 15,156
Commentators: Joey Styles, Tazz

We’re done with the Royal Rumble and the big story around here is Bobby Lashley beating Test (again), this time via countout. That isn’t much to go on, but there is something more important around here as Vince McMahon is bringing his Fan Appreciation Night here as well. Let’s get to it.

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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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December To Dismember

December To Dismember
Date: December 3, 2006
Location: James Brown Arena, Augusta, Georgia
Attendance: 4,800
Commentators: Joey Styles, Tazz

Well here we go. For the first time ever, the reincarnated ECW is getting its own pay per view and we have two matches announced on the way in. One of those matches features two teams who aren’t on ECW and the other is the EXTREME Elimination Chamber. This is not exactly looking promising but let’s get to it.

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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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Mike Reviews: ECW Hardcore TV #401 (30/12/2000) – Last Ever Episode

Hello You!

Before we go any further, I’d like to send my sincere condolences to the friends and family of Jon Huber. 41 is no age and by all accounts he was a smashing bloke and loving family man. An absolute tragic passing in an already miserable year.

Back in February 2019 I decided to try something new by reviewing all of the ECW Hardcore TV shows up to Living Dangerously 99, being as that had been the first ECW pay per view I had ever watched way back in the day. Once I’d finished Living Dangerously I decided to keep going, reviewing each episode Twenty Years to the day of the original airing. Along the way I saw the TNN TV deal form and crumble, as well as enjoying some cracking matches and some fun angles.

On more than one occasion I wanted to jack it all in and do something else, but I felt compelled to keep trudging on with it, and ultimately I’m glad I did as this represents nearly two years of work and reaching the end feels almost like some kind of bizarre achievement.

I’d like to thank the small, yet loyal, readership of these Hardcore TV reviews that has stuck with them throughout, especially when the show took a notable dive in quality once it was clear it was playing Velocity to the TNN show’s Smackdown. The fact there was still some people willing to read these certainly helped with motivating me to stick with them. I hope the quality of the reviews themselves didn’t dip too much when it became clear that the show was starting to become a drag for me.

The relatively small regular readership these had did kind of ram home a point to me though, which is that ECW really doesn’t have the pulling power it once had amongst the IWC anymore. It’s funny to think that as the company’s legacy survived for a long time after it died, with the Rise and Fall DVD that WWE released in 2004 selling really well. I’m not sure why exactly, but that enthusiasm for ECW just doesn’t appear to be there anymore.

The simple fact that ECW’s hot peak happened nearly 25 years ago is probably the biggest factor, but it wouldn’t shock me if the WWE’s miserable attempt at rebooting the brand in 2006 didn’t contribute also. Another possibility is that a lot of fans who weren’t around to watch ECW back in the day have discovered it on the WWE Network, where all the music is dubbed out and the product itself can be censored from the original airing, which means they have never watched it the way it was intended. The wrestling business as a whole has moved on as well, and a product that features lots of dangerous unprotected chair shots, shedloads of extreme violence and mountains of unapologetic misogyny probably isn’t going to connect as strongly with the modern wrestling fan as it did back in 1996.

About a year ago now in a pre-COVID world I attended a Christmas wrestling show and it had a holiday themed hardcore match where guys were hitting each other with Christmas presents and whatnot. I decided to jokingly start an “EC-Dub” chant at one stage, because it was a relatively smarky crowd and I thought it would get over in an ironic way. Absolutely no one joined in and quite a few people shot me and my friend a quizzical look as if they had no idea what we were doing. That not only rammed home how old I personally was but it also kind of startled me, because even ten years ago that sort of crowd would have gotten the reference and joined in, even if they’d never actually watched ECW themselves at any point.

Anyway, thank you for reading these if you are one of few who dug them and I’ll try and make this review a fitting end to the series. I’ll do a more general recap on what I’ve enjoyed and disliked during the past couple of years in the final conclusion, and I’ll also update you and what I’ll be doing next now the Hardcore TV reviews are done with.

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Mike Reviews Shows Considered To Be Stinkers – ECW December To Dismember (03/12/2006)

Hello You!

Obviously 2020 has been a trying year for most of us, and it’s probably led a lot of us to experiencing a very different type of holiday season than we are normally used to. I hope you’re all keeping well wherever you are and that this review can give you some kind of distraction from what’s going on in the world for a little bit at least.

This show was requested by JLAJRC, and at the bottom of the review I’ll give everyone a chance to suggest shows for the next Stinker review, which will happen on the 30th of January if all goes well, so stay tuned for that at the end.

For those who haven’t read one of my Stinker reviews, they’re basically what you’d think they are, as I review a show that has a reputation for being really bad for whatever reason and ask the immortal question of whether it’s actually a Stinker or not. It’s not too dissimilar from what the fine folk over at Wrestle Crap do, except I’m going to give the show a chance to prove it’s not awful before deciding one way or another.

ECW was WWE’s first attempt at dabbling with a third brand, which it continues today with NXT, with it lifting the ECW name from the dearly departed former company. The likes of Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer were involved in the rebirth of the brand, but ultimately Vince McMahon was the one calling the shots and the early days of the brand were a real hodgepodge that resulted in a product that wasn’t true to the original company whilst also not really presenting anything exciting or interesting that would really differentiate it from the other two WWE brands at the time, outside of adjusting the entrance way to give the arena a cosier feel.

December to Dismember was in a lot of ways the last stand for not just the brand in its current form but also for the existing creative crew, as they were given 3 hours of pay per view time to fill despite not having a roster that was really equipped for it and also having to deal with the fact pretty much every guy even approaching a genuine star on the brand had been shoehorned into one match, leaving the already threadbare roster even thinner.

Could ECW defy the odds and still put on a fun event? Let’s watch on and find out!

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Mike Reviews: ECW Hardcore TV #400 (23/12/2000)

Hello You!

This week we have the penultimate episode of Hardcore TV, with ECW very much on the ropes financially. The WWF have been nice enough to lend them The Dudley Boyz for a one shot deal, but that’s going to plug just one hole in sieve.

ECW actually has a pay per view scheduled for the 7th of January 2001 called Guilty As Charged, so we’ll see if they use this taping to officially set any matches up. They’ve been teasing another CW Anderson and Tommy Dreamer match under I Quit rules, so we’ll see if they make that official tonight or not.

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Mike Reviews: ECW Hardcore TV #399 (16/12/2000)

Hello You!

We’re getting into the last few episodes of Hardcore TV now, as the death knell for ECW approaches. I’m not going to get too mushy about it yet, but we’re about to enter a year where my wrestling fandom was probably tested more than it had even been before, so I may end up getting a bit wistful as we near the end of ECW’s existence.

Last week was just a recap show of the December pay per view. There’s actually a pay per view scheduled for the 7th of January 2001, so let’s see if ECW is actually going to bother hyping it or not. It’s almost become redundant at this stage to hype these shows when all ECW has left is a syndicated show that not everyone can watch.

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Mike Reviews: ECW Hardcore TV #398 (09/12/2000)

Hello You!

Massacre on 34th Street is in the books and was a kind of disappointing show. Steve Corino is still the ECW Champ, but the show ended with Sandman (the last remaining top of the card babyface) giving him a caning before leaving with the belt.

In addition to that, Jerry Lynn finally went heel after months of teasing it by aligning himself with Cyrus. Sadly the aforementioned lack of top babyfaces might mean he doesn’t really have anyone to work with, but it’s an interesting direction to take the character in if nothing else.

If you fancy reading my review of the pay per view you can do so by clicking HERE

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Mike Reviews: ECW Hardcore TV #397 (02/12/2000)

Hello You!

It’s the go-home show for Massacre on 34th Street today. Thankfully I’ve already reviewed that one before and the review is still somewhat readable, so I’ll post a link for it at the bottom of this review.

Thus far the only match announced is The FBI defending the tag belts against Danny Doring and Roadkill, so let’s see if we get the last minute hard sell on this show.

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Mike Reviews: ECW Hardcore TV #394 (11/11/2000)

Happy Remembrance Day to all of you, especially those of you unlucky enough to have lost a friend or relative to war in recent years.

It’s taken me a while to sit down and write this one because I’m really struggling to find the impetus to keep reviewing these shows. I don’t know what it is, but it’s becoming a slog now and I’d probably like to review other things instead.

That being said, we’re not far off from the end of the run so I’ll keep pushing on, but if I feel that my lack of engagement with the product is starting to affect the quality of the reviews themselves then I’m just going to jack it in.

This week’s show is coming after November to Remember 2000, on which you can read my thoughts by checking out the archives.

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One Night Stand 2006

One Night Stand 2006
Date: June 11, 2006
Location: Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City, New York
Attendance: 2,460
Commentators: Joey Styles, Tazz

It’s time for another ECW show, but this one is a good bit different than what we had last year. While last year’s show was a seemingly stand alone reunion, this is more of a launchpad for the ECW relaunch. The big main event is Rob Van Dam cashing in his Money in the Bank contract for the WWE Title shot but there is also a heck of a grudge tag match between Mick Foley/Edge vs. Terry Funk/Tommy Dreamer. Let’s get to it.

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Mike Reviews – ECW November to Remember 2000 (05/11/2000)

Hello You!

It’s time for what is traditionally ECW’s biggest event of the year in the form of November to Remember. To be honest, they haven’t really hyped it as a show of such consequence, with them only announcing the Main Event on the go-home show, with the match itself being a confusing “Double Jeopardy” bout, where two singles matches are going on at the same time, with the winners then facing one another for the ECW Title.

If anything, the match they’ve hyped the most is the Flaming Tables match, which isn’t really featuring any top of the card guys. I get that a flaming table is a pretty big spot with which to end a match, but you’d hope that a company would have a bit more to hang it’s hype hat on when it came to something that is supposed to be a WrestleMania equivalent event.

Anyway, I’m sure there’ll be some good wrestling on this show at least due to the ECW lads and lasses always working super hard, so let’s settle in and watch some chuffing wrestling!

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WWE vs. ECW Head To Head

WWE vs. ECW Head To Head
Date: June 7, 2006
Location: Nutter Center, Dayton, Ohio
Attendance: 4,700
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Joey Styles, Tazz

This is a special show to help hype up One Night Stand while also giving us more of an introduction to the show. It was actually shown live for a bit of a change of pace and that might make things a little more interesting. I’m not sure what to expect here but hopefully it lives up to ECW’s positive hype so far. Let’s get to it.

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