THE RISE & FALL OF ECW
WWE Home Video, 2-disc DVD set
The main feature was a two-hour-50-minute monster that broke down to five pages worth of chapters (!).
Page1: Early ECW, Public Enemy, Taz(z), Sabu, Terry Funk, The Night The Line Was Crossed, Paul Heyman vs. WCW, Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman, Sandman & Dreamer Feud, ECW Evolution.
Page 2: Cactus Jack, Mikey Whipwreck, The Extreme Begins, Philadelphia, The Technical Wrestlers, Production Value, The Fans, Raven/Dreamer, Sabu Gets Fired, Taz(z) Breaks His Neck, Monday Night War, Lucha Libre.
Page 3: Austin Comes To ECW, Promos, Cactus Jack Leaves ECW, Taz(z) Returns, Sandman/Raven, The bWo, Beulah & Dreamer, ECW & WWE, The Crucifixation, The Importance Of Pay-Per-View, ECW Loses Their Pay-Per-View, The Pay-Per-View Is Back On.
Page 4: WWE Co-Promotion, Barely Legal: RVD vs. Lance Storm, Barely Legal: Taz(z) vs. Sabu, The Main Event At Barely Legal, Raven Goes To WCW & Jerry Lawler Invades ECW, A Locker-Room Mole?, The Superstars’ Roles, Paul Heyman’s Creativity, WCW & WWE Imitation.
Page 5: Taz(z) & The FTW Title, The Duds: “The Most Hated Tag Team,” Financial Woes, The TNN Deal & Taz(z) Leaves, The Duds Leave ECW, Disappointment With TNN/RVD – “The Whole F’n Show,” Mike Awesome Controversy, Tommy Dreamer Wins The Title, The Demise Of ECW, Paul Heyman Debuts On RAW.
This was a major documentary on ECW, mostly featuring Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer, plus interspersed comments from Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, and pretty much every current WWE superstar who ever passed through ECW much like a Mexican combo platter. Taz(z), Nunzio, Dawn Marie, Rob Van Dam, Al Snow, Mick Foley, Rey Jr., Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rhyno, Lance Storm, Jerry Lawler, and the three surviving Dudleys. It was rated TV-MA because the guys swore. We’re not allowed to do that shit? What the fuck? Anyway, here’s what I took away from this thing:
Paul went into the tired old routine about how the Lou Thesz/Buddy Rogers era of wrestling was “dead.” A few chapters later, he totally contradicted himself by pointing out how the classic series of matches between Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko electrified his “hardcore” fans.
ECW’s first “I can’t believe they did that” moment was when then-WCW Tag champion Cactus Jack came to the Bingo Hall for a hardcore dream match against Sabu in 1994. (The match itself was actually a major disappointment as both guys were legit injured going in. They later had tons of classic hardcore matches that blew away their first one.) After losing the match, Cacti cut the first bona fide classic promo of his career, spitting on his title belt and throwing it down. The storyline was that as much as the gold meant to him, it was even more important for Cactus to regain his “title” of wrestling’s most hardcore psychopath.
They glossed over Mikey Whipwreck, wrestling’s greatest underdog babyface. They showed a little of the Mikey/Cactus tag team together, but completely ignored Mikey’s classic TV Title reign. Mikey won the belt on a fluke, then “defended” it week after week against the biggest, baddest heels in the business. Kevin Sullivan, Mr. Hughes, 911, etc. Mikey would try to GIVE the championship to his opponents, but they would just slap it away in favor of beating the hell out of Mikey. Invariably, the heel would somehow get himself disqualified, so Mikey was perennially stuck with the strap. The poor guy never even got in an offensive move until a few months into his reign.
A beaten, bruised Mikey: “Mr. Sully, d’ya think Mr. Gordon will take the title back? These guys are beating the crap out of me!”
Announcer Jay Sully: “Ha ha ha! You’re such a kidder, Mikey! Next week, Mikey, you defend against Mr. Hughes!”
Mikey (Turning to camera, in promo-cutting stance): “Mr. Hughes… (Pauses, starts praying.) I’m gonna die!!”
ECW went from “Eastern Championship Wrestling” to “Extreme Championship Wrestling” the night Shane Douglas rejected the NWA World Title in favor of his ECW World Title in one of wrestling’s most famous legit double-crosses.
The Dreamer-Raven feud was given the props it deserves. ECW so missed the boat by not putting that war on DVD when they had the chance. For some reason, they did a retcon* on Beulah’s gimmick.
(* Retcon = A comic book term for “rewriting history.”)
Now Beulah is apparently a “Playboy Playmate.” Back then, they always called her a “Penthouse Pin-up.” Actually, she was in Cheri. (I will go to any lengths to research history here at the ‘Shmazz.) I guess this happened because Vince has enjoyed a good working relationship with Hugh Hefner over the past few years. Because Lord knows, watching an ECW documentary is right at the top of Hef’s “to-do” list.
Sabu was rightly put over as the pioneer of ECW, then rightly put under when he no-showed what was at the time, ECW’s biggest show yet, the “3 Way Dance” on 4/8/95. Bah! To read the REAL story on Sabu, just click HERE.
Taz(z) said that he never had a contract with Heyman; he just had a handshake. Bullshit. The “handshake” thing has become bastardized carny for someone trying to put over a promoter. It was always said that a handshake from Giant Baba meant more than a notarized contract from other promoters. Now everyone wants that said about them, true or not. Then later in the feature, when it came time to talk about Taz(z)’s jump to WWF, Taz(z) said that his “agreement (was) ending in a few months.” So Paul’s handshake had an expiration date? Well, if anyone could ever bounce a handshake, it’s Paul Heyman.
This thing just got strange when they talked about the Benoit/Malenko/Guerrero exodus of ’95. Bischoff was in full spin doctor mode, saying that it wasn’t a “raid,” so much as it was an “acquisition.” Bisch pointed out that Vince stripmined the industry in the 80s, picking up the top guys from territories all over the place. They left out the fact that Benoit/Malenko/Guerrero were actually FORCED into WCW because at the time, they lived off their contracts with New Japan Pro Wrestling. At the time, NJPW’s exclusive business partner in the states was WCW. So after a little manipulation from Bischoff, NJPW told the gaijins that if they wanted to keep enjoying their yen and sake and geishas, they had to go where the big boys played. “Acquisition,” my ass.
When Bischoff fired Steve Austin in 1995, ECW scooped him up and turned him loose. Austin’s edgy, bitter promos directed at WCW in general and Bischoff in specific, were immediately hailed as modern-day classics. Plus, they laid the groundwork for Austin’s eventual breakout as “Stone Cold,” who would go on to become the biggest single moneymaker in pro wrestler history. Heyman wanted the ECW World Title on Austin, but Austin basically said, “No thanks, just passin’ through,” and chose to put over then-ECW champ Mikey Whipwreck instead.
Speaking of classic speakers, Heyman called Foley’s “anti-hardcore” diatribes in 1995 the “most creative, best performed” interviews in the history of the biz. And that’s a fact. The favorite compilation tape I own is a 90-minute collection of all of Foley’s 1995 ECW interviews. Foley’s a mixed bag, but there’s no denying his genius during this body of work. More than the craziest bump or the wackiest “Rock n’ Sock” angle, those ECW interviews are Mick Foley’s true legacy.
Big ups to them for actually showing Philly fans chanting “ECW” during the horrible Mabel vs. Savio Vega match at King Of The Ring 95 (6/25/95). In a moment that will go down in “He SO doesn’t get it” history, Vince actually thought the crowd was chanting for Savio and yelled “Listen to this crowd!” Vince now says that THAT was when he first noticed ECW and wanted to do interpromotional angles with them. Vince’s calendar is broken. The first WWF/ECW interpromotional angle happened at “IYH 10: Mindgames” (9/22/96), a full 15 months after Philly hijacked the worst KOTR final in history. But hey, it just wouldn’t be a WWE release if Vince didn’t totally screw the pooch somewhere in there.
They talked about the controversial angle when Raven crucified Sandman. Uh oh, break out the damage control. It wasn’t a crucifixation. Um, no, it was just that Sandman was tied to “Raven’s symbol.” And as luck would have it, Raven’s symbol just happened to be a crucifix. What’s the big deal? Take a rest, guy. But seriously, this was a well-known incident if for no other reason than Kurt Angle, fresh off a gold medal win, made an appearance at the Bingo Hall in his home state of PA. Angle was totally outraged by the thing, and threatened to sue the hell out of Paul Heyman if his face was shown on ECW TV. Heyman swore he knew nothing about the angle (cough*fuckingbullshit*cough), and during the intermission, they actually made Raven go to the ring out of character and apologize. Footage of Rave’s “mea culpa” speech aired.
The inaccuracies were kept to a minimum, but the biggest “Whodowhutnow?” moment was when they glossed over the famous Erich Kulas match. A spot show in Revere, Massachusetts, was supposed to feature then-Tag champs The Gangstas (New Jack & Mustafa Saied) vs. D-Von Dudley & Axl Rotten. Axl was a no-show, so Kulas, a 400-lb 17-year-old kid, wound up backstage. Kulas had a Ralph Kramden gimmick and had done comedy “matches” at carnivals with midgets, but that was about the extent of his experience. For you youngsters, Kramden was a bus driver, and the lead character in an old sitcom called “The Honeymooners.” Kulas was decked out in full costume, and Heyman creatively renamed him “Mass Transit” for this match. Not only did Kulas lie about his age, but he said he’d been trained by Killer Kowalski. He even had his midget buddies with him to back up his bullshit.
Heyman wanted Kulas to do a blade job. The greenboy agreed to let New Jack blade him. It’s not uncommon for an experienced guy to blade an inexperienced guy, but it IS uncommon for the veteran doing the blading to be NEW FUCKING JACK. Rather than the traditional one-eighth of a razor blade, Jack took an exacto knife and carved up the kid’s forehead like a frickin’ turkey. (Happy Thanksgiving weekend from all of us at TWF!!) Jack cut through the butterball’s muscle and slashed an artery. The blood loss set a new standard for gruesome. Every time the guy’s heart beat, blood spurted out of his wound.
Then, in one of the dumbest moves ever by any promotion in the history of the universe, a “Fan Cam” videotape of the incident came out. It was only out for a week or two before the drugs wore off and a panicked ECW yanked the tape off the market. But it was out there long enough. A tape got to PPV distributors in an attempt to torpedo the ECW PPV before it ever set sail. It’s not like they LIED about the NJ-MT thing, but they didn’t tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
New Jack’s Butcher Shop notwithstanding, the company finally made it to PPV on 4/13/97 for “Barely Legal.” Their main event was pushed as Taz(z) vs. Sabu (who had since been unfired, but they skipped over that part). Right after that, they showed Stevie Richards waxing nostalgic about the honor of being in ECW’s first PPV “main event.” See, there was a three-way-dance with Richards vs. Sandman vs. Terry Funk, with the winner going on to challenge Raven for the gold immediately afterward. So was BL’s main event Sabu vs. Taz(z), Richards vs. Sandy vs. Funk, or Raven vs. Funk? This leads us back to the age-old query: Is the main event of a show the match that goes on last, the title match, or the one promoted the hardest?
Then there was the time Jerry Lawler drained Tommy Dreamer’s balls. Wait, no, let me rephrase that. After Dreamer finally pinned Raven as Rave took off for WCW, Lawler made a surprise appearance in the ECW Arena and used plunder to lay in potatoes to Tommy’s, um, potatoes. Tommy’s extreme testicles were legit injured and had to have fluid medically sucked out of ‘em. He’s hardcore! He’s hardcore!
For want of a good dermatologist, ECW lost its “other” dad in 1997. Todd Gordon was a mole, secretly negotiating with Eric Bischoff to bring in an influx of ECW talent for a proposed huge-ass “invasion” angle. Between Heyman snooping around and most of the guys being loyal to ECW, Gordon was ousted and Bischoff’s dream ECW invasion wound up consisting of one guy (Perry Saturn).
The guys had other side-jobs in addition to being wrestlers. Buh Buh Ray Dudley handled some of the business end, Tommy Dreamer drove one of the trucks, and Taz(z) designed merchandise, which explains why his t-shirts always looked cooler than everyone else’s (and, for that matter, why Sabu’s shirts always looked like crap).
ECW was famous for bringing out the latent “over” in guys who had been around forever. Case in point: Al Snow. The Snowman had been all over the globe and was a far better worker than anyone gives him credit for being (remember Benoit-Snow from the Benoit DVD?). But through a mannequin head and Heyman’s own brand of marketing toward his people, the Snowman was suddenly a breakout superstar and main-eventing their PPVs. WWWFE totally dropped the ball on Snow, and it’s one of those things I’m always going to be pissed off about.
As PPV momentum took off, Buh Buh said that he truly felt that ECW could have overtaken WCW. Bischoff scoffed, and made a good case for himself in doing so. In case I haven’t mentioned it, Heyman and Bischoff sniped at each other throughout this whole thing, which was an enjoyable recurring theme.
WWF took the ECW “Attitude,” while WCW took more of their talent. A nice feature aired showing both companies imitating ECW type matches/angles. In a strange bit of protection, they lambasted Bam Bam Bigelow as a “veteran who left” (for WCW), but totally ignored the fact that Sandman split at approximately the same time.
A fun detour aired when it came time to talk about Taz(z)’s “FTW Title” (which stood for “Fuck The World,” of course). It was kinda like the angle when Ted DiBiase proclaimed himself the “Million-Dollar champion,” only done a million times better. The belt was a prop designed to get over Taz(z)’s obsession with being a World champion, and it worked beautifully. No one else really wanted the FTW belt, which just made Taz(z) even more pissed off. In one of the more creative title changes in ECW history, Taz(z) actually KO’ed Sabu and dragged Sabu on top of him to FORCE Sabu to pin him to win the belt, purely out of spite. I know it sounds weird, but it worked. That sentence is ECW in a nutshell.
Trivbit: Taz(z) and Sabu are the only “grand-slam” ECW champions, holding all four of their championships (World Title, TV Title, Tag Title, FTW Title).
One of ECW’s ballsiest angles had nothing to do with tables, barbed-wire, or blood. It was 8/27/99, the last night for Buh Buh & D-Von before they were WWF-bound, and the Duds challenged Tag champions Spike Dudley & Balls Mahoney. A no-brainer recipe for the Duds to lay down, right? Wrong. The Duds WON THE FUCKING BELTS and vowed to lay them on the desk of Mr. McMahon. Insane heat for an amazing swerve. The Duds called out Tommy Dreamer. Then, in a shocker to top all other shockers, Raven returned by running-in out of the crowd and helped Dreamer beat the Duds for the gold. Then all of a sudden, the Duds became an afterthought as fans braced for Raven-Dreamer, round II. And they were now the Tag champs to boot! For my money, this was ECW’s last major jump-out-of-your-seat-mark-out-and-kick-the-cat moment.
So what killed ECW? Heyman blamed it on the fact that they couldn’t get on a new network in time. Everyone else blamed Heyman. Nunzio (who I just noticed has a really bad broken nose) put things in a sad perspective by saying that they went out of business despite selling out shows up to the bitter end. All of ECW’s fans and most of its workers still kept a flaming table burning for their promotion until we saw Paul Heyman debut as a color commentator on Raw, replacing Jerry Lawler (who had quit in protest of his then-wife getting shitcanned).
From there, we went to a cross-section of all the current WWE superstars who first got noticed in ECW (Benoit, Guerrero, Jericho, etc). This beast closed with a surprisingly upbeat moral from Heyman. “If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll never succeed. Failing is half the fun because you come back more dangerous than before.” This will probably send the internet into a tizzy, thinking it’s a clue of Vince’s plan to “relaunch” ECW in some capacity. Depends on how well this DVD sells, I guess.
1) The Pitbulls beat Raven & Stevie Richards (w/ Beulah) to win the ECW Tag Title in a 2/3 falls double-dog-collar match. Had the Pits lost, they would have had to split up. 19:46 total was shown, as commercial breaks separated the falls when the match aired. [Gangsta’s Paradise, 9/16/95]
This was the match that saw months of angles beautifully come to a head. The bout started with Raven and Pitbull #2, as they did an angle where Richards ditched the match. Pitbull #1 went to the back and dragged “The King Of Swing” out into the ring. In kind of a quickie, Raven pinned PB2 at 2:10 after piledriving him through a table in one of the best-looking table spots you’ll ever see. PB2 evened it up by pinning Richards at 4:19 after a superbomb through the table in one of the OTHER best-looking table spots you’ll ever see. It was almost like they wanted to get the first two falls out of the way so everything could explode in the decider.
The Dudleys (disciples of Raven) ran-in and attacked the Pits. Not Buh Buh and D-Von, but rather two of the originals: Dudley Dudley and Dances With Dudley. The Duds helped R&R superbomb the Pits. In a convoluted follow-up, the Pits no-sold their own finisher (huh?) and gave all the heels a contrived-as-hell-looking double-double-DDT. The Pits superbombed the Duds, which was kinda dumb to me. If the Pits are your new champs, why have them decimate their first logical challengers?
The Pits superbombed Raven for a nearfall, but they came up just shy of the table, and Rave’s skull clipped the edge of the table in a scary-looking visual. Raven smothered PB2 with an ether-soaked rag. Joey Styles fired off his classic “Take that crap to Smoky Mountain” line. Raven tried to put PB2 through double-decker tables at ringside, but the top table wouldn’t cooperate (or break). On the second try, Raven put PB2 through the bottom table, salvaging the spot as best as could be expected. Francine attacked Beulah for the catfight. Raven DDT’ed Francine.
With PB2 out of the match, Tommy Dreamer ran-in and chained himself to Raven, continuing their feud. Dreamer kneedropped Raven’s nest and gave him a DDT for the clean pin (first time TD ever pinned Raven in the Bingo Hall). I know what you’re thinking. As great as their feud was, it’s not terribly heroic for your fresh-as-a-daisy babyface to run-in out of nowhere and pin his archrival. That was the whole point. It was a tease. Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission referee Bill Alfonso (w/ sometimes-bodyguard Big Dick Dudley) ran-in and disallowed TD’s pin. Fonzie was tremendous as the uberheel referee. Fonzie tried to bring order to the chaos, with the gimmick that the chokeslam was banned, and if any wrestler laid a hand on him, he’d shut down the promotion.
“Extreme Commissioner” Todd Gordon ran-in for this angle-within-a-match and argued with Fonzie. Fonzie shoved Todd, prompting TD to leap to Todd’s defense. Well, he did literally leap up when Big Dick chokeslammed him. Fonzie posthumously reinstated the chokeslam for “tonight only.” So naturally, this opened the door for 911 to run-in and do what does best. When 911 chokeslammed Fonzie, reports at the time said it was the loudest pop in the history of the ECW Arena (!!). The only negative is that they butchered everyone’s theme music again (which is a disturbing trend among new DVDs with old matches). 911’s run-in just isn’t the same without “Frankenstein” rocking the house. (Note: If you want to see the match in its full glory, go hunt down the “ECW: Hardcore History” DVD.)
After that, they went straight to the finish as PB2 ran-in to rejoin the match. 911 and TD helped stack Richards on Raven’s shoulders for a “super-duper-bomb.” It wasn’t so much a “bomb” as it was a “plop,” but still, there was only so much they could do to top themselves at this point. The Pits double-pinned R&R as Todd and TD counted the fall. The place erupted.
This was ECW at its finest. Obviously, it’s not the same if you didn’t live through the months of build, but even throwing it on cold, you’ll mark out in ways you never thought possible. Simply put, this was the best-booked match I’ve ever seen and, IMO, the single most definitive ECW match ever. It was also a very important match historically, because this was the first ECW Arena show after Benoit, Guerrero, and Malenko skipped town. This match showed that ECW was still alive and well. A must-see. (FRITZ)
2) Psicosis beat Rey Misterio Jr. in a 2/3 falls match. 13:53 was shown, as there were two commercial breaks when it was originally shown on TV [10/17/95]. Fast-paced “extreme lucha libre” never worked so well. Rey won the first fall via pinfall to a hurracanrana at 1:20. Psicosis taunted the crowd with his evil rudo pelvic thrusts. There was a problem with the lighting during bits of this match. The clapper must have needed new batteries. Psi caught an Asai moonsault and tombstoned for the equalizing pin at 7:05. The high-flying gave way to brawling, as Styles pointed out that this lucha libre match has turned into an ECW streetfight. Nice finish saw Psi get the pin after launching a moonsault-into-a-senton onto a chair that was laying on top of Rey. Great stuff that evened up their feud (Rey won their first match on 9/16/95). Their ECW feud was finally settled the following month at the November To Remember 95 in a “Mexican death match” which was won by Rey-Rey. (FRITZ)
3) Mikey Whipwreck pinned The Sandman (w/ Woman) to win the ECW World Title in a ladder match at approximately 6:54 (no opening bell) [10/28/95]. You read it right. When this match originally aired, Joey Styles indignantly pontificated that ECW ladder matches could only end by pinfall or submission; “The way a championship SHOULD be decided!” See, an ECW ladder match just meant that the ladder was “in play.” Not to be confused with the million billion weapons allowed in every other ECW match. Um, so how then is an ECW ladder match any different from a regular ECW match? This was a rare example of ECW trying too hard to reinvent the wheel. Alas, the damn wheel got away from them. Good brawling match for what it was, though. The highlight was Mikey coming off the top rope for a “teeter-totter” spot that sent the ladder into Sandman’s jaw. Mikey got the pin with a splash off the top rope onto the ladder which was laying on top of Sandy. I’d question them doing a similar finish two matches in a row, but that’s not ECW’s fault. Big pop for Mikey winning the big prize. Nice post-match scene saw the locker room raise Mikey up on their shoulders for the last great babyface title win celebration. (David)
4) ECW TV champion 2 Cold Scorpio TLD Sabu to retain the title at 30:02 [CyberSlam 96, 2/17/96]. An awesome mix of high-flying, brawling, hardcore spots, and yes, even wrestling. These two clicked and had a great weird chemistry together. Great dancing, great moves-and-countermoves. Well worth checking out. What else, really, can I say? (Kerry)
5) Tommy Dreamer (w/ Beulah) pinned Raven (w/ Lupus & Chastity) at 15:06 [Wrestlepalooza 97, 6/6/97]. This was the final chapter (or so we thought at the time) of ECW’s greatest feud. Everyone knew Raven was WCW-bound, but the finish wasn’t exactly a foregone conclusion because you could take nothing for granted when it came to the ingenious booking that was ECW. Joey Styles was simply awesome in putting over how the winner of this match would win the feud itself. So simple, yet so perfect. This match set a record for dramatic false finishes, and had more DDT than all the produce aisles in California. Finish finally saw Dreamer DDT Raven on a “Do Not Enter” sign for the pin. The place went apeshit. Considering the circumstances of the match, I think it would have been more appropriate to use an “EXIT” sign. Just sayin’.
Alternate commentary with Jonathan Coachman and Tommy Dreamer himself. Coach mostly put himself over. TD joked that the lights-on-lights-off stuff was ECW’s “special effect” and proudly proclaimed that he had the world’s record for being thrown off the Eagle’s Nest (broadcast area inside the arena). The guys made several insider comments about “whatever happened to Beulah?” (She married Dreamer, the poor girl.) During the Louie Spicolli run-in, TD explained to Coach that he also had a secondary feud with Louie at the time. Coach then asked “Then why did he come to Raven’s aid?” It ain’t Tard Grisham-level bad, but it’s damn close. (David).
Anyway, this was a great, memorable brawling match. Match had alternate commentary with Michael Cole & Tazz. Tazz called it his “second-favorite ECW match,” but never mentioned what was his favorite ECW match. The hell?
NOTE: This match was also on the “ECW: Deep Impact” DVD. (Kerry)
7) TV champion Rob Van Dam (w/ Bill Alfonso) pinned Jerry Lynn to retain the title in a no-time-limit match at 26:57 [Hardcore Heaven 99, 5/16/99]. Good, not great. I always thought the RVD-JL stuff was just a wee bit overrated by the IWC. Finish saw RVD get the clean pin with a Van-Daminator/FSFS combo.
Match had alternate commentary with RVD and Cole. RVD put over JL as “One of the two guys who gave me a run for my money,” but – you guessed it – he never mentioned who the other guy was. What the hell is it with these guys and their “second-favorite” crap? RVD claimed that no one could keep up with him for the WWWFE Hardcore Title, which was why they had to retire it. Funny moment came when RVD sang the praises of smaller arenas, saying that when he was at Wrestlemania 18 in the Toronto Skydome, the fans’ energy was “vacuumed up through the ceiling.” Cole cut him off before he could further bury himself.
NOTE: This match was also on the “ECW: Extreme Evolution” DVD. (Daivd)
OTHER EXTRAS (Disc 2, Page 2):
Steven Richards Apologizes For Leaving ECW. Stevie told the story of suffering a stinger in a match on 5/17/97. When Terry Funk threw the guardrail into his neck, it paralyzed him in the ring for over an hour and it scared the piss out of him. A few months later, Stevie skipped town and Raven got him a gig with WCW. Then after Raven squashed Stevie at Clash Of The Champions 35 (the final Clash, on 8/21/97), the lads had themselves a bad falling out, complete with curse words. According to Stevie, Raven threatened to tell his buddy DDP to tell HIS buddy Eric Bischoff to fire Stevie. Ohhhhhh, so THAT’S why Stevie was denied his rightful place in wrestling history. Thanks to that damn Raven, the push Stevie was supposed to get went to some green lummox named Bill Goldberg. Anyway, Stevie wound up back in the Bingo Hall, where he freshened up his stinger in a match against Chris Chetti. They left out the part where Stevie acted like such an arrogant prick upon his return, Chetti actually stiffed the hell out of him to teach him a lesson in respect. Stevie took this opportunity to publicly apologize to Paul Heyman and the boys. Stevie concluded it “will never happen again.” Well, of course not. The damn company is out of business. Okay, this was obviously one of those political moves, but who the hell benefits from a low-level Heat jobber eating crow? You’ve gotta think that out of everyone, Heyman wanted to serve up some humble pie to Mike Awesome, who left the company WITH THEIR FREAKIN’ WORLD TITLE, but it was not to be, so he settled for Dancin’ Stevie.
Taz(z) Seeks Paul Heyman’s Blessing. Taz(z) told the story of the day he was set to debut for the WWF at the Royal Rumble 2000. Taz(z) was psyched up to wrestle at MSG, so during the drive to the arena, he called Heyman to ask for his blessing. Paul gave it. Well, what the hell else was he gonna do? Taz(z) actually got choked up in telling the story and talked about the sacrifices Heyman made to start and run ECW, comparing it to the sacrifices the McMahons made when they launched the first Wrestlemania. A bit of a stretch, but he did invent the world’s first triple-asskiss-Taz(z)plex. But seriously, folks, You know how I know this was a sincere shoot from Taz(z)? Because he didn’t brag about making Kurt Angle tap out to end his undefeated streak when he finally got to the Garden.
Paul Heyman: Travel Agent. No spoilers here. All I’m gonna say is that this four-minute story from Chris Jericho is worth the price of the DVD set alone. Trust me.
Extras, Page 1: Highlight “The Sandman vs. Mikey Whipwreck” and click right twice. It takes you to one of the funniest skits in ECW history, with Mikey and The Public Enemy training in Central Park. Though it is kinda creepy to see Rocco Rock ominously open the sketch with “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”
Extras, Page 2: Highlight “Taz(z) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow” and click left twice. You’ll see the feature that chronicled the Taz-BBB feud. Really bad overacting from both guys. The whole “I’m gonna be your savior” thing was way too over-the-top for my tastes.
Extras, Page 2: Highlight “Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn” and click right twice. RVD is at a broadcast table with Michael Cole and tells him how a table spot in this match gave him a tiny scar on his chin.
Overall over-analysis: The matches they picked for this one will be debated for a while. Pits-R&R was a no-brainer, as were TD-Raven and Taz(z)-BBB. But how about the famous double tables match with Sabu & Taz(z) vs. The Public Enemy? Not even one three-way-dance? Bottom line: Other WWE DVD releases have twice as many matches as “extras,” so why didn’t this one? Granted, Sabu-Scorp and RVD-JL together clocked in at over an hour, but still, they coulda done better.
The only real consistent problem with the feature was the nasty habit of the guys giving away punchlines/payoffs before they showed clips of ‘em. “It’s Tommy’s.” Beulah was three-timing with Kimona. Terry Funk won the World Title to end ECW’s first PPV. Taz(z) blew the through-the-ring finish. These producers seriously need to sit around for a weekend watching VH1 countdowns so they know that you don’t spoil your own bombshells.
Either due to politics or time constraints, and a lot of ECW icons were snubbed altogether. The Axl Rotten vs. Ian Rotten feud was the seminal “can-you-top-this” hardcore war. They went from hair vs. hair to barbed-wire bats to a “Taipei death match” (when the lads wrestled each other with shards of broken glass glued to their fists).
Also ignored were The Eliminators (Perry Saturn & John Kronus), even though their “Total Elimination” finisher was all over this thing. The Public Enemy was ECW’s most popular tag team, and Buh Buh & D-Von were ECW’s most hated (and most dominant) tag team, but the Elims were ECW’s best tag team, IMO. What’s inarguable is that they were marketed the strongest and pushed the hardest over every other ECW duo as “the greatest tag team in the world.”
Justin Credible had the worst “punny” wrestling name since Adam Bomb, but he was the last guy Paul Heyman really hung his hopes on as long-term ECW World champion. (RVD was supposed to chase JC for belt, but the company folded before they ever got around to it.) For that matter, ECW’s last dominant tag team was JC & Lance Storm as “The Impact Players.” Personally, I always thought Justin was overrated as hell, but you can’t deny what he meant to the company in its twilight months.
There are plenty of others, but you get the point. Jerry Lynn, Steve Corino, The Pitbulls, The FBI, Chris Candido, Hack Myers, 911, Balls Mahoney, Tajiri, Super Crazy, Kid Kash, Nova, Simon Diamond & Johnny Swinger, Danny Doring & Roadkill (the last ECW Tag champs), and Rhino (now “Rhyno”), who was both ECW World champion and ECW TV champion when the curtain fell.
New fans had to wonder why Shane Douglas kept holding up three fingers. They gave NO love to Douglas’ famed “Triple Threat” faction, which has included guys like Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Chris Candido, Brian Lee, Bam Bam Bigelow, Lance Storm (as a “pledge”), and Too Cold Scorpio (as a substitute for Douglas when he bailed for the WWF in 1995).
But the guy who really got the shaft was Joey Styles. Joey was the voice of extreme for years, even though he did become a joke in my eyes when he wrote an editorial after the death of Ray Traylor claiming he had no idea why so many wrestlers were passing away before their time. Still though, he was the best one-man-show in town and when I dabbled in play-by-play myself, he was the one announcer who I emulated the most. You’re telling me that we could give a few minutes to the bWo and the FTW Title, but not the guy who got more face time than any other character in the company? Blow me.
But at the end of the day, this was a great little trip down memory lane. This isn’t a be-all-end-all complete and total ECW discography, but pick it up and watch it with your pals. You’d be hard-pressed to spin a disc that gives you more moments that make you say, “Holy shit, I remember that! That was great!” And that’s worth the asking price alone.
This Observer’s Thumb……………….is up.
Harry Simon is a trivia-fueled wisenheimer
who has been writing about pro wrestling off and on for 16 years and counting. Harry has written trivia pieces for both the
Wrestling Observer and Live Audio Wrestling websites, and contributed a ton of research to his fellow Las Vegan Mike Tenay
in preparation for the first NWA TNA PPV in 2002. Harry has also done play-by-play, color commentary, and ring announcing
for indy promotions. Harry invented the Von Erich Match Rating System, which you can learn about HERE.
Harry Simon is a trivia-fueled wisenheimer who has been writing about pro wrestling off and on for 16 years and counting. Harry has written trivia pieces for both the Wrestling Observer and Live Audio Wrestling websites, and contributed a ton of research to his fellow Las Vegan Mike Tenay in preparation for the first NWA TNA PPV in 2002. Harry has also done play-by-play, color commentary, and ring announcing for indy promotions. Harry invented the Von Erich Match Rating System, which you can learn about HERE.
THE TWF "MENTAL WELLNESS TEST!"
With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).