Extreme Championship Wrestling
Hardcore TV(episode #164)
June 11th, 1996
Hardcore TV(episode #164)
June 11th, 1996
So after a long delay, we're finally back in the Theater. We're smack dab in the middle of ECW's prime in my opinion, so we can't stop now. This show took place during the infancy of the NWO angle over in WCW, and right around the time of Austin's "3:16" promo in WWF. We're two weeks away from ECW's Hardcore Heaven supercard. The main storylines going into this are too complex to try to explain here. Read up on some of the past shows and catch up on what's going on to really get some of the happenings. The main storylines going into this are two of the greatest storylines in pro wrestling history in my opinion. Sabu vs Taz, and Dreamer vs Raven. Both feuds are in their absolute heyday at this point. Really though it's not just about Sabu vs Taz and Dreamer vs Raven though. Each rivalry was the core of ECW, but each rivalry splintered off into side stories that were interwoven into other character's arcs. Sabu for instance has broken off into a feud with Rob Van Dam as Taz sets his sights on a legitimate UFC fighter from this time named Paul Varelans(4-3 in the UFC at this time). On the other side of the spectrum you have Tommy Dreamer being attacked by Raven's henchmen, primarily Brian Lee. Lets dust off the curtains and dive into this bad boy.
Most, if not all of this footage is from the Fight the Power supercard in the ECW Arena. Most of the last review was the same, and more than likely most of the next review will be as well. This is how ECW would do it back then. They would hold a big ECW Arena supercard every 3 or 4 weeks, and cut it up for 3 of these weekly Hardcore TV shows with extra music videos, promos etc cut in.
One final opening note, Brian Pillman was advertised to be on this show last week. This was after his accident.
Taz vs Paul Varelans Contract Signing
The show opens up with Taz and Varelans sitting in a press conference setting. Joey Styles announces that the match has been set and the contracts have been signed. Joey keeps pushing this as a mixed shoot fight with Taz representing Extreme Wrestling as Varelans represents "Ultimate Fighting". The match has been set for the June 22nd at Hardcore Heaven. Joey gives Varelans a chance to speak. Varelans cuts a terrible promo where you can barely understand what he's saying.
Taz says that he has to fight Varelans because the man he wants to fight won't fight him(mocks Sabu's pose). Taz gives Varelans props for stepping up and accepting the challenge. They face off with Varelans towering over Taz by about 2 feet.
They shake hands at first and everything is cool until Taz tells Varelans that he's going to chew him up and spit him out. Alphonso screams "THAT'S RIGHT DADDY!" . Classic Fonzie. Love the guy.
We get a weak little pull apart with Joey hyping the match before we cut away to the always awesome White Zombie "Thunderkiss '65" opening highlight video.
After the video Joey Styles hypes up tonight's show saying we will have Brian Pillman, Rob Van Dam vs Mikey Whipreck, and much more. He goes on hyping up Taz vs Varelans shoot fight for Hardcore Heaven as they show footage of Taz choking out one wrestler after another during his recent killing spree through the ECW roster. Pretty awesome clip. God dam I love Taz and I love this show. He's just a little fearless fucking wolverine that will fuck you up. I love his character right now. He's the ultimate shoot fighter but he's repping Extreme Wrestling as he takes out Muay Thai guys and Ultimate Fighters in mixed style matches that are blatantly inspired by the UFC's of this time.
Pitbull 2 gets a TV title shot tonight against The Franchise. Pitbull 2 reminds me of Ryback so much it drives me crazy. He's the most over guy in ECW right now really. He was booked to come so close to winning the world title from Raven in a three way dance and a six man elimination style match at the last two shows and it drove the crowd bananas. This should be a good show.
FBI vs. Dudley Boys
Guido and JT Smith come out first to some Sinatra song. Total goofballs here, but they're actually kind of funny to me. JT sings Sinatra to Guido before the match. Goofy stuff here.
The Dudleyz come out to AC/DC's Highway to Hell.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, the music usage in ECW is what really keeps me watching it after all of these years. I have more of a connection with ECW than any of the others because of this. I'm not just watching wrestling, I'm listening to Pantera, Tupac, AC/DC, Alice In Chains, N.W.A., White Zombie, Metallica. The music in ECW just gives me a feeling that other wrestling shows, even current ones, just don't. It's kind of hard to explain really. If you were to take all of this music out, I probably wouldn't be as enthusiastic about ECW.
More goofiness ensues before this shit even gets started. Buh Buh tries to sing Sinatra and fucks it up. The crowd seems to be having a good time here, but I'm getting that itch to fast forward through this.
D-Von gets the mic.
"#1. JT, you should have known about me from the ass kicking you got in queens.#1. You idiots forgot about three rules.#1 though shall not steel.#2. Though shall not kill.and #3, Though shall not FUCK WITH THE DUDLEYZ!"
Finally this match gets started. Buh Buh lands a slingshot gordbuster on Guido. Guido gets press slammed out of the ring down onto the JT.
We go to regular tag rules for a bit. D-Von goes at it with Guido for a bit before tagging in Buh Buh. JT gets tagged in and puts Buh Buh in a boston crab as we cut away to commercials.
A commercial plays for the Brian F'N Pillman shirt. "We would like to show you the new Brian F'N Pillman T-Shirt......But, we cant......The Censors will throw us off the air!"
Whoa! It's time for a new leading brand!(Strength Systems, bodybuilding supplements commercial that airs during ECW TV for years).
Ads for house shows and the upcoming Hardcore Heaven PPV play along to some Glen Danzig song. I recognize his voice, but can't tell if this is Misfits, Samhain, or Danzig. Cool song though.
More ads for T-shirts, Hostile City Showdown 96 VHS, all as the Beastie Boys "You Got To Fight, For your Rights, To Paaaaaartay!" plays.
Back to the match and this is kind of boring. The Dudleyz take the upper hand and dominate Guido and JT for a while. D-Von gets the chair and takes out the referee for no reason. The ref calls for the bell and DQ's the Dudleyz. D-Von busts JT with the chair over the head. The FBI retreats.
D-Von blasts Buh Buh and the other non-Dudleyz in the entourage with the chair. Brutal chair shots. Damn.
D-Von is ruthless.
Highway to Hell hits and Big Dick makes his comeback finally. D-Von takes off running. Big Dick goes crazy and trashes a table near the ring.
Nothing to really talk about here. The Dudleyz were just undercard filler at this point in their careers, and this wasn't entertaining at all really. Some cool music during the walk outs and the commercials kept it from being a total waste of time, but otherwise a big meh for this one.
Extreme Warfare Vol. 1 commercial set to Filter's "Hey Man Nice Shot".
They show a t-shirt commercial with Lance Wright saying "There's a difference in everyone else's merchandise, and ours. There's a difference in our slave labor, and Kathy Lee Gifford's. We invite you to experience the difference." The back of the t-shirt says Experience the Difference. I seem to remember Kathy Lee Gifford involved in a sweatshop scandal back during this time, so this is a little poke at that. One thing that is interesting about these old tapes. Like a little snap shot of pop culture from this period.
Rob Van Dam vs. Mikey Whipwreck
Joel Gertner is still the ring announcer here and he looks like he's about 18 years old. Van Dam is trying hard to get some heel heat as he stalls for a bit in the opening moments. Joey talks about Mikey's wins in ECW over Rey Mysterio and Steve Austin who's careers were exploding right now in WCW and WWF while this poor man has been relegated to jobber status for a bingo hall promotion. Kind of sad really.
This crowd explodes with Sabu chants as RVD taunts them. Really loud Sabu chants. It may be a bit forgotten just how over Sabu was in ECW as a face in 95-96.
Van Dam corners Mikey and hits him with a quick series of elbows to the head before backflipping away into his corny martial arts pose.
All of a sudden Brian Pillman rolls out on a wheelchair and stops the match. Pillman says that if everyone wants to chant for a real god, "Get on your knees right now and pay homage to Brian Fucking Pillman! RIGHT NOW!"
Pillman taunts Mikey from his wheelchair for a bit before Mikey takes a swing and slaps him in the face. Pillman attacks Mikey with a crutch. Rob Van Dam helps Brian Pillman beat the shit out of Mikey on the outside. Van Dam props Mikey up with his head hanging off of the apron with a chair draped over his face before landing an awesome looking Catapult Guillatine Legdrop from inside the ring. Van Dam then lands a really good looking Van Daminator. Mikey sells it beautifully.
RVD hits a standing moonsault for the pin after 3:16.
RVD and Pillman cut a promo with Joey Styles after the match. Pillman says...
"I'm here to celebrate, to rejoice, what Rob Van Dam has done. To the holy, flagship of ECW. Sabu sucks and so does each and every one of you pieces of shit in this fucking building. Here's your savior. You want to look for leadership, look to Rob Van Dam. Don't look to the sandman, a bumbling drunk with a manager who's managed more....manhoods hahaha....
*crowd boo's Pillman*
If you don't shut up, right fucking now, I'm leaving."
RVD says lets get the fuck out of this dump. They leave together. RVD takes a swipe at the fans with a kick as he pushes Pillman to the back in his wheelchair.
I'm not going to bother rating this because it wasn't really a match at all, it was pretty much just Pillman giving Van Dam a rub with his official endorsement. Pretty funny stuff, but I think maybe Pillman was a little buzzed on some pain pills or something. His auto accident did some major damage to his leg. It had to be re broken and reset several times in the months that followed in 96. I'm sure he had to take a lot of pain pills through all of that, and pain pills aren't just something you can just up and stop after you've been taking them regularly for months. Pretty sad situation when you think about it really.
This was Pillman's final ECW appearance. He would go on to work for the WWF later in 1996 and on through 1997 until he was found dead in his motel room in October, about 16 months after this show. I've read that Pillman was really out there on the pain pills before he died. It's a shame nobody tried to reach out and help him, maybe he'd still be around today.
We cut away to the Brian F'N Pillman t-shirt commercial again. I guess they were trying to get as much money off of him as they can before he goes off to WWF. He may have already signed at this point, and allowed to work the show similar to how Foley was working in ECW in 96 even while under contract with the WWF. WWF was kind of using ECW that way. They would sign a guy and let him hang out in ECW for a little while as they were prepping a character or angle for them to play. We would see this much more in the future with guys like Al Snow, Droz, Brakkus, and a few others.
More commercials for house shows, merch catalog, and Hardcore Heaven 96.
Paul Heyman promo
We return from commercials with Joey Styles plugging the Sabu vs RVD feud where RVD was tipped off by Taz & Fonzie about Sabu's previously injured neck. Van Dam was able to end Sabu's months long winning streak and put him out of action for a couple of weeks. We are building up to the third match between RVD & Sabu at Hardcore Heaven, and one thing I like about this storyline is the promos that Paul Heyman cuts to push it. He's pretty much just selling his story to the viewers in some really nice, down to earth promos where he goes over the specifics of the storyline, talking about everything in a very shoot nature, but with a level of kayfabe that keeps it all classy. There's nothing shooty about the overall Van Dam vs Sabu storyline, but the way Heyman sells it in these promos is as if this is all very serious, real shit. This isn't a game. This is life and death. This is real.
Heyman talks about Sabu's injury
"It's an image, that you see every week on Extreme Championship Wrestling.
In the Extreme Warfare commercial, from the November to Remember 1994. Chris Benoit hoisted Sabu up into the air and drove him down right onto the top of his head.
See that injury that Sabu suffered that night was kept quiet. We didn't want anybody to know just how severe our top dog was hurt.
There were only 3 people on the face of this planet that knew how bad Sabu was hurt.
And the man that I dropped to my knees in the hospital and begged Sabu to team with, as a favor to my friend cus he needed a big career boost.
Now we all know, who went to Rob Van Dam, and told him the truth about Sabu's compressed vertebrae's.
About the fact that the doctors told him to never, ever wrestle again.
The fact that Cal Ripken is hailed as a hero cus he never misses a baseball game.
The fact that Dennis Rodman is called the hardest working athlete in sports today, fails in comparison, to the fact that this man, each and every night , with a neck that can not take the ABUSE!
After wrestler after wrestler pounds on him and POUNDS ON HIM...
And Rob Van Dam you knew exactly how to take him out.
See, you had that inside information.
You were told by Taz, "don't just go for the lower back, don't just go for the shoulder, don't go for the knee, no, go for the back of the neck! Go for the vertebrae"...
Hardcore Heaven, June 22nd, Rob Van Dam, you got a receipt coming your way.
And I promise you this.
I've known Sabu, and I've had my ups and I've had my downs with him, but I can tell you this. He is going to kick....your....ass.
Rob Van Dam you're going to have the displeasure of witnessing up close...
The most suicidal...
Genocidal athlete on the face of the planet today.
You, are going to experience....
This promo is a great example of the subtle blend of work and shoot that ECW did best. The promo had shoot elements to it, but the whole core of it is strait up Kayfabe. It's all clever, but probably something rehashed from one of the territories or something I'm sure(a wrestler tipping off his rivals opponent on a key weakness that only he's aware of). What makes it great though is just the way this storyline is playing out. The Sabu vs Taz storyline revolved around Taz vs Heyman. There's no secret who the owner and booker of ECW is. Taz already called him out the night he turned heel at the 95 November to Remember(the night the ultimate "Heyman Guy" at this time, Sabu, returned to ECW from WCW). So there's this underlying war going on between the owner of ECW, Paul Heyman, and this character that is out to make life miserable for him, Taz. Really good stuff. So much of this Work/Shoot blended atmosphere was heavily, heavily imitated by WWF and WCW starting around this time in 96. The influence is as obvious as it is profound.
We cut to Lance Wright's Hype Central segment where he acts like an idiot as he hypes up ECW merchandise and show dates. This time he hypes up Hardcore Heaven which will have "A fight of Ultimate proportions". I can't get over how this Taz vs Varelans "shoot fight" was being pushed as if ECW was actually going to hold a legit UFC style fight between these two guys. Wildly interesting to me. Taz was the ultimate "Big Fight Feel" character, and his feuds in ECW were the epitome of the term.
More ads for the upcoming house shows, as well as the graphic for Hardcore Heaven 96.
Sabu T-shirt commercial with Heyman pushing Sabu as one awesome motherfucker. He has "No fears, and no peers".
"Just Another Night" home video commercial plays. Cactus vs Bam Bam Bigelow. I need to get this tape.
TV Title Match: Pit Bull #2 vs. Shane Douglas(C)
Shane Douglas comes out tossing the TV title around like he doesn't care about it and that makes absolutely zero sense to me considering his big emotional promo when he won it at A Matter of Respect. I seriously don't get it. He's all of a sudden acting as if he doesn't want the belt now. And I was about to write a big 1,000 word diatribe about how much I loved this storyline.
I mean, the dude even punts the title across the ring. WTF?
Shane says that he was supposed to have a rematch with Scorpio tonight, but Scorpio has a staph infection and is at the hospital like a bitch. Shane says he wants to see where the rookie stands and calls out El Puerto Ricano. Ricano comes out and gets hit with a cheap shot. Shane then hits Ricano with a nice Corkscrew Vertical followed by an even nicer Belly to Belly for the pinfall after like 10 seconds. Ricano disappears to the back to collect his $30 from Heyman as the referee tries to hand the title over to Douglas. Shane smacks it to the floor.
The match clips ahead to Shane dropping Don E. Allen, the ultimate ECW Jobber, with a sloppy as hell Belly to Belly before pinning him. The ref tries to hand the belt to Shane again and he smacks it to the canvas again.
The impromptu gauntlet match cuts ahead again to Shane hitting Devon Storm with a low blow kick. Shane drops Storm with a belly to belly and pins him. The ref again tries to hand the belt to Shane, and again he slaps it to the floor.
Shane gets fired up and calls out the entire ECW locker room. Mikey Whipreck hobbles out on his injured leg. Shane clips his injured leg and puts him in the ABSOLUTELY WORST FUCKING Texas Cloverleaf I've ever seen in my god dam life. Damn.
Mikey taps out, but Shane won't release the hold. A slew of wrestlers come out to the ring to break it up. Pitbull 2 and Nova carry Mikey to the back when Shane all of a sudden taunts Pitbull 2. Pitbull 2 shows no interest in Shane until he begins insulting Francine, calling her a scraggly whore. Shane further insults Francine calling her the ugliest woman in ECW, even skankier than Missy Hyatt. Francine gets pissed and gets in the ring. She smacks Shane in the face really hard.
Shane drops Francine with the belly to belly. SHIT.
Yeah yeah, violence against women is bad, but what about when it's in the movies? To help establish a bad guy? I've seen it often. Wrestling is like one big live action movie to me, so I don't take violence against women to seriously in it. Francine was a trained wrestler by the way.
Pitbull 2 goes berserk and attacks Shane. Shane hits him with the belt, but Pitbull 2 hulks up. Pitbull beats the shit out of Shane with punches and a press slam. The crowd gets all up into this match. Pitbull lands a Powerslam and goes for the pin. The crowd goes crazy with the nearfalls. He's so fucking close!
Pitbull goes for another powerslam, but Shane lands a nice headscissor takedown counter. The match clips ahead to a spot where Pitbull goes for a legdrop on Shane as he lays across the steel guard rail on the outside. Shane moves at the last second and Pitbull 2 racks himself fucking big time. Holy shit.
Shane targets Pitbull's leg with the steel railing. They take it back to the ring where Shane locks Pitbull into the cloverleaf, the right way this time. Pitbull powers out of the cloverleaf and this match is all clipped to hell.
It cuts ahead to Shane going for the belly to belly suplex from the second rope. Pretty cool spot here where Pitbull 2 picks Shane up into the position for the Superbomb. Pitbull 2 drops Shane with the Superbomb and pins him to win the TV Title. The Arena goes bat shit crazy as the Pitbull and Francine celebrate with the strap. Now all of a sudden Shane is dramatically reaching up for the title like he wants it. I don't get it. Neither does Joey Styles apparently.
Take this rating with a grain of salt because this entire segment was clipped to hell and back. From what I seen here I didn't really get Shane's treatment of the TV title after he cut this big epic promo when he won it. Maybe it's one of those things that will develop and we'll get it better later. Maybe they were smoking crack. Who knows. Nothing really impressive here as far as wrestling. The finish was cool. The crowd really wanted to see Pitbull 2 win a title, hell, I wanted to see Pitbull 2 win a title after seeing him come so close at the two previous shows, only to fall short.
Commercial for the Hardcore Heaven history package combo pack with the VHS tapes of Hardcore Heaven 94 & 95 together for $40.
Lance Wright hypes up the HH history package combo with highlights of the shows set to Faith No More's "Epic". I think that's what the song is called anyways. "It's in your face, but you can't grab it".
Joey recaps Douglas losing his title. Shane storms into the scene and says he wants his belt back. This segs us into some Pulp Fiction promos to close the show. A series of promos plays set to Dick Dale's "Miserlou".
Pulp Fiction Promos
This one starts off with Buh Buh Ray and Big Dick Dudley together with the other "non-Dudleyz". Buh Buh stutters and Big Dick screams.
The Eliminators are shown standing with the tag team titles, with blood all over their faces. Saturn says a few words about stitches, blood, and concussions. They look like they've been though a war.
Stevie Richards chases Divine Brown down with a $20, she smacks him away.
The Sandman and Missy Hyatt pose together. Sandman says he's ready to cane somebody before smashing a beer can on his head.
Stevie chases Devine Brown down with a handfull of cash. She smacks him away again.
Tommy Dreamer is shown with Beulah and Kimona. Dreamer cuts a pretty terrible promo challenging Brian Lee to a weapons match at Hardcore Heaven. Brian Lee is shown afterwards saying that he's going to carve Dreamer's soul out.
A shot of Raven closes the show. Quote The Raven, Nevermore...
Overall Show Rating: 7/10
I really liked all of the Taz stuff with Paul Varelans. The highlight of this show is the great promo from Paul Heyman. A hidden gem worked shoot promo. The RVD vs Sabu storyline is awesome. Other than that this show didn't have much going for it. Some of the stuff in the Shane Douglas match irked me. I thought Pitbull winning the TV strap was cool. It was the perfect time for it, and the way they built up to it was masterfully done as well. The FBI vs Dudleyz match was not good. The Brian Pillman/RVD stuff bumps the score up a little as well. Some hilarious and awesome promos from Pillman with his historic final ECW appearance endorsing the man that would become the Whole F'N Show. Overall it wasn't a real, real good show, but it wasn't a bad one either really. It lacked a good match to bump the score up, and the pulp fiction promos were kind of bad too. With that said though, I really like most of these storylines and characters. I love the setting and atmosphere of the crowd, and I really enjoy the music that plays during different parts of the show.
One more episode of Hardcore TV before we take a look at the historic Hardcore Heaven 96 supercard.