ECW Hardcore TV report
Alright, so just to give everyone a good idea of the format ECW was using during this time, I want to take a closer look at what happened on the three episodes of Hardcore TV that followed Heatwave 96, which was held on July 13th 1996. Basically everything was running on a three week schedule. Every three weeks they would put on a show like Heatwave, then they would use that footage of said show(Heatwave for example here) and cut it up for three weeks worth of TV. I don't want to write full reviews for these episodes because 90% of the material was filmed at Heatwave. The other 10% consists of interviews, music videos, and an occassional clip of a house show match from some small town east coast venue.
July 16th 1996
This episode of a pretty good example of what I'm talking about. The Gangstas vs Samoan Gangsta Party, Mikey vs Paul Lauria, and Sabu/Mikey vs Eliminators matches from Heatwave were all shown on this episode. A good bit of the show was spent building up the 4 way tag team feud going right now between The Gangstas, Samoan Gangsta Party, Bruise Brothers, and Eliminators. The Gangstas vs Eliminators rivalry is brewing very slowly much like the Sabu vs Taz rivalry in that it's just a long running feud that rarely ever seen both teams going head to head in a match up until the big blowoff. Overall though, I can say that the Tag division is a huge mess. Some really sloppy matches and some even sloppier booking. The Bruise Brothers and Samoan Gangsta Party are just fodder for the main teams, but this really diluted everything and took a lot of the focus off of the main course, which was Gangstas vs Eliminators.
This episode also featured a promo from D-Von Dudley talking about how he's the rightful ruler of the Dudley Boyz. I have to say that I really haven't liked the Dudleyz here in these 96 tapes. They've been feuding so far all year with the FBI with not even one clean pinfall in the entire rivalry up to this point. The FBI has ballooned to include a worthless old hack from the Eastern days named Sal Bellomo, as well as a big worthless oaf named Big Guido. The Dudleyz vs FBI stuff so far in these 96 tapes has been really weak.
Taz & Bill Alphonso also cut some promos with Taz just chomping at the bit to get his hands on Sabu, doing workouts with a Sabu T-Shirt hanging on the wall in front of him. Some good stuff. I'm starting to realize that the Sabu vs Taz storyline was just as good as all of the Raven/Sandman/Dreamer stuff.
One awesome thing that was on this episode was a world premier music video of House of Pain's "Fed Up". I've said it a lot here in this project, the music videos is what makes ECW my favorite. This particular video is a great example of why because it really makes The Eliminators look like one of the greatest tag teams to ever lace up boots. I can't say enough about how awesome these highlight videos were. The clips were masterfully put together with the music and it was one of the things that ECW did best in my opinion. Really awesome video that I wish I could upload to show all of you. One day I may try to learn how just so I can share all of these amazing ECW music videos.
July 23rd 1996
This entire episode consisted of the epic Four Way Dance from Heatwave. I watched it again as I was checking these tapes out, and I think I may have underplayed just how well Shane Douglas was built up as the heel in the match. He was constantly doing little things in the match that would just be the most pussy, dickheadish things a guy could do in a match like this. It all comes together in the end with Francine nailing her performance. The Franchise's epic heel run is officially in full swing. Another thing I noticed about the match was when Chris Jericho's Lionsault was countered by Scorpio's dropkick in mid air. Jericho came down on his head and looked like he came close to seriously injuring his neck on that spot.
July 30th 1996
This episode opened up with the Taz vs 911 segment from Heatwave. INSANE pop when 911 chokeslamed Taz. Taz just no sold it and hopped right up to dump him on his head. One of the underrated heel runs that all of us forgot about in the other thread was Taz in 1996 ECW. He was really over as a heel here, and Heyman's booking pushed it all into overdrive. The guy no sold a fucking 911 chokeslam for crying out loud. If 911 can't stop this guy nobody can. Some great heat from the fans for this, constantly chanting FUCK YOU TAZ! His line about Tommy Dreamer focusing on his wrestling career instead of chasing around a couple of lesbian slut rats, that shit was hilarious.
This episode also aired the Louie Spicolli vs Sabu match that happened at Heatwave. Also got some clips of a Sandman/Raven confrontation at a house show where Raven's lackeys jumped him. Along with that there was a segment where The Gangstas were attacked in the street by the Samoan Gangsta Party.
The Pulp Fiction promos pretty much just setup the major matchups for the next big ECW Arena show, "The Doctor Is In". The big matches being plugged for this show is the Sabu vs RVD Stretcher Match(their fourth meeting), as well as a dream partner match with Dreamer & "Dr. Death" Steve Williams against Taz & Brian Lee.
The end of the episode featured probably one of the best music videos I've ever seen in ECW. A highlight package set to Metallica's "Until It Sleeps"(which was a brand new song during this time in 1996) was put together chronicling RVD & Sabu's feud, as well as the Raven vs Sandman story where Raven has brainwashed Sandman's 6 year old son Tyler.
One thing I realized while watching the video was the subtle way they were pushing Paul Heyman & Sabu's friendship. This is a big part of what drives the Taz character. Jealousy. He desperately wants to destroy the "Paul Heyman Guy". At the core of Taz vs Sabu is Taz vs Heyman. And everything is just so long term. It all ties into Taz's heel turn at the November to Remember 95 perfectly. You can tell as you watch through this saga that all of this was pretty intricately planned.
The video closed with a clip on Raven & Sandman with the classic image from Heatwave closing the show. Pretty cool how that moment tied into the epic "Chairshot Heard Round The World" moment from the previous year's Heatwave. Dreamer had Raven setup for another shot, but now Raven had positioned himself to where his enemies almost destroy themselves.
Opinions are like assholes, everybody's got them. I'm no authority on what is good or bad, but all I know is that these old ECW tapes are just far more entertaining to me than any modern day wrestling show that I've seen, be it TNA or WWE. This music video was a great example of why. It was just the stories that ECW told and the way they would tell them with videos like these. ECW fuck the world.