Alright, so here we are smack dab in the middle of the prime of ECW's existence. The glory days of Extreme Championship Wrestling. I'll go ahead and say it now, I think ECW was the better wrestling promotion in North America at this point in 1996. ECW was the best wrestling program in the US from the Summer of 95 up to this point of 1996(spring). Big Ass Extreme Bash was better than WrestleMania XII, and let's not even get started on WCW's "Three stage cage of death" match at Uncensored, followed by the Battlebowl tournament at Slamboree(which took place about a month after this review). Both WWF and WCW started getting a lot better through 1996. Taker and Mankind were in the early stages of probably my favorite feud in pro wrestling history. Vader was getting a really nice Monster Heel push. WCW was about two months out from kickstarting the NWO angle, which heavily borrowed from the Worked Shoot vibe that ECW popularized in 1995. All of a sudden there weren't any more Dungeon of Dooms feuding with Superstar comic book hero Hulk Hogans, now we're shooting on the state of the business, using smart mark terms on a regular basis, and filming more gritty, down to earth, hip 90's vignettes and backstage segments that break down the fourth wall.
The main stories going into this ECW show revolved around Raven. They did a pretty good job of building up the main event of this show, with The Franchise getting one last shot at the belt that drives his very existence. Douglas was booked as a classic tweener in the early goings of 1996. He did things that a heel would do, but he was booked in the role of a face. I liked the way they worked Raven's title run so far with Douglas, Dreamer, and Sandman all fighting to get a shot at him. Tonight Douglas finally gets his shot at Raven for the belt. Tommy Dreamer faces off against the man that Raven hired to eliminate him, "Prime Time" Brian Lee. Also going on is a pretty awesome feud between The Eliminators and The Gangstas. The ECW tag team division was the best in wrestling in 96, and this feud was the main course of it.
All of that plus the beginning of the Rob Van Dam vs Sabu series, as well as some of the more memorable, controversial moments in ECW history. So without any further adieu, lets quit wasting time and get this hardcore lesbo action started!
Opening: The Gangstas/Eliminators
The show immediately starts off with Joey Styles bringing out The Gangstas "Strait out of the hood". The Gangstas come out and are massively over right here. Everyone in the crowd stands up and does the "X" forearm thing as they cheer the Gangstas on. New Jack comes out with a night stick, with Mustapha wearing his trademark bandana over his face. The crowd starts chanting New Jack's name as he gets ready to talk to Joey.
New Jack cuts a pretty good promo talking about the Eliminators attacks at the last show. He says that where he comes from, when you get your ass kicked, you don't get up and shake the other man's hand. You go home and figure out a way to take his ass out. New Jack tells Joey that they will get the Eliminators, and calls them out.
Kronus and Saturn run out in a full on sprint to the ring, bum rushing Mustapha and New Jack out of nowhere. Something about the image of New Jack and Perry Saturn trading punches just looks very realistic and awesome to me for some reason. Two of the toughest guys in wrestling for sure.
This is just a really fast, stiff brawl that came out of nowhere, and is really kicking some ass right now. Some really great, classic, trademark ECW "Shaky" camera work just adds to it. All 4 of them take it out to the crowd and brawl with chairs. They make it back to the ring and the entire locker room comes out to separate them.
All of the mid card wrestlers from the locker room pull The Gangstas and Eliminators away from each other and force The Eliminators to the back. The Gangstas stand alone in the ring celebrating with the fans as their music comes on.
Not a bad little opening segment at all, clocking in at just under 8 minutes long. The Gangstas vs Eliminators rivalry is one that I remember reading a lot about back when I first discovered ECW in the mags back in the day. It starts to heat up here, so this was a pretty good segment. Some classic ECW violence and chaos. I absolutely love the camera work and overall gritty look and feel of a brawl like this. I'm not going to bother rating anything though since there wasn't really any match here.
Super Nova vs El Puerto Ricano
Nova went on to wrestle as Simon Dean in the WWE in the 2000's. He had been wrestling in ECW house shows prior to this appearance, but this is his first big match in ECW. Ricano is probably the most underrated jobber of all time. Definitely one of my favorite.
Nova looks like a mini Stevie Richards here. Styles keeps pushing him as a goofy super hero wannabe, dressed as a blue Power Ranger with a blue patch of makup over his left eye. The crowd starts chanting "POWER~RANGER! clap~clap clap~clap~clap"
They put together a pretty solid little match for the time they were given. The pacing was a bit on the nervous, frantic side, but I'd bet it was on it's way to being a pretty solid midcard match. Nova dumps Ricano over the top rope to the floor with a hiptoss, then does a sloppy, but still nice looking somersault plancha off the top rope. They take it back into the ring where Nova lands a few moves that look a lot like Stevie Richards, a superkick for example.
All of a sudden The Eliminators come running back out with their belts, dropping Ricano and Nova. Both guys get literally dumped on their heads with brutal suplexes, then it's Total Elimination.
Good god, nobody sells Total Elimination like El Puerto Ricano. Fucking beautiful.
Saturn gets on the mic and calls out The Gangstas. New Jack and Mustapha run out with a trashcan, and we have another brawl on our hands. This brawl isn't so pretty. They fight outside the ring and in the crowd for several minutes before taking it back into the ring. Meh.
All of the midcard wrestlers come out again and the crowd boo's the shit out of them. The Eliminators and Gangstas are pulled apart again.
JT Smith comes out to the ring with Guido, and asks "Can't we all just get along?". Smith says that The Eliminators are paisans and the Gangstas are his brothers. Smith and Guido start singing Sinatra's "Fly me to the Moon" when all of a sudden D-Von Dudley comes running out with a chair. D-Von drops Guido with a chair shot and chases JT Smith to the back. Keep in mind this is all going down while the Gangstas and Eliminators are still being pulled apart in the ring. They keep trying to get at each other until the chaos goes to the entrance isle and eventually to the back.
Out of nowhere as both teams are pushed to the back, Bad Crew, who came out as part of the pull apart crew, start beating on El Puerto Ricano. JEEZUS TITTY FUCKING CHRIST!
That has to be one of the sickest bumps I've seen.
El Puerto Ricano gets double back body dropped out of the ring and lands flat on his back on the floor, hitting his legs on the steel guard rail. Keep in mind, this is the ECW Arena 1996. There are no mats. Only concrete. Hack Myers, who also came out as part of the pull apart crew, starts attacking Bad Crew. The Shah beats up Bad Crew as you can hear this woman screaming in the background. I don't know who, or what, but I always loved hearing this woman screaming bloody murder as all of this was going down. Just adds to the craziness of it all. I've heard this at a lot of the ECW shows.
First of all Nova vs Ricano wasn't bad at all while it lasted. The Eliminators came in and squashed them, and it looked awesome. The Eliminators just looked like total bad asses, with poor Ricano getting the Total Elimination of a lifetime. Then the Gangstas vs Eliminators brawl was just really sloppy and boring. The chaotic booking at the end of the segment bumped the score up a bit. El Puerto Ricano took a nasty bump that surely did some real damage. Straw Hat guy was looking pretty concerned as he tried to lean over the railing and help him up. Overall I liked this segment because it had some really crazy booking. Trademark ECW chaos here, like a mini little Royal Rumble just went down. I love it.
The Dudley Boyz vs The Pit Bulls
Man, I wish I could show you guys this opening shot of Francine in these leathers. Good god almighty, 11/10, *****, A+++, !@#$#@
She taunts Buh Buh in the ring about his small penis size as the Pitbulls get ready behind her. I'm not seeing D-Von in the scene just yet. Buh Buh stutters his name into the microphone and says something about Francine that I couldn't quite make out. D-Von comes out with a chair and tells Buh Buh:
"Number one, say your fucking name without stuttering!"
D-Von tells the crowd to stop encouraging Buh Buh, which draws him a bit of heat. He then tells The Pitbulls that he's not scared of them. D-Von gets up close and tells The Pitbulls:
"Number one: Though Shall Not Kill....
Number two: Though Shall Not Steal...
And number three..... Though Shall Not FUCK WITH THE DUDLEYZ!"
D-Von and Buh Buh attack The Pitbulls and the brawl is on. This is trademark ECW brawl. Not to be confused with the cornhole hardcore matches that WCW and WWF tried to put on with their joke Hardcore divisions in the later 90's. The thing about this brawl is that it's all about the crowd. The fans in the crowd are all getting a small taste of some front row action right in their laps. All four men brawl with chairs, whip each other into the railing around the ring, and slam each other to the floor. They brawl through the crowd for a pretty good bit before taking it over into the entrance isle and up to the soundstage beneath the balcony. Pitbull 1 does a diving chair shot from the steps up to the balcony down to the soundstage. Pitbull #2 lifts Buh Buh Ray up and slams him down on the stage like it's nothing. Buh Buh was pretty big here, so that was a rather impressive feat of strength their. You could see that he didn't have any problems lifting the big man at all.
All four men beat the shit out of each other on the stage before taking it over to the other side of it, going towards the back corner of the Arena. They continue brawling back through the bleachers where Buh Buh lands a dive down to the lower level onto Pitbull 1. At this point this crowd is just going nuts, having a good time, and of course chanting E! C! DUB!.
They make it back to the ring and the crowd starts to calm down. Pitbull 2 does his spinkick into the corner, falling out of the ring. He knocks the Indian-Mexican Dudley over out of his wheelchair, and Francine proceeds to stomp a mudhole in his ass. Pitbull 2 gets back in the ring as Franny beats the shit out of the "Non-Dudleyz" on the outside, and might I say she is HOT! HOT! HOT!
The Pitbulls kick Buh Buh's ass in the ring as the fans all chant for the Superbomb. They eventually get Buh Buh up in a pretty goofy little moment where Buh Buh has to help them set him up for the move. Buh Buh is Superbombed, but D-Von breaks up the pin with chair shots. D-Von drops the referee and goes after Francine on the outside. The Pitbulls hit a random Superbomb on the referee as D-Von chases Francine around the ring, and that's the last thing they show of this match before cutting away.
As much as I love random attacks on referees, this one didn't make a whole lot of sense. While this maniacal dude is chasing your girl around the ring with a chair, you decide to waste time on a referee that was already knocked out by this guy. What makes it worse is that they just cut away and don't show what happens with D-Von and Francine. Do the Pitbulls save her? Does he drop her with a chair shot? That's my only complaint here. Otherwise, I kind of like the booking. More trademark ECW chaos with the referee being taken out, and no clear winner. Both teams still look strong, so that was a pretty good move. Pretty stacked tag division here with the Eliminators, Gangstas, Pitbulls, and Dudley Boyz. Compare that to the tag team divisions of the WWF and WCW at this time in 1996 with The Body Donnas, The Godwins, The American Males etc.
Taz vs Devon Storm
So Taz is coming off of his feud with Chris Jericho, where he was made to look awfully human by the young upstart for some reason. Jericho was landing Suplexes on Taz, which is a pretty fucking big deal when you really think about it. Jericho suplexed Taz. It's hard to believe that happened considering how Taz was booked before and after it happened. But, when you really think about it, this wasn't just anybody that made Taz look human. This was "The Last Survivor Of The Hart Family Dungeon". I think using Taz to get that over was a pretty good move. Jericho was all of a sudden a somebody on the scene. Taz never lost to Jericho, but he needed some help to beat the young upstart.
Now it's time to build Taz back up. He doesn't need help to tap fools out, he's a fucking shootfighting monster. Taz comes out with his coach Bill Alphonso and his team of lackey "Team Taz" cronies by his side. Devon Storm was trained in the WCW Power Plant I do believe. This is his ECW debut. He's wearing a weird green outfit with sunglasses, and a monster mullet.
Alphonso gets the mic and pulls out a Philly Flyers hockey jersey. Fonzie insults the Flyers trying to get some heat before the match. Looking at these tapes it's hard to believe Fonzie was ever getting as much heat as he was getting when he debuted in mid 95.
Taz and Storm circle each other briefly before locking up. Taz flips Storm over to the ground with a Judo style throw. They tie up again, and Taz puts Devon in a full nelson, tosses him to the mat, then locks him in an armbar. Storm gets to the ropes and breaks free. Taz does his trademark leap frog fient into a tazplex.
Storm starts doing a bunch of Sabu moves, including his springboard leg lariat. Storm knocks Taz to the outside and hits him with a chair. Taz gets set up in a seated position in the chair. Storm gets back in the ring and does a Somersault plancha out of the ring down onto Taz. Pretty cool looking spot. Storm takes Taz back to the ring and hits him with a few moves, including a moonsault from the top rope. He goes to the outside and gets a chair from the crowd and tries to land a moonsault splash off of the top with it, but Taz rolls out of the way. Taz gets up pissed off and rolls to the outside to set a table up. Fonzie goes crazy with the whistle as Taz gets back in the ring. Devon Storm reverses a whip into the corner and sets a chair up to the Air Sabu splash. Taz moves out of the way and sends Devon out of the ring with a belly to belly. Devon falls a bit short of the table, and falls down to the floor, busting his ass on the concrete.
Devon Storm rolls around in pain as he's counted out by the referee. Taz is enraged. He goes to the outside and chokes Devon unconscious with the Tazmission.
Taz gets on the mic after the match and tells Devon to go to a gym and learn some real moves instead of trying to rip other people off. Taz says that Storm deserves credit for at least accepting the match, unlike "The King" Sabu. Taz gets down on his knees and mocks Sabu's pointing to the sky pose as this one comes to an end.
I would have like to have seen Taz run through this guy, but, they kind of told a story with this squash match. A story where it was necessary for Devon Storm to land some offensive maneuvers. Taz punished the guy for being a Sabu rip off, and then called Sabu out after the match. The feud would continue to cook slowly for another year before Sabu and Taz finally hooked it up.
Overall this wasn't a great wrestling match, but it did have some crazy bumps, and the Taz vs Sabu storyline being built as slowly as it was, was one of the better booking things Heyman ever did imo. Here we have these two superstars that represented everything ECW was all about, being booked into a feud that had been boiling since Sabu's return at November To Remember(5 months prior to this show), that was built up for another year before they even had their first match. That's some long term booking. 17 months to be exact.
Axl Rotten vs Little Guido
Guido and JT Smith come out first. This is the first incarnation of the FBI, or Full Blooded Italians. Guido and JT have officially taken The Dudley clan's place as THE comedy act of ECW here. They get in the ring and embrace with a kiss like Michael and Fredo Corleone in The Godfather part II. Axl comes out wearing his trademark 90's grunge clothing, leather jacket and all.
Man, JT and Guido are acting like strait up homos here, grooming each other, kissing each other. Eek.
Guido charges Axl and gets backbody dropped into the ropes. Guido sells it beautifully. Axl beats the shit out of Guido as the crowd starts chanting "JT's GOT A BOYFRIEND". Guido's selling is making this match rather entertaining early on.
Guido catches Axl with a sunset flip for 2, then catches him in a fujiwara armbar. Guido does a flying cross body, but gets caught and dumped over the top down through the timekeeper's table. Axl goes to the outside and grabs a pie from someone in the crowd. Axl busts the pie over Guido's face and beats the shit out of him around the ring. Axl beats Guido up the entrance isle, and lands a really stiff chair shot over his head.
JT distracts Axl long enough for Guido to recover and attack from behind. Guido dominates Axl for a while before Axl catches him with a small package. JT Smith stays involved, distracting the ref and attacking Axl every chance he gets. Guido misses a flying legdrop, allowing Axl to work his way back into the match. Axl lands a few punches, a hard Lariat, and a Dominator for the 3 count.
JT Smith gets in the ring after the match and taunts Axl as he leaves. Smith sings Fly Me To The Moon once again before bringing this segment to an end.
Bleh, this sucked. Everything from start to finish. No real comedy here, and no real wrestling either. Quite a mess. Moving along...
The Sandman & 2 Cold Scorpio vs The Bruise Brothers
I'm just not digging the 2 Cold Scorpio/Sandman tag team. The story behind their pairing was pretty random, and there just doesn't really seem to be a point to their team at this stage either. It's just as if they were thrown together because Heyman just didn't have anything for them. They've been involved in a random three way feud with The Gangstas and the Headhunters for the past couple of shows. Now we're fighting The Bruise Brothers for no real reason. This may be how the Sandman/Raven feud gets started since The Bruise Brothers are affiliated with Raven at this point. Lets see.
Sandman and Missy Hyatt come out first. Missy looks slutty as hell in this leopard skin skirt. They walk around the ring smoking, bumping and grinding, and fondling each other as Scorpio makes his way out wearing the TV title.
The Bruise Brothers come out looking like two big, tough, bad ass motherfuckers.
It starts off as a traditional tag match with Scorpio going 1 on 1 with one of the Bruise Brothers(can't tell them apart, twins). The Bruise Brothers work together to keep Scorpio isolated and dominated. They tag back and forth and take turns beating him down. Scorpio makes some funny facial expressions and sells pretty good as The Bruise Bros beat him down with slams and big boots. Scorpio starts to work is way back into the match with headscissor takedowns. He goes for a headscissor out of the corner, but one of the Bruise Brothers shoves him to the outside. Scorpio flies over the top to the floor with a pretty nasty landing into the railing.
Sandman comes in and gets double teamed. They tear his shirt off and whip him across his back with a belt. Missy Hyatt gets up on the apron and straddles the middle rope, looking on at the Sandman getting lashed as if it gets her off. Missy screams for the Bruise Bros to lash Sandman harder. Sandman gets up and lands low blows on both brothers. He goes over to Missy as she straddles the rope, grabs her by a handful of hair to pull her head back, and pours a beer down her tits. Sandman laps the beer up and turns around to eat a big boot. Scorpio comes to his rescue with a dive off the top that takes out both brothers. Sandman follows one of them to the outside with his sloppy ass plancha. All four men take the fight out into the crowd. Scorpio gets back in the ring and lands a dive from the top rope out onto all 3 men in the crowd. Not a bad looking spot, nothing special, but it got the crowd riled up a bit at least. So far up to this point the crowd has been pretty dead. Scorpio brawls back to the ring with one of the brothers, eventually hitting a moonsault press off the top for the pinfall at 8:24.
Man, this match had no purpose, got nothing accomplished, and just had absolutely nothing going for it at all. I'm not understanding why Sandman is paired up with Scorpio. He got really over in the late parts of 95, even though he was booked as a strait up heel. He's been pretty much wasted, both literally and figuratively, throughout the first half of 96 so far in this tag team with Scorpio imo.
Brian Lee vs Tommy Dreamer
Prior to the match we get a very short clip of Brian Lee saying that he has devoted his life to Raven, and that means Tommy Dreamer's fucked!
Tommy doesn't even get a chance to make it all the way down the isle before Brian Lee attacks him with a chair. Dreamer ducks the chair shot and punches away at Lee, taking him to the ring. Tommy then drops Lee with a jawbreaker while holding a chair on top of his head.
Dreamer knocks Lee out to the floor and attempts to baseball slide a chair into his face, but Lee moves out of the way. Brian Lee cracks Dreamer in the back with the chair and whips him into the crowd. Tommy and Brian Lee brawl through the crowd with too many chair shots to count.
They take the brawl to the very back dark corner of the Arena before making their way over to the soundstage. Tommy goes up and lands a sloppy looking press dive off of the balcony onto Brian Lee as he stands. Brian Lee lands... yep, you guessed it, another chair shot. Primetime tosses Dreamer into the bleachers and drags him through the crowd. Brian punishes Tommy with even more chair shots before racking him with the steel railing a few times. Lee drops the railing down on Dreamer's groin a couple times before Dreamer recovers and lands a few chair shots.
They finally head back into the ring where Brian Lee accidentally knocks the referee out. The Bruise Brothers come out as Dreamer counters a backslide into a DDT. One of the Bruise Brothers break up the pinfall with a chair shot as the referee remains down and out. Brian Lee holds up two chairs over Dreamer's head for the Bruise Brothers to give him the double big boot, much like the last show. The referee recovers to count the pinfall, but Tommy kicks out. Brian Lee pulls him up and tries to whip him into the ropes, but Dreamer catches him with a DDT. Tommy tries to put it away, but the Bruise Brothers break up the pinfall again.
Brian Lee recovers and sets a concrete cinder block on Tommy's groin. Lee slams a chair down into the block and puts Dreamer away with the pinfall.
This match probably broke some kind of a record for steel chair shots. Altogether this was nothing impressive, wrestling wise or booking wise. Brian Lee and the Bruise Brothers are a pretty intimidating triad of heel enforcers that have been hired by Raven to take care of Dreamer. That storyline progressed with this match, but other than that there wasn't really anything to see here. Some sloppy hardcore brawling for sure.
Sabu vs Rob Van Dam
Here we are with the very first RVD vs Sabu matchup. This is the beginning of a series of matches that would run through the entire Summer of 1996. RVD was a green nobody going into this series, but he would come out of the other end of it a much better wrestler, ultimately even winning a WWE Championship later down the road if you can believe that shit. Lets dig into this legendary ECW series to see if it's all that it's cracked up to be. Let us bare witness to the evolution of a "Whole Fucking Show".
The first shot is of both men standing in the ring together ready for action. Van Dam has his gi top on, and Sabu is wearing his turban with gold pants on.
Joel Gertner announces that there will not be a time limit for this match.
We open it up with some traditional wrestling. Sabu shoots in for a couple of his patented low single leg takedowns. RVD evades and spins away from them. They circle for a bit before Sabu lunges in and snatches one of RVD's legs out from under him for a takedown. RVD kicks free, and they to through a really nice little sequence of counters and reversals, with RVD eventually catching Sabu with an axe kick to the back of the neck as he's bent over. RVD scoops and slams Sabu and lands his Rolling Thunder into a frogsplash type of landing. Sabu gets up and sends RVD to the outside, causing everyone in the crowd to stand up to their feet. Everybody is ready to see some crazy shit in this match, you can just feel their anticipation.
Sabu attacks RVD as he re-enters the ring, pulling him over the middle rop for his patented Guillotine Legdrop as Van Dam teeters on the rope. Sabu then locks RVD into his Camel Clutch for a while before Van Dam reaches the ropes with his legs. Sabu breaks the hold, stomps Van Dam's back, then puts him in a Half Boston Crab. Nice. So far so good.
I just noticed that Van Dam is wearing a cast on his wrist. Van Dam fights his way out of the half crab and sells the leg pretty well. Sabu goes after it with a dropkick. Van Dam sends Sabu into the ropes, and attempts to backdrop him, but Sabu does a pivoting roll across his back to his feet behind him. Van Dam does a martial arts pose as if he was about to hit Sabu with a kick, but he's surprised with a really fast dropkick to his hurt leg. Van Dam goes down and Sabu doesn't give him a chance to sell it. He pulls him up and sets him up on the top rope. Sabu climbs up to the middle rope and springs off of the top to hit RVD with a dropkick that knocks him off to the outside. Sabu catapults himself over the top rope with a nice Somersault Plancha onto Van Dam. He pulls Van Dam up and whips him into the steel. Sabu tries to hit him with a splash but Van Dam gets a boot up to hit him in the face. RVD hops up to the railing for a moonsault, but Sabu shoves him out into the crowd.
Sabu tosses a chair into the ring and clears the fans away from Van Dam as he punches him and drags him into position. Sabu climbs into the ring and hits Van Dam with a Triple Jump splash out into the crowd. The crowd goes wild with E! C! DUB! chants. Sabu slowly recovers and sets a table up with one end propped on the ring apron and the other propped on the steel railing. Sabu slams RVD's head into the table before setting him up on it, but Van Dam moves off. Sabu leaps anyways, hitting him with a splash on the other side of the table. They fight around the table for a bit with Sabu botching a springboard off of it by slipping. RVD then takes control of the match and shows the old man how it's done.
Van Dam kicks Sabu's ass around the ring with kicks, punches, and whips into the steel railing. He springs from a chair to the apron to hit Sabu with a quick kick to the face that drops him to the floor. Van Dam continues to one up Sabu at his own game when he takes a chair up to the apron and does a somersault down onto him with it. They sell it up on the floor for a while before Van Dam takes it back to the ring. Van Dam lands a springboard legdrop and gets a 2 count. RVD shows frustration before pulling Sabu up for a Powerbomb. Van Dam then tries to put Sabu into a Surfboard and it just looks really sloppy the way they set it up and pulled it back. Van Dam holds Sabu up with the move for a bit before trying to drop his head down into a choke, but it just doesn't work for him. Eddie and Dean would be ashamed.
Van Dam then goes after Sabu's leg with strikes. Sabu does a great job of selling it, even dropping out of a suplex attempt from RVD due to the pain. Van Dam keeps working the leg with kicks as Sabu does a masterful job with the selling. Van Dam then puts Sabu up on the top and pulls him up to his shoulders for some sloppy ass looking move that I dont' even know what he was going for. Sabu counters whatever it was he was trying to do with a DDT. Sabu sets a chair up in the center of the ring with RVD propped up on the top turnbuckle. Sabu tries his Air Sabu, but RVD leaps off of the top and clears him. That was pretty awesome.
Van Dam picks the chair up and hits Sabu with it. Sabu rolls to the outside. Van Dam wastes time asking for the chair back from the people on the outside. He sets the chair up, but doesn't even use it. He jumps over the chair and the ropes with a fucking beautiful Somersault Plancha that will live on in ECW highlights forever. The thing so far is that they do small things like that and it breaks up the flow of the match. He should have just hit him with the flip instead of wasting time with the chair. It would have killed a lot of downtime.
RVD pulls Sabu into the ring and gets a 2 count. He goes up to the top rope, but Sabu recovers and hits him with a few punches. Sabu goes up top for a Hurricanrana, but Van Dam pushes him off the top down through the table that was set up earlier. Really good looking spot, and I liked how they incorporated the table into the match. Sabu rolls around on the floor selling both knees and an elbow. Three body parts. That's how you fucking sell a table spot ladies and gents.
Van Dam tries to follow up with a splash off the top, but Sabu rolls out of the way. Sabu pulls another table out and sets it up. Sabu pulls Van Dam onto the table and does a Catapult Somersault Legdrop from the ring. The crowd erupts into the loudest ECW chants of the night. They take it back to the ring and just go back and forth trying to put it away with a series of near falls. Van Dam retakes the momentum and hits a series of moves for multiple near falls in a row. He grows frustrated with Sabu and loses focus. Sabu catches him slipping and drives his face into a chair. Sabu puts Van Dam on the top rope and pulls him down with a DDT for a 2 count. Sabu punches down on Van Dam before quickly going for another desperate attempt to put the young gun away with a pinfall, but he only gets 2 again.
Sabu then sets up a chair and lands the greatest Triple Jump Moonsault of all time to put Van Dam away after 19 minutes. The fans all rise for a standing ovation. Sabu offers Van Dam a respectful handshake, but Van Dam refuses. RVD gets out of the ring and turns his back on Sabu, who offers another handshake.
This match had a lot of awesome moments, and it was a really fun match. There were a lot of times where things got really sloppy, and the flow of the match was hurt by a few things that I mentioned in the review, and that's why I'm going to keep the score under the 8 range. The action was there, and at times the psychology was there, but overall this match was just really not all that great. There were times when the selling was great, but they would just drop it. Would have loved to have seen them drag that psychology out where they eliminated each other's legs to take away their arsenal, but they just kind of teased it at times instead of fully committing to it. As I previously said though, Van Dam was still really green, and would continue to evolve through this series of matches with Sabu until he was somebody to be taken seriously. This was the first match, and it wasn't anything to really get excited about. The table spots were awesome. Van Dam's iconic somersault over the chair and the ropes, Sabu's outstanding Triple Jump Moonsault, and the overall story at the end with RVD stiffing Sabu on the respect really all makes me want to give this a higher score than I did. Joey Styles commentary in the match was also outstanding. He really did a phenomenal job of hyping this match up to be much more epic than it really is.
ECW World Championship: Raven(C) vs Shane Douglas
Opening shot of this segment is Shane Douglas with a microphone in the center of the ring. Raven is leaning up seated in the corner with The Blue Meanie and Stevie Richards in the background. Kimona is also in the ring.
Shane asks the fans if they are ready to see history repeat itself. He says that Raven has something that belongs to him, and that he has the woman that will reveal something that will rip the lid off of the pro wrestling industry. Shane says that while Beulah was cheating on Raven with Tommy Dreamer, Beulah was also cheating on Tommy Dreamer.
Douglas tries to get under Raven's skin by telling him that Beulah had him and Tommy wrapped around her finger. Dreamer comes out and demands to know what Douglas is talking about, telling him that he'll knock his ass out. Shane gets on his knees and says "You can knock me out all you want Mr. Hardcore, but if you can't take the truth, YOU AIN'T HARDCORE!" classic line.
Shane says that Beulah was not pregnant. Dreamer snaps and screams "WHO IS HE!?" Shane says "Oh, it's not a he Tommy Dreamer, hahaha!".
The crowd starts going crazy already. Kimona snatches the mic and tells Dreamer that it was her.. The way she says it, "IT WAS ME!" gets a laugh out of me no matter how many times I've seen it. Classic. The crowd goes wild. Beulah comes out looking like A+ Hotness, and we have some hot lesbian action right in the center of the ring. Kimona tackles Beulah to the mat and they start dry humping while liplocked.
E! C! DUB!
Tommy pulls both women up by their hair and tells Shane, "I'll take'em both, I'M HARDCORE!"
Dreamer kisses the girls together and does his trademark pose before making his exit with both women. That my friends, is total fucking boss!
So before we even get into this title match, lets talk about this angle. This is April 1996, and there was absolutely nothing like this going on in wrestling. This was Attitude Era before Attitude Era was cool. This started a lot of trouble for ECW, getting a lot of their syndication carriers to drop the show due to backlash from viewers. I don't think it was really ok yet to be gay in the US in 1996. This was really pushing the envelope for this time. Looking at it now it's pretty hot, but it really just makes me laugh the way they executed it looking back at it now. So now Tommy Dreamer's got two hot lesbian valets. If you think about it, that's actually pretty awesome.
But, when you look a little deeper into it, you realize that this is all part of Shane Douglas' master plan to get under Raven's skin and get his belt back. He's been playing mind games with the master of the mind games. Pretty good stuff.
So now, on to the main event....
Raven exits the ring and acts as if he's going to just walk away. He comes back to the ring. They tie up in a collar and elbow, with Douglas locking Raven into a pretty nice grappling exchange. Raven gets hiptossed to the canvas and acts dejected and depressed. They tie up again with similar results, but Raven gets Douglas in a headlock. Douglas sends Raven into the ropes and drops him with a knee to the midsection. Douglas follows up with punches to the face, sending Raven out of the ring. Raven acts like he's still distressed about Kimona/Beulah.
They lock up in another grappling exchange with Douglas kicking Raven back to the outside. Raven gets up on the apron, but Douglas knocks him down into the steel rail. Douglas follows with a pretty nice suicide plancha over the top. Shane whips Raven into the railing around the ring and beats on him with punches before rolling him into the ring.
Shane slams Raven's head into the turnbuckles and continues to work him over, eventually locking him into a sleeper. Raven drops Shane into a Jawbreaker to buy some time. Douglas pulls Raven up and drops him with a clothesline before going for the sleeper again. Raven reverses and locks Douglas into a sleeper. Douglas goes to the outside, sending both of them to the floor. Douglas sends Raven into the crowd and goes back up to the top rope in the ring. Shane does a plancha out into the crowd onto Raven.
Douglas just beats the shit out of Raven in the crowd with chairs and a cheese grater. Douglas brawls with Raven through the crowd, but it's one of the better crowd brawls of the evening. There's some urgency here, and Raven's selling the "Mentally Distressed" angle well. They brawl their way up to the soundstage. Raven starts to gain the upper hand and takes Shane to the back door to the parking lot of the ECW Arena. The camera shows fans running full speed behind them to get a shot of the action. The cameras don't follow them. It shows all of the fans crowded around the door.
Shane and Raven brawl their way around the building and into the front door of the ECW Arena. Raven is bleeding. Shane takes him back to the ring.
Shane drops Raven with a piledriver. Brian Lee comes out, but Dreamer follows and starts fighting with him. Douglas turns around and drops Raven with the belly to belly, but the ref is distracted with Dreamer and Lee.
Dreamer comes into the ring and apologizes to Douglas for costing him the win. Shane says it's ok and gives Dreamer a hug. Shane then suddenly drops Dreamer with a Belly to Belly.
Dreamer and Shane start fighting until wrestlers come out of the back to separate them. Raven creeps up behind Douglas after the pull apart and goes for a rollup, but only gets 2.
Shane tosses Raven into the ropes with suplexes, and continues to dominate Raven. Raven is set up on the top rope and set up for a superplex, but Raven shoves Shane down.
Both men go back and forth with several near falls, and some really nice exchanges. Shane puts Raven in the figure four and the crowd all starts up with the "WHOOO!"'s . The Blue Meanie comes in and goes for a moonsault, but Shane gives up the hold to move out of the way. Shane locks Raven in the half boston crab, but Stevie comes in and kicks him in the face.
Shane kicks out of a cover, and drops Raven with a DDT. Raven kicks out of another really close nearfall.
Shane then takes Raven's boot off and locks him in the Figure Four again, wrenching on his gout riddled foot. The Bruise Brothers come out from under the ring and attack Shane Douglas as Stevie distracts the ref. Shane fights them off as Raven slams the boot into the canvas loading it up. Raven drops Douglas with the loaded boot, and pins him for the successful title defense.
This gets a pretty mixed reaction from the fans. Some fans are a bit surprised Douglas didn't get the belt back, but a lot of the fans seemed glad that it didn't happen.
Douglas is shown after the match all depressed talking to Joey Styles with tears in his eyes. Shane says that tonight was supposed to be his night. He asks what is it going to take to beat Raven with all of these goons that he has protecting him. Shane then squeezes in a shot at HBK, saying that he was scared of getting in the ring with him, and that the ECW World Championship is the only thing that the Franchise eats, sleeps, breaths, and lives for.
2 Cold Scorpio comes out with his TV title, and tells Shane that he's tired of hearing about how he things nothing matters but the World Title. Scorpio says he's worked hard to elevate the TV title, and it's the most important title to him.
Scorpio challenges Douglas to a match for the TV belt, but Douglas tells him that he doesn't care about the TV title. Scorpio turns his back on Douglas and Shane drops him from behind. Shane beats on Scorpio and drops him with the Belly to Belly before piledriving him into the belt. The Sandman comes out and gets beat down and Belly to Bellied for his troubles. That brings our show to an end.
This was absolutely the best match of the night. If you've ever wondered why some people actually like Shane Douglas, this little stage of his career is why. There was actually some pretty good technical wrestling here believe it or not. Douglas kind of carried Raven through the match, but that was all part of the story with Raven being depressed about Dreamer taking both of his women. Raven still finds a way to come out on top with some help from his crew of lackeys. If I were to add on the classic lesbian angle that proceeded the match, this would be a solid 9, but I'll just rate the match itself. The thing with Douglas here is that he was coming off of a run in the WWF that really kind of helped him get better. So far his 96 matches eclipse any of his ECW work I've seen, and he just seems to have a different edge to his performances. I really think he was in "I'll show them" mode after what happened with him in the WWF with the Clique. He was in the best physical shape of his life, and you could tell he was really putting everything he had into his performances. I really like the emotions to his character with the teary eyed promo after this match. He really got that frustration across well, and made you almost feel sorry for his character there for a split second before he reminded you why everyone loved to hate him with the attack on Scorpio & Sandman. All around I've really grown to have a new appreciation for the way Heyman booked Shane Douglas upon his return from the WWF. I'm really liking what they are doing with his character at this point.
Well, this was a really cool ECW show. We had some pretty historical moments with RVD & Sabu's first match, then the lesbian lovin' angle. Overall really, it was a cool, fun show, but it wasn't anything really great. It definitely wasn't as good as the 95 Hostile City Showdown event, which remains one of my favorite ECW shows ever. The highlight for sure was the surprisingly good Raven/Douglas title match. The Eliminators vs Gangstas feud got pretty awesome with this show as well. Sabu vs RVD was an ok, fun match, but nothing really great. Styles was money on commentary through the entire show, and we also got to see a lot of very, very sexy women. The way ECW was pushing sex and hotness at this point was light years ahead of what was going on in WWF & WCW. Overall this was one of those ECW shows that gives you a good idea of where the Attitude Era came from. A few stinker matches keeps the overall score down, but really the storyline progression, interesting characters, and compelling rivalries made this another really fun, interesting ECW show.