Written By: David
ECW Hardcore Heaven 1997
August 17, 1997
War Memorial Auditorium
Fort Lauderdale, FL
The current ECW champions were as follows:
World Champion: Sabu (8/9/97)
Television Champion: Taz (6/7/97)
Tag Team Champions: The Gangstas (7/19/97)
Your host is Joey Styles.
Rick Rude interrupts Styles’ intro speech, and Styles gives him some grief over his soon-to-occur jump to WWF. Rude taunts the crowd a bit, then introduces Chris Candido. Candido is followed by Tod Gordon, who tells Rude to beat it since he’s not a licensed manager.
Television Champion Taz vs Chris Candido
Taz stands still in the corner as Candido urges the match to get going. Taz doesn’t budge after a slap, but the saliva to the face brings him out of his trance. Candido knocks him down with a clothesline, but Taz is right back up, and Candido pummels him after another clothesline. Irish whip by Candido, he tries a leap frog, but Taz stops and boots him right in the groin! Then a PUMP HANDLE TAZPLEX sends Candido rolling to the floor. Back in, Taz delivers a pair of judo throws and a drop toe hold into a front face lock, but Candido counters to a hammerlock. Taz comes back with a snap mare and an arm submission. On their feet, Candido counters to another hammerlock, but Taz hits another snap mare and goes to the Fujiwara arm bar. Taz delivers a few boots and some trash talk, but gets caught off the ropes with a powerbomb. Candido has the advantage for while, kicking Taz as he sells his neck. Taz eventually hits a single-leg takedown and right hands, but Candido rakes his eyes. Taz reverses a corner whip, Candido kips up, misses a clothesline, Taz goes for a German suplex, Candido counters that, but Taz rolls back around and delivers a Northern Lights and a nice bridge for two. Back up, Candido connects with an enziguri to Taz’s neck. A leg drop only gets a one count for Candido. While on the mat, Taz comes back with fists and an arm bar, but Candido slugs him in the abs to slow him down. Candido delivers a stalling suplex and a pair of leg drops, then jaws with some fans. He adds some chops, then whips Taz to the corner, charges, and gets tossed to the floor. Taz pummels him, Candido reverses a whip, and Taz goes hard into the guardrail. He drills Taz into the rail again, then kicks him down, then sends him back to the ring. He perches Taz up top, adds some slaps, then delivers a top rope hurracanrana! Diving headbutt gets two. The crowd starts getting behind Taz, and he wins a rope running sequence with a big clothesline. He stomps Candido and gets fired up. Taz catches Candido’s foot, then ducks an enziguri, then goes to what Styles calls a freestyle bow-and-arrow. Candido punches his way out and hits another powerbomb for two. Taz is slow to get up while Candido talks trash. Taz takes a chest-first corner bump, then Candido tries setting him up in the corner for the BLONDE BOMBSHELL, but Taz hits a release Northern Lights out of the corner! The ref counts to eight before they get up. Candido ducks a clothesline, Taz ducks a clothesline, waistlock by Taz, waistlock by Candido, Taz hits the ropes, Candido leap frogs him, and Taz hits a release German Tazplex that flips Candido over! They’re slow to get up again. Candido reverses a whip, but Taz grabs him and hits a T-BONE TAZPLEX. Now both guys have hurt necks. Candido reverses a corner whip and hits a powerslam. Candido perches Taz up top, adds some chops, then struts around like an idiot holding up the Triple Threat sign, backs into Taz, and predictably gets stuck in the TAZMISSION. Candido carries Taz on his back, then collapses, then taps. It’s over. (10:52) If you can forgive kind of a screwy ending, this is an extremely solid opener. The wrestling is super smooth yet ferocious, and they tell a good story in a short time. ***1/2
We see footage from earlier in the day. Insane Clown Posse is dancing around the ring, and Rob Van Dam and Sabu come out to beat them down. Random.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs Spike Dudley
Spike goes right after Bam Bam with forearms, but Bam Bam head butts him and launches him across the ring. Corner whip and corner splash by Bam Bam. Spike gets whipped to the ropes and climbs on Bam Bam for a crucifix, and both men go down in what looked like a botched spot. Spike hits the ACID DROP. He adds a dropkick and goes to the top, comes off for a leaping hurracanrana, but Bam Bam catches him and drops him with a HUGE powerbomb. The crowd is way behind Bam Bam. He picks Spike up with a press and drops him on the turnbuckle, spilling him on the floor. Bam Bam tosses his back in, then it’s time for the big press slam from the ring into the crowd! Bigelow pulls Spike out of the crowd, dumps him back in, and hits a wicked modified piledriver. That sets up the BIGELOWSAULT, 1-2-3. (5:05) For good measure, we see after the match that Spike is bleeding, and he gets helped away by medical personnel. 3/4*
We come back where we left off from the earlier footage. After ICP gets mugged, Sandman comes out to cane Van Dam and Sabu, but he ends up taking a chair to the face, then the Pot Connection goes to town on him. Van Dam holds him in a surfboard while Sabu comes off the top rope with a chair, then they give him a leg drop/splash combo. Sandman gets taken away in an ambulance.
“Monday Night Rules” Match: Rob Van Dam (w/ Bill Alfonso) vs Al Snow
We’re at the end of the Mr. Monday Night angle, so Van Dam has a WWF logo on his singlet. Monday night rules doesn’t mean anything. Snow chases Fonzie down the entrance way to start, then Van Dam catches him coming back in with some stomps. Snow grabs a leg, and Van Dam kicks him off. Snow scores a takedown, Van Dam counters into an arm bar, then some martial arts kicks. Snow comes off the ropes, scores a shoulderblock, hits the ropes again, split-legged drop down by RVD, and Snow hits the breaks and stomps RVD in the face. He follows up with a wheelbarrow suplex. Roundhouse kicks in the corner by Snow, corner whip, he charges, RVD puts the boot up, springboards into a backflip over Snow, then delivers a monkey flip. He gloats on the second rope and Snow dropkicks him to the floor. Pescado by Snow. He body slams RVD on the cement, then tries pulling a guardrail loose. That doesn’t work, so he goes walking down the entrance way, turns around for a 20-yard dash, and hits RVD with a huge clothesline. RVD gets sent to the rail, but eventually comes back by sending Snow into the ring post. Back in, Snow still has the advantage. Van Dam gets whipped, ducks a clothesline, and they botch the next move. Snow kind of looks like he got the worst of it, so he rolls outside. Van Dam wants to dive out, but Snow runs away. Van Dam tries a baseball slide, and Snow moves and hits him with a clothesline. Snow whips him to the rail, charges, and RVD puts the boot up again, then hits a moonsault press off the rail. Van Dam gets back in, hits the ropes, and launches himself at Snow with a somersault tope! Back in, Van Dam goes up top, but gets crotched. They battle up top, and Snow scores a big superplex for two. Snow goes for another superplex, but Van Dam fights him off, then hits a flying side kick. A backflip splash gets two. FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH gets 1-2-NO! Van Dam connects with some forearms and a kick, his whip is reversed, he flips away from Snow, goes for a hurracanrana, but Snow catches him and drops him back (?). It was kind of like snake eyes without the ropes. Snow sends RVD for the ride and hits a hard clothesline. He drops a leg and a backflip splash of his own, then talks some trash. Snow delivers a move Styles calls a Northern Lights bomb and gets 1-2-NO! They’re both slow to get up, then RVD wins a slugfest and whips Snow to the corner. He tumbles at Snow, Snow moves, RVD tries another flying kick, Snow moves again, RVD ducks a clothesline, sits on the turnbuckle, Snow dropkicks him off, and RVD goes crashing over a table, onto a chair, and to the floor! Van Dam’s dead, and Snow delivers a horrible somersault tope that barely touches him. A chair to the head, one to the back, and another to the head brings Van Dam back down. Van Dam suffers two more shots, then Snow heads down the aisle again. He charges in, but Van Dam holds up the chair and Snow gets nailed. Van Dam crotches him on the guardrail, Fonzie holds up a chair, and Van Dam comes off the rail with a FLYING VAN DAMINATOR. Back in, a corkscrew leg drop and a funny roll-up gets two. They trade forearm blows, RVD hits the ropes, and they botch something again (!), then Snow hits a DDT. Snow is slow to cover and he gets two. Back up, Fonzie tosses the chair in, RVD tosses it to Snow, VAN DAMINATOR. That’s it. 1-2-3. (13:43) Van Dam was a ways from reaching his potential at this point. There’s some decent action, but also some sloppiness. It’s one of those matches that isn’t worth anything more than the sum of its parts. **
ECW has a reporter in a helicopter. Sandman has now commandeered the ambulance and he’s trying to get back to the auditorium, but the reporter says he’ll likely get lost.
We watch a Jerry Lawler promo. He does his usual anti-ECW talk and says he’s got the support of all his friends at the WWF, name-dropping McMahon, Undertaker, Bret Hart, and Steve Austin.
Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (w/ Joel Gertner, Big Dick Dudley, Sign Guy, and Jenna Jameson) vs USWA Tag Team Champions PG-13 (JC Ice and Wolfie D)
The tag titles were awarded to the Dudleys this same day after Mustafa left ECW, although I didn’t catch Styles mentioning this on the broadcast. It seems more like the Dudleys show up with the belts, so now they’re the champs. Gertner does some talking, then JC Ice hits on Jenna Jameson a bit and speaks a little more nonsense on various other topics. Wolfie D and D-Von start with some hammerlocks. Wolfie goes from a drop toe hold to an arm bar, then tags in JC Ice. Wolfie hits an inverted atomic drop and Ice hits a clothesline for two. Headlock by Ice, hits the ropes, then a shoulderblock. They do a criss-cross rope running sequence, and Ice slides out and lays a pair of lips on Jenna. Wolfie D and Buh Buh Ray tag in. Wolfie goes to a waistlock, Buh Buh hits him with a back elbow and then a shoulderblock. Buh Buh runs the ropes some more, Wolfie leap frogs, Buh Buh catches Wolfie trying a kick, he goes for a back suplex, but Wolfie lands on his feet and delivers a hurracanrana. Back up, Wolfie adds some jabs and a haymaker. Buh Buh reverses a whip, and Wolfie misses a cross body out of the corner. Arm ringer and right hands by Buh Buh. He spits at JC Ice, the ref stops him, and D-Von works on Wolfie’s arm in the corner. Buh Buh kicks Ice and sends Wolfie D back to D-Von for more punishment. Buh Buh has him in an arm ringer, but Wolfie reverses it and puts Buh Buh’s arm in D-Von’s hands. D-Von’s not looking and he thinks he’s got Wolfie, so he ends up giving Buh Buh some arm breakers. The Dudleys have a meeting about it while Sign Guy distracts the ref, which allows Big Dick to sneak in and give PG-13 a double chokeslam. D-Von gets the advantage on JC Ice with stomps and a jumping back elbow. Buh Buh tags in and the Dudleys team up for some shoulderblocks. Falling head butt by Buh Buh. He tries a whip and a back body drop, but Ice lands on his feet, goes for some punches, hits the ropes again, but Jenna trips him. Buh Buh fires away at JC Ice while Jenna soaks in some attention. D-Von tags in and hits a leg drop from the second rope and a side slam. Buh Buh tags back in, delivers a tilt-a-whirl slam, and D-Von adds a leg drop. Buh Buh whips Ice, Ice slides through the legs, he tries some rights on Buh Buh, but Buh Buh’s no-selling, so Ice kicks him in the groin. D-Von jumps in, Ice ducks a clothesline, D-Von reverses a whip, and Ice hits him with a DDT. The crowd’s into it as Wolfie gets the hot tag. He unloads on the Dudleys, but they no-sell a double noggin knocker. They whip Wolfie, and he sneaks behind them for a dropkick. He gives D-Von a sit-out powerbomb for two before Buh Buh makes the save. Buh Buh body slams him and goes to the turnbuckle, but JC Ice holds him back, allowing Wolfie D to get up and hit a facebuster out of the corner. D-Von comes in and gets hit with a flying forearm by Ice. The Dudleys roll to the floor, and Ice goes for a tope, but the Dudleys catch him. He’s in trouble, but Wolfie hits a tope and everyone falls to the floor. D-Von and Wolfie get back in the ring, D-Von reverses a whip, Buh Buh sneaks in, and out of nowhere it’s the DUDLEY DEATH DROP. Buh Buh covers, 1-2-3. (10:58) There are a couple creative spots, but otherwise this is pretty standard tag team stuff. **1/2
Sandman update: He stopped at a gas station for beer and cigarettes. The reporter tells us we’re supposed to be worried that Sandman might not get back before the show ends.
Tommy Dreamer (w/ Beulah) vs Jerry “The King” Lawler
The lights suddenly go out, and when they come back on, Jerry Lawler’s in the ring. A few objects make it near him as Lawler rips ECW fans and promotes the upcoming WWF pay-per-view. He finishes up by name dropping WWF stars again. Classic King. Tommy comes out and immediately goes after him with a small tin pan. Lawler runs around the ring and catches Tommy coming in with some stomps and a couple right hands. Tommy blocks another punch with the pan, and Lawler sells the hand! Dreamer clobbers him a few times and slams the pan into his head, which sends him to the floor. Outside, Lawler receives another pan shot and some fists, and he’s busted open. Dreamer drills him with a lethal cup o’ beer. Lawler gets crotched on the guardrail and Tommy hits him with a slew of weapons. Tommy takes him into the crowd and uses a few more crazy weapons. He whips Lawler into the rail, which pops loose into the entrance way. Tommy strangles him with a leather belt and rolls him in the ring. He takes a chair to the top turnbuckle, but the King musters enough strength to fall into the ropes and crotch him. Lawler unfolds the chair on the mat, and he heaves Dreamer onto it. He smashes the chair into Tommy’s back, sets it against the ropes, and drives Tommy’s head into it. A series of right hands by the King sends Tommy to the floor. The King sends him to the rail, hits another chair shot, and now it’s Dreamer who gets crotched on the rail. Lawler finds the belt and wraps it around his fist for a straight right hand. He strangles Tommy and yanks him into the rail, and the whole time he’s mocking the fans! He beats Tommy with the belt and chokes him down on the apron. Back in, Tommy gets stomped, then receives the PILEDRIVER. King’s slow to the cover, so he only gets two. Lawler continues talking while he chokes Tommy in the corner, then he beats him down with more right hands. Joey Styles is going nuts, praying that Dreamer can turn this thing around. Lawler rips off the front of Tommy’s ECW shirt and wipes his ass with it. He goes for more punches, but Tommy starts no-selling. Tommy blocks, fires back, and knocks him down. The King gets up, but he’s out of it and he falls to the mat. Tommy stands over him and stuffs the shirt in his throat, but Lawler scores with a low blow. Lawler drops a series of knees to the groin, then goes for a DDT, but Tommy shoves him off and the referee Jim Molineaux gets bumped, and then Lawler gives Molineaux a DDT! He drags Tommy to the post and tries crotching him, but Tommy pulls his legs in and Lawler’s face hits the steel. Tommy sets the King up for the same move, and the lights go out. When they come back on, RICK RUDE appears and nails Dreamer with a trash can. He nails him again and rolls him into the ring. Lawler covers, the ref is staggered, 1-2-NO! Lawler stomps the ref and goes to work on Tommy. He whips him and goes for a back body drop, but Tommy counters and gets ready to go for a piledriver as the lights go out again. When they come on, it’s JAKE THE SNAKE ROBERTS, who drops Tommy with a clothesline. The crowd pops huge anyways. They actually chant “DDT,” he gives it to them, and Tommy’s out … but so is the ref. Roberts says some unintelligible crap to the camera, then Lawler wants a handshake, and Roberts gives him a short arm clothesline. Lawler falls on top of Tommy, the ref pops up, 1-2-NO! Roberts and Rude are now both gone. Lawler jabs the hell out of Tommy, goes for a body slam, Tommy floats over for a DDT, but the lights go out a third time. This time it’s SUNNY, and she hair sprays Tommy’s eyes. Beulah gets in the ring and pulls Sunny down. The King grabs a hold of Beulah and sets her up for a PILEDRIVER, Tommy has a chair, winds up, but the King turns around and uses Beulah as a shield. Tommy backs off, then Beulah gives the King a low blow! Dreamer capitalizes with the TESTICULAR CLAW and a DDT for the 1-2-3! (18:57) What this match lacks in wrestling moves, it more than makes up for with intensity and drama, and it was the perfect payoff to the ECW vs Jerry Lawler angle. Tommy Dreamer used to lose so often that you’re thinking Lawler might actually pull it out. ***1/2
We watch main event lead-up stuff with footage from the first Douglas/Funk/Sabu match in ‘94.
The helicopter reporter lets us know that Sandman made it back to the auditorium. Sandman stumbles out of the ambulance and canes a bunch of cops and heads into the building.
3-Way Dance: World Champion Sabu (w/ Bill Alfonzo) vs Terry Funk vs Shane Douglas (w/ Francine)
Francine tries to pay off Terry Funk off before the match, but Funk ain’t having that. This match is just eight days after Sabu beat Funk for the title in a gruesome barbed wire match, so Sabu’s arm is all taped up and Funk has a bandage on his head. They all run around the ring a bit, trying to figure out a strategy. Sabu puts Douglas in a headlock, hits the ropes a couple times and hits a shoulderblock. Funk drops down to the floor and lets the others have at it. Douglas puts on a headlock, then a hammerlock, bounces off the ropes, then evades a Sabu punch. Sabu and Douglas have enough of this and go to the floor to brawl with Funk. They both send him to the rail three times and they drill him with a trash can. Douglas rolls him in and Sabu covers, referee John Finnegan is out of position, 1-2-NO! Douglas gives Funk a body slam, then drops Sabu on him with a vertical suplex for two. A leg drop by Douglas gets another two. Sabu hits a slingshot leg drop for another two. Funk fights off Sabu, but Douglas sends him outside and comes off the apron with a double-sledge. Sabu follows up with one of his own. They roll Funk back in and Sabu covers for two. Sabu delivers some right hands, but Funk fights back. He scoops up Sabu, but Douglas stops it and hits Funk with an inverted atomic drop, and Sabu follows with a springboard cross body. Douglas gets a two count. Douglas pounds away on Funk in a corner, allowing Sabu to come off a chair for AIR SABU. Another two count for Douglas. Sabu hits another AIR SABU, then covers, but Douglas stops it with a chair to Sabu’s back. Now it’s on. Douglas tries a suplex on Sabu, but Sabu lands on his feet and throws a rare German suplex! Funk runs his head into Sabu’s, then Sabu baseball slides Douglas to the floor. Sabu tosses Douglas over the guardrail, nails Funk with a chair, then goes for a triple-jump plancha on Douglas, who just barely gets out of the way. Sabu makes it back to the ring while Douglas takes a rest. Funk and Sabu have a slugfest, and Sabu hits a springboard flying shoulderblock for two. Sabu baseball slides Funk to the floor, then hits a wild asai moonsault. Funk chops Sabu, Sabu gets back in the ring, and Douglas hits him with a stalling corkscrew suplex for two. Funk sets up a couple chairs while Sabu gets beat down by Douglas. Funk punches Sabu and gets him in a neckbreaker position, Douglas holds Sabu by the legs, and they drop him hard onto the chairs! Funk covers for two. Funk goes after Douglas, and Sabu sneaks up and hits both of them with some chair shots. Funk dares him to do it some more, then levels Sabu with a left hand. Funk grabs a chair and goes after Douglas, but Douglas dropkicks him on the knee and tears his leg apart. Sabu eventually capitalizes with a dropkick on Douglas. Funk gives Douglas a hangman’s neckbreaker, Sabu adds an elbow drop, and they both cover for 1-2-NO! Douglas rolls out and Funk gives Sabu a piledriver for two. Douglas pulls off a section of the guardrail and tosses it in the ring. Funk headbutts him while Sabu puts the rail in a corner. Funk whips Douglas to the rail, then does it again and Sabu back drops him onto it! Funk covers for 1-2-NO! Sabu drops the rail on both men and adds a double leg drop. Sabu covers them both and gets a two count. Sabu stomps Funk, Funk fights back, then Douglas hits them both with a series of clotheslines. He follows up with belly-to-suplexes, then puts Sabu in a sleeper. Funk comes to and puts Douglas in the sleeper for a DOUBLE SLEEPER. They eventually fall to the mat, and Sabu covers Douglas for two. TRIPLE JUMP MOONSAULT by Sabu on Douglas gets two. Sabu goes for another one on Funk, the chair slips out from under him, he manages to pull off the moonsault, but Funk gets out of the way. Everyone’s down. Funk gives Douglas some left hands and headbutts, then collapses. That allows Sabu to hit both guys with another TRIPLE JUMP MOONSAULT. Double cover gets 1-2-NO! Everyone’s down again. Sabu dominates with chair shots while Fonzie pushes a table into the ring. He sets Douglas up on the table and goes up top, but Funk pulls Douglas off for more left hands. Sabu hits a weak chair shot on Funk and puts Funk on the table. Sabu goes up top with a chair while Fonzie unleashes on Funk, but here comes Tod Gordon to nail Fonzie and save Funk. Douglas headbutts Gordon and lays him on the table, then Funk sticks Fonzie on the table, and Sabu comes off the turnbuckle with a leg drop onto both of them through the table! Sabu dominates some more while a group of referees pull Gordon and Fonzie to ringside. Sabu gets the worst of a chopfest and rolls to the floor. He brings a ladder into the ring and uses it on Funk and Douglas every way he can. He takes the ladder to the corner and begins to go upstairs, the ref tries to stop him, Sabu nails him, then SANDMAN shows up and shoves Sabu off the turnbuckle. Sandman drops an elbow, nails Sabu with the ladder, then hits a slingshot senton onto the ladder. A big group of wrestlers come out and pull Sandman back, but the damage has been done. Funk and Douglas pin Sabu, 1-2-3. (19:34)
It’s down to Douglas and Funk, but not before Sabu delivers a triple jump plancha onto the brawl happening in the entrance way. Funk is all over Douglas outside the ring, but Francine gets involved. Funk follows her around, but eventually decides to forget about it and heads back toward Douglas, who nails him with a piece of table. Funk comes back with trash can shots, then starts hitting himself with it! They both stagger into the ring. Sabu and Sandman are taken to the back, and some other wrestlers come out to watch the rest of the match. Kinda random. Funk no-sells some slaps, but some punches stagger him, then it becomes a slugfest until Douglas hits a belly-to-belly suplex for the 1-2-NO! He adds a piledriver and slides outside to set up a table on the floor. Douglas holds Funk back as Francine hops in and slaps him, and here comes DORY FUNK JR! Well, we are in Florida. Dory backs Francine off, Douglas sneaks behind him, and Dory hits him with a few European uppercuts and chases Francine to the back. Funk pulls Douglas down with a school boy for the 1-2-NO! He takes Douglas down and goes for the spinning toe hold, but Douglas kicks him off and hits an ugly back suplex. Now they’re on the apron above the table, Funk connects with left hands, Douglas misses a clothesline, Funk grabs a waistlock, and they both go into the table. That was a bit anti-climactic. They roll in slowly and Douglas covers for two. Douglas hits another belly-to-belly suplex for 1-2-NO! Yet another one gets another 1-2-NO! He goes for it again, but Funk counters to a small package for 1-2-NO! That looked like it was going to be it. But no, Douglas hits another belly-to-belly and finally gets the 1-2-3! (26:37) The ring gets littered with trash as Douglas and Francine take shots at Terry. Joel Gertner shows up with D-Von, Buh Buh Ray, and Big Dick. The Dudleys stomp Funk while Gertner tries talking Douglas into ditching the Triple Threat and joining the Dudleys. Candido and Bam Bam Bigelow come out to put a stop to that, and a mass brawl with the entire locker room erupts to end the show. This was a tad sloppy, especially toward the end, but you can’t really argue with over 20 minutes of non-stop action. A few hardcore spots to give it that ECW main event feel really helped too. ***1/2
Final Thoughts: This was ECW’s second pay-per-view, and it is unfortunately noted for having cheap production quality. There’s bad lighting and the crowd sound doesn’t get enough volume in the mix (a shame because it’s generally a hot crowd). If you get past that, you’ll enjoy it for the solid show that it is. Dreamer/Lawler is way better than it sounds, the main event is entertaining, Taz/Candido is as good as a 10-minute match gets, and the rest of it isn’t the worst. I’m not saying it’s great — and if they were striving for the ECW atmosphere that they achieved on their first pay-per-view, they failed badly and should have held the show at the ECW Arena — but good. Thumbs up.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.