Written by: Arnold Furious
Paul Heyman was a booking genius. He knew that Sabu could put on some great matches against his close friend and ECW signing Rob Van Dam so he had to come up with a way of making their feud last beyond one match. It was simple. No matter what Sabu did to RVD he couldn’t get his respect. RVD always refused to shake Sabu’s hand. This became such an important factor than ran an entire show around it. This one. Add in the Shane Douglas feud with Scorpio (Shane said that he wasn’t interested in Scorpio’s TV title because he was all about the ECW title and then waffled him when he wasn’t looking) and Chris Jericho v Mikey Whipwreck and we could well have a respectable show on our hands. Meanwhile Raven defended his ECW title against the Sandman and Pitbull #2 as ECW went for a new record in having people out at ringside for a match. I’ll run down who ends up out there later. Plus the Dudley Boys continue as a tag team with Bubba heading towards heel but still being goofy enough to get the babyface reactions for his team. Things were falling nicely into place. Without further ado, let’s see if Sabu can beat some respect into RVD.
11th May 1996. We’re at the ECW Arena in beautiful downtown Philly. Host is Joey Styles.
El Puerto Ricano v Damien 666
Both guys go on a Sabu tribute-fest until Sabu takes offence and comes out here to beat the shit out of both guys and table them. I guess that’s a no contest then. Couldn’t we just have that match? It might have been quite good.
Dudley Boys v Damien Kane/Devon Storm
Kane steps away from management for this match. Bubba is still a touch goofy so he’s pretty much the only babyface in the match. Bubba winds up Kane by pointing out the size of his valet’s tits. She suckers him in allowing Kane to jump from behind. This goes hardcore in a hurry as Bubba chairs Kane and D-Von follows suit while Bubba tables Kane. Storm comes back with a slick missile dropkick on D-Von. Bubba and Kane try to re-define workrate by hitting each other with chairs. Sigh. D-Von just kills Storm with a flying forearm. Storm goes all wacky on the selling and recovery but Bubba gets hardcore by BACKDROPPING HIM ONTO DW DUDLEY. This is made doubly funnier by the fact that DW is in a wheelchair. Bubba hasn’t done enough damage so he drops off the top rope to the floor onto Storm. He adds in a chair shot and Storm goes all wacky with his selling again and hits D-Von with a chair. D-Von starts dishing out some serious chair shots, especially to Kane. I can’t help but get the feeling that everyone hated him. D-Von lays out Bubba as well because he’s in a bad mood and the referee takes a chair shot too. What an asshole. That’s a DQ. Yeah, that’s what it takes to get a DQ in ECW – nailing a referee with a chair. 1/2*. Not much to demonstrate what a solid team the Dudleys would become.
POST MATCH D-Von is still pissed off at Bubba for not taking this shit seriously.
FBI (JT Smith/Little Guido) v Axl Rotten/Hack Myers
Amazing how much mileage they got out of the JT-Axl feud. Hack Myers only two worthwhile attributes – 1. everyone enjoys shouting “Shah” each time he punches someone. 2. Awesome facial hair. The crowd gets on JT’s case by claiming he fellates the occasional gentleman. The FBI go to leave and watch the Rocky series (better skip V – Tommy has AIDS) but change their minds. That gets heat because the crowd wanted them to leave. JT has a woody. I suspect he was thinking about Talia Shire. I don’t think anyone can stay slack with that minx in their thoughts. JT on the deck selling a Shah right hand only for Axl to hip toss Guido onto him accidentally. This is SO bad they clip it and go to Myers hitting a bunch of punches, which is pretty much all he does anyway. Myers tries for a sunset flip but Guido blocks and JT grabs his hands allowing the pinfall. DUD. Nothing doing here but they did clip most of the match out.
ECW title – Raven (c) v Sandman v Pitbull #2
Out here for the champ – Stevie Richards, Blue Meanie and Miss Patricia. I really don’t remember her. Meanie busts out the Shawn Michaels entrance and the goofier elements of Raven’s entourage strip. Stevie accidentally throws his cut off’s into the crowd and demands them back. Raven manages to keep a straight face, just. Joey’s insinuation that he’s sedated probably isn’t far from the truth. Sandman has tag partner Too Cold Scorpio and Missy Hyatt. Pitbull #2 has Pitbull #1 and Francine. The lack of women in Raven’s corner provokes a “Raven’s got no pussy” chant. Those Philly fans, subtle as ever.
3-way lock up and Durante shoves his 2 opponents over. Another one has the same results. He tries to clothesline both guys out but they both duck out of the way and he runs into the ropes like a tool. Raven lays Sandman out with a DDT for a quick 2 count. Durante is up and Raven and Sandman take it in turns to nail him with plunder (chair and a cane). Durante no sells everything and manages that double clothesline out of the ring. Durante is selling less than Hawk! And that takes some doing! Durante busts out a guillotine legdrop onto the rail leaving Raven down in the crowd. Sandman canes him though. He ducks a couple more big swats but a third one lays him out for 2. Raven got the pin and Sandman breaks it with his cane. Durante misses his corner spin kick and Sandman dives over the ropes to cane him. Raven dives out after them and everyone is wiped out. Back inside Raven hits a butterfly suplex for 2. Durante with a release Tiger Driver for 2. Powerslam gets 2. Everyone collides and that’s a real mess so they stay down trying to figure out what to do next. Sandman with a super rana on Durante. Well that’s one way to do it. Raven tries to DDT both guys but gets a double gourdbuster for his troubles. Ref gets bumped. Durante is the only guy standing but he can’t get a pin because the ref is down. Scorpio runs in and knee drops Durante but that brings Gary Wolf in to hit him. With everyone in the match down, they fight instead. Scorpio wins because Wolf has a bad arm. Stevie runs in and Raven is left with a pinning predicament. That doesn’t last as the ref is still down. Durante meanwhile has a table set up in the corner. Rather foolishly Sandman gets put on it and as he’s drunk he falls off taking the table with him. Oh boy. Durante with a BACKDROP DRIVER OFF THE BUCKLES. Shit! That was pretty uncalled for. Just because he knocked your table over. The God of Drunkards keeps Sandman’s neck in one piece. He grabs his cane and tries to legdrop Raven but misses it badly and nearly breaks his own leg. How did he not kill himself in there? Sandman goes low on both guys but still has trouble walking. He tries to superplex Durante but that gets him SUPERBOMBED and Raven, ever the opportunist knocks Durante out with a loaded boot and pins him.
Francine is PISSED and wails on Raven. That brings in Miss Patricia for a catfight. Missy runs in with the cane and clears the ring. She’s hardcore. Sandman rolls Raven up for 2. Another roll up gets 2. Crowd is going nuts. DDT on Raven…for 2. They were so sure he was losing the belt there. Wrong! Stevie runs in and accidentally STEVIEKICKS Raven…FOR 2. Crowd is losing it here. Raven was so close to losing 4 times in quick succession. Sandman throws in a length of guardrail. Raven is given some recovery time but still gets whipped into the rail. Sandman suplexes it onto Raven and it hits him in the face. Raven avoids a suplex and DDT’s Sandman onto the rail for the win at 18.20. **3/4. Exciting stuff but Sandman screwed up so much. If he wasn’t so over it’d be a waste of time booking him.
POST MATCH Meanie gets his ass kicked by Sandman and the Pitbulls. Sandman helps Meanie up for the Superbomb and the babyfaces celebrate despite losing. Sandman and the Pitbulls are now allies. Sandman seals the alliance by giving Missy to the Pitbulls for the night but Francine takes exception and we get a catfight. Sandman looks all pissed off and I’d have to question the wisdom of letting him near a mic, ever.
Chris Jericho v Mikey Whipwreck
Jericho controls early and slaps Mikey to show that. Jericho works at a leg and hooks the Oriental Crossbow. Mikey comes back with a dropkick to the neck. Now Mikey gets a chance to show his stuff and slaps on a Mutalock. Jericho should have shown him more respect. Stalling vertical suplex from Jericho though. Slingshot splash gets 2. Spinning heel kick, albeit quite a low one, gets 2. Powerbomb gets 2. He goes for a Tombstone but Mikey reverses into one of his own, JUST. I bet that was scary. Mikey takes his time climbing and gets picked off with a dropkick to the floor. Mikey tries to get back in but gets picked off again with a springboard forearm. Into the fans and Jericho gets all Extreme by burying Mikey under a stack of chairs. Jericho suplexes him back into the ring and heads up top for a flying splash. That gets 2. Hat Guy is screaming at Jericho for some reason best known to himself. Jericho tries for another splash but Mikey gets boots up and hits a Rocker Dropper for 2. Jericho misses a Stinger Splash to make matters worse for himself and takes a spill to the floor. Mikey throws Jericho into the crowd and follows with a senton off the ropes. I can still hear Hat Guy ranting about how Mikey is hardcore and held all the titles. Back inside Mikey hits a flying lariat for 2. To the ropes and Mikey hits a super rana for 2. That earns the referee another F-bomb from Hat Guy. Jericho lays Mikey out with a fisherman buster and the Lionsault gets 2. Mikey comes back with a snap rana (it’s just not Scott Steiner, sorry). That gets 2. They counter looking for suplexes but end up in a near falls instead. Jericho wins the suplex duel with a TIGER SUPLEX…for 2. Jericho with a chair but Mikey dropkicks it into his face and gets a roll up for 2. Mikey goes up top but gets caught and the BUTTERFLY SUPERPLEX finishes this off at 14.21. ***1/4. A real unexpected hidden gem. They just both went balls to the wall looking for a win here. It was distinctively rough around the edges but I can forgive that. Jericho tended to be quite sloppy back before the WWE straightened him out a bit around 2001 so it’s to be expected.
TV title – Too Cold Scorpio (c) v Shane Douglas
This is because Douglas has no respect for the TV title so Scorpio is planning on beating some into him. Shane wipes his ass with a WWF shirt and tears it in half before we start out. Scorpio goes after the leg and cranks at it a little. Douglas gets frustrated with that so Scorpio goes after his arm as well just to rub salt into the wounds. Douglas uses some rolling through to escape and hooks a top wristlock. The idea there being that Shane is at the least Scorpio’s equal when it comes to hold and counter hold wrestling. Douglas with a hip toss and a dropkick in order to show us that Douglas can also live with Scorpio in the air, should he choose to. Scorpio bails, gets focused and goes back to the arm. To the bridging stuff and they battle over a backslide. No one can get it and Scorpio has to fight to block a belly to belly. Douglas settles for a butterfly suplex and Scorpio bails to save himself. Douglas both mentally and psychically has pretty much dominated here. Scorpio shows his frustration by throwing a chair into the ring. Douglas says he wants to wrestle and promptly nails Scorpio with the chair for 2. Douglas upping the ante there by trying to be smarter than Scorpio as well although that’s not hard. Douglas backdrops him outside and follows with a pescado. 1996 was just the year where everyone did pescado’s and plancha’s. Douglas decides to get mean and dumps Scorpio on the rail, HARD. Douglas wants a count out win although he wouldn’t win the title because he doesn’t care about the belt. Scorpio beats the count so Douglas throws him into the crowd. The fight heads out into the fans for a brawl. Shame, the match was going quite well up to that point. Douglas takes the ruthless streak up a notch by powerbombing Scorpio on the floor. Well, he’s dead. It’s over. The crowd is calling for Damage Control while Douglas calls for the bell saying it’s over. Scorpio rolls back in to beat the count and he’s shown a real determination here to prove to Douglas he’s his equal. So far all he’s proved is he’s hard to beat. Scorpio kicks Douglas in the nuts, twice, to prove he also has a nasty streak. Scorpio with a chair shot as well but Douglas blocks most of it. Handspring flipping kick from Scorpio sends Douglas outside. That looked mint. He follows Douglas with a moonsault off the apron. Scorpio sets up a table thinking he can probably out-extreme Douglas. He puts the Franchise on the table but as he goes to dive Douglas is gone. How do you shoot the devil in the back, what if you miss?
Douglas is under the ring and he jumps Scorpio from behind. Scorpio breaks out the ROLLING PRAWN HOLD! YEAH! But that only gets 2. How? It’s the Rolling Prawn Hold, damn it! Damn you, Shane, show that hold the proper respect. Scorpio climbs but Douglas dropkicks his legs away. Chair set up and Douglas goes all Sabu with a running chair assisted dropkick to the floor. Scorpio tries to get back in but Douglas knees him through the table. Twisting vertical suplex from Douglas gets 2. Douglas decides to take a page out of Scorpio’s book by heading up top but he misses whatever he was going for. Scorpio superkicks him. Now Scorpio decides to show him how the rope stuff is done – MOONSAULT and a damn pretty one gets 2 as Scorpio decides he doesn’t want to win that quickly. He wants to show Shane he’s ECW title good. 450 SPLASH! No cover this time. Damn you Scorpio! Damn you and your psychology that I can’t explain. Twisting legdrop and Scorpio calls for something else. How about just, yanno, pinning him? Man, I hate this stupid showboating psychology. Douglas hits him with a back suplex for 2. Pittsburgh Plunge gets 2. That was before he used it as a finish, natch. Scorpio goes dead to prevent the belly to belly and hits the ROCK BOTTOM before it was even known as that for 2. To the ropes and Scorpio gets caught going for the super rana into a SUPERBOMB…for 2. Scorpio tries going up again but gets caught again and Douglas murders him with the BELLY TO BELLY SUPERPLEX at 26.31. Douglas gets the belt he didn’t even want simply to spite Scorpio and his lack of main event talent. ***1/2. Hell of a match aside from Scorpio doing his usual, which clipped the rating down a bit.
POST MATCH Douglas cuts a rambling promo about how much he loves the business, the fans, Heyman etc. It’s all very respectful including calling Scorpio better than him. He especially singles out wanting to get away from the cartoon bullshit that Vince McMahon was running in the early 90’s. Oh and everyone in Atlanta is washed up. Natch. Douglas gets Scorpio to strap the belt around his waist. Scorpio thinks he’s still an asshole so blasts him in the back of the head with it and piledrives him. Babyface ECW style! Of course putting the belt on Shane proved to be an inspired move and created a load of great matches while Douglas was still capable of being a star in the ring. Don’t worry about Scorpio though – Flash Funk was only 6 months away!
Rob Van Dam v Sabu
Here it is then – it’s a Matter of Respect. Sabu goes after that single leg, twice but RVD gets it instead. Heh. There’s psychology there! Outside then RVD take an Air Sabu on the rail. RVD uses the rail for a sidekick but breaks the chair in the process. RVD goes back inside and goes for that no hands dive but Sabu moves and RVD puts the brakes on. Sabu with a guillotine legdrop into a set up chair. That gets 2. Triple jump SUPER RANA from Sabu. Man, when Sabu was on he was ON. They hit the mat and RVD dominates there with his speed and power. Sabu comes back with a springboard DDT. It amazes me that Sabu doesn’t fall off those ropes more often. RVD bails and Sabu follows with a triple jump plancha only for RVD to bash him with a chair on the way down. RVD sets up the chair to dive but, once again, doesn’t use it and just hits a somersault plancha over the chair, the ropes and onto Sabu on the floor. Sabu crawls back in only for RVD to hit a splash for 2. Suplex with floatover gets 2. Mexican Surfboard from RVD and he drops him into a pin for 2. RVD goes to a leglock. Sabu won’t quit so RVD kicks him repeatedly for 2. Springboard leg lariat from Sabu gets 2. MOONSAULT PRESS from Sabu gets 2. ARABIAN PRESS gets 2. RVD comes back with a powerbomb for 2. Rolling splash gets 2 (he didn’t introduce the Rolling Thunder until later). RVD climbs but Sabu throws his chair at him. They run a cool near miss thing where RVD sees the triple jump coming only for Sabu to just stop on the chair. Sabu goes for the Triple Jump Rana again but RVD throws him off onto the ropes and hits a rana off the top himself. Slingshot guillotine legdrop WITH CHAIR ACROSS THE FACE. Ouch. That gets 2. RVD goes for a moonsault but Sabu kicks him as he goes up and SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMBS him to the floor. Shame he landed on Sabu’s legs there. It kind of took away from the spot. RVD gets dumped into the crowd and onto a table and Sabu heads up – TRIPLE JUMP PLANCHA INTO THE 3RD ROW! Table breaks and everyone is dead. Fans LOVE that. Both of them crawl back in and Sabu pins for 2. Slingshot somersault legdrop gets 2. Sabu climbs but RVD grabs him and hits a BRAINBUSTER off the top. That gets 2. RVD misses with a legdrop but Sabu is still down so RVD goes up only for Sabu to KILL HIM with an ACE CRUSHER off the top rope. TRIPLE JUMP MOONSAULT and it’s almost the entire way across the ring but RVD gets his knees up to block it. They battle on the ropes and RVD uses the FISHERMAN BUSTER OFF THE TOP…for 2. It’s going to take a murder to win this! SPLIT LEGGED MOONSAULT and RVD gets the win at 18.47. RVD’s knee smacked Sabu in the head pretty hard there. ****. So much fun but way too spotty to get anything better. Pretty much every RVD-Sabu match hit that same four snowflake level. Well, IMO, anyway.
POST MATCH both guys stay down for ages and Sabu walks without shaking hands. This would lead to a stretcher match. We get some replays of Sabu landing hard on his neck and then RVD cracking him square in the face with his knee. Heyman gets Sabu back in the ring and Joey is down to interview those concerned. Rob gets on the mic – “not only do I not respect you, you’re a piece of shit”. He throws the mic at Sabu and walks. HEEEL! Bill Alfonso is out here representing Team Taz and Rob leaves with him. Taz stares Sabu down for a while but Sabu can’t even stand so Taz leaves.
Brian Lee/Eliminators v Tommy Dreamer/Gangstas
The Dreamer feud with Brian Lee was going to involve the Bruise Brothers but they’re “suspended”. So the Gangstas continue their rivalry with the Eliminators that kicked off at the previous show. The babyfaces bring a load of plunder and this looks to be one of those typical garbage matches the ECW crowd liked so much. I don’t expect much else from the Gangstas though. Kronus breaks out the backflip over the ropes (Flying Tiger Drop incidentally). Saturn with an Asai moonsault and the Eliminators highflying has actually dragged something that resembles wrestling out of this match. Saturn grabs Mustapha and takes him down with a dropkick in the corner and a Samoan drop for 2. Knee drop off the top misses. Mustapha breaks out a running powerslam on a chair for 2. Press slam (eesh, that didn’t look good). Lee and Dreamer have fought out into the bleachers somewhere. Saturn and Mustapha fight up by the commentary position where Saturn drops an elbow off the higher level. Mustapha comes back with a suplex. Back to the ring the Eliminators hit stereo spin kicks. It’s such a shame that Kronus became the useless piece of crap he is or an Eliminators reunion would be on somewhere. Lee suplexes Dreamer through a table and then gets thrown off the stage. Mustapha crowns Kronus with a toy robot. HARDCORE! Saturn with a rope walk rana on Dreamer. He catches Saturn and slams him on a crossbody attempt though but misses with a frog splash. Saturn lays him out with a swinging neckbreaker. Knee drop off the top from Saturn but he’s not done and sets Dreamer up for a big boot from Lee. Dreamer goes low on Lee and Mustapha prevents Total Elimination by chop blocking Kronus. He adds a spinebuster for 2. Lee-Dreamer in the ring and Dreamer hits a DDT. Not content with that he looks for a piledriver on a chair but out comes Stevie Richards to STEVIEKICK Dreamer in the back of the head. Beulah and Kimona are out here to give Stevie a testicular claw. They hand Dreamer a cinder block and as a receipt for the cinder block chair shot on Dreamer he nails one on Lee but Saturn makes the save. He adds a piledriver on Dreamer and sets up a table. Mustapha saves and Dreamers DDT’S SATURN OFF THE TOP THROUGH THE TABLE. Yikes. Amazingly Kronus makes the save. How is that not the finish? New Jack adds the 187 chair dive and THAT is enough because they wanted the Gangstas to pin the Eliminators in order to set up a match. *1/2. Mostly just complete garbage and a real mess but there were some nice little spots in between it all so it wasn’t a total loss.
Overall tape thoughts – B-
As per usual you skip the undercard (well, first 3 matches) as ECW themselves pretty much skip over everything that happens in them. If they don’t care, why should you? The show hits a higher gear with the title match anyway and after that it’s almost gold in terms of action. Jericho-Whipwreck, Douglas-Scorpio and Sabu-RVD are all really good, which makes for an easy recommendation. Thumbs up!