Written by: Scott Keith
The SmarK Retro Rant for ECW House Party 98 (1/10/98)
– Don’t ask me why. The tape was sitting there doing nothing and felt like ranting on something, so it was a match made in heaven. This was during the PPV era, but it wasn’t a PPV.
– Taped from Philly.
– Your host is Joey.
– Opening match, Georgia All-Star Texas Championship World Six-Man titles: The FBI v. Ballz Mahoney, Axl Rotten & Tommy Dreamer. Tommy Rich brings a bowling trophy with him to the ring, which he explains as the championship for beating the Von Erichs four weeks previous to this, followed by a swing through Atlanta for a defense against the Freebirds. As Rich continues on his drunken rant about touring the NWA and meeting Bob Geigel, it gets so silly that even Beulah and Ballz are incapable of keeping a straight face. Once we go through all that and start the match, Axl decides to cut a retaliatory promo, pointing out that Rich is full of shit. No, REALLY? Dreamer shoves Guido around, and Rich would be RIGHT THERE defending him if he wasn’t being held back by Tracy Smothers. Dreamer gets a full-nelson, but Guido makes the ropes. Bodyblock is reversed to a blockbuster by Dreamer, and he goes for a frog splash (!) that gets two. Smother comes in and misses a charge, and Axl clotheslines him for two. Guido & Axl do a comedy routine and Axl works the arm. Ballz legdrops Guido, but Smothers comes back in. They slug it out and Tracy gets a sidekick. Ballz superkicks him in return for two. Tracy gets another sidekick, but tries a rana and gets powerbombed for two. Rich finally comes in, but a cheapshot on Dreamer puts the FBI in control and they all brawl out. Back in, Evil Referee Jeff Jones comes in and throws powder at the faces, allowing Guido to stomp away. Kneedrop on Axl and the FBI get a Paisan Elbow for two. Double-team shoulderblock gets two. Smothers hits the chinlock, and Guido gets a legsweep. Rich gets in for real and suplexes Axl, but misses the FISTDROP OF DOOM. Hot tag to Ballz. He cleans house, but the FBI get a triple-rollup for two, two and two. The referees argue and Jim Molineux DDTs Jeff Jones for the pin at 14:00. It’s ECW, don’t ask. * Change of plans: It’s non-title, sez Tommy Rich.
– Jerry Lynn v. Chris Candido. Lynn didn’t mean anything at this point. He didn’t even have his goatee yet! Candido finds various excuses to stall, before they start with a criss-cross and Lynn gets a dropkick. He follows with a rana after more stalling and they work off a headlock. They slug it out and Candido gets a neckbreaker and goes up for a legdrop that gets two. Chops, but Lynn dropkicks him and goes for a rana, which Candido counters with a powerbomb. You know, it kinda bothers me when they waste highspots like that in the opening matches, because it numbs the fans to it in the later matches when it needs to mean something. That was always a major problem with ECW’s booking. Long delayed suplex gets two for Candido. Lynn pancakes him for two. Candido tries the same move, but gets rolled up for two. Nice bit of psychology there. Candido hits a lariat to stop the tide, but Lynn gets a headscissors and a backdrop. He dropkicks Candido in the corner, but Candido tosses him and takes a breather. Lynn dropkicks him out and follows with a baseball slide and a tope. They brawl outside and Lynn badly blows a somersault off the apron, nearly falling flat on the railing in the process. Back in, he goes up and gets crotched, but blocks a superplex and comes crashing down on Candido’s bad arm. Cross armlock gets the submission VERY quickly, at 10:46. That finish was completely out of nowhere. Match was okay, if filled with too much stalling from Candido. **1/2
– Gran Naniwa v. Gran Hamada. Ah, some Mpro goodness. Naniwa bails right away, establishing himself as the heel. Back in, Hamada gets a standing dropkick out of a test of strength. Clueless fans chant “USA”, totally ignoring the match. I just love how the sanctimonious morons would spend the entire match making up funny chants and then give whoever the poor shmoes in the ring were applause at the end as though they’d just witnessed a ****1/2 match or something. ECW’s fanbase is one of the major contributing factors to stupid shit like “What” taking over the WWF. They hit the mat and Naniwa works the leg as various sections of fans argue with each other. Naniwa necksnaps him and hooks a headscissors. Back up, Hamada gets a spectactular snapmare out of a hammerlock, and hits a pescado when Naniwa bails. Naniwa stalls and gets the mutants in the front row all riled up, perhaps by threatening to steal their welfare cheques, and Hamada headbutts the shit out of him back in. Naniwa clips him, however, and goes after the leg again. Ringpost figure-four, and he keeps at the knee. CRAB-WALK ELBOW~! It gets two. That move is too good for Philly. Hamada gets a rana for two. They go up, but Naniwa gets caught with a Herb Kunze armbar coming down. He makes the ropes. Hamada lariat gets two. Naniwa goes low, cradle gets two. Lariat and Doctorbomb follow, but Naniwa stalls again. Spinning doctorbomb gets two. Blind charge hits knee, and Hamada gets a tornado DDT for an apparent pin at 10:19. Naniwa must’ve forgot to kick out, because Hamada keeps going with a top rope rana that was supposed to be the real finish and gets another pin. Doesn’t matter, match never clicked anyway and the fans didn’t care. **
– Roadkill v. Al Snow. This was during the peak of Head-A-Mania, thus proving my point about the short-attention span of the ECW fanbase. The match merely exists as a backdrop for the crowd to go “Head! Head! Head!” in time with the music. Of course, once Snow moved back to the WWF the gimmick was dead in the water because it was completely bush league and stupid. Roadkill attacks and stomps away, and Snow can’t get Head. Sideslam gets two, and he slugs away. Snow comes back with a spinebuster (which Joey inexplicably calls a Tiger Bomb), apparently on advice from Head. Paul Diamond runs in and takes a Snowplow, as does Chastity. A flying Head-butt finishes Roadkill at 4:05. Short, but still brutally bad. DUD
– Justin Credible v. The Great Sasuke. Nicole Bass & Jason have a makeout session before the match, and I don’t know who to feel more sorry for. This was during the initial insane overpush that Justin got, as Paul put him over EVERYONE in order to erase the memory of Aldo Montoya. As an indirect result, ECW is now dead. Sasuke attacks and sends Justin crashing out, and he follows with a tope con hilo. Always a good start. They brawl outside and Justin gets acquainted with the crowd. Sasuke follows him out there with a dropkick off the railing. They brawl into the bleachers and Sasuke hauls him back in and grabs a cross-armlock. He works an armbar, into an STF and camel clutch. Nice bit there. Half-crab and legdrop get two. Back to the cross armlock. He switches to an abdominal stretch, but Justin overpowers him, only to walk into a leg lariat. Justin bails, but Jason trips up Sasuke. He shakes it off and follows Justin out with the SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP~! Jason trips him up AGAIN, and this time it’s enough to cause him to miss a pescado and fuck up his knee on the landing. Justin goes after it like a good heel, and posts it. Ringpost figure-four and he keeps on the knee in the normal fashion. Dropkick to the knee gets two. A chair to the knee does more damage, but Sasuke cradles for two, reversed for two. Splash on the knee, but a second one misses. Sasuke comes back on one leg, but misses a moonsault and lands on the knee. Justin gives him the spinning tombstone to finish at 13:00. Would it have KILLED him to use a figure-four or something? I mean, you spend 5 minutes destroying his knee and then waste all that selling by using a piledriver to get the pin? Match was quite good outside of the finish, however. ***
– Rob Van Dam v. Bam Bam Bigelow. This was during the incredibly lame “WWF invasion” period where Rob was a “loyalist” to the WWF. In an incredible twist of irony that only happens in wrestling, after ECW went bankrupt it was revealed that the WWF was actually making secret payments to Paul Heyman to keep him alive all this time. Bigelow gets a quick dropkick, but RVD kicks away and gets an enzuigiri. Sunset flip is blocked with Bigelow’s ass, and Rob bails to regroup. Stalling follows, and back in Bam Bam pounds away and tosses him like a TRIPLE cheeseburger. I still have no idea what that means, but I figure I can out-metaphor JR any day. Rob tries a rana, countered with a powerbomb. See, that’s the third time in the same show they do that spot. Rob bails again. Bam Bam teaches him some manners and RVD bumps all over the place. He manages to headscissor Bigelow to hold him off, and comes back with a superkick that puts him over the railing into the crowd. Rob heads back in and follows up with a dive into the front row. No somersault, just a basic leap. He keeps knocking Bammer down and gets more mad hangtime on another dive. Bam Bam finally gets back in, where Rob slugs him down. He misses Rolling Thunder, but keeps stomping away. Pump splash misses, but he legdrops the back for two. Monkey flip is stopped and Bigelow catapults him and gets an elbow for two. DDT gets two. Avalanche and Bigelow goes up, but misses a senton. Rob makes use of a chair, and gets a split-legged moonsault. Bammer tosses the chair at him and Rob bails again. Too much of that here. Bigelow stops to go after Fonzie, and the ref is bumped as a result. Bigelow chairshots Rob into the front row, but now Candido runs in and gets abused by Bammer. So does Tammy. And Francine. And Shane Douglas, but that’s enough distraction for Rob to hit the missile dropkick and frog splash for the pin at 16:11. That was just insanely long, filled with stalling, retarded finish, you name it. Their match in Buffalo a few months later was so much better it’s not even close. *1/2
– Speaking of lame angles, WWF announcer reject Lance Wright interrupts a Taz interview to introduce his newest find: Flash Funk, challenging for the title tonight. Flash turns on Wright and becomes 2 Cold Scorpio again.
– ECW TV title: Taz v. 2 Cold Scorpio. You have no idea how hard it is to not type “Tazz” after nearly 3 years of doing it now. They work the mat to start and exchange leg submissions. Taz overpowers him, but Scorpio pounds away. Shoulderblock and superkick send Taz out, and Scorpio follows with a baseball slide. Back in, Tazz (screw it) gets a release powerbomb and elbow. They head out and brawl, which Tazz gets the best of. Back in, and Tazz dumps him again. This is going nowhere. Back in, Scorpio takes over as he rams Tazz into a chair, then goes up for a splash that gets two. Back up, somersault legdrop gets two. Back-kick sets up another highspot, but Tazz T-Bones him out of nowhere. Backdrop suplex puts both guys down, but Tazz misses a charge and gets superkicked. Scorpio goes up for an apparent finish, but the moonsault only gets two, pissing off the crowd. Back up for the 450, but he wastes time and doesn’t cover. Not smart. Tazzmission quickly finishes at 11:14. Told ya. Bit of a trainwreck, but not without its charm. **
– The Dudley Boyz v. Spike Dudley, New Jack & Kronus. D-Von, back before he became a cartoon character, makes friends with the crowd, going so far with his spiel that even ECW is forced to bleep him out at one point. I assume that was during one of the famous bits where he accuses an underaged girl of learning to give blowjobs via her mother. Gertner then takes credit for the Dudleyz being the rightful six-man champs, until even Joey thinks the joke is pounded into the ground. Speaking of jokes pounded into the ground, Joel goes for the topical reference by making fun of Sonny Bono’s death. Man, talk about your dated references. The Dudleyz are introduced as though they were the Freebirdz, and that’s pretty much it as far as entertainment value for this match goes. Big brawl to start (I know, I’m shocked too) as the faces bring plunder with them and gang up on Big Dick. Spike takes Bubba, but gets sent flying. Bubba kills him in the crowd, and Kronus is already bleeding. In the ring, Big Dick and New Jack go and Jack uses the crutch to no effect. Big Dick avalanches Jack and Sign Guy handcuffs him to the top rope, which is how he spends the rest of the match. The Dudleyz take turns teeing off on him in the corner, and that goes on WAY too long before Spike finally makes the save, hitting Acid Drops on both Bubba & D-Von. Unfortunately, he proves unable to handle Big Dick and goes through a table as a result. Kronus kicks away at Bubba and Big Dick, and gets the 450 for two. He goes after Sign Guy and Gertner, but gets pushed into a Bubba Cutter for two. Double-team neckbreaker gets two. 3D finishes at 9:08. Should have finished with the Bubba Cutter. Pointless drek. DUD
– Sabu v. The Sandman. This is the famous Stairway to Hell match, featuring a ladder leading up to barbed wire. Sabu hits him with the ladder right away a few times, and he legdrops him between a chair and the ladder for two. Atomic Arabian Facebuster gets two. Sandman bails and Sabu follows with a plancha into the crowd. They brawl for a while, and over to the broadcast position, where Sabu sets up a table and puts Sandman through it. Sandman comes back with a slam and elbowdrop and they brawl back to the ring. Sandman suplexes a ladder onto Sabu and see-saws it into Sabu’s jaw. He follows with a suplex onto a table and legdrop on it. He puts the ladder across the railing and apron and legdrops Sabu on it. I sense a lack of moveset from Jim tonight. Sandman climbs and grabs the barbed wire, but Sabu dropkicks the ladder and sends him crashing out of the ring and through a conveniently placed table. You can actually do that spot in No Mercy, which is a scary thought. But speaking of scary, Sabu tries to follow him out with a plancha, and lands chin-first on the railing, breaking his jaw in the process. That’s just repulsive to see. Into the ring, Sabu chairshots Sandman into the barbed wire, and blood results. He puts Sandman in the tree of woe, with barbed wire on his face, then dropkicks a chair at him. Blind charges misses, and Sandman canes him. Fonzie hastily tapes up Sabu’s rapidly bleeding jaw, but it’s obvious he needs medical attention, badly. Triple jump moonsault is blown, Arabian facebuster is blown, and Sandman obviously gets the message because he finishes Sabu with a caneshot at 17:55 so Sabu can get the hell out of there. It was an okay bunch of spots, but Sabu’s injury just shot the ending all to hell. **1/2
The Bottom Line:
If you’re into gore, you’d probably like the Stairway to Hell match, but that’s already available on the Path of Destruction DVD, which is FAR superior to this show, trust me. I have nothing here to recommend the show otherwise.
Recommendation to avoid.
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.