WWE Rise And Fall Of ECW
Written by: Tom Hopkins
I really only had a passing interest in ECW during its run, but I heard really good things about this DVD, and I got on E-Bay for cheap, so I said, why not.
The Main Characters
–Paul Heyman was the man behind ECW for many years. No matter what your opinion is on how he ran the company, it left its mark on the world of professional wrestling.
ECW, the little company that could, ran out of Philadelphia and began in 1993, and ended as we know it in 2001.
The Film (2:50:14)
Those involved (still working with the WWE of course), talk about their time in ECW and what it meant to wrestling and to them in general.
We start with Eastern Championship Wrestling, and Heyman coming in with Eddie Gilbert as booker and Todd Gordon as owner. Heyman was asked what to do to change he and he equates it to music, with Nirvana coming onto the scene and changing everything, and that’s what wrestling needed. Wrestling was like a hair band and they needed that change, and Heyman was going to do that.
So in September of 1993, Paul debuted at the ECW Arena with the Public Enemy. Other people in that early Eastern run is Tazmaniac, who feuded with Sabu. Heyman said Sabu, the madman, was key to it all. He seemingly had no regard for his body. The big veteran presence in ECW was Terry Funk, and Heyman says there would be no ECW without Funk.
We go ahead a few months to, “The Night The Line was Crossed,” with Shane Douglas vs. Terry Funk vs. Sabu, which ended in a one-hour time limit draw. I heard the match was boring, but hey, if that’s what helped make the promotion then so be it. Shane demands to be called the ECW champ, to show he’s the Franchise. Heyman had an agenda against WCW, as did Shane (who hated Flair) and they basically attacked WCW to no end on television and off. Heyman told WCW, “to go fuck themselves.” I’m impressed that got onto the DVD.
They show a very young Tommy Dreamer, and he worked his first match against Taz, becoming involved with ECW the rest of its life. Sandman was another big name, with his Singapore Cane (inspired by a news story of an American in Singapore getting arrested and getting caned), which he first used in a Singapore Cane match against Dreamer. Dreamer and Sandman had other matches, one where they broke down kayfabe and having heels and faces comingle backstage when Sandman was “hurt.”
Dreamer talks about ECW not being filled with gimmicks (as they show Atom Bomb and Doink from the WWE), as well as blood, and women getting attacked, and neither WCW nor WWE really cared. WCW actually sent Cactus Jack to ECW as an olive branch, which Dreamer says was part of a settlement thanks to a lawsuit against WCW by ECW. Cactus worked with ECW and battled Sabu, and spit on the WCW tag title. Foley says that WCW (and Flair) misunderstood what he said, stemming from them not having watched the interview. Is this where the heat came from? Foley worked with Sabu to help make him.
We move to Mikey Whipwreck, who worked on the ring crew, got trained, and started wrestling. His gimmick? He didn’t land an offensive move, he was a whipping boy. Of course, he’d win the tag titles with Cactus. We get to Shane winning the NWA title, and that’s what Heyman wanted to get away from. So Shane won the title on 08/27/94, then promptly throws the title down. This is where Extreme Championship Wrestling was really born, and one could argue NWA was finally killed. The footage they show of the NWA president is great.
So ECW was born, with its home in Philly, and it not only showcased the best in hardcore, but also some great wrestlers like Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and to a lesser degree 2 Cold Scorpio and Ron Simmons (Farooq). Paul talks about not having the ability to compete with WCW and WWE in terms of lighting and pyro, so they didn’t do it, so they highlighted the wrestling, which Paul says was the best at the time. They talk about the knowledgeable ECW fans, from the tape traders that Jericho mentioned, to being very vocal. The rabid, loyal, cult-like fans is what made ECW.
Raven came into ECW and feuded with Dreamer for three years, and Dreamer never won. Beulah was brought back during this time and Dreamer ended up piledriving her, and that’s when the audience finally accepted him. Taz and Sabu won the tag titles together, but Taz had real life heat with Sabu. Sabu no showed an event, so Heyman publically fired him. Tommy says that Heyman never lied to the fans (he lied to the wrestlers) but not the fans. Taz took a spike piledriver during a match with 2 Cold Scorpio and Malenko, broke his neck, and was out for a year. Taz said he was paid the whole time he was out. Moving forward, Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero had their last match with ECW, against each other, with the fans chanting, “Please Don’t Go.”
Paul says ECW was the first victim of the Monday Night War, with WCW getting Benoit, Guerrero and Malenko. Bischoff says he never raided the other companies, it was just acquisitions for them. Bischoff compares it to Vince getting talent from the territories back in the 80’s? Bischoff doesn’t think so, the wrestlers just wanted a regular paycheck and made a choice to go to WCW or WWE, but it isn’t a raid. Heyman responds that Bischoff is full of shit. He says WCW never got credit for taking the talent from ECW, but admits Bischoff was right to take it. We then go to McMahon who says it wasn’t right to “raid” ECW and felt it was right not to give him something as opposed to WCW, who took but “gleefully” didn’t give back.
So ECW brought in the cruiserweights. We see Rey doing a hurricanrana on a fan’s car, and Paul says if his father wasn’t a lawyer he wouldn’t be able to run ECW since he got sued more times than Martha Stewart. A big defining moment is next, with Steve Austin coming into ECW, just as bitter as Heyman was at WCW. Austin got fired from WCW (by phone no less) and Heyman does his awesome Austin impersonation. Austin came up with the Monday Nyquil skits. Both Foley and Austin were given a lot of credit for giving very creative promos, including Foley’s anti-hardcore spots. Foley left for WWE in 1996.
Taz came back in 96, with a new gimmick. Tazmaniac was dead, Taz was dead, with his ultimate fight style of wrestling. ECW, always the epitome of class, does an angle with Sandman’s 8-year-old son, where he rejects his father and accepts Raven. Concurrently, Stevie Richards started the BWO, the Blue World Order, with the Meanie and Nova. The BWO was involved in an angle with Beulah, who was with Raven at the time, and Beulah said she was pregnant, and we find out it was Tommy’s kid. Turns out, Beulah was having an affair with a chick and she was never pregnant.
Heyman says the Vince first got wind of ECW when Mabel won the King of the Ring in Philadelphia, with fans chanting ECW during the final match. Vince dismissed it at first, but by Mind Games he incorporated it. So Sandman, from ECW, made an appearance at the arena, as did Dreamer, and security took them out. Taz was scared that WWE was going to jump them, since no one knew what was going to happen except Vince. Taz jumped the guard rail, shoved a cameraman out of the way and he ended up breaking the poor guy’s shoulder. ECW had great momentum, until the crucifixion angle, where Sandman is crucified on ECW television. The people at the ECW arena were in shock, actually spurring a Raven apology. Kurt Angle was in the arena that night, and that event actually caused him not to join the company. Angle told him not to have him appear on the show and if he does, his attorney would be calling Heyman. Angle still has bad feelings about it, calling Heyman an idiot if he didn’t know it would happen.
The company was surviving, but it needed more money. It needed national TV and Pay-Per-Views. In Demand wouldn’t put them on (since they thought it was real), and they finally got on the air. Of course, it went terribly wrong. Axl Rotten didn’t show up to a show, so a fan lied about his age in his documentation, and was beat up pretty badly by New Jack. They don’t show any footage of the Mass Transit footage, because they were sued, and the PPV was pulled. It wasn’t pulled for long, as ECW got their PPV back, and Barely Legal was aired on April 13th, 1997.
Before the PPV, ECW actually was able to promote their PPV on WWE television, with the Eliminator’s showing up accepting a challenge Lawler put out. On 2/24/97, the WWE had a bunch of talent out on tour, the Raw that night was mostly an ECW show. Bischoff wasn’t surprised WWE and ECW teamed up, but he didn’t seem worried. I think Vince did it since he didn’t think of ECW as real competition. Vince says he did it to help ECW, which would help the business. Lawler thinks the ECW people were too cocky and arrogant for being a two-bit promotion, and Lawler says all the wrestlers were very small, which Taz had a problem with. Sabu fell off the R that show which Taz remembers fondly. Dreamer thinks that invasion started the Attitude era, which may have some truth to it.
So ECW had their first PPV, and the workers were very amped backstage. Paul stuck to his guns since they In Demand wanted to use their own director, but Paul said he wanted to stick to his guys. Rob Van Dam was pissed he wasn’t used on the show, but he made it as a last-minute replacement, which still pissed him off. Lance Storm was worried working the match with someone who was that pissed. Taz and Sabu had their big blowoff grudge match, with Taz talking about his role in the third person. I think that’s him just separating the character from the person talking. Of course the 3-way dance led to Funk battling Raven for the ECW title, with Funk winning. Stevie Richards remembers being in the main event and being awestruck that he was actually in the main event. Heyman talks about Funk winning it, and the place exploded when he won. This is actually the only ECW event I’ve reviewed, and even though it was four-years ago, and my thoughts on it are still the same. Stevie says the feed was cut off very soon after the main event, and if it had run longer, their first PPV would’ve been cut-off. Paul and Stevie remember crying that night, thanks to all their hard work, and everyone crying as well. I think they show this in Beyond the Mat, too.
After the PPV, (they don’t say when, or give dates, which would’ve been nice to place events as they happened in time), Raven left to WCW, something Tommy and Paul had a problem with. Raven’s reign in ECW ended with Tommy finally beating Raven, and Lawler beating on ECW as soon as the match ended. This was WWE’s response to being invaded. Tommy had his testicles smashed by Lawler, and he apologized later for it. Lawler was scared leaving the arena that night, because there was so much heat. Lawler really hated the product.
During the Monday Night Wars, Todd Gordon thought he was a mole for WCW, helping them get a hold of ECW talent, but Paul never had hard proof and was just paranoid, though he had his suspicions. This led to Gordon leaving the company, as Tommy says he was fired. Alphonso was on the chopping block, but he had a great match against Beulah where he sliced himself and was just pouring blood everywhere and it saved his job. Bubba Ray Dudley was given a job as the person who ran ECW outside of the ring due to his business background. Taz was in charge of merchandising (he designed the shirts and logos), with Tommy booking the shows. Stevie Richards fielded phone calls, answered questions, and things like that.
We move to Heyman, and his motivational abilities, and Bubba Ray says he brainwashed a lot of guys, and ran the place like a cult almost. The characters really had control of their own character. Al Snow talks about Head, and talks about everyone in the crowd having Styrofoam head. Paul talks about the rave effect he’d use with the heads in the crowds. Bubba Ray says they could’ve taken over WCW, and Bischoff says that he doesn’t know why ECW thinks they were #2, as it was always WWE and WCW in terms of basically any measuring stick of success. Bischoff’s right, too. Paul doesn’t know why Bischoff doesn’t give ECW credit and taking credit for things he stole. McMahon does admit to taking ideas from ECW, but he never considered them a threat. Foley does give credit to ECW for the Attitude era. We then see WWE clips of hardcore action. McMahon says the WWE attitude was more verbal.
Getting back to the in-ring stuff, Taz feuded with Bam Bam Bigelow in 1998, even having a match with Bam Bam at Bammer’s hometown, and it led to a memorable spot where Taz goes through the ring, and Bam Bam won the TV title. So Taz created his own title, called the FTW (Fuck the World) title. The Dudleys were very over in the company and were important to the company. They even used flaming tables. Soon, the wrestling industry became like the dot.com business, with ECW not being able to compete financially with WWE and WCW, and they needed sponsorship. Paul fell on hard times, and peoples paychecks were bouncing. Lance had checks bounce and told Paul that if any other ones bounced, he would leave. He never had a problem after that. Dreamer says he didn’t get paid for 6 months, which is just crazy. It stemmed to the fact that Paul wasn’t a businessman, and the expansion of the company may have overwhelmed him.
ECW did get its national TV deal, working for TNN. Vince was happy for them when it happened. Vince told him he had to change, and not draw a minority audience, but a much larger audience. RVD was excited about getting the deal. As ECW was about to go to air, Taz and the Dudley Boys left to WWE, their two biggest stars and holders of the world and tag titles. Taz wasn’t under contract, was negotiating with ECW, but he explored other offers and he went to WWE. Taz had to do what was right with his family and himself. So Taz dropped the belt in a triple threat match to Tanaka and Awesome, who would battle for the belt. The rest of the workers came out and applauded Taz, live on PPV. Bubba and D-Von left because they knew it was time to leave. They left without being owed anything, and they always got paid. Bubba negotiated but again, it didn’t go anywhere. The Dudleys asked for a dollar raise, they wanted to stay, but Paul thought that if they wanted to leave, then they should leave. That’s when Bubba knew they were bush league. Of course, the Dudley’s won the tag titles on their last night in the promotion. Raven returned and won the tag titles with Dreamer that night.
ECW never felt they were treated right on TNN, even though they were the highest rated show, often being a lead-in to Roller Jam. Heyman says they were a guinea pig for wrestling on the network, and that didn’t fly with Heyman, and from the get go he didn’t give TNN what they wanted. So Heyman created a character named Cyrus, which poked fun at TNN. TNN never actually promoted the company, and Heyman said it was an albatross around their neck instead of helping them. In fact, TNN was actively going after the WWE to replace ECW on the air. Heyman did a “shoot” on TNN on his show. Really, ECW only had RVD as their big draw, and he brought a certain credibility to the title, until he broke his ankle and had to forfeit his title.
Of course, things got worse for ECW. Their champ, Mike Awesome, left to WCW, while under contract mind you, and showed up at WCW. He was going to go with the belt but cops went and took it from him so he couldn’t show it on air. WWE helped out ECW, and Taz faced Mike Awesome and won the title. So, Taz, contracted with WWE, fought Mike Awesome, contracted with WCW, for the ECW title. Yeah, wrap your minds around that. Taz actually wrestled HHH, the current WWE champ, while holding the ECW title, and HHH won, even taking out Tommy Dreamer in the process. McMahon apologizes for having HHH beating Taz on TV like that. Tommy Dreamer beat Taz later on for the title. Tommy was pissed he won, he wanted to go his whole career without winning a title, and he says the only reason he won was because guys left.
Bischoff gives us an advertising lesson and why ECW wasn’t supported. Heyman tried to find a new network, but couldn’t negotiate with another company until TNN cancelled them, or declared their intention to do so. Vince says the downfall was that Heyman didn’t market it to a wide audience, it was just a small audience. So ECW was slowly but surely dying. A lot of guys had no choice but to stay, and RVD knew it was over when he was owed so much money that could never be repaid. So they had their last show, and soon after ECW folded, WCW closed their doors, too, so there were tons of wrestlers left jobless with only one company. Rhyno was in denial about ECW closing, and he admits it. \
Bubba says the downfall was two-fold. First, too much violence, and Paul not being a great businessman. Paul says they died because they didn’t get on another network in time. Paul thinks ECW would’ve been successful if they had that network. Heyman joined up with WWE eventually, because he had to do it. He took over for Lawler for a while, but he didn’t like taking orders. Even now, four years after it closed, people still chant ECW at events. Of course, since this program they’ve revived the ECW brand name, and it has its own weekly series on Sci-Fi and has had a few PPV’s as well, so in the end, it was successful.
Clocking it at almost three hours, this was one of the longest programs I’ve ever seen from a WWE DVD. The great thing about this is that it has the feel of ECW, the “I don’t give a damn what anything thinks,” attitude that Heyman had when running the promotion, the anti-establishment theme. In fact, I don’t think Vince really had a ton of input in this. He never considered ECW a threat, and he worked with them, so he didn’t really need to skew things towards the WWE side like he tends to do, witness the Monday Night Wars as an example. This really felt like an ECW and more importantly, a Paul Heyman feature. The feature had time to develop and go into things that on a shorter film would’ve been missed. It was very honest, and Heyman really tells us how it is. I thought it was a great feature on a company I only really watched towards the end of their run. Recommended
A) Extras (1:29:44)
All the extras are on disc two.
1) The Pit Bulls vs. Raven & Stevie Richards(c) (23:08) This is a 2 out of 3 Falls Dog Collar Match for the ECW Tag Team titles. It took place in Philadelphia, PA (as do all the rest of them, unless otherwise noted) on 09/16/95 and was part of the Gangsta’s Paradise card. Stevie was scared of the Pit Bulls, and doesn’t even go with Raven, his partner, to the ring. The further stip is that if the Bulls lost, they’d have to break up. Beulah says that Stevie is out of the match because he broke his arm last night, which Styles says isn’t true, so Beulah asks for it to be 2/3 falls, and the Bulls agree. Raven gets tied to Pit Bull 2 and charges him. Raven gets punched (with the chain) and falls outside the ring, where PB2 pulls Raven back in with the chain, literally hanging him. PB1 goes to the locker room (probably to find Richards). PB2 goes outside and nails Raven with what looks like a chair. PB1 comes back with Stevie already bleeding and chained to PB1. PB2 brings a table into the ring as Richards is nailed with a chair. Raven comes back and piledrives PB2 through the table, getting the first pinfall at 2:09. The second fall starts with a little cutting, so I don’t stop the timer. PB1 takes a double DDT, but PB2 makes the save. Stevie is just bleeding out right now, and PB2 is bleeding, too. PB1 takes a superkick for two. PB2 recovers and brings a table inside, and Stevie is powerbombed, off the top rope (superbombed) through the table and Stevie is pinned at 4:20 to even the falls at one.
We take a break and look at the first two falls. Now the timer is stopped. We return to action with the two teams brawling outside. Stevie is wearing the crimson mask and they brawl in front of Sign Guy Dudley, and Stevie takes down PB1 with a chair, then realizes he is bleeding and starts stomping him. PB2 is in the ring with Raven, then he slides out, gets another table and sets it up. Raven tosses PB2 to the corner, and the ref is taken out in the process. The Dudleys come in and start fighting the Pit Bulls, setting up the Bit Bulls for dual superbombs by the team of Raven and Richards, but the Pit Bulls stand right up, and both Bulls hit double DDT’s with a Dudley and their tied up foe in hand. Each Dudley is superbombed, and Joey tells Dancing with Dudleys to look for Tatanka on the reservation he goes back to. The Bulls superbomb Raven, and he was supposed to go through the table but his head hits the edge of it. PB2 covers but Raven kicks out to the surprise of the fans. We get a fourth table as Raven sets up something in his hand. PB2 takes an ether-soaked rag to the face, knocking him down on the double tables he set up. Raven with a leg drop off the apron, but only the top table breaks. So Raven sets him up on the second one and hits an elbowdrop to put him through the second table. Meanwhile, Richards goes to the top but is yanked off by PB1 and the chain. Raven unhooks his chain as Stevie is suplexed through a table and Raven breaks up the pinfall. Beulah gets in the ring as paramedics come for PB2. Francine comes into the ring and we get a catfight between the two, so Raven DDT’s Francine. So everyone’s down, and Dreamer gets in the ring and chains himself to Raven, and those two start brawling, and Raven gets DDT’d by Dreamer, and he covers for the pin at 14:14. Dreamer finally gets his pin on Raven, the Bulls don’t have to break up. But wait! Alphonso comes out and gets in the face of Dreamer. The pin doesn’t count since Dreamer wasn’t even part of the match. Alphonso says he never agreed to the 2/3 Falls stipulation or the dog collar stipulation so the match is voided and he took his pin away. Alphonso says the match can’t continue, drawing Todd Gordon, who restarts the match. So Dreamer walks into a chokeslam from Sign Guy Dudley, complete with broken leg. Alphonso says the chokeslam is allowed tonight, so out comes 911, who chokeslams Alphonso. So a couple of things were paid off to fans, Alphonso is chokeslammed and Dreamer pinned Raven. PB2 comes back to the ring, and he superbombs both Raven and Richards at the same time. PB2 covers, and that finishes the match at 16:40. This was quite the spectacle. A couple of blown spots keeps it from being perfect, but it was an awesome brawl, that was perfectly booked. ****1/4.
2) Rey Misterio vs. Psicosis (18:14)
This is another 2 out of 3 falls match, from an episode of Hardcore 10/17/95. This is an extreme Lucha Libre rematch according to Styles. Rey sends Psicosis outside, flips to the apron and hits a crossbody, sending them both over the apron. Rey goes back and follows that with a plancha. Back inside (after a bit of stalling) and Rey gets a standing hurricanrana for the first pinfall at 1:22. Well, that was fast. We continue with Psicosis missing a dropkick in the corner, and Rey responds with a spinning heel kick. Rey follows with a hurricanrana from the top, sending Psicosis outside, and Rey gets another one from the apron on Psicosis. Psicosis mulls about outside, then comes in with an offer for a handshake. Psicosis with an enzuguiri, then a kick to the back of the head of Rey. Psicosis sets up Rey on the turnbuckle upside down, then charges at him, hitting him in the back. He sets Rey sitting on the corner and barely hits a bronco buster. Powerbomb for Psicosis gets two. Rey’s bodyslammed, then Psicosis puts him in the Sharpshooter. Rey doesn’t give up, so Psicosis gives up on the hold. Well, that’s not determination at all. Rey goes outside and Psicosis sends him to the guardrail and hits Rey’s leg with a chair. Psicosis rolls him inside and hits a slingshot leg drop. Psicosis charges at Rey in the corner, but Rey dodges and Psicosis hits his shoulder on the ringpost. Rey with another hurricanrana, but a springboard moonsault results in Psicosis catching him then tombstoning him for the pin at 6:36, evening up the match. We see highlights of the previous 6 minutes of action, and we begin our third fall. Psicosis powerbombs Rey through a table outside, then slams him into the first row. Rey stands there as Psicosis hits a plancha of his own. Back in the ring and Psicosis misses another charge and goes outside. Rey follows with a spring board one and a half butt press, and they brawl on the floor. Psicosis tries to head back inside but Rey tosses a pair of chairs into the face of Psicosis. Rey puts Psicosis’ head through the chair, then tosses him into the ringpost. The fans at ringside are digging it, and why is some guy wearing a Bruins jersey in Philly? Back inside and it’s Rey with a hurricanrana from the top for two. Spinning head scissors sends Psicosis outside, where Rey follows with a springboard splash. Psicosis is up first though and sends Rey to the barricades. Psicosis sets up Rey on the table, gives him a chairshot, then goes to the top where a leg drop puts Rey through the table. Back inside, and Rey takes a powerbomb and another chairshot to the shoulder. Psicosis leaves the chair on him and hits a moonsault into a senton and that’s enough to finish Rey at 12:14. The spots were fun to watch, but there was nothing else in between, I mean nothing. It was spot, rest, spot, rest, spot, spot, pin, etc. For me, the match had little flow and was boring after a while, as I was just waiting for the next spot. *** for the spots, but this was seriously lacking in any sort of wrestling psychology or storytelling.
3) Mikey Whipwreck vs. The Sandman(c) (17:38)
This is a ladder match for the ECW title. It took place on an episode of Hardcore on 10/28/95. Sandman is champ at the time, and the title isn’t held above the ladder, so its just a match with a ladder involved, like a table match I guess. Sandman has Woman with him, and it’s tragic to think about where she ended up. Sandman takes about 4 minutes to get inside the ring, but luckily Mikey takes only half that long. Both men are wearing bandana’s, it should be noted. Steve Austin comes out, just to waste more time, and he has a bandana on, too. Austin basically rips into everyone (calling Woman a whore and saying she married a midget, of course meaning Kevin Sullivan). He cut a promo like no one else. Austin leaves and Woman tries to hit him with the cane. She misses and Austin carries her to the back. Oh yeah, Sandman and Mikey start wrestling. Mikey ducks being sent to the ladder and hits Sandman in the face with it. They brawl on the floor, go back inside, and Mikey is dropped headfirst onto the ladder. Sandman follows with a somersault splash, though he almost slipped before he did it. Mikey rolls outside and Sandman chucks the ladder on him. Sandman goes outside, bridges the ladder on the apron and barricade, lays Mikey on it, then legdrops him off the apron. Mikey comes back, finds a chair and Sandman takes it right between the eyes. Mikey with a frankensteiner off the ladder but he can’t keep momentum and he’s backdropped into the first row. Sandman sets up the ladder, planchas onto it, and it whips up and hits Mikey in the face with it, think of it as a teeter-tot. Back inside and Sandman misses an elbow drop and lands on the ladder. Mikey comes back with laddershots to the face of Sandman, drawing blood. Mikey covers for one. Mikey lays the ladder on Sandman, hits a splash from the top and Mikey covers for the pin and the title at 6:52. The ECW wrestlers celebrate with Mikey afterwards. This was a spot-fest, and some of the ladder spots were pretty good, but it was too short to be worth anything. Decent for what it was. **.
4) 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Sabu (30:42)
This is an ECW TV Title match from Cyberslam, 02/17/96. Sabu takes a kick to the mouth to start, but misses a spinning heel kick, allowing Sabu to get one of his own. Sabu grabs a chair already, and smashes it on the back of Scorpio. Sabu with his patented springboard heel kick prefaces a clothesline to the apron. Scorpio’s up but is dropkicked outside. Sabu sends him to the first row, then a spring board somersault plancha gets the fans in a tizzy. Back in and Sabu covers for two. Sabu with a slingshot kneedrop, but Scorpio escapes a powerbomb and gets one of his own. Scorpio follows with a legdrop from the top rope. He chooses not to cover, which Styles doesn’t understand, and instead gets a chair. Scorpio bulldogs Sabu onto the chair, but he double-dips and the second time is never as good as the first, and Sabu reverses it. Sabu springboards off the chair, bodypressing both him and Scorpio to the outside. Sabu with a somersault dive off the apron follows, then he grabs another chair. Chairshots to the head are in store for Scorpio as we head back inside. Sabu with a springboard kick gets two. Scorpio comes right back with a superkick. Scorpio splashes Sabu in the corner, but Sabu battles back and gets a victory roll for two. We hit the commercial break, but the footage doesn’t cut away, since this is the Cyberslam home video release, which has the full match. Sabu with a camel clutch, the perfect rest hold to use during the commercial. Scorpio breaks out and kicks Sabu in the nuts, sending him to the outside. Scorpio suplexes him back in and covers for two. Scorpio with a seated surfboard, and we must still be in the commercials because we don’t usually see holds like this. Scorpio gets a pinning combination for two. Sabu’s up right away with stomps, then a slingshot somersault legdrop for two. Scorpio with a moonsault but Sabu puts his knees up and both men are in pain. Scorpio covers for two. Scorpio gets a chair thrown at is face. Arabian facebuster for Sabu gets two. Springboard senton onto the chair does more damage for Sabu than it did for Scorpio. A weak chair shot takes Sabu down, and Scorpio with a tombstone slam, with Sabu clutching at his leg and knee. Scorpio with a slingshot splash gets two. Scorpio waits (awhile) for Sabu to get up, and when he does, it is boot to the face time. Scorpio goes upstairs for a splash, but Sabu moves out of the way. Sabu gets to the second rope, but Scorpio sunset flips him off the top for two, and Sabu responds with a dropkick to the face. Scorpio’s up first, he goes upstairs, is crotched and Sabu with a victory roll from the top gets two. Scorpio misses a dropkick then is backdropped to the outside. Sabu with a pescado sends Scorpio into the guardrail. Inside, clothesline gets two for Sabu. Scorpio rebounds quickly, and he tries to fireman’s carry Sabu out, but they both end up outside. Sabu follows with a springboard moonsault from the ropes onto Scorpio. Sabu sets up a table in the first row, lays Scorpio on it, throws a chair into the ring, then follows with a springboard somersault press onto the table, where Scorpio had vacated moments before. That was a crazy spot. Scorpio drags Sabu back in and covers, but Sabu’s foot is on the ropes. Scorpio tries for a powerbomb but Sabu hurricanrana’s him over and covers for two. That spot looked blown, or more likely, both guys were too tired to hit it properly. Sabu with a springboard moonsault press gets two. Sabu heads upstairs, but misses a moonsault. Powerbomb for Scorpio leads to a moonsault leg drop, which Sabu kicks out of! Scorpio takes the chair, trips Sabu down, lays the chair on Sabu’s face, and hits a legdrop from the top rope. Cover but Sabu kicks out again. Scorpio sits on the second turnbuckle, wondering what he can do to beat Sabu, but Sabu recovers, tosses the chair at Scorpio and hurricanrana’s him off the second rope for two. Double clothesline spot puts both men down, Scorpio sits up and there’s an announcement there’s only a few minutes left in the match. Scorpio’s up first, and hits the 450 splash, but doesn’t cover right away. In fact, he doesn’t cover at all. He goes to the opposite corner, and misses a splash, with the chair, onto Sabu. Sabu sets up the chair, hits a legdrop from the second rope onto the chair, as 30 seconds remain. Slingshot somersault legdrop and Sabu tries to cover, but Scorpio kicks out at two. Sabu tries to cover again but the time limit expires at 30:00. Joey usually hypes the matches in ECW, calling them classics, but this one lived up to the hype. Both guys went all out, and they were just dead at the end. The spots were great, and most of them fit in the context of the match. It told a much better story than the lucha match, and Scorpio got a hell of a match out of Sabu. ****. The fans chant for one more minute, but we don’t get it.
5) Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven (25:34)
This is from Wrestlepalooza, 06/06/97. Beulah comes to the ring first and we get the introductions for Dreamer and Raven. Raven gets a bunch of, “You Sold Out,” chants. Someone in the Flock tells Raven to leave, why waste his time with a last match? So Raven bails and Tommy follows. They brawl outside, and Tommy is tossed off a bleacher through the merchandise table. Raven tries to piledrive Tommy through a table, but the table gives way before that can happen. Tommy appears to be busted open already. Raven sends him through another table near the “upper deck.” Raven sets up another table, but Tommy fights back sets Raven up, but misses a splash and Dreamer himself goes through the table. Raven sends Tommy to the barricade, but an Irish whip is reversed and its Raven who goes into the barricades. Tommy crotches Raven on the barricade. They get back near the ring, and Raven was supposed to reverse being sent to the barricade, but doesn’t. They improvise and Dreamer with a fame-asser on the concrete, and Raven’s busted open, too. We go back into the crowd, and Raven’s sent into a vending machine. They head toward the Eagle nest, but Raven pushes Tommy on top of the vending machine and down about 8 feet to the concrete. They show some of the starters of the Philadelphia Eagles in the crowd, too. In what would be considered the “box seats.” Raven with a chair to the back of Dreamer. We finally get to the ring, and Raven drop toe holds Tommy onto a chair in there. Raven sets Tommy up on the ropes, but Tommy low blows him and knocks him off. Raven is right back and rocket launches Tommy onto an open folding chair which is just crushed. Raven covers for two. Raven comes back with a DDT, then takes a sign from the fan to use on Raven. Ref gets bumped, with a metal sign and Tommy uses it on Raven. He piledrives Raven onto said sign. Tommy covers but a Flockster comes in to break up the count. Tommy’s not happy, and Beulah comes in and DDT’s the guy. Raven recovers as Tommy is celebrating, low blows Dreamer and schoolboys him for two. Raven pleads with Beulah, and he takes a lowblow followed by a schoolboy for two. Chastity comes in (from the Flock) and sprays hairspray in Tommy’s eyes and Raven rolls him up for two. Chastity and Beulah start their cat fight, but Raven pulls off Beulah. Dreamer DDT’s Raven for two. He tries again, but the ref is bumped, and another DDT is not counted. Louie Spicolli runs in to beat down Dreamer, and he DDT’s Dreamer, then puts Raven on top of Dreamer. He revives the ref but its only a two count. Spicolli tries for the Death Valley Driver, but Dreamer reverses to a DDT. Raven with a DDT but it only gets a two. Dreamer with a DVD of his own, then he picks up Raven, DDT’s him, and Dreamer covers and finally is able to pin Raven, after years of failing. Match was 15:06 and it was just an amazing spectacle. There’s overbooked and there’s this. I mean, it was like controlled chaos and it was just a great match. To take things further, RVD comes in with a Van Daminator, only to get atomic dropped by Dreamer. The lights go off, and in comes Sabu. They double-team Dreamer, as Raven leaves the ring. Dreamer with a double DDT on the two of them, and the lights go off again. They come back on and Jerry Lawler is in the ring. The pop is just incredible right now. Lawler berates ECW as RVD (in a Monday Night Raw shirt) and Sabu clear the ring of all ECW wrestlers. New Jack and his partner come out, but they are taken out, too. Lawler stomps on Dreamer as the fans call for Taz. Sandman show up, instead, but he’s taken out as well. Taz finally comes out, and he clears the ring. This was just a spectacle, and was amazing to watch. Match was punchy-kicky for the most part, but it gets **1/2 for entertainment value as well.
To top it off, you can watch this with an alternate commentary track, with Tommy Dreamer joining Jonathan Coachman. Dreamer wonders whatever happened to Beulah. Both like the way she looks. Tommy gives a little background of the match, with Raven leaving. Dreamer brings up Tajiri and Coach tells him not to bring him up. Tommy says the New York and Philly fans were hardest to please. Tommy talks about going aerial in the match, and mentioning he doesn’t know what happened to Francine, either, when they show her watching the match from the stands. So Coach asks why he doesn’t know where they are and Dreamer says they just lose touch. Dreamer talks about having a rocky relationship with Heyman. Dreamer talks about inventing the whole sign disguising a metal road sign. Tommy talks about doing the DVD in WWE as an homage to Louie, but never actually scoring a victory with it. It’s weird that they bleep the profanity on here, but not on the other features. Dreamer says Paul got a beatdown, and he jokes its because no one got paid that night. This was a real interesting, funny alternate commentary.
6) Taz(c) vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (19:18)
This is for the ECW TV Title, and is from Living Dangerously 03/01/98 in Asbury Park, NJ. Tazz and Cole introduce this match, and Tazz says this was a very physical match, and its his second favorite ECW match. I think they’ve replaced Tazz’ music with his new one, but I really don’t care. Who really keeps track of stuff like that anyway? I know a lot of people do, but it doesn’t take away from the match itself if the music is different since I usually don’t even notice. Taz is ECW TV champ at the time. Taz tries a submission right away but Bam Bam fights out of it. Taz clotheslines Bam Bam through the ropes and through the timekeeper’s table. Taz comes off the apron but Bam Bam catches him and sends his back into the ringpost. Bam Bam sends Taz to the barricade. Back inside, and Bam Bam with a powerbomb for two. Bam sends Taz to the corner and follows with a splash, but Taz with a clothesline. Taz tries for a suplex but Bam Bam adjusts in mid air and falls on top of Taz for a two count. Bigelow charges but is backdropped onto the entrance ramp. Taz hits a T-Bone Taz-plex off the ramp, tossing Bam Bam over the guardrail, and Taz’ head smacks into the guardrail. Bam Bam is up first and introduces chair to the face of Taz. Bigelow clotheslines Taz and both go over the guardrail back to ringside. Bigelow hits a DDT then goes to the top, and tries a moonsault which barely hits Taz. Bigelow covers for two. Bigelow brings a smashed table to the ring. What, Paul couldn’t afford any more and ECW reached its quota for the event? Bigelow tries to power bomb Taz through the table, but Taz punches out of it, then picks up Bam Bam like by the legs and drops him through the table, breaking it for a second time. The fans want Taz to choke him out. Where’s the local support? Bigelow kicks out at two. Now the fans start chanting for Bam Bam. The boys go outside, sucking all life from the crowd. Again Bigelow uses a used table, but its Taz who sends it to the face of Bam Bam. Bam Bam shrugs it off, they “brawl” at ringside, and Taz tosses Bam Bam into the first row. They continue with the punching until finally getting into the ring. Taz gets the Tazmission and Bam Bam staggers around the ring. Bam Bam seemingly taps, but the ref doesn’t see it. Bam Bam falls back, and he and Taz go THROUGH the ring. The fans pop for that, Bam Bam is out first, he pulls Taz in and its academic from there. Bam Bam is your new TV champ at 13:37 This match was really the big spot. Everything else was just setting up for it, and it wasn’t that great. It was a sub-par match, to be honest. I’ll give it ** for the spots, and leave it at that.
This also has alternate commentary, and its Tazz (with the extra z) and Michael Cole, or the Smackdown announcers together. Tazz jokes that nobody famous was from Asbury Park, and Cole mentions Bruce Springsteen, to which Tazz responds, “Who’d he beat?” Tazz and Cole talk about this like a real match, with Tazz not being intimidated, but its not like kayfabe, more psychology-wise. Tazz says he was knocked out when his head hit the barricade, not out cold, but knocked out. Tazz says the plastic chairs are harder than the other chairs, because Tazz says a lot of fat-ass fans sit there and they need to be sturdy. Tazz says when he went through the ring, he was knocked out cold when his head hit a board. Tazz ends with, “beat me if you can, survive if I let you.” Good commentary. Like I said, Tazz talks about the workings of the match and his insights were really fun to listen to.
7) Rob Van Dam vs. Jerry Lynn (37:07)
This is a World TV title match from Hardcore Heaven 05/16/99 in Poughkeepsie, NY. Cole and RVD introduce this, and record the alternate commentary which I write about after the match review. RVD actually calls himself the, “the whole fucking show,” with no bleeping. Cole builds up the match, and RVD talks about working with Lynn. Previously, Lynn and RVD fought to a time limit draw, and it seemed like Lynn would’ve been awarded the title, but he wanted five more minutes, leading to RVD pinning him. This is the rematch, and it has no time limit. RVD has Bill Alphonso with him. RVD gets a quick pin after a mat-wrestling sequence. Another reversal sequence leads to a stand-off. Lynn sends RVD to the corner, but he flips out. Lynn catches him and monkey flips him, but RVD reverses, Lynn’s sent to the corner and monkey flipped out. He intended to land on his feet but he fell, leading the fans to start their you f’ed up chant. I don’t know if it’s the audio as it was presented, but either the crowd is too loud, or the announcer is too low, because you can barely hear Joey. RVD was cut hard way over the eye. RVD ends up on the apron, and Lynn springboard dropkicks him off the apron onto the floor. Lynn goes upstairs and connects on a cross body. Lynn heads back in, RVD makes the apron, but is dropkicked and Lynn follows with a guillotine legdrop from the second rope for two. Lynn with a bulldog from the top gets two. Lynn goes to the top but Alphonso crotches him, set up a chair, and Van Dam goes for the Van Daminator. Lynn ducks out of the way, but ends up getting crotched and RVD with a springboard superkick sends Lynn hard to the floor. Lynn seems knocked out on the floor, and RVD has to literally dead lift Lynn into the ring, then decides to whip him to the barricades and Lynn goes up and over into the first row. RVD follows with a flying clothesline, over the barricade, onto Lynn. Everyone gets back into the ring and Lynn with a sunset flip gets two. Lynn tries for a piledriver but RVD reverses to a powerbomb. RVD tries for Rolling Thunder but Lynn sits up so RVD kicks him. RVD tries again but Lynn rolls out of the way. Lynn’s set up on the ropes and tries for a spinning DDT but RVD suplexes him into a cover for two. Lynn’s busted open by now, too. Lynn with a sunset flip/powerbomb out of the corner get two. Short-arm clothesline follows for Lynn, and he gets a table and set it up outside. He whips RVD to the barricade, charges, but is backdropped into the first row. RVD hits the Van Daminator off the steel barricade, but Lynn is the one who gets up first. He sits RVD on the ropes, trying for a powerbomb through the table on the ground, but RVD backdrops Lynn off the top rope, through the timekeeper’s table at ringside. Lynn’s whipped to the barricade, and RVD from the apron with a corkscrew guillotine legdrop. RVD rolls Lynn back in and covers for two. RVD, on the apron, sits Lynn on the top now, and Lynn tries for a tornado, lands on the apron, and is clotheslined into the ring, where RVD follows with a slingshot legdrop for two. RVD flips over Lynn and lands on the apron, where Lynn sunset flips him and powerbombs him through the table at ringside. The table absolutely shatters and RVD looks about dead right now. Lynn rolls RVD in and covers for two. Alphonso comes in and takes a chair to the face, and Lynn with a German suplex gets two. RVD’s is slammed and Lynn goes to the top. RVD catches him and leaps and kicks Lynn in the head. RVD lays the chair in the ring, they both go upstairs, where Lynn tries to set up RVD for something, but they slip and the ECW fans catch that goof, too. RVD picks up the chair and Lynn dropkicks the chair, which hits RVD’s face and Lynn only gets a two out of that deal. Lynn with a pinfall, but RVD bridges out. Lynn tries for the spike piledriver but RVD reverses that which Lynn sunset flips for a two. RVD with a split legged moonsault gets two. Lynn tries for a tornado DDT but RVD lays him out. RVD with the five-star frog-splash and he goes for the cover, but Lynn rolls him up and over for two. RVD comes back with a Van Daminator, then another frog splash finishes it at 26:55. These guys definitely worked their asses off, but a few dead spots in the middle, as well as a few blown spots makes this a ***1/2 match. The two guys high-five each other at the end of the match as a sign of respect.
So, RVD and Cole recorded the alternate commentary track, and I like the addition of these on the WWE DVDs. RVD says his first match with Lynn at the ECW arena could’ve been a squash but he saw talent in him and stretched the match out, leading to a series of RVD’s best matches. Cole says there’s an interesting dichotomy in this match, to which RVD says, “an interesting what?” RVD never got worried when he was injured, if he could keep going, he would. In fact, he said he wrestled on his broken ankle for a few minutes and he didn’t know it was broken. RVD liked the fact this was the first match used on the ECW on TNN. RVD talks about the changes between this and the WWE, and how the ropes were different. Cole tells us that when Lynn was on the floor and RVD dead lifted him, he was actually knocked out. RVD says he likes performing in front of a lot of people, but liked the energy of the small arenas. RVD does his Alphonso impression, which is pretty good. RVD says the big difference between ECW and WWE is time, in ECW there really was no time limit. RVD calls says the height he got on the last splash may have been a six-star one. It was a good alternate track and worth a listen.
8) Steven Richards Apologizes for Leaving ECW (4:08)
Stevie says the worst time for him in ECW was when he injured his neck, after getting hit with the barricade, and he ended up paralyzed in the ring for over an hour. Stevie wrestled later on, but he and Paul didn’t see eye to eye and Stevie left for WCW, with little notice. Stevie kept hurting his neck in WCW, Raven coming into WCW, then threatening Richards when Richards complained about jobbing to him at Clash of Champions. He went back to ECW where he had heat with the boys, and hurt his neck again, and finally had neck surgery. Stevie had mended fences with everyone, but wanted to tell everyone on the DVD and is sorry for what he did.
9) Tazz Seeks Paul Heyman’s Blessing (5:51)
After Tazz left ECW, he debuted at the 2000 Royal Rumble, driving on the LIE through the Midtown Tunnel and calls Paul Heyman. Tazz’ three dreams in wrestling was to make a living, hold a title, and wrestle at least once in the Garden, so he called Paul and Paul said he was proud of Tazz and happy for him. Tazz called Paul, just looking for a blessing. Tazz gets a bit choked up about it telling the story. To Heyman, ECW was his life. Tazz wishes ECW would’ve succeeded.
10) Paul Heyman: Travel Agent (4:16)
Jericho talks about Heyman being the travel agent. Jericho would get called for plane information from Heyman, and Jericho remembers one time he said he would never work for him again because he didn’t get any information and minutes later Heyman called and Jericho packed his bags and left. Jericho says Heyman waited till the last minute for everything. In an odd bit, Jericho remembers a story where Heyman bought a bereavement ticket for Jericho (saying his brother in law died, and Jericho uses the name Benoit, which listening to now definitely has a different meaning). Jericho finishes it doing his Ron Simmons impression.
Audio was Dolby Digital for the main program, and in widescreen. There weren’t any noticeable problems, it was just a documentary afterall, and the music never drowned out the people talking as they seemed to do on current DVD releases. The matches are another bag, though. ECW always had lower production value than the WWE and WCW, and it shows. I’ve seen early 80’s WWE footage that looks better than this. Of course, that was always part of the charm of ECW.
C) Packaging / Liner Notes
This is a double-disc collection so it’s in one DVD case. You get a four-page liner notes, with the extras and the chapter listings. It’s really all you need.
D) Easter Eggs
1) Promos (9:21)
To get this egg, go to the third page of chapters, highlight “Promos,” and hit left three times. This is a bunch of ECW promos, you get Bill Alphonso (w/Taz), Stevie Richards, Pit Bills, Public Enemy, Cactus Jack (I’m hardcore!), The Dudleys, etc. There’s not much memorable things here. The Cactus Jack ones are the best, the rest is filler.
1) Whipwreck Training Session (6:31)
On the first page of extras highlight the Whipwreck match and hit right three times. This is from an episode of Hardcore TV, 10/28/95. Mikey trains in Central Park with Public Enemy in the middle of the night. To start the training, Mikey climbs a ladder to grab a six-pack, can by can. Grunge gets drunk, drinking all six beers, and they show each one. Well, it was old after the first minute, and it was over 6 minutes so you do the math.
2) Recap/Ad (2:16)
On the second page of extras highlight the Bam Bam match and hit left three times. We see Bam Bam getting attacked by Shane, allowing RVD to defeat the Beast from the East. This leads to Taz and Bam Bam arguing, and teaming up against Douglas/RVD, and Bam Bam turning on him.
This is an older WWE DVD, so its always fun to see the opening ads before the program starts. On here we get Day of Reckoning, the WWE video game, the Chris Benoit DVD, the Eddie Guerrero DVD, (unbelievably, both men have died in the four years since this came out. It’s sad to think about), and the Don’t Try this At Home ad. I have to say, I really enjoyed this. I don’t really go for ECW but the main program was excellent, and the match selection was pretty good. You needed a Dreamer/Raven match, so we got the Dreamer big win, you needed an RVD match, and the one we got was a great one, the Pit Bulls/Richards&Raven match was just a classic, and the Taz match they picked was the most memorable of the bunch. I guess they could’ve had some of the more memorable matches from ECW, like maybe an Austin match, or a Cactus match, but overall it was a really good disc and included pretty much all aspects of ECW. Highly recommended.
9.0-9.5 Near Perfect, Highly Recommended
8.0-8.5 Really good disc, Recommended
7.0-7.5 Good DVD, Mildly recommended
6.0-6.5 Above Average DVD. Mildest of mild recommendations
5.0-5.5 Decent all around disc, but catch it on TV
4.0-4.5 Great Movie but horrible DVD
3.0-3.5 Horrible movie but great DVD
2.0-2.5 There’s at least some merit to this DVD, but not much.
1.0-1.5 Horrible DVD, don’t even bother
0.0-0.5 Worst DVD ever