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ECW Barely Legal 4/13/1997

Written by: David

ECW Barely Legal
April 13, 1997
ECW Arena
Philadelphia, PA

The current ECW champions were as follows:
ECW Champion: Raven (12/7/96)
Television Champion: Shane Douglas (7/13/96)
Tag Team Champions: Dudley Boyz (3/15/97)

Your host is Joey Styles.

How’s this for a way to start your first pay-per-view ever: As the show goes on the air, we see the ECW Arena going crazy and Joey Styles standing in the ring, but something seems off. We faintly hear a few production guys on headsets talking for the first ten or so seconds of airtime. Sometime during that span, Styles realizes his microphone is not working, and he smiles in embarrassment for a short while. The redeeming factor of this blunder? The crowd is shouting “ECW” at the top of their lungs the whole time, and that’ll hype you up faster than any other opening bit out there.

He eventually gets the word that his mic is on and does his thing, but he’s interrupted by the Dudley Boyz crew, who do some of the usual heel taunting.

Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (w/ Joel Gertner and Sign Guy) vs. The Eliminators

No tag rules to speak of in this match. The Dudleys devise a Sign Guy sneak attack, and of course it has no effect and he receives TOTAL ELIMINATION. The Eliminators work the crowd, allowing the Dudleys to make an actually worthwhile sneak attack. Perry Saturn takes a reverse DDT, and John Kronus gets powerbombed and hit with a flying headbutt from D-Von, who covers for two. Buh Buh Ray gives Saturn a tilt-a-whirl slam and a D-Von splash gets two. The Dudleys double team Kronus for a nice vertical suplex/crossbody move for another two. Saturn gets whipped but springboard backflips over the Dudleys and hits a double dropkick and some clotheselines, but gets caught with a BUH BUH SLAM. The Dudleys whip Kronus to set him up for the DUDLEY DEATH DROP, but Saturn kicks D-Von, allowing Kronus to hit Buh Buh with a spinning wheel kick. D-Von receives a double team roundhouse kick combo, then Buh Buh takes an intricate elbow and kick combo. A pair of front slams sets up STEREO TWISTING SPLASHES! The Dudleys try to get it together outside before getting knocked off the apron to the rail. As they to their feet, Kronus lifts Saturn by the foot for a moonsault plancha of sorts, then Kronus delivers a SPACE FLYING KRONUS DROP, which is a cartwheel backflip tope. Saturn brings D-Von back inside for a springboard spin kick, then Buh Buh gets put in the corner for HURRICANE KRONUS, a double backflip back elbow. Kronus slams Buh Buh and Saturn delivers an extra high flying elbow drop. D-Von gets whipped and both Eliminators leap frog him before bringing him to his knees and drilling him in the back of the head with stereo sweep kicks. Saturn slams Buh Buh and springboards off the second and third rope for a TRIPLE JUMP SATURNSAULT! Just to make sure we see enough aerial moves, Kronus sets up D-Von and hits an awesome 450 SPLASH. Buh Buh gets whipped and dropped to his knees for a roundhouse kick sandwich, then the Eliminators pull him back up and deliver TOTAL ELIMINATION, Saturn covers, 1-2-3. (6:11) As they celebrate, Gertner grabs the mic to say that the Dudleys won 86-83 on the Studmuffin Scoring System, and so of course his chubby ass receives TOTAL ELIMINATION. What you got here is an offensive exhibition by the Eliminators with a minute of Dudley offense at the beginning to help it pass off as a match. That said, I’ve seen people go as high as four stars for this because, damn, it’s just plain fun to watch. The crowd was also loving it, so it obviously served the purpose of an opening match. But I’ll try to be reasonable. **1/2

We watch a Sandman promo and he nails himself with the cane because he’s extreme.

Chris Candido appears in the ring and cuts a hysterical promo about how pissed he is that he can’t be on the show. It was scheduled to be him going against Lance Storm, but he had a bicep injury, so Rob Van Dam (who complained that he wasn’t booked) took his place. Candido says we can expect to see him sometime later in the show.

Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm

The crowd is under the false impression that Van Dam is soon jumping to WCW, perhaps so soon that this will be his last ECW appearance, so he gets a pretty mixed reaction throughout the match. (In actuality he would go on to do only a couple of shots for WWF that both promotions used as storylines until RVD refused to job to the Roadie and the WWF dropped it.)

They feel out each other a bit until Van Dam delivers some forearms in the corner. Storm hits a shoulderblock off the ropes, then avoids a monkey flip and hits a clothesline. He grabs a headlock, but Van Dam powers out for some kicks, an arm drag, and a springboard crossbody for one. Van Dam throws Storm outside, which sets up a somersault tope. Back in, Van Dam scores a body slam and a top rope leg drop for two. Storm gets corner whipped but springboards into a nice flying back elbow. He drapes Van Dam on the top rope and knocks him to the rail with a dropkick, but Van Dam avoids a pescado, and a flurry of forearms sets up a moonsault press off the railing. Storm gets thrown back in and Van Dam brings a chair into play. He whips Storm to the corner and quickly throws the chair at his face, then wastes a bunch of time before skateboarding the chair at Storm. Van Dam hits a double underhook gordbuster and a FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH, but delays the cover and only gets two. He retrieves the chair and throws it at Storm once again, then sets it down as he tumbles toward a monkey flip, but Storm moves and delivers some crazy move I’ve never seen other than in this match, landing Van Dam’s head on the chair. Van Dam keeps the advantage with some more forearms, but he misses a spinning wheel kick and Storm hits one of his own. Storm sends Van Dam into the corner for a cartwheel splash, setting up a nice springboard flying forearm for two. Van Dam gets whipped and rolled up into a Boston Crab, then a half Boston Crab. Some Van Dam trickery dumps Storm onto the apron, Storm hits a couple shoulders to the gut, but Van Dam takes him down and delivers a slingshot guillotine leg drop on the apron. Back in, Van Dam tosses the chair to Storm and tries a VAN DAMINATOR, but Storm ducks, scores an extremely weak chair shot (extremely, get it?), and delivers a wince-worthy sitout powerbomb onto the chair for 1-2-NO! As Van Dam stumbles up with the unfolded chair in hand, Storm comes off the top rope with a leg drop that drives his head onto the chair for two. A quick rope running exchange ends with Van Dam escaping a waistlock with a low blow, then he crotches Storm on the top rope and badly botches a springboard back elbow. Styles tries to cover it up by saying Storm shook the ropes, but the ECW Arena crowd has it right: “You fucked up! You fucked up!” Cover gets two for Van Dam. He picks up the chair, but Storm sneaks behind him with a German suplex for two. Storm hits Van Dam with a pair of terribly soft chair shots, so Van Dam responds with the VAN DAMINATOR, then hits a quick backflip splash for the 1-2-3. (10:10) After the match, Van Dam grabs the mic as the crowd chants “You sold out.” He denies Storm a handshake, then goes on about how he doesn’t give a shit if the fans or the locker room respect him, even though he threw a fit about being booked as a “second-line wrestler” to fill in for someone injured. He finishes with, “Lance Storm, by beating you here, Rob Van Dam is worth more money here, and now Rob Van Dam is worth more money ELSEWHERE!” This began the whole Mr. Monday Night angle, and it’s pretty damn funny to see that the ECW fans were hoodwinked like that. It’s also a really enjoyable little match, just right for the #2 slot. ***1/4

We see some cool Terry Funk clips and listen to Heyman push the three-way dance later on.

The Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada, and Masato Yakushiji vs. bWo Japan (Taka Michinoku, Dick Togo, and Men’s Teioh “Terry Boy”)

This was a match borrowed from Michinoku Pro in Japan, and it was the first ECW appearance for all six of these men. As far as I know, there’s no rhyme or reason to the whole bWo thing; they’re just wearing bWo shirts, definitely to add to the number of shots taken at WCW during this pay-per-view and possibly to help us keep up with who’s on which team. (I’ll do the same thing here and put all the bWo guys’ names in blue.) The tag rules are pretty loose, with guys sometimes becoming the legal man without making a tag. To get the full effect, try reading this as fast as you possibly can, because the pace is insane.

Hamada scores a quick arm drag on Taka to start it off, then goes on a quick onslaught before holding Taka up as Yakushiji comes off the top with a double foot stomp. A slam and a leg drop gets two for Yakushiji before tagging out to Sasuke, who pelts Taka with a bunch of kicks. Taka fights off a suplex and pummels Sasuke before tagging Terry Boy. A snap mare by Terry Boy sets up an elbow drop by Taka, a somersault senton by Togo, and another elbow drop by Terry Boy. Taka whips Sasuke for a sidewalk slam and a Boston Crab, Terry Boy grabs a camel clutch, then Togo delivers a low dropkick to the face. Togo beats Sasuke down and hits a senton splash, and Yakushiji breaks up the cover. Taka tags in and attacks the throat of Yakushiji, then gives him a slam and tags in Terry Boy, who scores some knee lifts and a stalling corkscrew suplex for two. Togo tags in and launches Yakushiji off a whip, but Yakushiji scores a wicked hurracanrana off another whip, then delivers an awesome floatover lucha arm drag to send Togo to the floor. He backflips off the second rope to show off, so Taka rushes in after him and shoots him to the ropes, but gets sent to the floor with a tilt-a-whirl arm drag. Now it’s Hamada and Terry Boy, and they exchange overhand chops until Hamada hits a big headbutt. Hamada backflips away from a corner whip and catches Terry Boy with an armbar takedown. Taka breaks it up and goes for a back body drop, but Hamada lands on his feet, baits Taka, who knocks Terry Boy to the floor, and Hamada scores another armbar takedown. He gives Taka a back suplex and tags in Sasuke, and they team up for a whip and a double chop. Sasuke grabs a bodyscissors chinlock, but Terry Boy breaks it up. He and Sasuke have a cool rope running sequence that ends with Sasuke cartwheeling into a crossbody for two. Yakushiji and Taka tag in, and Yakushiji hits a quick dropkick, but Taka brings him to his team’s corner for some punishment. Terry Boy tags in and does a little spot where he tosses Yakushiji outside a few times, but Yakushiji keeps coming back in, then outquicks him and dropkicks him to the floor, setting up a baseball slide into a headscissors takedown! Hamada and Togo match up and Togo ends some rope running with a low dropkick. Hamada goes running and a hurracanrana gets two before Taka breaks it up. Hamada counters a vertical suplex into a small package for two, then Taka gets triple teamed with chops to the back. Sasuke puts Taka into a half crab, but he squirms to his feet and hits an enziguri. Taka whips Sasuke to the corner for a running forearm and a roundhouse kick before making a tag for some triple team action. First, Togo and Terry Boy attack Sasuke’s midsection and hit a double facebuster, then they hold Sasuke up by his ankles with his head resting on the mat, and Taka hits a running front dropkick in the gut! They humiliate Sasuke by putting him on the bottom of a cheerleading-type pyramid, then if that wasn’t enough, Taka and Terry Boy each put a boot behind his head as Togo drills him with a stiff running front dropkick. You know, for being the guy with arguably the most clout in this match, Sasuke’s taking a hell of a beating.

A stalling vertical suplex gets two for Togo. Terry Boy tags in and goes for the SPINNING TOE HOLD, Sasuke kicks him off, Terry Boy gets whipped, and he delivers a swinging DDT. Taka and Yakushiji match up and a brainbuster by Taka gets two. Terry Boy tags in and gives Yakushiji a Hogan boot to set up a sweet triple team maneuver, check this out: Terry Boy begins to slingshot Yakushiji, Togo bounces off the ropes and drops him back with a clothesline, and as his whole torso is exposed and Terry Boy keeps a hold of his feet, Taka leaps off the top with a flying knee drop! A late cover by Togo gets 1-2-NO! Togo slams him to set up a second rope somersault senton, then Terry Boy tags in for a gnarly back suplex, but Hamada breaks up the cover. Taka goes after Hamada and gives him a back body drop and takes him into the bWo corner, and he and Togo team up for a spike piledriver. Hamada rolls to the floor and Yakushiji becomes the legal man, and the bWo team gives him an awesome triple team powerbomb for 1-2-NO! Sasuke makes the save, so they try the same powerbomb on him, but it gets botched. They go for it anyways, and Sasuke counters into a hurracanrana for two before it’s broken up. Sasuke gets whipped and avoids a double clothesline, then springboards into a moonsault onto Taka and Terry Boy for two. Togo matches up with him, and Sasuke delivers a cartwheel back elbow to send him to the floor. That sets up a fearless asai moonsault that lands Sasuke in the first row. Inside, Hamada sets up a top rope hurracanrana, but Terry Boy counters into a super inverted atomic drop. Hamada rolls outside and receives Taka’s springboard plancha. Inside, Yakushiji hits Terry Boy with a missile dropkick for two. A snap suplex sets up a second rope moonsault, which gets two. Terry Boy reverses a whip and hits a swinging DDT, then a chokeslam powerbomb, and the cover is broken up by Hamada. Togo hops in and hits him with a powerslam for two. Hamada catches Togo charging, and he leaps off the second rope for a swinging DDT for 1-2-NO! Togo reverses a whip and catches him with a powerbomb for two. Meanwhile on the outside, Sasuke is apparently kicking Taka so hard that the fans in the first row are wincing. Togo goes up top, but Sasuke stops him and Hamada pulls him down with a top rope hurracanrana. Sasuke and Hamada decide to focus on Terry Boy outside, leaving Togo alone to receive a missile dropkick by Yakushiji. That sends Togo outside, setting up a high-speed suicide dive by Yakushiji. Back in, Taka and Sasuke trade waistlocks until Sasuke kicks his way out, but he gets caught coming off the ropes with an overhead suplex. That sets up a stiff missile dropkick to the back of the head by Taka and the MICHINOKU DRIVER for 1-2-NO! Yakushiji makes the save, then gets tossed outside. Taka goes up top, but Sasuke dropkicks him on his way down and a springboard moonsault gets the 1-2-NO! Sasuke quickly gives Taka a big powerbomb and a DRAGON SUPLEX, and that’ll do it, 1-2-3. (16:55) Togo and Hamada push and shove a bit after the match. I know it was an exhausting play-by-play (Matt noted the overwhelming amount of action in his review in the WWE Classics section), but I love this match so much I just had to do it. This was some wild action that really got the crowd jumping. It might be a little lower on the scale by Japanese standards, but given the context, this is easily a classic and it helped give this show some real credibility. ****1/2

Stevie Richards delivers a creepy backstage promo where he’s looking at a mirror the whole time.

Television Champion Shane Douglas (w/ Francine) vs. Pitbull 2

Douglas shows up with a three-man riot squad because in Joey Styles’ words, “You think it’s easy getting that man in and out of the building?” After all, he legitimately broke Pitbull 1′s neck during a four-way classic at Heat Wave ’96 and then aggravated the injury sometime later by throwing him down by the device that held his head in place. And to make things more intense, he boasts about it during a big cocky promo as Pitbull 1 is seen sitting in the first row. Nice.

Pitbull 2 comes out and charges right at Douglas for a long slugfest, then takes over with a back body drop and a spinning wheel kick. He grabs a big front headlock, trying to break Douglas’ neck. Styles’ take: “While no compassionate human being would condone that, can you blame Pitbull 2?” Douglas low blows his way out and grabs a hard front headlock of his own. Pitbull gets out of that and delivers a nice headlock takedown and holds on for a two count. Douglas works his way up and attacks the midsection, but Pitbull scores a drop toe hold and floats over into another headlock, wrenching on it hard. More classic Styles: “He would love to just pop off that head and take it home with him!” Douglas puts some shoulders to the gut and comes off a whip with yet another front headlock, but Pitbull crotches him on the top rope. Shane runs the ropes leading to a blatantly botched move and an awkward pause, then Pitbull hits a low blow. They go for take two, and Pitbull catches Shane with an inverted atomic drop. A clothesline gets two. Francine is seen crying her eyes out as Douglas gets choked on the ropes. Pitbull whips him and goes for a powerbomb, but Shane counters into a horrible hurracanrana! Douglas is still on wobbly legs though and he gets clotheslined. Pitbull tries again for a powerbomb, but this time Douglas delivers a much-better hurracanrana to the floor!!! Back in, Douglas takes over with a trifecta of piledrivers. He chokes Pitbull on the ropes, then delivers a snap mare/dropkick to the neck combo (PSYCHOLOGY!!!). The crowd starts to get bored of Shane dominating, so they give Francine the good ol’ chant of “She’s got herpes.” Shane hits a stalling suplex and grabs a camel clutch while talking shit to Pitbull 1, calling him by his actual name, Gary. It’s those little things that count when it comes to making the “well-educated ECW fans” buy whatever angle you’re selling them. Pitbull 2 eventually breaks free and scores a choke inverted atomic drop. Shane gets whipped to the corner, springboards off the second rope, and gets caught, and it starts to look like another botch, then Pitbull lets him down (?), then he picks him up again for a fallaway slam through the timekeeper’s table! Douglas gets tossed around like a rag doll outside, then Pitbull 1 jumps the rail and attacks him! That’s short-lived though, as the riot squad holds him back and takes him to the locker room.

The match comes back inside and Pitbull brings a section of steel guardrail with him. He stands it up and attempts to crotch Shane, but Shane flips to avoid it (not landing on his feet like he tried to do), and attempts to crotch Pitbull, but the rail gets knocked over, and Shane drops him clumsily knee-first on the rail. Ouch. Shane hits some low blows and rolls Pitbull to the floor, then drops the guardrail onto him! He finally crotches him on the guardrail, then smacks him in the back with a chair. Back in, Douglas gives Pitbull a million right hands, Pitbull eventually starts no-selling and coming back with rights of his own, but Douglas stops him with a kitchen sink and an elbow drop. Shane jumps from the top and gets caught and perched up in the corner, then shoves off a superplex attempt. He gets adjusted and leaps off, but Pitbull dropkicks him on the way down. They get up slow and hit each other with double-KO clotheslines. Pitbull takes over with punches and a pair of knockdowns, then catches Douglas with a powerslam for two. Whip and back elbow gets two for Pitbull. Whip and dropkick gets two. Another whip leads to a nice press slam, but Pitbull is tired and staggers into the ropes, allowing Francine to slip some brass knux to Douglas. He delivers two uninspired right hands, then picks up a piece of table and breaks it over Pitbull’s head for 1-2-NO! Chair across the back gets two. Ring bell gets two. Another piece of table gets two. The crowd has no doubt that these are going to be two counts. Pitbull comes back and whips Shane to the corner, but he grabs the title belt (which is oddly hanging between the post and the top turnbuckle) and gives Pitbull a couple shots with it. He unties his boot and reaches for a small chain, but Pitbull sneaks up and hits a pump handle slam for two. Pitbull grabs the chain out of the boot, Chris Candido appears, and Pitbull swiftly knocks him off the apron. Francine inches into the ring but retreats when Pitbull comes toward her, allowing Shane to grab a school boy for 1-2-NO! Pitbull comes back with a clothesline, but Shane ducks a second clothesline and scores a BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX for the 1-2-3. (20:43)

After the match, he hear Ravishing Rick Rude over the loudspeaker saying something about how he wants Francine or he’ll kick Shane’s ass. (Oh, by the way, Rick Rude had been at ECW shows wearing a Mexican style mask and taunting Shane, and although his face was covered, everyone knew it was him because of the voice. And, oh, by the way, there was a stipulation that if Pitbull didn’t win the title, the “Masked Man” would have to reveal himself.) So here he comes walking down the aisle, wearing a blue “Simply Ravishing” robe. He struts right in and lays a kiss on Francine, so Shane decks him with the title belt and tries to pull off the mask, but a riot squad guy hops in and pulls off his helmet to reveal himself to be … RICK RUDE! Everyone goes crazy, except Shane, whose back is turned. He gets the mask off and it’s Brian Lee, so he turns around and takes a nightstick to the gut and a right hand from Rude, then gets chokeslammed by Lee for a big huge crowd pop.

This match was an ambitious effort, with both guys trying like hell to make it a classic by inserting more psychology and wrestling maneuvers than you’d normally see from them, yet much of it is so sloppy and boring that this match gets completely shit on. It turned out to rely on the heat of the feud (and it was a great feud), and that alone didn’t carry it through 20 minutes of these two guys huffing, puffing, struggling with moves they don’t know, and failing to sell convincingly. **1/4

Raven talks some of his typical Raven talk in a backstage promo.

Taz (w/ Bill Alfonso and Team Taz) vs. Sabu

This is billed as “The Grudge Match of the Century,” and a couple guys at ringside look shocked that it’s not the nightcapper. Sabu suddenly appears in the ring for a big staredown, having apparently jumped the gun on his cue to enter. They trade slaps until Taz hits a clothesline that has Sabu reeling to the floor. Back in, Sabu reverses a whip and drops down, Taz hits the brakes and goes for the TAZMISSION, but Sabu blocks it and scores an arm drag and holds onto a reverse arm bar. Taz wrestles out and they trade some hammerlocks. Sabu blocks a suplex, but Taz takes him down for an ankle pick. Taz lets Sabu go for his leg, but he ends up on top for some crossface blows, then a bodyscissors hold. Sabu takes a pummeling and then we see that he’s bleeding, apparently from one of the crossfaces. He kills time and gets a sneaky low dropkick and a slingshot leg lariat onto a seated Taz. He sends Taz to the outside and over the guardrail and delivers a TRIPLE JUMP PLANCHA into the crowd! They brawl back and forth and move through the sea of humanity for a while, then Sabu leaps off a chair, missing Taz and hitting the rail, and Taz clotheslines him over. Back in, Taz drop toe holds Sabu and applies a freestyle bow-and-arrow. They start a slugfest from their knees, then brawl on the mat until Taz puts on a bodyscissors arm bar. Sabu makes it to the ropes and hits an enziguri, setting up an awesome springboard somersault leg drop. He brings in a chair and hurls it at Taz in the corner, which sets up AIR SABU. He misses a second try and Taz hotshots him onto the chair, and a late cover gets two.

Back up, Taz whips Sabu into an unbelievably stiff clothesline for two. He catches him coming off the ropes with a sidewalk slam, but Sabu pulls him to the floor and goes for another TRIPLE JUMP PLANCHA, but Taz avoids it and Sabu hits the guardrail. An OVERHEAD BELLY-TO-BELLY TAZPLEX sends Sabu crashing all over chairs. Sabu gets rolled back in, and it looks like Team Taz set up a table bridging the rail and ring apron. Taz orders them around a bit, allowing Sabu to ambush him and knock him out and onto the table. He begins a triple jump move, but stops because Taz doesn’t look ready. He heads out and Taz tries to set up a suplex, Sabu fights it off and goes for a swinging DDT, but Taz doesn’t budge and Sabu falls through the table. I’m pretty sure that was all botched if not just badly improvised. They have some more slugfest outside, then they bring it inside, and Taz favors his shoulder. A top rope hurracanrana gets two for Sabu. He follows that with a huge top rope leg drop. After more slugfesting, Taz grabs a hold and delivers a SIDE HEAD AND ARM TAZPLEX, then a HEADLOCK TAZPLEX, but he takes a breather, which allows Sabu to come back with a PUMP HANDLE SABUPLEX! He mocks Taz, but Taz gets right up, Sabu ducks a clothesline, and he puts on a SABUMISSION, but Taz wiggles around and delivers a modified SIDE BELLY-TO-BELLY TAZPLEX. He follows up with a PUMP HANDLE TAZPLEX, then locks on the TAZMISSION, Sabu is out, it’s over. (17:49)

Taz gets on the mic and he and Sabu have a nice mutual respect moment, which is interrupted by Rob Van Dam jumping Taz. Van Dam gets stuck in the TAZMISSION, but Sabu saves him and Van Dam unloads on Taz with stomps and leg drops. Sabu brings in a chair for an ARABIAN FACEBUSTER. Van Dam sets him on a table outside, and Sabu goes for a triple jump moonsault plancha, but he slips off the rope and settles for a more modest verison of a plancha through the table. Sabu puts on another SABUMISSION while Fonzie just stands there, not trying to help Taz. Fonzie gets in the ring with RVD and Sabu, and he takes off his Taz shirt to reveal a Sabu shirt. This starts the Sabu/RVD/Fonzie alliance. Van Dam gets on the mic for the second time and tells his new employer to think about picking up Fonzie, “because he knows my schedule, and I love to work Mondays.”

This match has good heat and some good wrestling, and it even has a unique realism going for it, with Taz keeping the advantage after the table spot and Sabu only coming back here and there, but I don’t think it sets the world on fire like some people do. Maybe I can’t get past all the mini slugfests between spots and the otherwise underbooked feel. ***1/4

3-Way Dance: Terry Funk vs. Sandman vs. Stevie Richards (w/ The Blue Meanie, Hollywood Nova, Thomas Rodman, and 7-11)

The winner faces Raven for the ECW Title. Tommy Dreamer adds some guest commentary here. The story is that he gave up his spot in the match to his mentor Terry Funk, and he promised he wouldn’t interfere. The crowd loves the bWo since they’re obviously a WCW parody. After the opening bell, Sandman pounds yet another beer and spits some of it at Stevie, and of course he’s already bleeding. Funk puts a headlock on Stevie, then Sandman puts one on Funk, and Sandman bounces off the ropes for a shoulderblock. He takes advantage on Stevie and gives him some overhand chops in the corner, then Funk gets in on the action, then he and Sandman have a chopfest, and it ends with Funk pushing him into a Stevie school boy for two. Sandman misses Stevie and gets decked by Funk, who goes for a SPINNING TOE HOLD, but Stevie hits him with a flying forearm. Stevie and Sandman take turns dropping elbows on Funk, then Sandman picks up Stevie and drops him into a legdrop on Funk for two. Stevie agrees to go for another try, but this time Sandman turns on him and hits a back suplex. Sandman takes off down the entranceway while Funk delivers FOUR hangman’s neckbreakers on Stevie for a two count. Sandman emerges with a ladder and heaves it from the floor right at Funk. Stevie takes some ladder punishment, and Sandman covers Funk for two. Sandman sets up the ladder near the corner and drops Stevie with a DDT. He climbs and Funk goes after him and gives him some fists, then he delivers a MOONSAULT PRESS onto Stevie! Considering that there’s no telling where Funk will land with a moonsault, Stevie did a decent enough job of getting underneath him. Sandman grabs the ladder and comes off the top rope, smashing it onto Stevie. He levels Funk and body slams Stevie on the ladder for two. He grabs the ladder again, but Stevie dropkicks it into his head for 1-2-NO! Funk quickly crawls across the mat and headbutts Stevie for two.

Sandman puts the ladder in a corner, but his corner whip is reversed by Stevie. That gets two. A body slam on Funk gets another two for Stevie. Low blow gets another two. Sandman beats Funk down some more, then climbs the ladder in the center of the ring. Stevie meets him up top, and Funk backs into it to drop both guys into the ropes. Funk holds the ladder up on his shoulders and spins around wildly, dropping both of his opponents. He sets the ladder against the ropes and brawls with Sandman, and Stevie comes off the top and seesaws the ladder into them both. STEVIEKICK on Sandman gets 1-2-NO! STEVIEKICK on Funk gets 1-2-NO! If it wasn’t obvious before, it’s obvious now: Stevie’s going out first. The match spills to the floor, and Sandman knocks Stevie into the crowd, then sets the ladder against the rail and comes over the top rope for a seesaw! Funk nails Stevie with a chair while Sandman heads down the aisle for more weaponry. Funk brings Stevie inside and delivers a corkscrew vertical suplex, but Sandman shows up and hurls a trash can covered in sheet metal right at Funk’s head! Sandman gives Stevie a suplex onto the can and Funk covers for 1-2-NO! Funk and Sandman team up for a spike piledriver, then Sandman sets the ladder on Stevie and hits a slingshot somersault leg drop, and Funk covers for 1-2-NO! Sandman sets the ladder on the ropes for another seesaw on Stevie, but it doesn’t connect and the ladder goes flying onto the guardrail. Still looked pretty cool. Funk throws a chair at Sandman and covers Stevie for two. Sandman and Funk team up for a powerbomb, and they both cover Stevie for the 1-2-3 at 15:43.

It’s down to Sandman and Funk. Sandman gets dumped outside, but wobbles around and finds some barbed wire, which is all tangled with the streamers that were thrown in the ring before the six-man tag match earlier. Funk pulls Sandman’s shirt over his head hockey-style and throws some punches at him, then whips his bare back with the wire! There’s one ugly moment there when the wire snags Sandman’s skin as Funk yanks on it. Sandman manages to stop the whipping with a loose piece of sheet metal, then he wraps himself in barbed wire! He uses it to knock down Funk a couple times, then he hits a top rope leg drop for 1-2-NO! Stevie returns, stumbles up to the ring apron, and takes a barbed wire hug from Sandman. Funk capitalizes by putting the trash can over Sandman’s head and slugging him a couple times, then Stevie comes back in and delivers a STEVIEKICK into the trash can. Funk goes up for another MOONSAULT, and that gets the 1-2-3. (19:10) Probably what you’d expect. Full of fun spots and not much wrestling or storytelling. Sloppiness definitely brought it down. ***

Just ten seconds after the pinfall, Raven jumps in the ring, and here we go …

World Champion Raven vs Terry Funk

Funk doesn’t have much left, so Raven just bullies him around, then delivers a DROP TOE HOLD ON THE CHAIR! He adds a chair shot, and a close-up reveals that Funk is bleeding up a storm. A kayfabe doctor checks on Funk while Raven calmly rests in the corner. (A funny side note is that due to New Jack’s “Mass Transit Incident” from late ‘96, the pay-per-view company demanded that there be a real doctor at ringside with the authority to stop a match.) Raven pummels Funk to the floor and suplexes a table onto him. He sets up a table outside, lays Funk on it, and leaps over the top rope, crashing Funk to the floor in a heap. The kayfabe doctor looks at Funk’s cut and tries to stop the match, but Raven decks him. Here comes a group of renegade bikers aligned with Raven, and they start setting up a stack of tables right underneath the broadcast position. Meanwhile, female weightlifter Reggie Bennett shows up and powerbombs Funk in the ring. Raven gets on the mic and tells Dreamer that he’s going to end Funk’s career by dropping him off the balcony through the tables, and that does it — Tommy’s pissed, and he’s headed to the ring. But, no, he gets attacked from behind with a trash can by Big Dick Dudley, who just got out of jail (lol). Dick tries a chokeslam, but Tommy counters and delivers his own chokeslam, dropping Big Dick through the stack of tables! Raven waits for Tommy to make it to the ring while Funk quivers in a pool of his own blood. Raven reverses a whip, and Tommy hits a swinging DDT! Funk covers, 1-2-NO! We hear the ring bell anyways. Wow, way to fuck up your simple job at the most inopportune time, Mr. Bell Ringer. Raven fights back and tries a suplex, but Funk rolls him into an inside cradle for the 1-2-3! Funk is the champion! (7:20) While Dreamer still hasn’t scored a pinfall on Raven, this was obviously a victory in their feud. Funk and Dreamer spend the next few minutes with some fans as the show goes off the air. This was obviously not booked to be much of a match, rather more of a storyline piece, so it’s tough to rate, but I gotta say that it worked for the emotion and mark out factor. ***

Final Thoughts: One thing that makes following ECW history difficult is the absence of an annual megashow a la Wrestlemania — sure, Styles used to push November To Remember as the yearly granddaddy of ‘em all, but it seemed just like any other pay-per-view and never delivered the quality of a megashow — so this is arguably the lone “special” ECW show. It was the promotion’s chance to show it could stay true to itself while operating within the bounds of a live pay-per-view event (although they almost hit the end of the three-hour time slot before the show’s conclusion, which would have been a disaster). It’s also the only ECW pay-per-view held in the ECW Arena, which is a shame in my opinion because the energy was much better there than in some of the places ECW held pay-per-views. On a technical level, the six-man tag is the only must-see material, but there’s plenty more to this show than star ratings and the whole show is a must-see for ECW fans. Thumbs up.

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