ECW Wrestlepalooza 1998 5/3/1998
Written By: David
May 3, 1998
Cobb County Civic Center
The current ECW champions were as follows:
ECW Champion: Shane Douglas (11/30/97)
Television Champion: Rob Van Dam (4/4/98)
Tag Team Champions: Chris Candido and Lance Storm (12/6/97)
Your host is Joey Styles.
The bWo (The Blue Meanie and Super Nova) vs. The FBI (Little Guido and Tracey Smothers) (w/ Tommy Rich)
Guido and Nova start it off. Guido’s quick instincts earn him a body slam for two, but Nova catches him celebrating with a school boy for two. Nova delivers a chokeslam atomic drop and a spinning wheel kick, then he bulldogs Smothers while giving Guido a legdrop. Meanie tags in, Guido wants out, Smothers won’t tag him, so Tommy Rich turns the match into a dance contest (yes, a dance contest) between Smothers and Meanie. They both strut their, uhh, “stuff,” then referee John Finnegan gets in on the action and Meanie declares him the winner, allowing Smothers to attack from behind. Guido accidentally dropkicks Smothers, then accidentally teams up with Meanie for a double elbow drop. The FBI push Finnegan around a bit, so he body slams them both! They end up getting dumped outside and Nova hits a sweet corkscrew plancha. Back inside, the FBI double-teams Nova and gets a two count with an atomic drop/jumping front kick combo. Italian leg sweep/superkick combo gets another two. Top rope leg drop by Guido gets two. Double Italian leg sweep and double elbow drop gets yet another two. Nova needs to tag out. Smothers puts a stop to a short comeback with chops and a back heel kick. Guido tags in and gets caught going upstairs, so Nova drops him with an inverted electric chair drop. Hot tag to Meanie! He has some initial trouble dealing with both Italians at the same time, but he drops them with a double clothesline. A double corner whip spot gets botched, then Nova hits a pescado on Smothers. Meanie goes upstairs, he’s temporarily stopped by Tommy Rich, which gives Guido enough time to avoid the MEANIESAULT. Guido nails Meanie with the Italian flag, but Nova sneaks behind him for NOVACAIN for the 1-2-3! (9:27) After the match, the bWo and the ref dance to the Village People’s “YMCA.” Very fun and absolutely absurd comedy match to start off the show. **1/2
We watch some history for the next match. Mikey ended Credible’s undefeated streak back at November to Remember, so Credible responded by tearing apart Mikey’s leg in the weeks following.
Justin Credible (w/ Jason and Chastity) vs. Mikey Whipwreck
Mikey comes charging out and tries for a WHIPPERSNAPPER, Credible shoves it off but gets taken down with a spear. Mikey nails him with right hands, then whips him into an awesome Flair corner flip to the floor. Mikey is all over Credible and launches him over the guardrail right into a little kid! Mikey adds a Russian leg sweep into the railing, then tries for another one off the apron, but Credible holds on and Mikey hits the rail hard in a sick bump. Back in, Credible sets up a chair and drives Mikey’s head into it. With Mikey sitting down in the corner, Jason holds the chair in front of him and Credible delivers a stiff running knee. He pulls him out with a sitout powerbomb on the chair for two. They battle over a backslide and Mikey gives Credible a low blow, but Credible scores a reverse DDT anyway. Credible sends Mikey to the floor for a backbreaker from Jason, then he’s set up on a table while Credible climbs up on the guardrail. Mikey pokes Jason in the eye and heaves a chair at Credible, then delivers a superplex off the rail through the table! Back in, they both have chairs, Mikey ducks and lands a stiff chair shot on Credible, then a swinging neckbreaker gets 1-2-NO! He sets a chair on the top turnbuckle and catapults Credible into it, then grabs a school boy for 1-2-NO! FRANKENMIKEY off the top gets 1-2-NO! The ensuing body scissors spot looks pretty ugly, and it leads into a WHIPPERSNAPPER. Jason jumps in and also receives the WHIPPERSNAPPER. Chastity jumps in and receives a TOP ROPE WHIPPERSNAPPER! By this time, Credible is back to his feet and has a chair, Mikey stops him and pulls him up for a tombstone, but Credible reverses it and hits THAT’S INCREDIBLE onto the chair, 1-2-3! (9:54) A hell of a match. Fast paced, intense, stiff, good storytelling, good crowd psychology, nothing to complain about expect one slightly botched spot. ***1/4
Axl Rotten cuts a promo from the broadcast position and challenges the tag champs.
Tag Team Champions Chris Candido and Lance Storm vs. The Hardcore Chair Swingin’ Freaks (Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten)
Candido and Storm aren’t getting along, so Candido creates his own entrance and demands that his name be mentioned first. That Candido was always a little goofy. Everyone takes turns tagging in for some basic rope running and arm holds for the first minute or so. Balls clotheslines Storm and makes a tag to set up a variation of a Demolition’s finisher for two. Storm scores a nice spinning wheel kick and tags out to Candido, who wastes time arguing and gets taken down with an arm drag. Balls tags in for a drop toe hold/leg drop combo for two, then controls Candido off a rope running sequence, but ends up missing a spinning wheel kick and falls outside. Candido tries a pescado but gets caught in mid-air and Balls takes over on the floor. Storm tries to help matters but ends up nailing Candido, then Axl delivers a slingshot somersault plancha! Back in, Storm dropkicks Axl, and Candido tags in for a stalling vertical suplex. Storm tags back in and goes back and forth with Axl until hitting a crescent kick for two. Candido tags back in and a double back elbow gets two, then Candido sits on a chinlock. Axl gets out and hooks a sunset flip for two, then scores with a big clothesline. Typical tag team psychology says he should tag out, but instead he goes up top and gets caught for a hurracanrana. Balls hits a clothesline from the apron, which gets two for Axl. Candido gets caught off the top with a powerbomb, Axl gets kicked off a catapult attempt, and he falls right into Candido’s groin! Storm gets involved to stop a hot tag, but he and Candido get caught in a double DDT. Hot tag to Balls! He takes over and hits Storm with a powerslam for 1-2-NO! Candido breaks up the cover. Balls reverses a corner whip and catches Candido bouncing out of the corner, but here comes Tammy Lynn Sytch to make the save. Balls grabs Tammy, but Lance hits him with a low blow. Candido doesn’t want anyone else saving Tammy, so he pushes Lance around a bit. Balls and Axl take advantage of the distraction but end up receiving stereo low blows. Axl gets sent outside and Storm delivers a nice springboard plancha. Inside, Candido gets caught going upstairs and Balls hits him with the NUTCRACKER SUITE. He decides to go for a chair instead of a pin, allowing Lance time to hit him with a springboard dropkick into the chair! Storm goes for the pin, but Candido hits him with a chair and makes the cover for the 1-2-3! (12:04) Candido walks away with both belts, so he and Storm exchange some punches before making their way to the back. Plenty of decent wrestling, some good tag team work, but nothing groundbreaking. **1/2
We watch some footage from before the event of Joey Styles bringing out a bunch of wrestling legends from Georgia. We got Junkyard Dog, Dirty Dick Slater, The Masked Superstar, and Bullet Bob Armstrong.
We’re back live, and Joey Styles explains that Shane Douglas will wrestle with a slew of injuries tonight, then the Franchise comes out with a fire in his eyes. He goes on about how he’s a big tough guy for wrestling while he’s all banged up, then says Shawn Michaels handed the Intercontinental title over to him to avoid wrestling with an injury, then talks mess about Ric Flair to mostly negative reactions, then says that we will all tell our great great grandchildren that Shane Douglas was the greatest athlete we ever saw. A sensible wrestling fan operating the house lights decides that final statement was about the dumbest thing he’s ever heard, so he tries to sabotage the show by turning off the lights. Oh, wait, nevermind. It’s Taz’s entrance. My bad. The Human Suplex Machine comes out and reminds Shane just who gave him all those injuries and says he should hand over the belt. Shane tells him to shove it, but then decides he’s down for an unsanctioned fight. Taz lands a fist on Shane’s fractured cheek bone and applies the Tazmission, but security guards break it up. As Taz is taken away, Bam Bam Bigelow appears and pummels Taz for a while until security gets in between them. Taz is taken away in handcuffs and tossed into a car outside, kicking the window out as the car takes off.
Bam Bam Bigelow vs. New Jack
Bam Bam takes over right away with a bunch of stomps and a corner splash. He misses with a guitar, allowing New Jack to go nuts with various other weapons, then he sets a Godzilla doll on Bam Bam’s crotch and bashes it with a 9-iron. Bam Bam makes a comeback on the floor and scores with some other weapons, busting New Jack open. Jack gets tossed into the crowd and Bam Bam dives over the guardrail at him. Around the arena we go, and Bam Bam unloads with some hard plastic chairs. After getting tossed against a wall a few times, New Jack avoids a splash into a guardrail, and despite looking legitimately out of it, he makes his way to a balcony right above Bam Bam. A guitar mysteriously appears in his hands, and he plummets down a good 12 feet to smash it on Bam Bam’s head! Bam Bam’s busted open, but he looks to be the only one who knows where the hell he is, so he carries New Jack on his shoulders back into the ring, and GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK gets the 1-2-3. (8:48) DUD
We watch some cool clips for this next match while listening to Paul Heyman’s favorite song, “River of Deceit” by Mad Season.
Sandman and Tommy Dreamer (w/ Beulah McGillicutty) vs. The Dudley Boyz (w/ Joel Gertner, Big Dick Dudley, and Sign Guy)
We get some of the usual stuff from Joel “The ladies call me Fred Flinstone because I make their bed rock” Gertner. Dreamer and Sandman score with stereo hiptosses to start. The match moves to the floor, where Sandman nails Buh Buh with a huge table suplex. D-Von gets bent over the guardrail and Tommy holds a chair for Sandman to come off the apron with a lethal guillotine leg drop. Inside, Dreamer delivers a handman’s neckbreaker out of the corner on D-Von. Sandman tosses a piece of guardrail in the ring, then he and Dreamer hit Buh Buh with a splash/slingshot leg drop combo stolen from the repertoire of RVD and Sabu. With the guardrail leaning in the corner, Buh Buh reverses a whip that sends Sandman flipping onto it. Looked pretty rough, and Sandman is put in a neck brace and on a stretcher and gets taken away. I smell kayfabe on this one. Meanwhile, Dreamer becomes the victim of a long double-team onslaught by the Dudleys. He finally comes back by catching Buh Buh climbing the turnbuckles for a superplex. D-Von breaks up the cover, and it’s back to Dudley domination. Buh Buh distracts the ref while Sign Guy tries to blind Tommy with a handful of powder, but Tommy ducks, D-Von eats the powder, and Tommy rolls him up with a school boy, but referee Jim Mollineaux is still distracted. Sign Guy blasts Tommy with his tiny sign and the Dudleys hit an INVERTED DUDLEY DEATH DROP. They prop the guardrail up in the ring, they crotch Tommy, and they give him simultaneous chair shots. As they both maneuver the rail, Spike Dudley shows up and drops them with a missile dropkick. A splash onto the railing gets 1-2-NO! Swinging bulldog on D-Von! ACID DROP on Buh Buh! Apparently Spike is in the match as a replacement for Sandman … for now. The Dudleys roll outside, Spike leaps out after them, they catch him in mid-air, then Tommy delivers a pescado! Back in, D-Von gets placed in a tree of woe with a chair in front of his face. Keep that in mind. Big Dick jumps in and drops Tommy with TOTAL PENETRATION (a sitout powerbomb). Spike avoids a powerbomb from Buh Buh, hits a low blow, then walks over Buh Buh and Tommy for a dropkick into the chair on D-Von! Clever little spot. Big Dick jumps in again and nails Spike with a BIG DICK DRIVER. Sign Guy stands over Spike, then takes a low blow and a DDT from Beulah! The Dudleys grab Beulah, and Spike makes the save but receives the DUDLEY DEATH DROP. That cues a return from Sandman in a neck brace, and he unloads with cane shots. Tommy adds a chair to the mix and stereo DDTs get the 1-2-3! (11:19) There’s some fun stuff here, but nothing any ECW fan hasn’t seen before. I could have done without Sandman’s fake injury, even though Spike Dudley is the f’n man. **1/4
We watch a set of awesome clips from the RVD/Sabu feud, which started when Van Dam defeated Bam Bam Bigelow for the TV title, despite the plan being for him to soften up Bigelow for Sabu’s title shot.
Television Champion Rob Van Dam (w/ Bill Alfonso) vs. Sabu (w/ Bill Alfonso)
Fonzie comes out first with Sabu, but officially he is managing both men. Also, the referee is Jeff Jones, who’s in Fonzie’s pocket, so in Styles’ words, “This whole thing stinks.” They take it way slow to start, shifting between sizing each other up and Van Dam’s glory moments. Sabu finally grabs a hold of Van Dam’s leg, which leads to a flawless wrestling sequence controlled mostly by RVD, culminating in a standoff spot where they both bounce off the ropes and stop in front of one another. They soak up their crowd respect moment, then Van Dam gets on the mic. During a match? What’s this about? He says we were all gullible to think he would wrestle his good friend Sabu, and it was all just a ploy to ruin everyone’s night. Sabu plays along and they hold each other’s hands high. Referee Jeff Jones puts a stop to it, so RVD shoves him into a corner. He goes down on all fours to let Sabu jump off his back for AIR SABU on Jones, but instead Sabu kicks Van Dam in the ribs! It’s on now. Springboard leg lariat gets two for Sabu. Slingshot somersault leg drop gets another two. Van Dam takes a breather outside, but Sabu hits him with a slingshot somersault plancha. Sabu whips him to the rail and takes it back inside for a modified camel clutch. They both go back to impressing each other with acrobatic evasion moves, then they trade low dropkicks, and Van Dam hits a corkscrew leg drop for two. Fonzie shows his love for Van Dam, leaving Joey Styles confused as to who is double-crossing whom. I honestly think the idea is to make us forget about the storyline altogether and ignore the fact that Sabu and RVD are storyline and real-life friends and just enjoy the match. Mexican surfboard by Van Dam. Sabu looks like he legitimately hurt his leg in the hold, so Van Dam stomps him to the apron for a while. Slingshot guillotine leg drop by Van Dam. Back in, he attacks the knee and puts on a half boston crab. He delivers a crescent kick then goes outside for a table. Sabu plays dead until Van Dam bridges the ring and guardrail with the table, then he hits him with a suicide dive. Van Dam gets laid on the table and hit with a chair, Sabu goes for a triple jump, but Van Dam rolls away into the crowd. So what does Sabu do? He leaps from the top rope to the far edge of the table, has no balance whatsoever, and luckily collides with Van Dam instead of plummeting to what would likely be a serious injury. Call it a QUADRUPLE JUMP PLANCHA. We’re ten minutes into this thing.
A fistfight breaks out on the floor, and Sabu gets crotched on the guardrail. Van Dam wants Fonzie to hold a chair up for a FLYING VAN DAMINATOR, but Fonzie takes it away at the last second and it’s just a flying sick kick. Van Dam front suplexes Sabu on the rail and delivers his corkscrew guillotine leg drop off the apron. Now it’s Van Dam who gets crotched on the rail, and Sabu goes for a reckless Asai moonsault! That gets two back inside. Sabu throws a chair at Van Dam’s face and misses the TRIPLE JUMP MOONSAULT. A weak chair throw gets two for Van Dam. He crotches Sabu on the top rope and hits a long springboard side kick to drop Sabu to the floor. Somersault tope follows. With RVD on the apron and Sabu in the ring, RVD tries a suplex through a table, but Sabu counters, hangs Van Dam on the second rope, and delivers an ARABIAN PRESS, absolutely drilling Van Dam in the neck and chest with his shins! Sabu sets another table up between the ring and the rail, and goes for a TRIPLE JUMP PLANCHA DDT! But, opps, they fall to the side and the table hardly breaks. Check out their Hardcore Heaven 96 bout to see that spot in its full glory. Back inside, Van Dam goes after the knee again, but gets caught on the top turnbuckle and Sabu heaves a chair at his head. He sets up the broken table and a top rope hurracanrana sends Van Dam through it! Twenty minutes in.
They both get up way slow and have another slugfest outside. Van Dam goes after Sabu’s neck, lays him out under the ropes, lays a chair on his head, and comes down from the top rope for a guillotine leg drop! Sabu looks out of it and he gets whipped to the rail and hit with a spin kick, but he comes back by crotching Van Dam on the guardrail. He heaves another chair at Van Dam and delivers a hurracanrana to the floor! Ouch. Sabu takes a breather and lets Van Dam back to the ring, and RVD immediately scores a VAN DAMINATOR for 1-2-NO! OK, that seemed really awkward for Van Dam to get hit with a big move and then just stroll back in and hit his signature move. FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH gets 1-2-NO! Sabu stops the onslaught with a chair and lands a TRIPLE JUMP LEG DROP. Delayed cover gets two. It becomes a woozy brawl for a bit, then Van Dam tumbles into a monkey flip on the chair! Nice. Nonchalant cover gets 1-2-NO! He misses another monkey flip, then misses a spin kick, and Sabu kicks him down for an ARABIAN FACEBUSTER. Sabu hoists a table into the ring, but its legs are broken on end. Van Dam kicks Sabu into the table, which collapses. The crowd is thoroughly disappointed. He adds a leg drop and brings a nice new table into the ring. Oh, it’s all better again. Sabu again throws a chair at Van Dam and sets up the table. Van Dam ducks a clothesline and connects with a springboard side kick, which somehow lays Sabu on the table. The crowd boos at the lack of believability there. A chair shot keeps Sabu down, Van Dam wastes time going upstairs, kicks Sabu onto the table AGAIN, but then makes it all worth it with a FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH right into a cover, this has gotta be it, 1-2-NO! How did Sabu kick out of that? Double underhook gordbuster follows for 1-2-NO! Sabu scores a springboard knee to the face for 1-2-NO! He follows up with a slingshot somersault leg drop and a German suplex for 1-2-NO! Front slam and split-legged moonsault by Van Dam gets 1-2-NO! Sabu hits the ARABIAN PRESS for 1-2-NO! The bell sounds and we’ve got a 30-minute time limit draw. (30:05) How do you rate something like this? It’s a spotfest to the core, with the complete absence of anything resembling ring psychology, yet at the same time it’s borderline must-see material. I mean, there are A LOT of vicious and creative spots to see here. I’ll say it’s a must-see for fans of RVD or Sabu, and pretty much everyone else can pass it up. ***1/4
We watch backstage promos from both Shane Douglas and Al Snow along with a long history package. You might be thinking, “What the hell? Al Snow in the main event for the World Title? Was there some reason for this?” The answer is not really, other than that Snow’s gimmick of shaking a mannequin head to the tune of Prodigy’s “Breathe” was over with the fans. I mean, there was a feud, which took off when Al Snow pinned Douglas in a tag team match at the last pay-per-view, Living Dangerously, but Snow was not a usual main eventer and this was seen as a lopsided match-up.
ECW Champion Shane Douglas vs. Al Snow
Looong chopfest to start, then Snow goes right after Shane’s severely injured right elbow. Shane scores a back eblow, but Snow gets right back on top with right hands. Crazy sounds emanate from the crowd as people bump and rub their Styrofoam heads together. Snow heads upstairs but gets crotched by Francine, but he ends up dominating a brawl on the floor anyways, crotching Douglas on the guardrail and the ring post. Back in, a shoulderblock by Al gets two. Another shoulderblock gets another two. Douglas catches him on the third try and lands him on the apron, then dropkicks him out to the guardrail. With Snow in the first row, Douglas slams him into the railing, and … goes to the top rope? What’s this? Douglas delivers a rare and downright scary plancha, just barely clearing the guardrail and spilling himself on the floor! Shane never had the talent of the superstar he claimed to be, but damn, you can’t say he didn’t try. After another slugfest, Shane brings Al back inside for some stomps. He slows his offense down and grabs a face lock. INVERTED ROLLING NECK SNAP follows. Shane sets up four chairs in a square. They get into yet another slugfest, and Shane gives Al an inverted atomic drop, dropping him back onto the chairs. BOOO!!! Douglas goes for some punches in the corner, then settles for a two-chair setup and hits a powerbomb through the chairs. That’s better, but still small potatoes after what we saw during RVD/Sabu. Delayed cover gets two. Snow gets whipped and counters a back body drop into a swinging DDT. Here comes the big comeback. Pair of clotheslines drop Douglas, he pulls him up for the SNOW PLOW, but he has to let him go as Chris Candido shows up in the ring. Snow gives him a clothesline and dumps him outside, but turns around right into a BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX by Shane for 1-2-NO! Snow gets whipped into an awful Flair Corner Flip, but makes up for it by giving us an Asai moonsault onto Candido and Bam Bam Bigelow in the entranceway. Shane takes a hard whip into the ring, then back inside Snow leaps off the top with a high crossbody, but Shane rolls it over for 1-2-NO! The locker room has spilled out to ringside to witness this historic match. SNOW PLOW gets 1-2-NO! Francine gets in the ring and also takes the SNOW PLOW. Candido jumps in and gets hit with the head. Bigelow wants in, but gets stopped by Axl Rotten and some others. Snow gets up top again and leaps into a botched sunset flip, but Douglas hangs on and sits down on Snow for the 1-2-3! (13:05) Douglas retains the championship even as everyone knows it would be his last match before surgery, which sidelined him through the next pay-per-view. Sound like odd booking? Well, this exemplified how ECW viewed its fanbase in 1998 as opposed to how WCW and WWF viewed theirs. In those promotions, if the champ was injured but could perform in one last match before taking time off, it would be an easy decision to have him put over a new champion (such as in the case of Shawn Michaels losing to Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIV). However, ECW fans would have likely not seen the new champ or the belt as credible because the title change was for a practical booking purpose. If Shane dropped to belt to, say, Taz, the fans would know what it was all about and not see Taz as having truly “earned” the title. On the other hand, having your injured champ beat a main-event guy like Taz would hardly make Taz look like a future threat. So, the solution was for Douglas to beat a mid-carder (who would soon be on his way to the WWF anyways) and hold onto the belt during his hiatus, which doesn’t compromise the credibility of the belt or your top guys. So, in a strange way, ECW got it right, despite the fact that the only entertainment in this match is supplied by the crowd playing with their Styrofoam heads. *1/2
Finals Thoughts: Ehh, unless 30 minutes of RVD/Sabu sounds too good to pass up, or unless you are a devout fan of Mikey Whipwreck or Justin Credible, you might be less than enthused about this show. I originally went thumbs down, but I think I was just too bummed out by the main event. Let’s say thumbs in the middle.