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Hardcore Homecoming: Ohio

Written by: Arnold Furious

September 16th 2005.

We’re in Cleveland, Ohio.

PROMO TIME – Tod Gordon opens the show to thank the fans and the boys in the back. But he’s interrupted by Bill Alfonso to say they should have run a show in Cincinnati instead of this dump. He orders Gordon out of his ring or he’ll “kick his ass”. Tod kicks him in the balls to get the first pop of the night.

Blue Meanie v Tracey Smothers

Smothers’ crazy old man gimmick is so convincing that its likely he is just a crazy old man. But then you’d be crazy too if you got to the WWE and they booked you as “Freddie Joe Floyd” as an elaborate rib on the Brisco brothers. What was the point of that? Then they left him to rot for 3 years at the tail end of his prime. Predictably, as these guys are both comedy wrestlers, this is a comedy match. Mostly dancing and referee co-operation spots. The stuff with John Finnegan is pretty funny. Like Meanie using him for a double clothesline and then throwing the ref on top for the pin. Smothers then dances to chants of “you suck dick”. “If I hear a BWO chant one more time, everyone in Cleveland DIES!” Smothers promos rule. Naturally this one ends in a DANCE-OFF. Smothers tries to jump Meanie during his dance but Finnegan punches him. Haha. Smothers spends the rest of the match cheating until he does that stupid ‘arms in the air’ seated pin, which gets him rolled up for the loss. ½*. I’ve had the misfortune to see an awful lot of bad Blue Meanie matches over the years. This was somewhere in the middle. Nothing overly offensive but Smothers best years are way behind him and he’s better off working tags with someone more energetic. If they’d got Hamrick and Stevie Richards (on WWE’s books at the time) in for a tag it would have been much better.

Danny Doring v Chris Chetti

Chetti, who once had so much promise, just sucks now. Its weird seeing these guys wrestle to silence when in ECW everyone got popped. Crowd wants “Roadkill”. He’s in the next match! Of course they should have had Roadkill run in and turn it into a wild tag featuring New Jack. Crowd chants “boring”. Chetti works at a headlock, which pleases some fans but not others. Then Chetti fuck’s up a headlock takeover and the crowd RIDE THEM for it. I was about to praise Chetti for working within himself and knowing he can’t do much but if you can’t even do a headlock properly its time to reassess your career. Doring is trying like hell to be the heel but its hard to cheer on Chetti when he’s in such bad shape. Doring dropkicks him in the face, which gets me excited at the prospect of him just stiffing the shit out of Chetti to improve this. Chetti mounts a comeback with sloppy kicks. Chetti rolls through a crossbody for 2 and the crowd were willing it to be 3 just so the match would be over. Eep. BAREBACK finishes for Doring moments later. Crowd seem happy. ¾*. So fucking sloppy for the first half. Better when Doring took over but everything Chetti did looked bad.

PROMO TIME – Gary Wolfe and Johnny Grunge come out to pay tribute to their fallen brothers. Grunge looks in horrible shape. He died the following February. Wolfe asks for a 10-bell salute for deceased ECW wrestlers. A video montage plays showing Louie Spicolli, Hawk, Big Dick Dudley, Eddie Gilbert, Brian Pillman, Ted Petty, Pitbull #2 and Chris Candido.

Roadkill v New Jack

If you’ve ever seen a New Jack match you know exactly what to expect here. There’s plunder and bleeding. Both guys are really slow too. Just plodding through this crap. Eventually they get sick of the referee and New Jack knocks him over with the 187 chair dive, which he made a mess of. Somehow New Jack pinning the ref makes him the winner. -**.

POST MATCH New Jack gets annoyed with a few fans shouting “what”. He goes on to call the WWE boring and predictable with all storylines and shit. Yeah because of John Cena pinned the referee instead of Randy Orton I’m sure that would revolutionise the business. He says he thinks he’s broken his arm but a little cocaine will straighten that one. His words, honest! The key part of his promo being “I ain’t slept in three days”, which kinda explains why he’s all over the place. The absolute worst part of his promo is when he says he’s off to get drunk and take narcotics until his heart stops…about 10 minutes after a tribute to wrestlers who died from drug problems. Nice one, asshole!

Raven v Rhino

Rhino makes sure to establish himself as the heel by saying Cleveland sucks and bagging on Raven for losing the NWA title to Jeff Jarrett. Rhino thanks God for ECW going out of business because he got to go to the WWE and make some real money. Raven superkicks him out of the ring and makes fun of Rhino’s weight issues. Two guys who can cut an actual coherent (and offensive) promo and can both work. On this show? Super. Raven decides to turn it into a crowd brawl, which the camera has difficulty following because they have no moveable lights. Back to ringside so Raven can make use of the limited edition chairs only to stop off and cut a promo on Sandman, who’s watching from the gantry. Rhino then slows it right down, as he tends to. Raven tries to work in some of his spots enthusiastically but Rhino isn’t quite in the right place for a few of them. Drop toehold into the chair gets the crowd into the “E-C-Dub” chants. Raven pulls out Mr Socko (with HEEL SOCK on it) for a bizarre Mandible Claw block on the Gore. They then counter around the DDT spot a bit before Raven hits it for the win. **. A refreshing breath of competence. Not as good as their WWE hardcore match or the TNA bout but some of the countering at the end was nice.

Sabu v Shane Douglas v Jerry Lynn

Ok, we have Sabu’s spots, Douglas’ psychology and Lynn’s ability to hold together spotty wrestlers. This might even work. They do some 3-way stuff with legsweeps but I’m aware Shane stays down for much longer than the others. Its like I’ve been spoiled by Joe-AJ-Daniels where they changed the rules of the 3-way. You’re not allowed to just lie around resting anymore. Its too obvious. Lynn does a nice job of setting up Sabu’s Triple Jump Plancha though. He knocks Douglas over and they’re back up at the right point to look up and there’s Sabu diving. They then go into 3-way pin spots, which is like RVD-Lynn only with an extra bit of zing. Lynn-Sabu is basically just Lynn-RVD. They just do the same spots while Douglas hangs around on the floor. Francine runs out to crotch Sabu. Lynn gets the Air Raid Crash on a chair but Shane breaks it up and hits the belly to belly. They’re making saves so I assume this isn’t under ECW 3-way rules. Lynn gives Francine a spanking while Sabu sets up a table. That breaks. Sabu, never one to be put off by something being broken, hits the Arabian facebuster onto the remains of it. Shane then pins the fallen Lynn for the win. **1/2. They certainly worked hard to get some good spots in there but they betrayed the ECW ideal of a 3-way because Sabu did the hard work and then Douglas stole the pin. Make it elimination rules, for fuck’s sake.

POST MATCH Shane Douglas, looking even more sluggish than during the match, gets double teamed.

Dudley Boys v Balls Mahoney/Ian Rotten

Bubba gets a pre-match interview where he points out the fans are getting the ECW version of the Duds not the WWE one. I believe the difference is about 17 ‘fuck’s a promo. Bubba says the only reason they came back to this “shithole” was because of the ungodly amounts of money “these asshole promoters” paid us. Bubba then proceeds to give us a vintage ECW promo, which amounts to lots of swearing and insulting audience members. When Ian comes out Bubba tells him he has “no idea who he is”. They beat him down until Balls makes the save for this impromptu tag. Was Axl busy or something? He couldn’t have been in the WWE; they fired him after one show. When you’re Axl’s shittier tag partner, you’re not at the top of the wrestling food chain. The Dudleys had some good matches around this time against the likes of Funk & Sabu. This isn’t one of them. This is just embarrassingly awful. At least, I think it is. Most of the match takes place either off-camera or off in the darkness where lighting would have been useful. Eventually there’s a big clip ahead to Balls using a kendo stick. Presumably because the footage was unwatchable. Both Ian and Balls are busted wide open. No shock on Ian’s gusher, with all that scar tissue. But blood and plunder don’t make a match. Structure! That’s the ticket. Or at least better chaos. They try and do stereo comeback spots but Ian is way behind on his. Then stands around waiting for an Irish whip spot because he doesn’t know Balls’ spots. Balls gets a table and threatens to torch it but turns into the 3D. Bubba powerbombs him through the table for the win. ½*. Just a god-awful clusterfuck. They brawled a bit but I’ll be damned if I saw any of it. The crowd stuff might have been amazing but the cameras saw nothing.

The Sandman v Justin Credible

Sandman steals Aldo’s cane and accuses Justin of stealing his gimmick. Using a cane? I guess he did but I didn’t see him drinking, smoking and botching all his moves. Justin wants a wrestling match and then gets out-done on arm ringers. Frustrated that he’s being out-wrestled by the brawler, Credible starts punching the Hardcore Icon. Naturally this tactic suits Sandman better too and he takes over. It’s a pity that Credible’s logic isn’t matched by his skill. Sandman grabs the cane, because the fans are getting bored, and starts working his cane spots in. The ones the WWE paid handsomely for the following year. Sandman brings a ladder in to up the ante. The crowd strangely quiet until he hits a few ladder spots. He does that sloppy upside down bump into the corner. At least he didn’t land on his head. They work in a few classic ladder spots like the Funk over the head spinning one. This stuff is tried and tested but it sure is predictable. Sandman requests chairs and they come raining into the ring. Credible, smartly, rolls into the corner and curls into the foetal position. DDT on the chairs finishes. **. Well, I expected worse given Sandman’s track record. The great thing about Paul Heyman’s booking is he concealed the shortcomings of guys like this. The match was fairly well booked with Credible bringing common sense and Sandman the high spots and for once he didn’t do too many stupid ones. So yeah, this was ok.

Final Thoughts: Three passable matches and a load of shit does NOT make for a good tape. The Hardcore Homecoming stuff worked best as a nostalgia kick but there’s little to get nostalgic about here. Just a bunch of former ECW wrestlers working mediocre matches. Or really bad ones.

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