ECW Barely Legal – First ECW PPV

In the 1990s, there were undeniably two major professional wrestling companies in America. However, there was also a third based out of Philadelphia known as ECW ECW ECW ECW ECW! You never can say those letters just once. Started by Paul Heyman (not really, but for the sake of time and space just go with that) in November 1993, ECW was originally a member of the beast that will never die known as the National Wrestling Alliance.

Following the complete and utter mess that was the Flair issue with the belt in 91, the NWA Title meant absolutely nothing. Despite the territory system having in effect died seven years earlier, the NWA decided that everything was just fine with it and kept going with it.

There are a lot of reasons why you don’t see the NWA on a national level anymore and their refusal to just let go of the past is probably the biggest of those reasons. Anyway, after there was no champion because of Flair and that mess which I’ve covered before, they took their biggest territory left, Eastern Championship Wrestling, and held a tournament there for the NWA Title.

On August 27, 1994, the NWA held their tournament in Philadelphia with Shane Douglas getting the win over 2 Cold Scorpio. He then famously threw the belt down and said that the ECW Title was the real world title. The next day, Eastern Championship Wrestling folded and we had Extreme Championship Wrestling, no longer affiliated with the NWA, in its place.

For about two years, ECW continued to grow with completely rabid fans. They managed to get on New York television, which doesn’t sound like much but that means going from an audience of about 4000 people a show in the arena to about 10 million people that got that station. That’s a huge jump.

Eventually this tiny company got big enough that they were ready for the next huge step: Pay Per View. Their first PPV, Barely Legal, aired on April 13, 1997. ECW was out of business in less than four years due to a ton of reasons that literally books have been written about so I’ll spare you the long and drawn out history that you can find written by better writers elsewhere.

Anyway, I’m going to be reviewing all 21 original ECW PPVs plus the two One Night Stand shows and December 2 Dismember which were produced by WWE, and a series of shows produced by Shane Douglas in 2005. I’ll be looking at the nationally distributed product that ECW produced, hopefully in order, to try to see if this company was all it was cracked up to be.

Note that these will not be released one a day, but rather I’ll put them up once I get each one done. It saves a lot of headaches for me and I’ll get them done before the summer this way. That being said, let’s get going.

One more note before we get to this: I know very little about the original ECW. I was in a market where we got it maybe once every three or four weeks at 4am on Friday nights. Before they got on TNN, I had seen one show, which was the first after Raven left. After that, I didn’t even hear about ECW until 18 months later when a friend of mine mentioned that he was hooked on it.

He showed me some pics of it (on a site he introduced me to called Wrestlezone.com I might add) and I thought it was cool looking. Later I finally got to watch it and I indeed liked what I saw. They were off the air a year later so there we are. Anyway, the historical context here will be a bit lacking, so be forewarned.

Barely Legal
Date: April 13, 1997
Location: ECW Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 1170
Commentator: Joey Styles

Welcome to the show that nearly wasn’t. This show was a nightmare to actually get on the air for several reasons. First of all, it’s difficult to get a tiny independent company on PPV. Second, there was a little thing called the Mass Transit Incident.

There was a show in Revere, Massachusetts where one of the wrestlers didn’t make it to the show for a match with D-Von Dudley against the Gangstas, so there was a replacement. This guy was about 400lbs and more or less a kid. He somehow convinced Heyman (who was an idiot for taking the kid at his word but whatever) that Killer Kowalski had trained him, so Heyman let him in.

Not only was the kid not a trained wrestler, but he was 17. Naturally, all heck broke loose over this, and ECW was thrown off of PPV. After a ton of begging from Heyman though, they got back on in April at a different time slot than anyone else got.

Now that I’ve gotten the nonsense from the Rise and Fall of ECW out of the way, let’s take a look at this thing. Your main event here is Raven defending against the winner of a three way dance held earlier in the night. To me, this is stupid. It sounds like something off of a house show.

The key thing to selling a PPV is to have a match worth buying. By not telling the fans what they’re going to be paying their money to see, what’s the point in buying the show? I just don’t get that. It’s smart to have Raven, your world champion, fighting in the main event, but to not say against who is just out there.

The participants in the three way are Sandman, Stevie Richards and Terry Funk, which is another headscratcher as Raven was, since it was the 1990s and they were in ECW, feuding with Tommy Dreamer. Anyway, I’ve criticized this enough already and I’ve never seen any ECW PPV all the way through so let’s get through this.

Dude dig that “demonic” ECW theme song! If there was one thing ECW always got right, it was their music. We open up with Joey Styles in the ring and the most famous chant in wrestling history of course. Styles is freaking hard to understand. I’d chalk it up to bad equipment which is understandable here I guess.

As he’s running down the card, the Dudleys come out, along with Sign Guy Dudley who Lodi would later rip off in WCW, and Joel Gertner, who was rather funny as an announcer. The heat here is greatness. Also, the tag belts look like the old Intercontinental title.

In something I’m going to have to get used to, we get an F YOU D-VON chant. The mic keeps screaming as D-Von is cutting his promo. He runs down the crowd with some basic insults but has a great delivery to do so with. We go from that into…the intro?

Yeah, for some reason we cut to the actual intro to the show and run through the theme song again although it’s a bit slower this time and there’s a different video package that looks more like a traditional intro to a TV show. What the heck is up with that? Why would you have it once, then do a promo, then do it again? That’s just odd indeed.

Anyway, we’re back in the arena now with Joel Gertner talking, which should at least be funny. No not really as he just does his team’s introduction. It’s weird seeing the Dudleys in their original forms. I think I like it.

Tag Titles: Dudley Boys vs. Eliminators

The Eliminators are Perry Saturn and John Kronus. Saturn had wanted to call the team the Harvesters of Sorrow but didn’t think enough people would get the reference. I doubt most of you will either, so the reference is that Saturn and Kronus were the gods of the harvest in Roman and Greek mythology. Yeah that was never going to work. I’m having a hard time getting into them as they’re wearing pink tights but there we go.

Sign Guy stays in the ring and takes a botched Total Elimination, which is a leg sweep/spinning heel kick combination. Saturn did the leg sweep but he didn’t sweep that well. Anyway, after a harmless manager is beaten up to cheers, I think I’m starting to get what I’m dealing with here. The heels jump them from behind as Bubba drops both an F bomb and a powerbomb.

Styles does the commentary alone on PPVs, which definitely takes some getting used to. This match is doing kind of a back and forth thing but they’re going way too fast with it. One team will be in control for 30 seconds and then the other will take over. There’s also little to no tagging. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone on the apron yet, although we’re only about two minutes into the match.

The Eliminator are reminding me a lot of the Motor City Machine Guns and the Rockers. They use a pair of Trouble in Paradises to put Bubba down. I wonder if Kofi is from Dudleyville. He’s been from everywhere else so why not? They follow that up by being secure enough in their masculinity for a long hug while wearing pink tights. Well ok then.

Kronus throws a pretty sweet handspring backflip moonsault over the ropes to take out everyone. Another thing that’s very different here is the lack of space between the ring and the railings. It’s difficult to maneuver out there if nothing else. Seconds later, Kronus does another of the same move but this time into the corner instead of over the ropes, making it a much less impressive spot and taking away from the first one.

I don’t care what company you’re in, that’s a stupid thing to do. I’ve always loved the way Saturn dropped elbows. They’re just sweet looking. Bubba is said to be 370-375, which would make D-Von about 250. Yeah I’m not buying that at all. This is turning into an X Division match as it’s all high spots with no apparent rhyme or reason to them at all from the Eliminators.

The champions are getting completely squashed here and they get pinned after Total Elimination. That’s it? Dude that was a 6 minute destruction. Well if nothing else it’s a hot way to open the show so I’ll give them that. Gertner continues showing off that Ivy League education (legit) of his by saying that by his score, the Dudleys won. A Total Elimination later and the new champions are heading to the back.

He would start wearing a neck brace because of that, and would break Orton’s record of milking an injury by still wearing it into 2005. That’s a very severe injury and those fans should be embarrassed for cheering it. Yeah that’s not going to work at all so I’m moving on.

Rating: C-. So the first ECW PPV match ever is a glorified squash. Well that’s ok I guess, but the lack of anything remotely resembling a flow here hurt it for me. It was like they were going for a highlight reel or something. Also, I can get having the Eliminators dominate, but it makes very little sense to have them be in trouble for the first 30 seconds and then have the Dudleys have maybe another 30 seconds later on of offense.

It came off to me like high spots for the sake of high spots, which I guess if you’re trying to keep new viewers around is a good idea, but the lack of a flow was just killing this match for me as it made it feel like a bunch of rookies wrestling.

Apparently Chris Candido is injured and can’t wrestle. He says that he’s been all over the world and now he’s back in Philly. This is getting a very mild reaction to say the best. He runs down all three guys in the three way before we go to the match. This was kind of pointless.

Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm

So Van Dam is the replacement? That’s a heck of a sub. He looks weird without his gloves on. Styles is really getting on my nerves. You don’t have to call every single move. This is television, not radio. We can see what’s going on and contrary to popular belief, some of us know a few wrestling move names.

The dynamic here is completely different that it was before and maybe it’s due to the familiarity of the guys in there but this feels like a far higher quality match. The finger point thing gets zero response. And now we get to the reason why I couldn’t get into ECW. We have a solid match going here between two guys that are certainly talented enough to be out there on their own and deliver a good match.

So what does Van Dam do? He goes and gets a chair. Yeah the pelting of it at Storm looked and sounded great, but seriously, why was it needed? One thing ECW never was able to understand was the idea of less being more at times, which would have certainly been the case here. Van Dam is called a sell out here as he was actually doing some stuff in the WWF around this time and if you’re in ECW that means you might as well be a demon or something.

Ok I know I criticized the chair but the chair surf thing has always been something I’ve loved. Storm kicks out of the frog splash that I guess was only four stars. I love how a move can gain the ability to win a match as the guy doing it goes higher up on the card. Shawn Michaels used the superkick for years and it was just a run of the mill move. God bless kayfabe and star power I suppose.

In a little sequence that I like, Van Dam misses a spin kick so Storm does the same move and hits it. I guess he got serious all of a sudden after getting his teeth kicked in for awhile. For the third time in two matches, we see a handspring move. People, watch the match in the back please. It looks freaking stupid otherwise.

We do the same thing as before (again) as Storm gets what would become the Canadian Mapleleaf on Van Dam but it’s just a standard move at this point. The Van Daminator misses and Storm gets the chair for the weakest looking chair shot I’ve ever seen. The fans boo the heck out of it so if nothing else they’re consistent.

Van Dam goes for a springboard move and botches the heck out of it (to be fair it was a difficult move) and you know what chant is coming. Storm somehow has a weaker chair shot the second time around. Naturally this gets more booing, and the wrestling fan in me is shaking his head. Is it really that bad of a thing that Storm is a good wrestler and doesn’t want to use weapons? Seriously, it’s not the end of the world. That right there is why it never appealed to the masses. Can you imagine someone that grew up on Flair and Anderson being sold on this?

Anyway, the Van Daminator and a standing moonsault end this. Storm offers a handshake and RVD gets a mic, saying that’s not his style. He then cuts a mostly shoot promo on Heyman and ECW by asking why he wasn’t on the card and was only a replacement. He implies he might go to the WWF or WCW which gets him great heat.

Rating: B-. If not for the completely unneeded chair, this would be a much higher rating. These two had a very solid match and it worked very well I thought. It was completely different from the first match and made me have a much better feeling about the show. The first match was a highlight reel match, but there was a flow here, although the ending could have been far better.

Dick Togo/Terry Boy/Taka Michinoku vs. Great Sasuke/Gran Hamada/Gran Naniwa

I know some of these guys, but I have no idea if I’ll be able to tell them apart in the ring. This was a major component to ECW so if nothing else they’re sticking to their guns here. If nothing else there’s a guy here named Dick To Go. Oh come on you knew I had to make that joke.

Team Taka is BWO Japan here to continue that running joke. Hamada might be taller than Rey Mysterio but I’m not sure. Sasuke gets a very solid pop here as he’s easily the most famous of the people in there. This really is an international match. Only here could Japanese guys use an Irish Whip to set up a Boston Crab in Philadelphia. It’s very weird to see Taka being taken completely seriously as a wrestler. This referee is counting REALLY slowly.

Hey let’s say WOO when someone uses a chop. No one has ever done that before. Styles says Irish Whip for the 5th time inside of two minutes. I know that can be blamed on the wrestlers, but geez can you come up with something to vary it up a bit? You can’t say he’s sent into the ropes?

They’re doing the smart thing here and not trying to give much of an explanation as to why these guys would be on either team and just singing their praises. That was the best thing WCW could have done as they gave us reasons to care about the guys we saw.

They mention various accomplishments these guys have, one of which is most Irish Whips this side of a Belfast dominatrix I think, instead of just saying that they’re big stars like WWF would do. This Taka I would have liked in the WWF. Instead we got a guy that was the size of a cruiserweight but wrestled a heavyweight style.

In a cool spot, the BWO use Sasuke as a prop to pose on. That’s very cool looking actually. The BWO works really well together for a three man team. Ok, seriously, that’s the tenth time Styles has said Irish Whip. WE GET IT. Hey there’s a handspring elbow. We haven’t seen that in the last 15 minutes so it must be ok to use it again. Well if nothing else there hasn’t been a single dead spot out here.

In an innovative spot, Terry Boy starts with a chokeslam and ends up with a powerbomb. That was very different. What isn’t different is the 11th Irish Whip into the 4th jumping swinging DDT of the match. It’s cool once. It’s repetitive four times. For no apparent reason we have a chair shot on the floor. Back in the ring, Sasuke just goes insane on Taka and hits him with about four big power moves in a row before ending him with a Tiger Suplex. That was a cool ending.

Rating: C+. This was much better than the first match, but I think that’s because it was supposed to be different. The first was supposed to be a hard hitting fight while this was billed as a high flying spotfest and was a high flying spotfest. There’s not a thing wrong with that either. However, the repetitive spots and the announcing of Styles made me want to pull my hair out. Seriously baby kangaroo, you don’t have to call every single thing that happens. We have eyes.

With no transition at all, Francine is here with Shane Douglas. She looks good if nothing else, but she’s coming out with a riot squad. Shane is TV Champion here. He talks about beating up Pitbull #1, Gary Wolfe, and hurting his neck. The match tonight is against Pitbull #2.

TV Title: Pitbull#2 vs. Shane Douglas

If Pitbull loses, a masked man that might be Rick Rude has to unmask. It’s a shame that Shane was so much of a jerk. If he hadn’t been we could have hated him for being an overrated wrestler like we should have done all along. That being said this is starting out pretty well if nothing else as apparently the last match wasn’t the only Lucky Charms special of the night as we get two Irish Whip calls in 10 seconds.

I have no issue with the move, but rather Styles telling us it’s happening that often. The Pitbulls had a good look to them. If they hadn’t been drug addicted monsters they could have been a very good team. You know once ECW calms down, they could be downright entertaining. That’s what this match is proving.

They’re working a much slower and more methodical pace and it’s a great contrast to what we’ve had in the first three matches. A “she’s got herpes” chant helps things a bit too. Francine is wearing a black bra and thong with a see through baby doll over it and since her back is to the camera she’s a bit of a distraction.

You know his name is Anthony Durante but they keep calling him Pitbull #2. What sounds better to you: Anthony Durante or something that sounds like a bad joke? They refer to his partner by name, so why not the guy wrestling? Speaking of the partner, he jumps the railing and beats up Douglas and for the first time in wrestling history, he’s taken out.

The guard rail itself is brought into the ring. That’s a great thing to do with a crowd this wild: give them a way in while they chant WE WANT BLOOD. In a painful looking spot, Douglas drops the railing over the top rope (that felt odd to type) and it hits Durante in the back. That looked sick. What is with the weak chair shots tonight? That one sucked, not as bad as Storm’s but it would have made any whore with sore knees proud.

In a moment that made me laugh out loud, Styles says that Douglas earned his reputation in the ring and not repelling from ceilings, which is a jab at Sting. Ok, stop for a second. Number one, Sting vs. Hogan drew more money in one night than ECW probably made in 6 months. Second, Douglas bailed on ECW more than once to go running back to WCW.

Finally, to compare Douglas to Sting as far as wrestling ability or drawing power goes is downright laughable. Sting is one of the best in ring workers of all time. Douglas is good, but while he was winning midcard titles in a glorified indy company, Sting was main eventing the biggest show in company history for the world title in one of the biggest matches of all time.

It’s one thing to take shots at WCW and Bischoff, but there’s no way that one was anywhere close to being valid. This is a pretty solid good match. For one thing the weapons have been used but downplayed here. As I’ve said before, at the end of the day it’s about the wrestling at the end of the day. If you have good wrestling, you will be successful.

Durante isn’t that good in the ring but for what he can do, which is basic power/big man stuff, he does it pretty well. Just as I say that he throws a decent dropkick. Not bad at all. In a dumb spot, Francine sneaks Shane some brass knuckles. Why? Seconds after he hits Durante with them he breaks a piece of a table over his head in plain sight of the ref. Why would she have to sneak them to him?

Dang it I brag on this match and now we have to bring in more weapons. Ok, two shots with knuckles (which I believe are considered a deadly weapon), a table, a chair and a bell can’t pin him? Oh and now, 30 seconds later, he’s in control again. There’s being tough and then there’s being completely ridiculous. One thing about ECW referees: THEY COUNT TOO FREAKING FAST!!!

A typical referee would be at two by the time they’ve counted three. Candido comes out and does absolutely nothing but apparently he’s part of the new Triple Threat, which was like the Horsemen of WCW, along with Douglas. OH COME ON. All those shots to the FREAKING HEAD can’t pin him but a belly to belly suplex can? Ok that’s just retarded.

The masked man starts talking in Rude’s voice and says, in the most read off a script promo I’ve ever heard in my time as a wrestling fan, that he’ll unmask in exchange for the girl. He comes out in a Rude robe and Douglas attacks him. In the most obvious swerve of all time, Rude is in riot gear behind Douglas and the masked man is Brian Lee. They beat him up and stand tall as the heels leave together.

Rating: B+. Ridiculous ending aside, I really liked this match. There was a simple reason for it as one partner is trying to avenge the other. Sometimes that’s all you need. The weapons were downplayed here which is a major perk for me as I’m not a fan of them. This is a great example of ECW toning things down and making them appeal to the masses more, which is always a good thing.

Taz vs. Sabu

This is one of the main events here. They’re former tag partners that hate each other now. They have been building to this match for a year, so that’s about all there is to it. The intro for Taz is great as he has his own entourage. No Jeremy Piven jokes coming.

In a weird moment, we’re in a close up of Taz and Joey is talking about the Tazmission and Sabu jumps over the ropes for the introductions. That just came from nowhere. I’ve yet to see a good match out of genie pants but we’ll see if it works here. Fonzie is Taz’s manager at this point too. Sabu manages to block the Tazmission which never happened back then.

We’re doing a wrestling style here which I like a lot better than starting with wild brawling. It plays to Taz’s strengths better and I’d much rather have him calling the match rather than Sabu. The man with more adjectives than Schoolhouse Rock has a broken nose from a Taz punch. Naturally we hit the crowd for a bit and of course Sabu does a huge spot to get there.

After a lot of brawling that we couldn’t see any of because there were no cameras out there, we’re back in the ring and surprisingly on the mat. In something that I’m very glad about they’re doing about 80% standard stuff here which is really making me buy into this match more than before. Sabu is trying to get a few shots in here and there which is actually working.

Sabu gets a running springboard spot but misses everything. I mean Taz just stands there and watches him crash. They set up a table between the guard rail and the apron. Sabu goes for a swinging DDT and shocking no one, he winds up going through it in what looked like another botch. This match is certainly intense.

They’re definitely making sense here as when it’s slow paced Taz controls it but when it’s fast paced the guy that Van Dam carried to an allegedly good tag team is in control. In something I’ve never seen before, Sabu stands on the post and jumps to the ropes for a bigger bounce to hit a guillotine legdrop. Not bad at all.

Taz just goes insane and starts suplexing the heck out of Sabu. Other than a quick break where Sabu uses a T-bone Tazplex and the Tazmission on Taz which is funny, Taz hits like three more suplexes to more or less kill Sabu and then the Tazmission is academic.

Taz says gets on the mic and says good match and that he would love a rematch and he wants a handshake. Sabu does it and raises Taz’s hand. Van Dam comes in and hits Taz and when Taz goes for him, Sabu goes after Taz as well. They put him on a table and Sabu goes for a big running spot. Say it with me: BOTCHED. Fonzie turns on Taz and leaves with Van Dam and Bazoo. Van Dam says he would love to work Mondays.

Rating: B+. Again, they kept the weapons use to where it made sense here and the match went way up as a result of it. These two were beating the tar out of each other and the psychology was there. However, the flat out stupid looking things Sabu did really hurt it here. There were two big spots where he did stuff that was just bad looking. That and the times where they were brawling in the crowd and you had no idea what was going on bring this down from a much better grade.

Joey introduces Tommy Dreamer, and the only woman that could give Sunny a run for her money as sexiest woman in wrestling history: Beaulah. They’ll be doing commentary on the final two matches. Now, this brings up something very interesting that for the life of me I will never get: why was Dreamer, arguably the second biggest face if not the biggest face in the company, wrestling on this show?

It didn’t have to be in the main event, but you would think he would have been on here SOMEWHERE. If it had been me booking the show, I would have had Dreamer vs. Raven with Dreamer finally getting the win. I mean, he got the win over Raven less than two months after this so it’s not like the feud would go on much longer anyway.

I guess that they didn’t know Raven was leaving at this time which would explain part of it I guess, but what better way to end the show than with Dreamer finally beating Raven and overcoming the odds? But I digress.

Stevie Richards vs. Sandman vs. Terry Funk

Richards has said he has no idea why he was in this match and I can’t think of one either. He was the leader of the BWO at the time, along with Nova and Meanie, and here they have Thomas Rodman and 7-11 with them. 7-11 was Rob Feinstein, who would later own ROH.

This was a really well done parody that worked for one major reason: they kept it going. That’s the problem with most parodies: they stop doing them after a week or two. This thing went on for years. They’re getting a heck of a reaction if nothing else. Also, let me make sure I have this straight. We’re getting Stevie, a parody wrestler, instead of Dreamer, a more popular and better wrestler. There’s one of the reasons I have a hard time accepting ECW.

Sandman comes out to a Motorhead cover of Enter Sandman through the entrance, which gets a noticeably lesser pop than usual. It just doesn’t sound right at all. In something that might surprise you, he and Dreamer were my favorite old school ECW guys. DAng it why do there have to be all those license fees for songs? They don’t exist on the radio. You’re getting awesome play for your song. Also, it’s freaking Enter Sandman.

It’s not like no one has ever heard of it before. Yeah I’m sure that ECW is going to try to take credit for it. Funk, at this point just 52 years old, comes out to no music. Apparently Dreamer was supposed to be in this but he gave up the spot to Funk, which is fine from a storyline perspective but from a booking perspective it makes me scratch my head a bit. Dreamer was a major star at this point, granted not as big as Funk, but Stevie over Dreamer?

That just doesn’t make anything resembling sense. Dreamer finally starts talking after waiting around doing nothing the entire time. Stevie just doesn’t fit in there at all. Terry really is a big deal here as he came to ECW when no other big name would. He gave them instant credibility as he allowed these young guys to have someone to get over with. We’ll ignore the fact that the NWA made Funk big since ECW is completely anti-NWA.

Funk busts out the spinning toe hold which hasn’t been used in at least an hour as Terry Boy used it. Yeah that’s one of the foreign things as Terry Boy uses a lot of Funk’s offense as a tribute. That’s fine, but it’s like listening to a cover band. If I want to hear the same stuff, I’ll go listen to the real band.

Speaking of repeating spots, Funk uses four straight neckbreakers. For some reason this gets a pop from the crowd. Oh because it’s from ECW. I get it. Ladder is brought in. Dreamer is more or less worthless on the mic.  GASP! STYLES WAS WRONG! He says Funk is 53 here. Since Joey Styles is the second coming, he could never be wrong!

I mean he’s perfect in every way shape and form, so apparently he has the power to bend time and make it after June 10, Funk’s birthday, so he’s 53 now! Yeah I’m sure he’s capable of doing so. The shots he takes at WCW and WWF are just hilarious. I wonder if they actually believed half the nonsense they said.

Hey look, it’s more pointless ladder spots for the sake of having pointless ladder spots to prevent us from actually having to tell a story or use psychology in this match. That’s so cute. Funk does the spinning ladder spot that for some reason is considered genius. Styles says 53 again. Stevie gets a solid kick to the face of Sandman, but since this is EXTREME, finishers don’t work.

Dreamer barely talks. I forgot he was there for about 5 minutes. That’s my main issue with Japanese wrestling for the most part: the kicking out of finisher after finisher. What’s the point of having a finisher if it never gets the pin? So many of these classics turn into nothing but kicking out of finishers to the point where it takes 3-4 of them to end a freaking match.

That kind of kills any credibility the move has. If you’re going to keep using it over and over until you get the pin, why not just punch the guy into unconsciousness? That just kills the atmosphere for me. Once in awhile is fine, but not 3-4 times in a match. Anyway, xeno-wrestling-phobic rant over.

While Stevie and Funk fight Sandman has gone to the back for some reason. Oh he got a trash can. He throws it from the floor into the ring and it hits on Funk’s head, probably giving him a concussion, so the fans cheer for it loudly. Oh apparently it’s wrapped in steel. So in other words, Funk should be dead.

This right here is why I hate ECW. It ceases being wrestling and becomes a freak show at this point. Now yes, there’s been some great stuff here tonight, but in no way, shape or form is most of this needed. Terry Funk and Stevie are good enough wrestlers to be able to work a decent match on their own.

I can understand a few weapons here and there, but much like in the Douglas Durante match, when one of the guys should be legally dead given the abuse he takes but kicks out at two, that’s just ridiculous.

Now I know what a lot of you might be thinking. Yes, Mick Foley is my favorite wrestler, but keep something in mind: his insane violence came in spurts. He would only have the ultra violent matches once every few months. He had a ton of matches where he would get hit with a chair, but it rarely got to the insane point that ECW got to on a nightly basis.

After retirement, Foley would come back once in awhile and have a big time hardcore match. The key to it was that there was maybe one of those every six months. It gave the fans a chance to forget what had happened and the next time it happened, it was far more shocking.

When you do it every single show, it stops being impressive and becomes stupid looking, which is already happening in one show. There have been matches where there was absolutely no need for any kind of weapons use, such as the six man or Van Dam/Storm. Why did those guys need a chair? Storm clearly wasn’t comfortable using it and it messed up the match and got him a heel pop when he was the face. That’s why they’re unneeded.

Anyway, Stevie goes out due to Funk and we have barb wire now. Sandman puts it around his body and does a top rope leg as his body is bleeding. This is just stupid at this point. Stevie is still here for no apparent reason. Stevie kicks Sandman and Funk hits the really bad moonsault to put himself in the main event. Dreamer spoke all of 5 times in the whole 20 minute match.

Rating: D+. The weapons sucked the life out of this for me. Now before I get a ton of ECW fan boys that can’t form coherent sentences, let me explain. Yes, I get that ECW is a hardcore company. Yes, I get that Sandman can’t work a regular match longer than 2 minutes without swinging a chair or something.

That’s the point: Funk and Richards and Dreamer could have worked a solid match. Throw Sandman in there and have him go out first then have a regular match. If ECW wanted to be mainstream and legit, then they need to have legit wrestlers and legit matches instead of the hardcore all the time. This went over the top again, and while that would be fine if it hadn’t happened already tonight, it had happened in almost every match. That’s too much.

Raven is already in the ring, so that leads us straight into this.

ECW World Title: Raven vs. Terry Funk

Well since it’s the most obvious ending in the world at this point, I have to ask: what’s the point in having Funk, an old man, go through a 20 minute match and then beat your young and fresh world champion? That kind of defeats the point of having Funk putting Raven over. Dreamer says he can’t do commentary and asks Joey to leave him alone for this match.

He didn’t do commentary for the last match so I don’t really see the difference. Naturally he starts talking even more after he says that so there we are. The doctor comes out to check on Funk as the people chant for Tommy. He says he can’t do anything. I’ll put the over under at 3 minutes. So Dreamer says he can’t do commentary, and now he starts cutting Joey off.

And here’s our table. Yeah it had to happen. Joey asks the logical question: what good is the ECW Title if you’re crippled? Tommy says Joey isn’t an athlete and can’t understand. Ok, there’s being intense and loving the sport and then there’s just being a freaking idiot. That’s what this has become. So, Styles doesn’t understand being crippled? Yeah that makes perfect sense if anything ever has.

Raven gets a running dive over the ropes to put Funk through a table and Styles plugs the next PPV. Raven hits a doctor. Screw that medical garbage. A bunch of Raven lackies including some person that I think is a woman comes out. She botches a sitout powerbomb BAD. Raven says he’s going to end Funk’s career right in front of Dreamer.

Big Dick Dudley jumps Dreamer as Raven hits a DDT on the referee. Dreamer fights back and hits a chokeslam (read as shoves) on Dudley through the tables (read as he hits the first and misses most of the other two). Naturally this is the coolest thing of all time because it wasn’t but ECW claims it is anyway. Dreamer leaves the broadcast table and beats up Raven’s Nest.

Not that we can see this or anything mind you as the camera is on Raven standing in the ring. Yes just standing. He’s not actually doing anything but this is far more interesting than the fight that’s going on of course. Dreamer hits a DDT on Raven as Funk gyrates on the mat. That gets two, and then in a completely stupid spot, Funk rolls Raven up literally 4 seconds later for the pin.

I’d bet the DDT was supposed to be the ending but Raven kicked out by mistake. Dreamer and Funk celebrate in the crowd as we go off the air and then the circuit blows up and kills the already over feed 10 seconds later.

Rating: D-. From bell to bell, this was about seven and a half minutes long. Raven and Funk interacted for about a minute at most. I originally gave this an F but switched it because Funk winning the title is a cool moment I suppose.

However, the interaction between the two combatants was this: Raven kicks him in the head a lot, Raven hits him with a table, Raven puts him through a table, Raven gets covered, Raven gets rolled up and pinned. This wasn’t a match. This was a minute of interaction, then the doctor checking on Funk, then 5 of Dreamer fighting everyone to give Funk the title.

This was complete crap despite the decent ending. Read my review of the main event again. How much in there is Raven interacting with Funk? That’s why this match was crap.

Overall Rating: C-. And that’s being very generous. This show is ok at it’s very best. The best match is Durante vs. Douglas and the completely ridiculous kick outs make that decent at best. That’s the issue here: this is completely unrealistic. Now I know all the ECW fans are going to say how great it was and they’re right.

For a complete freak show that belongs in tiny arenas once a month, yeah this was great. For a major show that’s the first attempt at going national by a small company, this was just barely ok. The weapons were freaking ridiculous here and something tells me that this is a walk in the park compared to what’s coming.

There’s zero need for the weapons in a lot of these matches, or at least there’s zero need for them being used this much. Also, for the life of me I don’t get why this wasn’t Dreamer vs. Raven for the title with Raven finally going down to Tommy. The most amusing part of this is that Funk was brought in to get the spotlight on the young guys and get them over yet he winds up being the focus of their first show and taking the title from one of the young guys that he was brought in to help.

This should be seen once though as it is indeed an historic show. It’s not great, but to be fair, ECW really didn’t know how to run a PPV yet. Wrestlemania was horrible when it debuted, so I’ll give this the benefit of the doubt.

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