Wrestler of the Day – December 28: Sandman

Today we have a guy who was a fairly clean inspiration for some of Steve Austin’s antics: the Sandman.

Sandman got started at some point in the late 1980s to early 1990s. We’ll start with his best known promotion as he got started back in the early days of ECW as a surfer, hence the name Sandman. Here he is at Ultra Clash 1993.

ECW Title: Shane Douglas vs. Sandman

Sandman means nothing at all yet and is still from the beach. Shane is part of the Dangerous Alliance and has Heyman with him to a HUGE pop. Shane with dark hair is weird to put it mildly. He and Heyman leave for no apparent reason and the fans are all over Sandman. We do the ten count thing or Shane loses the title. He makes it by like 6 and here we go.

Shane has tassels on his boots ala Ultimate Warrior. That’s something he did later in his career and I never liked them on him. Small package gets two for Sandman and then Shane takes over. Remember that this is still just a regional title at the moment and it really means little at the end of the day. Shane dominates with basic stuff and this is yet again, boring.

The fans think this is boring and Joey says they’re cheering for Sandman. Not a bad little spin on it I guess. The camerawork begins an ECW tradition of not being able to stay on the action and instead looking at the empty part of the ring. Sandman with a flying tackle off the top and down goes the referee. Paul comes in with the phone and Shane gets a shot with it for two. A top rope cross body is rolled through and the tights end it for Shane as he retains.

Rating: D+. Not bad but if they were going for epic this was WAY too short. Sandman would begin his transformation into his more famous persona soon enough. Shane would be considered God in ECW forever and few would care. This was a title match for the sake of a title match and was pretty boring, much like most of the card. There were few storylines to speak of at this point, but that would all change soon enough.

He would start getting more violent though, including this match at The Night The Line Was Crossed.

Sandman/Tommy Cairo vs. Pitbull/Rockin Rebel

This is a dog collar chain match. Sandman is getting more pissed off at this point but is still a beach guy. Jason is managing Pitbull #1 (Gary Wolfe) for you ECW fans that care. Wolfe and Cairo are chained together as are the other combination. They might have been in the ring for 6 seconds and then they hit the floor. Rebel is busted open and I think Cairo is too. Well that didn’t take long.

It’s more general insanity but unlike the last show I did the cameras can actually zoom in a bit. You can barely see things but it’s better than not being able to see at all. You can tell who is who here and you can tell what they’re doing. Pitbull gets two in the ring on Cairo. A bunch of violence leads to Cairo pinning Pitbull with a belly to belly. More brawling follows.

Rating: D+. Not terrible I guess and there seemed to be a reason for this….whatever it was. Sandman would start his transformation soon enough and make himself an ECW legend, changing the company forever. At this point he was terrible though, as were the other three so there you are.

Sandman would become his usual self by 1995, including this match at November To Remember 1995.

Tag Titles: 2 Cold Scorpio/Sandman vs. Public Enemy

Woman manages Scorpio and Sandman who are champions (along with Scorpio being TV Champion) and come out to Whomp There It Is. Whoever gets the fall here faces Mikey Whipwreck later in the show for the world title. Woman is kind of hot actually. She could look rather good at times. Scorpio dances a lot while we’re waiting on the Public Enemy to get here.

I have no idea what the face/heel alignment is here but I think Public Enemy is face. According to Gertner the TV Title is on the line here also. Yeah apparently Sandman and Scorpio are the heels here. Sandman is billed from…..Utah? Seriously? Scorpio is doing a thing where he says he doesn’t weigh as much as he really does. He does have a gut on him.

Public Enemy is leaving soon after this for ECW apparently. Scorpio offers them a chance to leave so let’s have a dance off. Uh…..ok? Scorpio cuts a rug and Joey dances too. The camera catches him and his reaction is great. Rocco does a robot which isn’t horrible. Scorpio does one also and destroys him. And now we set dancing back about a thousand years with Sandman dancing too. Joey: “Yes but can he walk a straight line?” They want Woman to dance and it’s very short. Crowd is WAY into this.

The champs jump the dancing morons but Public Enemy clears the ring quickly. AND IT’S TIME TO DANCE! The music is still playing as I think we have a comedy match on our hands. Just a hunch mind you. Ok so now we’re ready to go with Sandman vs. Grunge. Sandy grabs a headlock but is sent to the floor. Everything breaks down quickly and they all head to the floor.

Everyone grabs a chair and gets back in the ring for a good old fashioned duel. Sandman and Grunge are thrown to the floor and Scorpio follows. They fight up the aisle and a fan offers 2 Cold a frying pan. He steals someone’s prosthetic hand instead. Well why not? Sandman goes into the crowd and Grunge is busted open. He hits a splash for two on Scorpio as we’re bordering on having a regular match.

Rocco hits Sandman with a pumpkin pie and Sandy is in the crowd again. Woman pulls Sandman out of the crowd. At least offer him some boob so he’ll come out faster sweetheart. Sandman tags himself in and he jumps over the top (!!!) with something like a dropkick. Rocco comes in and hits a headscissors to take over. Slingshot legdrop by Sandman but he doesn’t cover.

Off to Scorpio who hits a slingshot splash for two. Scorpio vs. Rock at the moment if you’re all lost. Rock avoids a dropkick and escapes a tilt-a-whirl, only to miss a moonsault. The fans chant for SD Jones for some reason as Scorpio hits a double underhook powerbomb which is broken up at two.

Standing moonsault eats knees and it’s off to Sandman. Rocco (they’re Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge if you’re totally confused by me changing named) still can’t bring in Grunge so Grunge comes in and pounds on Sandman. Woman cracks Rocco with a kendo stick and Sandman dives over the top to take out Grunge. Sandman gets backdropped onto a table which doesn’t break. FREAKING OW MAN.

Grunge finally goes through the table and everything breaks down even further. Rock hits a big moonsault to the floor as they need to end this soon. A broom handle is brought in from somewhere with Scorpio taking over with it. There it goes though so 2 Cold settles for a Stinger Splash and moonsault for two on Rocco. We’re tagging again now and Grunge gets the hot tag. Sandman comes in sans tag but Public Enemy screws up their finisher and Sandman falls on top for the pin.

Rating: D. Yeah this went too long. These guys aren’t the ones you want having seventeen minutes. This was better as a comedy match but then again I might have just wanted to see Woman dance. Either way, not much here and Sandman getting the pin was pretty much the only logical choice since he lost the title to Mikey in the first place.

Sandman was regularly the ECW Champion around this point, so here’s a title defense at House Party 1996.

ECW World Title: Sandman vs. Konnan

Sandman is defending. Woman is with Sandman and is in a different dress than earlier tonight. Sandman has an abbreviated entrance here, only taking four and a half minutes to get into the ring. This is back when Konnan was young and awesome. Awesome to the point that he would be on Nitro in less than three weeks. The champ stalls a lot as the fans boo Konnan for some reason. Oh it’s because he sold out after being in ECW for just a few months.

Konnan takes him down by the arm and works over the champ’s legs. With the legs tied up, he hooks a suplex head grip and cranks away on Sandman in a cool submission. Sandman accidentally falls into a counter (Joey’s words) and it’s a standoff. Konnan takes him right back to the mat in a rolling neck lock. Even Joey doesn’t know what to call it. Sandman actually tries to sit out with Konnan and they head to the floor.

Back in and a clothesline takes Konnan down as Sandman finally gets in some offense. Konnan kicks him in the face and speeds things up again. Sandman throws him to the floor and hits a plancha to crush Konna against the railing. Both guys are down now which is about the last thing they needed to do at this point. Konnan hits him in the head with a chair but Sandman elbows him in the head.

Konnan gets draped over the barricade and Sandman is in control after finally taking it to a place where he has some skill. They head into the crowd for a few seconds and then back inside the ring. Sandy pounds away and Konnan is cut open. Konnan gets sent into the post and we head outside again. Sandman throws a table onto Konnan and the three of them (table included) head back inside.

Sandman can’t superplex Konnan through the table and is thrown through it himself. Woman slaps Konnan, allowing Sandman to hit him in the head with a kendo stick. Rey Mysterio comes out and hands Konnan a cane of his own. Konnan gets in some shots with the cane but Sandman fires back. They both collapse and Woman pulls Sandman to his feet to beat the ten count (which should have ended when he was on his feet) and win the match.

Rating: D+. I wasn’t all that impressed here and the ending hurt it a lot. The other problem here was that with it being known that Konnan was leaving, he wasn’t a threat to take the title at all. Also this was before Sandman really had developed the limited in ring skills he would acquire, so this was a lot more of a fight than anything else. Nothing to see here but Konnan’s submissions weren’t bad.

I have to include a match from his long running feud with Raven, so here’s their match from Cyberslam 1996.

ECW World Title: Raven vs. Sandman

Sandman, flanked by Missy Hyatt, finally starts his entrance after about two minutes of standing around. Stevie Richards and Blue Meanie quickly bail and the brawl is on after nearly eight minutes of entrances. Raven throws him outside and hits a plancha to take over. Sandman whips him into the barricade though and grabs a chair. He stands around for awhile before just kicking Raven in the head and walking around with him for awhile.

Back in and Sandman hits a delayed brainbuster before throwing Raven to the floor. There’s a plancha by the challenger before punching him into a chair back inside. Some Meanie interference lets Raven hit the Evenflow but Missy distracts the referee to prevent the pin. Sandman pops up and hits a DDT of his own, drawing in Raven’s chick Kimona. It’s catfight time and Stevie comes in for a superkick to give Raven two.

There goes the referee (like it matters) as Sandman “hits” a “legdrop” for two. The referee goes down again and here are Richards and Meanie to run interference. The Bruise Brothers (Harris Twins) come in with a double chokeslam for two on Sandman. Raven can’t get Sandman up for a suplex so he puts Sandman on top and pulls him face first onto the chair. The DDT on the chair retains Raven’s title.

Rating: D. Another overbooked mess that people call wrestling for some reason. The match was a glorified disaster but the best stuff in this feud was always the talking and storytelling. That being said, unfortunately we still had to sit through the wrestling and get driven crazy by the matches. Bad stuff here, again.

Here’s a rather infamous match from November To Remember 1997.

Sandman vs. Sabu

This is a tables and ladders match but you win by pinfall. Sabu gets tired of waiting and dives through the ropes to start the fight on the floor. Back in and the Triple Jump Moonsault gets two for Sabu but Sandman hits him with a forearm to knock Sabu into the ladder. Sabu gets thrown to the floor so Sandman launches a chair over the top and onto Sabu’s head. A hard whip sends Sandman into the barricade for Air Sabu up against the steel.

They take turns suplexing tables onto each other as Sandman seems to be favoring his arm. Sabu is laid on a table but it breaks before Sandman can do anything. Instead he takes Sabu over to another table and goes up for a top rope legdrop, only to miss Sabu completely and crash down to the floor. A piece of what’s left of the table is set up in front of the barricade but Sabu sends Sandman through it in a crash.

Sandman is laid on a table between the ring and the barricade and Sabu drives him through it with a springboard legdrop. Back in and Sabu kicks Sandman in the face for two before throwing a ladder at his head. Sandman pops back up like it was a flower but Sabu puts him on a table outside. Sabu gets on a ladder and tries to ride it down through Sandman but he leaves it about two feet short, meaning Sabu completely misses Sandman and the table and the ladder hits Sandman in the arm.

Now Sandman goes up for a flip dive to Sabu on another table but only hits table. Back in and Sabu’s Triple Jump Moonsault onto a ladder onto Sandman as the ring crew sets up more tables on the floor. Sabu gets superplexed onto a ladder but they botch a spot where the ladder is supposed to be catapulted into Sandman’s face. Instead he just kind of rolls over the ladder, prompting Sabu to throw the ladder at him and cut Sandman’s head open.

Sabu pulls out a fork and stabs Sandman’s cut before being sent outside so Sandman can throw yet another ladder at him. They try the teeter totter spot again but Sandman completely misses the ladder and just crashes down to the floor. This match is dying before my eyes. Back in and a swanton bomb onto a ladder crushes Sabu, followed by an electric chair drop. There has been one cover in the entire match. Another flip dive from the top through Sabu through a table goes badly as the table clearly breaks before any contact is made.

Back in and Sabu misses a fireball so Sandman goes after Alfonso, allowing Sabu to nail a top rope kick to the face. Sandman is nice enough to roll onto another table at ringside so Sabu can go up top with a ladder to drive Sandman through it again. Sabu takes him back inside for an Atomic Arabian Facebuster (Sabu goes up top, puts something metal under his legs and drops down onto Sandman) with a ladder to finally end this.

Rating: F. This was one of the least interesting things I’ve ever seen. Between the completely blown spots, the lack of selling for most of the match, this going about three times longer than it should have and the lack of anything in between the spots, this was the insanity that gives ECW it’s horrible reputation over the years. This wasn’t wrestling and had nothing to do with wrestling at all. I understand that ECW is about violence and going to the extreme, but there’s a way to go about that without looking horrible like this.

And a better match at Cyberslam 1998.

Dudley Boys vs. Balls Mahoney/Axl Rotten/Sandman

Rotten and Mahoney come out in like a minute. Sandman’s should take roughly four….except he’s coming through the entrance like a normal wrestler. I’m not sure what to make of that. Somehow the entrance still takes nearly five minutes. Bubba is still a country hick and he talks down to Sandman a bit. He wants to wrestle so he gets caned in the head.

The brawl begins of course and Big Dick (the third Dudley) can’t be hurt by kendo stick shots. Instead he hits a chokeslam to Sandman and pounds away a bit. This is one of those matches where it’s just a wild brawl with no real coherence or anything like that. The Dudleys are in control here other than D-Von who is having issues with Axl. Balls hammers on Bubba as well as Sandman crashes to the floor. Oh that was an “elbow drop”. Got it.

Bubba vs. Balls in the ring at the moment. Superkick puts the future Bully down but Bubba manages a superplex of all things. We’ve got a cheese grater to the head of Rotten and he’s busted now. D-Von is beating on him now. There’s no tagging or semblance of order if for some reason you’re confused and were expecting some.

Mahoney is thrown into the crowd for a bit. All three Dudleys put him on a table while his partners are in the ring and down. Bubba goes up on some stage to dive off…and here’s New Jack. He clocks Bubba with a chair and dives onto Balls instead. Spike Dudley and Kronus are in the ring now and it’s a 9 man triple threat tag team match now. Sure, why not?

Dudley Boys vs. Balls Mahoney/Axl Rotten/Sandman vs. Spike Dudley/John Kronus/New Jack

New Jack’s song plays throughout the match even though Spike and Sandman are the only guys in the ring. Spike gets a bunch of two counts off various small person offense. Sandman goes to the floor but Spike misses a baseball slide. Kronus is busted. Balls is busted. You can make your own jokes there. A standing version of the move that would become known as What’s Up hits New Jack.

The most famous combination of the Dudley Boys sets for the 3D on New Jack but Jack falls down. The big brawl is still going here but it’s far slower. Granted they’ve been fighting for over ten minutes, but why are the new guys so tired? Kronus and Sandman both work on Big Dick. Lucky. It’s table time but it’s not set up. Pretty much just random punches with an occasional weapon being used.

Mahoney gets a belly to back suplex on Spike and sets for a moonsault through the table. Spike pops up and gets something like a tornado DDT through the table to Balls. Axl hits a REALLY inverted reverse DDT to eliminate Spike’s team. Yes this is elimination now. Bubba calls for the 3D on Sandman but the partners interfere. Something resembling a Stun Gun onto a chair is enough for Sandman to pin Bubba and end this.

Rating: D+. I still don’t like these things but at the same time this wasn’t as bad as some of these got. The biggest issue of all is the time, as this ran nearly 20 minutes. Far too long but they kept it mostly entertaining. The extra three guys coming in helped as it energized things a bit. Not horrible but nothing we haven’t seen a few million times already.

The closest thing Sandman had to a steady partner was Tommy Dreamer, including this match at Heat Wave 1998.

Tommy Dreamer/Sandman vs. Dudley Boys

Joel introduces himself as Joel “The ladies call me Fred Flintstone because I make their bed rock” Gertner. Sandman and Dreamer cut off the introductions there though and spend several minutes on their own entrance. Sandman has a bad neck coming in due to the Dudleys’ attacks. Dreamer and Sandman spit beer into the Dudleys’ eyes to get rid of Big Dick and the brawl is on.

They quickly head to the floor where Sandman throws a table at Bubba. Dreamer drapes both Dudleys over the barricade and puts chairs over their backs so Sandman can dive onto both of them. Back in and Dreamer neckbreakers D-Von out of the corner as Sandman brings in a piece of barricade. Sandman gets sent hard into the steel and his neck is hurt again. Trainers check on Sandman before taking him out on a stretcher.

The Dudleys double team Dreamer with suplexes and headbutts as the match settles down. D-Von side slams Dreamer and tags in Bubba but Dreamer gets up and superplexes Bubba down for two. A big belly to back suplex plants Tommy but Gertner throws D-Von by mistake. The referee misses Tommy’s rollup though and a reverse 3D (belly to back from Bubba into a D-Von neckbreaker) plants Tommy.

Dreamer is crotched on the barricade and crushed with a Conchairto but Spike Dudley comes out with a missile dropkick to send the barricade into his brothers. An Acid Drop plants Bubba onto the barricade but the other Dudleys catch him in mid-air to block a dive. Tommy dives on all four of them as he’s up very quickly after that kind of a beating.

Back in and Big Dick hits a chokebomb on Dreamer but Spike saves him from another powerbomb. Beaulah comes in and lays out Gertner but has to leave before the Dudleys lay her out. Spike takes 3D and here’s the Sandman with his Singapore cane. Dreamer is back up and helps clean house, including a double DDT on the Dudleys for the double pin.

Rating: D. This was a mess but Dreamer’s lack of selling drove me crazy. How in the world can he take those kinds of shots to the head but pop right back up a few moments later? Spike coming in made sense and I didn’t mind it as someone had to help neutralize Big Dick, but the lack of selling got annoying in a hurry.

Sandman would be hired by WCW in what seemed like a shot at ECW more than anything else. Here he is in one of his highest profile matches on Nitro, March 22, 1999.

Goldberg vs. Hardcore Hak

Hak hammers him out to the floor to start but Goldberg no sells left hands back inside. Another leverage move sends Goldberg outside again for more punching but Goldberg slaps on a cross armbreaker back in the ring. That goes nowhere so Hak brings in the weapons, which only seem to tick Goldberg off. The Russian legsweep is easily countered and it’s the spear and Jackhammer for the easy pin. This was typical Goldberg.

Here’s one of his few pay per view matches from Great American Bash 1999.

Hak vs. Brian Knobs

I sit corrected: this is a kendo stick match and Knobs is officially part of the First Family. So why did he say he had to think about it? Tony calls this a kendo stick hardcore match because they can’t even keep their stupid gimmicks straight through a single entrance. Brian has promised Mrs. Nasty a birthday win today so let’s get rid of the sticks and have a real hardcore match. So in the span of 90 seconds we’ve gone from kendo stick to kendo stick hardcore to hardcore. I know it doesn’t matter but it sounds like WCW has no idea what they’re doing.

Brian wants to throw away the weapons but Jimmy throws him a trashcan for a cheap shot. Knobs hits him in the head with a trashcan lid and there’s the Pit Stop. Hak stops a charge with two boots to the face and blasts Knobs with the trashcan. It’s ladder time but Knobs comes back with a trashcan shot of his own. He gets decked by the ladder though and Hak hits a slingshot….something onto the ladder onto Knobs.

Hak gets thrown into the ladder in the corner and a few more ladder shots put him down. The advantage only lasts a few seconds as you would expect but Hak’s Swanton only hits ladder. Jimmy holds up a chair but Hak sends him face first into the steel, setting up a kendo stick shot for the pin.

Rating: F. We waited thirteen minutes for the matches to start and this is the best they can give us? The only positive about this is the match wasn’t even six minutes long, which is way better than the usual lengths that we have to sit through. It’s still bad though and I’m tired of seeing these disasters.

Sandman would head back to ECW as soon as he could and appeared on ECW on TNN, November 12, 1999.

Rhyno vs. Sandman

Actually scratch that as we go to Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney in the back who talk about beating up the Baldies. They’re in a bathroom and the Baldies jump out of the stalls to beat them down. You didn’t miss any of the match as that was all during Sandman’s entrance. Rhyno immediately gores him down and Corino steals the cane. A powerslam gets two and Rhyno yells at the fans. Sandman gets sent to the floor and then into the barricade to make it a matching set.

The drunk takes over by sending Rhyno into the steel and they go back inside. Why would Sandy want to go back into the ring? You see new stuff every day. The Heinken-rana (yes that’s really what it’s called) hits but Rhyno comes back with a powerslam for two. Rhyno misses a Swan Dive onto a chair and it’s a White Russian for Corino. Sandman canes Rhyno down and here’s Credible to cane Sandman. The match is thrown out somewhere in here.

Rating: D+. The fans liked it but this was much more of a brawl than a match. This was Sandman’s return from an injury so you can’t really blame him much for being out of rhythm. Then again that might be due to near alcohol poisoning but that goes without saying. There wasn’t much here but it was fun for the live crowd.

And again on the same show, December 10, 1999.

Justin Credible vs. The Sandman

Sandman has what looks like a broom. After a break Sandman is going after the cane but gets caught by a baseball slide to send him into the barricade. Justin rams him into a chair in the ring but Sandman gets a shot in of his own and heads to the floor where he climbs a magically appearing ladder. He climbs the ladder and then climbs back down, making this another pointless ECW sequence.

Justin puts the ladder in the corner between the ropes and due to wrestling law #1, is sent into it himself, getting a two for Sandy. The ladder is placed on the top rope and Justin is launched into it for two. A slingshot legdrop onto the ladder onto Justin gets two again and it’s time for another table. The table is set in the corner but Credible grabs a sleeper out of nowhere. Speaking of out of nowhere, here’s Rhyno to Gore both guys through the table. The White Russian Leg Sweep would seem to get the pin but Lance Storm comes in and hits a missile dropkick on Sandman to drive a chair into his face and give Justin the pin.

Rating: D+. This is a great contrast of two kinds of matches. The world title match had a coherent story to it (mostly) and both guys were hitting almost everything they used. This was a lot messier with the weapons being the focus of the match instead of the wrestlers in the ring, which is almost never a good thing.

Here’s Sandman trying to get another title at Heat Wave 2000.

TV Title: Sandman vs. Rhino

Sandman, the challenger, takes another five minutes to get to the ring. They jaw at each other to start until Sandman literally breaks the cane over Rhino’s head. The champion doesn’t go down and nails Sandman with a clothesline to take over. Sandman comes back with left hands and the fight is already on the floor. We get a piece of barricade thrown into the ring and Sandman throws the monster into the steel.

A top rope hurricanrana puts Rhino onto the barricade for two and Sandman follows it up with a powerslam. The barricade is laid on top of Rhino again and a Swanton Bomb gets two. Now Rhino is sent into the barricade in the corner and the steel is bent in half, drawing out the Network to beat up Sandman.

Spike Dudley returns on a broken leg (injured by Rhino) and Corino takes a 3D with Spike playing Bubba. Rhino Gores Spike down and piledrives him off the apron and through a table. Back in and Sandman blasts Rhino in the head with another Singapore cane but Rhino breaks up his Russian legsweep by sending him into the bent barricade. A piledriver on the barricade is enough to retain Rhino’s title.

Rating: D. This was the best match of their series but only because they kept it contained. It’s still barely wrestling and Rhino deserves far better than this, but that’s Sandman dragging down a match for you. He’s far better when he keeps things simple and away from ladders, and that’s why this worked better.

One final title reign at Guilty As Charged 2001.

ECW World Title: Sandman vs. Steve Corino vs. Justin Credible

Sandman’s entrance is over three and a half minutes. Corino is defending and you have to climb a ladder to pull down the title for the win. The ladder is in the ring to start for a change. Corino, back in trunks, hammers on Sandman to start and dropkicks the ladder into Sandman in the corner. He tries the same thing to Justin but gets the ladder thrown at him instead. Sandman drops an elbow on the ladder on top of Corino as Justin looks for more weapons. He finds a second ladder but stops to punch Sandman for awhile.

Justin rides his ladder down onto the ladder on top of Corino but gets bulldogged down onto a ladder by Sandman. Corino canes Sandman down but the ladder falls down and hits Steve in the back. Justin puts the ladder around his neck and spins it around, only to have Sandman send him into the corner to jar his neck. Corino and Credible put a ladder on its side and use chairs to drive the top between Sandman’s legs.

Corino canes Justin in the corner before throwing Sandman over the top and through a table. Justin is sent face first into a chair with a drop toehold but Sandman is back in now with left hands to the face. Corino puts up a ladder but Sandman comes back with cane shots all around. A ladder hits Steve in the head as Justin has been busted open. Sandman suplexes Corino onto the ladder but heads outside to fight Credible some more.

Justin knocks Sandman down and heads back inside as Corino has bridged a table between the apron and barricade. All three are back in now and the champion sets up a ladder, only to be dropkicked off by Credible. Sandman is thrown through the bridged table and Corino catapults Justin into the ladder in the corner.

Old School Expulsion is countered into That’s Incredible as Francine hits a hurricanrana (work with me here) on Sandman outside. Justin is down as well but Sandman busts out a huge ladder. Credible and Corino climb up but the belt starts moving in a ripoff of King of the Ring 1999. Both guys fall off and go through a table, allowing Sandman to get the belt for the win.

Rating: D+. Somehow I actually liked this a bit. They didn’t bother wasting my time with anything other than insane brawling and it made the match a lot easier to sit through. Sandman winning at least offers some fresh blood to the title scene, even though it’s not the most interesting blood in the world.

The following match actually exists. From TNA Weekly PPV #33 on February 26, 2003.

AJ Styles vs. Sandman

Styles is a cocky heel here. Sandman of course takes his sweet time coming to the ring. AJ gets tired of waiting and dives off the apron to take Sandman down. They head to the mat for some “technical” wrestling, with AJ looking like he knows what he’s doing but Sandman looking drunk. A kick to the chest drops Sandman, but AJ actually wants to bring in some weapons.

Sandman comes to life with some left hands and counters the Raven drop toehold into the trashcan before pelting the can at AJ’s head. It’s table time with Sandman bridging one between the ring and the barricade. AJ fights back and puts Sandman on the table, only to crash through it in a big wipeout. The referee is of course fine with all this, but would you want to see Sandman try to work a regular match?

Back in and AJ dives over some kendo stick shots (nice sequence actually) and superkicks Sandman down. The Clash is countered with a stick shot to the head and Sandman catapults him into a chair in the corner. There goes the referee (like it matters) but Raven comes in to nail Sandman with a chair (which the referee saw), setting up a middle rope Styles Clash for the pin.

Rating: D+. I actually didn’t hate this and got into the story they were going for here: AJ is so good that he can beat anyone at their best match. See, the announcers actually put got that idea over instead cracking jokes that only they find funny or talking about some internet venture that WWE is pushing at the moment. On top of that, the match was actually entertaining with AJ moving around well enough and just letting Sandman do his hardcore stuff.

We’ll jump ahead about a year to TNA Weekly PPV #79 in something a bit more to Sandman’s liking.

CM Punk/Julio Dinero vs. Sandman/Terry Funk

This Funk’s TNA debut and Punk and Dinero (the Gathering) have James Mitchell with them. Sandman gets jumped to start and the brawl is on outside. Dinero and Funk hammer on each other in the ring with Funk hitting something like a Stunner. Sandman misses a charge into the barricade and Funk gets double teamed with Punk calling him an egg sucking dog. That has to be an old Funk insult. All four get back in but Terry misses the moonsault. Now we get hardcore as Sandman just staggers around ringside in a daze. A DDT onto a chair gives Punk two.

Quick pause here. This is one of the things I can’t stand about what hardcore wrestling has done to moves. I remember a Saturday Night’s Main Event where a DDT onto the concrete started a summer long feud between Jake Roberts and Ricky Steamboat. Here, a DDT on a chair gets two in a throwaway move. It really hurts a move like the DDT as well, which used to be devastating but now is something almost everyone uses. Unfortunately it’s hard to reverse and it would take a long time to make the move important again.

A spike piledriver gets the same and I could just copy and paste the previous paragraph a second time. There’s a double suplex for two more and Sandman is knocked to the floor again. Punk misses a hurricanrana and lands on Dinero by mistake, but thankfully he stops rotating when he knows it’s his partner. Sandman comes back in but gets thrown back first onto a stack of chairs. Something like a Demoliation Decapitator through the chair is enough to pin Sandman.

Rating: D. They kept this one short and that’s best for everyone involved. Again though, it gets ridiculous seeing a nearly 60 year old man (or any age for that matter) kicking out of big spots like that. The crowd barely even reacts to them anymore because they’ve seen so many big spots that it’s hard to care about something as tame as a DDT onto a chair. Here’s the thing: that last statement should be ridiculous, but it’s completely true.

Sandman would continue the ECW reunion tour at Hardcore Homecoming 2005.

Sandman vs. Raven

Does this need an explanation? Raven has Meanie and the Musketeer with him for no apparent reason. Raven REALLY needs to go back to the tshirt and the jeans. Raven makes fun of Sandmans entrance not being that cool. Were less than 48 hours from One Night Stand and one of the most awesome entrances of all time, so thats just very amusing.

Raven is apparently the only wrestler ever to have an action figure in WWE, WCW, ECW and TNA. Thatskind of cool I guess. It would be hilarious to see Raven just sitting around coming up with random thoughts like that. Ive never heard Raven talk this much and I like it. He picks on Hat Guy also, which has to be the highlight of his career.

Sandman has to beat Musketeer, who is dressed like a guy from 19th century France, to get to Raven. They have a sword vs. cane fight. They did this before I think and it was stupid then too. Remember the match hasnt started yet. Oh hey lets get the match going. Raven hits like 6 shots to Sandmans head with the cane before the ball shot puts him down.

We get a Johnny Polo chant. Geez has there ever been a guy that changed so much from one gimmick to another? And now we have Sandman in the Musketeers hat. Did that gimmick come to Paulie in a dream or something? Theres a ladder on the floor for no apparent reason. The fans that are standing up to see this get a nice SIT THE CENSORED DOWN chant. Sandman comes back and were in the ring with the ladder now.

We go back to the 80s with a handful of powder though as we get the DDT for two. Thats one issue I have here: 8 years ago this would have been over for about an hour but here it gets two. The other thing is its more or less impossible to have a guy actually be a heel which is ok but it can get a bit annoying though.

Sandman gets the White Russian Leg Sweep and then the Rolling Rock. Meanie comes in and completely misses the moonsault again. Not that Sandman moves, but Meanie just completely misses. They do another and he misses it again. The THIRD one finally hits it. And yep, it’s a complete mess now. Donny Allen, who apparently was the ECW jobber, comes out to beat up Sandman but Mikey runs him off. After offering a beer to Sandman, he turns on him for no apparent reason with the Whippersnapper for the pin.

Rating: D+. It was a wild brawl and that’s all it was supposed to be. Raven outsmarts Sandman again as Joey says and all is right with the world. What more can you really ask for? Both guys get pops though, which is never really that interesting but whatever. It was a fun match so that’s fine.

From two days later at One Night Stand 2005, one of my favorite shows ever.

Dudley Boys vs. Tommy Dreamer/Sandman

Ok, so this is more or less by far and away the most famous and popular part of this show as the match won’t start for about 15 minutes or so. This was the first time the Dudleys had been seen in months on end and they would be gone and in TNA rather soon. Foley sums up a lot very easily: There are guys like me that absolutely love ECW and everything it stood for but at the end of the day consider themselves WWE guys.

Then you have guys like the Dudley Boys that work for WWE but in their hearts are always going to be ECW guys. That sums up this whole show better than anything else could I think. Dreamer gets a pop and a half. You can tell Dreamer is WAY impressed and really in awe of this. The music hits and so begins the most famous entrance in modern wrestling history at least.

Enter Sandman (original, not that Motorhead nonsense) hits and he’s in the crowd. The fans sing the song for his entrance in what is an awesome moment. He’s on his second beer and he’s still on the top floor. Hey he’s at the railing! His entrance is at 3 minutes now. Bubba gets beer spit at him. Tommy and Sandman have beers with CW Anderson and Chris Chetti in the front row before pouring one on two girls’ chest and licking it off, one of which is Elektra.

D-Von dancing to Metallica is funny as all goodness and the cane gets jacked off. Five and a half minutes now. Hand pounds all around…and there’s the BWO. The reaction from Foley is hilarious. Think Ray from Ghostbusters when he says “It’s the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man”. Just cracks me up every time. Match hasn’t started yet. Stevie looks good here actually. Joey sums up the BWO perfectly: “If any gimmick never deserved to make a dime and made a whole boatload of cash, this is it.

And the best is they couldn’t sue us because it was a parody.” For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, the BWO is the Blue World Order: Big Stevie Cool, Da Blue Guy and Hollywood Nova (Simon Dean). They were a parody of the NWO which wound up being ridiculously popular so they ran with it.

Stevie says they’re taking over and kicks Sandman in the face. Let the brawling begin. Kid Kash is here, having just been fired from TNA, marking I believe the first and only time it was mentioned on WWE programming. He does nothing and here are Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten: the Hardcore Chair Swingin Freaks.

They beat up the BWO so the interfering people are fighting the other interfering people. Nova gets the tar chaired out of him. Joey: that’s more painful than having to be Simon Dean on national TV. Everyone brawls in the aisle and Kash has the referee get on all fours for a HUGE front flip onto all of them. Bubba busts out the trashcans. Remember the match hasn’t started yet. Oh hey there it is, 14 minutes after the Dudleys’ song started. Dreamer has a cheese grated.

The fans chant for Cactus Jack which Foley kind of laughs off. Cheese grater across Dreamer’s head is SICK! Oh he’s busted bad so Bubba rubs it on his face. Joey: Tommy’s skin looks like cabbage in a coleslaw. Foley calls the grater comical. Sometimes I’d pay to be inside that man’s head, just for the chaos that must be in there. Sandman brings in the ladder. We get probably my all time favorite comedy line in wrestling.

Joey says he was going to compare Dreamer wrestling tonight to Gehrig’s last at bat at Yankee Stadium but Gehrig didn’t whip out a cheese grater and start mutilating people with it. And that my friends is why I love wrestling. It’s so insane that to us it makes sense, but when you compare it to something else, it sounds ridiculous. However, in wrestling, there are three words that make things magical: It Could Happen.

That is why I love wrestling: you never know what you could see. Naturally this is just a wild brawl all over the place. Bubba hits a frog splash on Sandy which has to be better than some forms of execution. D-Von takes the White Russian legsweep and we get a double figure four on the Dudleys but the Impact Players run in. Sandman gets a That’s Incredible on barbed wire and here’s Francine.

Beaulah makes her return for the CATFIGHT CATFIGHT CATFIGHT!!! Dreamer saves her and they have their big reunion with Dreamer’s face covered in blood. The Dudleys get DDTed by the two of them, making me smile. WHERE ELSE BUT IN WRESTLING COULD YOU GET THIS? Beaulah gets two on Bubba and she’s hardcore according to the fans. Joey is told in his headset that he can’t say balls, which he makes fun of of course.

Sandman goes through a table for two. 3D on Dreamer, and it’s the old style, not the crap one now. We have another table and here’s Spike who is seeing COLORS! Yep, the table is on fire and there goes Tommy. In a spot that makes me cringe, Tommy’s head is tilted towards the mat and blood just pools up from his head. That’s a great visual. Bubba actually dives on him for the pin.

Rating: A. Oh come on what else do you think this is going to be? This was the huge mess that it was supposed to be with all of the cameos to make things even more entertaining. Sandman’s entrance is one of the best ever and just rocks the whole place. Couple that with the sheer entertainment aspect and the fans going as crazy as they did and it’s a total blast.

Post match (oh like you didn’t expect something else to happen) the Dudleys go after Beaulah and get the tar caned out of them. In a spot that always makes me chuckle, Spike comes back again and Sandman turns around and just canes him again before going back to what he was doing. He looked like he was paying a parking meter or something. Sandman looks at Tommy and says someone….someone…SOMEONE GET ME A BEER! Joey: screw the beer, get him some plasma! “Somebody get me a beer!”

Sandman would be around for some of ECW on Sci-Fi, including this match on October 3, 2006.

Sandman/Sabu vs. Big Show/Matt Striker

So I guess Sabu and Big Show are still feuding somehow. Sabu and Show start with the giant being clean shaven now. That’s kind of a good look for him. Show clotheslines Sabu down and tosses him around with ease. Off to Striker and Sabu gets on offense quickly, hitting a springboard leg lariat and some dropkicks to take over. Sabu is knocked to the floor as we take a break. Back with Show coming in to headbutt Sabu down followed by a suplex which gets two for the tagged in Striker.

Striker kicks Sabu low to knock him to the floor again. Striker hooks a cravate and Sabu is in trouble again. Matt goes up but jumps into a spin kick in a bad looking spot. Sandman finally gets the hot tag and the beating begins. Striker tries to go up but Sandman blasts him with a left hand and the Heinekenrana gets two. The White Russian leg sweep is broken up by Show, who splashes Sandman to give Striker the pin.

Rating: D+. The problem here is that this is just a tag match. Sabu can hang in a match for the most part but Sandman is dull when he can’t use his weapons. This was just your standard tag match which bordered on a squash. Show is being put over stronger than almost anyone I’ve ever seen which is good for him but bad for everyone else.

Somehow he made it to Wrestlemania XXIII.

New Breed vs. ECW Originals

It’s Elijah Burke/Matt Striker/Kevin Thron/Marcus Cor Van vs. Rob Van Dam/Tommy Dreamer/Sabu and for no reason whatsoever this is a regular eight man tag instead of the Extreme Rules match we would get on ECW a few days later. Striker starts with Sabu and Matt is in early trouble. It’s quickly off to Sandman vs. Burke but before Sandy does much he brings in Dreamer. Cor Von hits Dreamer in the back and comes in to pound away a bit.

It’s quickly back to Burke (the New Breed’s leader and more famous as D’Angelo Dinero) for the running knees to the back for two. Thorn comes in to crush Dreamer into the corner and put on a chinlock. Back up and a sitout powerbomb gets two for Thorn and here’s Cor Von again. Burke comes in as well but Dreamer takes them down with a simultaneous neckbreaker/reverse DDT combo. The hot tag brings in Van Dam and there’s the top rope kick to Thorn. Rolling Thunder lands on Striker as everything breaks down. With everyone else on the floor, Van Dam Five Stars Striker for the pin.

Rating: D+. Seriously, why wasn’t this the Extreme Rules match? The whole point of ECW is to be extreme but we got a seven minute tag match which went nowhere at all. The theory was to finally let these guys get on Wrestlemania, but Van Dam had been on it before and won a title here. Nothing to see here at all.

We’ll wrap it up there because the Sandman just made it to Wrestlemania.

This was a rare instance where my opinion on the guy changed the more I thought about him. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Sandman isn’t much of an in ring worker. It was no secret that the guy was horrible in the ring, but that’s not the point. What Sandman was great at was giving the fans a thrill and firing them up more than anyone else in ECW history. Sandman was an attraction, and often times that’s more important than being a good wrestler. Yeah he could be horrible, but the fans were NEVER bored, which is a lot more than you can say for a lot of wrestlers over the years.

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